Monday, March 29, 2010

30 Day Challenge - Now or Later?

I would love to do the 30 Day Challenge, in its true form, i.e., practising Bikram Yoga every single day for 30 days. Some yogis and yoginis would do doubles (attend 2 classes in one day) if they miss a day. There is a debate about this: some argue that if you miss a day, you gotta start over. I think I agree with this in that the whole point of the challenge is to practice yoga EVERYDAY.

So what is keeping me away from the challenge? Well, it's a 60lb pretty little thing ~ my 10 year old daughter. In order for me to meet the challenge, I would have to attend 4 weekday classes at 6:00AM so I can be home in time to get her ready for school. I don't really go for classes held in the afternoon or evening, as I would rather spend time at home with the family. Wednesdays aren't a problem as it is my day off and I attend the 9:30AM class. My daughter is not a morning person, and getting up on her own to make her breakfast and be halfway done by the time I get home is HER challenge. She does have an alarm clock, but she doesn't quite get that one has to be up and about soon after it goes off. I did a "dry run" once. Soon after the class ended at 7:30AM, with my instructor saying "Namaste" and leaving the room, I made a bee line for the shower. I was home by 7:50AM. I enter the house...everything was quiet, and upon rounding the corner to the kitchen, I noticed that all the breakfast stuff (bread, Nutella, butter knife, breakfast plate) that I had left on the counter for easy access, were still untouched. I go downstairs to find my daughter still sound asleep, and in 20 minutes the bus would have already left. Eeeks! Oh for the love of God, did you not hear the alarm, girl?!? Oh, but my daughter, as much as she sleeps like a log, got up like a shot, got dressed, ate breakfast, brushed her teeth, and was out the door in due time! Whew! Yup, she does really well under pressure!

So, with April around the corner, should I bite the bullet and go for it? As we say in Tagalog, "Abangan and susunod na kabanata" (Stay tuned for the next chapter)...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bikram Bookworm

I'm a bookworm and I cannot thank my father enough for instilling in me the love of books and reading. My first memory of reading is one of my brothers reading to me and having me repeat the words. If I remember right, I believe I was probably around 3 years old at the time. My favourite memory is of my Dad coming home from work one evening, with a brown paper bag in his hand. It contained a book, a storybook published by Ladybird books. I LOVED that book; I wish I can remember which one it was. I still have some of those books from my childhood and they occupy a special place in my bookshelf and in my heart.

When I started my Bikram Yoga journey in June 2009, and realised right after my first class that this would be THE workout/exercise routine I will be doing on a regular basis, I felt the need to read up on it. I didn't waste time borrowing Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class and Bikram Yoga: The Guru Behind Hot Yoga Shows the Way to Radiant Health and Personal Fulfillment. The former is a very useful guide on how to execute the postures, plus anecdotes from students and quotes from Bikram Choudhury himself talking away during class! I consider it a manual. The latter is quite similar, but it is just Bikram talking: about his life, his childhood, his journey. I feel more enlightened now about the bigger picture of Bikram Yoga. It is more than just executing the postures properly. It is more than just a physical workout. It is about being in the moment, honouring yourself, your talents, your gifts, unleashing whatever special attributes you have and living it inside AND outside of the hot room. The more you place value on yourself, the more you will place value on others.

Bikram First Thing

I bit the bullet and hauled myself out of bed at 5:00AM to prepare myself for the 6:00AM class. I hydrated well the night before, had two Medjool Dates, but was quite unsure whether I should have a little bit more an hour before class. I thought I'd play it safe by having about 1/2 cup, hoping that it's digested on time.

Driving out in the dark, I arrived at the studio at 5:50AM. My instructor greeted me with a cheerful smile ("I'm still trying to wake up!"). I enter the room and counted about 6 people, with a few more coming in. It's quite a turnout for a very early class, but I figured they are probably heading straight to work right after class.

I brought my water bottle in, just in case. My excuse is that I wasn't sure how well hydrated my body was, so I would consider it as first aid and not a security blanket. I didn't need it after all. I was very happy with my practice. I am now a convert to going waterless during class. The breath is such an amazing thing!

Will I now go to the 6:00AM everyday? Until the next blog...Namaste!

Monday, March 15, 2010

What? Waterless During Class? Absolutely!

When you log on to a Bikram Yoga studio web site, there is information about what first-timers should do to prepare themselves for the hot room. The most important thing to do is to hydrate well before and after class, and to go in with an empty stomach. It also reminds everybody to bring 2 towels, yoga mat, and water. Up until a week ago to this day, I had been religiously bringing my water bottle to class. There is an official water break after the Eagle Pose. After that point, water may be taken at will in between postures. I don't really drink a lot during class. Just a few sips here and there. Then it's partytime after class...load up on that water fortified with Emergen-C like there's no tomorrow! Better yet, have some coconut water!

So what is this crazy idea of not taking any water at all DURING class? How is that possible? The room is hot (at least 100 degrees F), you're sweating buckets while going into all sorts of bodily contortions on top of that, and you're telling me that it is humanly possible not to take even a sip of water during class? Yes, water addicts, IT IS possible. Where did this idea come from?

