27 December 2012

Something to ponder...

                                                                             --Photo via Bikram Yoga North Texas

So, what is stopping me?

Happy New Year!!


17 December 2012

The Holiday Post -- 2012

This is recycled from last year -- with a few changes...

I know. The holidays are here. Rushing here and there. Looking for just the right gift. Planning the big meal.

Lights and tinsel and food, oh my!

Before all that, however, let's slow down. Take a breath.

It's not about mass consumerism and delayed flights and, "Just one more slice of pie..."

Give me a moment. It won't take very long.

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 are truly thankful for the sacrifices you make every day of the year.. 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.

3a) If there are children at your gathering, hold them, hug them, laugh and play a silly game with them. Watch the sparkle in their eyes. Let go. Be a kid again. The cold, hard world will still be there tomorrow.

4) If you are at odds with someone, extend the olive branch. Call. Write. E-mail. Send smoke signals. Try anything. Try everything. Try to 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 II: 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!!! If you choose to enjoy a drink, don't drive. Please.

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

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all!!!

12 December 2012

The Sumits Experiment -- Conclusion

As I feared, I was only able to get to class twice in the last week of my intro package at Sumits. On top of that, I had to do a double just to accomplish that. Last Wednesday, I went to the 5:30AM class and found that my body was VERY stiff and inflexible. Just moving into and out of up/down dogs was torture. I got through the class, and by the end of it I felt pretty good. Since I had the day off from work, I decided that a second class was possible. After cleaning house, running errands and making sure I was sufficiently hydrated, I got back to the studio for the 4PM class.

What a difference. I breezed through warm up and the standing series. I felt like I used to feel when I was practicing regularly at Bikram. The flow part of class wasn't that bad either. Even allowed myself a little smile as we transitioned to the floor. From there it became more difficult, but I still had a much easier time. I could literally feel my hips open more, my breathing was more in tune, and I was much more focused throughout the second class. When I got home I was very sore, but it was that good, honest, "I really accomplished something today" kind of sore. Over the next couple of days, my hips and back felt so much better!

What did I learn?

I learned that I could actually perform this type of yoga. It is, in my opinion, just as strenuous (if not more) as a Bikram class. It may be10 minutes shorter, but I think you do more in a Sumits class. In Bikram, you are asked to do 26 postures to your maximum with a (brief) rest period between each. In Sumits, you stack postures one on top of the other, which keeps your heart and lungs working harder for longer periods. The third flow set only lasts 3 1/2 minutes, but it is the most difficult and I am gassed when it is completed -- if I can get through it without stopping. Each type tests you in their own special ways.

Other differences?

In Bikram the postures are the same every day. In Sumits the postures and flows are the same every day, until you get close to the end. When you get Head to Knee with Stretching, there can be variations. For example, you do the basic pose starting with the right leg and then the left, then stretch both legs out, grab your big toes and pull. After that, the instructor might call for a butterfly -- legs folded, elbows to knees while continuing to grab the toes and pull. Then, you may be asked to go into a half-lotus and pull, then another half-lotus for the opposite leg. The other big difference comes after moving to the floor, where it's time for crunches. Sometimes its 10 straight crunches, sometimes its 10 straight, then 10 obliques to the right and 10 to the left. Sometimes, its 15 each. Guess it depends on how the instructor feels. After the crunches come the "bicycles" -- legs in the air kicking with elbow to opposite knee. I know I need them, but they are my least favorite parts of the class. Then there is the temperature in the room. At Bikram, some instructors would turn off the ceiling fans and maybe crack the doors an inch at Savasana. At Sumits, the door gets opened at least three different times for 30-45 seconds, and the fans are always on. Seems like they have been told to try and keep the heat at exactly 105 degrees. The last big difference is that the instructors incessantly tell us to, "Have fun!! This isn't the end of the world. There is no competition. Do your best. Honor yourself. If you need to take a break, move to Savasana or Child's Pose and meet us back in Down Dog. HAVE FUN!!". They are just as knowledgeable and supportive as any Bikram instructor I've known but they seem a bit nicer.

So, I would call this "experiment" an unqualified success. In my opinion, if Bikram and Sumit were to join forces, they would be unstoppable. If I could open my dream studio, one would have access to both forms. If I could afford to do so, I would take classes at both studios -- Bikram one day, Sumits the next. I could work on each individual postures at Bikram, then incorporate it into the Sumits class the next day. It would be absolute bliss. Back here in the real world though, I am aiming to purchase a longer duration package at Sumits (after the holidays) while securing perhaps a 10 or 30 class card at Bikram  --  I can't forget my yoga "roots". Besides, as much fun as being at Sumits is, it just makes me miss Bikram that much more.


