Friday, March 12, 2010

Class #40, 2010

Once a week, I'm aiming to do both xfit and yoga. This is a tall order - but I think it's good to have one day where you kill your body, and then one full day off during the week. My goal right now is 3 xfits, and 4 yogas/week - with one day off in the mix somehow. Today was my "double" and it went well.

Yoga at 4 felt great - super full class with B.J., surrounded by nice hardworking people (one of whom clearly had a garlic-laden lunch...pew!) but all in all, a nice solid Bikram class. I already can feel some improvement in certain postures, perhaps just from more body/muscle awareness (because they hurt!). However, I cannot do eagle on my left side (and normally, Eagle is "my posture"...) apparently my hip has tightened up! And again, my standing head to knee is poo, but that's ok, it'll get there. Stamina was good all things considered, but I was a serious sweat ball. At the savasana, I noticed the gal next to me had a mere sheen of sweat, and I was in a sloppy puddle, dripping from every pore.

After class, I stayed and worked on some hip openers (pigeon) and a few other advanced postures I've been playing around with. Good yoga time!

Crossfit #3, 2010

Today I didn't intend necessarily to go to xfit, because I'd already committed to 4 p.m. yoga. However, I was up and energized so I actually hit 6 a.m. xfit. There were two other newbies, dudes, and the three of us did the workout with Paul at the helm.

Warm-up as usual.

Then this torture device known as a Fit Wheel was handed to us - you strap it to your feet, with a single wheel in the middle, and we attempted (in my case) to do three different core/ab exercises. I was pretty much a failure but I tried hard, and expect I'll get better next time now that I'm a little bit familiar with the concept. Yet again, my core strength...blows. And now I've got my work cut out for me!

The WOD today didn't involve running, and I was thrilled because the weather was crap and though I'd run a in a little morning mist the day before, it was all out cold, windy and pouring.

The WOD:
3 assisted pull-ups
4 push-ups
5 air squats

I needed HELLA assistance on the pull-ups..two bands. But I could do the three required barely (again, upper body strength is poor), ditto for the push-ups (from my knees) but I did them all. Now, my shining beacon of hope in all of this is my lower body strength is actually respectable, so the squats were nothin'!

This we did 15 times through on the minute; if you didn't finish in the 1 minute, you had to wait for the next one. We all pretty much stayed together and finished in about 40 seconds, with a 20 second rest (about enough time to set up my band(s) for my pull-ups) before starting again.

15 minutes to finish

Super fun, I even beat one of the dudes! (Of course, he was doing real pull-ups and push-ups, so it really doesn't count). I think because of the yoga, I'm really not feeling competitive - I realize we all have different bodies and bring different strength and ability to the table. I just want to get better for myself!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Crossfit #2, 2010

Today again I was the only one who showed at 7 a.m. so I got another personal training session with Paul. We started with the warm up, and then the skill set was all lunges and squats...and once my lower body was trashed, we moved on the the WOD.

Today's WOD:
400 m Run
10 box jumps
10 burpees

  • I didn't walk at all in the run!
  • My box jumps were on two stacked up weights, because I'm still in fear of the actual (2' high) box, but I did'em
  • I did the burpees WAY better than I thought I could.
  • I didn't take ANY breaks!
22:57 to finish, and I was in and out in 1 hour all together.

Again, I liked it - in fact, I'm somewhat in awe of how much my mind and body are enjoying a different exercise environment, movements, and vibe. There's music on. You can talk. You get to go outside.

Don't get me wrong: Bikram is my first love. But xfit is a nice complement!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Class #39, 2010

Oh I could not possibly get to yoga soon enough today! I was in so much pain from my first day of xfit. So, I was working from home and decided to hit the nooner at Sweatbox with Gary. It was lovely! After feeling so sore and tight, my body was thrilled for the heat and stretching!

However, my gawd did parts of me hurt. My standing head to knee was a mere shadow of its former self. But in some ways, having everything in your body hurt gives you a keen muscle awareness - you feel every movement really profoundly, which I found helped me with adjusting and even moving deeper into certain poses.

I do believe the two (xfit + Bikram) are going to work well together. I love the yoga, but my body needs a shake up, and from my first day of xfit alone, I can see how I have lower-than-desired upper body strength and core strength. Hopefully xfit will improve my yoga, and vice versa!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Crossfit #1, 2010

Ok, so I started Crossfit.

