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A few seconds of improvement?

Have you ever had a class where you could ALMOST see yourself getting better? Making progress? Having a slightly different perspective? It’s hard for me to believe b/c my attendance has been so sketchy but I took a packed prime time class in the evening.Was lucky enough (in my mind) to be right next to window that got frequently opened because of the sauna like conditions. Did that help? Maybe. The warm up was nothing special, but during head to knee (which I struggle) with and bow (which I also struggle with) in this unusual class, I maintained my balance almost the entire 1 minute. Normally that’s not true. And when I generally maintained my balance, I felt I was going further into the postures. What else was different? I couldn’t see a damn thing. The class was super crowded and I’m in the back. So forget it. At first I was frustrated but then I just thought to myself, “OK, you’re not going to see yourself. Keep going.” The rest of the class was fine, I didn’t detect anything different then usual. It was just those two postures and it was as if I got a little angel tapping on my shoulder saying, “You can do it.” I’m sure it will be gone the next class but for now, I’m going to enjoy that memory!

 

Namaste.

Time give me time

So, I’ve been getting back to yoga… sporadically. My studio essentially stopped its yin classes, so that’s a bummer. In winter, I have had a harder time getting back to the crack of dawn classes, which leaves the evenings (packed, easy to cancel, often have to cancel due to work etc.) and weekends (a shlep) so my attendance needs definite improvement. I’m working on it. I’m also working on really listening to the dialogue as if I’ll uncover some holy grail of instructions…. you never know. This weekend I took a class with a teacher who had a heavy accent. I couldn’t understand a word but luckily I didn’t really need to, given the repetitive nature of class.  I also seem to have gotten more neck pain, so I must be doing something wrong somewhere. Trying to figure out… thinking maybe triangle or the spine strengthening series where you look up?  I’ve added in some 75 min classes when they are convenient, but rarely do the 60 min version. Do you?

I’m continuing on my cardio path so we’ll see where all this leads. What’s your fitness plan for 2017?

 

Namaste

3 Days of Bikram

Well folks my earlier planned return was delayed due to a cold that wouldn’t quit and some work travel. Finally, after a multi-month hiatus, I returned. I have 3 classes under my belt and at least 2 planned for this week. How I mix my yoga classes into my other workout schedule is TBD. I have never been good at moderation.

Some observations on returning after my longest break to date:

  • I wasn’t starting from scratch. After 2.5 years of doing yoga, I surprised myself with being more ready than I expected. I picked one of the hardest teachers and completed all 26 postures in all three classes. This may also have something to do with the cardio I’ve been doing while not at yoga
  • I was stiff as a board after my first class and super tight in my second (and third) demonstrating despite my focus on never being a very talented yogi, I was working muscles and stronger than I am now. My hamstrings most notably are still aching.
  • Postures I was surprisingly able to do: standing head to knee (in the same capacity as before), eagle, balancing stick, separate standing head to knee, cobra…
  • Balance was among the most glaring weaknesses. Breathing also was tough to get back into. Other poses that will take time to come back: standing bow, triangle (among my most declined postures), toe stand (my most declined posture-I can’t go down at all yet), locust, bow (which I always stunk at), camel and fixed firm (can you say ouch?!). One of my classes had the teacher correcting me at every other posture. It was sobering but appreciated.
  • Other observations: I weighed myself after doing 2 days of Bikram and lost no weight. For whatever reason, Bikram and weight loss don’t seem to go together for me. I do much better in terms of weight loss with cardio. That’s not to say Bikram doesn’t provide other very significant benefits, but when you’re trying to drop 20 lbs, mixing cardio into the routine seems critical
  • Long Live Yin. It may also be my sporadic yin classes have helped. My studio seems to now only offer them 1-2x a week at the worst times so I’ll need to find another place to keep that practice up alas

 

