10 April 2015

April Challenge: Days 6-10

Note: On April 1st, I began a 30 day Bikram Challenge. Here is the latest update. 

Days 6 & 7

For the first time in quite a while I am feeling good about my practice. That's part of what this challenge is about for me: falling back in love with the yoga. More importantly, it's about self care: stopping the self-loathing that I have been subjecting myself to. My food choices are improving as well. While the donut shop is still a player, I have not made those covert trips for fast food. More veggies, fewer processed foods, LOADS more water. Result? There is less stomach to suck in and forward bends are getting (slightly) easier. The one cup of coffee per day rule has been a bit tough -- I have cheated twice this week. 

Monday's class was ok. Just a quiet, solid effort. The most memorable item was a quote from our instructor:

"Always do backbends. Consider: you bend over backwards for a lot of other people. Do your backbends for yourself. Your spine equals your life."

Tuesday's class was the first one where I really started to sense improvement. For as long as I've practiced, getting my hands behind my heels in Hands-to-Feet pose has been impossible. I could get my hands underneath from the sides of my feet but never ever from behind. Now, if you've taken a Bikram class, you've heard the mantra, "Try the right way and you will get the full benefit". So, now, I tuck my elbows behind my legs and slide my hands down towards my heels. I'm not there yet but I finally get a sense of what the posture is truly supposed to feel like. 
                             Hands-to-Feet Pose -- The Goal

Day 8

With a couple of days coming up where yoga will be impossible, it was time for another double. With Wednesday being one of my work-study nights, I didn't want to take back to back classes. So, there I was at 5:30AM to take class from the studio owner. With only nine of us there, the class became a posture clinic. She went from person to person giving detailed instruction to each. For me, that moment came in Cobra, where she moved my heels together, then moved my elbows to touch my sides. Totally changed the pose for me. Cobra has always been a favorite of mine, and now 
it's even better.  That said, it was a difficult class. Morning classes mean no flexibility (couldn't reach my toes when doing sit-ups). I sat out Triangle. During the floor series, there were a couple of times when I started to feel anxious and shed a tear. It was ok. Yoga is not just for the body, it heals the mind as well. The night class was a vintage Bikram class. Very warm. Humid. Pretty full, too -- over 30 people all working together. Great energy in the room! It was the kind of class where you are soaking wet ten minutes in. It was a strong class for me. I attempted every posture and only fell out a few times. 

Day 9 

Worked hard to incorporate the lessons learned from the previous day. Found that forward bends are beginning to get easier because my gut is starting to shrink!! Long way to go, though. The big news, however, came on the floor. Since resuming my practice, Locust pose has always been tough. Raising one leg at a time is hard, and raising both legs up has just not been in the cards. I'm not sure how, but there I was on Thursday, doing all three segments of the pose. My back hurt like hell but I got it done! 

                          Locust Pose -- Third Part -- The Goal
Day 10

Friday found me tired and sore. I told myself that, with Saturday being a no-yoga day, I needed to work as hard as possible. To help with this I set my mat up on the front row (it's been a while since that happened -- I ended up being the only one on my side of the room to go up front). It also helped to have a senior instructor who gives no quarter (Try the right way..."). Felt like a rusty gate for the first 20 minutes, then I found my stride a bit. Standing Head-to-Knee was better: almost stayed on one leg for the duration. Standing Bow (another favorite) was really good: damn near got through all four without falling. My Triangle Pose was the best. Ever. Got deeper and held all four without falling. For the second straight class I did Locust with no issues. I felt so much better after class than I did when I walked in!!

As I said, today is a no-yoga day. Off to work, then one of the best events of the year: the Main St. Arts Festival. Have a great weekend!!


Photos via BY Comox Valley and BY Bethesda

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