Day 29, Walking The Line May 27, 2008

Filed under: Bikram 30 Day Challenge — bloodsweatntears @ 1:55 pm
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It was hotter than usual in the studio today. It was so hot that I was really distracted and impatient – it was uncomfortable. This was definitely the hardest day in terms of heat for me. A girl even got up after an hour and left class saying she felt like she was going to pass out. The instructor asked her to wait in the lobby but the girl was gone in a flash. It was definitely one of those days. I even thought about getting up and leaving the room myself – but I’m glad I didn’t. I suspect it was hotter because the temperature outside is warm. I wonder what my practice will be like in the summer, will it be too hot? I guess I’ll deal with it one day at a time.

One day a while back I was able to get my foot to wrap around my calf in Eagle Pose. I haven’t been able to do this since and I’m not sure why. It’s been hard enough just trying to balance on one leg. This posture is so pretty, I like to look around the room even though I know I should focus on myself. It’s like a human tug of war as I’m squeezing my legs to try to maintain balance. I can feel my sweat dripping down my elbows all over my foot in this posture.

Now that I am able to get down into Toe Stand I’ve been trying to figure out how I can eventually get both hands into prayer. Right now I keep my hands to the side of me – they are the only things holding me up and there is a lot of weight on my fingertips. Is all the weight supposed to be on just the toes? I think core strength has something to do with it as well. I’ll continue doing what I can do until I figure this out. This will take some time for sure. I also lose my balance pretty easily on my way up from this posture and into Tree Pose. I get the biggest head rush after releasing this posture!

I’m also wondering when I’ll be able to fully get down into Hands to Feet Pose. I still cannot straighten my legs on this one. I think I’ve made a tiny bit of progress on this one as sometimes I can pull my heels and my hips do raise up a little. This is the toughest posture for me, no doubt about it. I’m working out a lifetime of stiff and hardened hamstrings so 30 days isn’t going to cut it. Yes it’s a work in progress. Anyway, I can see the finish line now. One more day to go!


Day 28, Feeling Great May 26, 2008

It’s been interesting doing this every day for the last month. My body feels different every time I go into that room. Some days I’m more achy than others and some days I’m more flexible in certain postures…or not. One big thing yoga has taught me is to listen to my body. And lately it’s been telling me to keep going. In fact, after practice I have more energy. The other day I went to play a great game a racquetball afterwards. I hadn’t played in a year but my friend couldn’t tell and it felt really good to play a competitive sport for fun.

I had been struggling with Cobra Pose for about a week and today it seemed to finally make sense to me. I went right into it with no strain or hesitation. This is the best part of it all, when you realize you’ve built up the strength do the the posture correctly. And it helps a lot NOT to think about any of this before doing it. I’m notorious for over thinking things to the point where I psyche myself out. So many lost opportunities. But that’s the past, I’m living in the present and I’m going to make the most of it.

This killer Triangle Pose gets me every time. I’ve been telling myself for days to stay in this pose, stay in this pose! It burns burns burns but I keep telling myself we’ll be out soon enough. I can see my arms shaking. Today I realized my hips aren’t squared and once I realigned myself it seemed a little easier to balance. I find that my straightened leg often threatens to slip and slide backwards. One of these days I will build enough strength to get through this posture strong and focused.

The same goes for Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose. It seems like every time I turn to the windows facing Allen Street, there’s a double decker bus with tourists looking in. It’s kind of entertaining, because they get the perfect view into the studio. I always get distracted here so I digress. The main challenge in this posture is coming back up – I have yet to come up controlled and steady. I shake like mad, sometimes even losing my balance. The instructors say that shaking is ok, it’s just your body building the strength up. My, how it makes me realize how much I lack in core strength! There’s only one place to go from here.


Day 27, I’m In Heaven May 25, 2008

There’s so much good energy running through me it’s amazing. Just a week ago I was feeling fatigued, but I’ve been feeling really fantastic since yesterday. I can’t remember the last time I was feeling so happy. I mean, I’m even smiling at people these days! It feels so good. I’m being completely serious when I say that this stuff is amazing – it’s almost better than sex and chocolate.

