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!

Challenge Day 30: Score!

I swear I have the 30-day challenge blues.  After pushing day after day, I’m pretty sad that there is no more challenge left and that sucks the wind out of my sails.  Funny since I expected Day 30 to be the day to end all days where I would stand atop the mountain of my achievement and look out with puffed chest congratulating myself for daring the impossible.

I’m sure that I have the blues.  Now that there is no challenge each day, what will I do with myself?  Haha!  Anything and everything. The interesting thing about challenges is that they beget challenges–a sort of challenge-addiction.  Tomorrow or later this week, I’ll ruminate about lessons learned.  In the meantime, let’s get on with our last challenge!

Today’s challenge: Take stock of the last 30 days.  How did you do?  What did you do well?  What did you not do well?  What would you like to continue to work on?  How did it go?  What did you learn?
I’ll be sorting through the lessons learned on this journey for days to come but in the meantime, here are the stats of what I attempted this month:

My closest friends can attest to the wonderful peace I gained in these 30 days as well as the struggle it was to complete these last few days.  I know I couldn’t have done it without them or you.  I also know that I’m not quite done yet.

While I was able to challenge myself to different things each day, I haven’t gained mastery over anything new.  I have an experience of what it is like to live a revolutionary life but I still have work to do.  Each day of these 30 days of challenges revealed so much about myself to me.

The greatest revelation is that this month was a buffet of challenges for me to choose from and work on extensively in the near future.  All the challenges have been interrelated.  They are all pulling for the same transformed, galvanized life.  The next step for me is mastery.

Gratitude: I am grateful for that I could complete this month of challenges when I’ve done nothing like this ever before

On the horizon: More results, lessons and mastery…the journey – to be continued.

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Challenge Day 29: Dare to Want

One more day to go and suddenly I am incredibly exhausted.  I’d rather nap than blog.  The only thing that keeps me going is my promise.  Good thing I made one, otherwise I wouldn’t have continued.  Thank you for the strength you give me by reading and witnessing my journey.

The last few moments before the end of a grueling marathon can be the worst.  It is in those moments that your mind, body, being resolve whether to finish or to curl up in a ball right there.  The next challenge is important for me to keep going.  Come run with me.

Today’s challenge: Dare to want…wantonly.  Allow yourself to want for no reason.  Want things you’ve never wanted before.  Want until you want no more.  Write it all down.  Change your mind if you need to.  Keep going until you see what you say you want and match that to what you really want.  Write that list about ideal mate that you’ve resisted writing for years.  Go ahead, write it.  Want him and everything.  Go!

Wanting is such a odd thing.  Most of us don’t allow ourselves to want things fearing that wanting things that don’t manifest may kill us or be close to dying.  We treat our wants as if we will never have them and work to push them away.  In turn, we end up yearning those things that we deny.

We suffer when we live as if wanting is a reminder of our inadequacy.  We are stuck believing that we’re not enough to deserve or earn our wants.  What if wanting was a normal part of your day as simple and constant as brushing your teeth?  What if wanting was a tool that you use to design your life?  Today’s challenge is my opportunity to dream to the point of incredulousness, dance into the impossible and shed suffering.  So I will be writing that list and collaging my vision of heart-thumping future.  What have you not dared to want?

Today’s victory: I spent a wonderful weekend failing and winning at most of my challenges.  When I missed the challenge mark, I made sure I went back and hit it dead on.  That looked like heated discussions, impasses and, finally, peaceful resolution.  I’m glad I have these tools working actively in my life.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the incredible community that surrounds, supports and fuels my dreams.

On the horizon: The scoreboard

Challenge Day 17: Exquisite Revisited

I remember when I took on practicing an act of exquisite self-care every day back in June.  The idea of taking a stand to do something to really honor myself each day put a tremor in my heart then.  I could barely conceive doing something solely for me every day and I did my best to maintain that it month.  I did not quite make it through all those days and I did not track my experience here (to the chagrin of many who were anticipating the stories and victories after reading the challenge).  My apologies to you all.

Since I challenged myself to finish things this month, I think it’s time to revisit June’s challenge and tell you a little bit about how it went.  But before that, let’s lay out today’s challenge.

Today’s challenge: Practice an extraordinary act of self-care every day.

What this challenge entails is best expressed in what I wrote those months back:

What is exquisite self-care?  What isn’t?

Exquisite self-care calls for me to put myself in front of friends, family, work, love at least once a day and do something that makes me happy, has my heart singing, making me my own beloved…every day.  It involves doing the things I stopped doing for myself because they kept getting in the way of results.  Exquisite self-care isn’t about shirking responsibility or foregoing promises.  It is not being lazy and avoiding life and things.  It isn’t easy.  It is me finally going the distance to be my own hero and save the day for myself.

Here are some of the things I did and learned during my earlier foray into the world of exquisite self-care:

  • Because I work from home, the boundaries between work and personal time blur and I made a greater effort to delineate the two
  • I requested that my workday start at a particular time and no earlier
  • I made sure my workday ended at a set time and did not spill into my personal time
  • I made sure that I took care of all my needs before working: showering, eating, taking a moment to myself
  • I made sure that the people that I work with were completely taken care of when I sent them out on sales calls.  There was nothing they could desire.  It was an honor to provide for them, exquisitely
  • I realized that when I stood up for exquisite self-care for myself, I stood up for the same for others
  • Exquisite self-care arises in the strangest places and I need varying levels of gentleness and drive to carry it out each day
  • When people know what you stand for, taking care of yourself honorably and unequivocally, people give you space to make that happen and it is as if they are doing the same for themselves when they give you space
  • An exquisitely-cared-for-me is a delight to be around
  • An exquisitely-cared-for-me needs nothing from anyone–what a breath of fresh air!

Taking time just for me provides infinite benefits for me and others.  Imagine if everyone in the world took a moment each day to do something delightful for themselves for no reason.  Imagine what they would be able to do for others.

It is less daunting this time around as become expert in adding challenge after challenge.  Also since I attempted this already, I know it works and enhances my life.  It’s easier for me to commit to because these last few days of challenges have been a for of exquisite self-care in some way.

For the next 2 weeks, I will do something to honor and delight myself each and every day for no other reason than because I promised myself.  As always, please join me.

Today’s victory: I let a friend who requested space just be.  I didn’t make her wrong or condemn her to being denied my friendship when she reaches out again.  I trust that our friendship will withstand this bump.  Faith flows through me particularly in this situation–very different than I would have been in the past.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the wonderful men I have loved and what I have learned about life and myself from them.  Each one has taught me what I want and need.  Bless them!

On the horizon: That time thing

Grateful Again, Day 2

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  (Thornton Wilder)

I am grateful for finally being able to look into the mirror and cast flaws into the wind, thoroughly enjoying the woman I am.  I often admire the symmetry of sweaty shoulders and waist perfect for me.  I am grateful that I can completely be delighted with all that I see in my reflection so that when you look at me I can glitter back and wink. “Yes, dear.  I know.  I fell in love with her first.”