Saturday, April 30, 2011

Days 31 and 32 - No Rest for the Not-So-Weary

Yup, I'm like that Energizer bunny that keeps going...and going...Believe me, I was planning on taking a rest after completing the 30 D-C, but why stop when I still have the momentum? Or maybe it's more like I am just afraid to stop because I might not want to start again? The 5-week hiatus last winter was the worst thing I have ever done in the history of my practice. It was a very difficult journey towards getting back to where I ought to be. Once I got going, everything is all right in my yoga world again. I am loving every minute of my practice, and especially AFTER! that taking a rest is in the back burner for now. Teacher Laurel said that I should stop when I feel like I REALLY want to take a break. She told me about her friend who kept going for 805(?) days, and she's about 60 years old. Then she stopped, and that's okay. I don't know about 805 for me...but knowing that it's possible, I will keep that in mind.

I was at our local pub one evening with my work family, and one of the ladies told another colleague that I am a Bikram yoga practitioner. He said that being one will allow me to enjoy my pub grub without guilt--I had a Mediterranean pizza and a peach cooler, and a few nibbles of nachos to start :) I love to eat, and I must admit that during Savasana, I do think about FOOD. This morning I couldn't wait to have some Kombucha! I love that it's sparkling like Coca-Cola, which I still drink but in moderation, but so much better for you.

So, there are 28 days more to go until the 60 Day Challenge is over...hmmm, it doesn't seem that long. Better stock up on stickers...

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 30 - THE END...For Now, That Is!

This challenge has flown by so quickly that I there were times when I've forgotten what day I am on. Mind you, I started on March 30th, so not going by the calendar month made it tricky. In as much as it felt like a "breeze", it was not smooth sailing.

I had a few days where I felt dizzy, especially after Half Moon Pose. I was also nursing a bum right elbow, after injuring it two months prior to the start of the challenge. My knees seem to hurt more these days; I used to rock the Awkward and Eagle Poses. Now, holding it for the duration are few and far between. It may be that I practice at 6:00AM more often; I found that later classes seem to work better for these old knees.

Despite these kinks, I did notice a few improvements. I am pretty close to locking my knees in Hands to Feet Pose ("Engage your quads, Lorrena!" - Mr. S). The first backbends (in the Half Moon Series) are slowly getting deeper. There have been a couple of times when my forehead touched my right knee in Standing Head to Knee. Standing Bow Pulling Pose is almost pretty at times. Balancing Stick is looking more like Tom that a broken umbrella. My forehead has been touching the floor in Standing Separate Leg Stretching 100% of the time.

The animal postures are definitely looking good. Cobra has improved so much since teacher O. corrected my alignment; I've been very conscious of this ever since, and my bellybutton has the sole attention of the floor. The Locusts are definitely gaining some height. I've never feared the Camel, and I am confident that I can keep up with Mr. S's extended sets. Not sure yet how I am doing with my Rabbit; somehow I can't tell if my thighs are perpendicular to the floor.

Today, teacher C. talked about doing doubles, that is, practicing at 6:00AM and in the afternoon. I have done a back-to-back (two straight classes in one day). I would like to do an AM/PM practice, to compare it to the back-to-back. If we keep raising the bar, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to discover what we are capable of achieving.

Since I have a few days off to spare, I will continue with daily practice. This IS raising the bar for me...what have I got to lose?

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 29 - A Yoga Party

Today I showed up "late" for class, i.e., 9:00AM as opposed to the 6:00AM. Today being a day off, I thought of treating myself with a sleep-in. I still woke up at 5:00AM, but sometimes it is nice to just lay in bed.

As to be expected, classes taught by the beautiful I. are always busy. I managed to secure a front row "seat". Pranayama was strong. As a matter of fact, my Standing Series finished strong. The Floor Series was pretty strong too, although I started to tire out by the stretching pose, just before the Spine Twist. By this time, my mind is already panicking. It's telling me to forego a long final Savasana. However, after the final breathing exercise, I am refreshed again so no early exit for me today.

The atmosphere in the room felt like it was a party. There were lots of yogis, lots of great energy, and hey, the Vancouver Canucks are moving on to the second round! It was a great class today. Hot, hot, hot! But great, great, great!!!

So tomorrow marks the end of the challenge. Wow, this one flew by so quickly.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 28 - The Camel That (Almost) Broke This Yogini's Back

As I pulled into the studio's parking lot early this morning, I caught a glimpse of this familiar looking truck already parked there. I then realized that I will be in for a hardworking, high energy practice for my 28th.

P. (aka Mr. S), who owns that familiar looking truck, works us yogis really, really,
H A R D. Expect prolonged sets of backbends, Awkward, Locust, and the "dreaded" Camel. I appreciate that he praises you for your good form as well as "suggests" tips on how to achieve good form. At the same time, he nudges you to go outside your comfort zone. He never fails to do the latter during second set of Camel. Oh, man, that second set this morning was a killer. I knew that I could hold it for as long as he would like you to hold it--I breathe to calm myself, to overcome the urge to give up. I was pushing my hips forward, more and more and more, but my thighs were screaming at me to get out of the posture ASAP! Just a couple of seconds before P. signalled the end of the second set, I got out with a grunt that resonated relief. I looked around and there were only a few of us who held up to the end. How did I feel? I felt relieved that it's over, but at the same time, I felt that I was successful in pushing myself out of my comfort zone. After having survived the Camel, I know I can survive maybe almost everything life will throw at me.

The Camel did NOT break my back. Nor was there a straw that broke my Camel's back. No matter how my practice starts out, by the time we are ready to do the Camel Pose, I know that my body has been prepared for it. I have yet to sit out the Camel. I hope that day never comes. But if it does, I will learn to let go.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 27 - Achy Shaky Start , Strong Finish

I almost didn't make it to the 6:00AM class. I did get up early to get ready, then just before the contacts were put on, I thought of going back to bed and the option to practice right after work. I did go back to bed, stared at the clock, then thought, what the heck, I am awake, I might as well just GO. So GO I did.

