Tuesday, April 27, 2010

No sleep, plenty of energy...

I had to get up early today, and I didn't sleep well last night. I got four or five hours of sleep, but no more than an hour at a time. I felt very very sleepy during my training sessions for work, but once I got to yoga, I felt great. I had a fabulous class with no fatigue at all.

How weird is that? Especially since I felt run down and ill yesterday.

I've noticed this before, that I often have pretty good classes on days when I am sleep deprived. I've always heard stories of how Bikram keeps everyone up late at teacher training, but maybe there really is some process whereby we tap into a secret store of energy when we don't get much sleep. Hmm.

Changes Again

I need to get to bed because I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow and a busy couple of weeks ahead. Just finished eating late dinner after cleaning the yoga studio tonight. It's pouring rain outside.

My yoga was difficult today, but good, and healing. I woke up with a nasty sinus headache, and I felt crappy all day long. I think I am feeling stressed out, and it's making me run down. I dosed up on some herbal tinctures, and like blogger Bikram Barbie, I made friends with my neti pot. I had several packets of Emergen-C and lots of water and ginger lemon tea. I ate raw garlic too, and I hope that no one at yoga will hate me for it, because I know it stinks when it's sweated out.

Yoga took a lot of effort. I wanted very badly to sit out postures, just purely from fatigue, but I managed to keep telling myself, "just one more set; it'll be okay," and I made it through all of the postures. Well, actually, I didn't stay in camel for the full allotment of time on the second set.

I felt almost human again after yoga. I rested a long while after class, and I drank two liters of water.

I think that a lot of my stress is just about changes in my life. Change is often stressful, even when it's good change. I am going to be a lot busier for the next few months. I've been unemployed and lazy for so long. I'm used to relaxing and reading and walking the dog and going to yoga, teaching a little here and there, applying for a few jobs every week. It's a little jarring to contemplate switching up the routine, but it is very welcome, this change.

I'm going to be spending more and more time at the studio(s): I was offered some part time paid work, cleaning and maintenance along with a little bit of front desk work. My old "home" studio closed last month when the owners opened the beautiful new studio in my neighborhood. The original studio will be re-opening some time in May, so there's a need for more staffing. I am so happy to get a little paid employment, especially since it's at a place I love with people I love to be around. As a person who's been unemployed for quite a while, I can't tell you how nice it is to be offered a job, out of the blue (and not have to write another freaking cover letter)!

I'm also starting temporary work tomorrow morning for the US Census Bureau. I worked for the Census last year, and we were told we'd have about 2 months work, but it ended up being just 3 weeks. I am expecting something similar this time. I will have several 9 hour days for training to start out.

And one more change is happening at the end of the week: I'm getting a housemate. I am renting out the extra bedroom. My housemate is really wonderful, and she will be here through the summer. She's leaving to start a graduate program in September, and I hope to either develop a means of steady income sufficient to pay the bills here on my own by then or else find a way to downsize. Maybe I'd get another housemate then, but I have to say, I like that this is a temporary arrangement, just in case.

I think yoga will kick this sinus issue out of me if I keep going to class every day and get some rest! Yoga is so amazing.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Just another day, a good one!

I had a good class tonight. Struggled a little with triangle today, and I lacked balance in standing bow. But my stamina was good tonight, I felt strong. I wasn't looking forward to class because I wasn't very well hydrated, but my fears were unfounded.

On the 101st day of my challenge, after class, I asked one of the teachers to snap a couple of pictures of me. My ex took pictures of me on Day 1, and I wanted to have before and after shots.I chose standing bow for one of the photographed postures because I love to do it. So my teacher took some pictures of me doing standing bow, and she said, "Now do it with your foot straight. You keep moving your toes inward."

I was doing the posture on my "good" side, and I was completely unaware that I've been moving my toes in, not keeping the foot straight. I am now in the process of learning all over again how to balance on that side. My "good" side is now my bad side! I don't contort my foot on the other side. So, yes, I had trouble balancing today, but I am getting better.

Lately, I feel a deeper stretch in my waist and torso in postures like half-moon and camel. I am not going into the postures deeper, but I feel a deeper, more aligned kind of stretch and pull. It is really amazing to feel and see new things in my practice all of the time.

I'm sleepy! There's so much more that I'd like to write about, but it will have to wait for tomorrow or later.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bringing it up again...

I have a non-yoga-doing friend who asked me all about my challenge. She is one of those folks who is afraid of Bikram Yoga, who will say, "Oh, no, that's not for me; it's too hot," without ever trying it. She wants to know why I threw up after class a few times, and once during class.

I don't know the answer!

