Thursday, February 28, 2013

Day Twenty Seven: The Real Sasangasana

Critique my Rascally Rabbit pose. Yep. That's really me.
It's day twenty seven of my 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge. I'm almost there. Almost to thirty classes in thirty days.

Let's talk Sasangasana. Again. That darn rascally rabbit pose. How I detest Sasangasana. Have I mentioned this before?

The teacher calls out Sasangasana and I freeze. Still dazed from the Camel Pose, I can't seem to get to my feet and out the door. Darn it. I'm trapped again.

This little purple cartoon man is actually me in the pose. I drew it while performing the posture against a mirror with a tiny sketchbook between my tightly gripped feet. I'm a multitasker.

I've never actually left the room during a class. I've been winded and had to sit down on my mat. Many times! What do people do that leave the room? Are they going to the bathroom? Out for a good cry? Do they leave?

"Roll forward like a wheel..."

Eff you. I want to hide in my bunny warren a while longer. Head on my knees.

I received a new hydration drink in the mail today. I'll take some time tomorrow to compile hydration notes.


Day Twenty Six: Ancient Indian Wisdom

Who's the laziest?? Raise your hand!
Anyone unfamiliar with yoga: This is a posture. I'm not kidding.
Get this, they say it's the hardest one to master!

Me! Me! Me! I'm lazy. I want to be home on the couch!

A brief history of yoga. By me. A couple thousand years ago there was a wise old Indian hanging around in a yet to be densely populated area in southern Asia. He knew religion was big business so he wrote a best-selling novel, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  Blah blah blah blah. Fast forward to the first century AD (CE for you scholars)... Hatha Yoga was born of these Sutras by some Indian kids. They were like, "Let's create a method of fitness to make us super bendy and strong." In walks a distant couch potato relative of mine. He says, "Wait just a minute... I've got it. In between these contortions, let's lie down on our backs and stare into space. Completely relaxed. We'll pretend it's contemplative."

Another thousand years go by and the Western world is buzzing with the benefits of yoga and the sage wisdom of the ages. All except me. I hail my distant cousin who allows me time in the dead body pose... when my body is worn down, drippy with sweat, and my heart is beating out of my chest.

I didn't know I was Indian until I began practicing yoga.

Today was day twenty six of my 30 Day Bikram Yoga challenge. I've been hanging out in a sweaty heated room for ninety minutes. Every day for twenty six days. It's mighty impressive for lazy old me, but I know that there are some crayzeeees out there that faithfully practice every or nearly every day.




Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Twenty five: Cold Stone Yoga

Cold yoga


It's day twenty five of my 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge. I was well hydrated from...

1. Pineapple for breakfast.

2. Homemade electrolyte juice consisting of 16 oz of water, a good squeeze (that's an imprecise version of 1 T) of honey, a dash of sea salt, half a juiced lemon and half of a juiced naval orange.

3. Sixteen ounces of Ultima Replenisher. My experience so far has been so-so with these powdered electrolyte drinks. This one tastes good (ie: better than water, but not as good as a good herbal Teavana tea).

4. Water.

I was ready to sweat and avoid any headaches or cramps from dehydration during or after class. The only problem is... I picked the coldest spot in the hot yoga room. To avoid this I will note the following:

Where not to stand in a hot yoga room

The purpose of hot yoga is to blend your mind and body into a room heated just below the boiling point of water*, in order to mentally block out everything except what you're doing. At that moment. It also loosens your body to allow Gumby-like bending with little effort. When you pay for this experience, um... you should probably just stay where it's HOT!

Back to my what-not-to-do tale...

The oasis away from the torturous heat is right next to the exit door. I stood so close to the door that I could feel the cool a/c seeping in halfway through class. And by the time we began the series of floor postures I was COLD. A trickle of cold sweat rolled down my cheek during some hateful posture. By then I was ready for a sweater, and completely pissed off at myself.

It's my own fault, really. The teachers at my studio crack the door at various points to regulate the heat in the room. If I hadn't been six inches from it I'd be fine.

