Saturday, December 11, 2010

Things are settling down for me a bit. I feel much more optimistic about my yoga practice tonight. I don't know why, but the teacher with whom I've had issues is not teaching at our studios, at least not in the next month or so. It's a bit of a relief to me. I was just having a very hard time feeling okay when I took classes from her. I have been trying to remind myself that it is always MY practice, no matter what, and I'm going to continue trying to convince myself of it!

One of my teachers told me that the 2 year mark is a bit of a watershed for many Bikram yogis. She said that at this point, you either choose to move deeper into the practice or you move away from it. She said she's often seen people go on to take up some other sport or activity after about 2 years of dedicated practice. She said studio owners seem to have a 5 year shelf life, too.

I was trying to explain to her what I'm struggling with, internally, about my practice. For the first year or so, it felt like everyone was like, "yea! Good for you! You're doing yoga, and you're coming to class a lot! Awesome!" Then, sometime in my second year of regular practice, it started to feel like some of the teachers and regular students were more like, "Can't you do any better than that? Why aren't you trying harder? You need to work harder! You're not doing it right!"

And, yeah, after a while, it's reasonable for teachers to push harder, expect more, etc. It's just...hard sometimes.

One thing that's helped me a lot lately is being reminded of the physical benefits of the practice. I SO took it to heart the first time I heard, "As long as you're doing your best, you're getting the full physiological benefit of the posture." One of my facebook friends has a sister who owns a Bikram Yoga studio. She had posted an article about the health benefits of yoga, and while I know most all of that stuff by now, it really helped me to read it all again. I'm not doing yoga with pretty pretty postures as my goal; I'm doing yoga because it's really freaking good for my health--physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cold Snap/The Winter of My Discontent

It's chilly outside now, and the yoga studio's heating system hasn't been fully adjusted to cope with the change in the weather. We had a cool class tonight. The room was 96 degrees F when class began, and it warmed up as we went along. By the time we were on the floor, it was just about exactly perfect by Bikram's standards.

In a lot of ways, I missed the higher temps. I was feeling a little rusty anyway since I'd done no yoga for a couple days prior to class. I was so stiff in my back, my hamstrings, my shoulders. Trying to stretch my creaky old body in the "cold" room made me long for that sweaty, delicious and simultaneously unbearable heat.

Yet I had a so much more stamina than usual. It's very frustrating to me. I sweat so heavily when the room is 105 or higher. And our local studios are often much hotter than 105. I've bitched and moaned in previous posts about the studio floor with radiant heat. It's like being on a hot pizza stone. Lying on the hot hot hot floor, sometimes I feel as if my blood will just start to congeal like a fried egg. It's seriously stolen my peace more than once.

When the room is "too" hot (but how hot is too hot?), I sweat gallons, and I feel so depleted, so exhausted, so wiped out that I have to really force myself to continue doing postures. At the hottest of the hot studios, I almost never have a "good" class, and by "good" I mean a class where I feel strong most the way through, able to do some semblance of every posture, every set, without having to dig deep and summon up strength and will and guts and determination. When you practice every day, is it normal to need to dig deep every single day? Was I crazy to think that I could do this yoga sometimes without hurting and suffering?

When did my teachers stop saying that "Relax, it's only yoga," thing?

My cold class today was so much easier than normal. It makes me wonder about how often we seem to push through extremes in temperature and humidity. Whenever I'm having a hard time, somebody's always ready to chime in and tell me that it's all in my mind. I dunno. I think I am just finding my threshold, finding the place where it's a challenge but not a beat-down. For my body and my mind. I feel like such a whiner, but damn it, I've been slogging along and digging deep for a long while now. I was hoping, by now, to be a little more fireproof than this.