Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 59--'Put Your Mind in Your Thigh'

My teacher said "Put your mind in your thigh," as he was explaining to the beginners about engaging the quadriceps when locking the knee. I'd never heard it explained this way before. He said, "Your natural tendency will be to contract and relax, contract and relax that muscle over and over, because that's what your thigh does when you're walking--contract, relax, contract, relax. You've got to keep your mind on engaging the muscle, focus on contraction and don't let go. Put your mind in your thigh." Isn't it great when a few sentences from a teacher make you see something in a new way?

Today, as I was setting up for class, putting my mat down, another student crawled over and whispered, "So, you've been coming to class every day?" She asked, "Does it ever get easier?"
I think she was a little disappointed in my answer: "In some ways, it's easier, and in some ways it gets harder."

While I still struggle with many physical aspects of my practice, I am stronger, have more stamina, and increased flexibility. The physical part is easier, but an extra-hot or humid studio, or variations in my food and water intake, or a lack 0f sleep can sometimes leave me feeling physically drained. For the most part, practice has gotten 'easier,' physically.

But the more I see progress in asana form, the more I want to 'perfect' each asana. I want to fully believe that "perfect' form is relative to me, my body, my practice--that 'perfect' is just me doing my best. My ego keeps saying that 'perfect' is doing bow like So-and-So, or having the posture just be second nature to me, effortless. Once my ego has the floor, judgment--of my postures, of my body, of myself--overrules acceptance. Judgment really messes with my practice, messes with my mind.

More and more, I am aware of the parts of my mind that are distracted or discouraged. It's not always that I can't, say, get my upper body lower in standing bow or balancing stick, it's that my mind is not focused, my courage and determination are not rising to the occasion. Sometimes, I am just not believing in myself. It's like a cartoon where a character is flying, then realizes, "Wait, I can't fly," and suddenly plummets to the ground. Bikram always says that you can do more than you think you can. I'm finally really experiencing some realization of that.

The act of dragging myself to the studio every day has been a very simple exercise in courage and determination. It's my starting point, really, just getting to class every day. Can I take this one step further and really follow through with bringing courage, determination, focus to each posture?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 57--My Super-Powers Return!

Well, that's an exaggeration, but I had a good class this evening! It was fairly hot and humid, but not too hot and humid, and I was well-hydrated and able to do both sets of everything. My balancing postures were not at their best today, but they weren't at their worst either. It was a good solid class.

I didn't have any water until the old fixed-firm set-up time. It's my true moment of weakness. I did not experience any queasy feelings today though. I was feeling slightly hesitant before camel, but as I watched the very very pregnant lady in front of me set up and do an awesome camel posture, I said to myself, "If she can go all the way into that posture, I certainly ought to at least give it my best attempt."

Also, I have lately been very pleased to find that half-locust has become my friend. In the past, I have loathed this posture. I felt very inadequate, with my feeble little leg lifts. These days, I go higher and higher with the separate leg lifts, and the both legs part of it is no longer a terrible strain. I would like to go higher, and I need to learn a lot more about how to press down and bring the weight into arms, shoulders, and upper body, but I am finally lifting my legs at the proper angle on a regular basis.

I taught a senior program class today, and only a few people showed up. A woman who often gasps and says that any given posture is too hard for her told me today that she often thinks of various postures and does them at home. We did eagle arms at class today, and she couldn't quite get her hands into prayer. She was keen to tell me that she'd done so at home the other day. She said that she's been taking breaks from her computer by doing some yoga to loosen up and keep her neck and shoulders from getting too stiff.

Whenever turn-out for the senior classes is low, I start to feel a little discouraged. But getting some nice feedback from participants and hearing that someone is benefiting from the classes makes me feel energized and ready to teach more. Yoga is a wonderful thing, isn't it? I can't imagine what my life would be like without it. I am so glad that I found Bikram Yoga, because this yoga really struck a chord with me. It made sense and felt right and inspired to me to explore other facets of yoga. I love it so much that I want to share it. I am going to stop being wishy-washy "maybe" about it: My goal is to go to teacher training this fall.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What day is it? The crazies end soon, right?

Another tough class! Super-high humidity in the classroom, although the temperature seemed fine. There was no air, and by standing head to knee pose, I was having dizziness, spots in front of my eyes, and vertigo. I tried to focus on postures, but found myself thinking, "For God's sake, bee-yotch, turn on the exhaust fan!" It didn't help that the class was taught by the same woman who taught yesterday's class, the woman whose voice seemed irritating to me.

I know, I'm the one who's being a bee-yotch.