Crossfit, if you don't know, is yet another cult-like way to get in shape. The people who do Crossfit, similar to those who do Bikram, believe it is the way. My girlfriend, Jill, and my sister, Julie, do Crossfit (abbreviated as xfit). They go 5 times or so a week, and Jill is almost at her 1 year anniversary.

The premise is to be fit and healthy by doing all the types of movements you would need if you were stranded on a desert island. Push, pull, jump, grab, lift, run...lateral strength, core strength, upper and lower body strength, agility... This is done primarily though a lot of classic exercise movements - push-up, pull-ups, squats, lunges - and much of it with body weight only, but also with weights.

The new xfit gym that I'm going to, The Lab, A Crossfit Gym on Eastlake, is awesome because it has two separate rooms. One for the big kids (like Julie and Jill) and one for those of us who are a bit more...remedial. The Elements room, as it's called, requires you to be able to accomplish a lengthy list of exercises with perfect form, skill and strength before graduating to the big kids room. I plan to stay there for a long time, if not forever. And that is fine with me!

Today was my first day. I went to 7 a.m. (it felt luxurious to sleep until 6:30 a.m. before working out, unlike yoga which requires a 5:30 alarm). The gym is quite new, so I was the only one - so I effectively got a personal training session from Paul, who is a super sweet (and quite cute) guy who plays Rugby and is very fit. And very supportive.

There are three components to each visit:
1) Warm-Up
2) Skill Building
3) The WOD (workout of the day)

The warm up is a series of 6 exercises you do 8 reps of 8 times through with a little bit of weight in your hands. Up down, side to side, diagonal to diagonal, hip opener, and abs. Take about 5-10 minutes.

The skill segment focuses on learning a particular "xfit move" without the pressure of time or reps, but rather with a spotlight on form. Today was Turkish Get-Ups...a process of going from laying down to standing through a series of three movements. The first movement I did 10 times, then the second one 5 times (combined with the first) and then the whole movement 3 times, combining all three segments into one movement. This was another 10-15 minutes.

Finally the WOD.

WOD's can be scary, but today's looks accessible to me and I was happy about that! It was:

200m Run
10 Kettlebell Swings (with a mere 18 lbs)
100 jump ropes

5 times through. Yep. 5.

I finished that part in about 22 minutes. I had to walk a little because I was so winded from the jump roping that I couldn't quite catch my breath... but I did it! And, oddly, liked it!

So I'm committing to 6 months, right here, right now, on the big bad internet.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Class #38, 2010

Today was my first class since last Tuesday - that class was brutal, and the next day work was hell and I opted for margaritas with my boss rather than yoga with my boss. Then, Jill and I went away for the weekend to Whidbey Island, where there is no Bikram Yoga. While there, I tried to take a 'regular' hatha class but mis-read the schedule and actually ended up in my first pilates mat class.

And today, two days after the pilates class, my arms KILLED in yoga. I had to - gasp! - drop my arms in the second set of the half moon series. I remember that feeling when I first started practicing! My triceps...oy!

I'm pretty open about the fact that I believe in Bikram Yoga (did'ja get that?) but also, I'm honest that it doesn't target *everything* - many who practice feel a lack of (weight-bearing) upper body work, as well as serious attention to the abs. Well, this pilates class took care of my arms, and my hurt to laugh for the whole next day.

Still, class was awesome today, a nice class back after 5 days off and with Frani, a seasoned teacher whose been out of town for 4 months- so fun to have her back. I'm about to integrate some other exercise - which makes me nervous because I'm already feeling overextended, so something will have to give. But, both the pilates class and the scale are saying I need a little shake-up - so that, along with some dietary lock-down, will hopefully get me back to center by my birthday in June.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Class #37, 2010

Oh dear God.

6 a.m. class today, my first in a while, was phenomenally, seeing spots and stars hot. Like, swearing with my neighbor at the savasana. Like, I may never do this yoga again hot.