My yoga buddy B. was teaching, and it was so nice to have her back. Being Easter Monday, a few of the regulars were absent; there were only nine yogis who showed up. I think I was still half asleep when class started. My mind was up, but my body felt so heavy. My arms felt like they were made of lead AGAIN, that I couldn't hold them up during all the phases of Half Moon. Awkward was very, very shaky, and my knees couldn't hold the posture the whole time. I still have very good control during part three, though. My right knee and leg are the stronger of the two, so they held up well during Eagle. There were lots of falling out during Standing Bow Pulling, but I did try to get back in.

As always, my Floor Series postures were strong. I'm telling you, it's due to that 2-minute Savasana. Just two minutes of being still like a corpse and breathing slowly and steadily are all it takes to re-energize after a very challenging warm-up that is the Standing Series.

Just before I left the studio, B. informed me that I am doing well and that I have come a long way. I told her how much I appreciate knowing this, as although I feel great and I THINK I am progressing, the soul feels even better to get positive feedback from the teachers. Namaste, B.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 26 (Domingo de Pascua) - Lead Arms and a Nice Backbend

Before I moved to Canada, Easter holidays started on Maundy Thursday and ended on Easter Sunday and they were spent between my grandparents' town home and at our beach property both located in Atimonan, Quezon (Philippines). These wonderful four days would be spent swimming, eating, playing, lounging around, listening to Beatles records, and of course, the traditional Visita Iglesia (church visit) on the evening of Good Friday. After 3:00PM on Good Friday, we were not allowed to have fun: no swimming, no playing, no listening to music, no noise. We all looked forward for Good Friday to end. On Holy Saturday, we were allowed to go to the beach and swim, then back to town again before dark. On Easter Sunday, we were woken up early, just before the church bells were rung, and when they started tolling we kids were instructed to jump as high as we could. My grandmother had a lot of superstitions, and this was one of them. Apparently, if we jumped high enough we would grow taller. Well, we eventually did, but I think it's because our grandfather was quite a tall man himself. It was the genes that did it and not the Easter Sunday high jumps.

So today, many years since those childhood summers, instead of the Easter Sunday high jumps, I stretched and stretched and stretched for 90 minutes. I haven't measured myself yet, to find out if I gained a few centimetres, but I sure feel taller since I started practicing almost two years ago. My posture has definitely improved A LOT. Today though, after a rockin' practice yesterday, I am tired and my arms felt like lead pipes. I couldn't hold them up after each set of Half Moon Pose, BUT I did manage deep side bends. And lo and behold, teacher J. thought I did a pretty nice backbend. Thanks, J.! I needed that!

Four more days to go. The finish line looms ahead. But the race does not end there. I will just be making a pitstop. I will keep going. How can I not when I just feel absolutely refreshed, energized, revitalized. 60 Day Challenge? Well, maybe.

Happy Easter, Mommy. I love you. I thought about you in class today, and your happy smiling face brought a choke to my throat and tears to my eyes. I miss you so, so much.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 25 (Sabado de Gloria) - The Best Day Ever!

I decided to bite the bullet and go to the 7:00AM class with only 1/2 hour to spare after class is over before my shift starts. I ran images of how I am going to manage that 1/2 hour: quick final Savasana, quick shower, no hair drying (luckily I am blessed with hair that does not need to be blow-dried in order for it to look presentable!), no chit-chatting, quick dressing, then a safe 10 minute drive to work. SUCCESS! I had 5 minutes to spare so I was able to grab a coffee.

I had the best practice in the challenge ever today! I did fall out a few times during the Balancing Series. I was not perfect, not competition level perfect anyway. The reason why I thought today's practice was the best one out of the 25 was because I tried VERY HARD to do the postures the RIGHT WAY. Bikram said, "There is no yoga-DO, only yoga-TRY". And yoga-TRY I did!

There are a few postures which I am STILL trying to progress on. Sometimes, a lightbulb turns on as I figure out ways to improve on them. Let me give you a rundown on those postures:

Half Moon:

Challenge: I always find it tricky to ensure my hips and shoulders are facing forward, like a flower petal blooming, and not twisted to the side.
Lightbulb Moment: I look at my hands while I am pushing my hips to the side. I found that my hips and shoulders stay where they should be. I also make sure that the body weight is on the HEELS.

Standing Bow Pulling Pose:

Challenge: Keeping the body parallel to the floor and the chin touching the shoulder, trying hard not to fall out of the posture.
Lightbulb Moment: Keeping weight on the big toe of the standing foot; stretching the arm up with chin up and keeping it strong and straight as if to touch the mirror as the body goes down; as you stretch forward keep kicking UP and BACK in order to counter balance the forward motion...thanks, Ida!

Balancing Stick:

Challenge: Maintaining the letter "T" form and not a broken umbrella.
Lightbulb Moment: Like the Standing Bow Pulling Pose, arms should be straight up, chin up, and as you go down keep the strong stretch forward and do not let your arms dangle. Keep the toes of the raised leg pointed and pigeon-toed (I got this tip from attending the late Ren Soriano's posture clinic two years ago), eyes looking straight at the toes of the standing foot in the mirror. I found that as long as I keep my arms strong and straight, I can keep my balance.

I highly recommend Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class book (the "blue book"). It presents the perspectives of the seasoned practitioner and as well as the beginner. It is my Bible :)

So I was told I am over the hump. Yes, I am. But I do welcome humps once in a while. They are good for grounding the ego. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 24 - A Very Good Day on Good Friday

What can I say, except that this morning's class with L. was totally, totally awesome! I've only been in her class once before, and this was during the early days of my practice. She has this motherly demeanor about her, very encouraging, but at the same time, she gently pushes you to do your best the right way.

