Category Archives: Lessons Learned

Surrender

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been surprised by any improvement given my irregular yoga schedule. Or more accurately, I’m going regularly, but generally just 1x a week right now, occasionally 2. We’ll see how that evolves.  After voices in my head telling me it was a long day and just go home, I actually stayed the course and attended a 7pm evening class this week (in all honesty, the voices usually win). Not only was it hot, but super duper swampy. I think this is a combination of my studio and it being the last class of the day, after the heat was on for many many hours, etc.

I knew it was going to be hard and frankly, I was a bit tired. My concentration was off (started with breathing when I thought we were done and we were still going and continued on the floor when for some reason I thought cobra was locust… you get the idea…)

The humidity was, as most of you know, extremely challenging… for me, much more than the heat. So I told myself. Surrender. You’re here. Do what you can. Pick your moments to push and pick your moments to retreat (if needed). So I did. I pushed, I paused (not stopping, just determining which postures to take it a bit easy on (I know, not very Bikram sounding). The other distraction was a VERY distracted guy two positions over from me, fidgeting beyond belief. Again, I told myself, surrender. Don’t get caught up in his antics. I didn’t do great on standing head to knee, and my first half of bow was iffy, however, I continued and my last set was pretty damn good.

I lost a lot of energy by the end of the spine strengthening when I was praying for air, so floor blow and even camel were not great. Normally I’d beat myself up. This time, I found my attitude much healthier. I stayed present, I did the postures and I did what I could, when I could do it.

Namaste!

Packed Classes (It’s getting hot in here)

So, still trying to sort out my yoga schedule. Feels like earlier classes are easier (for me) when it’s not winter–dark and unwelcoming to wake up at 5:15am (but still worth it). So I’ve been struggling with a routine and how much yoga is the right amount. I’m trying to work in cardio and in fact, I’m trying a TRX class tonight… With that in mind, I’ve decided any class is better than no class. So, I snuck out of work a bit early yesterday and took THE MOST PACKED CLASS in my studio. The prime time 6pm sesh. A full 90 min of sardines packed in. I had people two inches of either side of me and feet in my face most of the class. You know what, I managed. Ideal? No, especially with airplane where your hands can’t really be in a proper place. Did I have a great view in the mirror? No, but neither did most people. You manage. Was it extra hot? Yes. I definitely noticed the crowd made the room warmer and the teacher barely opened the windows at all. You know what else I noticed? It didn’t really matter. Once you’re in the groove, you’re in the groove. That’s the great thing about class, you’re going for yourself and everyone sort of disappears for the most part. I don’t think i felt any class energy, but the crowd didn’t really detract. I often build up in my head how awful the packed classes are and even worse, the locker room where you can’t find a hanger for your coat, a locker for your clothes, etc., a shower that’s available. You know what, it was fine. So, I waited a few minutes for the shower, I had to hunt around for a locker… found one. Just goes to show that we build up things our head (or at least I do), that makes things worse and more painful than the reality needs to be.

Notable from the class:

Well, my once a week class is really not cutting it. Time to find more time! I’m planning at least 3x this week. Hold me to it!

My balance stinks. That’s always the first thing to go with me.

Locust: I cannot get my hands under my body. Wonder if I ever will. It’s sobering.

On the plus side:

I’m back to trying toe stand.

My balance is getting better.

I’ve been able to complete classes without sitting down or taking a break.

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

 

AWOL

I’ve been AWOL from yoga for over a month… closer to 6 weeks. This is my longest hiatus and it’s scary. I’ve gotten used to doing other things now like cardio. Much more convenient and flexible. I hurt my shoulder and so for a while I had to avoid yoga. I think it’s time I could return, the problem I’m having is motivation. I had to get up at 5:30 am to go to yoga. With fall here and winter coming, that’s hardly appealing. I can wake up at 6, get a strong cardio workout and be home and on my way to work, while I’d still be in yoga class… My studio is also establishing other classes (shorter yoga classes and a Yin Nidra class). I may try those, although the times are not idea. I am terrified what I should expect and how much slippage I’ve had. I’m more terrified that I’m stalling and continuing to delay my return. I’ve also lost more weight with cardio, so I’ll need to figure out some sort of balance. Any advice yogis?

Mysteries of the Wrist

One of the niggling things I notice with yoga is a perpetual pain in my left wrist. For a while I had some pain in left hip however that was just for a few months. The wrist has been sensitive since I started.  It’s my left wrist and I’m left handed. I feel it most in Locust, where my left palm does not seem to able to lie flat on the floor, it twists a bit. I sometimes remain concerned as I’m seen several yogis have to get wrist surgery and I imagine it’s a sensitive area and easy to overwork or misalign. It’s a bit odd to me though, as except for Locust, I don’t feel my wrist being worked and strained that hard in my Bikram class. I’m not doing handstands or anything that puts a lot of pressure on my wrist that I aware of. I have extremely tight shoulders, so then I wonder if that could be impacting my wrist in any way…  Then it dawns on me, I’m left handed, so maybe it has little to do with yoga and more about carpal tunnel and typing in front of a computer all day. Could yoga actually be helping and the reason my wrist hurts is that I’m trying to undo some of the strain? Or, is it pushing and prodding me into positions that are not ideal for my body. My wrist hurts the most after yoga, so not sure…

Yogis, do you have wrist pain/injuries and experience with this?

