Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It Never Ceases To Amaze Me...

...this yoga. My recent sporadic practice has got me feeling like I'm starting from scratch over and over and over again. I get my momentum, then I stall. My biggest challenge is getting myself motivated to prepare before class. Hydrating well, not eating a couple of hours before class, 2 hours spent in total getting there/the 90-minute class/the showering after vs. 2 hours of getting chores done are the biggest obstacles. I missed the 9:00AM class, and luckily there is an 11:00AM class for me to go to.

I was dripping in sweat right at Pranayama, a sure sign that it was going to be a very hot class. My Standing Series wasn't at all bad, considering that I haven't been practicing as often as I should. I was very surprised and amazed that I was able to bend my elbows down to "hug" my leg in Standing Head to Knee. My Floor Series has always been consistently good, but I've noticed that my left knee has been a little rusty during Fixed Firm. I always nail Fixed Firm, but these past couple of months, it hasn't been as flexible as before. I'm not at all worried; it's just my body grounding me.

This yoga never ceases to amaze me. I've been coming to the hot room with a little trepidation, quite fearful of not being able to perform as well as I should. But as I leave it after 90 minutes, I feel rejuvenated, grounded, and peaceful.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Yoga Glow

Who needs plastic surgery when you can attain so much more with Bikram Yoga? I PVR'd today's Dr. Phil show. It featured brides-to-be who were after the ultimate prize of a dream wedding AND plastic surgery to augment their breasts, lipo-suck their thighs, ankles, legs, and other "problem" areas that exercise and dieting apparently cannot take away, botox here and there, etc. Just to have the "perfect" wedding day, at the cost of thousands of dollars. I cannot help but shake my head at how these women have upped the ante. I've heard of Bridezillas, but Bridal Plasty???

It made me realize how down-to-earth, natural, and accepting this yoga is. I don't have the perfect body. I have stretch marks (the medal of pregnancy and motherhood), I don't sport six-pack abs, I can only fill A-cups, the list goes on...When I was a newbie more than a year ago, I was self-conscious. I looked around and I saw toned, lithe, bodies. But I noticed too that there were also bodies that looked and were shaped like mine. I realised later on that no one in the hot room really LOOKS at you, long enough to see your imperfections. Everyone is trying hard to focus on themselves, and their practice.

I don't know about you, but I practice because I want to do it for me, first and foremost. I feel like a million bucks, and when this happens everyone in my orbits sees it, notices it, comments about it. Just the other day a colleague of mine said that I looked so relaxed. I just smile and think of what brought me there. I have that yoga glow, not just physically, but mentally too. I try not to let anyone steal my peace. Instead, I'd rather share mine. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Yoga Roller Coaster

Yoga bus...I call it the yoga roller coaster.

It has been 23 days(!) since I last practiced. It was time. My body was sending me signals that it is craving this yoga. My right arm at times has been feeling numb, tingly, like it's not getting enough circulation. No chest pains this time, thankfully. I started psyching myself up last night to make sure that I do not miss today's class. I was also determined to attend Bettina's class this morning. She just got back from Teacher Training, and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to see her today.

Today's practice sucked, as expected. Every joint of my body was rusty. My balance was totally off. For someone's sake, even my Toe Stand was a disaster. I initially dreaded the Camel, based upon how I was performing up to that point, but luckily I survived it, and not having told to hold the posture for a few (excruciating) extra seconds! Thanks, Bettina! :)

When the 90 torturous minutes were over, I was happy to lie in Savasana and take my time to enjoy my rest. I was very relieved to have survived this class after being away for so long. I am still not taking water during class, thank goodness, although I must admit that in the close to 9 months of being waterless, there were times when I wished that that security blanket was within reach. How I wish I can come every day. If I can't, I will somehow make up for it. May take longer than usual, but I'll get there. I have the rest of my lifetime to do so.

I am determined to do another 30 Day Challenge. I am thinking of doing it again in April 2011, to make it an annual April Challenge. My dearest mother passed away in April of this year, the day before the last day of my 30 Day Challenge. I am anticipating that every April from now on will be a sad month for me, so hopefully the Challenge will help me deal with my loss. And to pay tribute to the woman whom I adore, and love so much.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I discovered this yoga 17 months ago, and while I have had my lazy/not wanting to go days, I find myself being drawn to the hot room. What is it that brings me back to that hot, humid, sweaty, smelly room and be "tortured" for 90 minutes. I sound like a broken record each time I write this, but it is true. After that 90 minute torture, I feel like a million bucks. A bonus for me is that since I have not been taking water during class for the past 8 months, that first sip of Emergen-C spiked water feels like heaven. Another bonus is having to shower off all that sweat, cool off, and that million-dollar feeling is complete.

I consider this yoga as a gift that keeps on giving. I continue to share my experience outside the hot room and the studio. I have a bounce in my step, and my posture is very good. I share my blog entries to my friends and family, and I am ecstatic to hear that I have inspired some of them to try Bikram Yoga or for those who are already practicing, to continue to do so. For those who have tried it and conclude that it is not the workout for them, I still feel grateful that they did try. I am still hoping that one of my colleagues will one day overcome her fear of the heat and come with me to class.

I am in awe of my fellow yogis who are in their fifties and sixties. They look great and I admire their determination to keep up with, and/or inspire, the twenty-, thirty-, and forty-somethings to keep up with them! :) I will age, but I would like to do so gracefully, and I intend to keep practicing until I can no longer stand. If I can be a good example on how one can continue to feel young, then I know that I have given the best gift, the one that keeps on giving. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

When A Yogini Falls...

It happened at Standing Separate Leg Stretching. I planted my feet right on my mat sans towel, bent over, grabbed the sides of my feet, leaned forward to try to touch my forehead to the floor, then swoosh!!! The feet, by now slippery with sweat, had lost their grip on the mat, and down I go, backwards, then landed on my bum. I worried more about knocking Nancy over who was behind me, but luckily she was far back enough to be spared the domino effect. Oh my goodness, what a comedy! But, I am not one to dwell on mistakes (although sometimes, depending on the mistake, I tend to beat myself up), so I went right back into the posture. Second set was great, as I managed to get my forehead to touch the floor.

It was such a gorgeous day in my hometown of Victoria, BC today. The sun was shining, the air was cool and crisp, no rain, and one could get away with wearing a T-shirt and skirt (especially after hot yoga). I felt like a million bucks as I have just had the best workout ever!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Five Straight Days of Yoga = BLISS!!!

How can hot yoga be bliss, you ask? Ninety minutes of torture. Minimum 105 degrees Fahrenheit heat. 40% humidity. Sweaty (and smelly at times) bodies. Towels soaked to the max. Sweat splatters on the mirrors, obscuring your view of YOU. Aching joints and muscles. But my friend, as what our yoga teachers would always say, pain kills pain. No pain, no gain. Believe me, the moment you step out of the hot room, you will feel like a million bucks. Guaranteed.

I had planned on completing the 30 Day Challenge. I have had five straight, blissful days of yoga. While I tanked in the Standing Series, I finished strong during the Floor Series. Thank goodness for that. Unfortunately, though not feeling an ounce of regret, I had to take two straight days off, which broke the Challenge. My schedule just would not allow me the time to practice everyday. Doing doubles is out of the question. Personally, I believe that the Challenge is about 30 Days of Yoga...miss one day, then it's off. There are debates about this, as doing doubles will qualify one to complete the Challenge if some days are missed. But I will not dwell on this today. To each his own. Anyway, I digress. It's just too bad that I didn't complete my Challenge, but I let it go. I'm back tomorrow anyway. Thank goodness for Wednesdays off. Hubby will be home on Thursday, so I will try an evening class. I am curious as to how my body will perform at night time.

Those five consecutive classes were a mixed bag. My balance was definitely off. I still could not hold the Standing Head to Knee the whole time, although I can now hold my leg horizontally and sometimes bend my body down from the lower back with my elbows bent. Still not quite there, but I've made steady progress since I started practicing a year ago. My arms felt very heavy that I could not keep them parallel to the floor in preparation for Trikanasana. On the fifth day, I was successful in touching my forehead to the floor during Standing Separate Leg Stretching. My hamstrings are slowly getting stretched and the pain is lessening. So you see, one can never know how each class is going to turn out. There will be ones where you feel like you're in the best form, then the next day, you feel like walking out. The trick is to just hang in there and let each posture go once it's over. Just remember that you have the rest of your life to GET THERE. For now, just enjoy the journey. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Back From The Brink

Blast! I have been AWOL from the hot room for a good three weeks and then some. I've had this spell of "no yoga" last year too, and around the same time of the year even. I used to be your 6:00AM yoga buddy last April when I did the 30 Day Challenge. Nowadays, that's out of the question. Too dark, too cold, too lazy. Blah-blah-blah.

Recently my body has been giving off signals that it is time to get my act together and get back into the yoga groove. My right arm has been feeling numb at times, and my chest muscles have been aching often enough to scare me into thinking that I was having a heart attack--yes, it was that painful. I've been gaining weight, too. It's very, very obvious that I have to go and take care of my body. Give it the stretching that it needs so badly. Give it the detoxifying that it needs to do.

So today was the day. I made sure I hydrated myself well with water and Emergen-C. No breakfast, no coffee in my belly. I didn't want extra luggage hindering the postures. Arriving with only a few minutes to spare, there was no way I'd find a hiding spot at the back of the room. I was surprised to find the whole first row on the right side of the room free--I guess no one wanted to be right up front today. So I had no choice but to be brave and hope for the best. I felt a little bit concerned about tanking in the Standing Series after being away for so long. I was very pleased with my Standing Head to Knee and Standing Bow Pulling Poses. The room was not that hot at all. I didn't sweat as much today, so my feet were slipping during the Triangle Pose, even with my trusty Yogitoes towel underfoot. I left the room with my towel dry in most places which is very unusual. Was it me, or was it the room, or the weather perhaps. Who knows? It certainly was a blessing somehow as I wanted to take it easy today.

