Thursday, March 31, 2011

Let The Challenge Begin!

Actually, I have "officially" begun my challenge yesterday, March 30th. I figured, why not? By doing so, I have timed it to end on April 28th, the eve of my Mom's first death anniversary. Last year she passed away on Day 29; I practiced that morning at 6:00AM and she passed away that evening. So for this year, since I've practiced yesterday and today, I thought of just making those two days count.

My stickers are on my calendar at home. I have made arrangements for my daughter to set her alarm so she can get herself ready for school. I will arrive home just in time for me to walk with her to school. She completely supports me in this endeavour. Thanks, sweetie!

So today, I parked myself at the back, right beside the door. Then someone puts her mat down right in front of me, totally blocking my view of the mirror. It would have been okay if she was the type of yogi who has 100% total concentration down pat. Nope, she's a fidgeter. Just before a posture, she checks the state of her fingernails. But surprisingly, not seeing myself in the mirror for once helped my concentration. I was able to focus more on the posture, internalizing it, rather than focusing on MYSELF. By looking at this yogi's hair/nape/back/what have you, I was able to focus. How about that? Talk about a cloud with a silver lining!

Oh and I can never thank teacher O. enough for pointing out that I had my feet a tinge too wide apart during the Awkward Pose. By keeping it at 6 inches apart made a HUGE difference on my endurance. For the first time is so many months, I was able to hold the posture longer! Yay!

Tomorrow brings Day 3 = 572 minutes until it starts. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gearing Up for the 30

Can't believe April is upon us soon. Yes, I am gearing up for my 30 Day Challenge beginning Friday, April 1st. No, I am not a fool...okay I am. At least this is what my colleague Karen thinks. I am still trying to get her into the hot room with me. And boy, she is a hard nut to crack.

Anyway, yes, I've decided to do another challenge. My last one was in April 2010, and I have decided to make it an annual challenge. My practice has been quite regular recently so I am ready to rock and roll. I have also gone to a few 6:00AM classes. I would also like to vary the times when I practice, i.e., go to afternoon or evening classes as well.

Why do a challenge, you may ask? What is the purpose of the challenge? At one point, my hubby thought that this is a competition of some sort, like an ego booster, which is contrary to the essence of yoga. Well, okay, it may appear to be THAT, but speaking for myself, I consider it as a means to discover what my body is capable of when subjected to a CHALLENGE. It is not just a physical challenge; it is also a mental challenge. I think it's more mental than physical. The postures require you to concentrate and meditate, blocking any distractions, be it an itch here, a hair out of place there (physical), a bad day at the office, traffic, cranky kids (mental). Bikram Choudhury himself said, "Let no one steal your peace". So, so true.

Looking back from the challenge I completed last year, I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment, also reveling at how transformed I was physically and mentally. To be brutally frank, I love myself more, I just feel more beautiful, sexy, inside and out.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Dizzies, Locked Knees, and Bruisies

The first two go together in Hands to Feet Pose, I've just discovered. At last, I could lock my knees, but soon after I stand up, the Dizzies come back with a vengeance. I have no choice but to sit down and hope that somehow I'd recover soon enough to do a second set of the Half Moon series.

The bruise on my left thigh looks pretty horrid, at the stage now where it's black, blue, and red. Add to that is that round, puncture-shape break on my skin where that Lab's fang made contact. I was thinking of wearing my cropped pants instead of my shorts, but in the end decided on the latter. I thought I'd just hide in the back for today's class.

I arrived at the studio later than usual, so all the back row spots have been taken. No choice but to practice up front. Oh well, it will be a good test for concentration, right? Both for me and the other yogis.

I managed the Eagle Pose well, despite feeling some pain when I had to cross over my left thigh. Overall, today's practice wasn't too bad, although I could feel the effects of having two days off. Our teacher today suggested that it would be a good idea to vary the practice times. I am a morning person, so I prefer to practice in the morning. But after O's suggestion, I just might try to practice in the evening, when hubby is home. I've done it before, I just couldn't remember what it was like. I will keep y'all posted on this note.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

316 Minutes...

...until the 9:00AM class...