60 minute Bikram class

Although I consider myself a purist, I recently took a 75 min Bikram class my studio offers. To my pleasure, it was basically the same class for for the majority of the time and at the end, the last few postures seem to get truncated. It was familiar and I thought I’d totally go back if only a 75 min fit into my schedule. Then on Monday, I tried a 60 minute class. This, as you might expect, was more different. The standing series seems largely similar, although you do some postures 1x, not 2x. The bigger changes seemed targeted to the spine series and what follows. Those were more truncated, 1 set only for several, shorter savassanas and a combo camel/rabbit that wasn’t too easy. Certainly I’d take the class over not taking a class, but I’d have to say it wouldn’t be my preference. I felt more out of breadth and less stretched. Since I do cardio separately, I’d rather my yoga work on flexibility. I did like the teacher, funny and kept emphasizing proper form vs. depth (or ego as he called it). My studio now offers an Intermediate Class as well, which I figure I’m know where near ready for… but it is interesting how many “official” Bikram studios have deviated from the 90 min class. I guess they’re trying to attract more students? Have any of you tried these hybrid classes?

 

 

Cardio

I’ve never quite figured out how to balance yoga and with other workouts. For one thing. yoga is so time consuming that it often feels like it’s hard to do anything else. Lately I’ve been doing more cardio. It’s monotonous but I do like the feeling of stress relief and working actively on my heart health. I also do like the convenience. I can get a great workout in 45 min and be in and out of the gym in an hour. Bikram is 90 min, plus 40 min back and forth, plus prep time for drinking, etc. So cardio has been dominating lately. I need to get back into the yoga fold and soon. It’s never fun getting back into the swing of things when you’ve missed a week or 2, but I’m hoping the fact that at least I’ve been exercising will help. I do find yoga sort of an all or nothing activity. I get swept up in trying to go 4-5x a week and then do no other workouts or I do other workouts and can’t quite balance yoga into my routine. What do others do?

The pluses of yoga of course are the increase flexibility, overall working of the body and sweating that releases a lot of crap. I’ve found yoga has helped me also keep my cholesterol lower. It hasn’t helped as much with weight loss (in my case). Doing more cardio, I find my endurance is better, it’s better for weight loss and it makes me tighter and stiffer (particularly in the hips and shoulders, 2 of my tightest areas to begin with!)…

Good luck with whatever your workout routine is. Namaste!

Can you say humid?

Dang. Hot yoga when it’s 83% humidity is not easy nor pretty. I was impressed that most of the class (including myself) made it through all the postures. Especially since our teacher this morning is known as Ms. Hot, one of those who when she opens the windows, opens them a crack, the tiniest crack possible in fact.

My practice seems to be in a holding pattern. Since I’ve been doing more of the gym the past month, and going to yoga 2-3x a week, I can’t really complain, although I’m starting to inch it up a bit in effort. Hold postures longer, get back into them when I fall out… you know the drill.

Today though, I’m happy just to have class done. That feeling that you did something hard, in especially hard conditions. Back tomorrow. Namaste!

Yoga Wheel

You may have seen them lately–Dharma Wheel, Mandala Wheel, Yoga Wheel… they are basically a round padded prop you put under your back to help you reverse the damage of hunching all day and create a more flexible spine. I purchased one because I have incredibly tight shoulders and thought this might help. I have been building up to about 10 minutes a day using it. I can only do the most basic postures and even that is challenging. I do feel by chest and back stretching and basically reversing the motion of being leaning forward. I’m curious to see if this relieves some of my shoulder pain and helps with any of my yoga postures. It’s too soon to see any difference, and I also probably have to increase the time I’m on it. Let’s see: Sit 10 hours a day. Yoga wheel: 10 minutes. I don’t think I’ll see a revolution with that. I do seem to have slightly less shoulder pain which is encouraging. One of my yoga teachers makes and sells them, so I figured if he uses it, it’s probably something to be explored. It’s also nice to do some stretching outside of the postures, so this is a nice addition to my routine. I’ll keep you posted on progress. If anyone uses a yoga wheel, let me know how it’s going.

Namaste!

 

$_35

An extra hand

I took a class recently where the teacher is known for helping students one on one with postures. This usually means some postures are held longer, other times savasannas are longer… depending on what the teacher is doing with a specific student. I’ve noticed not always, but usually, the teacher picks advanced, very talented students… well this time I got picked in standing bow… on my bad side no less.  It was so interesting because he created an environment that you couldn’t fall, so you could try different techniques to see what was most effective. I know the dialogue says pull in opposite directions, 50-50 and I thought I was puling, however, when the teacher pulled me, he really pulled. I mean a stretch 10x stronger than I was doing. The other interesting thing, since set 1 is one minute, is that he said pull, then for 10 seconds relax, and let the body stretch more–that worked. The other news is I got a mandala wheel or dharma well to help stretch my back. I’ve been doing it for 5-6 minutes 2x a day… it really helps me overcome my hunching all day while seated and the corresponding tight shoulders i’ve developed (that impact almost every yoga pose!) I’d highly recommend it. The wheel comes with pictures, most that I’m not flexible enough to do, but just putting it under your back and stretching seems to work. Other than that, I’ve been going to early classes to try and beat the heat. It is brutal in my studio..

 

Namaste