So I am back from the brink. I hope to keep this momentum going. I am planning on being back tomorrow. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Do What You Can Today, and Do Not Judge Yourself"

It has been a rough 3 day homecoming to the hot room. After being away for 7 days, I was back last Saturday, and today's practice marked my third straight. I have been tanking in the Standing series for these past 3 days. Today at Pranayama, for the first time, I had to stop and take a few breaths. After the Eagle Pose, I had to lie down while the rest of the class took their first official water break. I am still not taking water during class. That, and staying in the room, are the two things that I am very determined to keep doing, whatever happens. I must admit that I felt very concerned about what has been happening. This has never happened to me before, since I started practicing over a year ago. I have had my bad days, but never 3 straight. My only consolation is the fact that my Floor series remain strong each time. I had to smile to myself when our teacher today said along the lines of "it's now the spine strenghtening series, which is our favourite, right?" I think that it is not everybody's favourite, but it sure IS mine :) Thank goodness for that!

I felt so much better when our teacher said that it is okay to do what we can do today, and to not judge ourselves. It is so easy to beat ourselves up whenever we have a bad class. I realised afterwards that there is no bad class in yoga. After all the sit downs, dizziness, stiff joints, etc., I still feel a million bucks. One practice at a time. Let the previous one go. Tomorrow's another day. Namaste.

Good day, Mommy. I love you.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

It Felt Like The First Time!

I have been on yoga hiatus for 7 days. I guess this is the norm for some of us yogis during the summer, what with vacations and company coming...although I am sure that there are also some who can keep their regular practice going.

I have been enjoying my sleep-ins, but also missing my morning yoga. Last night, I psyched myself up to practice today. It's been really difficult for me to get the momentum back after being AWOL for a week, and not practicing my norm of 4-5 days a week. When I did the 30 Day Challenge, I felt as if I was on an adrenaline rush to keep going and going, like the Energizer bunny :) Those were the days when I attended the 6:00AM class during the work week!!! Nowadays I have not been getting up early enough to go back to it. For some reason, my body has not been in-sync with my mind. Sometimes my body wants to practice, but monkey mind takes over. Other days, my body wants to rest, but yoga mind wants to go and sweat it out in the hot room. As one of our teachers has said many times, "You walk the dog, don't let the dog walk you." So today, I would like to "walk the dog", and keep it that way hopefully so I will get my groove back sooner than later.

Ugh, my practice today was not the usual (or better). It felt like the first time I tried this yoga. I sat out for maybe half of the Standing series. I was out of breath, I was dizzy, and my body felt like a ton of lead. I always fare better during the Floor series, and I was relieved that that was the case today. Just before the Camel Pose I made up my mind to stay in the posture the entire time, especially since I know our teacher today will keep us holding it a few more (excrutiating) seconds longer during the second set. And true enough he did! As my head was upside down looking at the back wall and the rest of the class (I was up front by the way), and with majority of my fellow yogis getting out of the posture before the teacher said so, I was determined to stay put. And stay put I did, until just a second or two before he said "put your hands back on your hips...", letting out a grunt of relief (and triumph):)

As much as my practice today was not the best, I still felt great because:

1. I made it back to the hot room after being away for a week;
2. I managed to stay in the room, still not taking water during class even though monkey mind was tempting me to get the bottle from the change room;
3. I survived the killer second set in Camel Pose;
4. I was not afraid to be right up front, right close to the mirror. Normally I would stay at the back if I haven't been practicing regularly; and last but not the least...
5. I know my body and mind are thanking me for giving them this long overdue workout.

Good day, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Never Regret Coming to the Hot Room"

It's summer time in beautiful Victoria, and here I am being a prodigal yogini. It has been a week since I last practiced. I have been missing the yoga, but at the same time, I have been enjoying these lazy summer days.

So today I decided to get back into the yoga groove. I love coming to the 9:30 when hubby and daughter are not around, but since they are these days it is tricky to be in the hot room at this time. They are not early risers like me, and they start their day at around 10:00AM. Which means breakfast time is soon after that. I love having a leisurely breakfast with my family. So the 9:30 will not work in this case, but the 1:45 will.

After not having practiced for a week, the monkey mind gets the better of you. I get apprehensive. I get scared of being out of breath and not being able to hold the posture. But practice I must and TODAY is the day. When I arrived at the studio, the place was deserted, save for the front desk ladies, our instructor and four other students. Entering the hot room, I saw that my favourite spot was available. To recap, this spot is at the upper right corner where I have the front and side mirrors to guide me. I had trepidations--will I survive without the comfort of being right by the door for some drafts of cool air seeping through the cracks? I made my decision and parked my mat on my favourite spot and hoped for the best.

Surprisingly, I survived the week-long hiatus. I didn't feel hot at all. I made sure I hydrated well before class as I am still determined to keep up with not taking water during class. I'm sure the room was heated to the regulation temperature of at least 105 degrees F. It must be the lack of bodies that provide the extra heat--there were only nine other students with me. As it is with practicing in the afternoon and the benefit of a week-long rest, I was more flexible and less achy. My Standing Head to Knee was good, as was my Cobra. I thought I had a good Floor Bow, until I felt discomfort in my left hamstring, so I had to relax and pull back a bit. But I was happy with it. I think I was able to kick higher this time. I'm not supposed to look at myself in the mirror, but hey, it was just a small peek :)

"Never regret coming to the hot room, as after class you will always feel so much better!", was what I took away from Niecia this afternoon. That pretty much summed up my practice today. I had my apprehensions and trepidations, but I'm glad I went ahead and faced the challenge. True enough, I felt like a million bucks afterwards! And that's all that matters!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 = Changes Are Good!

A few of us in the hot room resist change. Some stick to the same spot on the same side day after day, class after class. Some stick to the same class time each day, although this might be dictated by one's daily itinerary. But for those of us who have some flexibility, it is nice to shake things up a bit.

I had planned on showing up at 6:00AM. But a very, very late night "watching TV/falling asleep/waking up to watch more TV" until finally some shut-eye at 1:00AM(!!!) kiboshed that plan. The 9:30AM was out of the question as my little one's camp starts at the same time and I have to sign her in. So my next option was the 1:45PM. I have not tried this class time before so I was curious as to how I would do.

After 5 straight days of practice, 1 day off, 2 days on, then 2 days off, my body was screaming at me at this point. I was very, very sore. I did the 30 Day Challenge in April, and although I felt sore most days at the time, I had enough momentum to keep going. But I feel that I am much more flexible these days than when I did the challenge. For one thing, my "nemesis", the Standing Head to Knee Pose, is slowly but surely becoming my friend. My lower back is loosening up. I am very close to consistently locking my knee each time I do Hands to Feet Pose. Yes, my lower back and glutes are screaming at me all day long, but thanking me profusely at the same time! :)

I came out of that room feeling fantastic! I heard one of the other students say that the room was not that hot today. Maybe so, maybe not. I liked it, it worked for me, que sera sera. Tomorrow's another day, and I look forward to being back in the hot room. Hmmm, I wonder what it's like to practice just before bedtime?

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Walking On Sunshine...And Don't It Feel Good!"

I made it to the 6:00AM class, wasn't planning on going, but my neighbour and yoga buddy K. made the decision for me. I let go of sleeping in, and caved in to an opportunity to get my practice done and over with first thing instead of rushing right after work (3:45PM) or missing dinner time with my family (5:45PM).

I had a shaky start, with a sore right shoulder brought about by a jerky movement in the shower after class yesterday morning. I felt it happen, and thought nothing of it as it didn't bother me for the rest of yesterday. But it came back to haunt me at Pranayama and the first backward bend. I thought, oh great, another write-off. But magic happens when one doesn't give up, takes it easy, but still gives an honest effort. I made the decision to do just so. Once the heat warmed up my muscles and the sweat started to drip, drip, drip, I'm on my way.

My practice was fine, not as great as yesterday's, but taking into account that it's 6:00AM, and I've just gotten out of bed, muscles and joints still asleep, I think I did well. I showered, left the studio, dropped off K. at her place, arrived home, got ready for work, dropped the kid off to summer camp, and with 1/2 hour to spare before work starts I splurged on an iced coffee and breakfast sandwich at Starbucks. No, I didn't forget to drink my Emergen-C spiked water after class! :)

I arrived at work feeling just fantastic! There was a bounce to my step, I was walking tall and sitting tall--my posture has improved a lot since I started practising. I was in a great mood...ALL DAY. I thought about the song, "Walking On Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves. I think that pretty much sums up how my day went.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tanking in the Standing...Second Wind on the Floor

My practice last Sunday morning at my home studio rocked...then kerplunk! Yesterday and today were the complete opposite. I made it to the 6:00AM class on Monday, only to tank during the majority of the postures. I felt very hot, and I was hoping the fans would be turned on but it didn't happen. The little throbbing pain in my head which did not escalate in class morphed into a big headache at work. I was breathless, and my body felt like a ton of lead. I was not limber enough that morning, but who among the majority of us are, at that time of the day anyway? But I let it all go, and hoped that the next day will be a better one.

But it was not to be. The Standing Series today was a complete write-off--well, not completely as I locked my knee for a few seconds in Hands to Feet Pose (yes!!!). I was breathless yet again, two days in a row. I sat out for most of the postures. I couldn't hold my arms parallel to the floor; yes, they felt like a ton of lead. Trikanasana was more like "Cheat-anasana"! Thankfully I was able to get through the last 3 postures. That 2-minute Savasana could not have come any sooner!

To my surprise, after Savasana I felt way better. I seem to have had a second wind from nowhere. It may have been that 2-minute rest. I decided to let the Standing Series go, and looked forward to the Floor Series. I rocked the Floor Series. My "animals" did well: Cobra, Tortoise, Camel, and Rabbit. The real test for me was the Camel. I was a little apprehensive in the beginning, but I mustered enough determination to stay in the posture for both sets and not get out of it until the teacher said so. My sit-ups were energetic enough. When class ended, I stayed in the room to cool down for 300 seconds.

I don't know what happened to me in there, what brought about the lack of energy and the breathlessness. Could have been dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, that coffee I drank this morning, late nights, who knows? They're just all curveballs my body has thrown at me to keep my practice challenging, and at the same time, humbling. That's why I love it so much.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - A Rockin' Practice Today!

