Monthly Archives: January 2015

Revisiting Resolutions: 30 days later

I skimmed a post I wrote a month ago and wanted to see how I’m faring. I’d say I’m not doing too great with items 1-3 and I am succeeding more with 4-5.

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

Follow up:  I still am not attending class as often as I’d like. I was easily hitting 4x a week over the summer and now I struggle for 3x. I know that’s sort of the Bikram minimum. Last week I only went 2x. This week, I’m slated for 3. I’m still behind from where I was with certain postures… So, I’m going to refocus on aiming for 4x week. I thought first thing in the am was best since it’s less likely to get canceled due to work or family issues, however, I’m struggling to wake up at 5:15 in the am, so perhaps I need to revisit.

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

Follow up:  I still am judging. I feel like my weight gain is making certain poses harder than before so then I tend to judge myself very harshly in class. Occasionally loathing comes in, most of it’s annoyance.

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

Follow up:  Similar to above, I can get agitated, although I am working on this. First I smile and then I try to shake it off. As long as I trying (see last item), I don’t mind struggling

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.

Follow up:  I have been able to do this. I rarely skipped any postures and now I tend to sit out one set (not 2)  of something usually right after triangle. I don’t want to get lazy, but if I need a break, I’m confident enough to take it. Sometimes the teachers say something, however, since I get back up right away, they seem to understand. I find it’s also made my effort throughout the end of class a bit better.

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

Follow up:  This is probably my most successful resolution thus far. I still need to work on it, however, my focus is better and I push harder. Maybe not as hard as I can all the time, but definitely an improvement.

Overall, a mixed bag after 30 days. I think working on making my attendance more consistent is my biggest priority. How often do you go to class?

 

Namaste.

Hot and Cold

Hot yoga in snowstorm? Wacky Made it to Monday’s class before things got canceled. I struggled with motivation, however, just went, which is always the thing to do. It was one of the smallest classes I’ve taken. Normally I’d be thrilled, this time more self conscious about my inability to do everything from grabbing my hands behind my ankles, properly lift my leg in standing head to knee and not being able to have my forehead touch my knee in standing separate head to knee (after triangle). It’s dawned on me, I am just not flexible! I am stiff, tight and progress is slow, further aided by my irregular attendance.

My left side is considerably tighter than my right (thanks to a decade-old shoulder injury and a left hip that survived 3 different physical therapy efforts due to running myself ragged over the years).  I just need to make peace with this. I’ll get better, although who knows when or how much better. Progress will happen and that’s all I can focus on. My friend who is studying to be a yoga teacher firmly believes every body is different and not everyone can do everything. So, will my hands eventually be able to scoop up my ankles and let me be a sandwich? Will my legs twist around each other in eagle? Will my forehead  ever touch my knee? (Imagine how fun it is to have these two far apart when every teacher says, “You must touch your forehead to the knee, that’s when this posture starts. It’s not a stretch, it’s a compression, if you don’t touch your forehead to your knee, you get no benefit.”) Yes, I know , I just can’t do it!! Annoying. I know I will certainly get better and that’s where I need to focus.  I really want to pick up my attendance and assess how I’m doing  in May, which will mark my one year anniversary. I am going to try hard however still practice acceptance and patience, two current weaknesses right now.
snow-storm

Today’s observations

Since I was on a tirade earlier this week, thought I’d note some positives and honest observation about my practice and  class today…

I learn something new each class. Today was packed. I found a decent spot and tried to listen carefully. The teacher I had, in particular, is one of my fave and extremely helpful and informed.  I heard (although I’m sure it’s been said 100x) that in fixed firm, you place your elbows down, then your head (top and middle) and then your shoulders so you get a stretch first. While  I may have heard this before, it registered today.

The teacher mentioned me by name and the feedback was always helpful. Plus two compliments.  Whoo hoo.

Did all poses except one set of the pose after triangle-separate standing head to knee (where my head never reaches my knee anyway)

My toe stand has clearly declined since my attendance has dropped and been less steady. Have to work on that.