One teacher told me that if my life had been stressful (yes), and full of excess cortisol and other stress hormones, my body might be doing a quick detox by vomiting. Other teachers blame it on water--saying you shouldn't ever drink any water during class, that I wouldn't have puked if I hadn't taken a drink at party time, fixed firm, etc.

At least one of the days when I vomited, I was feeling ill anyway, on the verge of some kind of flu or something. It's been mentioned (by dear Yolk E, I think) that dehydration can sometimes cause vomiting.

I think that all of these things played a part in my vomiting incidents. Anybody have any other ideas?

I continue to go to class daily, and the new studio is doing a booming business. It's almost overwhelmingly busy. When one class is letting out and the next one is suiting up, our changing rooms are packed! You don't have enough room to take your pants off without bumping into your neighbor. It's kind of exciting to see all the new faces, and there's lots of energy in the air, but sometimes I long for a quiet, private bit of space after class. I am letting final savasana get longer and longer! This lets the dressing room clear out a bit, lets my head clear out a bit, and it's supposed to be helping my body integrate my yoga for the day too.

One thing that I am having trouble adjusting to: The new studio has radiant heating in the floor! It's weird, because I am used to getting a little cooling when we move to the floor series, but there isn't much cool down there now.

I am worrying about the next few weeks--I have some temp work at normal people's work hours! I finally have to see what it's like for most folks with regular jobs to try to make time for 90 minutes of yoga. In order to do my daily Bikram yoga and teach my regular classes, I will have to get up at 5:30AM and take 6:00AM class at least a couple of times per week. On the other days, I can just work 8-5 and make it to 6:00PM class, but maybe I should just try to be a real morning person and do 6:00 AM class every day. Hmm. It will be interesting. But I want to keep going, doing yoga every day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I had a good solid class today, no problems with the heat. I peeked at the thermometer after class, and it said 110 F. Before doing the 101 Challenge, I never would've felt comfortable in a 110 degree class!

a few random thoughts and facts about the challenge

It's almost a week since we completed our 101 Challenge. I threw up at the final class, and it really bummed me out! I have been avoiding blogging, even though I have so many things I want to say about doing the challenge. I think my avoidance is partly because I was disappointed to end on a sour note, but also because I hate to see the challenge end.

I have been to class every day since Day 101, and I intend to continue daily practice.

Here's some vanity stats about the challenge: I ended up losing a total of 12 pounds. I lost an inch or so from my bust line, 2 inches from my waist, and 2 1/2 inches from my hips. My thighs each lost 1 1/2 inches as well. I am doubtful that I will ever have a "yoga butt" though! women in my family tend to have what my brother in law calls "Nebraska ass:" Wide and flat, like the state my mom's family settled in. Mine is not as wide as it used to be.

I ate like a horse most of the time during the challenge too...never went hungry or denied myself, and I still lost weight. I continue to have voracious cravings for protein, and I am suddenly a huge fan of pickles and all things vinegary.

One thing that I've come to see is how important consecutive, daily practice is for anyone seeking changes--weight loss, in particular--from yoga. Lots of trainers, teachers, and even Bikram teachers say that you need a day off to recuperate. As a general lifetime rule, that may be true, and there are certain conditions and injuries that preclude daily practice. However, most of us benefit immensely from a challenge, a daily practice. Whether it's 30, 60, 90, or 101 days, daily practice without let up makes a big, big difference. It's like a kick-start, really gets things moving. Weight that clung to me stubbornly when I was practicing 3, 4, or 5 X/week finally left when my body had a relentless, daily program of cleansing, detoxing, and working to get circulation to every muscle, joint, and organ. More oxygen, more circulation--every organ functions better, and suddenly my metabolism is on track again.

Many days during the challenge, class exhausted me, made me sore, tired, and cranky. I felt sick a lot. I threw up a few times. But overall, I have better, more consistent energy levels now, both in and out of Bikram class.

I am glad to fit into my skinny jeans again, but I also feel a little like, "Huh. Big deal." The weight and body image issues are just reflections of inner issues. And the challenge led to so many changes inside of me--not just bones to skin changes, but mental, emotional, and spiritual changes. And I sense the potential and the need for even more change.

It was a blessing to have this yoga, this practice, to guide me through a challenging time in my personal life. I don't know how I would've managed without yoga. After I came back to Bikram yoga classes, with an injured back and a lot of other aches and pains and physical problems, I used to say, "I don't know how this old body would cope without yoga." Now I feel that way about mind and spirit--where would mine be without yoga?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day101! Um...

I got up 2 hours before class, drank a couple of glasses of water, and took Buddy out. Got to the studio a little bit early, but class was crowded, and I felt a little hemmed in.

