Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Days 23 and 24 - The Body Speaks Out

I'm back to blogging. Been away for a while. Haven't had anything significant to write about.

My body has been crying out lately. It has been subjected to 22 days of yoga--I missed days 15 and 16 though--so I can't really blame it. It has been telling me to take it easy. I've been feeling some tweaky pains on my left side below the waist, from my hamstrings to my glutes. Any posture that involves stretching the hamstrings is a struggle, save for Standing Separate Leg Stretching where I can now touch the floor with my forehead, no problemo.

So today when I would normally attend the 6:00AM class, I decided to sleep in and go to the 9:00AM instead. Best decision made so far. In my mind, I totally rocked it. Worth noting was my Standing Bow Pulling Pose. I pushed past my edge, and tried to level my torso parallel to the floor with my leg kicking back and up towards the ceiling. When I reached that edge, I felt a tweak in my leg, and for a few seconds I was able to gain an inch or two maybe of depth. I did fall out, but boy, did that ever felt great! It is simply amazing how much one's body can achieve if you set your mind to it.

It has been a great Challenge. Although a part of me would like to get this done and over with, I have to admit that it will be very difficult to let go of the routine. My practice has come a long way, and it is very evident that one must keep a semblance of a routine in order to enjoy the benefits of this yoga. A friend once told me that I am a "binger and a purger"...I have to chuckle...what, an anorexic and bulimic yoga practitioner? I guess so, and we all know what the effects are of this. A consistent, regular practice is the key to a happy and healthy life.

Good night, Mommy. I love you. Namaste.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 10 Time Warp...from April 2011 and April 2010 Challenges

I thought I'd revisit my Day 10 posts from two previous Challenges. I practiced at 6:00AM today, and my body is still experiencing soreness and stiffness. I've also noticed that my left hip area is more sore than the right. I think I know what caused that. Whenever I do the Cobra Pose, my alignment is very skewed. If you happen to view my body from the ceiling, it's as if I am doing the Half Moon Pose with my arms along side my body instead of extended along side my head. It's no wonder that one side will be compensating for the other. Whenever I lift my legs for Bow Pose, my left foot is not raised as high as the right. I didn't know about this until a few months ago when one of the teachers came up to me and did the correction. While I am more conscious of it now, I still have quite a ways to go before it's fully corrected.

Other than this, I continue to feel 110% great after class. It doesn't matter what happens during class. Whether it's a rockin' class or a sucky class. I try my best to do the postures the right way and not be so hung up on depth. It is a great life lesson outside the hot room as well.

APRIL 2010

Today is Saturday, April 10th for Day 10 of my 30 Day Challenge. First class was at 7:30AM so I had the luxury of getting up at 6:15 instead of 5:15. I got to the studio at 6:50, and I was the first to arrive. Our instructor arrived 10 minutes later, and my buddy arrived soon after that. We parked our mats at our favourite spots, upper right corner right next to and in front of the mirrors. My buddy is doing the 101 Day Challenge, and tomorrow marks Day 101! So excited for her, and she said she'll keep going.

I had a great class today. I felt much more energised and able to do most of the postures to my liking. I pushed myself during the Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose by not spreading my legs too far out to the side to try to touch my forehead to the floor. My Triangle Pose is a lot stronger today and I was able to sit down lower. My lower back has become a lot stronger as I was able to hold the Cobra Pose high enough with less pressure on my hands. For the first set of the Camel Pose I tried to keep my knees 6 inches apart and I felt a tremendous stretch at my lower back...such a great feeling afterwards!

After the final breathing exercise, I made it a point to stay in the room longer as I have been rushing out to get home soon after the week day classes ended. I leisurely drank my vitamin-fortified water while chatting with fellow yogis. When I went back to the change room, one of the ladies asked me if I was going to do a back-to-back. I replied, "Oh no!" thinking, "Are you kidding me?" By the way, a back-to-back is two straight classes in a row. I would've today, as I felt so good and strong. Maybe one day. I will chalk that one up as one of the challenges I will take on. When the 30 Day is done, I will do the 60 Day, then the 90...who knows I might go for the 101...then maybe Teacher Training...then still practicing at 80 years of age...oh, so much to look forward to! Namaste.

