27 December 2011

Full Circle, Resolutions, and other Bullsh@t

From my first post, 01 JAN 2011:

 Hello, world! My name is Mark and I have decided to try my hand at blogging. The subject, for the most part, will be my experience of practicing Bikram yoga. For those who do not not know, it is commonly referred to as "Hot Yoga", since the 90 minute class is held in a 105-degree room. I have been practicing since April 2009, and have found wonderful benefit from it, which I will relate as I go forward. Hopefully I will have the willpower and desire to keep up with this -- I've never done this on a regular basis. I hope to be interesting enough to have you, my reader, to return, or to perhaps try Bikram. Unfortunately, as I write on New Year's Day, I am fighting my first ever case of pneumonia, which is going to set me back a bit. I'll write when I can and I hope you enjoy it! 

Indeed, it has been almost one full year since I started this little blogging experiment. For once, I actually had set a couple of goals for myself. I wanted to improve my practice. I wanted to learn more about the yoga itself. My stated goal was to attend 200 classes this year. I wanted to eat better, live better, and be healthier.

Well, so much for that.....

To be fair, there were some good (or great) moments. I was able to do Eagle properly for the first time. I got to take a class in a different city from a fantastic instructor. I overcame a panic attack. I even tried creative writing.

Mostly, though, there was a lot of struggling. One new instructor, then another. Got run over by the "yoga truck" more than once. Questioned my desire to continue. Beat myself up a lot, which I have always been very good at. Then, to top it off, the studio abruptly closed. Hopefully, it will reopen in mid-January. Still no word on whether or not we will keep our work-study positions. If not, my practice may be dormant for a very long time.... 

In November, after visiting the studio in Arlington for a one-off class, I wrote the following:

"...the longer class went on, the more I felt like I didn't belong. Not just that I didn't belong in that room, but that I had no business being there, doing yoga, at all. The yoga felt very foreign to me -- not just because I was extremely stiff and had no sort of strength or balance. I felt really weird just being there trying to do the postures -- worse even than during my very first class. I was completely uncomfortable and unnerved. As I lay on the floor, sitting out most of the floor series, I kept asking myself, "Why did I even come here? I'm just kidding myself... I'm really not cut out for this stuff. I could easily stop practicing and few if any would notice my departure. Why not just give this up? Face it, I could do this for the rest of my days and I doubt that I will ever really improve. I mean, really, two years of this and I still can't do Triangle? I still sit out postures? Why bother? I tried, and I failed. Move on."

As I type tonight, I feel pretty much the same way." 


Unfortunately, for the moment, that feeling still holds.
 
Now, as the calendar turns to 2012, I sit here with a nasty chest cold, and I am trying everything to avoid ending the year as it began -- with pneumonia. My diet is a wreck once more, and I'm still smoking. I have not progressed much, if at all.

Today, I got a catalog in the mail from a nutrition company. I started thinking once again about what I'm going to do in the new year to feel better, look better, etc. Another cleanse? Getting my diet back on track? FINALLY giving up the smokes? Getting back in the newly renovated hot room?

The resolutions haven't changed, because I haven't changed. 
Will I EVER change?

I see so many other people do so many things to improve themselves... and not only at the studio through yoga. Some have begun working toward a 5K, 10K, or marathon. Some have disciplined themselves in their diet, and have achieved results. Others have quit smoking, and stuck to it. 

Why is it that I cannot will not do these things? Why is it seemingly so easy for other people but next to impossible for me? I can see the writing on the wall... I will try to do better for a while, then I will get tired or discouraged and fall right back into the same old crap. 

Really, who wants to read about that?

I read so many blogs that are fun. Uplifting. Joyous. Yes, inspiring. 

This isn't one of them... at least right now.  
I am questioning how useful this blog has been. 

Peace.


20 December 2011

Holiday Wishes

A few thoughts as the festivities draw nigh:

1) If you are traveling, I hope your trip goes well and you get there and back safe and sound.

2) If you are in the military (of any nation) and the holidays find you far away, know that we truly appreciate what you do. Godspeed and I hope you are with your loved ones very soon.

3) When you are with your loved ones, hug them. Hug them again.  Hug them harder. You just never know when (or IF)  you'll get that chance again.

4) If you are at odds with someone, extend the olive branch. Make peace. Just try.

5) Never forget: There are a great many people in need. Give what you can. The Red Cross, The Salvation Army, your local homeless shelter, women's shelter, your local food bank... all would appreciate whatever you can give. Food, clothing, cash, doesn't matter. It all goes to improve someone's life (and therefore the world) just a little bit.

6) Never forget (2): Our four legged friends need a hand, too. The local Humane Society or SPCA can always use food or bedding for their charges...

7) Eat, drink, and be merry!!! Just have a designated driver so there are no Holiday nightmares.

8) Laugh out loud. Do a silly dance. Tell someone just exactly how special they are to you.

However you may celebrate, I hope your holidays are truly magnificent and memorable!!!

Peace.


  

20 November 2011

Losing touch....

A month since my last post. A little more than that since the studio was abruptly closed. I have since learned that the studio was actually sold to one of our newer instructors. She is currently renovating the studio -- or, finishing  the renovations that were started by the previous owners. She is keeping us posted via Facebook (photos included). Currently, the hope is that the studio will resume operations in early January, with a full Grand Opening in February. No word yet on whether we get to stay on work-study, but I am hopeful.

While the wait goes on, I have found myself slipping more and more into old habits. While I have had only four cigarettes in the last 12 days (Very Good), I am once again eating everything in sight. Doesn't matter whether or not I am actually hungry or not, I just eat. And eat. And eat. I bet I've gained almost 10 pounds. This with the holiday season nigh upon us. Worse, I wonder more and more about whether or not I really want to continue my practice.

Almost two weeks ago, I made the drive out to the studio in Arlington. I was happy to run into some of the regulars from Ft. Worth -- including one of our instructors. The Arlington studio is very nice indeed, as are the staff. They have been very helpful to those of us who have no home at the moment. Anyhow, the longer class went on, the more I felt like I didn't belong. Not just that I didn't belong in that room, but that I had no business being there, doing yoga, at all. The yoga felt very foreign to me -- not just because I was extremely stiff and had no sort of strength or balance. I felt really weird just being there trying to do the postures -- worse even than during my very first class. I was completely uncomfortable and unnerved. As I lay on the floor, sitting out most of the floor series, I kept asking myself, "Why did I even come here? I'm just kidding myself... I'm really not cut out for this stuff. I could easily stop practicing and few if any would notice my departure. Why not just give this up? Face it, I could do this for the rest of my days and I doubt that I will ever really improve. I mean, really, two years of this and I still can't do Triangle? I still sit out postures? Why bother? I tried, and I failed. Move on."

As I type tonight, I feel pretty much the same way.

 On a happier note, the latest Teacher Training concluded yesterday. I would like to say "Congratulations!!" to all who made it through, but especially to the following people who blogged about their adventure:

Kat -- A Sweaty Adventure

Tiffany -- The Hot Yoga Girl

Shavon -- bikram or bust

Alice Istanbul

Miss Copsey -- peace under pressure

Extra props to Ms. Istanbul -- in the midst of Training, she hopped a jet back to Florida to compete in the Southeast Regional Asana Championships -- and place FIRST in the Georgia Women's Division!!!