When you log on to my home studio's web site, they have a countdown until the next class. Well, theirs would be shorter than mine as there is a 6:00AM class. Geez, I must be such a yoga freak that I am counting down the minutes until the 90 minute torture starts.

I will be facing that mirror tomorrow morning, and something black and blue will be staring back at me. I have this nasty big bruise on my left thigh. A dog bit me while I was walking Trudy on Sunday morning. This 12 year old Labrador suddenly twigged on Trudy and bit her cheek, then turned on me when I tried to pull her away from the attack. Luckily I was wearing jeans that morning, and his fangs didn't puncture the material, but it was strong enough to break the skin. I had to compose myself as it hurt so much! The owner was very apologetic, and I told him to put a muzzle on his dog, especially after he told me that for some reason he does not like big dogs. I will sure keep an eye on him from now on, and to say something if I don't see that muzzle clamped on his dog.

So, I bet the Eagle Pose will hurt tomorrow. Rather that than get the dizzies again. It has been an interesting 2011 practice so far...

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Aftermath and Intermission

Back to work after Spring Break. I have taken advantage of the break by practicing practically everyday. Yesterday, I went to Bikram Yoga in the morning, then to Restorative Yoga in the evening with my niece. This morning I felt wonderful, albeit a little sore after being stretched and bent yesterday.

No practice today. I thought I'd let the little one get back into the school routine before I try to go to the 6:00AM classes again. I am planning on doing a 30 Day Challenge in April. I checked my work schedule and it looks do-able. So we will see how it goes.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Restorative Yoga

Our local Lululemon store sponsors community classes every Sunday evening. These are held at their store in beautiful downtown Victoria. I thought I'd give it a try; what the heck, it's free and it's good to try other yoga flavours. I brought my niece along, and she and I enjoyed the hour-long class very much.

I am thankful that I've had 2 years of Bikram Yoga experience to back me up on some of the postures tonight. My hamstrings were loose enough for my legs to be stretched upward with my the soles of my feet facing the ceiling. My hips are also open enough to stay on the floor when they need to. My favourites were the Pigeon Pose and the Happy Baby Pose.

The purpose of Restorative Yoga is for your body and mind to relax and have a good night's sleep. We left the store feeling ready for bed. Yes, I am still up blogging and I am just waiting for my night owl of a daughter to get settled for the night. I am looking forward to having a glass of wine with my hubby before we get settled in ourselves. Life is good. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Sit Down, Sit Down, You're Rocking The Boat...

Yup, me the boat. I had to sit down for most of the first set of the Standing Series postures after Standing Head to Knee. Was it because I practiced at a different studio? I've practiced there before, and I was able to secure a gorgeous spot up front beside the windows overlooking Fort Street. It was a very HOT class, and it wasn't even jampacked despite today's classes being all Karma. Who knows? Just another curve ball...again!

Despite the discomfort, I was very happy to do my part to practice today in support of the Japan Disaster Relief. I have a soft spot for Japan. Mommy spent a few months there in the '60's and '70's for her post-graduate studies. She brought me there when she attended a seminar. We stayed at a skyscraper of a hotel in the Shinjuku business district. We went to Tokyo Disneyland and rode the bullet train. Happy memories indeed.

Tomorrow, I am back to work, so my practice would have to rest for a couple of days. I am looking forward to return to my home studio. There's no place like home.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Case of The Dizzies

Iron count must have been low. I had a strong first set of Half Moon and I locked my knees during Hands to Feet Pose. When I got up, then started to do the second set, that light-headed feeling set in, then my balance gave in, and I had to sit down to recover. What WAS that? Never happened to me before, being so light-headed that I had to sit down. Another curve ball.