Back and Achy

So 2 weeks away from Bikram yoga takes its toll. I went on vacation for a week and then had a crazy work week. What do I notice? Balance suffers and my hard fought flexibility  took flight. It’s tough to remember when your head could almost touch your knee and now even when bend you can only get the top of your nose to reach. Still, the only option is to try to release the disappointment and judgement (O so easy to bash myself!) and persevere. However long it takes to get back, it takes. Trying to be gentle and continue to encourage myself, especially as the weather outside and in the hot room gets more steamy. The other thing I noticed was that the hot room has been like a sauna. Especially for weekend later in the day classes. So anything I can do and anytime I go, even with my less than ideal performance, I’m trying to stay positive. This morning at 7, it was also super humid. This tests another kind of strength-not flexibility but endurance. The classes have been ugly and rough, but they are successes if I can finish them and try to focus. So, this week is my attempt to “get back at it”

Let’s see how it goes…

Namaste

Chasing Your Breath

Today in class I had a hard time catching my breath. That rarely happens–the feeling you’re out of breath and need to catch up. I pose after pose I felt like I was chasing my breath. Caught up to me in triangle… when I sat down for half a set… alas, it really wasn’t enough time to catch my breath and as a result I was a bit out of sorts the whole class. Even the 2 minute savassana didn’t give me enough of a break to align my breath. Makes you feel the whole class is aerobic and you’re winded. On the plus side, it did cause me to focus more, to try to minimize my movements and pay attention. On the down side, you feel out of control and less able to push yourself, since you can’t really go to your edge on the exhale.  I believe these are all good experiences to have–they show you more about your body, your reaction and how to deal.

I often struggle with ego given how inflexible I am, but I’m coming to focus more and more on the fact that I’m only trying to improve myself, and then inevitably, I can only get better and stronger, however slow and long that may take. These little misadventures in class teach me I am getting stronger, I can deal with foibles and I can handle them.

Right now I’m trying to focus on “chest up” a comment I hear when going back bends and camel. I’m also trying to ignore grabbing my ankles and just stretch my elbows back and hips up. Next area of focus: why I can’t get my elbows underneath me in locust.

Namaste and Breathe!

The Pee Problem

It’s been with me for a while. Ever since I had to get up during the 2 minute savasana between the standing and seated series and go to the ladies room. I was so annoyed because once I raced back from the ladies room, savasana was over. And I generally need that time to slow down my breathing. I almost never leave the room during class (I can count on one hand  when I have, and besides the time in question, the others were when I left to throw up)

I was happy I was with a teacher I knew, because she would realize I don’t normally leave the room and this was necessary. I’m not sure why that mattered to me, however, I recall that it did.

Ever since that class several months ago, I’ve gotten a little obsessive. Since I mostly take morning classes, I drink 3-4 glasses of water about an hour before class. IF I take an later class, I try to stop drinking earlier. In the morning, I gulp as much as I can and then pee when I get to the studio. That seems normal enough. Then, I go into the hot room and stretch/loosen up for about 10 minutes, and then leave the room,  go the ladies room again right before class and head back in. I’ve been doing this double teaming for months and I’m looking at the clock before class starts to make sure I take that extra visit right before class.

I think when we get too obsessive about anything related to yoga it’s probably not helpful, however, here my goal is to make sure I can stay in the class and not be uncomfortable, so I sort of justify the behavior.I don’t want to think about it all during class, so at least this helps it from becoming a distraction.

Do you have yoga quirks in your routine?

Namaste.

Step Backward to Step Forward

You’ve probably heard me talk about not being able to scoop my hands under my ankles in the warm up series–hand to feet pose. I sort of squish my hands to the sides of ankles but not behind them. My elbows can’t seem to get behind my calves. I’ve asked many teachers about this and they always look a bit unsure of their answer. I’ve been told that “I’m so close,” “It may be anatomical. Maybe your little arms are just too small,” “You know one of our master teachers cannot do that pose. We all have some issue.” I can’t really tell if it’s tight hamstrings, tight shoulders (what I’m leaning toward) or some proportional issue, as some have suggested….