02 December 2012

The Sumits Experiment -- Part 2

Two more Sumits classes under my belt this weekend. The recap:

Yesterday: Took class at noon. It has been unseasonably warm here with highs in the 80's... wondered what effect that would have. Room was hottest that I have experienced (found out that I was a little off on guessing the temperature; the room is kept at 105 degrees with 50%-60% humidity). Only five people in attendance, and an instructor I had yet to practice under. She was more of a "technician" than the first two instructors. She also has a more forceful delivery than the other two. Remember that last time I wrote that I hadn't encountered a "drill instructor" yet. I would not put her in that class, but she has come the closest.

With only five in the room, the instructor asked everyone to group to gather on the left (hottest) side of the room. She said that the energy would be better if everyone was close together. I was already there, in the back row (thankfully she didn't ask me to join the other four on the front row), right under one of the heaters.

She was right. I thought the energy in the room was really good. The "technician" part? Well, she spent a lot of time helping us with alignment -- especially in the Standing Postures. In Awkward, Eagle, Standing Head to Knee, and Standing Bow, she had us check every part of our alignment. It really helped me a lot. Still a long way to go on the "flow" parts but each day is a little better. My biggest problem is simply that all the flexibility I gained through Bikram has disappeared. That, and the crunches and ab work we do in class. Never was a fan but I know I need them.

Today: Attended the 10:00AM. Largest class yet for me -- 18 in class I think. Lots of energy in the room. Arrived a little late and was right back under the heater. I didn't mind, though. I think my body has gotten used to sweating again -- the last two days I have been soaked to the skin in sweat -- and it feels good. I got through the Standing Postures OK, but I fell apart on the floor: sat out Camel, Rabbit, Stretching, Butterfly, Half-Lotus, and Shoulder Stand/Plough. Got back in for Wind Removing/Spine Twist. Not great, but not bad. To be honest, I am simply happy just to have had a chance to practice for seven straight days. I have seven more days on the intro package, and going back to work will make attendance more difficult. I'm going to just take one day at a time and take it as a golden opportunity when I can get to the room.

I have already decided that after the holidays I am going to do all I can to get back in that room and stay for a while. I am really enjoying this. I want to get better at it.

Have a great week!!


30 November 2012

The Sumits Experiment -- Part 1

As I wrote last time, I am spending this vacation by getting back into a hot room. I purchased a two week introductory package at Sumits Hot Yoga . Developed by Sumit Banerjee , this practice combines some Bikram poses with Ashtanga or Vinyasa flow. One of the guys I practiced with in my first class called it "Bikram on steroids".  I don't know about that, but I do know that I am enjoying the challenge of the practice.

I'm still trying to wrap my brain around all the "flow" parts of the class. I can tell you that in the class you will do Sun Salutations, Upward and Downward Dogs (a lot of those), planks, tabletops, side planks, just about every version of Warrior Pose (even more of those), Triangle (simplified), lunges, crunches, sit-ups, one inversion (which I am too weak to do yet) and maybe ten discernible Bikram poses -- but some of those have modifications (Triangle is slightly easier.)

The biggest difference is that it seems you are moving almost the entire 75-80 minutes. There is a "party time" early on, a 60 second Savasana at maybe 35 minutes, and a full two minute Savasana at perhaps 50 minutes, plus the final Savasana. You are moving almost all the time. In that respect, it is more challenging than a Bikram class where there are definite starts and stops. I am fighting to keep up but getting better with each class. Another big difference is that music is played during the flow segments, and it's not just instrumental. So far, I have heard John Lennon, Tears for Fears, Tom Petty, Run D.M.C., even Cameo (this morning). At first it bothered me because it distracted me and prevented me from hearing some of the instruction, but with each class it moves more into the background. Our instructor this morning told me that sooner or later, as I become more familiar, the instructions fade away and you simply move with the music.

Speaking of the instructors (I have only taken class with two of the staff), they are really great. The dialogue is the same each day, and they will assist you with a pose. There is no podium -- the instructor paces the back of the room calling out instructions and making sure everyone is practicing safely. I have yet to encounter a "drill instructor" type -- they continually tell us to have fun with the practice, to enjoy the challenge, and are always quick to answer questions. The studio is immaculate, and the heating system is state of the art. I don't know the exact temperature of the room -- I would guess it's 95 to 100 degrees -- but it is enough to where everyone is drenched by the end.

Since starting on Monday, I have improved each day in one area or another. I can keep up better with the flows, and I have been surprised by how well I can still do some of the Bikram poses -- especially Standing Bow, Cobra, and Floor Bow. Even my Camel is respectable. It is now Friday afternoon, and I have completed five classes. I feel MUCH better than I did on Monday. I am sore, and in this morning's class I did get a visit from the "yoga truck" but it still wasn't too bad. I will be back tomorrow and Sunday before heading back to work. Then, attending class will be more difficult.