Today I have made a "minor" adjustment to my Bow Pose. I now try to keep my feet and knees 6 inches apart while kicking up. As a result, I have not achieved the usual height BUT the form is certainly better. I will do this again tomorrow and see how many centimetres I gain.

My Cobra Pose has definitely improved a lot since I am more conscious of the alignment of my legs and by anchoring my glutes to the floor in order to lift my upper body up without using my hands.

So, only six more days to go. I can see the finish line looming ahead. I am amazed at how quickly and quite smoothly this year's challenge has progressed. Is it because I now have almost two years of experience? Is it because my body is changing, and adapting to this yoga? I can only speculate the answers to these questions.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Day 23 - "Who Would Torture Themselves at 6:00AM?"

M E!...and a bunch of other (very) early birds eager to get their practice in first thing in order to set their day least this is how I see it. P. was at the helm this morning, and he was the one who asked the question above. We had finished the Awkward Pose, and yes, at 6:00AM that posture is pretty darn challenging. My legs were shaking, being woken up and given a jolt first thing in the morning.

Yes, it WAS a bit of a torture this morning. I haven't been in at 6:00AM for a couple of days as I have had the luxury of going to the 9:00AM class on my days off. My joints were very stiff, shaky, achy. Knees weren't locking in Hands to Feet, Eagle was painful at times, and my balance was totally off in Standing Bow Pulling Pose. Balancing Stick wasn't bad, but I had to get out early 3 times out of 4.

I can't believe how quickly this challenge has been progressing. It doesn't feel like I've been coming for 23 days straight. I am feeling less aches and soreness this time around. I guess this so-called "torture" I am putting myself through MUST be working. So guys and gals, Bikram Yoga is no sweat. Really. Come in and see and feel for yourself.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 22 - No Judgment

'Twas another great class today. I should, however, refrain from drinking too close to the start of class. I've been taking pee breaks after Eagle, thereby missing out on doing Standing Head to Knee for the the right leg during the first set. I've been very pleased with my Balancing Stick, ever since I started to stretch my arms up, point my toes back, keeping the leg strong and contracted, and PIVOTING forward like a wheel, keeping the arms and legs connected as the arms go down and the leg goes up.

During the one of the Savasanas, teacher C. talked about people who are reluctant to try this yoga because they think they are not flexible. I, too, have been trying to get one of my work buddies to go to his first class; I even gave him one of my complimentary class passes as an incentive! One time he had complained that he had hurt his back playing soccer and that he wants to rest first. I told him that if he had only gone the first time I had asked him, he probably would have prevented this from happening. Anyway, C. said that the point of the yoga is to go in and try the best you can...that's all you can do. You build up your practice as the days go by. The one point she mentioned that I took away with me from the class today was that THERE IS NO JUDGMENT IN THE ROOM. There is no competition. I read an article shared by my yoga studio and it was entitled "10 Commandments of Bikram Yoga". The one commandment that really stood out for me was, "Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour's Practice". Nuff said. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

PS: Here's the link to the article:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 21 - A Stiff Start, A Strong Finish

Pranayama was brutal today. I could not bend my neck back as per usual. A stiff neck was the culprit. Thankfully, by time the second set of the first back bend came around, I was able to hang my head back, albeit only just. This goes to show how much the joints open up in so little time in that heat and humidity.

A. was at the helm today. She has such a soothing manner about her, and with years of experience she has a lot of tips and knowledge to share with us. It was such a great class today with a lot of yogis in the room, and it wasn't sweltering either.

A few postures which were challenging in the past rocked today. There are days when YOU JUST GET IT. I've been practicing for almost two years now. I've read the two Bikram Yoga books (the blue book and the orange book) multiple times. I take my practice quite seriously. I internalize the corrections and suggestions the instructors give to me. But sometimes, you know, there are days when nothing works, and there are days when everything just falls into place. I loved my Balancing Stick, Cobra, and Camel Poses today. Knowing when to push, when to back off, and reconnecting with the breath are essential to a strong practice.

Nine more stickers to place on the board...

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 20 - "With Your Happy Smiling Face"

Second trimester done. A little sore and the joints were pretty tight this morning at 6:00AM. Last night, I was at Lululemon again...not to shop...but to "torture" my abs and legs with Goddess Pilates. I've been going to the free classes at Lulu for four Sunday evenings now, with hot yoga of course first thing in the morning. I really enjoy being there, especially when you have a buddy to be tortured with...haha.
B U R N. That was how the abs and legs felt like. But oh, so, good.

So today, the knees weren't locking during first set of Hands to Feet Pose. The arms wouldn't stay straight with elbows locked. The joints were rusty. My left hiney bum was sore too. But hey, Awkward rocked, and so did Eagle and Triangle.

J. was at the helm today, and it's always so much fun having her there, especially at 6:00AM when you'd rather be in bed catching some extra ZZZ's than sweating and stretching in heat and humidity. On my way out after thanking her for a great class, as usual, she said that she enjoys having me there too with my happy smiling face. Awww, those words really mean a lot to me. I'm very happy to pass on the good cheer. Is it the yoga? I bet it is. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 19 - It's A 10!

Good morning, Sunshine! Finally, the sun is shining where it's supposed to this time of the year. Victoria has the best weather in the country, so it's a little bit off-putting not to see the sun and feel warmer temperatures right now.

Setting out for an early practice at 7:00AM, I was somehow surprised to see only a handful of us practicing this morning. T E N. Plus the wonderful Catherine at the helm. I had my pick of the room having arrived 20 minutes early. I chose to be up front (no surprise there) although I was tempted to be at the back right beside the window.