But it was a difficult class. At least 4 people left the room, and my friend Em ran out and vomited. she came back and finished class though! Supposedly, a lot of students are fighting off colds and flu. I felt pretty queasy myself, even though I'd only had a very light late breakfast, juices and herb teas before class. And class was at 6:30 PM, long after I'd eaten. So I sat out a set of standing bow, skipped a set of camel, had to reign it in and be less forceful during final breathing again. I was too queasy to drink water during class. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

I struggled mightily today with misdirected anger. I'm hurt and angry about my break-up, and it makes me less patient with all sorts of things in my life. The girl who cries was at class today, crying. She's also started humming throughout class. I swear, as we pushed up to get ready for fixed firm pose, I had a vision of crawling over to her and smothering her with my wet towel, just to get some quiet.

Yes, she is annoying. yes, it's normal for me to be a little on edge as I deal with and work through my relationship issues. But yeah, it's pretty much pure crazy to get all that annoyed and angry with the crying girl. She's got her own problems.

Do these crazies ever end? I know that break-up drama and pain eventually eases and dissipates.I hope some of the other issues that are part of my "second 30 day crazies" will somehow resolve themselves. I hope that continued practice, getting through the crappy classes as well as the inspiring and wonderful ones, will help me get a little closer to peace, the settled mind. We are so close to day 60, another milestone. I can't wait.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's All a Blur...

Just home from my afternoon class, day 55 of the challenge. I don't know what to say about it, because my mind was elsewhere for a lot of the class. I've had a stressful, emotional day, and once I got in the yoga room, I just zoned out. I was doing the postures, but I was not present for many of them. I don't even remember most of them. Since my mood was not so great, I had to struggle against some irrational irritability, like being really annoyed with the instructor's voice.

During eagle, my foot slipped and I went down. Yikes. Eagle is usually one of my showpieces! My knee killed me during first set of bow, and I tried to readjust a couple of times with no success. Second set, it was just fine. Surprisingly, I had a good solid camel pose today, both sets. I was thinking about things that make me angry, and without realizing it, I kind of lifted up into camel being carried by the adrenaline of rage. Then I noticed, "Hey, my hips are really far forward and I've got a really good grip on my heels!" It was really nice to have that happy yoga feeling come in to soften up the anger.

Before class, I was thinking about working with breath and positive thoughts to try to get my mind into a better place. I just couldn't do it. But going through class, having something to focus on, even if my focus wasn't there, and maybe just the pure physical detox of class too--these things worked together to bring me a little bit of peace.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

54! A Rough One!

I had a tough time at class today.

I was feeling good today, and I taught at the community center's senior program today. I throw in so many Bikramisms that it's not even funny. One favorite is, "As long as you are doing your best, you are getting the full physiological benefit of the posture." A favorite posture, for which I give word for word Bikram dialogue instruction, is wind removing pose. Some classes have students who are too frail or just plain unwilling to get onto the floor for postures or exercise; in those cases, we do a modified wind-removing pose while seated in our chairs. It's better than nothing. It is so great for seniors, many of whom suffer from irregularity and poor digestion. It also brings circulation to the hands and fingers, and helps with stiffness and pain that are common in older people. Plus, it makes us bend up our knee, to help preserve or improve range of motion, and it is a hip opener that can be done gently and gradually. Even a very infirm person can get a little bit of good hip opening in this posture. The students really seem to want to know more once I start explaining the benefits of a posture. I am so glad that Bikram came up with that incredible dialogue.

After teaching, I had...steak tacos for lunch. I drank a lot of water today, and I had 2 packets of Emergen-C as well. I'd planned to go to 4:30 class, but I didn't finish lunch until 2:00 or so, and I've found that I get through class a lot easier when at least 4 hours have gone by since my last meal. So I opted for 6:30 class, and guess what: I still felt full and nauseated and thought that my lunch was going to make an appearance at class. Ugh. I sat out one set of camel, one set of triangle, and I had to just stop during kaphalbhati breathing. Felt super-duper tired during class too.

Right after class, I felt shivery and chilled and weak, and I was thinking, "Maybe I'm getting sick with flu or something." Now, after a shower, re-hydrating, and a light meal, I feel great. This is becoming a little too familiar: Crappy class, I think I'm getting sick; Naw, I feel great now that class is over. Do I need to work harder at preparing for class? Should I just stop worrying & fussing, try to cultivate acceptance each day? Would I benefit from pushing myself harder during class? Is it just inevitable that some classes suck when you're doing a challenge?