Signing off for now. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask and I will try to get you an answer ASAP. All in all, it has been a really fun week!

I hope you can get into a hot room soon!!


26 November 2012

The journey begins anew...

So! Five months plus since I wrote anything. Even longer since I actually attempted any form of yoga.

 That ends today.

It has been a long and sometimes difficult summer an early autumn. However, things have begun to improve -- so much so that, while I am on vacation this week, I am attempting a "yoga vacation"/ "boot camp".

It goes like this. At noon today I will visit Sumits Hot Yoga and sign up for the introductory special: two weeks for $20. Sumits bills itself as combining "traditional Bikram poses with Ashtanga-inspired flow". In addition, the class is set to music. This will be the yoga I practice most this week. I'm going in with an open mind and just very grateful that I finally have a chance to get back into any form of yoga. In addition, I want to visit Karmany Yoga, which is even closer to my house. Karmany has several different classes -- I really want to try a "slow flow" class in which extra time is taken to get into and out of the poses ( a real chance to learn ).

Finally, as part of this week of yoga, I will attempt to go back to my old stomping grounds at Bikram Fort Worth. I'm shooting for Friday to go there, using the week to ramp up to a full Bikram class (plus it will be my first time to take class there since the ownership change and renovation).

So, with just over three hours to go until this adventure begins, how do I feel?

Nervous. Funny, but up until last night I was sky-high. I've been really looking forward to this for the most part. Last night, though, I started to worry. Will I be able to do it? Will I be able to go each day? Will I still LIKE yoga?

I try to sweep those questions aside. I NEED to do this. My body hurts. Back spasms everyday. Knees aching every morning. More importantly, however, I just need to get somewhere quiet so I can try to silence my brain for just a little while. I need to regain the focus and peace I developed while practicing. I also need to get this gut under control!! It is embarrassing and I want it gone. Finally, I am hoping that while I am practicing this week, I can find a way to continue my practice beyond the next seven days. They say that if you ask the Universe for help, you will find a way. Hopefully I will see the opportunity when it pops up!

There you are. Starting back down the road. Trying once again to establish a regular practice. Trying to improve myself, strengthen myself, and learn more about myself. Just have to remember to breathe......

Back soon (promise).


13 June 2012



I give up.

I know when I’m beaten.

I get it, already.

No Bikram since November.

One solitary Baptiste class since then.

Every time I think that I’ll be able to resume my practice, SOMETHING happens.
I can’t get all my ducks in a row.
I can’t get all the lights to turn green.

I have almost completely returned to the person I was before discovering yoga in general, and Bikram in particular.

I’m smoking. Half a pack some days. I went five months and one day without. Then, I picked them back up without batting an eye.

I eat junk. Burgers, doughnuts, chips, junk upon junk upon crap. While I’m not yet back to 285 lbs, I’m definitely getting closer. And closer.

I’m not drinking too much soda (yet), but I mainline coffee… with lots of French Vanilla creamer.

Sleep brings no rest, no dreams, no energy. The ringing alarm clock is both blessing and curse.

I find it difficult to concentrate on anything. I try to read an article or a book. I try to write. I used to think I really had something to give or share. Now, I just don’t know.

I kept telling myself that if I could just hang on, or if I just worked a little harder or longer, things would get better. I would find a way back to that place. I would walk back into that chamber and sweat and pull and stretch and BREATHE. I would feel alive and healthy again. I would work toward that goal of being the best possible me I could be.


I’m irritable. Upset. Angry. Everything is suffering: my body, my work, my relationships, my being. It’s as if I had never heard of yoga. There just doesn’t seem to be a way to get back in the room from here. For now, there are just too many obstacles to hurdle.

I was never really a yogi in training, was I? I was  just a “wannabe” yogi.

I walked into work the other day, realized the futility of it all, and began to cry. Not sniffle. Not weep. I cried. (Fortunately, since I get there earlier than most, no one saw me.)

It was just a passing fancy, this idea of me practicing yoga. A summer romance.  A one act play.

I had hopes for this week. I might, at least, get an introductory 10-class card at Indigo. It will not happen – save for a miracle of some sort. I tried to practice here at home, but it was laughable (plus I just can’t get a room that warm without causing a problem). I can’t see getting back to Bikram anytime soon either. I was always hopeful that this hiatus would be short and painless. Now, I don’t know when, if ever, I’ll get back.  To be honest, I'm beginning to think it will not happen.

Yoga still fascinates – and scares – me. I still read lots of blogs. I still believe in the power and beauty of yoga. My dream of going to training is still on my bucket list. I see and read about people who are changing their lives with the help of yoga -- and I want desperately to change mine.  I am was a (small) part of an ever growing online community of yogis trying to grow and share and make this planet just a little bit better.

