29 May 2014

It's A Partnership

For the last week or so, I have been having a rough time in the room. I'm not talking about sitting out a posture or two. I'm talking about laying out before Triangle and staying down for the remainder of class (Monday). I'm talking about getting fed up and walking out at Camel (Tuesday). I'm talking about feeling so weak and at times ashamed of how poorly I'm doing that I started to reconsider my practice (last night during the floor series).

Let me explain. 

If you have been following along, you know that I hurt my right knee almost two months ago. It's coming along but I still have a lot if trouble balancing on it. Also, the spine series has become problematic -- Cobra is good but Locust, Full Locust, and Floor Bow are painful. Locust is the worst -- each time I attempt to lift a leg -- how do I explain this -- it just feels like there is a power failure at the base of my spine. My leg goes up an inch or two and then I run out of power and my leg falls back down. Trying to lift both legs at the same time is next to impossible. I've managed that only once since returning to practice. 

So what happens next? First, my Fixed Firm pose suffers, as I cannot always get my backside seated on the floor, which infuriates me. Then we get to Half Tortoise, which I have never been able to do correctly, and I get pissed off. Now, Camel has become an issue -- difficult to do both sets, and by then I'm ready to just quit. 

So last night during a Savasna, a horrifying thought popped in my head:

"What if I just can't do this anymore?"

There are times in one's practice that you hear the instructor's voice but aren't really hearing the words. Then there are times when those words cut through the fog in your head like thunder. Last night was one of those times. I do not recall the exact words but the basic idea was as follows:

"Try to let your mind and body work as partners. So often, when the body doesn't do what we want it to do, it becomes adversarial... It turns into 'My knees aren't working right... I can't do this...', as if the knees were you to blame. You abused your knees for years and now you're blaming them? Don't blame your body, WORK WITH YOUR BODY. Be partners. "


Those words snapped me right back. 

I made it through class and took stock of things:

My nutrition and hydration have not been up to snuff lately. Lots of sweets in the break room, few if any vegetables, not eating regularly, far too much coffee and not enough water. 

Although I have now been to over 50 classes in just over 100 days, I need to attempt a more even schedule -- no more three or four day layoffs if I can help it (fully realizing that sometimes it is unavoidable no matter how hard I try -- and that is ok -- sometimes there ARE more important issues than yoga).

I don't stretch any more before class. Why??

I may be 46 (gulp), but I'm not a damn invalid. I can do yoga! For Chrissakes, just do the damn posture!!

So, what's next? More yoga, of course... including a first on Saturday... a MasterClass.

According to the studio, we will be led, "...through Bikram's Beginner Series as we all knowit, spending extra time to share information on alignment, execution, adjustments and modification as well as medical benefits. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the yoga and take your practice to a new level; it will surely be great fun to experience a slightly more interactive and colloquial class than usual. So drink up, sign up, see you there!!"

Sounds like something I need to be a part of.

I'm in. I'll let you know how it went next week.


12 May 2014

Bikram Yoga Works!! (But you knew that...)

Originally, I planned to write about one of three things today: a string of rough classes, my top 5 pet peeves in the hot room, or "The Quiet Assassin" ( the latest instructor I've taken class from ). Instead, I want to relate what happened this morning when I visited my fantastic doctor for a checkup. 

As you might remember, I am a reforming smoker. Also, you may recall I hurt my right knee about a month ago. While it does not hurt all the time (and I can now do all the postures again without much discomfort), my knee still hurts when put in certain positions. For instance, when I lift my right leg in Tree Pose or Toestand, the torque placed on the knee creates pain. So the visit to the doc was to a) renew the prescriptions for my inhalers and b) get my knee checked out. 

The news I got back was more than encouraging. It was FABULOUS!!!

So after 45 classes in 92 days:

I have dropped 15 pounds (253 to 238).

My blood pressure is back in the safe zone (122/80).

One inhaler discontinued. That leaves me with two, which I only use as needed!

As for my knee, the doctor said it was a meniscus problem, and that while we could look into MRIs or physical therapy, "You are already handling it in a great way by doing yoga." When I described how my instructors told me to work on contracting my thigh muscle and locking the knee, she agreed completely. She told me that continuing my practice was the best thing I could do!!

Yet another reason to go to yoga!! 

Class is about three hours away. After that sort of positive feedback, I can't wait!!!


05 May 2014

Go to Yoga!!

Although I have yet to convince any of my friends to join me in the hot room, I am asked from time to time, "When is the best time to go to yoga?".

Good question. 

So, I thought about it for awhile, and I think I have the answer:

When your heart is light, go to yoga. 

When your back is tight, go to yoga. 

After a fight, go to yoga. 

After a long flight, go to yoga. 

When you wake, go to yoga. 

Before you sleep, go to yoga. 

Depressed, stressed, or maybe blessed? Go to yoga. 

Relationship in tatters? Go to yoga. 

When it seems that nothing truly matters, go to yoga. 

Searching for answers, or the right questions to ask? Go to yoga. 

Want to meet new friends and have a blast? Go to yoga. 

When you want to learn more about the universe and your place in it? Go to yoga. 

Want to learn more about yourself? Go to yoga.

Want to smile more, laugh more, maybe even dance? Go to yoga. 

Want to be thrilled when you buy smaller pants? Go to yoga. 

There really isn't a reason NOT to go to yoga. It doesn't matter which type you try: Bikram, Sumits, Baptiste, or any other type. 

Just go. 



04 May 2014

No Excuses

This morning I woke to a lovely spring morning. I considered staying in bed, but only for a moment. Sunday mornings are one of the few times I can go to class without too much trouble, so I grabbed my bag and headed out.

I am so glad I did.

I like to get there as early as I can so I can spend more time in the heat to get loose -- especially in the mornings when I am not so flexible. As I walked into the room, I noticed a woman setting up her mat in the front row near where I normally practice. To me it looked like she was simply taking her gear out of a large bag hanging from her right shoulder. I gave no more notice, set up my mat, and lay down to await the beginning of class.

As class began, I noted the woman walking back into the room to take her place. I then realized that she had not had her gear in a bag. That "bag" was actually a rather large, padded sling holding her right arm, which appeared to be in a cast. I was more than a bit shocked. Her right arm was almost completely immobile, but that was not going to stop her. She was there and she was going to do her yoga!

How fantastic is that??!!

Obviously, I didn't want to violate her privacy by staring at her -- I have enough on my hands with my own practice. That said, I did notice her from time to time. She did Pranayama like everyone else -- just with one arm. Half-moon was the same. It really was inspiring that she was doing everything she could. Yes, all of the postures were modified, but who cares? Her hard work got me thinking that my aching knee was really not that big a deal to work through. That thought pushed me to not only hold Standing Bow longer than ever, but also to hang on during both sets of Balancing Stick and Triangle. Yes, I fell out of both, but I got back in and got through them. I did every set of each posture on the floor and it felt great!

I do not know this woman's name, and I did not see her as I left the studio. She does not know me or know what a positive effect she had on me and my practice this morning. 

So next time I think that I'm too tired or too sore or sleep deprived or anything else, I will have a reminder that, really, I don't have a reason NOT to do my yoga. 


One other great thing from this morning: I finally did a solid Locust pose! Especially the last part when you lift both legs up -- it felt like old times in the room -- and it was wonderful! 

Have a great week!