I am not well educated about Eastern religions or spiritual practices, but intrigued by the bits and pieces that I've heard about. The number 54 is a holy number in some Hindu traditions, so I am grateful and feel blessed to make it to day 54, like it's a special day. Also, I feel silly letting this be known, and I do not want to offend anyone by seeming to take spiritual traditions lightly, but today, when some postures were difficult, I said a little chant to Ganesha in my head. Ganesha is the breaker of obstacles. I was imagining a playful little elephant god lifting my legs higher in locust pose, gently helping me move forward in stretching pose, helping me get past the obstacles in my practice.

Well, I'm off to take care of some laundry before I hit the hay. 54 was a rough class, but a rough class is better than no class.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 53

One more day of yoga done. I was very tired and very cranky today, and I contemplated skipping class this afternoon. I spent a big portion of my afternoon arguing with my ex-partner. Not fun. And I didn't really have the chance to do any proper hydrating today, and I hadn't eaten much. I was sure that class would be hellish. I left for class late, and as I drove to the studio, I was thinking, "Well, if I don't make it in time, at least I won't have to do yoga today."

Resistance! Here again!

Of course I am glad that I went, and I had a much better class than I expected. I was comfortable with the temperature and humidity levels, and I had my best ever day for standing bow. I held the posture the entire time, both sides, both sets. I've never done that before. Yes, my knee drifted out a bit and I had to level my hips to get it back into line, and no, I can't come close to standing splits or anything, but my form is pretty good, and my balance was there today. Yea.

The rest of class flew by, and I didn't hate camel today. Nothing was painful today--at yoga, at least--which is a nice respite during this dragged out break-up. Ex is dragging his feet about getting his belongings out of my house & I am longing to make a clean sweep of it.

I have been feeling a little off these last couple of days. I feel hungry, as if something is missing from my diet, but I can't pinpoint what it is. I wake up feeling tired and a little congested, very slightly headache-y. Don't know what to do except to keep going to yoga, try to eat better, get enough sleep. I wish that I had enough money to spring for a massage or acupuncture or something. I may investigate some low-cost options...

I'm glad I made it to class today, just very glad that I made it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 52

I got up early and did a morning class today. I am not a morning person! I was stiff in the stretching poses and wobbly in the balancing postures. I felt foggy-brained, spaced out, not very alert. It was not a difficult class or a too hot class, but I just wasn't at my best. I did every set of every posture. It was just a groggy class for me.

It was good to see a few of the beginners from yesterday at this morning's class.

In other news, I've been doing a little work on expanding my health & wellness knowledge, with the hopes of bringing more to the classes I teach. This afternoon, I will be attending a workshop for teaching yoga to people recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction. Yesterday, I attended "Diabetes Expo," a health fair for diabetics.

The expo was depressing! It seemed geared to just accepting your diagnosis and giving up. Get a mobility device from the Scooter Store, and stop trying to walk! Just try this other pharmaceutical!

I'm not gonna go off on a rant about food and diet, as I would never stop once I got started. I worked for natural foods companies for many years and have formed some strong opinions. But damn, I want to get my fitness/yoga instruction ideas more together, because I would like to attend next year's Expo to show people how doable yoga is, and how much it helps your overall well-being. And actually, I've read several studies, from universities in India, that showed marked improvement in diabetes patients who practice yoga daily. Even some Type I juvenile diabetics were able to reduce or omit insulin usage when they practiced yoga regularly. And the circulatory benefits of any asana practice, but Bikram yoga practice in particular, would be of amazing value to the average diabetes sufferer.

I'm off to enjoy the sunshine for a bit before heading off to the teaching workshop. It feels weird to be more than half-way through the 101 Challenge.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 51--New Inspiration

We had the most gorgeous, early spring weather today! I rode my bike to the yoga studio, enjoying the fresh air and the warm sunshine. I attended our studio's community yoga class this morning, and I loved it. It was great to be practicing in a full room with a huge group of enthusiastic new students. The energy was high, and class was just a joy. Because I have had plenty of days when yoga is difficult and class seems endless, it was just freaking amazing to see how hard these newbies worked.

One of studio's regulars, a woman who's been practicing Bikram yoga for more than 15 years, was there this morning with a group of young people. She teaches a yoga class at a local community college, and she offered her students extra credit to attend Bikram community yoga class. It was a culturally diverse group of kids and they all seemed really into the practice. Other regulars brought in wives, brothers, neighbors, and co-workers. After class, a very overweight woman said to me, "I loved this. I feel like I'm already addicted to yoga. I'm coming back tomorrow." Watching the new folks' eyes light up and hearing them talk about how surprised and pleased they were with class was inspiring to me.