But, what was cool, was that the teacher was Brooke, who I went to training with - and she is a little spitfire up there! Fun and good class, once I came back to life.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Class #36, 2010

Erika, Fremont, 4 p.m.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Class #35, 2010

Sunday morning 8 a.m. with Saiko, before teaching, where I was a giant sweatball, spraying my sweat in a giant halo behind the podium as I taught! Yum! ;)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Class #34, 2010

Another Saturday afternoon fun time with Gary!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Class #33, 2010

It's fun to have a new teacher (to me) once in a while. Today it was Glenn, in Redmond. Good class with co-workers. Super-soaker, Redmond style!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Class #32, 2010

Julie at 4 p.m. in Fremont. Nice having her back!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Class #31, 2010

4 p.m. with Kristen in Fremont. Kicked ass!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Class #30, 2010

Sunday afternoon with Penni.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Class #29, 2010

I'm a little embarrassed it's the past mid-February and I've not even done 30 classes! I also know that sometimes, we don't always get to have what we want. In this case, I would like more time. Please. Yoga is a huge time commitment and those of us who do it, know this to be true. Indeed it's worth the time! That is, if you have it on a given day. I'm struggling with this, and in fact, having lunch last weekend with a teacher friend in the same boat (fulltime work, teaching a couple, a fiance, and -gasp!- other interests). She asked how I was doing it and my answer was, "Well, not very well." Hence I reduced my classes in March (well, they got reduced for me - but unlike last month, I didn't go seeking sub opportunities which in February got me too many classes!).

Right now, I've been practicing at 3 different studios owned by 3 different owners. And it has been a nice variety for sure. Different teachers, different students, different vibe. The one on the eastside near Microsoft is...well, lots of Microsoft. The one in my neighborhood is 'home' and is filled with people I know as both students and as fellow yogis. The other is on Capitol Hill, my old neighborhood once known as the 'gay hood' but really is more a 'counter culture' hood, and I dig the variety of people who go there (not a class goes by without a fully tattooed body in class).

Today I taught 8 a.m. at still a different studio - but I just wasn't up to the 10 a.m. - so I didn't take it, and instead planned to go to 4 p.m. on Capitol Hill. I find going to the yoga when your head is not in the game usually produces a less-than-optimal outcome. If I have the time in a day, I will go when I am moved to go - it's better that way.

Class today was so strong for me!! OMG. The heat seemed light but then of course by Balancing Stick I was feeling plenty of heat. My postures were surprising me left and right - my body on point for every request of the teacher (and my mind).

Lately, I've had two postures unfold for me. I cannot believe sometimes there is still more to learn, but there is! What makes this yoga so amazing is that you are truly never done. I feel like I'm on a trek, and most days I move forward but sometimes, I come to something amazing on my path. Like seeing a forest creature right before your eyes on a hike, or stumbling upon a gorgeous field of wildflowers. For me, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee and Separate Leg Head to Knee - obviously two related but very different postures - have all the sudden opened up to me in a new way.

In the standing version, I've kept my knee straight and taken a wider step. Bikram always says "No one takes a wide enough step" and indeed, it is a whole new posture to me right now. Crazy, but I feel like I've been doing this posture for 1 week, not 3.5 years. In the floor version, at the end of class, I've taken to grabbing my foot, locking my knee, bending my elbows to the floor and then putting my forehead on my knee; well, currently it's on my shin just below the knee, but sometimes I'm getting it all the way to my knee. My standing head to knee is poo right now, because I think I'm working on the same concepts in other postures or something. But I'm ok with it! It feels exciting.

Whenever people say they get bored with Bikram or who haven't even tried it and expect they would get bored and use that as an excuse for not going, I want to tell them about things like this. I realize they wouldn't likely 'get it' - but this is why this yoga is so titillating - you do face some boredom, sure - but then you come upon a field of flowers and all the sudden have new aspects to explore and learn from. It's so worth powering through to the next big thing, because it's always going to show up!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Class #28, 2010

Ah, two days off. Not necessarily because I wanted to, but had a 14-hour day Wednesday driving from Seattle to Portland and back for work; and Thursday is always a day off due to my writing class. Today was nice. In fact, on my way to class, I decided it was going to be a really nice, I daresay easy, Friday class. And it was.

I took a spot I've never taken in the 3.5 years I've practiced at my 'home' studio in Fremont. It turns out, the spot by the men's locker room door emits a cool breeze from the crack underneath it. My feet were cold. It was weird. I didn't actually like this fact but took note for future classes where I sense a struggle coming on and need to keep it doable. :) Anyhow, it was a gentle class and a great set-up for the weekend!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Class #27, 2010

Honestly life has been busy and I feel bad my posts have been mostly informational and not necessarily a crafted writing effort. However, this week is a bit nuts and it starts to calm down and March will be better! I am going to teach a little less, which makes me sad but is necessary to maintain a balanced life. Just sayin'

Anyhow, I think I've mentioned that I'm on a mission with my group at work (Microsoft) to get them to try Bikram. And, well, my first 'victim' was my boss, who after two classes bought a 30-punch and became more of an evangelist than I am! Between us, we have 9 people on our recurring invitation and we go once/week as a group right now. As of now, including him, 5 have actually gone, with the other 4 waiting for a day when they can get away.