I've chosen this spot before when I was a little under the weather and in need of a reprieve from the earth's core. Today was not that day. I was hot and sweaty and then freezing cold. It was the makings of some old wives tale about getting sick from a cold head.

Where to stand in a hot yoga room

My favorite spot in class? The mama bear area. Not too hot, not too cold, not too close, not too far. It's just right... In the middle of the room. Preferably in the second row. If you see me there, wave hello.

*I'm fully aware that the boiling point of water is 212 degrees F/100 degrees C.  It's one of those random facts that still clutter the empty corners of my mind. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day Twenty Four: Choose Your Destiny

I'm now officially achy all over. Did I just begin to work or is this a slow breakdown of my body?My body doesn't know how to count to thirty. If it did I'd be finished with the challenge.

A man in the back of the hot yoga room was wearing an inspiring t-shirt during class. "Choose your destiny." On the way home a black cat crossed my path and I nearly squished him with my SUV.

On the surface, inspiration prevails and I love the message from a stranger's tee. On the surface, superstition makes me rethink stepping on a crack. Sad reality: (why must I dissect and ruin everything?) The t-shirt is a tag line from a Matrix-like knockoff movie called Wanted from 2008. The black cat was lucky to be alive.

Choose your destiny, dear friends.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day Twenty Three: Wind knocked out of me

Wind removing pose. Ahhhh. My little drawing is
on scale with a Barbie doll's abnormally long legs.
I hit a wall today. I totally got the wind knocked out of me in class today... and I don't mean the Wind Removing Pose! My mind was everywhere else but on my mat. And even when I was focused in the room, I was focused on what I was doing wrong.

  • Can I hold this for two more seconds?
  • My knee sure does ache today... did I do something funny yesterday? 
  • I love my mat. It's so grippy and comfy. I hope it never wears out.
  • Why did I just wipe sweat? I never wipe sweat. 
  • I wish I had been more aligned before I went into this pose. I look crazy crooked in the mirror. 
  • I forgot to take my eye make-up off. Darn it. Runny smeary mess. 
  • Did the kids eat enough for lunch? 
  • I think I just attempted Standing Bow Pulling Pose ten times. Is that a record for a sixty second posture?


Enough about that. Let's talk Wind Removing Pose.

Pavana Muktasana. This is Sanskrit for: I didn't get enough time in Savasana, so I'll pretend I'm pulling on my leg a bit. No one will notice that I'm zoned out.

I happen to love this pose. It makes me feel strong and flexible. My hips are pretty flexible I guess, so it's like a big hug to my knees. I also find myself in a bastardized version of this posture while lying on my side, sleeping. Knee hugging is just a nice warm and fuzzy feeling.

Unlike my killer class. Seven more to go!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Day Twenty Two: I got yoga skills

Ardha Matsyendrasana
My two year old attempts spine twisting
posture. Her legs are wrong and she's
twisting the wrong way, but she insists her
"yoda" is right on. Can't argue with that.

This roughly translates from Sanskrit to mean: twist until your head pops off. It turns out that twisting around like a twizzler is a very handy skill. I can pick up sippy cups from the floor of the backseat while stopped at a red light.

Thank you yoga for giving me a meaningful talent in my daily life. If you have a crazy spine twisting ability to share I'd love to hear about it (photos are unnecessary).

Today was day twenty two of my thirty day challenge. Class was a balmy 105 degrees and no one dripped sweat on me. A complete success.


Day Twenty One: making pretzels

Are you a writer? How far are you willing to go for a story? This guy became a competitive pretzel.

Hell Bent: Obsession, Pain and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga: I don't know Benjamin Lorr, but I adore his persistence and infiltration into the elite backbending club in order to bring us this story. Who knew competitive yoga could be such a compelling story? I've recommended this book to my non-yogi friends.

In other news... today was day twenty one of my challenge. I enjoyed every breath of my class and every ounce of water shed for the cause. Amazing.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day twenty: hydration mission

I'm on a hydration mission. I love the Nuun tabs, and my homemade electrolyte concoctions and juices, but I'm ready to expand.