Last weekend, watching the advanced yogis compete inspired me, and this weekend, I got inspired by the beginners. And every week, I get some inspiration from reading all of the wonderful Bikram 101 bloggers. When my energy starts flagging, I have all these amazing sources of inspiration all around me. I'm so grateful!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Almost Halfway!

Day 50! Class was good tonight!

This week, I've noticed some resistance bubbling up in my thoughts. It usually happens very early on in the class. I will find myself thinking, "Oh, God, another class...I'm so bored..." but once I catch myself with the thought, I generally find my mind settling on something else: the breath, the specifics of a posture, the dialogue, the corrections, my reflection in the mirror. And then before I know it, we're almost done with class.

When I wake up in the morning, sometimes I just want to sink back into sleep, stay comfortable and warm under the duvet, delay the need to make any effort. At yoga class, I find my mind just wants to sink into safe, comfortable thoughts and awareness, the lazy kind that require little or no focus or effort. But just as I usually feel pretty good once I get out of bed and start my day, I find class engrossing and interesting once we're past pranayama.

Today, I had the "ho hum" thoughts during pranayama, but I just suddenly kicked into gear and felt focused on practice. But then, at some point, I just spaced out entirely. I don't know where my mind was! I had no memory of doing bow pose, and suddenly we were done with fixed firm. Weird.

I can't believe we are at Day 50 already, and I hope that I will continue to see and feel improvements in my practice.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Days 47 & 48

Yesterday, I attended an early morning class. It seems a lifetime ago now, and I have few clear memories of it! However, I do remember starting out the class feeling worried about the early morning lack of flexibility, a little stiffness, etc, and by the end of the half-moon sequences, I was feeling awake and alive and glad to be there. it was a pretty good class--not a rock star class, but not a struggle either; just a good solid class.

Afterward, I went straight to the community center to teach a yoga/fitness class to seniors. I had a busy day, running all over town for various meetings. I managed, yesterday, to get my old skinny jeans on, and I felt pretty good about that. I've lost a little weight and really toned up quickly with this challenge. I met a friend for a big, spicy, rich, late afternoon meal at a Cuban restaurant, and I attended a big community event in the evening. Still, I was home and in bed by 10PM, and I didn't have a drop of alcohol.

But I really got up on the wrong side of the bed today! I woke in the middle of night a couple of times, fell right back asleep, but felt rather cranky and sleep-deprived in the morning. Was it from eating too much? or eating too rich/spicy? My head ached a bit, and I felt vaguely nauseated. Taught some classes this afternoon, and I just put off my Bikram class for as long as possible, hoping that I'd start feeling better later on. I also wanted to be sure to have plenty of time to keep hydrating, and to not have anything in my stomach at class time.

This evening's class was taught by one of my favorite teachers (I have a lot of favorite teachers), J, the cartoon geek, who always makes me smile. I was still not feeling well, not in a very happy frame of mind, and not very energetic. But J. says silly things and it reminded me that I can smile. It helps, it really does. Just a little smile, then a few thoughts of gratitude, then some focus on breathing, and I don't feel so bad anymore. I was still kind of dragging through class, low energy, but I really felt better. Learning that I truly can change the way I feel, physically, emotionally, and mentally just by using my breath, thinking some good thoughts, consciously changing my's so empowering, to know this.

After tonight's class, I'm feeling a few chills, so I think that it's possible that my body is just fighting off a mild virus or something. Pre-101 Challenge, I probably would've skipped class to baby myself, saying I needed the extra rest. Now I feel as if I need to go to class to 'burn' away the sickness and keep me on a healing path. And to keep working on attitude, cultivating stillness in my postures and in my mind.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Day 45

Meh. Class seemed a bit lackluster to me today, but it was mostly me, my mood that was lacking.

I feel generally cranky today, carrying around some anger towards my partner. Make that "ex-partner", I guess. So I was easily annoyed by odds and ends of things that normally don't bother me in the least.

Today, I was SO irritated with how other people placed their mats! Very petty of me, I know, but I don't understand why people don't use the lines properly and don't stagger the mats (and themselves, during triangle, et al). I was grumpy with the instructor; it felt as if she held us in every posture 3X longer than is required. We finished class on time, so that couldn't have been true. Just me and my bad attitude. It was very humid, and we didn't get any relief from the exhaust fans until tree posture. I got dizzy from the lack of fresh air, and I sat out a smidgen of standing head to knee.

I got yelled at, too! I got caught "cheating," in triangle, and my teacher said, "Sisya! You know better than that!" I have a bad habit I need to break. You see, when I came back to yoga, in October 2008, I had injured my back. I had a crushed disc in my lower back, and I'd strained the latissimus dorsi on the left side as well. Doing triangle on the left side was very painful to my back. I compensated by resting my left arm on my left thigh. And still, on my wimpy days, I slip into doing it, even though my back is now fit as a fiddle. The wimpy days are fewer and further between these days, but I got busted today, me and my bad attitude.