Rabbit has become near impossible with weight gain. My stomach just gets in the way and it’s challenging to do the pose properly. No one to blame but me here.

The girl in front of me sweat on my mat and my hand towel. I know that’s nothing unusual but I still get creeped out by any sweat other than my own.

I think I’ve forgot to mention but I also stink at the final pose-spine twisting. My arm doesn’t move past my knee and I think I have stayed very remedial here for months. I think b/c it is the last pose and I’m so grateful that I often thing class is over vs. really focusing here. Must focus on that.

 

 

Why?

I am in a grumpy mood…this is what goes through my head. Scary place!

Why can’t I grab my hands behind my ankles in pada hastasana/hands to feet pose? Why? Are my shoulders too tight? Are my hands to small?

Why can’t I wrap my legs around each other in eagle pose?

Why for the love of all that’s holy can’t my clasped hands fit under my foot so that I can raise it and start the pose in standing head to knee?

Why do I fall out of standing bow pulling pose constantly?

Why does my head refuse to come remotely close to my knee in standing separate leg head to knee pose, even if  I bend my knee to kingdom come?

Why is my toe stand not getting any better (meaning, why can’t I do it?)

Why do my legs barely get raised in locust pose?

Why is bow pose close to impossible?

Why can’t my butt and hips stay together in half tortoise pose?

Why can I barely grab anything in spine twisting pose?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I am a creature of habit. It has served me well through the years, being disciplined and reliable. It can also make changing habits challenging. I am working steadily toward going to Bikram 4x a week. This was my routine in Spring and has slipped some. Not sure why-winter? having broken up my routine? being busy? being stressed? (yes, I know, all reasons to go more!) Generally, it’s Tues and Thurs and then Sat and Sun, although schedules can vary. Both yesterday and this morning I tried to motivate myself to go to class as I had some time. Both times I really struggled and didn’t go. I’m not sure I really understand myself since I do want to get better, stronger, more flexible, lose weight. I mean, I even started this blog! Yet at the same time, I struggle with going to class. All the other blogs I read have yogis doing doubles, engaging in long challenges and here I am whining about going to class 3-4 times a week. What are they doing that I am not? Is it  mindset? Conviction? Habit?

Flow

I went to a flow style vinyasa yoga class yesterday. I was visiting friends on the Jersey Shore and my former running cohort and dear pal invited me to check out her yoga class. Here’s my observations relative to a Bikram class…

What I liked…

My calves got a better work out. I think this is due to the many returns to  downward dog. My arms got a better workout-PLANK!  Variety can be nice. I learned several poses, especially hip openers that I found interesting. While not easy, it was certainly easier than a Bikram class. I wasn’t dizzy, praying for the end or needing to rest.

What I didn’t like…

Flow. I’m the first to admit, this may simply be because I’m not used to it, however, I prefer the start and stop of postures. The rest in between. The return to stillness.

Not knowing poses. While I liked variety, I also like the comfort and familiarity of a Bikram class. It helps me pace myself, knowing what’s next and I like how each pose prepares you for the heat.

Props! I’ve drank the kool aid, so when I see bolsters, pillows and blocks, I get nervous.

Triangle, non-Bikram style. This class had that triangle pose where you put your hand past your leg on the outside. I found it more uncomfortable than the Bikram version where I’m better able to twist my spine at the end.

Overall, I think it’s great to try different things. I’m still aiming to try a Yin yoga class, as many Bikram students seem to recommend it. What other styles of yoga have you tried?

Namaste.

A Bad Class

I was all focusing positively when boom… I had a really bad class yesterday. Due to scheduling, I hadn’t done much yoga this week so I knew class would be a bit atypical and maybe I’d be a little bit stiffer. Well, I was a lot more stiff and a lot more tired. It’s funny, cause sometimes when I skip a few days and come back, I have a really strong class… like my body has rested and is ready to go. Not this time.