I've purchased Ultima Replenisher Drink mix. I'll let you know what I think when it arrives via Laser Ship on Sunday (How I love you, Amazon Prime. It's like Christmas every day at my house).

While I wait, I'll continue to hydrate with whole fruits and veggies, green juices, honey, lemon, and any magic beans I may find around the house. I love to confuse the checkout crew at the supermarket with my array. I have toddlers and believe in liberal amounts of fun food. So yes, I check out proudly with M&Ms, organic processed foods, Spaghetti O's, boxed juice boxes (oh the horror of the high fructose corn syrup) and my regular mountain of fruits and veggies for juicing.

How to prepare for Bikram Yoga class

How to prepare for a Bikram Yoga Class

You're looking for a new workout routine when you spot a signpost that says Hot Yoga. Remembering some Zen incense-filled trips to a local studio with a particularly crunchy vegan college friend, you think... "Hey I've done this. It's stretching and breathing in a heated room. Hot Yoga is like aerobics. I'll burn more calories and get into a bikini that much faster, all while de-stressing from a tough day at the office. This is perfect. Maximum benefit with minimum energy.

Wrong. Wrong and WRONG, my friend. Luckily I stopped by the studio for a chat with the owner before my first class. Otherwise I'd be right where you are now. Allow me enlighten you with some tips...

Drink water. From the moment you decide to go, until roughly a half hour before class, drink water. It's important to be well hydrated. Bring a water bottle with you, too.

I like: the Sigg and Camelbak ones best. They're just better than the average bottle. Period.

Purchase a yoga mat.  Your local studio may rent mats, but do you really want to rent a mat? (It's a bit like renting a bathing suit. I'm sure it's clean, but still disgusting). Most yoga mats are between 2 and 5 mm thick. Thinner mats are lighter and easier for travel. Anything thicker than 5 mm is overkill for Bikram Yoga practice. You don't want to teeter over while trying to balance!

My choice: I like the Jade Yoga mats, but to be a super cool kid on the block (after you're practicing a while and you're willing to make the investment), get this Manduka one. It's supposed to last forever.

Bring a towel. Towels are just as important as the mat. When you arrive at your class you will set down your mat perpendicular to the mirror and place your towel on top of it. A nice beach towel is good to start. Make sure you skip the heavy detergent and fabric softener on this load. You want the towel to lie flat and provide a bit of a grip, especially during triangle pose. Fancy yoga towels are amazing. They provide some traction and can absorb a gallon of your sweat with no problem. If you're just starting out, no need to make this investment ($25-$60). Any old towel will do.

My pick? The Yogitoes. But not if you've made the Manduka mat investment. I haven't tried it myself, but I've heard the Yogitoes grippy dots slip on a Manduka mat. Manduka fans need to use the same brand towels to be most effective and grippy.

Wear light clothing. Pretend you are about to jump into a swimming pool. Would you wear long pants and a baggy t-shirt? You will be spending 90 minutes in 105 degree heat. You will sweat and should prepare by wearing as little as possible. Men go shirtless. Women wear sports bras or tight tees/tanks and shorts. I wear pants to the beach and I wear shorts to Bikram Yoga. 

Stop eating. This idea makes me laugh because it reminds me of the best diet advice ever. "You want to lose weight? STOP EATING." Your body is going to heat up and change from the inside out during your yoga practice. You want it to get busy doing just that. Not spending this valuable time digesting your last meal. Don't believe me? Go ahead and eat a burrito less than an hour before class. You'll be sorry! It's best to zip your lips a couple hours before class. If you're starving, have something light.

Ask questions. Don't know what to expect? Can't touch your toes? Arrive a little early to your first class so you have time to register and ask questions.

Sit in the back of the class. Bikram Yoga classes are led by verbal instruction. The teachers are certified to recite a dialogue and taught to give specific corrections for proper alignment. They focus on this to give you the most precise information. You will watch students in front of you to get an idea of how to bend, stretch and contort along the way. If you set your mat up in the front of the class, you will not be able to see how it's done.