I’m frustrated.

I’m tired.

I’m sick of writing about NOT practicing. 

I'm sick of being who I am.

I'm sick of having empty hopes for change.

I’ve come undone.

" Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I'd something more to say."

                                                 "Time" by Pink Floyd from Dark Side of the Moon

01 June 2012

REPOSTED: Yogis supporting yogis: McKinley's Training Campaign

-- Photo courtesy of ilovesweat.com.

Note: This is a re-post from Lisa at Just here. Just now.

 Did you know that someone can be really kind, generous and supportive to complete strangers via Twitter?

No? Then maybe you don’t know McKinley. That’s him, rocking out Standing Head to Knee in that glorious photo above.

(I’ll let you take a moment to stare in awe and appreciation.)

McKinley was a very early supporter of Just here. Just now. He was my first non-family Like on Facebook. He was my welcoming committee to the online yoga community.

McKinley wants to be a Bikram yoga teacher. Everyone wants McKinley to be a Bikram yoga teacher. Bikram should want McKinley to be a yoga teacher.

And he’s ready: he’s practiced everyday for 2 years – without a day off.

(I’ll let you take another moment of awe and appreciation for that piece of information.)

But there remains the pesky issue that training is hella pricey.

McKinley has started an online campaign to help fund teacher training. You can buy I LOVE SWEAT stickers, tank tops/t-shirts/hoodies hand screened by the yogi himself. Or you can make a straight up donation should you feel inclined.

Check out his video explaining his love for yoga and his website I Love Sweat to see his beautiful photographs, artwork and blog. Cazbaz also has a great interview with McKinley if you want to know a little more about the man behind that awesome Toe Stand.

Times are tough, so if you can’t donate, please re-tweet and re-post and let’s see if we can make this dream happen for one very deserving yogi.


Spread the word. Let's see if we can't help out a bit!!


21 May 2012

The Baptiste Experiment

Last week, while on vacation, I wanted to try some different types of yoga. With four different studios within 10 minutes of home, there was ample opportunity to try something new.

Or so I thought.

Let’s just say that what was supposed to be a calm, relaxing week turned into a hectic stretch of days. It wasn’t until Friday that I could even consider going to a class. Even then, at noon last Friday, I wasn’t sure I would go even if the chance arose.

It was then that I told myself, “You will not get a better chance. Don’t be afraid. Find a class. Go. Now.”

I’ve driven by Indigo Yoga countless times in the six years it has been open. It’s three minutes away from our current home, and is a “Baptiste Affiliate Studio.” – meaning they teach the style of yoga founded by Walt Baptiste in the 1940’s and carried on today by his son Baron. All I really knew about it was: a) it is practiced in a warm room (though not nearly as warm as the Torture Chamber), and b) it involves postures I’ve never attempted.

Lucky me!! An “all levels” class would start in one hour. Thankfully, I had been much better about hydrating all week – just in case I could actually attempt a class. I grabbed my mat, towel, and water and headed for the door when that voice in my brain stopped me:

“Yoga? Really? After all this time, you want to go try more yoga? I thought we had this all straightened out. You realize you will look really stupid. You won’t be able to do much of it anyway. Look at you. You’re weak and flabby and you will be so self-conscious in there. You don’t really need to do this… Stay home. “

I have wanted to get back into a yoga room – ANY room – for too long. I pushed the fear and worry aside, jumped in the car, and went to the class.

The “lobby” at Indigo is very small – more of an anteroom than a lobby. The lighting was subdued and incense filled the air. I signed the necessary form, paid, and headed into the room. The room itself was large – even larger than my home Bikram studio. I could easily see 70- 80 people fitting in there. Pastel shades of blue on the walls, ceiling painted black, black ceiling fans hanging down, music softly playing – very relaxing indeed. Curiously, one side of the room had the fans on, the other did not. I took up a spot on the back row near the center (where there were no fans) and laid down in Savasana, just grateful to be in a warm, if not hot, room. There were around a dozen students, including two other men. The instructor, Kelsey, entered and got us up and began the class.


There was no Pranayama breathing to start. She just called everyone to Child’s pose and off we went. No stopping, No breaks between postures. No “party time”. It was, “Upward Dog”, then, “Down Dog”, then “High Plank, Low plank…” and on and on. I don’t mind saying I got lost pretty quickly. I hate to look around at other students but I had no choice because I didn’t know what was going on. My mind returned to that April night in 2009 when I took my first Bikram class – all flustered and bewildered and flushed with the heat. Thankfully, I started to catch on a bit and I really started to enjoy it. I got a good sweat going almost immediately. I did have to stop more than once because either I did not know what the posture was, or I was just beat.