APRIL 2011

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.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 9 - What It Boils Down To

Maybe you are wondering why in the world would I practice HOT yoga for 30 days straight. Oh, did you know that I go to the 6:00AM classes 4 days each week? I see those eyes rolling, that jaw dropping.

I guess I am a yogaholic. A yoga junkie. Oh, I am also a yoga pusher because I take every opportunity to convince you to try it. In June 2009, as I am wrapping up an Iyengar yoga session that I signed up for, I heard about Bikram Yoga. I decided to try it despite some unfavourable comments about how hot it is, how hard it is, how unsanitary it is with all the body smells, sweat, hair on the floor, etc., etc. I thought, I will judge with my own eyes.

My first class was a Karma Class. It was cheap drop-in night, admission by donation. Naturally, it was busier. Hotter. Humid like hell. I didn't leave the room. It was quite an experience. Yes it was hard, but I was amazed at how great I felt afterwards. I knew I had a great workout, but I wasn't panting like crazy. Needless to say, I was hooked from day 1.

More than 2 years later, I am still here. This is my third 30 Day Challenge. I did not plan to do one again after April--I vowed to do my own challenge every April as a tribute to my mother. But the sign-up sheet beckoned to me. And I responded. I am enjoying my journey. That's what it boils down to.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 8 - The Curveball

Haha, yesterday my post was about the uphill climb. How Day 7 turned out to be a great practice. Well, what do you know, today it was quite the opposite. Maybe because I've had a two day break from 6:00AM classes, and have been "spoiled" by the 3:45PM and 8:00AM classes? Was it the Keema Curry I had for dinner last night?

Who knows? All I know is that this morning, my arms felt like lead in Pranayama breathing. During the second set, I couldn't hold my arms up high without wishing it was over. Half Moon, Backbend, Hands to Feet, and Awkward Poses were write-offs in my book. My Eagle Pose was my consolation; I maintained the posture for both sets. It was a slow uphill climb from then on.

Letting go. After class, that's what I did. I had Day 8 in my pocket. It wasn't the best class, but what really counts is how the rest of my day went, and how I went about with my day. I had an awesome day. 'Nuff said.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 7 - Uphill Climb

I'm on a roll. Day 7 finished strong today. Couldn't ask for a better practice. I practiced beside an old friend whom I met during my newbie days at a seminar led by Ren Soriano, a senior teacher from LA. There was great energy in class at 8:00AM, the very first class of the day. When most people are probably sleeping in or enjoying their very first cup of coffee or tea for the day, or out for a walk or a jog, there we were, 30 Day Challengers among regular practitioners who opted to be in the hot room sweating and stretching to the beat of the Bikram drum.

It's early days of the challenge. For me, it has been a uphill climb. I am aware that there will be days when I might have a setback. I have done this twice before. You would never know what your body will throw at you. It could be a curve ball, or it could be a base hit. You could be out, or you could run straight home. Whatever your practice offers you, take it with an open mind, and then let go and move on to the next one. What could be worse? For me, it would have to be not trying my best and never knowing what possibilities could happen. This yoga has proven to be a workout not just for my body, but also for my mind. A total workout.

Good night, Mommy. I love you.

Day 6 - Never Felt Hotter, Never Felt Better

Great energy at the 3:45PM class today. Getting into the hot room just a few minutes before class started meant that I would have to take whatever spot is left. I was right up very close to the podium, more to the left side of the room (the HOTTER side).

And what a HOT class that was! By the time the Floor Series got underway, I was sweating more than usual, and my face was red as a cooked lobster. Still waterless during class after 19 months, the thought that I may have to break this abstinence crossed my mind a few times. All that monkey mind could think about was a nice ice-cold vessel of coconut water!

I survived the heat, the humidity, the practice. More breakthroughs happened today. The ones worth mentioning are:

1. I locked my knees in Hands to Feet Pose. I had been feeling dizzy during the first couple of days of the challenge, but today, success!

2. Eagle Pose is getting stronger and a lot more stable than before.

3. Trikanasana, for the first time in a while, has been solid on both sets. The knees still hurt a little bit, but I am now able to hold the posture without collapsing.
I felt very, very pleased with my practice today. I guess 1/5 of the challenge is out of the way. Deserving of that ice-cold coconut water after class. Ahhhhh....

Good night, Mommy. I love you.