I stood next this guy today I haven’t seen in a while. When I first started coming, he stood out because of his amazing form. I wish I knew his name. His Standing Bow Pose is incredible – he executes with such style and grace! I tried to use some of that energy for mine and I think it worked, although I hope I didn’t throw his concentration off. I’ve never seen a man get so deep into these kinds of postures before. His breathing was controlled and even too. He’s probably a dancer in real life.

I still can’t get my forehead to touch first when going down into the Half Tortoise Pose. I make the effort each time, but my fingers touch down before anything else every time. I’ll try to place my arms behind my ears more tomorrow and see what happens. I make a lot of adjustments while in this pose. I try to squeeze my palms, thighs and heels together, all the while keeping my stomach sucked in. Then I walk my hands up towards the front of the room until I feel a pinch in my shoulders. There’s a lot going on in this posture. This pose is really good for stress, memory and mental clarity.

Blowing in FirmThe one pose I have not mentioned so far is Kapalbhati in Vajrasana, or Blowing in Firm (otherwise known as Breath of Fire). This is a controlled breathing exercise that helps seal the practice by exhaling out excess carbon dioxide from the body. The stomach contracts with the exhalation very sharply. The stomach is the only thing that moves. The first set is usually fine and the second set is faster and snappier. I always feel dizzy after this – good thing I’m already sitting down.


Day 26, My Little Bag Of Tricks May 24, 2008

Filed under: Bikram 30 Day Challenge — bloodsweatntears @ 3:39 pm
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I often have to talk myself into finishing the entire 26 postures. Sometimes I’m in a pose and I can hear the instructor’s encouraging words, but the voice starts to move farther away as the struggle to stay in the posture comes to the forefront, nagging me to come out. That’s when out of nowhere, my internal voice speaks and all of the sudden I realize that I have finished the posture.

It was pretty crowded in the studio today, even with the holiday weekend at hand. I’m getting pretty good at tuning others out around me and focusing on myself. When I first started going, my eyes would dart all around the room to see what other people were doing but that was ultimately distracting and would cause me to lose my balance. I usually look at the people in front of me during Standing Head to Knee Pose, mostly because I’m so fascinated at their flexibility. It’s also such a pretty posture to watch. I am still working on locking out my standing knee so I wait patiently.

It was a good day for Pranayama. It normally takes some time before I warm up to the breathing, and relax my shoulders. My shoulders are normally so tense! I’ve been told to relax them on more than one occasion. Today was the first time I eased into it earlier and I didn’t have to gulp for more air. Good progress here. What seems like a relatively easy exercise is actually one of the most challenging for me. I usually work up quite a sweat here. In fact, there is so much sweat dripping down my face that it bothers me a little in the following posture, the Half Moon Pose.

Half Moon Pose is a posture that requires some stamina. It looks relatively easy, but gets more difficult as I start paying attention to the details. Are my palms touching in a tight grip and are my arms tight? I tend to rest my head on my arm, am I doing that? Then, for the alignment: are my hips pushed out to one side? Is my weight back on my heels, are my knees locked and quadriceps tight? Am I keeping my chin up, so I can see my throat? All the while the sweat is dripping down and I’m trying to maintain calmness through my breath. This is where one minute can feel like ten, so breathing through it can help tremendously.


Day 25, Automatic Drive May 23, 2008

Filed under: Bikram 30 Day Challenge — bloodsweatntears @ 2:49 pm
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Ok, this yoga is making me crave ice cream like I never have before. I wonder if this is something hormonal or if I’m sweating out something that needs to be replaced by sugar and dairy. Who knows. All I know is that my hormones are going nuts! And I”m eating ice cream like it’s going out of style. I hope this normalizes soon, because I can eat only so much sugary creamy goodness.

Let’s talk about the highly underrated Corpse Pose. It’s one of my favorite poses because it helps me slow down my heart rate and focuses my mind. I often look up on the ceiling and envision blue skies above me and forget about the posture I was in moments before. It’s very Zen. I don’t pay attention to the sweat trickling down my body, taunting and tickling me. I just lay there and let my body be. In fact, I love this posture so much I’ve started sleeping like this.