Now, try to relax. You're in for the best hour and a half of your life. Namaste.


Day Nineteen: Wrapped up like a bow pose

It's the nineteenth consecutive day of practice. I don't remember the nineteenth consecutive day of any practice so this feels particularly triumphant. To celebrate, let's ponder the nineteenth posture of the series. Floor Bow. Let's explore with inner dialogue.

Floor Bow. Dhanurasana.

Place your chin on the floor. Now hold your feet from the outside, two inches below the toes. Don't lose the grip. Hold your feet six inches apart beween the knees and toes. 

I'm already anticipating the next move. Breathe. Don't react. Just listen and follow.

Take a deep breath and gently kick up both legs to the ceiling.

Okay, I can kick a little. I look up to the dotted panels of the ceiling for the answers to my wary leg conundrum. "Hey, ceiling? Can I get a little help here? I'm awfully tired. That ache in my left quad. Ouch. Why is it so much weaker than my right?" I dare not look, but I know already that my left knee is waggling out to the side. I pull it in harder, causing my balance to sway back toward my hip bones instead of onto my belly. Whew. I've lost the battle already, but I give it a valiant effort again.

I honestly don't know what the rest of the dialogue dictates. My mind is squirrely with the balance between kicking strength and a release of the tension necessary to bend my spine further. If only that breath could flow, I'd have it.

Well, there's always the second set.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day Eighteen: It's tricky trikonasana time

Trikonasana: It's Tricky

The one on top is me, with my hip sticking
up and leaning down too far. 
Here's a little trick that will not help you in the least with your triangle pose.

Take a deep breath, bend your knee and think... Run DMC. Uh-oh, now it's stuck in your head. It's trick-ay!

"It's tricky to rock a rhyme. To rock a rhyme that's right on time. It's tricky, tricky, tricky, tricky, tricky, tricky."

Now with your new mantra, go ahead and breathe into this one. Hips down!

I decided to think Triangle today. It's a good posture for me, because I can accept where I am, feel the misalignment, and breathe into a correction. Am I close to perfection here? No way. I'm not even as close as my drawing.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day Seventeen: Machine Head

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness"
Breathe in, breathe out...

I've got Allen Ginsberg on the brain.

I saw a glimmer of the entire class during my practice today. It was a moment on autopilot and the words of the teacher rang true... I'm the brain, you are the body. Listen and move.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day Sixteen: I heart Bikram Yoga

Our dog Buju Banton, appalled
at my Reggae selection. 
I'm in love. I heart Bikram Yoga. I am in love with the rush of happiness as I drive home towards a cool shower... and the Inner Circle song "Sweat" is randomly rolling in the background (thanks Sirius).

During the day I ache for the peace of final savasana. I long for that moment when I break a sweat that begins to roll down my back, offering a cool break. And if the teacher brushes past during that moment... oh, it's a cool breeze treat. Better than a fudge pop on a hot summer day!

These musings sound completely crazy.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day Fifteen; Halfway there

The halfway mark in my 30 day challenge.

I can feel it already... joining my dear suffering R in Popsicles and ice cream this morning is going to mean some sloppy and sluggish yoga this afternoon. I take empathy to a new level.

Class was amazing, and much too short.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Day Fourteen: Quit looking at me during yoga class

Couldn't get a class in until late afternoon and I barely made it on time.

Utterly exhausted from my day, I plodded into the hot room angling for a spot in the rear. Instead I was greeted with a sea of new folks littering the back rows. I grumpily set up in the front, knowing that I enjoy having the unobstructed view, but hate feeling eyes on me during the half moon pose, as those behind are looking for their own escape to that first stretching/strength/full body asana.

Most yogis are too busy learning or perfecting their own positions to look around at others. But when they do... Man you can FEEL it.