Other thoughts?

1) My Breathe mat was completely inappropriate for the hard wood floor. Off I go to get a sticky mat. Thankfully, Kelsey grabbed one of the studio mats and set it up next to mine so I could work without slipping all over the place.

2) Not used to the instructor walking around during class so much. I was startled when she got behind me and lifted my hips up during the first Downward Dog. 

3) For this particular class, Kelsey returned to Utkatasana (Chair Pose) over and over. My legs quaked so badly. We must have done that pose four or five times. Then there was an addition to the pose where we would turn to one side or the other.

4) Instead of Trikanasana (Triangle), we did Warrior Poses 1,2, & 3. There were extra movements, which made it even more difficult.

5) Frog pose hurt. I didn’t even attempt a headstand or Crow pose. I heard the term “Chaturanga” a lot. Happily though, I surprised myself with a damn good Camel posture!!

6) I did enjoy the cool washcloth the instructor placed on my forehead in the lone Savasana.

7) “Wild Thing” looked ridiculously difficult.

8) I was really sore the next morning. REALLY SORE. And that is good!!

All in all, it was a heck of a ride. A lot of it is still a blur in my head. However, I do know one thing: I want to do that again!! Fortunately, they run an introductory special: 10 classes for $30. I’m signing up ASAP!! They also have a free class for the community every Saturday. Too bad I work most Saturdays.

Unfortunately, that was my only class of the week. I was going to take advantage of the $5 community class at Sumits on Sunday, but that was cancelled for a teaching workshop. Maybe next week. (Their intro special is similar: two weeks for $20 – don’t think I won’t try that one!!)

One other note: before I went on vacation I broke down and had a cigarette, five months and one day after my last one, then had another one four days later. The streak now stands at nine days. :(

Apologies if this post droned on, but I’m just really happy to be actually writing about my practice again! Thanks for listening.


18 May 2012

It Really Happened!!


It really happened.

I found myself in a hot room today. For the first time since November.

If all goes well, I will be in another hot room on Sunday.

Details to follow.


09 May 2012

Guest Post: Get Real! 18 reasons I am a bad yogi

 Hello all! Today I bring you a post from Lisa at Just here, just now... from a few days ago. I think it is a great read! 

How many of these can you relate to? (For me, 15,12,7,and 2)

Hope you enjoy it.... and check out more of her fine work!    Namaste.

Let’s be honest, everyone lies on their blog.

O.K., that might be an exaggeration but only a slight one. Everyone leaves things out or pretties up the truth.
I realized something disconcerting the other day. My blog makes me out to be a pretty enlightened, kick-ass yogi.

So not true.

I am trying to be an enlightened, kick-ass yogi and that is why I write about the things I do. This blog has kind of become my version of those dorky manifestation boards. But between the back-bending and the advice (hey, she asked!) I am sort of strutting around here.

So, let me clear some things up and let you in on the ugly bits.

But first, here’s a photo of me falling down.

Failed photo-shoot. Falling out of standing bow…almost to my death.

18 Reasons I am a Bad Yogi

18.  There are a lot of yoga postures in which I look like a disoriented octopus, however, you will never see photos of those. I only post pictures of the postures that look pretty and I can do kind of well. You will never see a photo of my awkward pose.

17.  The yoga tops I like best are the ones that make my cleavage look good.

16.  Sometimes I wiggle my toes a little and pretend to have a cramp so that the teacher will give me a little foot massage during savasana.

15.  I have to set up my mat and towel on the other side of the room from a certain yogi at my studio because otherwise I spend my whole practice rolling my eyes.

14.  Sometimes the only reason I go to yoga is because I want to avoid explaining to people why I didn’t go to yoga.

13.  When I do yoga at home, I get bored in about 10 minutes and can’t think of any other postures to do. Then I sit on my yoga mat and watch TV for a half an hour so it feels like I did a decent amount of yoga.

12.  If my husband is traveling, sometimes I am too lazy to shower after class and I just go to bed all sweaty.

11.  For every 20 minutes of sitting meditation I do, I have spent the previous 10 minutes having a lively internal debate about whether or not I should meditate.

10.  I’m envious of the people who come to the studio looking all cute and put together. I come to class looking homeless because I’m just going to get those clothes all sweaty, anyway.

9.  Sometimes when I do Separate Leg Head to Knee pose I look up at the rolls on my belly and I think thoughts about my body that would not count as Loving Kindness.

8.  When I go to other types of yoga studios I don’t take my Bikram yoga branded water bottle and when they ask if I’ve done yoga before I say “I dabble.” I am tired of getting shit for doing Bikram and I’m also worried they will expect me to be really good if they know I have a regular practice.

