I’m terribly shiny, but also very happy (cue REM song) in this photo: taken before my 60th bikram class. Yesterday I completed that challenge and it was worth every sweaty drop of frustration. A note of gratitude:
Thank you to my friends and family who’ve listened to me work yoga into just about every conversation I’ve had for the last two months. For your patience and kindness, I am very grateful. Thank you especially to Lisa, Kim, Juliann and the African for coming out for the final class.
Also, to Bikram Tempe — owned by two of the sweetest people — Elaina and Ben. The married pair have a staff that made showing up for class each day something to look forward to. Depending on the teacher, the class was to be relaxing, screamingly difficult or a happy medium. Thank you to the entire staff. You have my admiration.
I’d love to say I feel enlightened. Or just lightened. I’m a few pounds down and definitely more in touch with my spirit — but I’m far from either zenith. Instead what I feel for the first time in my life is a sense of balance. I’m happy. I’m not ecstatic and I’m not depressed. I’m in this great gray zone that is unprecedented. I’m also far more confident in my body’s prowess. It’s more than likely just a change in perspective, but now I look at my form with a sincere respect for what it is capable of accomplishing. I’m far more flexible and wonder if I’m even a bit taller from all that stretching. I certainly carry myself with more confidence.
I’m stronger in body and mind; that alone is worth continuing Bikram.
I’ve found myself recommending Bikram to friends and anyone who will listen. Can’t sleep? Take yoga. Feeling blue? Yoga. Angry, lack of purpose, unhealthy, antsy? Bikram. Simple as that. It isn’t about 90 minutes, or the heat or wearing Spandex in public (although all are painfully part of the package). It’s about surrendering. You check your ego, body image, social status and importance at the door and enter into a healing atmosphere where everyone and every body is of equal importance. It is more than fulfilling — it is life changing.
- Posted in
- Celebrate!, Good to Great, yoga
I’ve been spending a lot of steamy time lately with a certain hot Indian. Not to be too politically correct, but the way my heart races! The fluttering in my stomach! The sweat pouring off my shaking frame!
That Bikram yoga challenge* is, in all seriousness, doing some good. Today was class 38 of 60. I’m down a couple pounds, have newly discovered muscles in my stomach and an empowered state of mind that I can imagine is highly annoying to those who spend time with me outside of the sweat lodge yoga studio.
1. If there is an instructor you truly dislike, it is probably because he/she pushes you to be better. Give in. Suck it up. Keep taking his/her class.
2. Figure out where the scapula is on your body and keep this in mind. I’ve taken plenty of science classes and had no idea . It’s pointed out as an area you should be thinking of about 10,000 times per class. Scapula = shoulder blade. Got it.
3. If you are taking an afternoon class, eat at least 4 hours prior. (Better yet, just take the morning class.) Otherwise, the first Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana** — Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose — will result in revisiting your lunch. I haven’t yet figured out the best timing, which means I’m eating less; nothing is worse than vomiting in public.
4. My car smells like yoga. My closet smells like yoga. The workout clothes I wore last week and have since washed twice smell like yoga. It is a particularly distinct combination of sweat, feet and incense. Sounds disgusting, but in a very weird way you begin to love it.
5. Coco water is just about the most refreshingly powerful thing I’ve ever drank. After class, I sip one of these 60 calorie containers and it’s like someone plugged my battery back in. The potassium is high so you don’t cramp and it is all natural.
6. Aside from the physical and flexibility stuff I can do all of a sudden, the mental side of this challenge has been a bit of a roller coaster. There are weeks where I am so fired up. I race in the door, throw my sticker on the 60-day challenge chart and burst into class ready to namaste it like the best of the spandex-clad monkeys. And there has been one week in particular where it took sheer grace to get my completely exhausted frame to class each day, pushing through one sore pose to the next. Thankfully, I didn’t give up.
There are stickers.
And a chart.
And if there is one thing this type A spandex-clad monkey loves, it’s public accountability and a challenge that seems pretty insane. Even if I have nightmares where people randomly shout “LOCK YOUR KNEE!”
yogi in training,
* I almost titled this post, “Namaste that, Bitches!”
** Trying saying that three times fast. Jeez, Bikram. I bet you rock at Scrabble.
- Posted in
- Good to Great, Journal, yoga
This week I’m being stretched in a variety of new ways; the yoga has gone well. I feel like I’ve got a rhythm to it now, but the first few back-to-back days weren’t easy. Then, I took a class and noticed we were almost done. We were getting out of camel pose and had 10 minutes left; I wondered how that had happened. I was present; I simply wasn’t in pain.
Bikram apparently tells a tale that when you are in pain during his class, it is a reminder that nothing can take away your happiness. One silly 1 minute pose standing on your toes with all your weight pushing forward? It is still just one silly minute. Breathe and before you know it, you won’t remember the pain.
If you are interested in reading more about Bikram yoga, Oprah Magazine has been featuring it for the last two months. My studio sent out these links and I thought her story was sad and empowering. Month 1. Month 2.
My Bikram tip for the week is to remember to always wash your face before class. There is nothing more frustrating than being in a pose and fully concentrating when you have to stop because mascara has run into your eyes and is screaming for attention. My studio provides face wash in the bathroom and I’m sure to use it now before each session.
There wasn’t a whopping weight change on the scale this morning, and to be honest — that’s okay. I know I am stronger this week with 8 classes under my belt so far than I was last. Plus, the sleeping issues have me over-compensating with food, as I’m prone to do when I can’t figure out why I feel gross. Granted, mint chocolate chip doesn’t give me extra rest, but it certainly does give me a smile.
The stretching professionally and personally continues too; it’s in these times, when I feel a bit uncomfortable, that I know I’m learning something.
Sometimes I’m learning I need another scoop.
- Posted in
- Journal, yoga