Monthly Archives: December 2014

Bikram Resolutions: 2015 Goals

Bikram yoga has taught me to set goals for myself (big and small) which I’ve tried to do the past seven months. My biggest recent frustration is this cold/cough I can’t seem to shake, limiting my attendance. I think I need to slow down once I’m done with class and let me body and temperature readjust so when I get outside and it’s freezing, I’m not constantly recatching this bug.

Focusing on the positive, here’s my five 2015 Bikram goals. Trying to keep them achievable and important…

Go as often as possible: Like Lotto, you need to be in it to win it.

Avoid judging myself in class. There is no shame in being a beginner.

Smile and stay positive. When I fall out of a posture like Standing Bow, I tend to shake my head and get annoyed. What is that famous Bikram quote, “Falling out of a posture means you’re human. Getting back in means you’re a yogi.” I need to shift my attitude

It’s ok to sit down if I need it. Then let it go. I’m not going to feel guilty if I need to sit out a posture occasionally. I just need to make sure I don’t get bad habits.

Do the work. When I’m in class, I need to be in the moment. Not thinking about dinner, vacation or work.

 

 

Seven Surprises From Bikram Yoga

There’s plenty of great articles and blog posts on taking your first Bikram class. I thought it might be more interesting as we’re close to the end of the year to share some surprises I’ve learned after about 7 months of yoga… Keep in mind, these are true in my experience only and may be completely different for someone else.

1. You will have bad classes and you won’t be able to explain why

It is almost impossible to predict a great class from a bad one. You can eat the same thing, drink the same amount, sleep the same amount and have fabulous class one day and a lame one the next. It’s part of your practice. Just give it your best each time you go. I’ve had only one REALLY bad class the whole time, where I basically went down after triangle and couldn’t get up. The others were more shades of lame…

2. My skin got softer

I still can’t figure this one out. My skin is a lot softer. That’s all I can say.

3. My sleep is still unpredictable

Almost everyone seems to say their sleep is improved through Bikram yoga. Unfortunately, I seem to the exception. I slept like a baby after my first class. Now I still wait up repeatedly throughout the night and have trouble sleeping….

4. Bikram yoga is addictive

I also have trouble explaining this one. How can something I sometimes dread be addictive? How can I like and dislike something and still be obsessed about it?

5. Bikram is good for your health

So, if you read my earlier post, you know I actually gained weight after starting Bikram. I  had high cholesterol before I started so when I went for my physical knowing I had gained weight, I was almost sure that my results would be even worse. I was bracing for the doctor to tell me to take medication. The only plus was I had been practicing Bikram yoga for several months regularly, about 4 times a week. I got my test results, my cholesterol dropped nearly 60 points. Woot!

6. It’s really hard

At least once during most classes I think to myself, “this is really hard” or “does working out need to be this hard?” Usually it’s around triangle, tree or camel. I’m working on quieting that voice, however it is quite persistent. Bikram is really hard. No lie.

7. I’m still not a bendy pretzel

I was hoping after 7 months I’d wake up in the morning and seem a lot more flexible. I wake up and can barely touch my hands to the floor. Still.top-7-animated-movies-2010-copy

Yoga Routine

So, hot yoga seems to require more prep than other types of yoga. The obvious need is hydration. If I take a crack of dawn morning class, I try to gulp down at least 3 glasses of water when I wake up and eat maybe 1/2 a banana. If I take a later class, I try to drink all day, stopping maybe 30 min before class and I try not to eat 2-3 hours before class. This can play havoc with life. On weekends, I’m racing around to make sure I eat before 1pm so I can take my 4pm class.  At work, I try to make sure I have time to eat and I’m not trapped in meetings during my key available meal times. I, for one, start to get a little anal about my routine. Thank god my desk is near the ladies room, as I’m constantly running there all day! I’ve learned through trial and error (those errors are awful!) about what’s too much, too little and less than ideal.