2 days of no yoga...I had planned on getting back on the 6:00AM yoga train again, but my body would just not cooperate. I am perplexed about this because I should not have a problem getting up and going; it's much lighter out earlier during these summer days, but somehow my body just wants to stay in bed.

Today being a Wednesday, I would be going to the 9:30AM, but I decided to miss that and go to an evening class this time. Not by choice, but it's by necessity. Our little one is not going to summer camp today, so I have to stay home with her until my hubby comes home.

Updated at 10:48PM

I made it to 5:45PM yoga. It's a class that I rarely go to as it cuts into dinner time. But go I must as missing 2 days has been bugging me.

I parked my mat on the left side of the room, second row, right next to the windows. I had an awesome Pranayama today. I wasn't out of breath and kept good pace all throughout. My right shoulder was a little sore but I didn't pay much attention to it. I was happy with my Half Moon. I was able to keep my arms straight with elbows locked for almost the entire time. I kept them plastered behind my ears which is definitely an improvement. I still haven't gone quite deep yet as I am still struggling to keep my hips square to the front, like being sandwiched by two panes of glass.

My Standing Head to Knee rocked so much today. A yoga buddy told me that gripping the arch of my foot is not the correct grip, so I'm back to holding on to the ball instead. My glutes are still sore, and I wondered whether I will be successful in doing the posture. But I nailed it. Although it took me a while to prepare for the posture, once I got my leg up, I was able to keep it up longer and bend my elbows for a short while before the change.

Triangle Pose was pretty solid and strong. I kept my thighs parallel to the floor and was successful in keeping my arms stretched out to the side the entire time. Usually I run out of breath, but a great Pranayama does keep you strong and solid.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I missed 2 days of yoga. I was supposed to practice last Friday (my 5th straight day), but I had to work late and the evening classes do not work for me. I decided to miss Saturday's practice as I felt the need to spend more time with my family, take the time to make dinner in a leisurely pace. I didn't regret missing my practice, but I missed it so much. Does that make sense? If you're a hot yoga freak like me, it does.

So just imagine my enthusiasm for Sunday's practice. I was a little late in arriving, so I missed out on my corner spot up front. I opted to stay close to the front mirror, so I took the first row on the left, not my usual spot but I thought it would be good to mix things up a little bit. It's funny how we human beings are creatures of habit. I see most yogis sticking to their usual spots in the room, although I also see some who move around the room.

We had one newbie in class. He did leave the room and came back, and he did this a few times. At least he kept coming back. No one else followed suit. Sometimes, it takes one to start leaving the room, then you have a few others deeking out, and it is very distracting. But this is part of the mind challenge. If you can overcome feeling annoyed by this, then your yoga mind comes out the winner.

So 4 straight days of practice equals sore glutes! Stretch and stretch and stretch, and OWWW!!! But take note, this is a lovely OWWW!!! Again, I experienced that homestretch high. When I left the room, the temperature registered at 112F!!! I knew it was HOT! Whew!!!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wow! I had a super duper practice today, and it threw me off completely because I did not do well during Pranayama. For some reason, I was breathless. I couldn't breathe deeply and I tired easily that I couldn't control my breathing. I didn't feel very hot this time due to my very "cool" spot right in front of the door. Feeling that little draft IS a big deal for a room heated to at least 104F.

I was so pumped with my Standing Head to Knee. The key for me was changing the grip from the ball of the foot to the arch of the foot. My sweaty hands took longer to slip off my foot using this grip. I am also able to hold my leg higher and more parallel to the floor.

I felt more flexible today. My sit-ups after Savasana were very energetic and I was able to bend my torso deeper than usual. I have been experiencing a "high" towards the end of the class. It feels great to have that energy on the homestretch, despite the heat, humidity, and a lot of sweat! It is true that Bikram Yoga is the only workout that gives you energy, rather than sap it.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 = Great Vibes, Great Energy, Great Class!!!

9:30AM with Weronika
Room temperature: 110 degrees F = 43 degrees C

I was pumped today, really pumped. It has been 3 straight days of yoga practice, and my body has recovered from the slump of missing 3 days. I could feel my muscles aching a beautiful ache, one that tells me, reminds me, that my body is saying "THANK YOU" for giving it life once more. I had voiced my intention to do another 30 Day Challenge to my fellow yogini, B.E., and she wondered whether I am going to attend the 6:00AM class during the work week. I said that I worried more about missing 3 days because I will be away visiting with my hubby's relatives. I could go to a studio close to where I will be on those days, but they do not offer as many classes as my home studio. So, I think I will just give it a go anyway. I will see if I can sneak out "safely", i.e., without incurring the disapproval of my in-laws.

Weronika led the class today, and she said that since she started teaching, she has never seen a class that executed the Camel as well as we have today! Woohoo! She also commented how much the regular practitioners have improved, and that there was such a great energy in class today. In as much as one's practice is personal, it also affects everybody else's. I think there was only one who stepped out of the room, but I think he/she went back in right away.

Posture of the Day: Standing Head to Knee
It was an A-HA! moment for me. As I have written in previous posts, this posture has been a real challenge since the very beginning. My hands always, always slip off my feet, therefore I couldn't hold the posture in its entirety. My grip is always on the ball of my foot, just under my toes. Today I tried to hold on to the arch of my foot, as I have seen a teacher trainee do while I was looking at photos on the net. VOILA!!! A-HA!!! I was able to hold the posture much, much longer than usual. I was so happy inside!!! So now, my next challenge is to be able to hold it long enough for me to bend my elbows and touch my forehead to my knee. Nothing is will just take time...

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 = Hang in There!

I was back on the 3:45PM yoga train today. I thoroughly enjoyed Owl's class this afternoon. She makes you work hard and I needed that today. The heat was bogging me down during the Standing Series, although I felt a lot better today than yesterday. There were a few who stepped out of the room today. It only takes one to leave, then soon after that, more people leave. One gave up with just 10 minutes left before the class ended. Stay in the room, guys! If you're feeling crappy, just lie down and rest, but stay in the room. Make sure you hydrate well BEFORE class, not DURING class. Practice with an empty stomach. Meditate. Defeat that Monkey Mind.

When I attended a Posture Clinic headed by the late Ren Soriano last year, I was DONE! by the time he led the Beginners Class at the end of the day. I tanked right from the get-go. I was on my knees or on my back for the majority of the postures. But I stayed in the room. And I let it go. I didn't beat myself up. I moved on. I have the rest of my life to practice yoga.

Posture of the Day: Triangle
I have been struggling with Trikanasana (Triangle) in that I couldn't keep my arms stretched out parallel to the floor in preparation for the actual posture! I find myself out of breath lately. But today, I fared better. I was able to keep my thigh bent low enough so it's parallel to the floor (thanks to Owl's coaching!). I strived to hold still in the posture, and to keep my hip still the whole time.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, July 5, 2010 = Happy Monday!

Happy Monday! It felt great to be back in the hot room after a 3-day hiatus. What is with this sleeping-in business? I met a fellow yogini today at work and told her about this and she said that obviously my body is needing the extra hour of sleep. I guess I haven't been going to bed early enough lately. Too much red wine the night before.

But today, I was determined to be back. I missed the 6:00AM (slept in again!) so I went for the 3:45PM. It was nice to have Anastasia as our teacher today! I haven't been to her class in days and days!

So here's the rundown of my practice:

Room temperature: 106 degrees F = 41 degrees C
Postures of the Day: Standing Head to Knee Pose and Standing Bow Pulling Pose

There were a number of times that I had to pause and catch my breath. Triangle was a struggle getting in, but once I was there I was able to hold the posture. For some reason, I struggled with Cobra and the third part of Locust. However, I was proud of my Floor Bow. I would refer to my execution of it a "YES!!!" moment. I can't say it was perfect, but it was certainly a huge improvement from previous practices. The key is in the kicking and once you get it, your hands will feel like they're just hanging on "lightly" to your feet.

Yoga Mind vs Monkey Mind: Monkey Mind was ahead during the 2-minute Savasana. I realised that I had left our family room door open the whole day. I thought, "Oh crap! I hope Trudy (our Saint Bernard) didn't go in there and chew our new leather couch (she had chewed the one we had before)! If she did, I'm in huge trouble! ~!@!@##$$%!!!" Thankfully, Yoga Mind "stepped in" and said "Let it go, there's nothing you can do. Maybe she behaved herself today." So who won? Yoga Mind by a very slim margin. As it turns out, Trudy behaved herself today. Maybe it was too hot of a day for her to get into mischief. Thank goodness!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010 = Happy (Sweaty, HOT) Canada Day!

I was forewarned that it was going to be a very busy 9:30AM class today. I arrived at the studio before 9:00 as I had planned on staking a spot by the door where I am hoping to get a bit of a cool draft every now and then. As I am already at a corner, I wouldn't have to move my mat in order to accommodate the "later-comers".

I have never seen a class as busy as today's was! I was nursing a headache, and I was so concerned that I wouldn't be able to last 90 minutes in that room. The fans weren't on and will stay that way until the bitter end! There were only a few inches gap between each one of us. I have a confession to make: Just before class started, I went back to the change room to retrieve my water bottle (I panicked at the sight of the bodies around me and the extra heat that will emanate from them!)...I had it in my hand to take it back to the room...then I did an about-face, took a little sip, and put it back in my bag...whew!...monkey mind was foiled yet again!!!

Postures of the Day:

1. Standing Head to Knee: I had trouble extending my right leg during the first set. But after that, I was surprised to be able to extend each leg a few seconds longer than usual. I've always had trouble with this posture since the beginning of my practice. My lower spine is simply not that pliable enough for me to bend from it, although I must be getting there albeit slowly.

2. Standing Bow Pulling: This is a posture that I have improved upon since. I have learned to keep kicking and stretching my arm forward to touch the mirror. I have also learned to keep my body down. The challenge for me is to stay in the posture without falling out of it. Today, I was successful with the left leg during the second set.