Today, two newbies went with my boss (Andrew) and I, and another co-worker who'd gone once before (to that BRUTAL class last week - his first one!) came back. It was a fab class with 35-week-pregnant Jenny, and it was just right - that studio is hot. Really, really hot. She managed it well and actually kicked the thermometer my way and it was only 102...but 56% humidity. That's a heat index, or "feels like" temperature of 130. Yikes.

It was a really good class for me though, and Andrew. Of the two newbies, one sat out about 1/2 the class, but she never tried to leave (I was proud) and in the end, after class, she said she really liked it (to my surprise) and would be back. (And, since I'm writing this a few days after, am happy to report she did go back, 2 days later). The other newbie did great - I could tell from her personality it would be a good fit and she did well and loved it. Andrew and I both had strong classes, and the fella who came for a second time said it was "much, much better..." :) Yay, Bikram!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Class #26, 2010

I subbed tonight teaching the 4 p.m. in Fremont. It was nice and full of energetic regulars, and one new guy who killed it. I think due to President's Day and lots of folks having the day off, a more relaxed energy filled the room. 43 people well into February, this is a good thing!

I stayed on and took the 6, and I worked super hard which is always satisfying. A student who is going to training was next to me and was excited to practice with me, so that made me work extra hard ;) Sometimes being a teacher gives me a little outside pressure to work harder, which on those lazier days, brings me up a notch.

My standing series was killer focused. Sometimes I wish there was a way to have the eye-to-eye mirror through the floor series, it keeps me so focused...alas.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Class #25, 2010

I had so much fun at SB yesterday I went again today, this time with Frankie, one of the owners, teaching. I'm subbing a bit in the near term and wanted to re-acquaint with some of the SB "style" since the "Fremont style" is different. It was a good class - after two big winners I wasn't expecting a third - and indeed, it was challenging but felt great. It feels like my practice is on a bit of an upswing after a downer period. But, it could just be that last week sucked. Hm.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Class #24, 2010

For months now, I've wanted to go to the other official Bikram studio in Seattle, The Sweatbox, to catch new teacher Gary's class. I took his first class after training and was stunned and amazed at his dialogue, his comfort (he is in a rock band (two, actually), so being on stage is not foreign to him) and his lightness. So, today I was up in time to make it to Capitol Hill, found great parking and was in the studio with a good 5 minutes to spare. That particular studio fills up in the front row first, so to be up front, I had to take the wimpy spot by the bathroom (there's a wee bit of cool air that flows underneath the door, which provides actual oxygen that is, well, a treat...).

It was my best practice in ages.

Still coming off my trauma from last Monday, I was delighted to enjoy myself. My postures felt yummy and my body was right on! I used to teach there (now I sub) and was next to a regular student, who has a great practice and whose husband was behind me, taking his very first class! Gary was awesome. He is so good, really, just a gifted teacher whose got the energy, skill, interest and personality to get it done in a really endearing way. My two favorites from today:

1) During Camel, "Don't think about how much this sucks. Think about how good it is for you!"
2) Between sets of Rabbit, "You know, the paper you sign says emotions may come up. If they do, just do like your parents told you and suppress them." It got quite a chuckle.

Man it felt good to be in a different space, different teacher, different energy from the students...nice energetic change!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Class #23, 2010

I was stuck. Thank god for Jill for just making me go today - it'd been three days since the brutal class on Monday and I just couldn't get myself there. Without looking at who was teaching, I just went to 4 p.m. - and it was perfect. The instructor was a newer one who I really have enjoyed watching as she's grown into her confidence. Her class was so good! I was thinking how proud of I was of her, though that is not appropriate really while practicing :)

Heat was great, my practice felt good, but mostly, I was just glad to be back! Phew!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Class #22, 2010

Oh my.