To all of you: it was really fun to follow your adventures. I wish all of you the best as you embark on your teaching careers.

Peace.

20 October 2011

Now what?

 So, there I was. It was just after midnight, and I couldn't sleep. I had planned to attend the 6AM class but that was looking less and less likely due to my restlessness. I reached for my phone and opened up Facebook. The first entry was from the studio. My jaw dropped when I saw it. It read as follows:

"We deeply regret the short notice that we will be closing temporarily as we reorganize and rebuild... We will keep you informed to the best of our ability.  Please stay tuned for updates.  We apologize for the inconvenience."

My heart sank.

The one place... the ONLY place where I could hope to quiet my brain and focus on myself is closed. A renovation was begun last fall but it languished for reasons unknown. Yet, we all went and took class, and made the best of it. Now, it has been shut down for an unspecified length of time. 

I feel empty. Even with another long, tiring week in progress, my Tuesday class was the best in months! I was looking so forward to getting in there and starting my day off in a positive fashion. Instead, I really feel bad. I don't want to eat, and my body is upset (headache, queasiness). I'd like to write more but I must take care of my loved ones. Don't know when I'll be back, and since the nearest studio is 35 minutes from here, I don't know when my next class will be.
 
To all who stop by: BE STRONG!! BREATHE!!! LOCK THAT KNEE!!! 

If you want, you can drop a line to the email at the top of the page.

Until next time (whenever that is....) 




Namaste 

12 October 2011

Thud. (Epilogue)

I made it in to the room last night for the first time since Thursday.

It did not go well. At all.

Trouble started right away. Kept gasping and taking extra breaths in Pranayama. My breathing was never in synch. Hands-to-Feet was OK, but Awkward was horrid. Eagle was the high point of my class, somehow I was able to hook both feet -- not completely, but they did hook, and I released my interlocked fingers and tried to achieve prayer position. I was a lot closer to it than I ever thought....

After that, however, my class went downhill at about the same rate as an avalanche. No balance in Standing H2K, or Standing Bow, or Balancing Stick (Stick was the worst of all -- only got to 3 before falling out -- ankles kept rolling. SSL Stretching and Triangle are the Evil Twins of my practice. I can't even grab my heels in Stretching -- every time I try there is pain from my hips down the sides of my legs as if they are going to instantly cramp, so I stand back up and walk in place to get the muscles to let go. In Triangle, I will never get my legs to look like an upside down 'L' -- I'm quite sure of that. My hamstrings scream and I either stand back up or fall to my mat. In SSLH2K, my gut gets in the way and I start to gasp for air, so I fall out. Tree was OK; I did not attempt Toe Stand. By this time I was getting spasms in my back and I knew I was toast. Tried Wind-Removing but barely got through. Situps were not practical, and I simply laid on my stomach during the spine series, with my back muscles refusing to let go. When the class transitioned into Fixed Firm, I exited the chamber, found a bench in the back room, and tried to get my back to let go. Didn't happen.

I guess I should have stayed home, but it was my work study night and I needed to be there. This morning was no better. The weather change (cooler and rain) caused so much congestion that I had to race to get an inhaler because I flat out could not breathe. (Weather change, my a$$, it's those damn cigarettes!!)  Like, "climb the stairs and gasp for air" could not breathe. As I wrote yesterday, I am a wreck, and I'm at a loss. I am usually the positive, "things will get better", guy. Unless I'm talking about me, in which case I'm the  "What's the point?" guy.

So, looks like I'm back at the beginning. Eat better. Hydrate. For the love of God, find a way to stay away from smoking (Prescription? Hypnosis?). I have to find a way. For me. For my Sweetie. Besides, I'm really tired of writing all these "downer" entries. I'm sure it's not fun to read. Damn sure isn't fun to write, but at least it is cathartic in some ways. Tomorrow is another chance to start again...

                                *****************************************
A number of current Training blogs that I follow related a story of taking an Advanced class on their off day. As I understand it, the regular 90 minute class is the warm up, and one ends up spending 5 hours in the room. I cannot imagine that. You men and women are so much stronger than I can hope to be.

Peace.

11 October 2011

Thud.

"Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some inner tide"
 "High Hopes" -- From Pink Floyd's The Division Bell


Just home from work. Long six days, with work (driving me insane), a sick Sweetie (stomach flu... down for four days but now recovered), and a side project (completed) have meant 17, 18, even 19 hour days over that six day span. Made it to two classes last week (more on that in a minute). With so much to do and very little time, I jumped right back into old habits. Pizza. Cheeseburgers. Fried chicken. Fried fish. And all of it was take-out. Worse, I actually bought and drank at least one Dr. Pepper on five of those days. EVEN WORSE, I would smoke three, four, as many as six cigarettes a day!!! I was doing so well but give me long hours and stressful work conditions and I run right back to the old vices. I have fallen off the proverbial wagon on so many fronts.

Thing is, I don't feel very bad about it. I'm rationalizing all of this with reasons (excuses) such as:

     No use cooking for one.

     Needed the sugar and caffeine to keep going.

     Really no reason for smoking other than I wanted to.

Now, here I sit, with class just under two hours away, snacking on chips and cheese and trying to drink two liters of water in the next hour or two so that I am somewhat hydrated. It is my work study night, so I need to be there anyway. Might as well take class. Don't really want to. I'm tired, my knees ache, and I've had back spasms on and off since this morning. I am a wreck, and the last thing I want to do is sweat and pull and bend and groan and twist, twist, twist. Yet, given all of this, something inside tells me to keep going.

I stopped by the studio on Sunday to pick up the recycling. Sweetie is in charge of recycling and we are lucky to have two huge bins which the city empties weekly. As tired as I was, when I walked past the room, I paused. Both sets of doors were open slightly (class had ended 10 minutes earlier). As I walked past, I felt the heat hit me... must have been really toasty in there!! I stopped short and let the heat flow around me. The smells of the room overtook my nostrils -- the strong scent of perspiration, along with traces of tea tree oil and disinfectant (used when we clean the room). Added to those aromas, I swear, for just a fleeting moment, that I could smell emotions. Determination. Pain. Anger. Joy. Disappointment. Fear. Defeat. Surrender (not the same as defeat). For that tenth of a second, I think my mind went to a different place, a different level. I very badly wanted to take class right then and there. The moment stayed with me so briefly. I've tried to get back there but to no avail. Instead, my mind has dealt with the last six days, and now I don't even want to go. I feel like a failure (again). I'm so weak and inflexible and my mind is mush. At times I feel like giving up my work study spot and my practice. I feel like I do before I started practicing. Fat. Lazy. Without direction. Yes, at times I've wanted to cry. Cannot cry though... Don't let them see you cry....