In class, I’ve noticed a menagerie of items people bring to class. I stick with my hydroflask (1/3 coconut water, the rest water) and a washcloth to wipe my hands or face. I’ve noticed people who bring several water bottles, EmergenC, tissues, keys and their phones (turned off). I am working on not fidgeting with my headband during class. I constantly move it and adjust it during poses. I am also working on not futzing with my mat and towel all the time. If it bunches, it bunches…Small steps!

Serendipity

So, after a nearly 2 week absence from attending yoga due to a cold/cough/flu, I went back yesterday. That’s the longest time I have not attended class over the last 6 months, so naturally I was a bit concerned on how I would feel. Would I have lost a lot of progress? Would I need to take breaks? Happily, the class went well. I did lose ground on a few postures (toe pose, triangle) and general flexibility, however, I definitely felt all the months of consistent practice will make it easier to bounce back and in some postures, I felt I was largely the same.

More interesting was the message of the teacher last night. One of the toughest I take, he was focusing on knowing when to push and when not to. He talked a lot about listening to your body and understanding some days you can really push and other days you really can’t. About being smart and focusing on using only the muscles required, not tensing your body and tiring yourself further. About making small gains vs. giant leaps. About being patient with yourself. Perhaps because I had not been to class in a while, I listened carefully, really soaked up his words and took a lot of inspiration from what he said. I think sometimes we get caught up in what we can’t do (see my last post for example!) versus the fact we are working toward getting better. Never being done.

Namaste.

The Poses You Struggle With

Everyone has poses that come easy (or easier)  and those that are a real struggle. For example, I could do fixed firm pose, leaning all the way back, fairly quickly in my practice, however there are more than a handful of poses I really struggle with.

As a newbie, and someone who is not flexible (years of running partially to blame I think), there are some asanas that I have to smile and keep struggling with.

1. It starts early for me, one of the warm up poses in half moon, where you place your hands under your ankles…uhh… no. My hands literally cannot go behind me. I put them on the sides of my feet more than under my ankles… bending my knees doesn’t seem to matter, I just seem to really have a hard time and my shoulders seem to stay put, not willing to even remotely move behind my knees.

2. Next eagle pose. My foot is stubborn and refuses to wrap around my other leg. I squeeze tightly and hope I’m getting the benefit, however my foot stays outside the other leg, not behind it. I attribute this (Rightly or wrongly, more wrongly I suspect) to 2 potential things: I’m very short and I’m plump. There’s a few poses I’ve found where carrying some extra weight makes the pose more challenging. This is one of them.

3. Standing Head to Knee. OK, This is a hard one for many. For 6 months, I could not pick up my leg at all. I’d stay in the first part of the posture of locking my standing leg. Overall, this seemed to be the only posture I felt I was making no progress. I could not wrap my hands (fingers entwined no less) under either leg. I’d see people in their first class do it and I just wanted my arms to be 6 inches longer! Here’s where weight comes into place as well. I think my stomach and chest gets in the way when I lean forward making this posture harder. I have made progress on this though.

4. Separate Standing Leg Head to Knee Pose: This is the one where the posture only starts when your head touches your knee and it’s ok to bend your leg. Well, I bend and my head has never touched my knee. This may be my second most frustrating posture.

5. Wind Removing Pose. The third part of this pose involves lifting both knees up and wrapping your arms together, grabbing your opposite elbows. Well, my fingers clasp here. Again I think I can blame my stomach mostly, although my back way be very tight (making my dream pose-Full Camel even trickier-see post below)

6. Locust Pose. My legs feel like they barely move here when I try to lift them both up simultaneously. I struggle here both to do the posture correctly and to make progress.

I try hard not to get negative with myself or frustrated during these postures. It does happen I have to confess, however, I look forward to getting better, moving forward and making progress. Namaste.

Pining

Due to this annoying cough/cold, I haven’t been to yoga in over a week. It feels like forever and I am starting to get anxiety about losing the ground I’ve gained. Every time I even start the first breathing exercise to see how I feel, I start sputtering and coughing, so I’m waiting to return. It’s funny how when in class you sometimes dread it, however, when you can’t go, you pine. I just read in MyBikramYogaLife blog that Leigh recommends going to yoga every day and here I am panicking that I haven’t been in 8 days or more.

