15 March 2016

It Had To Happen

After last week's meltdown, my practice has begun to even out a bit. The roller coaster I've been riding to start this challenge has started to level off. It's not the practice has suddenly gotten easier, it's that I'm trying to slow things down so that my mind doesn't freak out. 

The classes this past week were better. I've been focusing more and more on breathing and keeping my abdominal a pulled in. Twice in the past week, I was able to keep my stomach sucked all through a set of Pranayama. Once, I almost made it through both sets. Forward bends are still problematic because my gut is still in the way (but it is getting smaller!). The most surprising thing is my Balancing Stick -- I'm able to hold it longer and longer!

So on Sunday I have a nice, flowing 10AM class. I feel really good -- so good that I think, "I'm going to have to do this sooner or later. I'll come back for the 3PM class and do a double."


The second class started great -- great breathing, solid (for me) Half-Moon and Awkward. Eagle was ok. Then we get to Standing Head-to-Knee. I picked up my left leg and it felt like something had relaxed and I could actually get my leg higher and stand straighter (I am nowhere close to kicking out). So I lift up and for a moment, I'm there! Then something seized up in my left hip and I fell out. Tried to get back in but I could barely bend down to pick up my foot. No better in second set. I didn't panic but I wondered if I could finish class. 

In Standing Bow, I moved very slowly and really focused on breathing. As I moved forward there were a couple of twinges but I breathed through them and was able to get in and out of the pose. As I moved through the class, the key was to move slowly and mindfully. In this way I made it through the class. 

I went to my normal evening class last night. I informed the instructor of my injury. (ALWAYS INFORM YOUR INSTRUCTOR IF YOU ARE HAVING ISSUES OR DEALING WITH AN INJURY!) The class was more difficult in that any forward bend hurt and I sat out the separate leg poses (Triangle and the poses either side) but that was OK. Sit-ups were impossible. I tried the first one and stopped short, so I skipped the rest. I did try the last sit-up because basically I zoned out and forgot I was hurt. My instructor mentioned it and said to hold off on those for a few days. 

Injuries will happen. Sometimes you can work around them. Sometimes you simply have to rest and heal. You know your body better than anyone else, but always let your instructor know what's up. If they give you variations on poses, use them. If they suggest you rest a day or two, consider doing so. They want you to be healthy and enjoy your practice. After all, this isn't life and death. It's just yoga!


09 March 2016

Storm Clouds

It's 4AM. An insanely loud clap of thunder jolted me awake an hour ago, and I doubt I'll get any sleep in the next 90 minutes, so what the heck?

Sunday's class was actually not bad. Got a little deeper in a few poses. Good heat and energy in the room. Monday, however, was quite different. I reverted to the form of the previous four months. 

It was a really stressful day on all fronts, and it showed in class. Yawned my way through Pranayama. My shoulders ached and I couldn't get them much past parallel. As soon as I tried to move in Half-Moon, my back hurt. Awkward was a joke (again), and I was useless in Eagle. I felt powerless to turn the tide, so at Party Time I bailed. Not only from the room, but from the studio. Drove down the street and inhaled a bacon double cheeseburger, a mountain of fries and a vat of soda. I felt better... for a minute. I returned to the studio to clean and the instructor approached and asked if I was ok. I said no but I was working on it. 

"You couldn't stay with me in the room?"

"Body said no. Mind said no. I didn't want to become a distraction to those around me."

As an aside: I am really REALLY tiring of all the "mind over matter" and "you are strong enough" type of phrases I'm hearing in the room. If the "matter" (in this case my body) is too tired or too stressed or too whatever to move, all the coaxing and cajoling in the world by my mind will not matter. At all.  No, I do not have the strength or intestinal fortitude to get back up and once again fall out of Triangle. Or fall out of Balancing Stick. And I'm too damned fat to even try Rabbit right now. 

PLEASE UNDERSTAND: it's not the instructors. It's me. I'm not ready to hear positive affirmations. I'm struggling, and really fighting myself, my body, and my postures. It hurts. 

Thank you. Now back to our regularly scheduled post...

Tuesday was not quite as bad. Instructor was new to our studio but very good. She has an almost melodic delivery and is quite knowledgeable. My class wasn't much better than Monday, but I did stay in the room. Yes, she was positive and exhorted us to go further and told us we were strong and we can do this and so on. 

Unfortunately I'm really not hearing any of that for the thunderclaps in my head. I cannot find the blue skies for all the storm clouds passing through. 

PostScript: Last night the instructor from Monday left a note for me:

"One Asana at a time. One breath at a time. You CAN do it! Give yourself permission to get to the other side of the struggle. It's worth it, I believe with all my heart that you know that"

Off to work soon. Then back in the room. 

"The only way out is through."


06 March 2016

Long Road Ahead

Well, I've completed one week of my newest Bikram Yoga Challenge. 


First, it is going to be a long road back to where my practice was last July. I've done quite a bit of damage to my body with my eating habits, and it will not be reversed overnight. My poor diet allowed my body to balloon to 257 lbs (116 kg). I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I have found that changing diet and habits overnight is nearly impossible. So while I have been working to eat more healthy foods, I've still made stops at the donut shop and McDonalds. I find, however, that the more classes I take, the more my habits change. Example: yesterday's lunch consisted of chicken soup (canned, low sodium) and tortilla chips instead of a Big Mac, large fries, and vat of soda. Coffee consumption is down to 1-2 cups. Water consumption now at 2-3 liters per day (and increasing). 
Today, after a breakfast sammie at Starbucks, I cranked up the juicer for lunch and dinner, and they were really good!

Second, I'm becoming more accepting and forgiving of myself. For instance: because of my large gut, I know that any asana involving a forward bend is difficult if not impossible. Instead of silently cussing myself out, I simply tell myself that this is not forever. I go as deep as I can until I reach a spot where breathing becomes difficult and I try to stay there. I know that as my nutrition improves my belly will shrink and those postures will improve. Time and patience. Time and patience. 

Third, I need to find another activity outside of yoga. To wit: this morning I strapped on my rollerblades for the first time in 16 years and went for a skate. Only 20 minutes and just a few sprints, but it was great! It will help me strengthen my legs, groins, and all the core muscles as well as help strengthen my knees. I will tell you that I really felt it in this afternoon's class. My legs were wobbly at times! It's worth it though. 

Finally, my favorite postures are still my favorite postures. Example: Standing Bow is still my favorite asana, and Locust is still my worst. With each class though, they will get a little better. Just keep showing up. 

Seven days down. ??? to go. 

Let's do this. 

TIP OF THE DAY: In Standing Bow, sometimes we have our hands too far toward the toes or too close to the shin. 
Always make sure you're ankle bone is directly in the palm of your hand - as if you were holding a walnut in your hand.  (From an instructor).

"You made it to the yoga room. Nothing else matters." -- F. C., instructor

Back at it tomorrow. 

Sending you blessings.