                                             ************************************

My last class actually wasn't bad. It was last Thursday and the Really Difficult Teacher (I wrote about her here ) was teaching. Since the class was smaller than usual, I set up on the front row, something I rarely do and haven't tried in ages. Since I don't wear my glasses in class, It is blurry from the second row, and very difficult to focus on myself from the back row. Any way, she was her usual self -- pushing and pushing and asking us to take off the "training wheels" and push ourselves to a new level. This time however, most everything she said was clicking with me. I begin to see where she's coming from when she tells what us what muscles and bones are involved in a given posture.  Triangle was still elusive, but in Hands-to-Feet, as I pulled on my heels, I felt a sharp pop-pop-pop as my spine actually moved! I felt really strange for a second, then I couldn't keep from smiling. Definitely the high-point of class. I just wish she would hold it to six counts instead of 10-12 in Pranayama. Just saying...

One last thing for instructors: Want to make second set of Triangle more enjoyable? Find out if anyone is having a birthday in the next day or two. If so, once you get to "...just move your arms", have everyone sing "Happy Birthday" then come out and return to the set position. I actually made it through that set!!

Anyhow, time to shut it down. I'm going to go, and set up in the front. I am going to try my hardest and try to breathe correctly. Hopefully I find that place I found on Sunday, if only for a moment.

Peace.

06 October 2011

Thought for the day...

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on."


-- Steve Jobs   1955-2011 

So, what am I waiting for? 

 

29 September 2011

Just. Get. There.

I really don't have too much to report. Work is more difficult than normal. There seems to be so little time right now. My last class was on Sunday, and it actually wasn't that bad. Since then, I've had chances to go but I've had little to no motivation. It is unseasonably hot here (my computer says it is 102.... cold front finally due tonight) and I feel like it is going to be a tough class today. My gear is ready. I'm dressed. Class is 43 minutes from now and still I have no desire to go. At all. It's going to be rough. It's going to be hot. I haven't eaten well the last few days weeks, nor have I stayed properly hydrated.

Why do I do this?

My struggles make the idea of actually going through nine weeks of Teacher Training seem even more impossible. I'm keeping up with the goings on in LA through several different blogs (just check my list). Those people are only in the second week.... don't think I could make it through one! I have so much respect for anyone who undertakes such a challenge. (Challenge.... I can't even muster the interest in attempting any sort of challenge; whether it's 7 days, 10, 30, or 60.)

Well, it's time. Shutting it down and heading to the studio.

Just.     Get.      There.

Peace.

23 September 2011

Thought for the day...

"It's not the load that breaks you,

it's how you carry it."

-- Unknown

The #1 Star



    

 Note: Aside from the word "spine", there is nothing about yoga in this post. Since NHL.com shut down its fan site, I have nowhere else to post this. Still, I hope you enjoy.





     The sweater.

     The sweater flapping in the breeze.

     The sweater flapping in the breeze as he glided down the ice with indescribable grace and ease.

     That is Mike Modano.

     One of my sports heroes – the last sports hero of my youth -- hangs it up today.
Mike Modano will shortly sign a one day contract with the Dallas Stars, and then announce his retirement from the game he loves and graced for 21 seasons.

     The back story: the Minnesota North Stars packed their sticks and pucks and came south to Dallas in1993. Prior to that, my knowledge of ice hockey was as follows:

Watching one game of the ’75 Stanley Cup Final as a youngster.

The 1980 US Olympic upset of the Soviet Union.

Watching the odd playoff game on ESPN.

     When the move was announced, I was sucked in immediately. Most of my friends sniffed at me because it was hockey. A game from Canada. On ice. I didn’t care. I knew that it was fast paced, hard hitting, and players would stop and punch each other. Yes, there were very talented players, but that was lost among the pushing, hitting, and fighting. I knew there was a flashy player named Modano, but I didn’t think much about him.

     Then I saw him play.

      I saw how he did magical things with the puck. I watched him stop, turn on a dime, and be at top speed in one or two strides. He seemed to know where everyone was on the ice, and where everyone would be three seconds from now. He could deftly redirect a puck, or he could wind up and seemingly drill pucks through netminders.  In those early days, Modano was counted on to score, score, and score some more. He was also counted on to sell the game of hockey in North Texas. He did whatever was asked of him to help grow the Stars’ fan base. Interviews, appearances, whatever it took, Mike was there with his million watt smile and GQ looks. Men envied him. Women loved him. We all watched and cheered as he helped bring hockey to the forefront of Dallas’ sports conciousness.

     Of course, looks only go so far. In Dallas, where the Cowboys’ success has instilled a “Championship or Nothing” mentality, results matter. With Ken Hitchcock behind the bench, and an influx of talented players (Nieuwendyk, Hull, Zubov, Belfour, et. al), the Stars became a power in the NHL.  In 1999, they ascended the mountain, winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. Dallas came close to repeating the following year, falling to New Jersey in the Final.

     Through it all, while being known as the “Face of the Franchise”, Modano never acted that way. Many have referred to him as, “… a superstar who doesn’t know he is a superstar”. There were personal and financial issues that arose, but he always acted with class and dignity.

     This past season, after Dallas bid him adieu (a move I will never forgive), Modano went home to Michigan to play with the Detroit Red Wings (the hated rivals). It was really sickening to see him with the winged wheel on his chest. He played in only 40 games due to injury, then spent the summer considering his future.

     I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to watch Mike Modano in person on a number of occasions. My favorite moment, aside from the Cup win, came on March 13, 2007, when Mike scored his 500th goal. I was there. Still have the ticket. It was one of those moments that send chills down your spine. Modano finished his career with 561 goals and 1,374 points, most ever by an American born player. He owns all sorts of franchise records as a Star. He played with grace and grit. He gave us a new hero here in town, and he never acted like the spoiled child that many athletes have become.

     Watch a highlight or two. None of what I said here will matter, for you will be mesmerized by one thing.

The sweater.

21 September 2011

Thought for the day...

"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?"

-- Satchel Paige

18 September 2011

Motivation (or lack thereof....)

I have sat down three four times today, trying to form a few coherent thoughts. Here goes nothing.

It has been a very hectic month, between work and a quick getaway weekend with my sweetie. There has been little time for yoga (we had planned to start our own little challenge but that had to be put on the back burner). We are tired. Drained. Exhausted. We had agreed to go to class at 10 this morning but I didn't wake up until 9:30, so nothing doing. Could have gone later in the day, but instead of hydrating I sat, watched football, and ate. And ate. And ate. I went slightly insane, I think. The thought of going to class was.... not repulsive.... not upsetting.... well, after breakfast, there was no real thought of going to class. Sedentary and slothful were the words of the day.... What does one do when the motivation wanes? When one is just too tired, or upset, or hungry or just doesn't want to?

Speaking of my practice, there were a couple of classes worth talking about. One featured a former instructor who returned from LA -- apparently worked/taught at the home office. Big on anatomy. Pushed us hard. In Pranayama (where it's supposed to be a count of six, right?), I counted to 12 on more than one inhale. Always telling us what bones and muscles were being used atthatparticularpointand don'tforgettobreatheandpushpushpushpush. Seriously, it seemed like she never stopped talking! It might have been the closest I'll ever get to attending a class actually taught by Bikram. As I recall, the class ran over by a few minutes, and everyone was beaten. I tried to keep up but by Triangle I was toast. I couldn't maintain my breath because I was chasing her words so badly. Yuck.