Some classes just simply kill me. This Monday afternoon class, with my manager and two co-workers a long (one for his first class!) was brutal. I cried a little in standing separate leg head to knee, but you know, you can't really breathe much less emote in that then I stopped. But it was hotter than hell, and I could tell from about breath #4 in Pranayama that I was gonna be in trouble. And trouble I was in...

I tried to kneel for a sip of water at the break to catch my breath, but Heather wasn't having it. "Get up." Ok. I'm up. But I'm in trouble! Carrying on, I made it through without a break but with a little bit of a broken spirit by the end. Phew. In fact, (writing this a few days later) I ended up taking 3 days off to recover. And sometimes, it's just like that.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Class #21, 2010

This week was insane for work, and though I ascribe, in general, to "no excuses" in regard to going to class, I also believe in balance and know that in a particular week or even month sometimes, the world will not cave in if I don't get to class as much as would be idea. I mean, as we're often reminded in class - it's yoga, people. Super important, but so are other things.

With that, Friday I had no intention of going to class when Christi, a pal and student, called at 3:44 to say no one had showed up to teach 4 p.m. Living about 4 minutes away, I threw on clothes and dashed down there, calling the teacher who was on the schedule en route. She was able to make it on time, but I did the sign-in and then was going to take off when she said, "You should stay. You're here. Take class!"

So I did and it was great, of course. I was worried I'd be late to my work function and up through Eagle, I was thinking "I shouldn't have stayed, I shouldn't have stayed..." but then came to: Well, you did. So shut up and practice. I was reminded of how freeing it is to practice when you don't plan to; and how much pressure I tend to put on the preparation for class throughout the day. Determination: This is lame. Perhaps I should always go to class as if I didn't really plan to! Keep it light, right? :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Class #20, 2010

Lately, I've been practicing about once a week in Redmond after work, as I've mentioned. My new manager, and today, another teammate, joined me. Had a bevy of teenage girls behind me - that was...special. Actually the good news was I didn't let them impact my practice too much, and had one of the strongest classes I've had in a while (in fact, I think that's 3 in a row that haven't nearly killed me, as it's seemed most have, lately). Such a different vibe there than at 'home' but it's really nice to mix it up.

My favorite line tonight, by Jenny, who is always a hoot on the podium, in Fixed Firm, "Grab your, not like you're chill-axin' on the beach, really grab them..." Made me smile.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Class #19, 2010

I really, really did not plan to practice today. Because I didn't want to - practice OR teach, but since I couldn't get my 8 p.m. class covered, I figured I'd go to 6 p.m. practice to knock myself into order to teach. I love teaching, but like anyone, sometimesI don't want to go to work.

So I showed up to class at oh...5:55, and found 60+ people there already. It was like Thanksgiving or something! I ended up with the poo spot - the black 'parking spot' by the door not intended for use; it's meant to be left open as a passageway. Still, with no space, I took the hit (plus, I was late, it was my own doing!). Well, that spot is a bit breezy, and in the third row. I always practice up front.

What ended up happening is I had a kickass practice. I couldn't really see myself in the mirror, except for when the girl in the front (coveted) row laid down (a lot). It brought me back to training, knowing your body well enough to know you were in the posture correctly, to my full ability... a nice reminder of that feeling, that focus.

And then I taught 8 p.m. - and it was a good class, and I was happy to be there. I had a student who'd taken my class quite a while back whose recently return tell me "Your teaching has really improved." It was kind of her to say. Another, after class, told me, "You are TOUGH! I've got to like 5 studios and you are the toughest I've ever had!" That surprised me, but I was glad she got a good workout in! (And then I thought of all the teachers who (I think) are way, way tougher than me!) ;) I guess I was supposed to teach that one to be reminded that when you teach, it matters, to someone, every time. I know all my teachers matter to me :)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Class #18, 2010

Friday during 6 a.m. I think I pushed a little far for the state of my early-morning body and seemed to have kicked up my right-side sciatica a bit, so both yesterday and today at my 8 a.m. class, I had to take it easy. This is ok, but it doesn't seem to yield the same feeling after class in your body or mind. Taking it easy is less challenging - but it's also safer, and smarter. Still, it feels a little like...non-alcoholic wine. It's missing the buzz!