Early I knew I was in trouble. In halfmooning, when you grab your ankles and pull.. well, I always have problems with that, however, this time I could barely grab anything and had to bend my knees MUCH more than usual. Could I have really lost that much flexibility in a week  I thought?  I barely got through triangle when I felt a dreaded gurgling in my stomach. Ran out of the room just was tree pose started, went to the bathroom, threw up a little, splashed water on my face and got back in time for savassana.

I made it through the rest of the class although all my poses were crappy and it was not my finest moment. I also was totally bummed when the teacher commented on another student during Standing Head to Knee. She turned her bent leg a bit to the side when she grabbed it and straightened it out when she extended it. This is the what I have been doing and the progress I made. Although it’s a bit awkward looking, I was able to extend, so I thought it was improvement. WRONG. The teacher told her not to do it that way, so if that’s the case, I’m back to the beginning.  I still can’t place my two hands clasped together under my bent leg-my boobs and stomach seem to get in the way so if I can’t bend my leg to the side a bit, I’m back to the first phase of the pose, 8 months in. BUMMER.

These classes happen to the best of us, but they suck. I’m going to have a “light” yoga schedule week this week (2-3 classes), however, next week plan to be back to 3-4 classesand see how long it takes me to get back to “normal.” Not sure about the SH2K regression. That’s a blow.

 

Namaste.

Focus on the Good

If you’re remotely self critical like me, you tend to focus on the things you can’t do. The poses that pose a challenge. The parts of your body that stubbornly remain tight, seemingly with a will of their own. The goals that seems miles and light years away.The bumps and lumps of your body that can make certain asanas more challenging. My spine strengthening series of poses is a hot mess. The days you seem to regress compared to a previous class. It’s very easy for me to wallow here.

More and more I try to focus on the good. The progress, the sheer ability to finish a class and the postures that seem to come a bit easier.

My standing head to knee is ugly, lord knows, however, I am making progress. I remember how for 6 months I could not pick up my leg, so now, unsightly or not, the fact I can grab my leg continues to thrill me

My backbend is slowly getting better

My triangle is stronger

What positives can you focus on today?

 

 

 

Shutting the Mind

I am really trying to work on quieting my mind. It definitely is playing some tricks on me before class (yoga takes so long, you’ve had a rough day/week, take it easy…, did you just cough? better watch it…) and in class (why can’t you grab your ankles yet? why do you keep falling out of standing bow pose, the extra weight you gained is really making this pose harder, will this teacher shut up so I can get out of camel). I also seem to experience a strange sense of the random (I’m in the mood for lasagna, when did the first Star Wars come out? Do I have any gluten free pasta at home?).

On the other hand, at some moments, I’m good at being in the moment or being positive (Just breathe, get control of your breath, this is your class, you’re making progress on this pose, you can do this). One thing my mind is not is quiet. It’s always busy thinking about something (I can’t believe how trashy Celebrity Apprentice is, these yoga pants are too tight, why does the teacher keep helping the pretty girl?)

One of my goals is to simply say SHHHH! I assume a moving meditation is meant to still the mind so I’m adding that to my list of things to try…

Bikram Yoga and Winter

I started Bikram Yoga in the Spring, so I am just now discovering the peculiarities of hot yoga on very cold days. For one thing, my studio is jam packed with coats and boots and the lockers seem a lot trickier to navigate when you’ve got tons of layers to shove in. That’s really the least of it though. Because I live in the city, I walk to and from yoga. It’s a great feeling to first enter the hot room after freezing on the way there. I do find I’m stiffer than ever from the weather, so I try to get to class early and stretch a bit.

The biggest challenge I find is leaving yoga and going back out into the cold. After class and a shower, I am still fairly overheated. My hair is generally wet and I then have a 20 min walk home. I’m wondering if I need to spend longer cooling off before going outside and if this may be contributing to the cold I still can’t entirely shake. How do other people handle the cold?

 

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