It was a strong practice, no leg cramps, and despite having just 10 other bodies in the room, there was great energy to pump everyone up. The temperature in the room was just right, enough to make you sweat, but not too hot to take your breath away.

My joints were a bit tight this morning, but I'm relieved that my forehead still managed to touch the floor during Standing Separate Leg Stretching. Balance is still a bit off, but improving. Awkward Pose was at its best this morning.

I hope you all have a pleasant Sunday. The Vancouver Canucks are going for their third straight win to clinch the playoffs this evening. Go Canucks!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 18 - PM Class with the Crampies

I missed my morning class as I had to work today, but luckily there weren't any last minute stragglers to do their banking so we were able to finish on time. I arrived at the studio with plenty of time to spare and secured a really good spot on the second row on the right side of the room. The sunny weather must have kept most of the crowd away from the hot room, which I didn't mind at all.

As to be expected, I was more loosened up for class. My bum elbow didn't hurt during Half Moon and Eagle. Awkward Pose was a lot better today, and I was able to hold Eagle Pose for the whole duration. I did have to leave the room after Eagle for a pee break so I missed the first set of Standing Head to Knee. I had trouble with my balance during Standing Bow Pulling Pose and Balancing Stick although I managed to execute one or two tries which weren't too bad.

As for the Floor Series, I am more conscious now of my alignment, making sure that my legs are pointed straight back and not off to the side. I had trouble with Floor Bow as my legs felt some cramping which has not happened in a long time. I must not have hydrated myself well enough today. Plus I had a later lunch, about 2 1/2 hours prior; I prefer to finish eating by three hours before class starts. It's also THAT time of the month. My stomach felt a little bloated today. I was a little concerned about Camel in this condition but surprisingly, I pulled it off without a hitch.

Eighteen days went by just like that. It seems that once the first trimester was done, the days seem to fly by! I just have twelve days left! It seems a long time, but I know that before I can say, "Namaste" the challenge will be over. A few of of us were chatting one day about what life would be like after the 30 Day Challenge. I guess some might continue to do a 60 or a 90, while others will take a day or two off before resuming their regular practice again. We are all in agreement that once the challenge bug has bitten you, it would be pretty difficult to slack off. The question is, would I still practice at 6:00AM? Stopping to ponder, I think I will still do so on the days that I work, then a later class on my days off. Would I do it EVERYDAY? If not, how many days off will I allow myself? We'll just have to cross the bridge when we get there. Y'all be kept posted!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 17 - A Time to Reflect and What TO Wear Next :)

Seventeen straight done. What gives? Here's what I've come up with.

I was told that my body will open up when I do a back-to-back or a double. I will be tired, yes, but the reward of improved flexibility will somehow soften the blow. Yesterday, I was amazed at how my body has changed for the better after being subjected to 180 minutes of "torture" in the chamber. For once, my bum right elbow felt very close to normal again. I'm not sure whether the timing was coincidental, as I hurt it close to three months ago, and that it was due to be healed. I was told though, that an injury of this nature normally takes longer than that. Another thing I noticed is that my hips feel more open, especially today at 6:00AM. My Trikanasana was way, way better than it used to. Sitting down lower in order for my crotch to be at the same level as my knee is a lot easier to do than in previous classes. I was also successful in holding the Standing Head to Knee Posture a few seconds longer. Thanks, teacher L. for the tip of sucking the tummy in and breathing a slow, steady breath in and out through the nose while in the posture. The power of breath comes through once again! I've been practicing for 16 consecutive days, so maybe it was time for my hips to open up at this point. Who knows? It sure felt great to be able to clear yet another hurdle in this practice. It is simply amazing how much potential the human body has and we only have to get out of our comfort zones to challenge it, while at the same time, being good listeners too and not to push it TOO MUCH to the point of breakage.

It's this last point that I believe is why yoga is nothing but a good thing. It reacquaints us with our bodies. It helps us to be patient with ourselves. Sadly these days, we are always in a hurry. Ninety minutes may either be too long or too short, depending on our individual reasons on why we chose to be there. It definitely IS a refueling station, not just during Savasana, but during each and every one of the 26 postures. It not only refuels the body to get through the 90 minutes, but also to help us get through the remaining 1,350 each and every day.

I had a great evening last night catching up with hubby over some liqueurs before bedtime. We didn't retire until midnight, and he asked me what time I had to get up to get ready for class, and when I answered 5:15AM, he exclaimed, "How do you do it? You only have about 5 hours of sleep!" I said, "I don't know, I just feel great and have so much energy!" I dreamt about a pair of shorts that my yoga studio has for sale, and it was a black and white tiger print made by Shakti. Apparently I want to buy it as well as a Lululemon red Pranayama Bra to go with it. Oh boy, I'm telling you. I am more excited about shopping for yoga outfits than regular clothes. Yes, I guess you have the license to call me a yoga nut. And that's okay. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 16 - I Held My Breath and Jumped Right In

"Hold your breath, and jump right in..."

Famous words from an old colleague of mine who taught a class on Estates many years ago. I am in banking, and estate processing used to scare me. I would catch my breath when someone approaches my work station to declare that their loved one had passed away, and the bank accounts need to be dealt with. I was intimidated by the entire process, the documents required, who can have access to the account, who cannot be given access to the account, etc., etc. This colleague who taught the course knew how intimidating it can be, so when she uttered those words, it made perfect sense to me. You will never get over this fear unless you face it head on, and somehow you will just learn how to deal with it. Mistakes may happen, and they can always be fixed. But all that knowledge and experience will only build your confidence over time.

So now, after having dealt with a few, I do not fear Estates anymore. In fact, I quite enjoy being given the task. The part I do not like is having to hear that a dear old lady or gentleman customer you have served for many years has passed away, and you will not get to see them anymore.