Hey you! Peekie Peekerson! Stop looking at me! Can't you see I'm busy mentally sketching lotus flowers and trying to free myself from the human condition?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Day Thirteen: The tonsillectomy

No class today. This was the day I was planning to skip when completing the double. R had his tonsils taken out this morning. What a whirlwind of mini drama!

By late afternoon he was crying, not in pain, but because I wouldn't let him outside to run and play. Two weeks without strenuous activity? Surely the one that suggested this has no children. Impossible!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Day Twelve: Panting in class

I took class today next to a Siberian Husky. Or similar sled dog. Let me preface this. I take yoga with a pretty good sense of self-containment. This is not a spectator sport. When I catch a reflection in the mirror it's with great admiration and self-deprecation that I make mental notes.

  • Why can't I have such a flat tummy?
  • How is she able to lock her knee out so easily?
  • Her hair falls so nicely into a bun. Why does mine stick out in ten directions after two poses?
  • I wonder where she purchased that hot pink towel.

So when I say I took class with a husky, it does not mean she was doglike in any way. Physically. She was actually long and quite lovely. But all I could hear was her panting for ninety minutes. Like a dog overheating. The heavy breathing was so consistent that I secretly thanked her for creating a breeze during triangle pose. She cooled me off.

I've never seen her before, so it was likely her first time panting in class. Or maybe she's a regular 6 am musher...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Day Eleven: Night owls

Went to An 8:15 pm class for the first time. Going to classes at different times of the day seems to release different stress levels. Morning classes carry the benefit of shaking you awake in place of caffeine. Mid-afternoon classes (my fave) hit you when you're wide awake and fairly loose and flexible. Nice.

This evening's class was a new experience. I was loose and flexible but ultimately so tired that I couldn't hold a pose for long. There is an explanation of the inner workings of flexibility and muscle strength. One does not function without the other. I see it now. Clearly. My strength was waning and the extra flexibility meant... Nearly nothing. Phew.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Day Ten: Half Moon Pose

Let's talk poses. Half moon (or half moron as my phone autocorrects) with hands to feet. The moron reference was not entirely off. The emotions brought about here can make you feel a bit crazy-dumb with questions swirling about, constant corrections if you can't find your breath, and wonder of how on EARTH you'll make it through an entire 90 minutes of this torture if the first pose is so darn difficult.

It doesn't seem to be that complicated. It reminds me of side stretching done in elementary PE class. Maybe I'll never get my upper body perpendicular to the floor, but I sure as heck can hold this pose with confidence and calm. Right?? Oh no! This deceptively easy posture is done at the beginning of class.

I'm convinced that even pre-class hammys (those that plop down in the room before class and perform a ritual of 1970's Jane Fonda workout, something-I-saw-a-jogger-do-before-running-in-the-park hammy stretches) are not sufficiently warmed up to complete with any sense of proficiency or poise.

The small advances I've made in the posture seem monumental. That's why I love it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Day Nine: The hushpuppy incident

My daughter has a terrible cough and was fussing and crying and throwing a fit alllll day. By the time I was able to run off to yoga I was relieved but felt incredibly guilty for leaving my dear husband behind.

Into that hot room and... ahhhh a beautiful moment of relief. Calm. Warm. Welcoming. Once I learned the sequence of postures and began to breathe normally, the feeling of stillness my practice brought me was simply blissful. There is no room for pondering why I'm so ill-equipped to deal with toddler tantrums. Or what I'm going to cook for dinner. Or even the next posture. Just this moment. Just the smell of hush puppies.

Oh yes. I forgot to mention that I stumbled into the hush puppy section of the hot yoga room. Yes, I'm in the moment. Yes, I am able I block out most of those around me. There is a distinct moment in every class that brings out my evil core of judgment and evaluation. It's normally directed at me... But today I picked up on a funky scent of fried bread crumby hush puppy. Do those still exist? Did my neighbor discover the lone Arthur Treacher's in town and have a hush puppy party for lunch?

I silently pen a passive aggressive note to my unknown neighbor.