And it ended up being a good class. I mean, I feel better now, and I am not as grumpy. I feel silly for all the pissy little thoughts spinning through my mind during class. I am so glad that I went to class, that I'm getting through the challenge, and that most of the time, I am seeing progress, improvement. Most of all, I am FEELING it. Yoga makes life better, even on grumpy days. Maybe especially on grumpy days.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 44

I had a great class today. I was very well rested, well hydrated, had proper electrolyte balance, and I had no stomach/nausea issues, having eaten at just the right time (for me, that's about 4 hours before class). If I were so well-prepared every day, I'd probably see a lot more progress in my practice! I do what I can, and I am feeling plenty motivated to prepare properly with more consistency, having seen how much difference it makes in my experience of class.

I had a wonderful first set of bow-pulling pose. I fell out of the right side just a couple of seconds before time was up, and I held the posture the whole time on the left hand side. I had pretty good form, too, relative to my past performance. Very very satisfying to see and feel improvements of any kind, and small improvements seem to show themselves almost every day now. It makes me so happy that I'm doing the challenge, reaching new levels in my practice.

i weighed myself today, and another 4 pounds or so are gone. That's a bit gratifying as well. It is hard to believe that we are nearing the halfway point in the challenge. In some ways it feels like we just started.

Friday, February 12, 2010

47 on 43

I turned 47 years old today, Day 43 of the Bikram 101 Challenge. Morning class with one of my favorite instructors felt relatively easy. It wasn't particularly hot or humid. I always do pretty well in the cooler, drier conditions, but I always feel like a cheater!

Encouraging signs today:

I kicked out and held the posture the entire time for standing head to knee, right side, both sets. That's progress for me. I still struggle to straighten my left leg when I kick it out, but I did better than usual on that side too.

Camel didn't kill me today. I am often reluctant to even try camel. It's usually just fine, once I summon the courage to try it. Today, I just did it without having a fearful little argument with myself.

And I didn't drink any water at all until after kapalbhati breathing. I'm sure that this was made easier by the slightly lower temperature & humidity, but it felt good to know that I actually could make it through classs without my usual party time swig, the drink before savasana, and my fixed firm water break.

I drove across town to teach right after I finished yoga class. Now, after late lunch, I am sleepy and content.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

mid morning class--Day 42

I went to class this morning, and the studio seemed eerily empty. Two of our instructors are competing in the Asana Championships this weekend, as are two students from our studio. The studio owners went to LA for the Championships as well. This mid-morning class is fairly new at our studio, and usually smaller than other classes, but today there were just 12 of us! It felt a little lonely! I'm getting used to bumping into people, staggering ourselves on the lines, and making room for one more mat.

It was super-duper humid today. Didn't feel hot, but I was coated, head to toe, dripping with perspiration before pranayama even ended. I am so sweaty. Much much later in the class I looked at the lady next to me, in her below-the-knee length tights, longline sports bra top and giant massive thick all cotton T-shirt over that, and wondered why she wasn't drenched. How does she keep her hair dry in all that heat and humidity? It is a mystery to me how differently each person's body responds to this yoga.

I got mad dizzy vertigo during standing head to knee. I pushed through with it, and I struggled against it in standing bow. Balancing stick was fine, but after the first set of standing separate leg stretching, the blacking out feeling was overwhelming, so I sat down. I did one set of triangle, and I was okay after that. I still really feel down on myself when I sit out postures, but sometimes I just don't have it in me to do everything. Overall, though, it was a good class, and I am happy to have my yoga done for the day. I am toying with the idea of trying to hit the 6:30 class tonight if I can get across town fast enough, but I don't know for sure...

When I was lying in savasana after class, I was thinking back to some of the first Bikram Yoga classes I ever took. They were at a just-opened studio in Bozeman, Montana. The instructor, Chris Bunting, had such a gentle, strong, helpful style of teaching. At that time, I didn't know about the dialogue, and I was utterly blown away by the amount of precision and detail in the instruction. I thought that Chris was an amazing genius! And he is! He learned all of that dialogue, anatomy, physiology, asana study, focus, and discipline. And he learned from another genius, Bikram. But the point is, the instruction was so specific and gave me immediate improvement in asana. And that was unbelievably motivating to me. Chris an his wife, Rebeckah, are both wonderful, inspiring instructors, and I am grateful that from them, I got such a great introduction to Bikram yoga.

