Glorious Solstice

Day 10 of my challenge has been awesome beyond words.  I took class with Britney which was challenging as always.  On top of that it was the hottest day all year and the hottest since I started practicing.  To top that I went to Times Square after class to take a Bikram class with Rajashree Choudhury.

What a perfect way to celebrate the solstice!  I practiced under the sun’s blessing and I feel like a brand new woman.  I had the pleasure of  reconnecting with yogis and teachers from my past after participating in the world’s largest Bikram class ever.  It had to be over 2000 people.

I got to chat with one of my favorite teacher’s from my early days who suggested my challenge should be 108 not 101 since 108 is a sacred number.  I might take that on.  My postures are stronger.  My skin is glowing from sweating and sunning.  It could not have been a more perfect day.

Baby Steps

Day 9 wasn’t bad at all.  Stephanie taught.  It was so warm I was drenched before I even started the first posture.  It was a juicy one and it was glorious!

As I was walking into the room, there were murmurs from students who’d taken the class before about the room getting too hot and someone fainting.  That is not the way you want to start class.  Later on, I learned that the student hadn’t passed out but had a moment and the instructor attended to her by opening the windows.  No one has ever made that room cooler for me so I guess she was in a bad way and the teacher took care of her.

After hearing all of this, I decided that it wasn’t too hot in there and class was going to be a piece of cake.  In the end, it wasn’t too hot but it wasn’t easy.  I made it through all the postures though.  That’s what I’m standing for during this challenge–doing each posture every time.  So far I haven’t had to sit any of them out and I will push to make myself get right back up if I take a breather.  So far, so good.

Today I focused on engaging all my muscles and diagnosing why some postures were so difficult for me.  For instance, in standing head to knee (aka the bane of my existence), I realize I need to use every single muscle to keep from dragging myself down and hurting my lower back.  Stephanie also pointed out that we tend to go down too low when we grab our foot.  She said to lift it and meet it half way.  That made a big difference.

I’m looking forward to the next 92 classes.  I’m extra excited about tomorrow because I will be doing a double.  One class at Bikram Yoga East Harlem and then another with Bikram’s wife Rajashree Choudhury for Solstice in Times Square: Athleta Mind Over Madness Yoga at 12:30pm.  Read about it here.  See you in the Square!

Also, please help Bikram Yoga East Harlem get a chance to win a$250,000 grant from Chase and LivingSocial by voting for them at Mission: Small Business.  You will need a Facebook account to participate.  Visit the page.  Log in with your Facebook account.  At the bottom of the page under “business name” type in “Bikram”, leave the state and city blank and click on “Search”.  Scroll down until you see Bikram Yoga East Harlem and click on “Vote” on the right.  Thank you for supporting an incredible small business!

Just Keep Swimming

Remember that song from Finding Nemo? I can hear Ellen DeGeneres’ voice as Dory: Just keep swimming…in sweat.

Day 8 marks the beginning of the second week of my 101-day Bikram yoga challenge. To say that today was tough was an understatement. First, class was taught by Stephanie who cuts no corners to make Bikram yoga easier for you. She requires all that you’ve got every time. Your best may vary from day to day but she wants the best you can give her each time.

Today I was all out of sorts. Did I sleep enough? Did I sleep too much? Should I have had breakfast or refrained from food hours before? Oh that hurts. Am I going to get injured? Will she ever open that infernal door? Get me the hell out of here! What was I thinking?

With all of that raging inside of me, I managed to complete the class as peacefully as possible free from the outbursts bubbling up in my mind and my chest. Today I noticed even more how unbalanced I was and in more than just my body.

My mind was all over the place. I wanted it to be over already. I keep that hidden between my peaceful I-got-this yogi face while breathing in and out and a few grimaces of sorrow after some postures. I didn’t want to be there and I didn’t want to be anywhere else. It was a tough day more mentally than anything else.

It didn’t help that my unbalanced body has begun to protest. I wonder if I’m harming it or realigning it. I didn’t die the first 5 30-day challenges I did so I expect I’ll live through these. I welcome the healing and the realignment and breathe out the toxins and suffering. Here’s to 93 more glorious days!

Little Things

You know how they say big things come in small packages? Well today, Day 7 of my challenge, I met tiny Kyoko who packed a punch!

This morning was tough. I didn’t want to get out of bed. In spite of sleeping over eight hours, I was inexplicably exhausted. I made it to class anyway, assured that I would have to go easy because I was not feeling up to it.