7.  I think Rabbit pose is pointless. Probably because I have made zero progress on it in two and a half years.

6.  Sometimes, Husband and I will be planning to go to yoga together and at the last-minute he has to work late. I’ll sigh really loudly and then say, “it’s O.K., no, no, I’ll stay home and we can have dinner together.” I make it seem like it’s for him but I am secretly glad and it feels like I just got a snow day.

5.  I take a month off from my Bikram practice in the summer.

4.  I get jealous when Husband gets a complement or foot walk from a teacher and I don’t.

3.  I can’t do Dancer pose and don’t think I ever will even though I really, really want to.

2. I talk about going to teacher training but I worry I am just not strong enough and that my social anxiety will kick in with a vengeance and I will have to quit.

And finally, the number 1 reason I am a bad yogi –  because I wrote this entire post in my head during class and then ran out after a very short final savasana so I could write it down on one of the little cards intended for anonymous comments.

Forgive me, Patanjali, for I have sinned.

Anyone else want to confess anything and help me feel not so alone in this?

12 April 2012

Unhappy Bikram Birthday

Tomorrow, April 13, will be my third Bikram Birthday. It was on April 13, 2009 that I ventured into the Torture Chamber for the first time. Sometimes, it seems like only yesterday. Now, it seems like centuries ago.

I still remember it well:

Walking into the room and getting slapped in the face punched in the mouth by the heat.

Laying down on the mat and silently praying that I wouldn't throw up.

Being so ashamed of my body that I wouldn't take off my shirt.

Learning that my heavy cotton shorts became ten times heavier when soaked in sweat.

Not being able to even reach my heels in Hands-to-Feet pose.

"OK, how the hell am I supposed to reach down and grab my foot?"

"Does it HAVE to be so friggin' hot??!!!???"

"Slow down... only so much water in that bottle."

"Fuck it, I'm SOOOOOOOO thirsty."

"How do you lock a knee?"

"If I try Triangle, they will have to carry me out of here."

 "If I stay 15 more seconds, they will have to carry me out of here."

"I really like Savasana!!!"

"No, wait, just one more minute of Savasana.... please????"

"I'm bringing a gallon of water (and maybe a 10 lb. bag of ice!)  next time... assuming there is a next time."

"Lift BOTH legs? I can't lift one!!!"

(Just before Half-Tortoise):  "Check, please!!" This is where I got up and left the room.

Well, from that inauspicious start blossomed what was, for a while, a pretty good practice. One challenge morphed into back-to-back challenges, and in six months I lost 45 lbs, lost five inches from my waist, and felt absolutely wonderful. From then on, it's gone downhill -- to the point now that I still haven't taken a class since November. A number of factors have contributed to this, most seemingly beyond my control.

I still look forward to resuming my practice. I think about it every day. Unfortunately, it doesn't look as though it will resume anytime soon. Nothing seems to work out like we wanted, and there seems to be at least two new stresses every day. Even quitting smoking (96 days now) has its problems: my lungs are seemingly always congested these days... a combination of spring allergies, humid weather, and lungs trying to detox make it hard to breathe some days... even with my inhaler. A good dose of Pranayama in a hot room would really help. Today has been really difficult. On the good side, I no longer crave tobacco... in fact, the smell of a cigarette now makes me slightly queasy.

One of my favorite teachers, Greg, always said that part of doing Bikram  was not only that I would feel so much better, but I would realize just how bad I felt before I began my practice.

I understand now, my friend. Oh, boy, do I understand.



15 March 2012


A long, grinding, tiring 5 weeks finds me here at my desk searching for words. Actually, I've sat here several times but the words never seem to come easily when I'm here. It always seems to be when I'm at work, or doing chores, or in the car... and then by the time I get home, either I've forgotten half of what I wanted to say, or the thoughts I had don't seem to hold the same weight, so I don't bother trying.

Illness and work have kept me from doing much of anything. Sweetie was in bed for most of one week with flu-like symptoms. Then, her father fell ill and stayed with us for the better part of two weeks, followed by a brief stay in hospital. Everyone seems to have rebounded... slowly, but steadily. Work has been difficult to say the least... and it doesn't look like things are going to improve any time soon. I've done some side work for Sweetie's boss to try and save enough for yoga, but it seems some other expense comes up. We had planned to take vacation together but that has gone by the boards. Bottom line is that the days have passed in rapid succession with very little to differentiate one from another.

I read my last post just now with equal parts humor and derision. I love how charged up I get... I'm gonna do this, that, and the other and things are going to get better and I'll actually get to write about my first class back at the studio, or my first attempt at practicing at home, or just how it feels to have 90 minutes to myself to just breathe.