Dear Hush Puppy:

While I empathize with your recent ingestion of breaded and deep fried fat, it leads me to wonder... And worry... Does anyone smell a sugar addiction oozing from MY pores during class? Does metabolized and sweaty sugar smell like caramel apples? Or something foul? 

I'm thankful to have kicked my nicotine addiction several years ago and grateful for my renewed sense of smell. I am not grateful for my bloodhound ability during class today. I was sadly distracted by your hush puppiness. I don't judge you. Just keenly aware of my own recent fried eggplant trespasses and feeling utterly exposed with every pore weeping in public. Perhaps next time you can pow-wow with gardenia girl before class?. She's got a lock on her scent.

Your snarky mat-mate,
Missy

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Day Eight: Why I'm a yoga rockstar

I got up, made chocolate chip pancakes for the troops and made it out the door in time for the 8 am class. How does anyone make it to a 6 am class? They must not have a four and a two year old who require...

  • A chaperone to the bathroom and back to bed between 5 and 6 am.
  • A referee to settle whether they watch Jake and the Never Land Pirates or Princess Sofia when I finally allow them to turn on the TV at 6:45.
  • A breakfast that is more elaborate than "not cereal again!!" (I think they only eat cereal once a week... sneaky, manipulative devils)

Aside from all that... How did I manage to get to a point in my life where I can prepare such a meal and not take a bite? I wonder if I smelled like pancakes in class? Someone last week smelled like gardenias...

Anyway, class was delicious. I could have melted into the floor for an hour by final savasana. Simply great. Nothing was perfect. I didn't move further into any postures. I wasn't particularly balanced during the standing series. But the entire class felt complete. Like finishing that last bite of a stack of pancakes. You can't imagine eating such a pile of carbs and sugar but suddenly it's gone and it just felt good. For that one second.

I can't remember the last time I ate a stack of pancakes, but since I neglected to sneak even one chocolate chip today, I thought I'd romanticize it a little now. Now that I'm tucked away in my bedroom chair... Far from the kitchen.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Day Seven: It's all about hydration

It's hydration time. Following my yoga double yesterday, I knew my body needed some serious fluid replacement. A homemade electrolyte concoction with a Nuun grape juice chaser.

I ordered a four pack of Nuun grape tabs and initially couldn't stand the carbonated alka-seltzer taste. But it does the job. The flavor grows on you, like flavored water, and the company promises 15% to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's TNT. Amazon.com reviews suggested that grape is the best of these odd-flavored drinks. As someone who had given up soda a while back, the love for some sparkle in my drink has come flooding back. I heart you, fizzy drink!

Class was great. Had a cute "I'm 5 years old again" moment with another woman while picking out our stickers for the 30 day challenge chart. I've got a little pattern going. She was also looking for a coordinating sticker for her display. We were both envious of another sticker fanatic's insistence on using her own stickers. Now that's some OCD commitment!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Day Six: My first double

I doubled up my dose of yoga for the first time ever. Doing two classes in one day felt amazing. Float out of the first class. Fly out of the second.

I found it mentally challenging to stay in the moment during my second class. I was preoccupied with hydration for the first half of class.

Why haven't I broken a sweat yet?
Am I sweating enough?
I wish the sweat would roll down my neck already. Getting toasty back there!

The floor series was no better with a constant bump on my toes from the yogi behind me during sit ups.
My toes: OMT. Oh my toes! I had terrible bunions removed when I was twenty three. The humidity of South Florida is cause for a constant aching reminder in my toe joints. My big toesies are like a tuning fork and will reverberate with pain after a little tap. Like... someone parked behind me in class whose hand inadvertently smacks my toes during each sit up. The hot yoga room is bound to be crowded every now and again, but bumping my ouchie tootsie is OFF LIMITS and cause for legitimate griping.

Speaking of toes, I often wonder if anyone notices that I routinely grasp my big and second toe in Paschimottanasana. Can you tell? Grasping just the big guy sends waves of pain up my toe and into my calves all day. My toes cause a multitude of yogic woes! Balance. Weight distribution. Posture. Crazy that those silly piggies could be such a pain.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Day Five: Running on pure willpower

Sinus infection be gone! Go away! I made it to class but barely. I have nothing else to share. I made it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Day Four: Doctors orders

Heal me!