Balancing Stick might well be one of the most difficult poses for me. Because it follows Standing Bow Pose, my heart rate is already accelerated and when I think of stretching myself from the front to back I feel like I’m being pulled apart. Don’t get me wrong, part of this feels good. But part of it is painful too. I’d love to see my face during this posture! Chrissy says it’s good to smile during the tough times. I think she’s right but I’m not quite there yet.

I’m wondering when I can close my legs during Bow Pose. While doing this posture, I have an image in my mind that differs drastically from the image I see in the mirror. I feel like I’m executing this posture beautifully and then I look up to see my legs splayed out farther than 6 inches. What’s this all about? Inner thigh strength. This pose kills me. All of the spine strengthening poses culminate into Bow Pose for the ultimate defiance of gravity.


Day 24, Getting More Than I Asked For May 22, 2008

Filed under: Bikram 30 Day Challenge — bloodsweatntears @ 7:05 am
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I have reached the final week of the 30 day Challenge, with 6 more classes to go. I could not have imagined coming this far when I first started doing this. All of the benefits I’m getting from this is more than I could have ever asked for. I plan on continuing daily practice until I land a job.

Yesterday I was talking about the Spine Twist Pose, and how I thought it was one of the easier poses for me. Well I spoke too soon! Today I realized I’ve haven’t been aligning myself correctly for this posture. I should know better than to say that any pose is easy. They are all difficult, and seem to get harder as you get into the details. The devil is in the details.

Just when I thought I was getting the hang of Rabbit Pose, my head decides it’s going to peel itself from my knees. It’s possible I’m going into the pose incorrectly – maybe the proper alignment will come in time. The one thing I must remind myself to be mindful of is the shoulders – I need to keep them away from my ears. This posture improves digestion and helps to cure colds. And it feels especially good after that crazy Camel Pose.

Camel Pose is an intriguing posture. Most people engage in forward bending activities for most of their lives. Back bending is not something that naturally comes to a regular joe. I think dancers might be the only people who actively use this part of the spine. The most interesting part about Camel is the way it makes me feel. I can only speak for myself, but the range is incredible. One day I feel panic and my heart feels like it’s going to explode out of my chest. The next I could see colors and feel so high. Another day could be relatively calm but my whole body is energized. I think I’m getting close to grabbing my heels. We’ll see…


Day 23, Home Free May 21, 2008

Filed under: Bikram 30 Day Challenge — bloodsweatntears @ 11:01 am
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Ever since I started doing this yoga, it’s been dreams galore. This is interesting because I normally do not remember my dreams. The ones I’m having are so lucid, that I when I wake up, I think they actually happened. I wrote in an earlier post that somehow the yoga is dredging up unresolved feelings. It’s unleashed some kind of emotional chakra or something. I think these dreams are telling me I’m ready to deal with my past.

Today was a tough class. I thought it was just me, until I saw some other people struggling. The room felt hotter than the usual 110 degrees and I was getting dizzy spells that would not go away, even with sitting. I must have gotten up a half dozen times to try to get back into posture but my body just wouldn’t have it. There was a girl who got so ill that she had to be escorted out by the instructor. I couldn’t make it through the entire standing series, after the first set of Triangle Pose, I was out. Triangle has been really hard lately. Is it because my thighs are feeling lazy? Perhaps. I’ve been having a hard time distributing all the weight throughout both arms and legs in this pose. And the only thing I can think about is getting out of the pose. It burns so much!

Spine Twisting PoseLet’s talk about one of my favorite postures: Ardha-Matsyendrasana, or Spine Twisting Pose. I like it not because it’s the second last posture, but because I’ve always liked to twist. It just feels good and is a nice way to end an hour and a half of vigorous yoga. Every day I seem to be able to twist and see further. This posture is good for improving flexibility in the spine. My spine was very stiff when I started my 30 days. I’m still pretty stiff, but it has improved so much. I still have trouble with the back bends, but I’ll get there, all in good time.