Then I breathe (and cough) and think not to panic. I want to do yoga for a long time and I have to respect whatever occasional hurdles come my way. Taking a moment and having perspective has helped me…

Have you had a period when you couldn’t go to class?Unknown

AM or PM Yoga?

Currently I’m wrestling with whether to try and do yoga early in the am or after work. Well, currently, I’m trying harder to get over my annoying cold. However, in the scheme of things I am thinking that getting into a habit or pattern will help. Make sense? In all practical ways the morning makes the most sense. Less chances work or life will get in the way, great to get it done with and the classes are less packed. On the flip side, evening has some of my fave teachers, I’m a bit more flexible and better hydrated. However, the  classes  are packed and the demands of work not infrequently cause me to cancel classes.

Here’s my problem. The morning classes are REALLY early. I need to wake up at 5:15 or 5:30 am and in winter, it’s dark and cold. It also means I need to be in bed by 10, making me as exciting as my grandmother.

If I take a 7 or 7:30 class I get home 9 or 9:30 and still have to eat dinner and unwind.  Mixing and matching, which is what I’ve been doing sometimes works, although often makes me tired in the am and tired at night. I know it’s most important that I go, regardless of time… What works best for you?

I Have a Dream: Full Camel

Here’s the irony. Like many, I struggle with Camel.  I’m already spent by the time Camel comes a calling and I generally feel extremely crappy after. Just leaning back and I’m in trouble. Dizzy and nauseous. Chest up and push hips forward. Again. I’m happy when some teachers make it quick and I lament when others hold it for a minute.  I hate when teachers rush me into savasana when I’m trying to get my bearings after the posture. It certainly doesn’t come easy to me and my back is hardly super flexible. My favorite part about it is generally it means only 15 minutes left of class…

So… what do I pick at my fave ultimate pose: FULL CAMEL. O the irony!!  I love the way it looks. Amazing. I  have a friend studying to be a (Baptiste) yoga teacher and she says it’s all in the back and that it feels as uncomfortable as camel.  Hmmm. Whether I’ll ever be able to do Full Camel is another story, however, I dream about it. More importantly, I do sometimes use it as motivation for myself when it’s camel time…

Do you have a dream posture and does it inspire you?

 

 

full_camel

Do Teachers Know Best?

Bikram teachers by and large generally seem to push students more than they push themselves. I’ve seen the extreme frowning upon leaving the room, excess water drinking and sitting out a pose. I’ve also seen a few teachers that are more laid back and suggest that you the student may know your body best.

I have mixed feelings about it. I do like being pushed and like a personal trainer, I find a teacher can get more out of you. I personally prefer an encouraging tone vs. a military command. I’ve heard a teacher ask “Are you dead yet? No, then get up.” That didn’t sit too well with me.

In my head, the following dialogue takes place, whether the teacher is talking to me (usually not) or someone else, “How do they know what’s going on? What if the person is sick? How does the teacher understand if this person is at their capacity or not? Why does this have to be so hard all the time. If they need to sit out a pose, they should.”

Despite being told never to leave the room, I’ve left 4 times so far in the last 6 months, each time to throw up.  I’ve had one class where I literally had to sit out most of the class after triangle. The teacher, one of the toughest I take, saw I was really out of it. After his usual, “Get up, this means you” he realized I was struggling and told me to to lie down and relax. He opened the door several times to make sure I got air and even came and checked on me during savasanas.

I do think we (I) often need a kick in the ass that teachers can provide, at the same time, I pretty much follow my gut. From what I’ve heard Bikram gives a lot of tough love, so seems like this is what many teachers learn in training.

What motivates you the most?

Being Sick… And Yoga

Do you practice yoga when sick? I’ve been sneezing and blowing my noise all morning. So annoying as this is the same cold I have re-caught several times over the past 6 weeks. Bikram is such a tough workout that going when I feel below par never seems like a great idea. On the other hand, I always feel better when I go. Do you find you get less sick when you practice yoga? Part of me wonders if it’s easier to catch someones germs in the hot room any maybe that’s why I keep recatching this… What do you do when you feel under the weather?

Namaste

 

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