Today, I held my breath and jumped right do a back-to-back, or double--two consecutive classes in one day. I went to the 6:00AM and the 9:00AM classes. I felt very reluctant to do it, up until I spoke with my yoga buddy J. who gave me a few tips on how to survive the back-to-back classes. Just make sure you drink lots of water to replenish the fluids you lost in class #1 and maybe half an orange to get some sugar in your system as well. That was all the push I needed to make the plunge. It also helped that I felt great after class #1. The wonderful I. was at the helm again this morning, and she gave me some helpful tips for the Standing Bow Pulling Pose.

I was told by J. that during class #2, I will be more flexible, and the joints will be more open, but I may feel tired. True enough, this is what happened. I wasn't able to balance the whole time during Toe Stand, and I got out of the first set of Spine Twist early, which never happened before. I was dreaming of a tall, ice-cold glass of Coca-Cola :) Yep, monkey mind had a little field day during a Savasana or two.

After class, I felt great. I glugged the water in my bottle, had a refill, and glugged that down too! That shower never felt better. I left the studio very happy, that once again, I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone. This yoga journey will be going for a very, very long ride. Namaste.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 15 - No Back-to-Back, But No Regrets

I had great intentions, to do a back-to-back today, after getting a "nudge" from a yoga buddy after class yesterday. However, the main concern that I had in doing this today is that there is only a 30-minute gap between both classes, so what if I am not hydrated enough for class #2? As I do not take water during class, will the water I drink after class #1 be enough to sustain me? I have to ask my yoga buddy K/C about her regimen for doing a back-to-back first.

This afternoon, on the way to her piano lessons, my daughter asked if I did IT, and when I told her I didn't, she sounded disappointed. So I thought out loud about maybe doing it TOMORROW by going to the 6:00AM, then the 9:00AM, which would give me an hour and a half of rest and re-hydration. That should work, shouldn't it?

I've read that there were three women from San Francisco who took EIGHT straight classes in one day. Apparently they never drank nor sat down during class. All they did was BREATHE in a slow, steady breath. Oh man, I don't know, but I think I will not even try this one. Maybe when I am retired?

Today's class was certainly not the calibre of yesterday's, but then I did not expect it to be. It's not that I am a defeatist, but I would rather be surprised with a positive, than have high expectations then be let down if things don't go accordingly. I sweated more today. We had the wonderful I. at the helm, and I could never thank her enough for spotting me at times and correcting me.

Oh, by the way, I took the 11:00AM class today. It's nice to vary the practice times. I'm definitely more flexible, what with a few waking hours spent sleeping in, breakfast, and walking the kid to school with doggie in tow. Tomorrow and Friday, it's back to 6:00AM. I must go to bed earlier tonight.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 14 - Could've/Should've Done a Back-to-Back!

W O W...OH...W O W...I could not believe how wonderful, great, awesome, my practice was today. After a few reps of Pranayama breathing, I knew that my body is faring so much better. For once, I was not wishing for Pranayama to end soon. I was breathing efficiently, and not just going through the motions. I took the 9:00AM class--maybe the extra 2 hours of sleep helped. Who knows?

It was the first time in many months since I've parked my mat at the right front corner of the room, with the side mirror right next to me. What a homecoming it was! "Hello, (right) Knee!" said Forehead in Standing Head to Knee--yes, those two have FINALLY touched! It took, what, like, almost two years! Left knee is still being very shy right now, so patience...patience...

So what about the Camel? With P. (aka Mr. Suggestion) at the helm this morning, I knew that second set of Camel will be an extended version. True enough, it was. I was "pushed" by P. to push more forward--I must be pretty close to getting there. And that second set was a LONG one! So much so, that upon getting of it, I let out a grunt of relief. Apparently the Camel elicits a varied array of emotions: sadness, happiness, anger, bliss...mine was pure BLISS...

I enjoyed a long final Savasana, my regulation three minutes. After enjoying my Emergen-C laced water, I prepared to get into the shower. My yoga buddy G. asked me if I was going back to the hot room for the next class. I looked at her like she was crazy, and said, "Oh no!" She said that I hardly sweated, meaning I looked like I was not tired at all. I said that I just feel GREAT!, that I COULD probably do a back-to-back. Hmm, I wonder...maybe tomorrow? I will pack an extra set of essentials, and depending on how I feel after the first class tomorrow, maybe, just maybe...

Oh the human body is such a wonderful thing...

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

PS: Another deja vu: Last year's Day 14 blog post title was "Almost At The Halfway Point and Feeling Terrific!" WEIRD...the mirror image between these two challenges is simply mind boggling...Again I repeat--I did not check last year's post prior to writing this one...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 13 - And So the Soreness Sets In

Almost at the halfway point, and like clockwork, the soreness of some parts of me are beginning to catch up. The lower left side of my back extending down to my glutes has been pretty sore early on, and today, doing the Standing Head to Knee with the left leg raised has been a challenge. I'm not sure whether the Sexy Flexy class last night pushed its limits. All in all, today's practice was so-so. Are the early mornings getting to me? Three straight days off beginning tomorrow are a welcome treat. I will bow out of the 6:00AM, and luxuriate in having a choice of either the 9:00, 11:00, or 1:45.

I was just thinking that if it weren't for committing to a 30 Day Challenge, I would be very tempted to take a rest. Very tempting indeed, but I've been practicing long enough to know that once I rest, I will be justified in extending that rest. At this point, it's all about being a good your body. Well and good to have goals, and to challenge one's self, but as with anything, we should never lose touch with arriving at a compromise. Yesterday, I may have been flexible enough to extend my leg and hold it there. Today, I was too sore to even hold the foot that is attached to it. That is okay. There is always a tomorrow. And 16 days after that...and 30 more years after that...