Anyway, with the Standing Series done, the 2-minute Savasana was a treat to fully enjoy! During Wind Removing Pose, I noticed that there were a couple of yogis who used towels to keep hands from slipping off from their knees. I did that once during the early days of my practice and was advised by our instructor to ditch the towel and try to build the strength of my hands. I'm glad I listened because I certainly do not need it now. Another improvement worth mentioning is that my lower back is definitely stronger now as I can hold the Cobra Pose well. My Triangle Pose is touch and go; there are good days and bad days. My knees are not up to par that these days the Awkward Pose and the Eagle Pose (at times) are a challenge to hold.

Tomorrow is another day to look forward to. I wonder if Dizzies will be back. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, plus those arms and legs in Eagle Pose, that they won't.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Just Another Challenge...

No, not the 30 Day kind, but rather, one that involves the female anatomy. Yesterday afternoon, my head ached for some reason. It might have been that I've had my contact lenses on for too long, or maybe I haven't hydrated enough after class, or it could be that extra cup of coffee which I don't normally take. A trip to the bathroom solved the mystery...the monthly curse has been cast upon me. Shoot. I had bought a cute bottom from Mika Yoga Wear, the colour of pale lavender (officially labeled "Orchid") that I was looking forward to wearing today. Scratch that idea. Out comes the black shorts, perfect for "that time of the month".

I woke up this morning, that headache now diminished a little, and monkey mind pipes in, "Maybe you should not practice this morning, maybe wait a few hours and go this evening". Ugh. Evenings are reserved for my hubby and kiddie. I want to play Monopoly with them again tonight. As much as I would love to go to evening classes, just for a change, I must admit that I shut down in the evening. Anyway, monkey mind lost this battle, and off I go into the black morning and onward ho to the ol' studio.

Upon arrival, with our instructor J.'s happy smiling face greeting me, I decided to park my mat by the door this time. It's good to switch places just for a change of scenery, so to speak. Well, okay, it's really because of "that time of the month" and I'm not really feeling up to par. I would like to be able to enjoy a few drafts from the gap under the door. Anyway, it's usually pretty quiet during the 6:00AM class. About maybe 20 tops. But lo and behold, the room was close to packed; someone thought there were 30! Very unusual for 6:00AM, but I am not complaining. Having more people means more energy. Who does not like more energy, right?

So, the practice is still going strong. During Savasana, I was thinking about my progress. It feels as if I have hit a plateau. Sure, I recognize my limitations. I may not be able to execute a Standing Bow Pulling Pose with the raised leg pointing straight up to the ceiling. I may not even be able to hold the Standing Head to Knee for the full count. However, I pulled myself back to earth, and thought about what Bikram said, that there is no yoga-DO, only yoga-TRY. Yoga-TRY is all I can do. Who knows, I may have the biggest surprise of my life yet! Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

PS: Headache is gone.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Can You Not... Bikram Yoga? I will be celebrating my 2nd birthday (i.e., as a yogini) in June. Looking back, it has been a great ride. Nothing else has captured AND kept my attention and then turn into a PASSION like Bikram Yoga. My husband is quite relieved that at last, I have something to do for me, and as a consequence, it benefits him and our daughter as well. Happy wife and mother, happy life, right?

I went to the 6:00AM class again this morning. It's great that I can take my time to enjoy final Savasana and not have to rush out. It feels so good to be back to practicing on a regular schedule again. It's nice for Mrs. Forehead to touch the floor without my hamstrings crying out. Even better is when the Camel Posture is something to look forward to, and not to be afraid of. I love that every class is different from the last, that my body surprises me with a curve ball here and there. One can be frustrated by this, as normally you'd expect that practice makes perfect, right? But in this yoga, nothing is perfect. How humbling can that be?