Surprisingly, I gave my all. There is no soft-shoeing it in Bikram for me anymore. It truly is all or nothing. Kyoko kicked my butt with helpful correction after correction. I know my practice improved because of her or, rather, my listening to her.

I’m learning that all I have to do is listen, the rest will fall into place. I still have to be mindful of injury and know the difference between a stretch and a strain. I want to last the other 94 days. I’ll keep pushing.

Every Other Day

Day 6 out of 101 kicked my butt as usual. It’s either that it’s an every other day thing for me to have a tougher. Time with class or it’s that classes with Stephanie are just plain tough. It may be both.

Today was great because as I type this, I’m long done with class. I got some intense corrections. Particularly in triangle. I have to move into position in one move instead of my usual step-by-step. Stephanie says it challenges my core. Ok. Dang. My core and I were fine just the way we were but since she pointed it out to me, there’s no going back.

I was able to hold back from kicking in the first set of head-to-knee. I tried to complete during second set but I can’t hold it. Will keep trying.

Today’s victory was touching my forehead to the ground during standing separate leg stretching by simple listening to Stephanie’s coaching.

After all is said and done, I am spent. Ready to rest and prep for another day. Praying I improve and protect myself from injury.

Hope Springs

On Day 5 of my 101-day Bikram yoga challenge, I found hope.

I was pretty sure that it would take determination and dedication to complete day after day of class yet today, I learned it takes much more than that. It takes hope and hope found me today in response to yesterday’s despair.

It really helped that I didn’t pig out hours before class like I did yesterday so I had no “funny tummy” to deal with during class. I was able to work my way through the postures without feeling like I couldn’t do another day.

So hope is restored. I can continue. I learn more about myself. My body is uneven. The right side is stronger, tighter and more tense than the left side. Working on balance. Also working on reducing my latest jack-in-the-box behavior, sitting & then popping up to do the next posture during standing. Stillness, I see you.

Slow & Steady

Day 4 was uneventful but it did mark the first time where I wondered why I got myself into this challenge in the first place.

Stephanie taught and my practice was solid. Only thing is that since I’ve started my appetite is huge & I sometimes over eat. I happened to eat way too much a few hours before class and it was with me through every posture involving my stomach.

I found where the magic missing cellulite went. It’s in my inner thigh. Let’s make that disappear too.

I got some specific, very helpful corrections from the teacher today. While I know I’m crazy, I’ll be back tomorrow for some more!

Going through Changes

Another day, another session.  I took class today with Brian.  He wasn’t the teacher I expected but he was exactly what I needed.

Bikram 101: Day 3

Today was a good day but, really, any day that I make it to class is a good day. That’s a wonderful thing considering I have 98 more good days to look forward to!

Today’s practice was my strongest so far–barely any dizziness and I didn’t wimp out of any postures.  Of course there was the requisite slowish start during standing head to knee but that posture is my nemesis.  I was able to hold the first part of the posture longer today although I still can’t resist the urge to kick out.  I’m getting stronger though.

I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten better with the second part of awkward pose from the very start of this challenge.  Minimal wobbliness of the ankles and I’m almost a ballerina à la the pic at the beginning of this post.

I can’t say today was any less challenging just that I really was up for the all of it.  It was especially humid today and I loved it. I know, I’m odd.  I like heat.  I like sweat.  Always have and Bikram gives me high doses of both every day. Joy!  Haha!

The other highlight of the day was, after thanking the teacher, he told me twice that I was really strong in class.  I can only get stronger and I have over 3 months to prove it.

I’ve only taken 3 classes, but I the changes to my body are noticeable.  Mind you, I stare at myself in a mirror for 90 minutes a day and I get to notice some amazing things.  Oddest thing so far: the cellulite I noticed on my thighs on days 1 and 2 is gone.  Now I’ve never had a major cellulite issue but was I hallucinating?  I swear it was there all dimply in my face during Eagle the first day.  Maybe the profuse sweating scared the cellulite into submission.  I’m not complaining.  Just please, don’t come back!

I feel my body tightening up ever so slightly especially my quads.  Now I didn’t enter this challenge out of shape so the changes shouldn’t be too drastic but it’s surprising how much my body wants me to push it to the limit and rewards me with more and more strength.  The focus of the rest of the challenge is making sure I don’t injure myself while pushing myself the farthest I have ever gone in my practice.  Onward and upward!