I read on facebook today that it is Bikram's birthday! I am wishing him a happy day, and sending gratitude to him for giving the world this series and bringing yoga practice to us.

I don't know how to throw this into my wrap-up for the day, but I love Bikram Yoga Bozeman's t-shirts. They say, "Good camel, good rabbit, good life." Indeed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 41--Cooling Off

This week, several of my classes have been very hot, extra humid, and a bit difficult. Today was like an arctic vacation! A cool cool classroom, hovering between 95 and 100 degrees. Humidity was between 40 and 50%, but I somehow snagged a spot with pretty good ventilation, so life was a breeze. I feel almost as if I cheated today, because I found class so pleasant, due to the cooler temp. A couple of other students were annoyed that the room wasn't as hot as usual. Dunno the reason for the difference today either.

I hydrated pretty well today, got some electrolytes and salts into my beverages, but I was mostly unable to eat all day. During half moon, I felt pangs in my stomach and briefly worried that my blood sugar would get too low and way-lay me. It didn't! I did both sets of everything. I was a little wobblier than usual in standing head to knee, bow pulling pose, and balancing stick, but everything else was just fine. I saw big progress in toe stand today. I got both hands into prayer, got my hips up off the heel, and managed to lift my eyes from the floor and look at myself in the mirror, holding still. I didn't manage to hold it for the full allotment of time, but I held still for several seconds more than I ever have before. Progress makes it all feel worth it.

I must confess, I had a moment in the early part of class today where I thought, "Why the hell am I doing this? I don't want to do a challenge anymore. I want to have tomorrow off." But I ended up having a good class and feeling committed to the 101 Challenge.

This is probably TMI (and I'm glad to have kept my blog more or less anonymous), but here's what's going on in my personal life: My partner has been very ill for the last 3-4 years. I have more or less been our sole support for 2 of those years. He was doing well recently and had been working again, and feeling good. He recently got some bad news though, and he's been upset, angry, and confused. he's been moody and difficult and critical of me. He suddenly decided that he needs to see other women. I think it's about his fear and uncertainty more than it is about me/us. But he's been very hurtful to me, and I can't wait patiently for him to work out his issues when he is not even civil or honest with me. He doesn't want to talk about it, but he also apparently thinks that he should be able to sow some wild oats and still live at my house and expect my emotional support. I can't live like that. It's been a really difficult decision, but I told him that he has to leave.

So, ugh. I feel crazy and heartbroken and worried and sometimes a little guilty. I am angry and hurt and so sad and so afraid. I can't be around him without either crying or getting angry. Much of the time, I can't eat. Last night, I overate, stuffing my feelings down. Bleah!

This 101 Challenge is a blessing though. It gives me more motivation to keep going, keep moving through my life, to not collapse into my sadness. It gives me more reasons to take good care of my health. It gives me respite, sanctuary, a safe and wonderful place where I don't need to focus on anyone or anything but myself. Bikram says the most important thing in your life is you. Yoga class is where I get to be most present with the most important thing in my life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 40

I was tired and grumpy this afternoon, but class was pretty good. I did both sets of all of the postures. No major victories or progress to report today, and no major pain or problems either.

I think that my relationship is ending, and I am overwhelmingly emotional about that. I felt teary as I walked up the steps into the studio today, and I thought to myself, "I'm gonna end up crying in class today." But the yoga room provided me with a little temporary sanctuary. All of those thoughts and feelings left me while I focused on balance, breath, and ease. I am oh so thankful for my yoga.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 38

My mind keeps flitting around to all sorts of odd little details concerning my health and my body. I read someone else's blog yesterday, and she mentioned achy hips. "Hmmm. My hips never ache," I thought to myself. So this morning while I was lying in bed, I noticed that, guess what, my hips were aching. Then later this afternoon, while driving, I felt the nasty twinge of sciatica down the back of my thigh. I worried momentarily, did my customary little deep breaths ("If you feel pain or fatigue anywhere, send your breath there, like an ambulance," as my teacher says), and I sorta just forgot about it.

Now, more than an hour after class, I have absolutely no pain in my hip joints and no sciatic pain at all. Sometimes it scares me to think about how my old body might feel if I'd never found yoga. This business of practicing consecutive days seems to bring me twinges of discomfort in a new joint, muscle or tendon with every single class. But they seem to always pass, often very quickly. I think yoga is making adjustments on my body every day, tweaking it to get it closer to perfect alignment. It is the most amazing process. I'm a little bit stunned when I look in the mirror. Head to toes, I am in better alignment. Literally. My freaking toes are straighter.