I don't know about you, but I am sticking with this. Hopefully I will continue to practice even in my dessert years. When I saw my dentist today, he remarked how well I looked and asked if I take some sort of treatment. I told him I practice Bikram Yoga, that's it. I wonder if he will try it himself. I am keeping my fingers...and legs crossed as in the Eagle Pose...hah!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Real Test for My Monkey Mind

'Twas a very HOT, BOILING, SWEATY class this morning. Drip, drip, drip went my salty sweat onto my toes in Balancing Stick. During each Savasana I kept looking at the two fans on the ceiling and willing them to start rotating. I was willing the door to open. I was contemplating on leaving the room, and to top it off, to retrieve my water bottle filled with ice-cold Emergen-C spiked water. For some reason, our teacher (bless her heart) must have sensed the discomfort, the breathing out through the mouth of some of us yogis after a posture, that she turned the fans on. Oh, joy!

My monkey mind was ahead of me, trying to coax me into not doing the Camel Posture, that deepest of back bends. But yoga mind countered with, "Lorrena, you're here in the hot room, you might as well make the most of it, and just DO the Camel!" And do it I did. I didn't want to get out of it before the teacher said to. There I was, in the posture and instead of holding my breath while awaiting the magic phrase "Put your hands back on your hips...", I just took a breath and lifted my chest up, and continued breathing so I won't pass out. Yes, I nailed both sets of Camel. Oh joy, I survived!

Can't wait for tomorrow's class. So far, I have done four straight days, and the future looks rosy as I may be able to go for another three straight. Oh joy!

Now it's just a question of whether to go for the 6:00AM or the 9:00AM...

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Just Another Manic Monday...

That's The Bangles for ya; if you were old enough in the 80's to remember tunes, you'd know this group.

Ah, the 9:00AM class with none other than Mr. Suggestion himself. He who makes us work extra hard, that "everything is supposed to hurt". And hurt I did, thanks to his words of encouragement specifically during the Hands to Feet Pose. I am pretty close to locking my knee, and thank you P. for telling me that I am almost there. That's all I needed to push myself deeper into the posture. I had expected to be pushed again during Part Two of Awkward, and true enough he wanted me to sit back further until my legs shake and just about to lose my balance. Just to challenge myself more.

The class today was pretty fast-paced. I was out of breath a few times, and sweating buckets. And true to form, P. extended the second set of Camel by a few excruciating seconds. Bear in mind that "seconds" seem like minutes, and "centimetres" feel like inches in yoga.

In as much as today's practice was the hardest I've worked in a while, I still felt that I've accomplished a lot. I was challenged enough. I was encouraged, praised. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Eight Troopers at "6:00AM" aka 7:00AM DST

Gotta love Daylight Savings Time...spring that hour hour of lost sleep in my comfy bed. My body has a very good alarm system, too good for comfort, as I kept waking up every hour three hours before I am SUPPOSED to get up.

Get up I did, and upon arriving at 6:45, the lovely Bettina cheered my arrival, announcing that I am the second one to show up. Cool! A semi-private class, lots of room to stretch without having to touch the neighbours. Fifteen minutes later, six other students showed up, and there we were, the eight troopers/die-hard yogis/morning people/what have you, sweating and working hard, and getting the best workout to start our Sunday right.

My body this morning felt a little bit sore, a little bit heavy. My poor right elbow has been doing well, albeit still feeling pain in certain angles. I haven't been wearing the brace for about two weeks now.

Last night, I said to my husband that my passion is this yoga. He did not doubt what I've just said, as he has not seen me this passionate about an activity before. He knows I am looking after myself...happy wife, happy life, right?

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Don't Be Scared...Just Try It!

So today, our instructor noticed that I didn't have water to drink after the Eagle Pose (aka the official water break). I then replied that I do not take water during class. She then said that she's too scared to do it. I should have pointed to my temple, in order to express that one CAN survive for 90 minutes in a hot room WITHOUT water, as long as you conquer your monkey mind AND you are well hydrated BEFORE class. Don't be scared...just try it. A year ago, I just "held my breath and jumped right in". I read Mary Jarvis' blog (her link is posted on my blog under "To Drink Or Not To Drink"), then I went right ahead and stopped taking water cold turkey. I must say that right from the get go, I felt fine. Even better was the fact that I had no extra luggage in my gut that would hinder the back bends and forward bends.

