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..
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?
Another hiatus from yoga (work travel largely) has resulted in a little over 2 week break from class. Went back today and it was anything but pretty. Remembering that on my best day I’m below average, you can only imagine what 2 weeks off does… It does get frustrating and I do get discouraged. The worst you ask: Where to start… pada hastasana–I’ve never been able to “scoop” my hands under my ankles due (I think) to very tight shoulders, however, now it’s pretty bad. My back bends are definitely not as deep, my head to knee-let’s not even go there. I didn’t try toe–just did 2 trees this time… On locust, arms are not going under my body…rabbit is a disaster and my flexibility appears totally shot at the end with head to knee pose… I mean, really! I’m sure tomorrow will be even more challenging as I’ll be achy and stiff to top it off.
However, I know this is a process. I know I’m doing yoga for me and not to be a champion. I know I can only get better if I can keep trying… maybe not good, but better. And through all the disgust and disappointment is a small voice that just keeps whispering… shhh. just go to class… so that’s my plan. Let’s see how many I can fit in this week.
All of a sudden I’ve had a lot of work travel. This is generally good business news, but can create havoc with a steady yoga practice. I keep missing 2-3 days for travel and then play catch up, taking 2-3 classes the rest of the week. Was in Boston earlier this week, M-T, so went to class yesterday and today. And will try to go this weekend.
Going out of the country for a week starting Mon, so that’s another whole week without my steady practice. It feels like the last 3-4 months (maybe longer) have been catching up, treading water and falling behind. I know it’s all a process and it doesn’t have to be perfect… it just seems harder to create momentum, get in a rhythm and see actual improvements. I still can’t do things I could 6 months ago.
I realize how appealing I’m starting to find a routine and when something interrupts it, I generally find it stressful and agitating. I’m trying to roll with what comes my way and not get too caught up in details.
How do you manage your practice when things change?
OK. I feel like I’m whining about the heat again. It is close to unbearable in my studio and I take the first class of the day!! I’m so happy I finish the class that it dawns on me only later but progress is minimal. I can barely bend or grab or hold, so while the class is hard, I’m not working hard on my postures. I’m too busy trying to breathe and survive. This is kind of disappointing to me, because while I like the heat, I like to have enough energy to push myself. Now I’m happy if I’m still standing the first half of class. Before I tried to minimize fidgeting, now I tell myself to fidget away if it helps me get through the 90 minutes.
I’m still definitely not back to earlier days, especially on front folds/bends where I have added bulk and as a result, the postures are all more difficult. Going to try to up my attendance and see if that helps with: the heat, my flexibility and my weight. However, I keep trying. In part, because I’m dealing with a lot of stress and I believe that yoga is helping more than maybe I even realize to help offload it.
How’s your spring/summer yoga going?
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…
I’ve been experimenting with water in class lately. The hot room has been especially hot (read earlier posts) so I initially thought I would need to drink more water to feel better. What I’ve discovered is that’s not necessarily true. I find the less water I drink in party time, the better. Although the balance series is intense, I seem to get through it stronger with very little water. I take a decent sip during savasanna between standing and the floor and again some water at fixed firm. I have found this seems to give me the most energy and endurance. I’m not exactly sure why, but it’s taken me nearly 2 years to figure it out. When I first started classes I would gulp too much water and then be extremely uncomfortable on the floor. A few times I felt something rumbling and ran out of class to throw up (always water). I think I was getting used to the heat and trying to balance water. I now tend to drink more water after class and drink throughout the day.
What’s your water rituals?
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!
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:
- Eat carefully
- Eat healthfully
- Be gentler on yourself than you usually are
- Be grateful when you can go back to class
- Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t (a long list in my case)
- 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
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.