Casually chatting after class one day last week, a friend recommended that I read Mary Jarvis' blog. Mary Jarvis is a San Francisco-based Bikram Yoga instructor. I couldn't wrap my head around it and I would have dismissed this idea but when she told me that she tried it and found that she had more energy during class, I thought, if she can do it, I'm sure I most certainly can!

I immediately embarked on this waterless journey by constantly hydrating myself throughout the day, and taking 1 litre of water before bedtime. I had planned on attending the 9:30AM class, so I drank another litre 2 hours prior, and didn't eat a thing. I brought my water bottle, but left it in the change room. Yep, I can be THAT gutsy if I really want to! :) During class, I ran out of breath during Standing Bow Pulling Pose, and was a little bit jiggly during Triangle Pose, but overall I felt really great! The key is to breathe in and out through your nose slowly. While everybody else was reaching for their water bottles, I was standing or lying still, breathing in and out through my nose slowly. I had the thrill of my yoga life last week on Waterless Day 2, when my instructor praised my practice that day! Woot! Woot!

Today is Day 4 of going waterless during class and to add to this challenge, I attended the 6:00AM class on DST mode! I was really happy and pleased about my practice this morning. I did, however, take my water bottle to class, but did not drink from it at all. My excuse is that I wasn't sure if I hydrated myself well enough, as my last water intake was the night before, and I took in about 1/2 cup when I got up at 5:00AM.

So, how would you like to go waterless, and add this to your list of challenges? I highly recommend that you read up on it first. Click on the link below:

Good luck! Namaste.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Becoming a Sweathog Yogini

So, am I a Sweathog? No, I am not, not in the Vinnie Barbarino sense. I just needed a cool name for my blog :)

I consider myself a Yogini. I am a Bikram Yoga fanatic. Bikram Yoga yogis and yoginis sweat...a lot...and they love it.

I started practicing Bikram Yoga on Friday, June 5, 2009. But let me tell you first about the state of my body before I embarked on this Bikram Yoga journey.

I was skinny...up to the day I left my birthplace and moved to Canada. Because food was cheap, I ate and ate, until I gained enough poundage to transform the once skinny girl into a thick-waisted, thick-necked, flabby chick. I married, and got pregnant (yes, in that order). I suffered from gestational diabetes, a blessing in disguise as it compelled me to check my blood sugar regularly, so I gained a measly(!) 37 lbs. After having our beautiful baby girl, there I was with all the pregnancy weight and flab. It would be around 3 years after her birth that my husband and I decided that we should do something about the extra weight we were both carrying. So we went on the Atkins Diet and lost enough pounds to our liking. But we both gained it back. We got smug, you see. Back to square one...

Five years later, not liking what we see in the mirror, we decided to go back on the Atkins Diet. We lost the pounds again, and vowed never to seesaw back to our old, flabby selves. It was during this time that I discovered Bikram Yoga that June day in 2009.

I had dabbled in Iyengar Yoga and Power Yoga. Although I enjoyed it, it didn't really click. In wasn't into the "humming" during meditation at Iyengar Yoga class. A friend and I were chatting about Yoga and she casually mentioned Bikram Yoga, popularly known as Hot Yoga, and how she would never try it as the heat and the all-around sweating are a turn-off. One slow day at work, I sneakily Googled Bikram Yoga and found a studio close to home with a great 2-week unlimited introductory package. That got me interested. I thought, what have I got to lose? So there I was, on a Friday 7:45PM Karma class, busy as hell due to its cheap admission fee. I was wearing cheap Wal-Mart bike shorts and a stretchy top. I looked around me and saw Lululemon sports bras and shorts, as well as bikini tops and bottoms! The instructor's name was Wendy, and she was great. Everything else was so-so; there were a few times that I felt light-headed and moved awkwardly. I am what you would call sporty, and in grade school, my classmates called me "Flexi". I had maintained some degree of flexibility through the years, which helped me do some of the postures well enough. But boy, was that room HOT! I was born and raised in a tropical country, so heat and humidity are not foreign to me. But I have not sweated buckets since I moved to Canada years ago. I don't remember sweating buckets at all!

Ninety sweaty minutes later, class was over, and I felt like a million bucks! It's amazing how I felt rejuvenated, and wasn't huffing and puffing after the workout. I knew I worked my body very hard, but it wasn't cursing me afterwards. In fact, I felt as if it was overyjoyed and thanking me profusely for subjecting it to ninety minutes of an odd cocktail of "torture" (Bikram Choudhury calls the hot room the "torture chamber") and ecstasy! I knew there and then that I was going to come back the very next day...

Who Me? A Sweathog?

If you were born in the 50's, 60's or 70's, and old enough to watch TV AND remember the shows you've religiously followed week after week, chances are you will remember "Welcome Back, Kotter" and the Sweathogs. If you were a teenage girl in the 70's, you may have swooned over John Travolta as Vinnie Barbarino. How could you not, what with those big, blue eyes of his. I think it was seeing my cousin's poster of John and his beautiful, dreamy, blue eyes that started my obsession with that particular eye colour.