Then, life looks askance at me and slaps me in the back of the head for being so foolish. (For fans of 'NCIS', imagine Gibbs smacking DiNozzo on the back of the head.) 

The truth is this: it has now been just over four months since I took a yoga class. The studio had it's big Grand Opening weekend three weeks ago... by all accounts it was amazing. I saw the photos on Facebook and it looked extremely cool. The new Sumits Hot Yoga is finally open and offering an introductory package: two weeks for $20. Maybe while I'm on vacation next month I can try it.

The worst part of all this is that I am drifting back to the person I was before yoga. No, I'm not smoking (it will be 70 days on Saturday), but I haven't eaten well in weeks. Once again, fast, greasy food is my staple. Just this morning, had fried chicken for breakfast (three pieces), then grabbed coffee and doughnuts at the gas station while running errands, THEN ate a fried pie (chocolate) that I bought when I was buying groceries. All before noon. Lovely. I eat before work. I eat at work. I eat on the way home. Then I eat dinner. All of this is usually washed down with cup after cup of coffee (no sugar, but loads of sweetened, non-dairy creamer). Some Most days I drink no water at all. I try to stay away from soft drinks but sometimes I need that jolt of sugar and caffeine. I don't know how much weight I've gained, but I know I am gaining. My body feels the effects. My back and shoulders are beginning to hurt again like they did before I started yoga. My hips hurt; one knee now has that familiar ache. I have no energy. I procrastinate about the simplest tasks. I just want to sleep. I drag myself through the day; I have trouble sleeping at night. I dream of yoga on some nights... sometimes I'm struggling to do Triangle, sometimes I do a really good floor bow, sometimes I'm just laying there in Savasana. I've even had a couple of dreams where Sweetie and I are teaching. Most of the time, though, there are no dreams... just the sound of the alarm on my cellphone urging me to get up and get ready for work.

On the positive side, I did purchase one of the books I mentioned last time: The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama. Sadly, I have yet to crack it open, mainly because I have had little time, but also out of fear that I'm not really going to get anything out of it. I'm sure there will be a lot of wonderful ideas and thoughts, but I never seem to be able to incorporate anything like that in my life. There is always another obstacle, there is always something else that has to be tended to first, there is always another problem that lands at my feet to be solved or fixed. It's taxing to the point where I just give in and set my "self" aside. I truly envy those people that can set aside a space solely for themselves... how do they do it? Is it because money isn't an issue? Or their job is fun and exciting and creative and flexible? Or they prefer to remain alone so they don't have to deal with anyone else? HOW?????  That was the most wonderful thing about going to class -- I had two whole hours set aside for ME!! (Hope that doesn't sound too selfish...)

Um, excuse me. I think I just went off on a rant. We now continue with our regularly scheduled post.

On the same trip to the bookstore, I did find one other book. I spied it on the bargain table right next to the cashier.It is one recommended by many yogis/yoginis. It is the Bhagavad-Gita, part of the Indian epic Mahabarat.

  The Gita is a conversation between Lord Krishna and the prince Arjuna prior to the start of a war that will require Arjuna to fight against members of his own family. Krishna (God) speaks to Arjuna about his duties as a prince and as commander of an army. Krishna also talks about yoga, among several other things. I did get a chance one afternoon to sit down and start reading.


I had only gotten a few pages in when I did something I've not done since college. I grabbed a highlighter and started marking different passages. I really got sucked in to it. Sadly, I only read about 18 pages when I was called away. I have yet to pick it up. I am hoping that once everything is done for the day, I can pick it back up and restart. In just 18 pages I found so many passages that spoke to me! To wit:

"There was never a time when I did not exist, nor you.... Nor is there any future in which we will cease to be."

"Just as the dweller in this body passes through childhood, youth and old age, so at death he merely passes into another body."

"Feelings of heat and cold, pleasure and pain, are caused by the contact of the senses with their objects. They come and they go, never lasting long. You must accept them."

That is basically one page. I've got to read this from cover to cover!!

Thank you for stopping by and letting me vent. I hope it was worth your time.



06 February 2012

It's not all bad...

It has been an up and down couple of weeks.

The big Grand Opening for Bikram Fort Worth is this weekend. I will miss the festivities (not just because I'm not yet a member; I have to work anyway). Demonstrations, posture clinics, instructors from other studios, EVERYTHING I want to be a part of. I try not to think about it. I get depressed.

I will get back there.

The home studio idea is also on hold. Unexpected auto repair = $$$. Have yet to get a mirror for the spare room. It may be a bit. I bite my lip, take a breath and try to keep calm. I want to scream. I want to throw something. I want to gaze toward the heavens and ask, "Why?". Even now, I'm starting to shake. I never, EVER thought I would feel this way about yoga, let alone something like Bikram Yoga. I am still open to trying other types of yoga (the Sumits Yoga down the street has yet to open -- I will check it out; I've had no time to visit Karmany Yoga yet). However, I truly believe that I will end up sticking with Bikram.