I got dizzy again today, during class. I was super-stressed most of the day, and ended up not being able to really hydrate properly. I got caught up at an appointment, and I ended up just barely making it to the last class of the day. If I wasn't doing the 101 Challenge, there is no way in hell I would have gone to class tonight at all. Stress really zaps my energy. And one of my teachers is always harping on how we need to clear the excess cortisol out of our systems (with yoga) when we are under lots of stress. It was tough trying to get through standing series with the black-out dizzies hitting me. By the time we got to spine-strengthening series, though, I felt good again. We seem to breeze right through all of the floor postures in the blink of an eye these days.

Super Bowl Sunday, so class was sparse and roomy tonight--15 students. Tonight, our instructor's parents were in class. It was funny when she said, "Mom! Lock the knee!" and somehow sounded like a bratty teenager insisting that she get her way. She jokingly said to an older man in class, "Hey, my Mom didn't sit that posture out." He lifted his head off the mat and said, "Her daughter ought to turn the fans on," and we all tittered. I really like our studio and our goofy little community. Another benefit of daily practice is how well you get to know your teachers and fellow students, making for a lot of support as well as teasing, joking, and fun.

I'm off to bed and yoga dreams. Sweet yoga dreams to all of you!

Wake Up!

I had a busy, stressful, and intense day yesterday, but my yoga class was just wonderful, made me feel happy. So this morning when I woke up, stressful topics of the previous day were on my mind. I was lying there, staring at the ceiling, drowsily worrying, and suddenly I had a moment of panic: I couldn't remember if I'd gone to yoga yesterday. I had gone to class, of course. It made me laugh. Is yoga becoming so routine that I can momentarily forget that I've been to class? Or is this just another aspect of the Crazy 30? At any rate, I will not forget to go to yoga today!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day 37--Okay!

I have no insight or important information to blog about today, just a short report.
Class was great. I actually had fun. I did every set of every posture, and at one point I zoned out completely. My body was doing the postures, but my mind floated away from me, free of all thoughts. It was just a fabulous class. No new huge progress, but i did every posture pretty much as well as I ever do them, nothing horrid or super-weak.

Four people from my studio are competing at the National Yoga Championships. Our state champ in the women's division did her set for us near the end of class. I'm looking forward to trying to see a bit of the competition online; I'm told that they are streaming it live.

Ahhh! I feel so good right now, relaxing, having had a lovely dinner after my lovely yoga class. I wonder if I will want a day off after the 101st day. Right now, I feel like I want to do a class a day for the rest of my life.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Brutal! Great!

Day 36 was BRUTAL. Extra hot, extra humid. And I'd had some stomach problems all day, even canceled a class that I was supposed to teach today. My queasy stomach, a room packed with 50 people, and humidity that was definitely higher than 60% ( I checked the reading on the thermo-station after class, after the fans had been on and door and window opened, and it was still above 60) all contributed to my first "hot nap" of the challenge. I sat out a LOT. I simply couln't seem to get enough oxygen. My heart rate would not slow down, even while I rested in savasana. I was dizzy by standing head to knee. My stomach hurt. During spine-strengthening series, my head began to throb.

Whenever the conditions in the yoga room seem difficult, I never know if it's just me, my mind searching for excuses, or if it's truly extra hot. Well, the students were dropping like flies today. It wasn't just me. Several other students sat out as many or more postures than I did, and almost half the class sat out at least one. Six people left the room, and only three came back in. Our studio is pretty strict about not leaving the room, so it was very unusual to see.

Conditions of the room, the conditions of my mind, and the conditions of my body were all difficult and uncomfortable today. Well, all I can do is go back tomorrow and try again! Not all that long ago, I might easily have found a class like today's to be incredibly demoralizing, discouraging. One sign that my mindset is getting stronger: I wish class had felt better today, but I know I'll have good classes again soon and more of these steamy, brutal, tough classes. It doesn't bother me or discourage me. We start fresh again tomorrow, we bring a different body and a different mind to class each day, and doing our best with what we've got in any given moment is what it's all about.

And wouldn't you know, after that miserable class, I feel GREAT.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 35

I went to morning class today! I'm an afternoon/evening type of yogini most of the time, but I have to do an AM class on Thursdays or I don't get to go to class at all. One of those nagging small goals on my back burner is to make morning practice a more frequent thing for me. Once a week is a start, isn't it?

This morning I got yelled at for backward bending during pranayama...just a bit of laziness, or lack of awareness on my part...still sleepy, maybe. I was not as flexy in the opening postures--not unusual for a morning class.