A few days later I was back in the room. One of the regulars was teaching and I had something of a breakthrough. In Hands-to-Feet, for the first time I really felt like I was folding at the waist, and I came sooooooo close to getting both hands directly behind my heels. Anyhow, when I pulled on my heels, I felt my upper body really move, really felt my torso being pulled towards the floor. The lesson for me was just how weak my abs and core muscles are. I admit I've never been a fan of sit-ups/crunches, but I need to find something to help strengthen them....

Last Thursday I attended the 6AM class which was taught by the studio director. I guess the (old) new teacher rubbed off... her class was a bit more brisk... a little quicker in and out of postures, with postures being held a (tiny) bit longer. I"m just not very flexible that early in the day (who is?) but it wasn't a bad class by any means. I was the only one who sat out Triangle (as usual)....  I tried to get there but my hamstrings protested as they normally do....

Going forward? No rest for the wicked. Work. Meetings. New program to implement. Will try to get to four classes this week. Should not be a problem to get there... just need to rediscover my motivation for being there.... 

Peace.

Thought for the day...

Do not dwell in the past,

do not dream of the future,

concentrate the mind on the present moment.

--- Buddha

16 September 2011

Good Luck!!!

Just a very quick note today. My schedule has been very hectic, and I have not had a chance to compose my thoughts. That said, I did want to say that the Fall session of Teacher Training begins Monday in Los Angeles. I wish ALL the trainees the best of luck with their journey. Especially my friends in the Bikram blogging world:



Gamebred @ bikram or bust

Also, a special "Good Luck" to one of our own at BYFW: a fellow student and one of my work-study friends, Shannon. Hope I can be at his first class!!

Godspeed and Safe Travels to all!!!!


Peace

27 August 2011

The Panic Attack

Yesterday was a rough one. For the first time in a long time (more than a decade at least), I had a full-on panic attack. It happened while I was at work. I have no idea what caused it -- all I do know is that one moment I was calmly going about my business, the next moment I was shaking, sweating, my teeth were chattering, my breathing was quick and shallow, and my heart threatened to pound a hole in my chest. I couldn't figure out why this was happening, and I found it hard to think, which made me even more panicked. I finally decided to take my lunch hour and visit my sweetie at her work just for a minute. I told her that I was unsure about going to class after work, but she encouraged me to go -- to lay down and BREATHE.

It took another hour for me to calm down. After the attack subsided I was exhausted but I decided that Sweetie was right and headed to the 4:30 class. On my way to the studio, I felt like I was going to have another attack. I tried to keep calm and get in the room.

When I got to the studio I advised the instructor of how I was feeling. She said I should go on in to the room (this was 15 minutes before class), lie down and concentrate on slow, deep breathing. Once class started, she advised that my only job for this class was to focus on my breath. In Pranayama, she asked me to try to inhale every last bit of air I could, then really BLAST it out, almost to the point of exaggeration, and push every bit of air back out. If I had to take a knee or lay down, that was cool, but really FOCUS (there is that word again!) on every breath. With that advice, class began. I opted for a spot in the back by one of the doors... just in case.

First set of Pranayama began. I made very sure to inhale really deep and force my elbows up more than usual, while keeping my legs locked. On the exhale, I finally did what they always say: push all the air out until there is NOTHING left and you start to feel a little dizzy. Guess what? By the end of the first set I felt much better. My heart was still trying to race, but it was better. Second set was improved. My Half-Moon was better than normal because I was really keeping tabs on my breathing. In fact, my standing set was not bad, considering the events of the day. I started to lose my composure after Triangle, and my heart started racing again, but just for a moment. I slowed back down and made it through Toe-Stand. On the floor, I was cool until Rabbit. I always feel smothered and claustrophobic in Rabbit, and I came out early both times.

Class ended and I stayed in the room longer than normal. I was really glad I stuck it out -- I had a greater sense of accomplishment than usual -- lately I've just been glad to survive. After a meal and a good night's sleep, I felt much better this morning. I did spend some time this morning trying to figure out why it happened or what triggered the panic attack, but after a bit I just let it go. No sense in worrying. Besides, now I can overcome it with a few deep, focused breaths!!

"Hatha Yoga teaches you to tyrannize your body and make it your slave, so your body does not tyrannize you and make you its slave. Only then, when you control the physical, can you begin to know the God."

                                      -- Bikram

 Slowly, I may be beginning to "get it".

Peace.

24 August 2011

Focus. Part 2

So, I went to class last night. My one thought: Focus. Focus on the posture, focus on my breath, and focus on myself in the mirror.

How did I do?

Well, things started off well. Pranayama went well, and I tried to kill it in Half-Moon. In the Hands-to-Feet portion, I actually got this close to getting both hands behind my heels (in the first set, anyway). Awkward went better than usual, though I still can't stand on my tiptoes. Eagle was great (still my favorite standing posture). The thing I took away from this was this: When I slowed down and told myself to "Focus!", the posture was better. Not easier, but better. This went on until Triangle, when I began to lose that focus, and the same old thoughts popped up in my brain. This time, however, instead of letting those thoughts derail me, I was able to clear my mind and focus on the instructor's words. (If you think focus isn't important, consider that the instructor used the word at least six times, probably closer to ten.) I got back up for SSLH2K, then Tree and Toe Stand. Not too bad, but still very wobbly in Tree.

The floor set went OK. My focus was not as good, but I was just glad to make it to the end. (This past Sunday, I abandoned class at Half-Tortoise -- the left side of my back was hurting.) My back still hurt last night. I pretty much ignored the Spine-Strengthening poses, and I came out of Camel way early, but I hung in. Overall, I thought it was a good bounce-back class, and I felt a lot better, both physically and mentally.

No yoga today -- back at it tomorrow.

Peace.


23 August 2011

Focus.

This is going to be short, as I must leave for class in a little while. I have been in a bit of a funk recently, as anyone who reads the last few posts will realize. This afternoon at lunch, I re-read the latest post from Colleen at Transformations . Please check it out at your leisure -- it's well worth the time. Anyhow, part of the post deals with her recent discomfort in the room. The part that reached out and slapped me in the face was as follows:

"Right there in the middle of class, it occurred to me that I was uncomfortable (and of course, I was supposed to be...this is Bikram Yoga after all) and my mind was trying hard to find a solution or a way out or anything other than facing the fact that my body was uncomfortable in that moment!   It was so simple!   So I settled down and recognized that every time an irritated thought came into my head it was just my brain trying to sort out this environment I was in.  I didn't need to listen to it.  I just lovingly noticed what it was doing and brushed it aside.  Focus on the posture, focus on my breath, and focus on myself in the mirror."

 That, ladies and gentlemen, is my mantra for the evening.

Focus.

Focus.

  Focus.   

I'll let you know how it goes.

Peace.

 

22 August 2011

If you're going to Teacher Training...