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

PS: Okay, I just checked my post for Day 13 from the Challenge I did LAST YEAR...and it's entitled: ONE SORE weird is THAT?!? I swear I didn't revisit that post BEFORE I wrote this one...deja vu!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Intermission - Sexy Flexy Class

Work buddy K. and I, along with her friend G. went to our local Lululemon store to attend their weekly community class this evening. Every Sunday evening, Lulu hosts free 1-hour classes, showcasing a different fitness studio each month. Last Sunday, it was Pilates; today, it was Sexy Flexy.

What is Sexy Flexy? It turned out to be a yoga class focusing on flexibility, particularly in the hip joint area and the hamstrings. There were a lot of familiar postures, like the Triangle (we did the Warrior version), Cobra, and Separate Leg Stretching. We also did Pigeon Pose, which I quite enjoy. Of course, the Downward Dog and Child's Poses were not missed.

We enjoyed the class. I was surprised that I was THAT flexible, even outside the hot room. My hamstrings were not at all compromised. We were asked to sit on the floor, extend our legs out into a split and bend forward from the lower spine. Sounds familiar? I must say I did well, and I couldn't thank Bikram Yoga enough for preparing me for this class. We had fun, and while K.'s knee was still giving her trouble, she was glad that she decided to come today.

Next Sunday will be a Pilates class. I wonder how my abs will fare then...

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Day 12 - Peaks and Valleys

I went out of my comfort zone and parked my mat at the back row, right side. It's partly due to my very skimpy new yoga short with a narrow inseam. I don't think I would be comfortable doing Standing Bow Pulling Pose while in the front row. Can you say, "...cannot concentrate..."

I must say that I felt fine being in a different "home" for a change. What is even better is that no one blocked my view of the mirror. It wasn't a packed class, which is normal for 7:00AM on a Sunday. Oh, by the way, it appears that Dizzies have left town. Yay! Half Moon and Hands to Feet Poses are now Dizzies-free!

Cobra Pose was a revelation today. With being mindful of keeping my legs straight back and really tight, with my feet planted firmly to the floor, I was able to arch my back properly and keep it there for the duration. What a huge difference to be mindful of alignment. It felt really different from my Cobras of practices past!

I love having Teacher J. at the helm. She talked about not being too wound up about how our practices go from day to day. Every day is going to be different. There will be peaks and valleys; one day we're superstars, the next day we are tankers. This pattern keeps us grounded, and it is a good thing to be challenged. How else could we discover what we are capable of?

Tonight is Community Class night at Lululemon. Have I not have had enough yet? Apparently the class is billed as a "Sexy Flexy" workout. I will keep you all posted about it.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 11 - High Energy in the Comfort Zone

The change room at the studio is a hubbub of activity after/before classes. It's an opportunity for the yogis to share their experiences in the hot room. This morning, with the 7:00AM class over, and as the 9:00AM yogis come trickling in to get ready, I was treated to a nice chat with one of my first yoga buddies, K/C (I don't know which initial applies). She and I were in Ren Soriano's posture clinic two years ago at Bikram Yoga Sidney. Since then, we have been comparing notes about our respective practices. She does back-to-back classes and she said that I should try it sometime, as the second class is really not that hard. She was also the one who got me started on the "no water during class" regimen that I am practicing to this day. Hmm, so who knows, maybe a back-to-back towards the home stretch of my 30 Day Challenge will come to fruition.

Energy level is on a high still. My alarm is set for the appointed time, but I kept waking up every hour a good four hours BEFORE. My poor hubby complained that I kept him awake from all the fidgeting. I think I was just too excited and couldn't wait to get back to the hot room. Upon arriving at the studio a good 20 minutes before the start time, I find myself having to decide where to park my mat. I always gravitate to the front, unless it's on a weekday when I have to make a dash for the showers so a spot closest to the door is most ideal. So the change in routine only involves which side of the room--right of the podium or left of the podium. I used to love being closest to the side mirror, but lately I've been avoiding it, as much as I would like to see myself during Trikanasana. Maybe tomorrow, if no one beats me to it, I will park on that spot.

Change is good. Change is good.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 10 - First Trimester Done!

Finished really strong today! I practiced at 6:00AM, and today I worked the long shift--9:30AM-6:15PM. What did I get myself into? I was scheduled to finish at 3:15PM, but yesterday I was asked if I could work until 6:15PM. Only after I agreed to this that I then thought of what could become a very tiring day for me.

Before class started, and just after Teacher L. gave the newbies a few pointers on how to survive in the hot room, she looked over to the first row to her left, and addressed us as the "veterans". Veterans!?! I guess with almost 2 years of practice, I can hardly be called a newbie, right?

I would like to thank my yoga buddy J. for giving me a helpful tip on how to determine whether or not my legs are pointing straight towards the back of the room for the Spine Strengthening Series. After that correction from teacher O. yesterday, I am now very mindful of my alignment. Teacher L. also touched on the importance of alignment over depth.

So how do the first 10 days of the challenge feel? Well, here's the rundown:

1. My left bum cheek is sore. Sometimes Standing Head to Knee for the left leg is challenging for the first set.

2. I can't wait to get back to the hot room. Not that I am aiming to do a Back-to-Back or a Double anytime soon. All I'm saying is that I am thoroughly enjoying my practice.

3. Flexibility is definitely improving.

4. While I would love to gain depth in the posture, I am more mindful of alignment now.

5. Energy level is still on a high. I do "shut down" in the evening, though.

I am curious to find out how I will fare in the second trimester. I am aware that I might start to get tired and sore. I think I will review my posts from last year and do a comparison.

