Sunday, May 31, 2009

Class + outside of class

Yesterday I went to a great class taught by Jenn. She puts so much energy into class and really tries to keep everyone motivated. Yesterday she emphasized stillness between postures. I find that really hard because I'm one of those people who will futz with my hair or pull down my tank top or whatever. At one point during class, Jenn said something like, "A. - stop fixing your hair. It looks fine." Ah yes, a reminder that no one cares what my hair looks like in Bikram class :) I do try to push myself in class no matter what, but a well-timed correction from a caring instructor really does help!

I've been reading some yogi blogs today and it kind of makes me wish I had more yogi friends, but I suppose I can just read blogs to obsess over yoga and nutrition and do other things in my "real life."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Back on the mat

Dragged myself back onto my yoga mat today for the first time in a while. I did feel a little stiff and not super hydrated, but it was good to sweat a little.

Last night, I was browsing Netflix's Watch Instantly and found a documentary called Ashtanga NY. It covers Sri K. Pattabhi Jois' visit to NYC which happened to coincide with 9/11. Gwyneth Paltrow and Willem Dafoe are in it along with lots of non-famous yogis. I've been more interested in Ashtanga after reading an Ashtanga blog which was written by a former coworker's wife. I know that Bikram yoga faces a lot of criticism as being very restrictive but to me, Ashtanga seems so much more strict. I've never practiced Ashtanga so I'm definitely coming at it from Bikram yoga. Anyway, the documentary isn't the best thing I've ever seen but it's less than an hour long and if you have nothing else to watch, you might want to check it out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thoughts on the challenges of my challenge

Now that I'm done with my challenge, I can reflect back on the experience. I've put together thoughts on a few of the difficulties I experienced during my challenge and have categorized them as mental, physical or logistical challenges.

Challenge: mental: Getting to class EVERY DAMN DAY
I read a post on the blog On Common Ground which jokingly suggested to quit your job before starting a 30 day challenge! I'm unemployed at the moment so having plenty of time on my hands definitely helped me get through the challenge. But obviously I would never recommend that people do that. However for me, even though I have time on my hands and experience following a training schedule, going to class EVERY DAMN DAY was still a bit hard to get used to. Last year I trained for a half marathon which meant I ran or worked out with my trainer Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after work + early (7am-ish) on Saturday mornings. Sundays I ran on my own. The training schedule was intense, but I had Mondays and Fridays off and that was always something I could look forward to. So for me, getting past the mental block of getting to class every day was definitely a challenge.

Challenge: mental: Loving my practice
Yes, I practiced for 30 days in a row, but my practice is not pretty. I have a couple of postures that are respectable, but overall, I am not a Bikram posture superstar. I get hot and tired in class and I sit out postures. Sometimes I get angry when I get hot and tired. Some of my postures still suck! To keep on going with the challenge, I had to accept that for me, it wasn't about having pretty postures. It was about getting myself through class.

Challenge: logistical: Lots of sweaty clothes/towels
Bikram classes create laundry galore. I'm lucky in that I have a washer/dryer "in unit" (sorry - I've been looking at lots of rental listings lately because I'm moving soon) so I didn't have to go to a laundry room or laundromat to do laundry but even so, it was kind of a pain in the ass to have so much sweaty stuff around all the time. I know that some studios have reasonably priced towel rentals, but that's not done at my studio so I just got used to doing laundry all the time. And I had to switch laundry detergents. And I started filling my washer with hot water when I was washing my Bikram stuff and then switching the washer to warm water for the rest of the wash. But yeah, I worked it out.

Challenge: logistical/mental: Food/weight
I'll be honest, I had some crazy food cravings during my 30 day challenge. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted which is not what I normally do. Did I lose weight during my 30 days? No, I did not. Did I eat an insane amount of food and not gain weight? Yes, I did. I tried to eat healthy but for me, I think 90 minutes in the yoga room every day just made my body freak out. I find that if I practice 4-5 times a week, I can eat "normally" but the every day practice just did not work with my body as far as having any restraint re: food. I wouldn't recommend a 30 day challenge as a way to lose weight, but that's just my personal opinion.

Challenge: mental: Explaining what you're doing to friends/family
For me, this is one place where this blog and the online Bikram community provided so much support. My friends and family are great but they didn't really "get" my 30 day challenge. So to be accountable here and on Twitter was so helpful for me. To keep records and see progress really helped me keep going and suceed.


I feel like there must be lots of things I've missed in this post, but I just want to get it up there now that I'm almost one month out from finishing my challenge. EDIT: Just realized I didn't touch on the physical challenges. To be honest, I had some aches and pains, but the physical stuff wasn't as tough as the mental stuff for me!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A week off

I haven't been to class since last Sunday. Last Sunday was one of those classes. One of those classes you hate. Or rather, one of those classes that I hate because I am not spiritually evolved enough to not hate classes. It was one of those classes that made me wonder why I would choose to be in a hot, skanky room with a bunch of strangers (and a friend from knitting.) My friend came to class with me. It was her third Bikram class. After class, I asked her about the class and whether she would have ever gone to another Bikram class if that had been her first one. She said probably not. That's how bad it was. And it's been such nice weather in Seattle this week. I just could not drag myself into the yoga room.

But I will get back. I'm struggling with a lot of non-yoga things in my life and doing more yoga would probably help me deal with them. And I read a funny Bikram quote on thedancingj's blog which cheered me up a bit. "Or as Bikram (definitely!) says: If you feeling great and everything is perfect in your life, you'd better watch out, something bad it coming. But if things are going terrible and you feel like shit, be happy!! Good things are going to come soon!"