So I went in with a headache, which intensified during Half Moon and Awkward. I was so relieved that it somehow went away during the Floor Series. What is even more surprising AND exhilarating is that I felt a tremendous surge of energy during this time. I've never felt this way before, particularly during very busy classes. I loved today's practice. I thank my fellow yogis for the great energy and positive vibes they have exuded today. I thank Peter for again leading a great class. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 = Back on the 6:00AM Yoga Train

I haven't gone to 6:00AM classes since June 3rd. I just didn't want to leave my cozy bed as well as sacrifice an hour or so of sleeping in. But today, I was back on the 6:00AM yoga train, and it sure felt great! I missed my 6:00AM family! I almost didn't make it. I arrived at the studio with only 5 minutes to get ready--park my mat somewhere (don't have time to be picky) and tie my hair into 2 ponytails and pin my bangs down with hairpins.

One of my fellow yoginis finished her 30 Day Challenge today. I can't help but look back to my own challenge back in April. It was a bittersweet memory; I remember feeling great, tired, sore, invincible...until that dreaded day, the 29th day, when my mother passed away. I missed the 30th day, but made up for it on day 31, in Nanaimo. I would like to do another challenge, and I had thought about doing four a year: winter, spring, summer, and fall. I had Spring done; now that it's summer, I have to get on with it. I will keep you posted for sure!

My practice today went well, but I am still not back to my very best form. Sometimes I feel disappointed, as I have reached a stage where I felt very flexible and very strong. This was when I was doing the challenge. There is no doubt that a daily practice does a world of wonders to one's self. Notice I wrote "self" and not "body". Yoga heals the body as well as the soul. But one must also come to grips that there will be "off" days. I think this keeps one humble, grounded. And being so is a good thing.

Tomorrow, being July 1st and a holiday, there will be no 6:00AM class. I am definitely showing up for the 9:30; thank goodness I don't work on statutory holidays!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I forgot to write a new post for yesterday's practice! Haha, it was go-go-go after arriving home from my 7:30AM class. Better late than never, so here it is.

Posture of the Day aka Most Improved Posture:

Floor Bow = I was able to kick higher and at the same time lift my upper body higher. Peeking at myself in the mirror, I saw that I haven't achieved the "U" shape--more like a fat, squatty "U". Now do I remember what I did to achieve that? I will know the answer at my next practice!

It was another very HOT 90 minute practice. The fans weren't turned on the whole, entire time! I was so thankful that I have my monkey mind under control. But, towards the last maybe 15 minutes of the class, I was so ready to leave. I could feel my energy disintegrating. After I had my shower, I was still sweating! But I think I brought it on myself. I don't think I hydrated well enough the evening before. I went to bed really late. Better prepping next time, that's for sure!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

On a rare Saturday day off, I looked forward to my second practice of the week. I anticipated a much improved one today, with the dreaded "first-day-back-after-being-away-for-11-days" delegated to the history books, so to speak. After going through Pranayama without a hitch, I knew it would be a good one today.

The Standing Series was okay, but then again, it seems that I fare better at the Floor Series. I am guessing it's because my knees are not as strong as they should be. I was pretty active in sports, particularly volleyball, and I wonder how much damage my knee joints incurred with those sudden stops and jumps. But, as I am intent on practicing this yoga until I can no longer stand, I am confident that my knees will eventually regain their strength. One thing I have noticed is how much back strength I have gained since I started my practice a year ago. I was very pleased with my Full Locust today. Who would have thought that a few centimetres of improvement would matter so much? Or holding a posture a few seconds longer would elicit a feeling of fulfillment?

During the 2-minute Savasana, I thought about my mother, whom I miss so much. I take the opportunity to think about her during this time, as there is nothing else that would distract me. It is just the two of us. Life goes on; mine is quite busy with work and raising a family. I sometimes forget to acknowledge her when life passes by so quickly. And so, during Savasana, I offer her a few precious seconds to let her know that I will always cherish her memory.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 - Payback for 11 Days of No Yoga!

Yes, I was AWOL from yoga for 11 days. I just didn't feel like going. I did not want to leave my bed for the 6:00AM class during the week. I didn't even get up for the 7:30AM class for the past two Sundays. I have no excuses; I suffered from a spell of being sedentary.

So today, being a Wednesday and my regular day off, I vowed to resume my practice. I had the pleasure in meeting a new teacher, Christian, whom I heard is from Vancouver. He was great! Great energy, lots of laughs, lots of jokes, and lots and lots of encouragement and words of wisdom. Oh but OMG!!!it was a HOT one today (later I learned the thermostat registered at 117 degrees at the end of the class!!!). It was a very busy class, and there were only a few inches between me and my neighbours. I was out of breath towards the end of the first set of Pranayama, and all throughout the second set as well. I tanked during the second set of Standing Bow Pulling, I only managed one leg, yes, ONE LEG (basically 1/2 of the first set) of Balancing Stick. I just tanked during the Standing Series...period. The 2 minute Savasana was such a welcome respite! I thought about leaving the room, AND fetching my water bottle. Staying in the room has never been an issue for me, ever, and now, I was pretty close to making that escape. I've stopped drinking during class for the past 3 months. But you know, the mind is a powerful thing, and I could have allowed it to rule over me. It was telling me to leave, to go and get that water bottle, to have some fresh air and cool down. But then I thought, I've come this far, why leave now? By leaving the room, I would have thrown away today's practice. I needed to come today. For the past week, I could feel my body protesting already. Every morning when I wake up, then get up to start my day, I don't feel as alive as I would like to. I don't remember feeling this way when I was doing the 30 Day Challenge. Back then I felt rejuvenated, alive AND kicking. I need to feel that way again.

The thing with this yoga is, when it is all over, you just feel absolutely great! Somehow you are rewarded with this, and so you should, after being in that hot room for 90 minutes. And this great feeling lasts and lasts, keeps you coming back for more. Yes, even if sometimes you don't feel like coming. But you do return.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010 = 'Twas a Sweaty, Hot One!

With two days rest, a great lunch of chicken souvlaki and grapes PLUS lots of water during the day, I was determined to have a great class right after work. I made it to class early enough so I wasn't rushing. It wasn't a busy class either. It was such a gorgeous day, and the temperature was high enough on the way over that I felt warmed up so to speak.

I had a great Pranayama, but boy, was I sweating right from the get go. I pretty much rocked the standing series. But as soon as I got to the floor, I suddenly felt hot, REALLY hot. My face was very red, I felt as if I am overheating. During the 2-minute savasana, my eyes were getting stung by the salty sweat that just kept running down. How does that happen, when I am lying down? You can just imagine how much I was sweating then. When I looked at myself in the mirror, my eyes were just bloodshot! The thing that really perplexed me was that when I spread my arms out for the Full Locust, the floor felt COLD. It never felt like that before. It kinda freaked me out, seriously (my daughter says I sound like a teenager!). Second set of Camel took my breath away, I needed a few moments of rest before I was able to lie down for savasana. I was so pooped out, I kept thinking about my water bottle. If I had that bottle inside the room with me I would have broken my resolve and taken a few sips. It didn't help that the fans weren't turned on.

As soon as Aleya ended the class and left the room, I immediately got up and left. I was so relieved to feel the cool shower and the peppermint soap. Ahhhhhhhh...

I got home, happy to be with my hubby and daughter, had leftovers for supper, and soon we will be watching a movie in our rec room. I am ready for that ice-cold beer and a few munchies. I had my yoga, I have my family with me.

Life is good...I feel very blessed.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 = Going Great Guns at 9:30AM

Two days off from yoga, and I'm back. Two days of rest, of not pulling and stretching these poor muscles feels good. I've decided to forego my 6:00AM practice and instead showed up for the 9:30. It feels great to have some chatty time with my friends before what I anticipate to be another great class with Peter at the helm.

Pranayama went really well. I tried my best to hold my stomach in on the exhale which I find challenging. Reason being is I am consciously keeping my weight on my heels, pushing my hips forward, AND keeping my stomach in--that's a lot to keep track of. During Half Moon, I am pleased to be able to keep my arms stretched and glued slightly behind my ears, thereby opening my chest more. I am still challenged by keeping my hips in one line while keeping the shoulder that's down more forward. My back bends are pretty good, and I am just about THERE with Hands to Feet pose. Standing Head to Knee is way better today; I am able to hold my leg parallel longer this time. I think you can pretty much figure out that my standing series rocked today.

The floor series went well, too. My most improved floor pose for today would be the Floor Bow. It really helps to keep your eyes glued to the ceiling, and to keep them looking way back. Your legs will follow their lead and as long as you keep kicking, the closer you will get to looking like a bow.

So there you have it. I am really convinced that there should be a day of rest in between practices...until the next 30 Day Challenge! :)

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010 = Mommy's 40th Day

Today, I forgot about ME, and instead I focused on my mother. This day marks the 40th day since she passed away. You might ask, what the significance of 40 days is. It is a belief in my culture that after the 40th day, the soul of a loved one will be crossing over to Heaven. During these 40 days, we also refrain from wearing bright colours as this is also considered the mourning period. I have limited my wardrobe to black, white, brown, beige, tan, deep purple, navy blue. Some people do this for a year. I remember Mommy wearing nothing but the above (save for the purple) when my Lolo (her father, my grandfather) passed away many years ago.

When we arrived in Nanaimo, it was pouring buckets. I thought, oh dear, it's going to be a soggy visit to the cemetery. But once we got there, it was glorious sunshine. I'm thinking that Mommy must have a lot of pull with the Gods to stop the rain. It stayed that way until we left her, then the clouds started to roll in again. I said a little prayer that it won't be a rainy drive home to Victoria. It wasn't.

Thank you, Mommy. I miss you so much, and I am very sad that you're gone, that I won't ever kiss your lovely face every time I visit you. But I take comfort from knowing that you will always be with us, the family whom you loved and cherished with all your heart.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010 = A Year and A Day of Hot Yoga Keeps the Doctor Away

I drafted this post yesterday, but was stymied by the sudden service interruption by So here's my "day old" post.

Touch wood, I have been feeling very well since I began practising Bikram Yoga a year ago. I sleep better, I haven't had a stiff neck, and all in all, I just feel like a million bucks. Mind you, my body feels sore everyday, but it's a soreness that you definitely can endure. It's my bum cheeks that are taking all the beating, from being stretched in Hands to Feet, Standing Head to Knee, Standing Bow Pulling, and Balancing Stick. I definitely perform better when I take a day of rest. Right now I am contemplating on whether I should take a break from daily practice by resting the day after, then practising again on the next. I am also thinking that IF I decide to continue my daily practice, I should probably attend an afternoon or evening class so I have the whole day to limber up. Yesterday I practised in the afternoon, and today I practised first thing in the morning. Yesterday I rocked, today I sorta rocked. Que sera, sera.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010 = A Welcome Surprise on the First Anniversary of My Practice!