I guess with anything in life, one must sometimes just DO IT. Sometimes without thinking. Thinking too much might all the more scare you into forging ahead. Sometimes taking a few risks here and there are worth taking. As long as you come out of it alive, it's all right. Don't we say, "Oh you'll survive!" to people who are scared in taking that bold step?

Yeah, it may just be that security blanket/towel/water bottle in class is hindering what is possible. Don't be scared...just try it! Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Is There Water in the House?

Today marks a year of no water during class. What started as a challenge after a fellow yogi mentioned that one can survive without water for 90 minutes turned out to be a win-win situation for me. Without having that "security blanket", I am no longer distracted by wanting to drink. On top of that, I no longer carry extra luggage in my gut, especially when doing backward bends and forward bends.

Sure, the room is hot, I am sweating buckets, I constantly lick my lips, but instead of water, I rely on my breath. It's just amazing how breathing continuously through the nose is all I need to refuel. When I fell dizzy after some postures, I breathe. It prevents me from panicking, from wanting to lie down. The two-minute Savansana is just pure heaven. It definitely is the refueling stage of the class.

The next time you feel like a refreshment, go have sips of air, JUST BREATHE. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"We Need Some Energy..."

It's a Tuesday and it's my day off. Bonus. I seldom get Tuesdays off. So there I was, showing up for the 9:00AM class. After a glorious, sunny Monday, Tuesday greeted our beautiful city with the cold and damp. If it had been December, I would not have gotten out of bed. But I have the momentum back and I felt that it would be such a waste not to practice today.

In the change room, I was greeted by a familiar face, that of my neighbour down the street where I live. She said, "You have energy, please give us some energy, we need it today!" I'm not sure if I just happened to show up when she felt like saying that, but hey, it sure felt great that she had said that to me. THAT gave me energy, for sure! I replied, "Oh boy, the pressure is on!" :)

As much as we focus on ourselves for 90 minutes, little do we know that our fellow yogis do notice, do feel the energy in the room. Without our noticing it, we do help our fellow yogis when they're not feeling 100% by sharing our energy. We talk about how much this yoga has improved the quality of our lives. What could be better than knowing that, at the same time, it is also encouraging others not to give up on themselves. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

Today would have been my Mommy's 86th birthday. Sadly, she left us close to a year ago now. And we all miss her every single day that goes by.

When we lived in the Philippines, birthdays in our family were special events. Our big, extended family always got together for dinner, either at our favourite Chinese restaurant named Shantung, then dessert of ice cream at the Magnolia House on the way home. Before Mommy retired, her work family always feted her on her birthday. She was very well-loved, by her colleagues and staff, and her patients. She would come home with an assortment of gifts and flowers.

But as much as I know that she felt very appreciated by these gestures, nothing gives her more pleasure than spending time with her family. A simple birthday card with words of love and affection from her children will instantly bring a smile on her beautiful face.

Yesterday I spent some time at her graveside to wish her a Happy Birthday. My two brothers and our Dad were there too, and we shared our thoughts, shed some tears, oh how we miss her so! I've dreamed about her twice within the space of maybe 2-3 days last week. She was happy, and she was among her family. In the first dream, I gave her a big hug, so happy to see her, then realized that she wasn't meant to be there. Nevertheless, it appeared that she was meant to be there, with us. In the second dream, I saw her walking towards an adjacent building. When I checked on her, I saw that she was getting dressed in something special for her birthday party. When I told my sister about these dreams, she said that it was probably Mommy's way of making sure that she is not forgotten on her birthday. Ah, but she need not worry, because she will always be in our hearts, our thoughts. We know that she is always with us, wherever we are, whatever we are doing.

Good night, Mommy. I love you. Enjoy your special day with Lolo, Lola, and all our relatives who have gone before the rest of us. We will always hold you close to our hearts.