I have three very good blogs for you to read:

From Spring 2011:


FROM THE HOT ROOM

Transformations

From Spring 2008:

Bikram TT: February 2008  (this one has the most day-to-day entries)

Enjoy!!

Oh my Lord....

Here I am throwing a pity party, then I turn on the news to see this:

Pray for the kids and their families.

Peace.

The Trouble With Triangle

I hear the words from the instructor and I cringe:

"Now time for the climax of the Standing Series, Triangle Pose, marriage of the heart and lungs..."

Triangle Pose.

I hate it. I suck at it. Nine classes out of ten, I am unable to complete one side, let alone two complete sets.

It goes something like this: 

First, go back one posture, to Standing Separate Leg Stretching. At one time, I could at least get my hands beneath the sides of my feet (never able to grab the heels in this or Hands-to-Feet). Now, it is virtually impossible. Only when I keep my legs two feet apart or less can I actually reach the sides of my feet. More often, though, my hands are grabbing the area above my ankles, or are simply on the floor between my legs. When I try to lock out my legs, my hips feel like they will break. Second set is not much better. So, with that in mind, we move to Triangle.

"Arms over your head sideways. Right leg takes a big step, arms parallel to the floor." Now, the problems begin.

"Right foot turns to the right, left knee locked, bend your right knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor..." The pain starts here... feels like my hamstring is going to tear, and my right hip screams at me. 

"Why am I even trying this? I know what's about to happen........" Seriously, I kind of know the dialogue for the rest of the pose, but usually I have hit the deck, either because my leg and hip hurt too much, or I start leaning backward to the point that I lose my balance and topple over. Most of the time though, I don't even make the attempt, knowing that it is impossible for me. I sit on my mat, head down, burning a hole in the floor with my gaze. When I do look around, and see so many people doing the pose (and doing it well), I'm back to my childhood, watching kids who could jump rope or catch a baseball (I was really uncoordinated) while I tripped on the rope or missed every ball. Hell, I'm writing this now and that familiar, empty feeling has appeared in my gut, and that hot, prickly flush is moving up my neck and across my face. Thirty years later and it still has a hold on me!!!! 

Anyhow, back to Triangle. If I do try the second set, it varies. Sometimes I simply stop short of moving my arms and try to hold the first part of the pose. About half the time, I am successful. Every so often, I can complete one side but not the other. Very rarely can I do one full set, let alone both. 

Triangle holds me back, no doubt. Not only is it a very important posture in the series, it speaks a lot about what is bound up inside me. I could very easily delete all this with one stroke, but I guess I had to let it out somewhere. I've said it here before in different form, but how do I break through, get past it, and let it go? 

I feel like I should apologize. 

Hoping your next class is your best!!

Peace.


15 August 2011

Long Time Coming...

Twenty three days since I last wrote. Wow. Between work, and family in town, and internet difficulties it has been quite a stretch. I don't really know where to begin...

The heat has been excruciating. Forty straight days over 100 degrees. Many of those days the thermometer hit 105 or better. It has affected everyone. Tempers have shortened and flared. Patience has been in short supply.Yes, even for me. Everyone seems to be dragging. Tired faces, tired eyes. Autumn cannot get here fast enough.

My practice? Well, let's just say that right know I'm on the "hate" side of that love/hate relationship. I don't know whether to continue or just stop. I am going backwards in one damned hurry. One class, I fell out of Half-Moon!!!! My standing series is so bad.... The floor is marginally better. Well, not really... at least I can lay on the floor and cuss myself without anyone noticing. Really, it's that bad. I am failing big time.

Worse, I spend most of class questioning what the instuctor says. Examples? Sure:

"Don't try to hold back and save energy for later. Pour all your energy into every posture." If I did that I'd be done before Triangle. Every time.

"You will leave here with more energy than you came in with."  No, I will leave more tired and less hydrated. Oh, and sore as hell.

"The worst class you can have is the one you do not attend." No, the worst class I can have is the one in which I have no balance and almost topple over during Pranayama breathing!!!   It's the one where I cannot look at myself in the mirror. Where I cannot lift my legs in Locust (separately or together), I can't grab my heels in Camel, and I cannot breathe during Rabbit.

See? I'm in a bad spot. To make matters worse, I am eating everything in sight. And I do mean EVERYTHING. Sweets, junk food, fast food, even soft drinks. No matter how much I eat, I want more. Proper hydration has gone out the window. Right now, I want a 6 pack of beer and a pack of smokes.

I'm not going to class today. Haven't been since Thursday. I have to go tomorrow. I can tell you already that I am dreading it. I'm not going to quit. I can't quit. I've always quit. But I can't quit. Just can't. No more quitting.

"Trust the process."

Peace.

81 

24 July 2011

It. Is. Hot.

Only two classes this past week. I went back to work after vacation and you know it always takes a few days to catch up and get back in the normal workweek rhythm. The great part about those classes was that my Sweetie got back in the room after six weeks! Her work schedule had been horrid (six day workweeks) and there had been precious little time for her to do much of anything. She had been missed at the studio, and it was great to have her back, practicing near me!

The biggest enemy to practicing right now is the heat. No, not the heat of the room, the heat outside. Today will be the 23rd straight day where the high temperature hits 100 (38 C) or more. Worse, there is no end in sight, with highs predicted to reach 106 (41 C) in the coming days.

With these extreme temps, it is even harder than normal to stay properly hydrated. Last Tuesday, I drank 3.5 liters of water during the day before the evening class... I drank 4 liters after class. The next morning, I still felt dehydrated. Thursday was better, but I still drank almost 6 liters of water/Gatorade that day. The two classes last week were really tough. My hips and legs screamed at me both nights... don't know if my body is finally beginning to open up or I wasn't hydrated enough.

I could go to class this afternoon, but have decided to take an extra day to rest before going back in  tomorrow night.

I cannot wait for that first good cold front of the fall to get here!!

In the meantime... hydrate!! 

Stay cool.   Peace.

71

19 July 2011

7 Day Mini-Challenge: Wrapup

OK, let me say right up front:

I was unable to finish my challenge of nine classes in seven days -- I was only able to complete six classes.

In the most basic terms, I failed.

I don't feel like a failure, though. I am disappointed, but not a failure. Read on....

Wednesday: No yoga. Couldn't get the car out of the shop until late.

Thursday: Fifth class of the week. As an added bonus, I took my stepdaughter and one of her cousins to class. She had taken class before, two years ago. He is spending the summer with us and was interested in seeing what it was like. I set them up on the back row while I was one row up. They both started out well, but the heat got to both of them very quickly, and they took a knee several times. To their credit, they kept getting back up and kept trying to do the postures. By Savasana, however, they were pretty spent. They both tried to do the floor series, and they both stayed in the room for the entire class! My stepdaughter was ravenous almost immediately after class (it was nearing dinnertime, after all). Her cousin said, "It felt like I was wearing a rubber suit I sweated so much!!". He reported that his biggest challenges were in the Balancing Series, and in Floor Bow (knees would not bend too well). He said he would like to try again, just not right away. The next day he reported that he woke up in the middle of the night feeling nauseous and dizzy. He realized he was dehydrated. After a couple glasses of water he was good to go. This after I preached for three days about hydration....