I secretly wanted the doctor to tell me not to go to yoga. With no such excuse, and an oddity of bodily pains, I wander into class today.

Despite fighting off toddler-shared symptoms of a cold, my ninety minute escape was great. I had moments of ease. Calm breaths. And so completely immersed myself in instruction in the floor series that I forgot the next posture. I love that moment. Wha? What's next? Where am I?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Day Three: The you I aspire to be

What a mess.
I woke up with a nasty sore throat and that nagging flu ache. Forget about getting through the rest of the day... Yoga was on my mind. I was dreading afternoon class at 6 am. I never dread class. When previously under the weather, I'd just skip a day and take a good nap. But I'm on the 30 day plan, man. No rest for the whiny and weak. I'm a warrior.

Nevermind the taunting sticker scoreboard ... Why have some of these people completed five classes by the third day? Does the person who gets to thirty first win a car or something? I missed that memo.

Back to class. On a healthy "normal" day I'll lock eyes with the me that I admire and gaze appropriately to a locked knee (almost!) or a tummy tucked in or a misaligned hip. Not today. Sick me goes to the unhealthy judgmental place. Where instead of peripheral silhouettes of allies in the war against heatstroke, I see perfection and details.

Before me I see her... Barely in her twenties and perfectly without cellulite. Her tummy has never carried a baby. Her fresh ink has not seen 18 years of wear and fleeting regrets. She is unlined from pre-wedding crash diets that give a perfect fit and leave your thighs lined with unhappy stretch marks. She is perfect and I hope she sees it too. Oh my. Behind me I see what the next dozen years could bring. (A girl can dream!) A model of perfection. Tucked and slim. Clean and unlined. Please love yourself, dear friend. I don't know you but you are perfect as you are. Slim, strong and terribly unbendy.

I beg myself: Sick-o, crazy pants, strep throat, Missy. Please rest and recover. There is no room for your judgey antics in my meditation. Run and hide you big jerk.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Day Two: Starbucks and orange mats

Class was packed with everyone freshly on board the 30 day challenge train. We're all locked together in a resolution for 30 days of discipline, commitment, sacrifice, hydration, and sweat.

Okay. So we're locked into the second day of optimism. Before real life throws us for a loop and keeps us away and the initial push of type-A dedication gives way to excuses, travel or family emergencies.

I'm appropriately set up next to my opposite. I love my purple and orange mats and towels. Those colors give me power. The woman next to me was purple mat and orange towel to my orange mat and purple towel. I knew I was in for a mental challenge. For every calm breath, I could hear her pant. For every weakness I could feel her strength. Darn her for teaching me a lesson. My opposite twin led me along the way for 90 minutes.

It's been two days. I treated myself to a Starbucks afterward. Every bit of my plumpy lumpy is the result of such indulgent treats. I love and hate them.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Day One: Twenty nine classes to go

I'm going to do this challenge. I signed up to give it a try a week or so ago. Then, per my usual commitment-phobic attitude, I immediately wanted to change my mind. Four days later, I really wanted to erase my name from the tally board. Do I really need a scoreboard full of stickers for all to see? 

Pffft. Of course I do! I'm totally in. Let's go.

Class was hard but got into a groove halfway through. I'm struggling to keep my mantra... I love rabbit I love rabbit when the teacher asks if anyone feels this posture is uncomfortable and really hates it. Usually too zoned out inside my head to crack a smile at a joke or convo banter, but this time my hand shoots up in response as if to say "YES, ME! Me! I hate rabbit and I don't care who knows it!" Expecting to hear sage wisdom from my teacher, I am flushed as he replies something along the lines of "You hate it? Err, well... keep doing it."