I guess it's time to start being happy about feeling like shit.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Yesterday + today + today

Drove to class yesterday. Signed in. Said hi to the instructor. Went into the changing room. And realized I didn't have my shorts with me. Le sigh. Went to get lunch instead. Couldn't make it to class in the evening so I didn't practice yesterday.

This morning
Went to class up north with my mom. It was hot, but not as hot as last time. Not much to report.

This afternoon
Went to class at my regular studio wtih my friend who came to her first class over the weekend. I think she may be hooked - she's coming to class on Sunday as well. WOO HOO!

So yeah, two classes in one day. It took up loads of my time, but other than that, it was fairly uneventful. I mean, the second class wasn't especially hard or exceptionally awesome - it was just a middle of the road class. But I'm happy that I've done it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Class this morning

It was hot in the room today and the instructor was not generous with fans or cold air! But I just tried to remind myself that I don't go to class to enjoy the experience of class - I go to feel better in the rest of my life outside of class. If I happen to enjoy parts of class, that's just a bonus. And hey - it wasn't as bad as last night!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hellish class + funny things instructors say in class

Since finishing my 30 day challenge on May 1, I practiced occasionally for a week (class on 5/3 and 5/7) and then have been trying to get back to a daily pratice. Today was my 4th day in a row of being back on my mat. So yay! If I was doing another 30 day challenge (don't worry - I'm not!), I would be more than 10% done :)

I had a hellish class tonight. I was putting off going to class. Didn't make it for the 4pm. Saw that I wasn't going to make it for the 6pm... so I ate an Amy's Cheese Tamale Verde around 5:45pm. Total amateur mistake! WHAT WAS I THINKING?!? Ok, I wasn't thinking and I think I might have been trying to give myself an excuse to skip the 8pm class. But I didn't skip class. And as I was driving to class, I was rocking out to the Kings of Leon and thinking that maybe life isn't so bad. And class even started out good. I did what I think was my best pranayama breathing ever. All of the pieces of the dialogue seemed to make sense. And then during awkward, it all went downhill. I started to feel really gross. My stomach hurt and I felt like I couldn't breathe. Yes, the room was hot, but it was more like it felt like there wasn't any oxygen. I read an article from the Trib a while back and one of the comments mentioned lack of oxygen in Bikram studios. Not sure if there is any factual basis to back that up, but tonight was hell for most of the class. I practiced a lot of savasana and felt like I couldn't breathe normally.

During the official savasana before wind removing pose, the instructor told a funny story. He said that the heat of the room may be uncomfortable sometimes but that ayurveda says that it's very healthy for the skin to sweat. He said that one of the owners of the studio said that some yogis think it's better for your skin to shower before class and then just let the sweat evaporate after class because it will make your skin really nice and soft. He suggested that we all try it for a few months! Umm yeah, I'm sure that would make me really popular around town.

That made me think of another thing one of the instructors said a few weeks ago. I just realized that I didn't post it here on the blog - I just told a bunch of my friends about it. One of the instructors said that we shouldn't skip the final savasana after kapalbhati breathing because it's one of the most important parts of the class. She said that one of her instructors said that doing Bikram yoga without the final savasana is like having sex without an orgasm.
And with that, I will end tonight's Bikram ramblings...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Apologies for my long absence

I have to say, it's been a bit weird to not be living the Bikram lifestyle anymore. I've only been to one Bikram class since finishing my 30 days, but I have plans to go at noon today and to accompany a friend to her first class on Saturday.

I miss the heat. I miss stretching my body out. I miss feeling a sense of accomplishment and purpose with every class. I miss connecting with Bikram people on blogs and Twitter.

I don't miss the masses of sweaty laundry. I don't miss certain sights and smells of the yoga room.

So overall after a bit of space from my Bikram practice, it seems like the pros definitely outweight the cons. But I do want to branch out into some non-Bikram yoga as well. Not quite sure when that will happen due to (boring) financial and other issues.

I have a draft of my 30 day challenge tips blog post, but I think it kind of sucks so I want to rewrite it. Basically I look at the challenges as falling into 3 categories - mental, physical and logistical, but the post got sort of jumbled. Anyway, I will rewrite that and get it up soon-ish.

Friday, May 1, 2009

30 DAYS!!!!!

Day 30, Class 30

Never did any doubles - just plodded away with a class a day and slowly but surely, I made it to this point - - - DAY 30! Class today wasn't anything spectacular. Did every posture except the second set of salabasana/locust. The instructor described the room as "Louisiana in the middle of summer" which seemed pretty accurate. Not sure what else to say - not really having any deep thoughts at the moment. Just looking ahead to things that I've been avoiding or putting off during this month that I sort of hid out in the yoga room. And I'm looking forward to going out with friends this evening. Although they don't get what I'm doing in the same way as my fantastic Twitter/blog online yoga crew does, I do appreciate their support!


A HUGE THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU! I appreciate the comments you left here on the blog as well as on Twitter. As you may have seen on the sidebar of the blog, this isn't the first time I've wanted to do a 30 day challenge, but it's the first one I've completed and having support and encouragement was so helpful in keeping me going to class even on those days when I didn't want to go!

If there is anyone out there who has been thinking of doing a 30 day challenge but hasn't tried yet, I'm planning a post for tomorrow with a few tips that I wish I had known before starting the challenge.