So Day 11 is in a few hours. I will be sleeping in an extra hour, as class starts at 7:00AM on weekends--still too early for most of my peeps at work. They still think I'm crazy to practice everyday at 6:00AM, then go to work. Surprisingly, I didn't feel tired at all today, after the workday was over. I am planning on going to bed early, though. I still love my sleep.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 9 - Crooked Cobra

Okay, so it's April 7th, Springtime, in Victoria, so why is it that the temperature dipped to 1 degree Celsius this morning? There's a very thin layer of ice on the windshield, enough that you have to get the scraper out (in my case, it's an old store card). There SHOULDN'T be frost in April here in the capital city, where we always boast to the rest of Canada that while they are still digging themselves out of the snow, we are already doing the annual flower count.

Well, things change, and life throws curveballs at you to keep you grounded. This applied to my practice this morning, at 6:00AM. Ahh, the Cobra Pose, I love the Cobra Pose. My lower back has come a long way since the early days. I think it is building strength little by little that I can rely on it to keep my belly button on the floor while the rest of my upper body is in the air with little weight on the hands. I am mindful also of keeping my legs straight, tight, like a Cobra tail, while in the posture. Oh, but well, as I was getting ready to get into the posture, waiting for teacher O. to say so, she walks over to me, then proceeded to shift my legs and shoulders in order to be properly ALIGNED. As I slowly went into the posture, she held my feet down and held my legs together as one. Man, that felt SO GOOD! It felt very, very different from all those Cobra postures in my memory bank. Thank you, thank you, O! Namaste.

After class, I asked O. if my legs were off to the side, instead of straight back, and she said it was. Honestly, I felt mortified inside; have I been doing the posture incorrectly all this time? She must have sensed this, because she said that it may not be the case, that it's just today that it was so out of alignment. For her to come out and correct me like that, yah, I must have been really crooked.

With this experience, I will now endeavour to be mindful of ALIGNMENT. How it is very important to keep that in check, instead of aiming for depth. Once you've got alignment down pat, then you can aim for more depth. Tomorrow is Day 10, and I cannot wait to be back to the hot room.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 8 - A Rockin' Standin' Series

I woke up to a dark morning with the sound of the wind howling outside. The forecast called for a windy day today with rain. As I went outside, it started to pour heavy drops. It was cold, and with that windchill, I looked forward to being in the hot room. Neighbour K. backed out of practice today as she was feeling tired. So I was on a solo flight out to the studio.

It was quite a busy class for 6:00AM. I like it when it's busy like that. There's more energy to go around, even at such an early time of the day. My Pranayama breathing was a lazy one. Not much gusto, but I made sure that my rib cage was visible. Dizzies just wouldn't go away, but it was not as bad as in previous days. It starts when I raise my arms up to prepare for second set of Half Moon. As bend to the right, here she comes. I breathe, I am calm, I keep my eyes open, to no avail. At least I didn't have to sit down this time. So, it might be getting better.

My Standing Series went off pretty strong today. I managed to hold Standing Head to Knee longer because I made sure I was BREATHING slowly and steadily. I tried to touch my forehead to my knee but lost the balance. "There is no yoga-do, only yoga-TRY." My Balancing Stick was stronger, only because I tried very hard to stretch forward and back like being tugged in a war. My arms didn't feel tired at all this morning. I am really, really stoked that I finished strong at the end. The Standing Series is a challenge for me. It takes a while for me to get warmed up and pumped for action.

As always, the Floor Series is no problem for me. I fear not the Camel Pose. In fact, it is my favourite posture as it is the most challenging of all. So far I have not backed out of it before the instructor says so.

So far, it has been such a joy to do this 30 Day Challenge. Although I know that it will not be smooth sailing all the way, I will welcome whatever comes. This is how I get through the kinks, the curveballs life throws at me. If this keeps up, who knows? I may just as well continue towards a 60 Day Challenge!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 7 - Hot and Sweaty Enough For Ya?

Today I deviated from routine and attended the 3:45PM class with teacher B. (three in a row with B. at the helm--what a treat!). This was out of necessity, not by design. The little one has an early start time on Tuesdays, so the 6:00AM will be too hectic for us. I drove straight from work to the studio and managed to get settled before the class started.

I knew the afternoon classes will be hotter, stinkier, busier, BUT my body will be more flexible this time of the day. And it did not all of the above. Of course, Dizzies paid a visit after Hands to Feet Pose. What is it about that posture that makes me dizzy? There are other postures that have my head inverted, and I am fine when I get out it. Someone had asked if I am anemic. Not that I know of, to the best of my knowledge. I have my fair share of red meat. So I don't know, I will monitor myself for another week. What is alarming is that I've never experienced this before.

Anyway, it was nice to have a change today. I sweated more today and while it was very uncomfortable, and the room being more hot than I am used to added to the discomfort. I was toying with the idea of making a run for it soon after B. left the room, but I decided to go for the 5-minute final Savasana. It felt wonderful to have that rest, and the cool drafts that permeated the room while the others were filing out were a treat.

Tomorrow is my day off, and I've decided to go to the 6:00AM, to get my practice out of the way first thing, so I will be set for the rest of the day. Spring has been taking its time to arrive in Victoria; it has been raining A LOT, it's very cold, the kind that's damp and bone-deep. Tea weather is how I describe it. Whatever the day brings I will just savour it and look for the silver lining.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 6 - Pilates Hangover

Last night, my work buddy K. and I attended a Pilates class at our local Lululemon store. I have taken a Beginner's class at the YMCA quite a while ago. I didn't really take to it, which is why I've never pursued it. But since it was being offered at the community class, I thought, why not?

Oh my God, my abs were crying, howling. They aren't my strongest body part; it's pretty soft. My legs are pretty toned, but they were burning from being subjected to pulses, lifts, etc. But you know, I am very thankful to be a Bikram yogini, because otherwise I would not have been able to execute most of the exercises. At one point, K. asked me, "Is hot yoga THIS hard?" I replied, "Yes, it is, but it's a different kind of HARD."