Friday: Our yoga on this day consisted of going to the hospital where my father in law was undergoing a procedure to check for tumors in his stomach and esophagus. He got a clean bill of health!!! Spent most of the day with him and got home too late for class. A great day, nonetheless!!

Saturday: Went to the 8:00 am class and had a true breakthrough!! In first set of Standing Head to Knee, my left knee was locked out to the point where I actually kicked my right leg forwards toward the mirror! Not straight, by any means, but WOW!! It was really cool and I was able to stare at my locked out knee without losing my balance!! I was so shocked that the rest of the standing series flew by. I kind of fell apart on the floor (bad Spine Series, no Camel, one very poor Rabbit) but I came out of class pretty happy!

So, while I am disappointed that I could not fulfill the challenge, there were a lot of cool moments. Off to class tonight.... Hope your next class is your best!!

Peace.

69.

13 July 2011

7 Day Mini-Challenge: Day 3

Since I am on vacation this week, I have challenged myself to complete nine classes in this seven-day span. Here is the second update.

 Tuesday: Another double today! The 6AM class was really good... it seems I was just as stiff as the previous morning but I loosened up much more quickly. In Standing Head/Knee, I actually tried to kick my right leg out in the first set. Didn't get far, mind you, but it was a start. Triangle improved... got three of four sides. Even my Spine-Strengthening set was better! Generally, I felt really good, and I am finding that when you can do a lot of classes in a short time, each individual class seems to go by a little quicker. The biggest problem about going to class so early is hydration. I get soooooo thirsty in that class, and I have to be really disciplined so I'm not chugging water during class. Fortunately, since I freeze my water bottles, they don't melt that fast, so I can only take in so much water at any given time.

So, feeling good from the morning class, I headed back for the last class of the day at 6:30PM. This was the first really hard class of the week. The balance I had in the first three classes deserted me. I was sore and a bit fatigued. I sat out one set of Triangle, then fell out of Separate Leg Head/Knee. Even Tree was difficult. On the floor, I felt a grab in the right side of my back during Locust, Full-Locust, and Floor Bow, then I came out of Camel really early. Our instructor believes it was a hydration problem since I told her that the evening class was much harder than the morning session. The other problem is one I found when I got home. The skin on my feet is cracking and it really hurt. A little lotion and a lot of water should take care of it.

As for today, I hope to get one class in... if I can get the car back from the shop..... If not, it will be doubles tomorrow AND Friday...

I CAN DO THIS!!

Peace.

67.

11 July 2011

7 Day Mini-Challenge: Days 1&2

Since I am on vacation this week, I have challenged myself to complete nine classes in this seven-day span. Here is the first update.

Sunday: Well, I didn't get off to a great start as far as yoga was concerned. This was the first Sunday in some months that every member of the family was home and had no appointments or plans for the day. In addition, my sweetie had worked six days a week for the past three weeks and finally could unwind a bit. So, instead of going to class, I made brunch and dinner for the family, and everyone whiled away the day watching movies, playing games, doing puzzles, and generally relaxing. Much needed by all, but it does turn my seven day challenge into a six day sprint. Which brings me to:

Monday: Up at 5AM for the 6AM class. This isn't a big deal to me... I normally rise at that hour to go to work anyway. Coolest part of the day, meaning that the room wasn't a flat out oven... plenty warm though!! I was quite stiff and sore during and after class. I did get through three out of four sides of Triangle, but Spine-strengthening was hard (again). I was happy to be there, though!! After Spine-Strengthening, the rest of the class was really good!! Got home and had a quick breakfast (toast, apple, water, Gatorade), and did laundry. Got everything done and got back to the studio for the noon class.

The noon class was taught by our newest instructor, Tammy. She went to the Spring training session and this apparently was her second class as an instructor. The class was really good! She was very calm and, although she seemingly held us in the poses for longer, it was fine with me. Unlike the early class, I was a little stronger and much more flexible (Standing bow was one of my best ever, as was Camel!) in the noon class. Overall, I'm pretty happy with today. Now, that I've had more water and a big salad, time to rest for a bit. Tomorrow, the plan is to once again attend the 6AM class, then return at 6:30PM (it's my work-study night). Haven't figured out Wednesday yet, but I am confident!!

I hope your class today is great!!!

Peace.

65.

07 July 2011

struggling

Only three classes since my last post. They have been so-so. Tuesday's class actually started out great... felt really strong at first... actually completed both sets of Triangle! Then the truck hit me in Tree Pose. Made it through but it was really hard. Had to be close to 120 in the room at one point despite the fact that our instructor cracked the doors open three different times. It has been so freaking hot here -- everyday 100 degrees or more outside.

So, how have I been handling my lack of yoga? Not well. Cigarettes have once again been my friend. I've been eating horribly -- junk food and fast food and eating at odd hours and eating when I'm not hungry and never enough water. I'm sore and tired and all I want to do is sleep.

Put succinctly, I'm struggling.

I'm going to class tonight, but only because I was asked to take another work-study shift tonight. Usually, I look forward to going. Now, however, I find that I am fighting the inertia from not going as much as I would like. I'm going tonight, and I hope to squeeze in a class tomorrow. Then, thankfully, I am on vacation for a week. I hope that it will be a time of rest and recommitting to my practice.

My yoga goal for next week: 7 days, 9 classes -- meaning two doubles.

My other goals for next week: no smoking, no junk food. Fruits and veggies and lots of water and juice -- no coffee.

I plan to go get my blood pressure and weight measured on Saturday, then on the following Saturday.

I am also looking into going to an acupuncture clinic next week... I'll let you know more if that comes to pass.

I am tired, bloated (OK, fat), and I'm not very happy with myself... after nearly two years of practice, I should be so much farther down the road than I am.

I read blogs from other practitioners and I am in awe of their accomplishments... especially those who have just begun their journeys as Bikram instructors. Well done to all of you! Through them I see how lives can be changed with a lot of work and sweat... and a few tears. I do not know if I will ever be a teacher, but I do understand that I am the only one who can transform myself into a better person. No one can do it for me. The only way to get started (or re-started) is to get off my ass and take a step forward.

Begin, please.

Inhale....


63

UPDATE: With three hours before class, the temperature is currently 104!!! It will definitely be a very warm chamber tonight!! Also, came across a website with nothing but Bikram Yoga videos -- posture tutorials, news videos, and more. Click on the "Bikram Yoga Videos" link on the right side of the page. Sweet!!

26 June 2011

If

Three classes in 13 days. Ridiculous. Every time I think I can get to the studio, life gets in the way. I'm not bitching -- I was needed for different things and I am very happy I can take care of whatever comes up. My practice, needless to say, has almost ground to a complete halt.