I will get my practice restarted. I will learn about other forms of yoga.

When I am able to get the Bikram CD, I am also going to buy two three books:

Bikram Yoga -- the orange book

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living -- by The Dalai Lama

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: The Book of the Spiritual Man -- by Charles Johnston

I want to better myself. I will tear myself down to the foundations if need be. My current self is no longer palatable or viable. I have much to learn. My happiness is not dependent on others. I must do it myself. I deserve this. 

It will get better.  

If I put in the effort, the results will come.

I want this. I need this.

"Begin, please."

Oh yeah, the title of this post? 

Well, I am proud to report that I have made it to 30 days since my last cigarette!! I need my inhaler less and less now. It feels good. No, it feels GREAT!!

Step by step.....


25 January 2012

Tragedy, Inspiration, and Shooting Stars

 Over the past two days, I have read and heard two different stories about friendships, loss, and regret. The first was a beautifully written post by The Grateful Yogini about losing touch with a friend who was terminally ill and her regrets. It can be a difficult read, but I firmly believe everyone should give it a look.

The second story occurred locally, a scant few days ago. Here in DFW, the #1 radio station is the all-sports station, KTCK 1310 "The Ticket". Most of the time, the shows are devoted to sports, movies, girls, "guy-talk" and the like. Every so often, however one of the hosts pulls back the curtain on their personal life.  "The Gentle Musers", is a show that has been on the air for as long as the station has operated (18 years now). All three of the hosts are close to me in age, so I can relate to them and have sort of "grown up" with them if you will. Anyway, this morning George spoke about a tragedy that had befallen a family in the small town where he resides, and his and the town's reaction to it. It is a must listen .

Both stories contain the same message, which cannot be repeated enough:

Life is short.
You never know when it will be taken away.
Call. Write. E-mail. Text.
Send a card.

Send flowers or go to lunch -- just because.

Hug. Squeeze. Kiss.

Above all:
Be grateful for the little things...
the unmade bed
the dirty dishes
holding hands during a storm
snowball fights
and on and on and on....

Our time here is precious.
Once lost, it is never given back.

I must learn to not waste so much time...


14 January 2012

A Dream Delayed

Well, I got to see the newly renovated studio a few days ago. All I can say is, "Wow!!". It looks really cool. Now there is a full window looking in on the chamber, and increased retail space. The showers/changing room are very cool, and a water dispenser has been installed to cut down on plastic bottles. The lobby/retail area has been redone in a classic Western motif -- befitting the town "Where the West Begins".

Yes, the new Bikram Fort Worth is ready to go with a full slate of classes tomorrow.

Sweetie and I, however, will not be there.

I got to talk to the new owner, who completed training last spring and was one of our instructors under the former owners. She is a great person, with a solid vision for the studio. Anyone who reads this blog knows that Sweetie and I were on the work-study program under the old regime. For now, there will be no work-study at the new studio.

Let me say this: I am not angry. I am not upset. (In fact, I was kind of expecting this.)  I understand the situation fully and hold no malice to anyone affiliated with the new studio. I texted the owner earlier today to wish her luck, and tell her that we would be back ASAP.

So, what to do in the meantime?

1) Practice at home: Sweetie and I were discussing converting our spare room into a practice area. A couple of space heaters and a CD player are needed, as well as a mirror on one wall. We could (theoretically) practice anytime. Drawbacks: 1) I think it would be too easy to say, "I'm too tired... need to do laundry/fix dinner/clean house/ etc." and we wouldn't practice at all. 2) Never used the CD before. Will we tire of the same voice/words/cadence time after time? 3) No live instructor to call out corrections -- perhaps preventing an injury or a bad posture.

2) Try a different form of yoga: There is something called Karmany Yoga about 8 minutes away. Meanwhile, about five minutes in the opposite direction, there is a new studio going in: Sumits Hot Yoga. It hasn't opened yet, so I've had no chance to check it out. Bikram is the only yoga I've ever tried. Perhaps I need to try a few different types?

3) Just put the mat away: There are other forms of exercise. Lots of things I could do. I don't think I could just give up yoga (in some form) forever. I enjoy Bikram (well, I enjoy the benefits) and I want to resume as soon as possible. I NEED that time to myself to decompress -- I have missed that aspect more than any other: the chance to push everything aside and just worry about my breath and my postures for 90 minutes.

So, the dream of resuming Bikram is only delayed, not denied.

If you have any suggestions on anything I covered, please feel free to leave a comment (especially when it comes to home practice). I would very much appreciate it!!