Monday, October 31, 2011

Day Six: Yoga is yoga is yoga

I had the good fortune to stumble upon and read this article last night. It reminded me that all yoga is good yoga, and, while the best workout I've ever done, bikram is not just about the physical body. Today I wasn't feeling great (and my stomach is still a bit off, truth-be-told) but I still went. It was more of a mental struggle than a physical one, especially since I let myself be a little more relaxed due to the wobbly tummy.

How it went:

Class: Difficult. Sat out triangle and toe-stand, but did pretty much everything else. My stomach was rumbly pretty much the whole time, but mind over matter, right?

Notable changes: More mental than physical: allowing myself a less intense day, reminding myself that it isn't the end of the world... that sort of thing.

Favorite pose today: Half-moon. Getting to push deeper and it doesn't hurt my abs nearly as much.

Least favorite: Anything forward bending made me feel pretty gross...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day Five: Shaking is Good

Today was hard. Especially so since yesterday was so much easier... but that's sort of the way of it. One good day doesn't mean you'll only ever have good days again, just the same as one bad day doesn't sentence you to a lifetime of them.

My legs shake, a lot, especially in things like awkward pose, but even in poses that the average person might not consider especially straining, like standing separate leg stretching (I still can't grab my feet) and even at the end of class during the stretch that goes along with head to knee pose. I've been told, many times, that shaking is good, shaking means that you're pushing yourself to the edge of your comfort zone, you're teaching yourself and your muscles something. So I'm going to call today a shaking day. I wasn't sure I wanted to go, I even went to a later class than planned, it was hard and I wanted to give up after every posture... but I went. And that is good.

Injuries: Ankle is healing, slowly but surely.

Class: So hard. I really had to push myself after every posture (especially on the floor) but I did each and every one.

Notable changes: With the right encouragement/explanation, I'm starting to get my hip in line during balancing stick.

Favorite pose today: None, really. But that's ok.

Least favorite: All of 'em. But again, ok.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day Four: Our body wants to heal

Or Bikram: It does a Body Good.

With day 4 over with, I believe that this is officially the most days I've done in a row, ever. I thought that maybe my body would be screaming for mercy at this point, but I was totally wrong. The muscles that were sore on day 2 were not nearly as sore today and my concentration was above and beyond what it's been in a long time. Sure, stuff still hurt, but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't more so.

Here's how it went:

Injuries: Ankle is still a little bruised looking, but not bothering me at all.

Class: No dizziness, not even really tired. Whereas normally I'd be thinking "Just get through it!" during Spine strengthening or "don't give up now" after rabbit I just felt ready to go the whole way through.

Notable changes: See above. I don't remember the last time (if there ever was a last time) that I felt pretty good in every single posture.

Favorite pose today: Surprisingly: cobra. Ever since I read the dancing j's explanation of it I've been trying harder to get it right and today it paid off!

Least favorite: Balancing stick... I just couldn't get the whole balancing part down today... and that's sort of the point of the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day Three: The Pretzel

If you do yoga, any yoga, regularly you might know what I mean by "the pretzel": that guy (or girl) who looks like they came out of the womb doing eagle correctly. Somehow I end up beside them and I end up distracted. Tonight, however, taught me a lesson: even pretzels have bad classes. They can slip on their own sweat and fall out of postures just like the rest of us regular folk. I know I'll probably never be a pretzel—my hips are way tight and my knees have been bad for as long as I can remember (if you hear two cracks like rapid fire gun shots as you get into the 3rd part of awkward, it's probably me). Still, I think that the pretzels are judging me, even though they're probably so focused they wouldn't even know I'm in the room. I've been reading The Happiness Project and I realized about half way through that, like everything else in life, you really can only do yoga for yourself. It's not a competition (although there are yoga competitions), except with yourself. Which is why I'm writing this blog. To keep track of my progress and motivate myself to do better. If it helps someone else, all the better, but my yoga should be about me. It probably seems pretty obvious, but it felt like a breakthrough for me.

Here's how it went:

Injuries: You know how they say "it looks worse than it really is"? That's my ankle right now.

Postures: Got through everything with no dizziness at all!

Notable changes: Nothing too interesting to report.

Favorite pose today: Standing bow. It's a usual favorite, but today I held it a lot longer than I have in a loooong time.

Least favorite: Spine Strengthening again... this time locus and full locus. I was hungry before class so I had 1/2 an all-fruit smoothie (no dairy pre-class, thankyouverymuch) about an hour beforehand... and the extra pressure on my stomach during locus was unpleasant to say the least.