I went to class this morning. I almost wish I hadn't. It was horrible. NO balance. NO strength. I hit the deck at Triangle and pretty much laid out for the rest of class. It was quite warm in the room, and I consider it a small (very small) victory just to have stayed in the room. Oh, another thing: I had woken up at 4 AM, so I thought breakfast would be OK since class did not start until 10. Wrong. Or, rather, scrambled eggs and coffee were the wrong thing to have. I was queasy the entire class.

I always look forward to going to class. The fact that I have had so much trouble going regularly is really beginning to irritate me. I know that to put everyone and everything else aside just for yoga is wrong. At the same time, I have to look out for myself, right? If I'm not taking care of myself, I can't really take care of those I love, right? So where do I draw the line? I know, the answer is different for everyone. I need to find that balance, though. Soon.

I'm sure most of you know the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling. Many moons ago (1997), my favorite sports team, the Dallas Stars, adapted the poem for use in the opening of their television broadcasts. It has always resonated with me. The shortened adaptation is as follows:


If

If you can keep your head
               When all about you are losing theirs…

If you can force heart, nerve, and sinew
               To serve long after they are gone…

If you can meet with triumph and disaster
               And treat them just the same…

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
              With sixty seconds worth of distance run,
              Stare down the foe that looms straight ahead.
              For the battle is won
              Only by those who will fight!

I hope you draw inspiration from it. I still do, at times. It just seems to get harder and harder to summon up the strength for the battle....

 Namaste.

60

 

24 June 2011

My Floor Series

In the interest of full disclosure, I thought it time to actually to discuss how I’m doing in each of the postures. I do this for a couple of reasons. First, it forces me to be honest with myself about bad habits or areas to work on. It gives you, the reader, an idea of how far I’ve come in two years of practice -- and more importantly, how far there is for me to go. 
Earlier, I talked about my Standing Series. Today, I talk about the Floor Series. 

Savasana: Seems to take me longer to get into the pose than most. Must have something to do with wiping my face and chugging some of my ice cold water before laying down. The deeper into class we go, the harder it is to stay still. If I am really fighting to stay in the room, either my right wrist twitches or I'm literally hanging on to my mat for dear life...


Wind Removing: I know I've gained some weight back because it is really difficult to grab both legs at the same time and pull. Working with each leg separately is not so bad, but I've slipped here as well.

Sit-ups: All depends on how good or bad my back feels. If good, I can do a passable sit-up, but forget about touching my forehead to my legs, much less my entire body! Again, my gut gets in the way.

Spine Strengthening Series (Cobra, Locust, Full Locust, Floor Bow): I will tackle all of these together because it is all or nothing with these postures. If I am feeling strong that day, it is not difficult to get into any of these postures. However, on many days, I feel a quick, sharp pain in my lower back... almost like an electric shock... and lifting up even an inch is torture. Locust is the worst... if I'm good I can get both legs really high (45 degrees or more) off the ground. If not, I can barely lift my legs, either singly or together. It gets really frustrating at times when I feel as weak as a newborn kitten. Floor Bow is the same. I do not know if I need to see a chiropractor or do more sit-ups or just do as much yoga as possible. (I will listen to ANY suggestions!!)

Fixed Firm: Had my first breakthrough here when I was able to get my backside on the floor between my heels! It varies as to how easily I can get into the pose. One of my favorites to do, though.

Half-Tortoise: Impossible for me to get hips to heels AND touch my forehead to the floor. I once asked a teacher which was more important and she related a Bikram quote: "Whom do you love more, your mother or your father? You love both equally." Many of these poses illustrate just how weak my core still is...

Camel: Lately, it has been really difficult for me to get into Camel, specifically grabbing the heels. Pushing forward is sheer torture at times.

Rabbit: Getting better at touching my forehead to my knees, but can't keep it there when I pull on my heels. My biggest problem: with this (or any similar forward bend) I feel like I'm going to choke because I can't breathe. I always come out of Rabbit early just so I can get a good, full lung breath.


Head to Knee w/ Stretching: Have yet to get either leg fully extended. Have yet to keep my forehead on the knee for full length of the posture. Have yet to keep chin to chest, or pull either heel off the floor. Most of the time I half-ass my way through this one... if I'm even in the room. When I pull on my toes it hurts. I really don't think I'll ever get my entire my stomach, chest, and face to my legs.

Spine Twist: Another testament to the fact that my core is nothing but mush. Always using one arm as a kickstand. If I do try to wrap my arm around my back, I look like a hunchback. The twisting part is pretty good though.

Kapalbhati Breathing: I've got the form down, but that second set is murder. I am never able to keep up for all sixty counts.

So there you are: my practice in a nutshell. Feel free to leave a tip or two.

Peace.

59.

22 June 2011

Just stopping by.....

It has been a frustrating week. Long story short, every time I tried to make a class over the last week, something would come up and I would miss. It drove me a little crazy at times, but as I've said before, sometimes your yoga lies elsewhere...

Anyhow, finally made it back to the room last night. It was the type of class one could imagine after a seven day layoff. It was tough. I wasn't very flexible, my balance was worse than usual, and I sat out a couple of postures (yes, Triangle was one of those). I made it through without leaving the room, but I was beat. I wish life would slow down a tick or two so I could make it to more classes. Trying to get to a point where I can attempt that 10-day mini challenge....

Finally, the spring session of Teacher Training has concluded and I would like to offer my, "Congratulations!!!" to Savygirl, Colleen, The Grateful Yogini, and all the 2011 spring graduates!!

Gotta go for now... Namaste.

59

16 June 2011

My Standing Series

In the interest of full disclosure, I thought it time to actually to discuss how I’m doing in each of the postures. I do this for a couple of reasons. First, it forces me to be honest with myself about bad habits or areas to work on. It gives you, the reader, an idea of how far I’ve come in two years of practice -- and more importantly, how far there is for me to go.
Today, I’ll talk about the Standing Series.

Pranayama: Always difficult to keep my legs locked. Left leg is a bit longer and I tend to rock side to side. On the exhale, I almost never remember to keep my eyes looking for the back wall.

Half-moon/Hands to Feet: Most “up and down” posture. If my back is loose, I can get myself fairly deep but keeping the knees locked is always tough. I can sway front to back in this pose, too. If I’m tight, forget it. My back grabs and it hurts. A lot.

Awkward: the first part is OK for me, but the last two parts are hell. If I can merely stand on my toes in the second part (forget about bending my knees), I’m ecstatic. That rarely happens, though. On the third part, I have trouble squeezing my knees together, and one or both knees pop and crackle on the way down. Ouch.

Eagle: My current favorite! I have come very far here. I can now get both feet to hook behind my legs almost every class. Working to keep my upper body straighter once I’ve hooked the foot. I tend to “curl” my spine once I’m in.

Standing Head to Knee: Ugh. I have yet to keep my knee locked for the duration of the posture, much less progress to extending the leg, and on from there. I still have trouble keeping hold of my foot, and I my grip breaks every time. LONG way to go here.

Standing Bow: Another “up and down” posture. IF I can keep my knee locked, and IF I can keep my ankles (both sides) from rolling, and IF I can think to “STOMP THAT HEEL” into the ground, and IF I remember to kick the foot up AND reach for the mirror, I do OK. Some days it’s kind of easy, many days I do nothing but fall out over and over.

