All of it

Today was a seemingly impossible day.  I’d bitten off more than I could chew and I wasn’t willing to let go of anything.  In my mind, nothing is impossible.  While it was an ambitious day, it was not an undoable day.

I’d recruited my movie fiend friend to see Dark Knight Rises on IMAX.  The only problem when we purchased the tickets in June was that the only real IMAX theater in NYC–Loews Lincoln Square–had no available IMAX shows except 6:30am on Saturday morning.  If we were going to go full movie die-hard, we’d have to be in the theater by 5:30am which meant waking up by 4:30am.  A bit crazy, but not bad, right?

Well, today also happened to be the day of my studio’s posture clinic.  They recommended that we take the 11am class to warm up, do the clinic from 1-4pm, and take class at 4:30pm to apply what we’d learned in the clinic.  Seven hours of yoga is challenging.  Add a 4:30 am wakeup call to that and it goes from challenging to daunting.  Oh and add a 1:30am bedtime after volunteering Brooklyn–a recipe for thwarted expectations.

Fortunately, I was able to wake up, do the movies, all day yoga and make it home in one piece.  I’m grateful for all the elements that allowed me accomplish all of it.  Because of a communication breakdown, I almost did not get to take the 11am class.  Thanks to someone’s graciousness, I was able to take class twice and complete the clinic  in spite of the snafu.

Dark Knight Rises was absolutely worth the early wake-up call.  After some confusion, it took longer than usual to get my mind focused on my first class.  When I did, I breezed right through it.  The posture clinic was amazing.  We didn’t just go over proper execution of each asana.  We had a medical doctor describe, in detail, the actual medical benefits of each posture.  As a emergency room doctor committed to preventive medicine, she stressed how doing the Bikram series keeps us out of her hospital–a wonderful thing.  We also went over the chakras and corresponding beneficial herbs.  That was 3 well-spent hours.  I can’t wait for part 2.

Class after was tough but I was able to push through.  As I finally rest my tired body, I hope I can see some major improvements as a direct result of the clinic.  60 more days–2 whole months–until the end of my challenge.  Not that long, is it?

Unbroken

Class 40 with Stephanie was exactly what I needed. I went into class feeling discombobulated and tired and left feeling realigned and energized. No matter how I feel beforehand, I leave class feling a hundred times better. Bikram unbreaks me.

I have a crazy, ambitious day tomorrow: 6:30 am show of Dark Knight Rises, workstudy at 10 am, class at 11 am, posture clinic from 1 – 4, class at 4:30 pm. Intense. Insane. What’s new? Haha!

Break of Dawn

Class 39 with Jennifer was a breakthrough. In all the days I have been practicing, I’ve never made it to a class earlier than 9am. I made it to the 6:30am class today. Woohoo!

I got there at 6:20am by the way. Getting to that early class was something I’d thought about as something nice to do…if I wasn’t me. You know, if I was a stronger, more disciplined person. That person could breeze her way through waking up at 5:30am and making it to class with ease. Not me.

Then I had to really think about the idea that I wasn’t disciplined. Considering that I’d already done 38 days straight of yoga classes, I don’t think I can say that I’m not disciplined. Going to class every day, not skipping a beat every day, staying in that hot room every day, following the dialogue every day, that takes something. I’d come to expect myself to make it to class that I’d begun to take the effort I put in to make that all happen, for granted.

Not anymore. I can do anything I put my mind to. If I want to take a 6:30am class, I can and I surely did. Let’s see how many more times I do that during this challenge. I have 62 more days to explore this.

Out-of-Body

Class 38 with Stacy today was a bit surreal. Not disturbing. Not terribly challenging. It was like I wasn’t even there. Like I was floating looking down at myself, noticing where I was greatly improved and places I need much more work. I didn’t even notice the heat. I barely noticed the student who sat up through floor series and eventually left the room. I was out and in and out of my body. I guess after 38 days straight, I’d have a moment like that.

Maybe it’s the meditation? My mediation continues with The Chopra Center’s>21 Day Meditation Challenge.

I’ve decided to take a leap into Bikram Yoga East Harlem’s 3 hour posture clinic this Saturday from 1-4pm. I’ll take class before and then spend 3 hours in warm room going over and tweaking my standing series postures. Then I’ll take class after. A bit ambitious considering that I’ll be seeing The Dark Knight Rises at 6:30am–crazy, I know. If you’re in New York City, come and check it out with me. Read all about it here.

Holding On

Class 37 with Jen took place in the middle of a spike in temperature. I believe it got up as high as 96 degrees today. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the standard 105 degrees of a Bikram class.

Today was one of those days where I had to hold on to my practice for dear life! People were calling it a day all around me and I really just wanted to join them but we know the purpose of this challenge is not to nap in the sauna but do each posture each time for as long as I can hold it. No tapping out. No letting myself off the hook for the promise I made myself.

At some points, I was one of the few people continuing to participate in the class. Everyone else had drifted off. There was one practitioner who set up her mat directly behind mine at the back of the room and when I mimed to her about moving in either direction, she said she was fine and didn’t need to see herself in the mirror. I wonder about her disconnect.

Your biggest teacher faces you every class and if you deliberately hide behind the person in front of you, you miss out on valuable opportunities to correct yourself and strive for an improved practice. In the end, I realized no one was blocking me and that I could do nothing for her so I turned my mind to holding on to my practice with as much integrity as I could muster.