Three days in a row and I was surprised how much I was looking forward to it today. I almost didn't go to the 5pm because of how hungry I was, but I took an informal facebook poll and 2 friends who are both studio owners (one Bikram and one Moksha) both said "Go first, eat after" as opposed to going home, eating first and going to the 7pm instead. Another friend wrote after I was in class, saying "I would go home and eat, and then I would debate about whether or not I was still going to yoga, and then I would not go to yoga. Maybe you can learn from my failures better than I can!" I know myself well enough to know that I would probably have done exactly that, so I'm really glad I just went. And now I'm going to enjoy some well-deserved time on my couch, with a beer, some knitting and some bad tv!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day Two: Ask me what the secret of comedy is

This old joke kept running through my brain today during class. Would it matter that I was practicing at noon today instead of 9am like yesterday? What about tomorrow when I'll probably go at 5pm? Does the time of day have an effect on my practice?

In a way I think it does. This morning I was able to get a job application out and write 2 pages before I left the house, so I didn't have as much guilt about doing yoga instead of work. I had already worked! But I was starting to get hunger pains just before class started... so I was a little distracted by that until they started to subside some time during the standing series.

Morning classes mean I'm a little tired all day. Noon classes mean I might get some work done in the morning, but then not necessarily want to do anything else that day. Evening classes mean that I might do stuff during the day but want to go to bed by 8pm. I'm hoping that a more regular practice will eventually even these things out... and there's only one way to figure that out!

Here's how it went:

Injuries: Ankle is still a little bruised/swollen, but definitely a lot better than yesterday.

Postures: I got through all of them without any dizziness or vision disturbances, although my muscles are a little sore from their rude awakening yesterday, so I don't think I was getting as deep into postures as I used to.

Notable changes: Fixed firm: yesterday my knees were so tight I just kind of half sat down, without my butt ever actually touching the ground. Today I was able to sit all the way down and get onto my elbows for the first set, touch my head in the second.

Favorite pose today: Triangle: we sang happy birthday during second set to two people who happened to be doing birthday yoga. It made me really aware of my breath and how breathing through your mouth instead of your nose (as one tends to do while singing... at least, I do) can really affect your body.

Least favorite: Spine Strengthening Series, especially Cobra. It was as if my body was anticipating the hurt and hurting extra... almost like it was making up for not being so bad yesterday.

By the way, in case you didn't already know, guess or google it... the secret to comedy is timing...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day One: Stay in the Room

Today was my first day back in the hot room, for the first time in about two weeks (slightly more if you count it as being a Bikram hot room only, slightly less if you count the moksha practice I did when home visiting family). It was rough, as first days, and even first days back, often are. But whenever I see new students walk into a studio for the first time, the teacher always tells them "your goal for today is just to stay in the room". And so I made it mine. Stay in the room, do what you can, don't hurt yourself the first day back.

Here's how it went:
Injuries (pre-class, of course): Swollen/bruised ankle from silly, slightly drunk stunt on the weekend. Don't demonstrate standing bow, no matter how many people ask, when you're in a crowded room and everyone has had at least 2 or 3 beers. Especially when you've been out of practice for a while.

Postures: Got dizzy/black-outty* in Tuladandasana (balancing stick). Made it through Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose but had to sit out triangle and most of toe/tree.
Almost talked myself out of it, but really wanted to do camel because I knew that if I did it, I'd feel all the better afterwards (no matter how weird I felt during...). Of course, you could say that about ALL the postures...

Notable changes: I made it into the room, didn't I?

Favorite pose today: Standing Bow

Least favorite: Balancing Stick, since it made me so dizzy.

Last notes: I'd never practiced with today's teacher before and she was great. It was exactly the class I needed, as she went beyond the dialogue and talked about how opening yourself up in yoga will open yourself up to other experiences in life. Everything she said was exactly what I needed to hear to reassure myself that doing my practice regularly is not "taking away" from the time I "should" be spending on other things, but rather that it will help me to focus better and actually potentially improve my concentration and thought process to be able to work harder, faster, and better.

*By black-outty I mean that sometimes when I push too hard I start to see black spots around the edges of my vision. This is generally an indication that I should sit down before I fall over. I knew that Standing Separate leg stretching would help, though, and it did.

The Premise

I've been practicing Bikram yoga, on and off, for over 3 years. I say on and off because there were times that I practiced regularly, 3 times a week, and then times when I wouldn't go for months, due to laziness or location. I've also tried a bunch of other types of hot yoga as well as "regular" yoga, but bikram always calls me back again. Lately I've been a bit off... prior to this morning it was about 2 weeks ago that I was in the hot room. I'm also in the process of wrapping up my doctoral dissertation, which is an extremely stressful and time consuming activity. I kept saying to myself "I'll get back in there when this gets done, or when I do that other thing..." Excuses. I'm less stressed out when I go to yoga regularly, I feel better and I sleep better... all things that would also help me accomplish the other goals in my life.

So, today I decided it was enough. It's time for a new attitude. Every Bikram studio I've been in has had these words up, somewhere in the studio: "Never too late, never too bad, never too old, never too sick, to start from scratch and begin again." And so, this is my bikram practice, beginning again.