But I surprised myself with Eagle! It's a posture that I haven't had too hard a time with, and I rarely give it much thought. I've been trying to work a bit on getting my upper body back though. I am shocked at how much lower I can bring my hips if I am not leaning or hunching forward. I've had a pretty good wrap for a long time, but today I touched my right big toe to the top of my left (standing) foot for the very first time! I just busted out in a great big smile and felt goofy and happy about it. I got so caught up in my happy goofy feeling, in fact, that I fell out of the posture a couple of times during the second set.

I enjoyed most of the rest of class, but I found myself tiring out near the end. I did my best ever standing head to knee today too (not that my head is on my knee yet, but I'm kicking out with more and more ease and more strength). And I had a moment of...I don't know, insight, maybe, or emotional something or other during bow pose.

Bow pose has often hurt my left knee, a lot. I try to be as careful as possible to keep the knee alignment during the pose, and this lessens the chance of pain, but sometimes it just looks like 'all systems, go' and I lift up and...ow, it hurts. So I am really scared of it sometimes.

My dog broke his front leg a few days ago, and he's been limping around with a splint. He wants so badly to play fetch, to chase a tennis ball or a squirrel in the yard, but if he gets too much weight on his hurt leg, he winces and pulls it up again.

One of the relationship issues I've been having is sort of like that too. I have isolated, gotten quite depressed, and put a lot of my life on hold during T's illness, and he is sometimes angry and annoyed about that. I'm an introvert anyway, and T is an extrovert, so we approach some things very differently. We were quarreling about it yesterday, him urging me to get out in the world more, to socialize and be positive. I told him, "I'm trying, and I'm working on it, but I am going slow. I can't be changed overnight. I'm like Buddy; I'm not ready to put all of my weight on my paw yet."

That conversation flashed through my mind during bow pose today. I guess it is a little bit similar--going slow, being kind of careful, testing things out and being easy on myself where there is pain involved. We can't let old injuries keep us from trying, but sometimes we need to do some healing before we push too hard.

I feel pretty sure that Buddy and me are both gonna heal up just fine.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Crazy 30

A few other 101 Challengers have mentioned the "crazy 30," which refers to the second 30 days of a challenge, when many yogis experience emotional release or have emotional issues come up during practice.

Well, my friends, life, fate, karma, or some kind of Divine power is helping me get right into my Crazies without delay.

A gazillion little problems and a couple of huge ones have presented themselves in my home life, my personal life, and my work life--in just a couple of days!

I am really truly worried about my boyfriend's health and well being, as it's taken a turn for the worse; I am unsure if our relationship can withstand much more stress; our financial situation had a flicker of hope last month, but things are looking pretty grim at present (oh, health care in the good old USA). One of my employers made a small clerical error that will impact attendance in the classes I teach (and therefore, my income) for several months hence, and there is nothing we can do about it. Another employer completely welched on an agreement. Bah!

And other little surprises that stir up emotions: Out of the blue, I got a facebook message from an old long ago friend that I'd fallen out with. Another friend just lost his dad. My dog broke his front leg when he landed wrong after jumping high to catch a ball. I just feel like crying forever. I'm not weeping uncontrollably during balancing stick or anything, but tears are welling up in my eyes in savasana on a regular basis here in February.

Life is just like practicing yoga every day. Yoga is just like living every day. Sometimes it fills us with joy and peace. Sometimes it's a piece of cake. Sometimes you wonder how it could possibly get any better. And then some days, it's just hard, it just hurts. Sometimes, you can't get your mind off of your worries and just be present. Sometimes, at yoga, we block ourselves off from the joy, the release, or the peace, or even samadhi, enlightenment--when it's right there within reach, because we are afraid or too distracted by our worries, problems, shortcomings, and negativity. We can easily miss out on the best parts of every day living too, if we don't find a way to deal with the negative emotions and attitudes, or to face what is painful and work through it.

I am so grateful for yoga because it gives me a chance to change for the better, and move toward deeper awareness. My favorite version of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras translates samadhi as "the settled mind." To me, that connotes a deep profound calm, certainty, serenity. It makes enlightenment sound so...solid. That appeals to me in many ways. Yoga lets me know that a settled mind is there for me, for everyone, waiting. Yoga brings me a little more peace every day, even when I cry or curse my teacher or find myself thinking of things that hurt. More of my issues come to my awareness, and I have this chance, every day, to feel what is painful, bring my heart and my mind and soul into slightly better alignment, and flush out the spiritual and emotional toxins. Tourniquet effect for the soul, so to speak.

Yikes, yes, I'm deep into the Crazies already, and I am looking forward to getting through some sh*t. This is areally difficult time, but I am crazy grateful for the process and for this yoga.