That said, my head this morning wasn't really in the game. I didn't really want to practice today, truth told, but this week is insane and I'll be hard-pressed to get enough practices in this week as it is, not practicing today would've have been something I regretted later this week when I simply cannot practice due to work requirements. I set up next to a regular student of mine which helped me stay accountable and by, oh, final stretching, I finally felt awake and engaged in my body. Better late than never, I guess. Taught the 10 a.m. after, good stuff, and am of course glad I did the 8 after all... :)

p.s. Feeling a little lame with 18 classes in 31 days... that's 58%. An "F" by most standards...but not a failure at all! I went more days than I didn't go. However, will aim a little higher in February.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Class #17, 2010

Saturday morning class - it was actually a good one. Seems all my classes lately have been a super hard physical struggle, or a super challenging mental struggle. Today was, well, kinda a 'gimme' was just a class that was hot and good and went along and then ended. I was surprised how so many people were really struggling; and I wasn't...just goes to show the yoga, your body: different every day.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Class #16, 2010

On the whole, 6 a.m. is not my favorite time to practice. But, I think there is something to be learned from it that cannot be found at different times of the day. I feel as if my practice would not grow if that was the only time I went; however, by going occasionally at this time, I'm reminded of a few things:

1) Tightness! Wow, the body is so tight after sleeping vs. coming at 4 p.m .when you've walked around all day.

2) Mental focus: You haven't had a whole day to process. It's amazing how you 'get out of your own way' so easily when you're frankly, so tired you just kind of surrender to it.

3) Ego check: You're postures will not be as deep or as good as going later in the day. Period. And that is something you have to be ok with, and not overdo it and hurt yourself just because 'your backbend doesn't look good' etc.

It was a nice class - to my surprise, Suzanne & Saiko. fellow teachers + my friend/student Cherie were all there - so fun to see pals at that hour! And, so great to get'er done so early! The best part of 6 a.m. is not having to think about/plan your day around yoga...It was a good 6 a.m. class for sure!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Class #15, 2010


Tonight I went to yoga near where I work now, on the Eastside. Fortunately this studio allows all teachers to practice for free (most in the world do - but two in our area don't - my 'home' studio included...alas). Anyhow, my new boss went along for his second class, as he got that 'fear' that tends to build up after the first class. He was so excited, he was recruiting around the office and telling everyone how amazing Bikram yoga is! Yet, he (by his own admission) made excuses and did not go back until today, 8 days later! So I put it in our calendars and went along for moral support. We all need a push, sometimes.

Arriving, to my delight, I found that Heather was teaching. She was on staff at my teacher training. She is a serious person with a stern veneer but has a very, very compassionate heart and is a stellar teacher. I hadn't had her class since she moved back to Seattle a few months ago and was so delighted she was teaching!! (The online schedule had said otherwise). Class was *kickass* - so challenging as the heat was afire, and she pushes hard! Aside from some minor suffocation on the spine strengthening series, I made it through but it was not easy - not that it should be - but whoa. Kickass hard, kickass good.

Her teaching reminded me of the value of using the dialogue in a way that is personal but still involves a lot of operational commands that your brain can hear and process without adding thinking. The different between "Next, you wanna pick up your foot" and "Pick up your foot." We all add words, but she is especially skilled at using these commands without any sort of robotic sound to her cadence. It was a real treat actually, to have her class, and I can't wait to go again!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Class #14, 2010

Class tonight was another 5 p.m. January-packed-with-newbies and oldies alike. Good class, these ones are just so energetic with all the people! They help to keep me focused, in that often there is a lot going on around. Plus, as a teacher, I feel that extra 'pressure' to be a good example - but I like that, if I don't have enough in me to hold myself accountable, I can always turn to that to make me stay on track and work harder!

I'm a little ashamed that I've had spells of 3 days off here and there, due to work and school - not to make excuses, because yes, I could go. I can always go. But sometimes the trade-off isn't worth it, for a couple days, anyhow. Still I feel guilty, which isn't very yogic I realize, but well, I do...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Class #13, 2010

Sometimes going to a different space makes a big difference in my practice. Today, I took my new manager (of a mere 2 months) to his first Bikram class. I opted for the studio nearest to work, in case he actually liked it, so he could more easily get to class.

It was a nicely-populated 4:30 class and he was the only new person. I also opted for a male teacher, who knows if it makes a difference, but especially for a man who's never done any yoga, just seems like it'd be cool to see a dude up there guiding you through. And, by the way, my manager (in the words of the instructor) "killed it" :) He did really well and after had a great reaction, "I'm so proud of myself! That was so hard, and I feel like I need a week to recover...I'm shaking and whoa..." etc. I was just glad I'm not getting fired.