Well, friends, I missed yesterday's class...deliberately. I didn't sleep in, I woke up at the appointed time, used the washroom and instead of getting ready, I went back to bed. I stared at the ceiling and the time. I got up again, seemingly determined to go, went back to the washroom and put my contacts on, then did an about face and went back to bed. It's Friday, it's my hubby's day off so he's sleeping in, the little one is still in dreamland with about 2 hours to go before she has to get up and get ready, so I thought I deserve a little sleeping in too. I blame it on the weather. It's June, this is Victoria, so why is it still freakin' cold and grey out there? It really isn't motivating weather; I need the sun to be out to get me up and going!!!

Yes, I missed my yoga. This is what I get for missing a day. But I felt so sore that I needed to get a day's rest for my stretched out muscles to relax. I figured this one day's rest and penance will pay off the next day.

Today marks the first anniversary of my Bikram Yoga practice. I couldn't believe it has been a year! For those who know me very well, sticking to an activity for a year STRAIGHT is NOT an attribute of mine. I tend to lose interest quickly. So having been successful in not dropping out of hot yoga is a BIG DEAL for Lorrena!

Today, a Saturday is a work day. Only the 3:45PM class will work for me. Not my favourite time of the day to practice, but I was determined to go. I got to the studio in time, picked out a nice spot towards the left side of the room and in the second row--not my usual "nest" as I tend to stay on the right side. It's funny, but somehow I felt right there and then that I will do well. Pranayama breathing is my "litmus test"; how well I execute this breathing exercise determines the outcome of my practice. I felt great, save for a few tickles in my throat that I had to endure. Oh did I mention that we had Peter teaching today? I love "Mr. Suggestion" in that his classes are like mini-posture clinics. He doesn't just say the dialogue. He gives us valuable corrections, pointers, and of course, suggestions on how to execute the postures properly.

I was very, very pleased with my practice today. I was surprised that I did well. I am usually tired by this time of the day. I did prepare myself well by not having Chinese food for lunch, although I did have a 2-weiner sandwich, a few nacho chips for $5 to support a charity group, an orange, and a tofu dessert. I also hydrated myself well.

Peter had the fans going today, and I was positioned right underneath one. I was sweating a lot, but also enjoyed some cooling drafts that tempered the heat. At the end of the practice, I felt so energised, so good, so envigorated. I had a bounce in my step, my day is set. If all 3:45's turn out this way, it may become my new favourite class time!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010 = Breathless Camel

I made it to class this morning at 6:00AM. I first opened my eyes at 5:00AM and I was determined not to fall back to sleep. I just laid there and relaxed, like in Savasana, but on my side. I got to the studio early, and chatted with J. J, if you get the chance to read this, I would like to thank you for sparing those minutes with me this morning. Thank you for your support and your warm hug. I feel very blessed to have you as my buddy.

Pranayama was so much better today. I did not feel the awful stiffness from Tuesday's practice. It was wonderful to have Anastasia teach today; she gave very helpful pointers in how to execute Pranayama effectively. I didn't realise that exhaling more quickly (but controlled, mind you) helps expel the air out of your lungs more to get ready for the next breaths.

Unlike some, I am not scared of the Camel. I must admit though that at the end of the Half Tortoise, knowing that Camel is next, I can't help but feel like I'm off to fight a war. A little bit of fear, yes, but at the same time, I am not too fearful that I back off. First set was fine, but second set, whoa! I seemed to have ran out of breath. When I got out of the posture, I felt as if my chest was squished, and it's having a hard time taking in air. Thank goodness for Savasana, and for the magic of breathing normally, in and out through the nose, and being in control of this breathing and letting my mind relax. It is not difficult to do, you just have to be in complete control of your mind.

Ahh, the sun is shining. The air is fresh. Life is good.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010 = No Yoga Today

What happened? I opened my eyes and looked up at the ceiling and the time read "5:46". Yep, there goes my practice for today. I slept in. I have never missed a yoga practice in this manner before. A friend said that it's my body's way of telling me that she is not into the yoga today. My hubby said that I probably didn't get enough sleep (I didn't get my shut eye until past midnight). Whatever it was, I felt there was something missing today. I think this feeling will never diminish every time I miss a day of yoga. It is probably the "curse" of doing the 30 Day Challenge. You get so used to practising everyday that it becomes part of living.

I am hoping that I will make it to class tomorrow at 6:00AM. My gear is all put together and all ready to go. All I have to do is get my water bottle ready and make doubly sure that the cap is screwed on tightly this time.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 = A "Blah" Day

This weather better improve...soon. When I woke up this morning for my 6:00AM class, I didn't want to go and leave the warm comfort of our bed. But, I felt I had to go, buoyed by the thought of feeling great after class. By this time, I am running a little bit behind. As I was walking towards our car, disaster struck. My water bottle became disengaged from its cap and crashed on the sidewalk, spilling its precious contents. I didn't care about the contents; I felt quite miffed that my once perfect, shiny, red water bottle is now scratched. Luckily it did not sustain any dents.

Oh, what an awful Pranayama I had. I was very stiff, and my shoulders ached with every breath I took. My arms felt so heavy and I had thought about leaving the class (not an option) or lying down (I don't remember anyone lying down during Pranayama). Half Moon and Hands to Feet were a write-off too. My knees were stiff and I kept thinking that I should consider ditching the 6:00AM and going for the 3:45PM. I would be more flexible and more limber, more awake. But before my monkey mind got the better of me, I started to improve as we progressed through the rest of the Standing Series. I still sucked at Standing Head to Knee, but I'm very much resigned to the fact that I may be in my mid-50's before I can nail it. I was so relieved when we reached the 2-minute Savasana. I was very happy with my Floor Series. My legs felt very strong for the third stage of the Locust. Weronika, who was our teacher today, explained the benefits of 80-20 breathing. Thanks to her, I was reminded to do it and it really helped me execute the Full Locust well.

Tomorrow is another day. As much as I had a "blah" day today, it is to be expected. It keeps me on my toes, it makes my yoga practice interesting, and certainly not boring. It's like a report card--you may not an "A" during the first term, but there is still room for improvement. As far as my practice is concerned, I have tons of time for improvement. I don't know when I am going to get an "A", but the road to getting there is definitely not a short one nor dead straight.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010 = Missed (Again) Today

I woke up to a cold, rainy morning. Again it looks and feels like autumn out there! I had an excuse not to go to my 6:00AM class as I had to drop my daughter off to her school early for her year-end field trip to Camp Thunderbird. I guess I could have gone to an afternoon or evening class. But, these times are hectic for me. I SHOULD make time for yoga, but this time around, I chose not to. Am I loosening up on my practice? Maybe a little, in that I have been taking little breaks here and there. It might be due to the weather. It's so nice to sleep in on cold, wet days! I should be careful not to slack off though, as I know I will be paying for it later!

I practiced on Sunday (May 30th) and I really enjoyed our 7:30AM class. Abbey was teaching, and it was great to have her. Again, I had the luxury of taking my usual front row corner as I was first to arrive at the studio, but I chose to be right beside Abbey. It's great to have the mirror right in front of me. I was excited to see an old yoga buddy from the earlier days of my practice. It has been a few months since I've last practised with her. I'm glad that she is still around, it's just that she has been attending the afternoon or evening classes. She is very sweet; she noticed that I didn't have my water bottle and asked if I had forgotten it. I said that I haven't been taking water during class since March; her jaw dropped, she couldn't imagine how I can survive without water. I explained to her that it can be done, as you can control your urge to drink. I wonder if she'll try going waterless during class. We shall see.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010 = Back Today!

I missed yesterday's practice and I was looking forward to being back today. It is almost June, but the weather this morning was not typical for Victoria. It was cold for Victoria standards, more like autumn weather. Entering the hot room felt quite nice, actually.

I parked my mat up front, but not at the corner, even if I was the first one in the room and had first dibs. I decided to be right beside our teacher. I don't know, but somehow I felt quite pumped this morning. Maybe because I gave myself a rest day? I felt more flexible, even though it was only 7:30AM. I was very pleased with my Standing Bow Pulling Pose. I am able to bring my body down and keep my feet kicking up and arms stretching forward. I think I rocked the standing series today. Woohoo!

I will be back tomorrow at 7:30AM again. I will be trying a different spot yet again to see how my practice goes.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010 = Missed Today

Well, I decided not to go to class today. I got up at 5:15AM, went to the washroom to get ready, but I didn't feel like practising today. Just like that. The thought of sleeping in an extra hour was more appealing today than being in the hot room. I was happy with my decision. I must admit though, that I never stopped thinking about the yoga all day. I was even considering to attend a later class. I haven't been to a Karma class for so long. Oh, maybe next time. One day, I will just feel like it.

I missed the 6:00AM crew. I missed the envigorating shower with the peppermint soap. The highly anticipated water with Emergen-C. The supernatural feeling from an early morning practice that keeps me going for the rest of the day.

Tomorrow, I have the day off. I am looking forward to the 7:30AM class. Really. No backing out this time.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010 = New Digs in the Hot Room

I woke up much later than usual...okay by about 5 minutes BUT it took me about 10 to BE AWAKE. I arrived at the studio with 10 minutes to spare, therefore, I lost my usual spot by the back door and decided to move up to the front. I must say that it's not bad at all being at the front at 6:00AM. It has been a habit of mine to stick to the same spot for my 6:00AM weekday practice. As much as I like being at the back of the room, being up front allows me to see myself better. I am paying very close attention to my hip alignment for the Half Moon Pose. I am also trying very hard to lean my upper body back more during the Awkward Pose, and am quite chuffed when Anastasia praised me for the improvement since she saw me last. Peter's "suggestions" certainly paid off! :)

I will park my mat up front again tomorrow. I've always stayed on the right side of the room--who knows maybe in the near future, I'll be on the left side. Stay tuned!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 = Breaking the Bad Habits

Weronika taught the 6:00AM today. It's so nice to be in her class. She said in class today that we are all creatures of habit. Our mission in the hot room is to break the BAD habits, and keep or make good ones.

