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".


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.


23 August 2011


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.




I'll let you know how it goes.



22 August 2011

If you're going to Teacher Training...

I have three very good blogs for you to read:

From Spring 2011:



From Spring 2008:

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


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.


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!!


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."