It was an extra hot class, but I didn't feel hot. I felt good for a lot of it. I was very very happy with the progress I saw in standing head to knee pose. I felt pretty strong throughout all of the standing series, really. Had a small sip of water at party time, and one at the end of standing series.

Later, during good old wind removing pose, I had a painful intestinal cramp. Felt pretty yucky. Kept doing postures as best I could. Then during a sit-up, between fixed firm and half-tortoise, I literally threw up a little in my mouth. I felt terribly nauseated, and I laid down into savasana and tried to wait it out. But I had to get up and run for the bathroom, where I vomited the rest of my water. Laid myself down outside the studio door for a bit, and returned for the last two asana and final breathing and savasana.

It was NOT how I had envisioned ending my challenge, but there it is.

I have a million final thoughts about the challenge that I would like to share, but I am going to let these thoughts settle in and gel a little before writing them out. So much has changed in my life during these last 3 1/2 months. So much has changed about my practice and my body. My mind and spirit too, I think. I'm going to blog more about it in the coming days.

I am definitely going to class tomorrow. I am not planning to stop daily practice any time soon. And I am rather excited about a new challenge: I was invited to come check out the advanced classes at my studio!

Day 100

Another good class today.

And now I am up too late for somebody who's planning to finish off the challenge at a morning class!

My next door neighbors are having a party and have been drinking, speaking loudly, and playing Lady Gaga at full blast for hours and hours. Normally, this would piss me off to no end, but I'm not bothered. I think that all the yoga has me blissed out so that things don't get to me as easily.

I have happy plans to meet my best friend for brunch after yoga, and if the weather's good, we'll take Buddy to the dog park. I am so looking forward to tomorrow.

It is very exciting to think that we are only one class away from competing 101...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day 97: New Deal

Well, another class at my new studio, and today I also had a new teacher. He was fantastic! He was a stickler for precision and gave us lots of added details and explanations, ostensibly for the new people, but wildly beneficial to the rest of us as well.

Because he insisted that anyone with both knees locked should at least try to touch their forehead to the knee, I actually did it for the very first time today! Also, I let go of my foot in tree, without having it slip down. Just a few hints, a few details added to the instruction, and it all came together. It feels SO good to make progress on those asana that have only been half-way there or have been terrible struggles. Thank you, new teacher!

I have to mention, however, that the room was nice and cool. When we began class, our teacher told us we were going to try to raise the temp a bit, that it was only 103F. I like 103! Even just plain 105. It's the 108 and up that knocks me on my behind.

Happy day, though. I just loved my practice today.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 95: Yikes!

That yoga truck is still in town, and I got run over tonight. I hope that I can pull it together and have some better classes before the end of the challenge. I don't want to end it with a whimper...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day 94: Yoga Truck was Here...

I was just a mess at yoga today. The yoga truck drove into town, found our new studio, and knocked me down. I didn't get run over, but I did get knocked off of my feet.

Rain started pouring down the minute I left my house to walk to the studio, and I arrived with...a broken umbrella! The wind caught my orange umbrella and mangled it completely. I brought a yoga mat that I don't like; it's sort of my back-up emergency mat. It has a yucky texture and it is really really long, takes up too much space. I'd put my other mats over my porch railing to air out and dry, but because of the rain, they were sopping wet. Oh, and one more little inconvenience: This weekend, I somehow managed to lose a pair of yoga shorts. Of course, they were my favorite ones! I had made one last search of the laundry room and my dresser just before class, and I had to wear the ill-fitting grey shorts today. At the studio, I found that I had forgotten to bring a water bottle, and I felt I was going to need water. I took an empty 1L glass bottle out of the recycling bin, washed it and filled it for class. I felt completely out of whack before class even started.

It was very crowded, and it still seems strange to be in a new studio. I was crammed into the front row, and we were so far forward that I literally touched the mirror in standing bow and balancing stick. There wasn't enough room to extend my arms for a proper sit up during floor series. My balance was off throughout the class. I was just unable to do much of anything very well. I sat out a set of triangle. I drank the entire liter of water before class had ended. I'd been hydrating all day, had plenty of electrolytes, but I was thirsty, thirsty, thirsty. Cool water tasted so good: I felt as if I needed it. I don't know why.

My instructor asked me, in the midst of toe stand, how many days I'd finished in the challenge, and everyone clapped. I felt a little embarrassed, because I was having a bad class! Oh well.
I hope the yoga truck will leave town tonight. I don't want to encounter it tomorrow.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day 93: Easter Rabbit!

My 'home' studio is closed temporarily, and the owners opened up a new one today. The new studio is within easy walking distance of my home, and every single thing in it is brand spanking new. It is going to be my new home studio. I've gone to a couple of other Bikram studios in my life, but almost all of my classes have been at the old home place. All of my challenge classes, until today, were at the old home. It was exciting, slightly disorienting, and wonderful to practice at the new studio.

