Unexpected

Day 58 with Kyoko was at another level.  It was like being in a posture clinic.  I don’t know what got into her but I am so glad she went over posture after posture during the standing series without interrupting the flow or slowing down the class (that is the sign of a master teacher in my opinion).  I’m pretty sure she said all the things that she pointed out in each and every class with the same suggestions and exhortations.  Yet it seemed that today’s class was the one where I finally listened.

Very often we go into autopilot in these classes–especially if you’re in there day in, day out, hearing the same dialogue in the same order with very little variation.  You find yourself doing postures ahead of time because you anticipate what’s next without really hearing anything the teacher is saying.  I finally could see what Kyoko meant by sucking in my stomach.  It is intense when you do it properly–when you do it like your life depends on it, squeezing every muscle in there..Today, I gave up and just listened and got so much unexpectedly from a simple evening class laced with hints of a posture clinic. Jackpot!

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Breaking

Day 56 with Brian was very satisfying. After my Super Saturday of working at the studio, taking posturing clinic and doing a double, then getting home at 6am from a party, I wasn’t sure how I would get through a class on Sunday. Somehow I did. There was no doubt that I would make it and showing up is more than half the battle.

I always tell people who kick themselves for not being perfect in class that this is a lifetime practice. You get to do it again another day and see if you can improve somewhere. Seriously, though, if you show up, you win. If you stay in the room, you really win. If you give it your all and do what you can, then you’re golden.

I didn’t break on Sunday. I’m happy about that. I managed to convince on of the party guests to massage my lower back–I can be quite persuasive especially when I’m not drinking and you are! Ha! That massage made a huge difference for class on Sunday. I feel myself getting stronger. I sure need it!

Nonstop

As of today, I have completed 55 days of 101-day yoga challenge. I have taken 58 Bikram yoga classes. It’s funny how, 55 days and 58 classes in, I have no inclination to stop. I’m more than halfway done and I’m gunning for the end. Between you and me, I may go longer than 101 days–at least until I absolutely have travel.

Today was another ambitious day. I worked at the studio, took 11am class with Stephanie, signed in folks for the posture clinic, took the posture clinic from 1-4pm, then took class again at 4:30pm and headed out to my friend’s BBQ. It was a packed and fulfilling day. I got everything I targeted accomplished and I’m so grateful for the folks who helped make that happen.

Class with Stephanie at 11am was a warm up for the posture clinic after. My body really needed it.

The posture that followed was a true gift. We focused on the floor series this time. If you’re a Bikram yoga practitioner and you’ve never done a posture clinic before, run don’t walk to your nearest one! You rarely get an opportunity to walk through each part of every posture with experts who break down the medical benefits of each postures and teachers who provide precise, individualized corrections and observations for you.

In this posture clinic, we went over the floor series. It’s deceptively easier because it’s usually only 30 minutes but it’s a pretty complicated, intricate set of asanas. In the end, I realized that I don’t really listen and that most of what you need is in the teacher’s dialogue. I also had the experience of my whole world opening up at the slightest adjustment from one of the teachers. That is an opportunity I would jump at again and again whenever it is offered.

The class after was great too since I was thoroughly warmed up from class and clinic beforehand. I had a breakthrough in that I did not drink water until savasana between standing and floor series. That’s a big deal considering how I sometimes feel desperate for water. I’m happy that I did it and I’m not sure I would attempt to do an entire class without water. We shall see! I’ll debate the merits of water or no water at some other time. In the meantime, 55 days down, 46 more to go! Woohoo!

Opening Up

Day 54 with Angela rewarded me with opening up beyond what I expected. I came into class after battling dust bunnies (I won this time!) and my wiggy lower right back to contend with. All the cleaning activity actually served as a warm up for class–a good thing.

The highlight of class was getting into fixed firm completely. I have never been able to stand the intense stretching of that posture and while it was overwhelming today, I stayed in it. It felt great in spite of feeling like too much. It stretches ankles, knees, hips, lower back, upper back, shoulders, neck, arms–way too much going on at one time in my opinion but exactly what the doctor ordered.

I have another ambitious day in front of me tomorrow. I’m participating in Bikram Yoga East Harlem’s 3 hour posture clinic from 1-4pm. I’ll work for 3 hours, take class before the clinic to warm up, then go over the floor series for 3 hours in a warm room, and take class after to apply what I learned.

There may be room left in the clinic. If you’re in New York City, check it out. Read about it here. The last posture clinic was such a gift. There is nothing like going over each part of each asana and getting individualized corrections to take your practice to another level. I’m really looking forward to it!

Am I Doing This Right?

Day 53 with Kyoko brought up the age old question that dogs us all in our Bikram practice: Am I doing this right?

The answer, more often than not, is a resounding no. As I ways say to people, you get it right when you’re dead and you don’t have to try anymore. The practice isn’t really about “right”, it’s about endurance and discipline. You can wing your way through class grunting impressively or you can listen to the teacher’s dialogue and follow as closely as possible. There is no “right”. There is awareness and presence. That is all.

Wake Up Call

Day 52 with Angela was a wake-up call. I’m dealing with a wiggy lower back after sleeping on it the wrong way. Now that my hams are better I have my lower back to contend with. The wake-up here is if I cannot do the posture slowly and strongly then I need to stop.

My back is getting better incrementally and should be fine by tomorrow. It’s a matter–a reminder–to do whatever it take from getting injured and derailing my challenge. Once injured, I will have to stop. I do not want that happening so my awareness of my body in class has tro be that much higher. This is crucial.

Flow

Day 51 was all about learning to flow with it. Brian taught and I took class earlier than I had planned. I was tired and sore, yet class just flowed. No matter what was going on, class went on and before I knew it, we were done.

That is a lot of what this 101-day yoga challenge has been like. I don’t have to do anything other than show up and before I know it, it will be over. 50 more days to go. More than halfway through. Let’s go!

Being of Service

Day 50 with Brian was a gift. It was a class that he wasn’t scheduled to do and by doing it, he made continuing my challenge and what the other partcipants needed possible.

In appreciation of this gift, I made myself available to be of service at the studio and it felt great. I love my daily challenge and my daily interactions with other students and my studio home. It is great to be reminded how life doesn’t happen for me until I put myself out there for others. That is my truest delight and fulfillment. Namaste.

Dreams Realized

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. ~Unknown

 
Day 49 with Kathryn was soothing. The above quote was amongst the sayings that Kathryn intersperses during savasana. It’s a call for me to be bold this week.

Often people are amazed that I’m doing this ambitious yoga challenge. For me, it isn’t difficult. It is a part of my life and it is something I never compromise. Now there are many other areas of my life that are sorely neglected that need this same type of dedication. Those words call me to dedicate my daily practice to restoring integrity to different areas of my life. So that’s what I’ll do. Namaste.

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.