Beginnings

Day 48 with Jen gave me a hint of something to come. There is light at the end of the tunnel and I’m seeing improvements in some postures that might result in strength where there was weakness.

Today I attended the wedding of a dear friend and continued my experience of beginnings. I came to the realization that every day, every class is a new opportunity. Each day brings a brand new, scrubbed, fresh chance to reinvent my practice. I can let go of the last class and invent my practice, my self anew. That is a true gift.

Pride

In that hot room, pride is a double-edged sword. Sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps you from sprawling out on your face during a posture and often it’s the very thing that has you throwing your back because you wanted to show off. I guess the best thing to do is just do the posture.

Day 47 of my 101-day Bikram yoga challenge began with me reminding Angela that I was in my 47th day taking my 49th class. There was the collective whoa amongst the other students and a newbie on his 3rd day, very taken aback, says “You took 2 classes in 1 day?”. To which I responded “Oh that’s nothing. I’ve taken 30 classes in 15 days. The 2nd class is always great because you’re so open but the first is the usual hell.” Angela also reminded us that teacher training involves class 2 times a day.

Class ended with me almost curled up in a ball crying for my mommy. Not because I was in pain–I ended up that way because 47 days of this yoga is just insane and I’m teetering on the edge of unresolved emotions. I expect the crying will start soon enough.

I remember taking class on day my young aunt died in front of me in the hospital. I came to class at Bikram Yoga Union Square clenched in disbelief. I mentioned the death to Otto, the owner, who encouraged me to take class and took exquisite care of me–all of us–as he put us through posture after posture that detached the mind from the body. I cried catharsis and felt like I was outside myself watching my prostrate body purging this new, unfamiliar, traumatic experience. I learned that truly, there is no pride in that room. There is no you in that room. There is release. I wanted my mommy then–I always do–and I expect I have a number of days like that coming. About time.

Thunder & Lightning

Class with Kyoko on Day 46 took place against a dramatic background. Today was incredibly hot and humid, prime condition for a thunderstorm.

I’d manage to avoid the deluge as I made my way to class this evening. It caught up to me in class. Around standing head to knee, there was bright lightning followed by the loudest, heart-stopping thunder I’d ever heard. How appropriate for that posture and all the drama I experience around it. Some people screamed. Others looked around to see if they were still alive. And, yes, class went on.

Even thunder and lightning melt in the face of a Bikram class. All that exists in that room are our postures and concentration. It took us all the way to the end.

Class with Kyoko was truly outstanding. She is not only an attentive teacher, she’s very encouraging. It’s great to hear her say “Yes! That’s it!”. I would brave all types of weather havoc to hear “Very good, Theresa” from her. Fortunately, all I had to do was be in the hot room and I got those very words from her in the backbend part of half moon, triangle and standing separate leg head to knee. I’ll aim to get more for other poses next time!

Cocoon

Do you ever wonder what happens to the caterpillar after it builds its cocoon? Does it melt and become reborn completely as a butterfly or does it keep the core of itself even after it grows embellishment?

On day 45 of my challenge, I believe I’m slipping into the cocoon where everything breaks down in bid of generating something new. Things in and outside of the studio are falling apart and calling for me to be great. I’m not sure I’m up for it but you can count on me to show up for it–for class, for life, you name it–and that’s more than half the battle.

Class with Angela was great as always. She’s a lovely person to see and hear even in a maddeningly warm room. I’m giving everything I’ve got to improving my triangle posture and Angela’s corrections–and those of so many teachers before her–have been making a huge difference. Looking forward to the tiniest improvements in class tomorrow.

Sweet Ache

After 44 days of my 101-day Bikram yoga challenge, I’m pretty sure I’m a crazy person. I had a solid class with Britney this morning. I signed in the next class and the puttered around doing my workstudy duties. The moment I realized that I truly need help was watching students come down the stairs after class, glowing from sweat and looking like they were floating. Right then and there I wanted to run back into that room to take another class.

Am I addicted? Not sure. Bikram class feels like you’re running a marathon with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves tap dancing and singing “Heigh-Ho” all over my chest, heart and spine. It takes everything in me not to curl up in a ball in a corner and pretend I’m in a sauna instead doing those postures. I may have difficulty with postures but I never sit out a set. I try to do each asana every time for as long as I can. When I fall out, I get back–except for standing forehead to knee where when I fall out I argue with myself about what the heck am I doing with my life and this whole Bikram thing.

At end of class I’m dishrag still soaked after it went through the ringer…and I love it. I think I do this yoga for the euphoria after you experience after taking your body to struggles it normally would never experience. You’re body aches like it’s just had a deep tissue massage and all tension has been released. It leaves you floating. I like that feeling and would gladly do another class to experience it. Thankfully, I have 57 more days to chase that sweet, sweet ache.

Sore What?

Day 43 with Stephanie was truly fulfilling.  It was no less difficult than any other day but I could really feel the effects of the posture clinic last Saturday.  My triangle posture is improving by degrees and I wasn’t sure I’d ever have the stamina to hold or even attempt to do that asana correctly.

I was sore from Saturday’s extra work but today my body let go of that ache.  I am opening up and my abs get sicker with each day.  I have a shadow pack.  I can be with that.  Being ripped isn’t the aim here but it seems to be the slow and steady side effect.  I’ll take whatever benefit I get.  See you in the hot room! Namaste.

Being Mindful

Day 42 with Kyoko did not disappoint. I love class w/her and how she walks over and give you corrections by lightly tapping your body parts. If I ever were to have a private lesson, it would be with her. Heaven!

After yesterday’s antics, I was quite sore. My hams are recovering slowly but steadily. I pinpointed that I’d pulled them on June 21 in class before the Solstice in the Square during Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee aka Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana (say that ten times really fast!). This posture is pretty easy for me to do but really is the bane of my existence.

It’s one of those postures where I throw my body around without being mindful of how to hold myself. I remember my first 30-day challenge which I did when I’d started doing Bikram yoga. In the second to last day, I managed to throw out my lower back in this very posture. It is deceptively easy but it can cause trouble if done mindlessly. This time around, my mindlessness has afforded me trickier hamstrings. If you continuously do this pose mindlessly, your body will force you to be mindful with an injury or two.

Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee consists of many intricate, crucial parts. If you fail to do these things, you will hurt yourself. You must square your hips. Make sure that no hip is higher than the other. Your heels need to be in one line. Most importantly–and I’m not sure this is in the diaogue–besides curling your chin to your chest and sucking in your stomach when you round down, squeeze your butt! If you don’t, you run the risk of lower back and/or hamstring injury, two things I’ve experienced because of carelessness in this posture. Be mindful or your body will make you mind.

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.