Twenty nine classes to go.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Wascally Wabbit, Sasangasana

Bikram Yoga practice is comprised of 26 asanas. All come with challenges and some can take a lifetime to master. To me, at this point in my life and in my practice, the Rabbit Pose is a threat to my sanity. Just look at a picture of someone in this pose. It looks simple, maybe even relaxing. It looks anything but the mental torture it brings about... for me. Is anyone with me here? 

The teachers mention that those practicing for the first time might want to "sit this one out" to take a good look around the first time. They suppose that newbies twisting their necks might somehow injure themselves while trying to figure this mess out. There is a moment in my head that I want to pretend to be a newbie too. No one else seems to dislike this pose as I do. 

Sasangasana. Sit down in the middle of your towel, Japanese style.

Ohhhh-kay, here we go (I already have a bad attitude and am rolling my eyes though I've done nothing physical yet)

Grab your heels, thumbs outside and fingers inside with a nice tight grip.

I don't know anyone with arms long enough to get a tight grip while seated. So these directions are ridiculous. Moving on.

Tuck your chin to your chest, look at your stomach.

Sarcasm is racing through my untamed head. My favorite position of all time. Tucked in so my stomach creates three more rolls on top of the three current residents of extra mom-tummy land. Please? May I? May I tuck in my chin and stare helplessly at this landscape of loosey goosey flesh that will have me clicking to the perpetually open browser tab of before-and-after abdominoplasty images after class?? Thank you Google images. And thank you, Bikram.

Now slowly go down and touch your forehead on your knees.

Still staring sadly at my tummy, I'm unable to process any further instruction. Something about rolling forward like a wheel. Onto what I don't know. There's really nowhere to roll with my head on the floor and my hands in superhero death grip on my heels. Oh wait, there's one more instruction that makes me batty. 

If there's a gap between your knees and forehead, walk your knees in one by one, until your knees are touching your forehead. 

Let me get this straight. If my forehead has seen fit to escape contact from my knees while I'm wheeling foreward, then I need to punish myself further by scooching back into an angry Russian Teacake position? 

I've evolved. Somewhere in my whiny DNA I've had such tirades about every posture in the series. I must be progressing, because aside from the occasional internal profane utterance, my mind has cleared. Darn you, Rabbit. You elude me.

The 30 Day Challenge

I've been practicing, but never perfecting a thing in my Bikram Yoga practice on and off for two years. My recent stint has me attending fairly regularly for the past seven months. Though I enjoy it immensely for various reasons, I've been unable to commit to a 30 day challenge as the grand master BIKRAM himself advocates.

Or rather, he advocates doing a two month challenge. Where the 30 day challenge came in, I'm not sure. Probably the dumbing down of anything intended to be healthy in favor of something that's a little easier to swallow.

The day I was cleared by the doctor to resume physical activity following the birth of my daughter, I was in a hot yoga class. I had been a fan of Hatha Yoga in the past. Completed a variety of classes and even a "hot" yoga class elsewhere with increasing interest. What really piqued my interest was the heat. Surely a few months in this sauna, sweating out every pore of my body would turn me into a stay-at-home supermodel mom in no time. Right?!? Ugh. If only life were so simple.

I stuck with my practice until I realized a few key items that I needed to overcome before I could continue.

1. Hey, I'm getting stronger and more flexible but I'm not shedding the weight I'd like to slough off. Mommy weight had taken over and my pudgy frame was staring me right back in the face during every class. The mirror in class is a window into your soul. And my unforgiving mind would not release me from my harshest critic. Never mind I sweated like a pig for 90 minutes and enjoyed the freedom of stress and chatter. I wanted that extra jiggle under control!

2. Um, I really don't feel like I'm mentally into this game. It's not benefitting my wandering mind. What to do when the mind is not ready for the game? "I'm going to take my ball and go home," mentality had me wanting to run when I wasn't able to achieve the stillness I craved.

3. Life, as it happens, happens. Things happen and sometimes even the best intentioned priorities cease to be a priority.

The important thing is... I'm back on the yoga horse. I'm back to the practice and I'm in love with it. That's the best part of a great love. The ebb and flow.