The instructor told us that the temperature was exactly 105 F, and the humidity was 39%, "Almost perfect conditions," he said. Yet somehow, with the beautiful high ceilings and great ventilation system, it felt so comfortable, almost not hot enough. No complaints from me; it was just perfect for my comfort level. The new studio is bigger than the old one, but it was crowded and seemed just as small! The carpet in the new place is made of some crazy miracle fiber, and it's got a very appealing texture. That sounds weird, kind of, but it's really nice!

I was sort of absorbing the feeling of the new place with part of my mind, and I was a little spaced out and foggy-minded to begin with. I had dinner with friends, and two glasses of wine last night, and I am reluctantly concluding that alcohol is not really for me. Even in small amounts, it leaves me with a groggy head and an inability to think clearly for the entire next day. And my legs got the heavy unpleasant feeling again.

So, anyway, I was not feeling sharp or very alert at class, but it was a very enjoyable class. I didn't even consider sitting out any postures. No 'perfect' asana, but there was something good about every posture today. I had moments of great depth in standing bow (relative to my usual practice) and better form than usual in camel and separate leg stretching. Had some good kicking out in standing head to knee, good form and depth in eagle and most of awkward. It was a pretty strong class for me, except for my semi-brain dead state.

Maybe I need to not be able to think in order to stop thinking too much at practice!

The crazy thing was that once we got on to the floor series, almost every time we moved out of savasana, I would mindlessly kneel and wrap the towel over my heels to get ready for rabbit pose. Then I'd go, 'Oh, wait, we're doing fixed firm,' or whatever posture was next. It was goofy. Some part of my mind just really really wanted to get to rabbit posture! Maybe it's because tomorrow is Easter.

My biggest complaint about the new place: the showers. Our old studio had 2 showers total, located off of a hallway, close by to our respective changing rooms and used by both men and women. Each shower had a private little room with it. We used to wait forever for showers after big classes, and often the hot water would run out. We were all excited to hear that the new studio has 3 showers in the ladies' changing room and 2 in the men's. Well, what we actually have in the women's changing room is one shower room with 3 spigots. Bah! No privacy! It took me months to get the nerve to let my belly and thighs show in class; now I have to be completely naked in front of strangers if I want a shower after class. It's like junior high gym class locker room all over again for me. Bah! I suppose it's good for me to be forced to deal with it, to get over more of my body image issues, but I'm not too happy about it! One more time: Bah!

I sound like a broken record, but I can't believe we're so close to the end of the Challenge. Yea! Yikes! I have a zillion different feelings about it.

Hope everyone has a good class tomorrow. Remember, you don't have to be a Christian to enjoy a good Easter Rabbit pose!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 91: Distractions

I had a so-so class today. I was very distracted throughout. I haven't found myself so fidgety and spaced out in a long while. I slept badly last night, and I was feeling stressed and upset through a lot of the day. I ate very little, and I had no opportunity to get myself hydrated until about 2 hours before class. I guzzled an electrolyte drink at 5, and I tried to get some water in me as well, but I was worried about my stamina for class. Between not being properly hydrated and suffering from a lack of sleep, it seemed I might be in for a dizzy little class.

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I was lacking in focus and low on energy, but I got through it. I didn't hold my standing bow pose for the full allotment of time on either side, but my teacher urged me to go into it further, and I managed to get much more depth in the posture on both sides, however briefly. It felt great to see my foot getting higher and higher above my head.

I've been dealing with financial stress, job applications and interviews, and strained 'negotiations' with the ex. It is easier to handle everything because I have my yoga practice to keep me grounded, but sometimes I just don't cope in the healthiest ways. Yesterday and today were just crappy--lots of upset and negative feeling, and I didn't eat or sleep right. I was forgetful as well; I misplaced my cell phone a couple of times and I took my ring off to wash up and forgot it on the counter. Didn't notice until pranayama at evening class.

I was so...not present tonight. And even in that kind of distracted, bothered state, I saw some progress in a posture. I felt a little more sane when class was done, happy, even. And more of my fellow students asked about the challenge and commented on changes in my appearance and my practice. It's slightly stunning to me that people see changes in me. It's been so gradual that I don't see it clearly. I wish I had taken "before" pictures of my asana, to have a better sense of how much the challenge has changed them.

Well, I'm up too late again, even as I write this. Better get to bed so that I can be better prepared for tomorrow and for tomorrow's yoga. I don't want the challenge to end. I kind of think that I am going to continue a daily practice after April 11.