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!!