Incidentally, after thanking her for class, Jen thanked me for actually doing the postures each time and called me a strong practitioner. I appreciate that she noticed and acknowledged me. I’m looking forward to much much more before this challenge ends. Namaste.

I meditated today as part of The Chopra Center’s 21 Day Meditation Challenge and I attribute the ease of writing today’s entry to the peace the meditation brought me. Check it out for yourself when you can.

Plugging Away

Class 36 with Stephanie was another surprisingly invigorating one. In spite of some newly arising aches, the class left me energized and ready for the rest of my day.

My right hamstring is tender so I make sure to avoid straining it. Out of the blue, I have discomfort on the left side of my lower back. Stephanie thinks it’s time for a massage. I’ll be hitting up Alison at Tulia Massage really soon to give my muscles some tender, loving care. I deserve it!

The highlight of class was getting a personalized correction on my triangle posture. Stephanie stopped the class and gave me modifications for improvement. Triangle is tough and those tweaks, while making it harder, put me in proper alignment and force me to strengthen my core. I’m very grateful for the attention that was given. This challenge is truly chipping away at weak areas in my body, practice and life.

The other funny thing about today was noticing how I get into secret competitions with the practitioners around me. It’s silly and yet another way that I pull away from my intense focus on myself. I make up stories about the person that I chose. I push myself to match or surpass their postures. I get very excited when it’s a strong, disciplined practitioner. If they give up in a posture I feel superior until I inevitably fall apart in a subsequent posture. It’s a hot mess and it keeps me on my toes even though there is no winning and my biggest, truest competitor is myself in the mirror and, let me tell you, that chick stays kicking my behind!

Incidentally, I began a 21-day meditation journey today as part of Deepak Chopra’s Chopra Center 21 Day Meditation Challenge. They do one every year under the premise that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. This year’s theme is “Free to Love”. I hope to create a lifelong practice of daily meditation as well as opening myself up to love and miracles all over my life. There’s still time for you to participate. Join me here. Namaste.

Refreshing

Class 35 today with Stephanie was strangely refreshing. “Refreshing” is the last thing I would say about Bikram yoga. Words like “challenging”, “exhausting”, “daunting”, even “exhilarating” are more likely to spill out of my mouth when describing the practice so today’s experience caught me off guard.

It may have something to do with my becoming more connected with Bikram Yoga East Harlem as I explore their studio and workstudy program. It’s always fascinating to draw back the curtain and examine what really makes a place tick. I find it very fulfilling to be of service to my fellow practitioners, creating a space to beautifully and safely house their arduous efforts.

When I went into class after a team meeting, I experienced time flying by. That rarely happens in class. Now that my responsibilities are increased, the stakes in this 101-day challenge are much higher. How will I do all those days while assimilating a new studio routine as well as all the “too much” that I normally do? We shall see. Regardless, it will get done. 66 more days to watching unfold. Namaste.

Where are you going?

Class 34 with Jen was hot and humbling. I was able to go through each of the postures and I find myself improving and getting stronger. I just wish it would happen sooner.

Then somewhere in the middle of class, there is nowhere to get to. There is no magical “it” that will happen. I have one simple job and that is to show up every day and do my best. That’s it. That’s all. That’s what I throw against my mind’s protesting during savasana between floor and standing series. It beats back panicked waves of “Why the heck am I doing this?” It works!

Today I took an awesome Disco Yoga class led by Jyll Hubbard-Salk of Shambhala Yoga and Dance, courtesy of lululemon at Celebrate Brooklyn!  Maybe I’ll tell you all about it one day.  Do know that I think I could really get into Vinyasa yoga.  I see another challenge and yoga love in my future!

Water, Water…

Class 33 with Dionne was no more challenging than the others.  This time though, I found a special preoccupation with my water.  I’d frozen a 1.5 liter bottle the night before and it took its sweet time melting throughout class.  I couldn’t win.  The water would melt.  I would gulp.  Then I would have to wait.  What was I expected to do between desperate sips of icy cold water?

Oh, that’s right, do my Bikram practice.  That’s what I was there for so I guess I should pay attention to that.  Remember way back when, some posts back, when I said I’d like to see if I could practice without water?  I lied.  I never want to go through a class without drinking water.  What was I thinking?  I guess in an ideal world where I was well hydrated and such, I could entertain the idea of braving that hot room without my water crutch.  Until then it’s water, water, water for me baby–nothing’s gonna tear us apart.

Seriously though, whether it’s water or wiping off sweat, there is always something waiting to distract me in class.  Often that distraction is manifest from some corner of my brain where I trick myself into believing that I didn’t manufacture it myself.  It’s a lovely game.  Really.  It’s either that or focus.  In the end the focus wins.  It has to.  Bikram practice is demanding in that way and I can play with my water for but so long.  68 more days to see if this continues to hold true.

Staying in the Room

Class 32 with Dionne was one of those classes where, if I could, I would have run out of there hollering and bought myself an icee. Unfortunately, this is Bikram and I’m in the middle of a yoga challenge.

Seriously, I would never leave the room. That’s the whole point. Instead, I would lie or sit down and let my mind play out what it needed to. It’s 90 minutes, not forever. The longer I wait, the closer I get to finishing.

Yesterday’s class was hotter than usual, it seemed and I’m in need of a good massage. Regardless, I did every posture and gave my best for that day. That’s all I can ask of my body. As for my mind, it enjoys its vacation from my hectic life even if its only for an hour and a half.