What are my bad habits in or out of the hot room? I could think of:

*Making unnecessary movements before and after each posture, like wiggling my hands, fixing my hair and/or costume.

*Not following the dialogue, i.e., I execute a stage in a posture before the teacher says so.

There have been good habits I have formed since I started my practice:

*I have stopped taking water during class since March 9th. I find that I can focus more on my practice. My tummy does not have that excess baggage which gets in the way of my forward and back bends.

*I am able to maintain stillness during Savasana. Plus not having to drink gives me more Savasana time!

*I have learned not to sweat the small stuff!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 = Second Time Lucky!

Ahhh, to be in Peter's class two days in a row is quite something. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot and saw his truck, I thought to myself, oh boy, I will be working hard this (early) morning. Don't get me wrong, Peter is a great teacher. He has this eagle eye for proper alignment. You will definitely be reminded to execute the pose 100% correctly even at only 1% depth. I thought I've been rockin' the Awkward, but I still need to lean my upper body back MORE while maintaining the "cobra" spine. Oh and get this, he makes you hold the Camel Pose FOREVER during the second set. I do meet his challenge, but I cannot help but grunt when FINALLY he gives the okay to release.

This is why I love Bikram Yoga. Yes, it's the same 26 postures day in and day out. If you're on the 30 Day Challenge, how can you keep the momentum and enthusiasm going when all you do in that hot room are the same old 26 postures? The answer lies in your own body. It never fails to surprise you both positively and negatively. There are days when you are a superstar, then the next day, your body feels like lead and you feel like a newbie again. I love change, and I am glad that my body keeps changing to keep me interested. I would hate to lose interest in this yoga. I have gained so much from it. This will be the subject for my future blog entry :)

Goodnight, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010 = Lucky Seven

I was going to attend the 9:30AM class today, but I got overruled by my daughter who wanted to see the Victoria Day Parade, now on its 112th year! I gladly acquiesced since it's my daughter who had asked :), and I love to see the marching bands and the bagpipers anyway. These guys always give me goosebumps all over, and I am still very moved to tears whenever I hear them play. No, I am not Scottish at all; maybe in my previous life :)

So, I was relieved that there was a 1:45PM class, as it will not cut into dinner time with my family. Boy, oh boy, lo and behold, it was a class of us lucky seven, five ladies and two gentlemen, with Peter as our instructor. I anticipated Peter to give me a few tips and pointers on proper alignment, and my Half Moon and Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Poses were in need of adjustments. I consciously remembered Aleya's pointers on Standing Head to Knee, and I was very pleased with how I executed it today. My Standing Bow Pulling has improved; I'm pretty sure my hips were aligned properly as Peter did not say anything otherwise :)

It was pretty hot in that room this afternoon, which is weird because there were only eight human bodies in the room. But it was so sunny outside that that probably made the difference. All I was thinking about during Savasana is an ice cream cone, and where I will go to get it: Dairy Queen or McDonald's. Or maybe an Iced Mocha Capp from Tim Horton's would hit the spot right on...

As it turned out, I was very satisfied with my Emergen-C water and a cool shower with Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Liquid Soap after class. It was still sunny out, I had my practice tucked under my belt, I feel great, then it's off to Thrifty's for our dinner grub and plus they do have Breyer's Ice Cream on sale! :)

Goodnight, Mommy. I love you.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010 = Good Vibes, Great Class!

I was looking forward to this weekend. First of all, it's the Victoria Day Long Weekend, therefore, with having Saturday off, I could go to the 7:30AM class. It was so nice to see Bettina again, and to practice right beside her at our usual spots right up front. She has been very supportive during this difficult time.

I woke up this morning to a beautiful Sunday. The sun was shining, and the air was cool. Being the first student to arrive, as usual, I was able to secure my favourite spot on the right corner up front where I have the luxury of two mirrors with which to check my alignment, especially during Trikanasana. The highlight of the class today was the Standing Head to Knee, of all postures! I can't say it was perfect, but I think I am on my way, thanks to a great tip by Aleya. The key she said, is to bring the outstretched leg higher, just relax and bring it up, she said.

With today's practice done at 9:00AM, I have the rest of the day to enjoy with my family. And what a great way to start it with--90 minutes in the hot room, with good people, and a re-energised, recharged, and detoxified body!

Goodnight, Mommy. I love you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Soldiering On...Without My Mommy

May 21, 2010 - 23 Days Since My Mommy Passed

I completed 29 days of the Challenge, then my world shattered.  On the evening of the 29th day, my dearest mother ended her earthly journey, leaving me, her youngest, my father and siblings, to mourn her passing.  When I got the call from my sister, letting me know that Mom's in Emergency again, I had expected her to say that she'll be fine, not to worry.  However, when she asked if I could come right away as she may not make it, I couldn't believe what I've just heard.  Upon arriving at the hospital, I was expecting to see her lying there, with her smiling face greeting me.  Instead, she was unconscious, eyes open but seemingly unseeing, breathing shallow breaths, obviously hanging on to a few more minutes of life, waiting for me to arrive at her bedside, in order to bid a final goodbye to me.  She slipped away quietly and with dignity about half an hour after I got there.

The day that I have dreaded for so many years has finally arrived.  When my Lola (my mother's mother) passed away, I was devastated.  I cried and I cried and I cried.  After my mother, she was the most important, most loved female in my life.  I thought, what would happen when the time comes when it's my mother's turn to pass on?  I remember thinking that I would be shattered, heartbroken.  And so now, this is what is happening to me.

I practiced 2 days after Mommy died in the city she called her second home after we emigrated from the Philippines.  I thought I should go to the hot room in order to escape the grief, to be away from my family who were all grieving.  I thought I did well, but during Savasana, when I was still and alone in my thoughts, I found myself tearing up, my throat constricting in my conscious attempt to control myself from sobbing.  I simply could not eradicate from my thoughts the image of my mother slowly slipping away from this life...

I'm back to my regular routine, practising at 6:00AM during the week, drawing comfort from the presence of the "6:00AM crew" and from my practice.  It's been 23 days since that dreaded day; I am functioning, I am laughing, but deep inside I am sad. 

Day 28 = One More Day...

Day 29 - April 29, 2010 - 6:00AM with Laurel

It's nice to have a smaller class this morning.  You can have your pick of a good spot, and if you're lucky, no one will park his/her mat right in front of you.  We had the luxury of our instructor Laurel being able to see everyone and make corrections to our alignment when necessary.

So with Day 29, I have one more day to the magic 30.  As much as it would be nice to take a break--especially since a Free Yoga weekend is coming up at my studio--I feel that I must keep on going.  I am personally challenging myself to go for a 60 Day Challenge.  It's hard to quit now.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 28 = Rockin' The Awkward...Sort Of

Day 28 - April 28, 2010 - 6:00AM with Peter

It was great to have Peter back for the 6:00AM.  It has been a while since he taught the first class of the day.  It is a treat to have him as he makes it a point to correct you.  When you think you've been a superstar in some (if not all) of the postures, guess again.  Peter will notice something that's off in your alignment and will let you know.  So, I thought I was rockin' the Awkward Pose, in all three stages.  I nailed the first stage, then during the second while I had my heels up and knees up and legs steady, he corrected me as I was not leaning back far enough.  What?!?!?  So I made the adjustment, and the legs started shaking, and that was it.  I had to get out of the posture.  I was brought back to earth, humbled.  But thank you, Peter!  I can always count on you to keep me on my (Awkward) toes!

I just love the Awkward.  It keeps my legs strong and toned.  I have no problem balancing on my toes as my feet are quite wide :)  I know there's a positive side to having wide feet.  They may not look great in summer sandals and flip flops, but they sure keep me grounded during Awkward! :)

So, two days to go and the 30 Day Challenge is over.  I will continue with another 30, making it a 60 Day Challenge which Bikram recommends to every new student.  It would be interesting to find out what happens beyond the 30...stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 27 = Much More Awake This Time! :)

Day 27 - April 27, 2010 - 6:00AM with David

It's nice that it's getting much lighter out at 5:30AM, when I leave home for my yoga studio.  The energy in the room was great this morning; there were more people today than yesterday.  I guess the hangover from the weekend has lifted and we're all back to the yoga swing of things.

I have been contemplating on whether I should try a different spot during the 6:00AM class, just so I can have a change.  I love change in any facet of my life.  But this morning, I've decided to stay put where I usually am--right next to the door for a speedy exit right after class.

I entered the hot room about 10 minutes early to acclimatise my body to the heat.  As I lay there, there were 2 voices beside me chattering away.  As you know, there is no talking inside the room, in respect to those who are meditating.  I felt the need to shush them, as a friend and I have been shushed when we were newbies.  However, I thought I should just try to block them out of my head.  Put my meditating powers to use.  It's very challenging because by nature, I am a stickler for rules and I expect everybody else to be the same.  The chattering went on, and much to my relief, David entered the room to start the class.

I was determined to do better in Pranayama today.  It's not my favourite exercise, which is a shame because it is very important, very crucial to how your practice will turn out.  It paid off as I am much more awake today than yesterday!  So today being Day 27, with 3 more days until the 30DC is over, I wanted to be more conscious in pushing my limit a little bit further.  There are some postures that will take me more time to properly execute them, like the Standing Head to Knee, and Standing Bow Pulling.  I have improved greatly in the Eagle, Balancing Stick, and Triangle.  For Tree Pose, I am now able to hold my right foot underneath my belly button with both hands in Namaskar, while I still have to work on the left foot staying put.  I am also able to balance with both hands in Namaskar for both sets in Toe Stand.  My Cobra and Full Locust have also greatly improved--I could feel that my lower back has developed much more strength with practicing everyday.  My Camel Pose is slowly getting to the point where I can keep my thighs perpendicular to the floor.  My knees still tend to open up during the first set with the same distance as the second set.  David made us hold the asanas a few seconds longer than usual (I think, anyway), which is great because a challenge here and there will do us all good! 