In class the other day my teacher suggested I take a step back. Maybe for at least one set of the posture. Not try to grab my ankles, but focus more on getting my elbows behind my knees and having my hands hang wherever they land. So i tried. My elbows sort of went behind my ankles and my hands stayed at the bottom of my calves. Did not come close to grabbing at my ankles or anything else. The stretch in my hamstrings didn’t seem as strong, although I did feel my shoulders stretching. I’m going to try it for a little while (at least) and see how it feels. I’ve googled how to improved this posture and haven’t found many tips.

I know I’m on the less flexible vs. more flexible side of things (my leg doesn’t wrap in eagle, head doesn’t touch my knee in assorted sit ups and postures, etc.) however, in most postures I feel there’s been progress in the 14 months I’ve been doing this yoga, albeit slow. Here, I’m less sure. There might be in other parts of the posture (how far I’m stretching) but not so much grabbing my ankles.

 

Has anyone else had to take a step back to move forward?

 

Namaste

Hands-to-Feet-Pose-Tierney_1

This is obviously not me!

 

Crack of Dawn

This week I have done  6:30am and 7 am classes this week. I love getting the classes done with, although carrying around my stinky towel and yoga clothes is no treat. As mentioned, I’ve had a series of better than average classes over the past 2 weeks or so. I knew it was a matter of time and Thurs the streak ended. It wasn’t a clunker-God-let-this-class end disaster, but it was decidely worse than my recent glory days. Why you ask?

Well, I knew I felt shaky around SH2K and Standing Bow. I always stumble with these 2 bad boys and I felt particularly weak with Bow. I started to put a hand on the floor in between to rest. Never a good sign.

By triangle, I knew I didn’t have the energy of the past 2 weeks and the heat was really bothering me. I sat out half of one set. I get very annoyed when the heat overwhelms me. I like it  to be hot, but not torturous.

That doesn’t sound terrible you say… Well, my nose came NO WHERE to touching my knee in the separate standing leg pose, despite my recent breakthrough

My toe stand attempts were particularly lame as was my seated bow.

I did all the poses and moped through class.

As mentioned, not a disaster but not the best. All part of the practice…

I Believe in Miracles…

Where you from you sexy thing? RIP Errol Brown. What a class tune. I love the meditative quality of Bikram, although I do love music. We have a class once a quarter at my studio with music. Love it!! The week thus far has been 2 spin classes and 1 yoga class. Yoga slated for Fri and Sat as well. Pretty happy with that all things considered. I’ve also been pretty solid with my diet. Now if I could only banish cheese…I’m working on it.

What’s the plan here? Well, my one year anniversary of starting Bikram is end of next week. Granted I probably missed about a month’s worth of classes with the flu and a cold, but a year is a year. Have I made a ton of progress? No, not a ton. I’m certainly not a natural yogi, however I am a hardworking one and I have made some progress. Still can’t grab my hands behind my ankles in the warm up, but I can get all the way down in fixed firm. My husband got me a private lesson with one of my fave teachers as my birthday present, so stay tuned for that post! I will prob (hopefully) have lots of insights and tips.

At this phase, I am definitely looking to drop at least 20 lbs (and preferably 30), which I think will both make me feel better and help my yoga… compression postures without a big tummy have to be easier!! Hopefully the cardio will jump start this as yoga alone has not. I am still experimenting with class times (AM/PM) and see what works best…

Namaste.

 

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Bon Voyage

My vacation start this weekend and I’m going to a fitness resort with my husband. Working out 5x a day. They have stretching, although not sure about yoga. At least I’ll be active! Who knows what it will do for my yoga practice, being away a week, but I’m sure I’ll find it. At least I’ll get a chance to try other kinds of exercise. When I’m back next week I’ll provide an update on my adventures.

 

Namaste.