As I was having my dinner after class, I was thinking of what Day 6 will be like. I attended the 6:00AM class, and I parked my mat beside the door. My practice went well, but Dizzies still has not yet left town. I can guarantee that after Hands to Feet Pose, I have to take a few moments to steady myself. All the other postures are fine. At this point in my practice I am just trying to push myself a little bit further, in order to see how far I can go. I know that there will be some improvement as I am practicing everyday. I guess I just would have to take it one practice at a time.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 5 - Dizzies is My New "Friend"

I woke up to a beautiful, chilly, Sunday morning. As I was walking up the street to carpool with my yoga buddy/neighbour K., the birds were chirping, it wasn't raining, and I am just savouring the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. I live in a beautiful neighbourhood, in the most beautiful city in Canada--a poll declared it second best city to live in but for me it is THE BEST. I have a great family, nuclear and extended. Strong foundations, strong roots.

Day 5 commenced this morning at 7:00AM with B. at the helm. My peeps were all around me. I practiced beside J. on one side, K./C. on the other, and K. behind me. Right up front today, my favourite spot of all. Everything is where it should be. Pranayama was not that strong this morning; I didn't have a restful sleep. I think I was just too stoked in anticipation of this day that my mind just could not rest at all. Dizzies came back, sure enough, during second set of Half Moon. Knees were still locked in Hands to Feet, but it seems that right after I get out of the posture, Dizzies come back to ask for payback. I think my body is just making sure I am grounded, I am not perfect, I am human. No problem with that. I just breathe and move on. I let go.

As always, after the 2-minute Savasana--aka the Pitstop, the refueling station--I felt much, much better, so energized for what is considered THE yoga portion of the class, with the Standing Series being the warm-up. Teacher B. emphasized the importance of 80/20 breathing while in the pose. It makes a huge difference to your endurance if you take a 100% deep breath just before you execute the posture, keeping your lungs 80% full while breathing/exhaling just 20%. With this technique I am able to hold Full Locust longer and also manage to lift myself a few extra millimetres.

What will happen tomorrow, for Day 6? Come what may. It will all be good.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 4 - My, What a Big Bruise You Have!

Yup, it's a huge, black/blue/purple/red/yellow bruise on my left thigh I am currently sporting for a week now. No thanks to a 12 year old black Labrador Retriever that bit me and my sweet, gentle Saint Bernard for no reason. Anyway, I don't really want to discuss the incident right now. Trudy and I are both okay, thankfully. Someone had asked me if I've had a tetanus shot since the incident. Yeah, I think I've had one years ago--the doctor who had administered it has been retired for many years now.

So, this bruise of mine is not pretty. In fact, it's pretty horrid, pretty ugly. Anyone who sees it is quite mortified by the sight of it. You know that I love to practice right up front. Today I decided to do just that. What the heck, so what if that ugly bruise is staring right back at me for 90 minutes. I will consider it a challenge for my monkey mind, and for the monkey minds of my fellow yogis. So how do you like 'em apples, eh?

Okay, let's get on with business, shall we? Today marks Day 4. I've mentioned that I'm on the first trimester of the challenge. So everything is pretty rosy at this point. Everything is pretty much going like clockwork. No major aches, pains, soreness, what have you yet, although I must mention that my left bum cheek is crying out lately. The dizzies came back for a short visit today after the Awkward Pose. Locked my knees during Hands to Feet Pose. Standing Bow Pulling Pose is still going strong, as well as Standing Head to Knee. Balancing Stick is touch and go. I do need to stretch those arms and keep them strong and taut.

With the class over, after that invigorating shower, and relishing my Emergen-C spiked water, I yearn to go back to the hot room soon! Does this mean that a Back-to-Back and/or a Double are looming in the horizon? At the moment, it sounds pretty appetizing...

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 3 - 2nd Annual 30 Day Challenge

TGIF for most people, me included for this week and next. I have 2 consecutive Saturdays off which come few and far between. Today being the 1st of the month, I anticipated a busy day at work. In banking, the 1st of the month brings a steady stream of clients at the bank. People taking money out for rent, people bringing in money from rent. Payday, bill paying day, what have you.

I'm thankful for the 6:00AM classes during the work week, i.e., Monday to Friday. Committing to my 2nd annual 30 Day Challenge compels me to practice at 6:00AM. For a morning person like me, this is not a big deal. I look forward to having a fabulous day at work and at home, after having had the most fabulous workout I have ever had. Trust me, I've done Step Aerobics, Boxercise, Iyengar Yoga, and Power Yoga. I like them all, but as one of the yogis at the studio said, Bikram Yoga IS the Cadillac of yoga.

I've had a great Day 3. As usual, I've parked my mat at the back row, right next to the door. This time, there was no one blocking my view of the mirror. Ms. Fidget was absent at 6:00AM. It was great to see MYSELF in the mirror this morning. I was proud of my Standing Bow Pulling Pose. I had an A-HA! moment, where I stretched my arm up to the ceiling "max-i-mum", then continued stretching forward as I brought my body down, now trying to touch the mirror. What a huge difference it made! It is true that the more you stretch your arms taut in any posture, the lighter your body feels as you lift or stretch it, and the stronger you are thus enabling you to hold the posture longer. My Eagle Pose rocked today, too. I was able to stay in the posture. My knees felt really strong this morning. I was mindful in keeping the hips square to the front, pointing my toes down instead of hooking them to my calf muscle, and keeping my hands and wrists straight and away from my face. Really, the key to endurance is slow, steady breathing in and out through your nose. Take advantage of your breath. It's free!

I am so looking forward to tomorrow's practice. To Day 4. Less than 12 hours to go. I am in the first trimester of the challenge. Everything still feels great. Wait 'til you reach the second trimester. I'd say, bring it on!

Good night, Mommy. I love you.