Struggling to Progress

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” ~Frederick Douglass

September was a very interesting and busy month for me — in my world as a yoga teacher, in my world as a runner, in my world as a mom, and in my world as a working professional.

In my yoga teaching, I not only taught more than I have in quite some time, but I taught completely new formats than I am used to teaching. I have always taught pretty much the same style since I became a teacher…a blend of Vinyasa and Iyengar that is geared towards a blend of students of all levels. This month, I started teaching a Power Yoga class, which is the format I typically prefer to practice when I get to be a student. I was very nervous to teach this format, but working with one of my teachers over these past few months (thanks, Sara!) has really helped me define my style, and I really feel like I found my groove teaching that format almost immediately.

However, I also started teaching a Deep Stretch class this month, starting last Sunday. It’s a format I am relatively new to as a student…I’ve only been practicing this style myself for a few months. If you’re not familiar with this style, it’s a Yin style of yoga, in which you work to stretch the connective tissues rather than muscle. As Paul Grilley (thought of as the founder of Yin Yoga) states, “We must remember that connective tissue is different from muscle and needs to be exercised differently. Instead of the rhythmic contraction and release that best stretches muscle, connective tissue responds best to a slow, steady load. If you gently stretch connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time, the body will respond by making them a little longer and stronger—which is exactly what you want.” In other words, in a Yin type of class, you’re  holding these poses for up to 5 minutes, which can feel like an eternity for some. The first few classes I attended were very challenging for me, because it was very hard to sit still for that long and to experience the uncomfortableness that came along with trying to release the tight areas of my hips and shoulders. But I felt great immediately after my first class and noticed a difference in my hips, so I have been continuously attending since. It’s a nice addition to the more Yang style of Power Yoga that I normally practice. 

As I mentioned, I’ve only taught one Deep Stretch class so far, and it went OK. It’s a completely different style altogether from anything I’ve ever taught, so I know I need some time to find my pace and my groove. But the students who came seemed to enjoy it, and they said they felt great after. Tomorrow is my next class, and I’ll be focusing on a spine opening sequence with them…I am super excited to see how it goes!

In my world as a runner, I am really struggling to find time for my long runs as I try to get prepared for my upcoming half marathon. And then last week, as I was in the middle of my long run, I had to stop due to knee pain. Ever since, I’ve had a pain radiating through my whole left leg, so my coach has me cross-training until I can get to the chiropractor on Monday. I saw a massage therapist yesterday, and he happens to be a marathon runner, and he is pretty sure my injuries are stemming from tight glutes and hip adductors. So when I got home, I used the foam roller and my stick in these areas, and I definitely feel a bit better today. But I still can’t run yet, so I will be heading to the gym to get my time in on the elliptical. I know that runners get injured, but my race is in 4 weeks! It’ll be my third half marathon, and I’d really like to be able to run this one from start to finish, without any walk breaks. I was pretty sure it was doable, but now I am not so sure. But if I don’t finish it having run the entire thing, then there is always the next one, right?

Even with the frustration of this injury, I had some breakthroughs in my running in September. I am definitely faster now than I was, and I was able to  hold a tempo speed for a whole 2 miles for the first time ever. That’s a big deal for a slow runner like me! Progress! Woo hoo!

As a mom, I got a super big challenge this past month. My youngest came home with some bad grades and after speaking with her teacher, we determined the issue was with her ability to focus on something long enough to complete it and to complete it with the level of detail needed. So my husband and I decided no more TV during the week for her AT ALL. Talk about torture! You’d have thought, by the way she reacted, that we were beating her within an inch of her life!  But by day three, she was actually excited to come home and have us help her with her homework. The challenge for me was to stop doing MY stuff and really focus on helping HER focus. Hmmm…wonder where she gets the focus issues from? 🙂

And finally, in my professional life, I really took the feedback from my performance review and tried to put it into action. For my whole professional career, I’ve been told that I am not assertive enough and tend to let people walk all over me. In my previous roles as a programmer and entry-level analyst, that was not SUCH a bad thing. But I am a Senior Business Analyst now, and being assertive and decisive is part of the job. As my boss said to me, “You know what to do, but you just don’t have confidence in yourself…own your role!” And something finally just clicked, I guess, because in September, I felt like I was on fire! All of a sudden, I truly felt like I knew what I was doing, like I knew my product well enough to decide the direction to go if a decision needed to be made quickly, and I started questioning decisions others made if I felt it was compromising the intent of the product. It was scary for me, but my boss sent me an e-mail last week to tell me how impressed he was with the progress I’d made this past month and to keep it up. That was SO what I needed to hear!

So the moral of the story is that sometimes, in order to progress to the next level of something, you have to be willing to endure a struggle of some sort. Sometimes it goes smoothly, as it did for me in teaching my Power Yoga class. Sometimes it goes in a direction you don’t want it to, like it did for me in my running with my injury. You have to be willing to give it up and see where it ends up, no matter how scary it might be. It’s how you grow and move along the path of your journey.

I’d love to hear your stories of progress, if you’re willing to share. If you want to e-mail me privately, my e-mail address is

Namaste and happy running!


Categories Yoga

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