Balancing Stick: Not good. Never get arms and legs level. Always feel like I’m falling over to one side or the other. Extremely hesitant to go all out – just leads to me keeping myself from falling, or taking the easy way out and going to my knees.

Standing Separate Leg Stretching: Yuck. I can’t get my legs wide enough to touch my forehead to the floor. Hell, I can barely get my hands to my heels, no matter how wide a step I take. Either way, my hips scream at me. On the rare occasion I do grip my heels, I don’t seem to go anywhere. I pull and pull but I feel very weak when I do, like I would if I was trying to pull a city bus – nothing happens.

Triangle: How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways. I find it impossible to get either leg to bend to 90 degrees – my hamstrings give me a “cease and desist” order and my hips continue their complaints. If I can manage some semblance of a bent leg, and move my arms to the vertical, I sway backwards and have to hit the deck. I can think of only a few times that I’ve been able to get even close to a decent expression of Triangle. Yuck.

Standing Head to Knee: Another ugly posture. I feel smothered and can’t breathe when I get my forehead to the knee. If I do suck in my gut then it’s harder to bend forward. Again, I have trouble keeping my balance coming in and out of the posture. (This lack of balance thing is REALLY frustrating – tell me again why I do this?!!?)

Tree Pose: More balance issues here too. I used to love this posture – it was the only one where I could actually keep my knee locked and stay balanced. Now, it is tough at times.

Toe Stand: If I’ve had a good Tree, I will try Toe Stand. I can get down there, but balance again is iffy, at best. Coming back up to Tree can be an adventure.

So, there you have it. I’ve come a long way from that 280 pound lummox who huffed and puffed and flopped through his first class. A million miles to go, though.

Hey, it’s all about the journey, right?

Peace.

Judgments, Expectations, and Intentions


Judgment: The process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing; an opinion or estimate so formed; a proposition stating something believed or asserted.

Expectation: the act or state of expecting; anticipation; assurance.

Intention: a determination to act in a certain way; the thing that you plan to do or achieve; resolve; pledge.

It is a phrase you hear almost every time you go into the chamber. It is one of the mantras of a Bikram Yoga class:

No judgments, no expectations.

The idea is (apparently) simple: Accept yourself for who you are. Accept your body for what it can AND cannot do today. Don’t come to class expecting to do every posture, or every set, or every sit-up, etc. More importantly (to me, anyway), don’t beat yourself up once you are in the room.

I said “apparently” because, like so many other things in life, “no judgments, no expectations” is easier said than done. I have quietly chastised myself up for a myriad of reasons: not hydrating, poor balance, falling out of postures, not even trying to do postures, and silently cussing myself out when I am laying on the floor, unwilling or unable to drag myself up once more. Then, of course, there is leaving the room, which my mind perceives as the ultimate humiliation. ("Loser!! You pathetic loser!!")

As for the “no expectations” part, it is really difficult for me to deal with that. Perhaps it’s because I am a guy, or maybe because I am very competitive, or that I simply expect myself to quickly become proficient at whatever it is I’m doing. Doesn’t matter if I’m playing street hockey, or learning a new procedure at work, or trying a new recipe, or performing Triangle pose – I should be able to master it in very short order.   

There is another phrase you hear very often: “Set your intention.”

To me, that means going into class with an expressed idea to do…. something. It may be to simply stay in the room. It may be to at least attempt every posture. Perhaps it could be to not take water during class, or to do every sit-up. It’s not a promise. It is, to me, making certain to try as hard as you can to do improve your practice, and therefore your life. The trick is not to turn that intention into an expectation – with all the mental pitfalls that come with expectations.

It is not the easiest thing in the world, but it IS possible. When I can set (and keep focused on) an intention, it is easier for me to listen to and try to quiet my mind and sharpen my focus. When I can, the class can almost become easy: move and breathe, breathe and move, then rest. (As I've written before, our lead instructor says yoga is simply, "Movement with awareness of breath.") 

Mind you, that hasn’t happened very often. It is, however, one of the big reasons I keep going into that room.

Namaste.



58

15 June 2011

I did!

I went to class last night.

I did not leave the room (it wasn't nearly as hot in there as in the past days).

I did not sit out any postures (fell out of some, but did not sit out).

I came closer to locking the knee.

I pulled and stretched and bent.

I stayed in the moment with very few exceptions.

I not only persevered and survived, I flourished.

I went somwhere new: in Head to Knee/Stretching, I stretched farther than ever, and came close to fully extending my legs!

I felt great at the end.

I said I would, and I did.

Peace.

14 June 2011

I will.

Class starts in one hour. The temperature outside just hit 101. I had a ridiculous day at work, and I've only had about 2/3 of my normal water intake. Guaranteed that by the end of class it will be 115 or more in the room.

I could take the easy way and opt out.

I could stay home.

I could do a hundred different things tonight.

Nope. 

I'm going.

I will do the very best I can.

I will not judge myself.

I will try to match my body to the words.

I will try to lock the knee.

I will pull on my heels as hard as possible.

I will persevere.

I will stretch and stretch and stretch.

I will not only survive, I will flourish.


If I can, I must.

I will.

Have a great class!!

13 June 2011

Hey, dark side, listen up!!

(Note: For this post to make sense, you need to read the preceding post, "And now, a word from the dark side...)


 Hey there, DS (formerly known as me), I was wondering when you would crawl out of your hole.

Oh, yes, I got your note. Read it several times. 

I've got one thing to tell you.

Go. to. Hell.

Things have changed since the day Sweetie asked me to join her in that room.

A number of things have changed, and for the better.

I am lighter. I am more flexible. I think I am physically stronger. I KNOW I am mentally stronger (perhaps not by much, but it will come).

Yes, it is difficult. Yes, it is torture at times. Yes, it is the most difficult thing I've ever tried. Why?

It works. It is working. It will continue to work if I allow it to.


And I intend to continue, whether you like it or not.


I realize there are days or moments when you will rise up and bitch at me. From time to time, you will win a battle, as you have lately with my diet, and the occasional smoke.


However, listen closely.


I will win the war.

There will be more classes, and you will bend to my will. (Notice that right after your note, I dragged your dead ass right back into the room for two straight days. Notice, also, that those were the two best classes in more than a month. I gave you no chance to flop, to sit out, to run screaming from the room.)

Oh, and don't worry.  There will be more challenges, inside and outside the room. As soon as I can, we are going to attempt a 10-day mini challenge, then maybe a 20 or 30. The full 60 day struggle will have to wait. For now.  As for outside the room, how about facing down a lifelong fear or two. Trying acupuncture? Getting some ink? Perhaps swimming lessons? Maybe taking a trip by airplane? You know we will probably have to fly to go to teacher training.... Relax, that is only a dream... at least for now.

So, enjoy those quick, small victories. Enjoy them while you can. 

Yes, I'm worried. Scared. At times, I am downright terrified of what may happen or where I may end up.

But I'll never be alone, will I? 

You will be right there with me, every step of the way.


Enjoy!!



Namaste.







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