So all in all, I have noted a lot of positive changes in my body since I started the challenge.  I have decided to extend my challenge to 60 days.  I look forward to many, many more surprises coming my way then!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 26 = Going Through A Practice While Half-Awake!

Day 26 - April 26, 2010 - 6:00AM with Jacqueline

I did not want to get up at 5:00AM today.  Hubby nudged me at 5:20AM so I won't sleep in and miss my class.  Somehow, I wasn't my usual perky self.  My body seemed to want more sleep this morning.  I was restless just before class, I just couldn't psyche myself to be in the yoga moment.

Pranayama was a chore; my arms were heavy and my elbow joints were tight.  Needless to say, the first set was a write-off.  I did make the effort to engage my legs and inhale until I could see my rib cage in the mirror.  Towards the end of the second set, I was awake, sort of.

As much as I love the 6:00AM classes as they give me a great start to my day, I am simply just not flexible enough to execute some of the postures well.  Which is why my floor series are way better than the standing series.  I have 2 consecutive days off this week, and I am again toying with the idea of going to the 9:30AM class.  But then again, I may not, as I have a lot of chores to do and with the 6:00AM class done, I would have more time to do accomplish other tasks.

Overall, it was a good practice today; I just wished I was more awake!  I blame it on this cold, blustery, supposedly spring day in paradise we call Victoria! :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 25 = Eyeing the 60 with 5 Days to Go!

Day 25 - April 25, 2010 - 7:30AM with Niecia

I look at the 30 Day Challenge board and see my name with the long line of stickers marking each day of practice.  I see 5 empty spots and I look back to the day I decided to sign up for the challenge.  I remember feeling a little apprehensive at the time, wondering if I would be able to keep up the routine.  30 seemed like a big number to me.  30. Straight. Days.  I made up my mind that I will NEVER do doubles.  It goes against the purist principle of practising yoga EVERY DAY for 30 straight days.  A missed day means you have to start over.  It IS a challenge.  We all have lives outside of yoga.  Kids, spouses, work, life.  The Boss said that you SHOULD make time for yoga, everyday (well, except Sunday; I read somewhere that he says only fools practice yoga on Sundays!).  For me, it is possible.  Thank goodness for the 6:00AM class on the weekdays!  I could have started the challenge months ago.  I was reluctant to commit myself to getting up at 5:00AM.  Now, it is second nature.  Now, I am kicking myself for not signing up for the 101 Day Challenge!  Once I am done with the 60, it's 101 time baby!

So how did today go?  Well, the Chinese food from yesterday's lunch has gone, thank goodness!  I expected to be less flexible this morning.  Proof was my Standing Head to Knee.  I didn't feel as light and fluid as yesterday's practice.  I take consolation from my Awkward Poses which rocked today.  I was able to stretch my arms and legs straight and keep them engaged for Balancing Stick.  As for Tree Stand, I was able to balance with both hands in Namaskar with my right foot high up underneath my navel, and same with Toe Stand for both sets.  I was very pleased with my standing series; still lots to improve upon but certainly getting there.  I have all the time in the world.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 24 = What Not To Eat Before Hot Yoga

Day 24 - April 24, 2010 - 3:45PM with Anastasia

Make sure you practice hot yoga on an empty stomach.  Have your meal 2-3 hours before your practice.  Hydrate well during the day and the night before if you're attending an early morning class.

So I made sure I had my lunch break at noon, so I would have enough sustenance for the 3:45PM class today.  The thing is, I had Chinese food:  fried rice, chicken wings, and dry garlic pork.  I drank mug after mug of water throughout the day.  I thought, perfect!  I'd be all set for my class.

Boy, was I ever wrong on this one.  The thing is, I still felt that Chinese food in my belly 3 hours later.  I knew from Pranayama breathing that it's going to be one hell of a class today.  I'm telling you, I couldn't stretch my belly well enough; it hurt to do so.  It was like a brand new elastic band that hasn't been stretched before!  My monkey mind was now telling me "Uh, oh, how are you going to survive the first back bend, and the Camel (the mother of all back bends)?  Maybe you should just lie down and take it easy."  Yikes!  It was such a brand new sensation for me.  I've never felt that way before.  Oh, by the way, I still don't drink water during class.  Can you imagine if I still did?  My belly would feel like it's carrying a boulder in there!

But you know, as much as I felt so uncomfortable with the heat and the heavy belly sensation, I tried my best to breathe normally, to concentrate, to focus, to adopt the British Bulldog determination in order to overcome this challenge.  My monkey mind was telling me to give up, and take it easy.  Well, what I did was I listened to my body and backed off when necessary.  But the highlight of today's practice was that I was able to execute the Standing Head to Knee quite well.  I concentrated on locking my knee and keeping my upper body relaxed while my leg was extended.  I was able to bend my elbows down for a few seconds.  The room was pretty hot today, and I think this was a huge plus for my flexibility, especially for this pose.

Towards the end of the class, I felt really tired.  I felt pretty weak during the Kapalbhati breathing.  After class, I relished my Emergen-C fortified water like there's no tomorrow, and that shower, oh that shower with Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Liquid Soap felt sooooo gooood!  Yes, Virginia, there's heaven after hell.

PS:  So what to eat before hot yoga?  Lots of fruits, I particularly LOVE oranges and grapefruit.  In hindsight, I should have opted for Spicy Tuna Sushi from Mutsuki-An for lunch.  Next time...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 23 = Just Like Morning Coffee

Day 23 - April 23, 2010 - 6:00AM with Abbey

A lot of people wake up and have their morning coffee.  I have my morning yoga at 6:00AM.  I've been practising without water during class for over a month now, and my body has gotten used to it.  After class, I down my Emergen-C fortified water first, THEN I have my morning coffee with the much anticipated breakfast of an orange or grapefruit with spelt toast and maybe a scrambled egg or two.  I am set for my day.

My practice went well today.  I didn't have to rush out after class, so I positioned myself on my favourite spot up front.  Overall, I don't think there were a lot of significant changes to my execution of the postures today.  There were just some little adjustments here and there, like trying to touch my toes (but with no pressure) during the Triangle Pose.  That's a new challenge for me.  My arms don't seem long enough to do so, without having my upper body dip too low.

So tomorrow, I will not be able to have my morning yoga; it will be an afternoon yoga, right after work.  I hope I can get to the studio in time for the 3:45PM without having to rush so much.  I haven't been to an afternoon class since Day 3 (see my blog entitled "PM Hot Yoga Ain't That Cool"), so I am curious as to how tomorrow will turn out.  It's nice to have a change in routine sometimes.  Keeps me on my toes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 22 = Back "Home" Again

Day 22 - April 22, 2010 - 6:00AM with Laurel

Ah, I was back "home" at 6:00AM.  As much as I was so elated with my practice yesterday at 9:30AM, I was happy to be back to my early morning class.  I think I will continue this routine, even on my days off.  I felt a lot better this morning than I did several practices ago.  My body has recovered from the soreness, so now it is ready to be pushed and challenged again.  But as Laurel said at class today, yoga is not meant for us to suffer through it, or to be "killed" by it.  We must listen to our bodies, to know when to stop pushing and challenging it when it says so.

My Standing Head to Knee Pose was fine.  Not as good as yesterday's effort, but definitely better than most of the previous occasions.  I sometimes wonder if I am ever going to succeed in holding my leg parallel AND touching my forehead to my knee.  One day it will happen, I just don't know when. 

The highlight pose for today would be the Full Locust.  I felt very strong going into it as well as holding my chest up high for both sets.  My arms and legs also held up well.

As I left the studio, greeted by glorious daylight,  I was already counting the hours until I am back again.   

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 21 = The 9:30AM Experiment

Day 21 - April 21, 2010 - 9:30AM with Weronika

Today would have been a 6:00AM day, and as usual, my body clock woke me up at 5:00AM.  The night before, I had decided on attending the 9:30AM as I was curious to find out how my practice will turn out.  I had been sore for a few days, and I figured that it's probably because my body has not had the chance to limber up for a few hours before class.  Since I have another day off today, I will go against my routine and attend a later class.  As I was getting ready for the day (preparing breakfast for my hubby and daughter, walking the dog, and a little vacuuming), I was missing my 6:00AM practice.  I kept on checking the time and thinking, "We would just be going into the floor series now." 

So I got to the studio early enough to stake my spot next to Bettina at the front.  When I entered the room 5 minutes before class started, I was momentarily startled to see so many people present.  I also felt the room was hotter than usual.  At the same time I felt very strong and focused.  My Pranayama was a lot better than usual.  Yesterday, I had pulled a muscle just below my left shoulder and could hardly bend sideways during the Half Moon.  Today, my Half Moon, first backward bending, and Hands to Feet were great.  My Awkward Poses were very strong, as well as my Eagle.  The big surprise was my Standing Head to Knee.  I was able to extend both legs, one at a time, and hold the posture properly for a few seconds longer than usual.  My lower back and bum didn't even hurt one bit.  Wow.  I was also able to do a decent Standing Bow Pulling Pose by keeping my body down and kicking high at the same time.  My Balancing Stick did not hold up the whole time, though.  I was concentrating on keeping my hips square and not twisted while keeping my balance.

I don't know, but by the time we got to the floor, my towel was so sopping wet I could hear my sweat sloshing on the mat everytime I lie down.  The room is so hot that I kept thinking about my water bottle in the change room.  I had to refocus each time I hear my monkey mind telling me how hot it is, how uncomfortable it is, and how thirsty I am.  I hear the noisy sipping of water, the noise the water bottles make each time they hit the floor, and all I can do is breathe.

The class ends, and Weronika thanks all of us for a great effort, especially since the room felt extra hot today.  We break into a round of applause, very well deserved by each and everyone.  I enjoyed Weronika's class this morning.  She is very encouraging, always giving all of us a pat on the back for our hard work.