Bikram’s Beauty

Day 2 of my 101 day Bikram yoga challenge was completed with no incident.  I had the pleasure of taking a class with Jennifer Pope, one of the owners of Bikram Yoga East Harlem and a newly minted Bikram teacher as of last year’s fall teacher training.  After my second day, I am encouraged that I chose the right studio to embark upon this journey.  So far it’s a haven of peaceful energy as I go through the highs and lows of my daily practice.

Bikram 101: Day 2

Today, I had less dizziness, but I did pay for my insufficient sleep–a persistent complaint–with less stamina and strength to hold some postures, particularly my favorite, standing bow.  I could hold it for 60 seconds on the left but not on the right.  I’m not worried though.  I have 99 more days to work on it!  Although Stephanie provided insight yesterday about standing head to knee, I had trouble pulling back from kicking out during the asana.  My knee is locked but I don’t have the strength to hold the posture.  I think I’ll work on building that strength instead of starting the posture late and rushing through it.

After class, I had the pleasure of spending some time with another Bikram yoga aficionado which brought me even greater insight into why I practice this form of yoga.  To many “purists”, Bikram yoga, with its mirrors, commanding instructors and trademarked, regimented postures,  is the bastardization–the McDonaldization–of yoga.  I have experienced other forms of yoga and I have enjoyed them.  Elements that irritate detractors of Bikram Choudhury’s 26-posture beginning yoga series are the very things draw and hold my interest after almost 3 years of practice.

I love that it is always the same 26 postures for an hour and a half in a room that is 105 degrees no matter where I go. This consistency frees me up to focus on the tiniest victories as I discover adjustments to improve my form.  The meditation and introspection of the practice finds me in my eyes in the mirror.  I am my greatest teacher.  Watching myself drenched in sweat in that mirror for 90 minutes melts away any and ALL body image issues.  I am strong.  I am beautiful.  I do not question how God built me.  I can do anything, maybe not right away but every minute and every day brings me closer to it.  All I can do is my best and that changes with every day.  I leave each class satisfied and spent.  I can’t say that about everything in my life!  Until that changes, Bikram it is!

Back to Bikram

I think it’s time. Don’t you? Time to recalibrate and reconnect. What better way to do that than a vigorous Bikram yoga challenge?

Today I embarked on day 1 of a 30 day Bikram yoga challenge. It involves 30 days of taking 1 yoga class a day. That’s something I know I can easily do. I’ve done about 6 of them so far.

In all my challenges, I only did classes every day for 30 days straight during my first month of practice.  Actually I did 31 classes in 30 days because because I did class twice on one of those days.  Subsequently in my challenges, I have compressed 30 classes into 15 or 16 days.  I love doubles.  Going to just 1 class a day for a consecutive 30 days is definitely challenging considering my frenetic New York City schedule.

The real challenge though is to see if I can take on Bikram 101 and take class every day for 101 days!  The Bikram 101 blog explains it best:

Why 101 consecutive days?

There are different “challenge lengths” in Bikram yoga. Here is a break out of how each one helps and heals your body…

  • 30-Days: A readjustment period… You’re getting your body primed for an on-going practice. Just getting through a 30 consecutive day challenge is a difficult for most people. It can be difficult to mentally commit yourself to going to class for 30 consecutive days.
  • 60-Days: In the 60-day challenge, the second 30 days are where you get to the “emotional stuff.” While you experience the mental exhaustion “here and there” in the first set of 30 days, you experience it far more frequently in the second set. Anger. Tears. Hysterical laughter. It all comes out here… Both in and out of class.
  • 90-Days: This is when your body suddenly (or so people claim) changes shape. You will notice in the 30 and 60-day challenges that muscles and body parts tighten up. But the third set of 30 is when you start to see the yoga practice pay off physically in your body. You’ve been feeling it up until this point… But now you can actually see it. You can see your “yoga bum” starting to take shape.
  • 100-Days: Ten extra days, just to make things a nice big number…
  • 101-Days: Because you just have to show up for one extra day.

Day 1

I’ve set my sights on a new studio closer to home.  Although I’ve only been there just one day, I’m really enjoying Bikram Yoga East Harlem.  I took class with one of the sister duo who owns the studio, Stephanie Pope Caffey, and it was lovely.  She has an amazing, nurturing, challenging energy.  Her suggestions around standing head to knee might just be the difference between barely making it through the posture and actually powering my through it.

Today’s class was great although I had a few bouts of lightheadedness simply because I’m reconditioning myself after almost a year away from consistent practice.  It wore me out but walking out of there, I felt wonderful.  See you BYEH tomorrow!  Here’s to 30 days and then 71 more!  Let’s see how it goes!