Category Archives: Teachers

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

 

The Big Return

So tonight I plan to go to my first yoga class in about 10 weeks. Yikes. I’m feeling a cold come on, but I am going nonetheless. For a morning yogi, it will be interesting to take the crowded evening class, and I also picked one of the hardest, bad ass teachers who will show no mercy.

I know I will be rusty, there will pain and stiffness tomorrow and I will be frustrated. I’m going to take it easy and see how I feel. I’m thinking of this more as helping me answer the question do I want to keep yoga as an active part of my workout routine and if so, how much, when and why. Once I’m in the hot room will I remember how much I loved it? Will I think that this is no longer for me?  I’ve gotten used to my more convenient, flexible cardio routine although I’m starting to feel aches and pains. I’m struggling to wake up at 5am as the winter looms. Let’s see what happens. Trying to go in with no expectations, no preconceptions and no prejudices.

I’ll keep you posted!

Namaste

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?

 

 

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

You Don’t Quit

So, I continue to establish a regular routine and get back into the yoga groove. I still don’t have the flexibility I did a few months ago and some extra lbs make certain postures more challenging. Last week I went to class 3x and worked out at the gym 2x, focusing on cardio. I was shocked at how “bad” my cardio was compared to the past. As good of a workout as yoga is, it simply can’t do everything. I lowered my previous levels and got myself moving. It felt good, although of course, stiffens everything up, making yoga all the more challenging.

The week has started well though, with a July 4th yoga class and a class this am. I find it almost impossible to really give me all through the entire class, as in push push push. I just burn out. I certainly hold the poses and try to do the correct form, but it feels like I really need to pick a handful of postures and put the most energy into them… strategically.  I had a substitute teacher today that was excellent, so that’s always inspiring. To hear a slightly different instruction or perspective. I’ve been working on toe stand, I can go down, but I am extremely wobbly.  I’ve also been working harder on my backbend. I seem to have made no progress since I started there, so it’s become a posture of focus

This week is about keeping routine, not making excuses and trying my best. You?

Namaste.

It’s Hot in Here

Of course I’m used to the heat, as that is what hot yoga is all about. But has spring has finally arrived (woot!) classes have got ALOT hotter. In fact, some of my teachers have even said, as the seasons change, be prepared, the room is going to be hotter… (news to me, isn’t supposed to be 105 degrees all the time?). How do you get prepared for super hot??

Over the weekend and this week the classes have been HAWT… even when the teachers open the windows (always too briefly alas). On Tuesday I thought maybe I was just imagining the class was hot… I looked around me and saw about 1/3 of the class sitting down.

I like the heat but not when it’s so overwhelming I can’t focus or do the postures properly. I want it to be a tool not a weapon. However, my guess is it’s going to be hot for summer! I don’t remember this last year around this time… but who knows. If anyone has suggestions for dealing with the mega heat, share away!

Namaste

Food Poisoning and Yoga

Got food poisoning 2 weekends ago. It was not fun. In fact, it was the worst case of food poisoning (or stomach virus) I’ve had in my 48 years. Suffice to say, I was up the whole night, ate toast and tea for 2-3 days and finally, gently got back to normal. Of course, it’s a good and humbling lesson to be good and gentle to your body and not feed it crap… Last Wed I finally made it back to yoga. I waited a good number of days given how intense the Bikram 90 minute class in and the fact I was dehydrated for a while and had a hard time imagining working my stomach at all. Wed class went fine happy to report. I skipped rabbit as that just felt too gross when I tried it. Class again on Thurs, also fine. Body was a little tighter than normal (which is tight!) largely because of all the clinching you do when you’re throwing up and grabbing on to the toilet bowl for dear life.

Classes Sat and Sun were a bit tougher. Hotter and longer. We had a sub on Sunday and the class went closer to 115 minutes. Thought I was going to drop.  Several teachers have said the class will get hotter with hotter weather, which doesn’t make much sense to me, because I thought the room was supposed to be 105 degrees as a constant…

What the food poisoning taught me is:

  1. Eat carefully
  2. Eat healthfully
  3. Be gentler on yourself than you usually are
  4. Be grateful when you can go back to class
  5. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t (a long list in my case)
  6. Work on your neck. I realized I keep straining my neck in class. I felt this more right after being sick, so I need to figure out the right angles for everything from back bends to triangle

Namaste!

At Tale of Two Classes

It’s funny how different 2 classes can be. I took a Sat morning class that stunk. I’ve never been a natural yogi but that class I really felt like I couldn’t do a single posture. I kept falling out of the balancing series, couldn’t even grab my leg in standing head to knee and while I completed all the asanas, I felt like I had regressed to my first month… while I’m nearing my 2 year anniversary (granted with some lapses).  I hadn’t been to class in 2 days and I wondered if I could have regressed that much… everything felt tight, achy, uncoordinated and out of sync. When I told my husband that night how frustrated I was  about my morning performance he reminded me (like only a man can) that I have gained weight recently and that probably makes everything harder (thanks honey!)

So today, Tues  am, I took another class. Another 2 day break between Sat’s hellish experience and today. And I am relieved to say the same fat me had a much better class. I’m still very much a novice but I felt much more like my level, not like my first week. I’m still trying to “get back” to my yoga state a few months ago, which is better than today. But a series of long breaks and too few classes has found me climbing back vs. continuing to improve. The good news is that today was me continuing to climb back. I pretty much felt like me progressing. Balance wasn’t great, but was better. I could grab my legs in standing head to knee and even kick out on my right side. I was better in bow pose, balancing stick, triangle and the spine series.

It just goes to show no 2 classes are a like and to give yourself a break when sometimes a less than strong class occurs.

Namaste.