So what about the 9:30AM experiment?  I think it was a success.  My body at this time has warmed up, limbered up, woken up.  My standing series postures were definitely better executed today.  Tomorrow I am back to 6:00AM.  We will see what happens then.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 20 = Pulled Muscle Eclipses The Half Moon

Day 20 - April 20, 2010 - 6:00AM with David

My day started off on the wrong foot. As I opened the car door to get in, I pulled a muscle on my left side, under my shoulder. It hurt whenever I took a breath, so I thought, "Oh my, I'm done for today." True enough, my Half Moon was painful. I hardly made even a quarter crescent, or an eighth crescent. Standing Head to Knee was painful too. I tried to extend my legs but my body said, "Enough! Back off!" I was relieved that I was able to do the rest of the standing series. My Eagle, Balancing Stick, Tree and Toe Stand were great. Thank goodness.

The floor series postures were kind to me today. By this time, my pulled muscle must have had the time to recuperate. My Cobra is still very strong, and I felt my belly button staying put on the floor. My Locust, Full Locust and Floor Bow were good. I have more control of my Full Locust; I took a quick peek at myself and saw my chest and a little of my mid-section. Yay!

It was a treat to have David as our instructor this morning. I've only been to just one class of his and this was last year, when I had just made the commitment to Bikram Yoga practice. He made us hold a few extra seconds to some of the postures; some of us are so used to the dialogue that we would sometimes get out of the posture too soon. Those extra seconds kept us on our toes.

As I am typing this I hardly feel the pain to my side anymore. By committing to my practice this morning I now know that even with this kind of pain I can still do the postures albeit with some restraint. I still felt the same high after class as if I was 100% well. That's the beauty of yoga. Namaste.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 19 = One Day I Will Get There!

Day 19 - April 19, 2010 - 6:00AM with Jacqueline

We had a great class with Jacqueline this morning. She has a very calm demeanour, and the tone of her voice is very soothing, just perfect for Savasanas!

Whew! For some reason, the heaters were cranked up quite high today, or at least that was how I felt. There weren't a lot of people this morning either. Is it because I wasn't at my usual spot? I wasn't too far from the door, though, so I was still getting a little bit of a draft. I don't know, maybe my body was just a bit off this morning (after a lunch of medium hot potato and pea Naanwich and Espresso Chocolate Flake ice cream yesterday!). I was sweating right from the get go. Overall, my standing series was 50-50. I did well in some, I tanked in some. Hands to Feet was still rusty; until I get rid of the soreness in my hiney, it will be a while before I get back to my best form. I didn't dare extend my leg during the Standing Head to Knee. I just focused on keeping my standing knee locked. I thought I'd give my knees a rest on this one, and try not to push it. One day, I will get there...

I was very happy that my floor series postures held up well today. Highlights are the Cobra, Full Locust, Floor Bow, and Camel. I am trying to keep my hips glued to my heels when I bend forward for the Half Tortoise. My spine is still rounded when I bend forward so I have to "walk" my hands forward in order to stretch out fully, while keeping my elbows straight and hands in prayer. As for the Rabbit Pose, I still cannot lift my hips high enough so my thighs are perpendicular to the floor. One day, I will get there...

I am very tempted to attend the 9:30AM class on Wednesday. I am just curious to find out how my practice will turn out after I'd woken up and been up and about for a few hours before the class starts. Tomorrow I have no choice but to go to the 6:00AM again. I hope to be back to my favourite spot by the door. I wonder if it's going to be a hot one again tomorrow. Que sera sera...Namaste.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 18 = Not Even a Sunny Day Will Keep Me Away From the Hot Room!

Day 18 - April 18, 2010 - 7:30AM with Abbey

It's nice to practice first thing in the morning, that way you have the rest of the day to do other things, especially on a sunny day. Our daughter was away on a sleepover, so after hubby and I finished breakfast, we did our weekend cleanup before heading out to the hardware store (not my cup of kombucha tea!). We tried a Naanwich and had ice cream for afters. See how perfectly my day turned out, with yoga practice first thing?

Now on to the not-so-hot room (I meant the temperature). Abbey thought the room wasn't that hot today, and some of us agreed. I checked the thermostat after class and it was set at the same temperature as usual. Nevertheless it was a great class with Abbey. The room had great vibes, and it does wonders for everyone present. I was initially worried that I would not do as well, because my Pranayama breathing was not 100% today. Honestly though, it's not my favourite. But how you do this exercise sets the tone of your practice. The highlights of my practice today were my back bends. I tried very hard to lock my knees and keep my weight on my heels for the first one, which is very challenging for me. I still have to find that balance as I tend to lose an inch or so of depth whenever I lock my knees. I was very pleased with my Camel Pose. I am trying to arch my back more and more each day. I couldn't see myself in the mirror, so I don't know if my thighs are getting close to being perpendicular to the floor. My Eagle Pose was stronger today. I make sure that I align my hips squarely to the front (a reminder from Abbey a few classes back). After class, Bettina shared a helpful tip for the Hands to Feet Pose, while she's having her coconut water and I my Emergen-C water...ah, so refreshing!

Big things come in little packages. I'm aware that there are some little changes happening every time I show up at the studio. It may not be much but a little goes a long way. Some days I may take "two steps back", but that's just my body telling me to back off a little. As much as much as I would like to do well each time, the reality is I may not. Yoga is a reality check. It humbles you, it keeps you grounded, but at the same time, it also celebrates your talents. You are unique and special in your own way. Namaste.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 17 = Back to My "Other" Favourite Spot

Day 17 - April 17, 2010 - 7:30AM with Abbey

I woke up very early this morning in anticipation of Day 17 of my 30 Day Challenge. I heard the plink-plink-plink of raindrops on our roof, which disappointed me because I had planned on taking our dog for a walk before getting ready for the 7:30AM class. Scrapping that plan, I put on my contact lenses to get that chore out of the way, then I went back to bed to have a few minutes more of cuddles with the hubby. Then at 6:30AM, I was off to the races.

Arriving early at the studio, I had a few minutes to sit in the car and listen to the radio before Abbey arrived. Being the first student to sign in, I managed to secure my "other" favourite spot: upper right corner of the room with mirrors front and right side (the better to check my thighs during Triangle Pose with). On weekdays I always park my mat right next to the door for an easy and speedy exit as I need to rush home right away.

We had a great class with Abbey today. I appreciated her pointing out that I should not rise up too high during the Cobra Pose, so much so that my belly button is no longer plastered to the floor. I should make sure that it is touching the floor so that I can use as much of my lower back strength as possible to lift my chest up higher. During the Full Locust I made sure that I saved some strength (but still breathing) to lift up to the highest level moments before releasing the posture.

At the end of the class, I took advantage of the luxury of a longer Savasana. It is so nice not to have to rush out today! I took the time to sit down and savour my Emergen-C fortified water while chatting with my buddy Bettina. Then I had a shower before heading home to have a nice breakfast. My daughter and our dog greeted me at the door (hubby was still enjoying a lie-in). What a beautiful start to my day! Namaste.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 16 = Two More Weeks To Go...Until The 60 Day Challenge!

Day 16 - April 16, 2010 - 6:00AM with Laurel

Today is Friday, marking the end of my weekday 6:00AM class run. Don't get me wrong, as I do enjoy practising first thing in the morning, even if I have to get up as early as 5:00AM! I've come to know some of the 6:00AM "regulars", working ladies who, like me, make a bee-line for the showers as soon as we say, "Namaste" to our instructor.

It was nice to have Laurel teaching today. I've only been to her class only once before. It's "refreshing" to have different instructors as they each have their unique teaching styles and tips on how to execute the postures properly. Today, she also reminded us not to wipe our sweat off as this would make our bodies work harder (and generate more heat) to create more sweat for cooling down.

So how did today go? Well, the hiney is getting less and less sore, so I'm improving on my Hands to Feet Pose. My Triangle is still strong, and so is my Cobra. I'm very, very pleased with my Cobra in that I am able to hold my head up high with only my belly button touching the floor with very little support from my hands - it's all about lower back strength.

Two more weeks until the end of THIS Challenge. Notice how I emphasised "THIS"? It's because I am seriously moving on to the 60 Day, and my poor hubby exclaimed, "What?!? What if you have to visit your folks or something?" I told him that there is a yoga studio where they're at, so no problem! Although it is very tempting to take a break, you know, sleep in, at the same time I know that I will be missing it. Big time. Everybody says that, even the non-Challengers. Yeah, so why stop now?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 15 - At The Halfway Mark - You Win Some (Inches), You Lose Some (Inches)

Day 15 - April 15, 2010 - 6:00AM with Anastasia

Well, here I am, halfway through my 30 Day Challenge. I'm slowly getting back to my deepest forward bend for the Hands to Feet Pose. The soreness in the bum is slowly subsiding, although I felt some tingling sensation in my right hand (like it's going to fall asleep). Overall, I still feel terrific.

I am not going to go into the details on how I executed the postures today, whether I noticed some progress or not. I am just going to share some of my thoughts about the Challenge, if I may. Here are what stands out:

1. If it weren't for the Challenge, I wouldn't be coming everyday to practice. I would only practice on my days off, or when I feel like it. Although I noticed that I seemed to go deeper in some of the postures by not coming everyday, missing a few days does take its toll~I feel there's something missing!

2. If it weren't for the Challenge, I would not get used to getting up as early as 5:00AM to make it to the 6:00AM class. As this is the only class that would work for my schedule during the work week, signing up for the Challenge has forced me to JUST DO IT.

3. If it weren't for the Challenge, I would not be able to uncover the potential my body has yet to offer. I was flexible as a child, but at my age, I didn't know I COULD STILL be flexible.

4. If it weren't for the Challenge, I would not have developed a camaraderie with my fellow yogis at the studio. I have met some really good people who are very dedicated to their practice. Our instructors are very helpful and they really care about their students.

5. Last but not the least, if it weren't for the Challenge, I would not be diligent in keeping my body healthy outside the yoga studio. My eating habits have improved; I eat less quantity, but more quality.

I intend to practice yoga well up to my senior years. I would like my body to stay healthy and happy so that I can enjoy what life has yet to offer me. I would like to grow old with my husband and enjoy our retirement. I would like to see our daughter grow up to womanhood and start her own family, and enjoy them all. I don't want to stagnate, I don't want to become a grumpy old woman. I want and need to be happy, so I can pass this happiness to every single person I meet. Namaste.