For me, the standing series ruled today! I felt surprisingly light and capable after my cold series of backward bending last night. In fact, my backbends felt extra-deep today, so who knows, maybe it helped! The floor, however, was another story. Thank God the teacher opened the door here and there, each time, I thought, "if I had $100, I'd give it to you right now." The air crept in, tapped my toes and circled up my body until I could breathe in that fresh, oxygen-laden air! So delicious, and it gave me the strength to go on. I could see the gauge - 111 degrees, 41% humidity - a little hot, but right in there...though it felt decidedly different, of course, I survived!

Having a different teacher at a different studio was great too. The vibe of different studios is something I appreciate - though I may not always like it. This, though, I liked. He's funny and says nice things that I don't hear anywhere else. My 'home' studio rules - it will always be home for me - but having the same teachers, who take each others' classes and steal the good stuff from each other, means a lot of repetition of similar ideas. Last night, for example, after the first set of Balancing Stick, "Someday, you may be in the hospital, lying in bed wishing to yourself, "What I'd give to do the second set of Balancing Stick right now!" - it was funny, but added perspective.

We are privileged to get to practice yoga. We are privileged to have the money to pay for class, clothes, mats, towels and water (or coconut water, as it were...). We are privileged to have the motivation to go, to have studios near us, to have teachers who guide us and want good for us. While at times it's a challenge to appreciate (say, after the first set of balancing stick) it bears reminding ourselves that the yoga is a gift, and we're lucky to be its recipients.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Class #12, 2010

After the first set of bow pose at the end of the spine strengthening series, the instructor said, "Enjoy yourself." And my mind's immediate reply was "Yeah, right. Easy for you to's hot and I'm tired and..." and then... "Wait. Stop. Are you able to enjoy yourself? Are you already enjoying yourself??" And indeed, I realized, I was.

It's so funny what we assume ought to be vs. what (often) actually is. Class was great. Packed. A total of 11 new people and the teacher was great in just keeping it going and letting them muddle through, which they all did and did well. And I enjoyed it, a lot.

After class, I went to do a little photo shoot for a friend's art project that involved a batch of camel, bow and standing separate leg stretching a cold, cold basement. And nothing makes you push and push and push like being photographed, with people around. So now my low back is afire - throbbing and achey - and I'm sure to pay tomorrow. That's ok though. It was fun and worth it!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Class #11, 2010

I wasn't going to take class today, nope. My week is a little wonky and I am taking a friend to his first class on Tuesday, my usual day off, so I thought I'd take today off. But then I taught 8 a.m., and well, watching all my students going through the series I just started to crave it. I crave yoga. That is weird, no? Maybe not to others who practice, I had kind of a weird night sleep - more anxiety dreams over I-don't-know-what. Honestly on the surface, things are going pretty well in life!

So, the craving + anxiety said "practice!" - so I did, and it was great. Nice soaking wet one for me, since I'd already spent 90 minutes in the room. Heat was great, I struggled a bit around triangle as is normal, but the rest of the time I felt like the heat was on my side, helping - not wrecking me mentally and sending me off to fight the tizzy I'm headed toward.

I'm not sure what's up with my Bow pose on the floor, but dear gawd, it's doing something new and amazing lately. I love seeing my body shift and change! Of course, as it usually goes, something else goes to poo like a game of whack-a-mole, so my standing head to knee seems broken at the moment. But I just keep trying the right way, right?! I teach again tonight at 6, and I'm sure to be better for it now that I took class. :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Class #10, 2010

Saturday 5 p.m. - the time we go to yoga to earn our Saturday night out - dinner maybe, wine, etc. Or at least that's what I think it is for a lot of people. But generally, not me. For the past year, I've taught Sunday mornings. Further, Jill, my gal, owns a coffeeshop and typically opens on Sunday (re: Up at an inhumane 4 a.m.). So our Saturday nights are usually in, eating a one-pot simple meal, watching DVDs and relaxing. Still, the energy at 5 p.m. Saturday seems to say to me, "I'm working hard to go out and play hard after this!!" and I love it!

My pal Suzanne taught a kicker! Her energy was up and pace relentless, and it was awesome. I was right next to her and took all the yummy yoga energy she was pouring out, and was further surrounded by a *ton* of regular practitioners. It was such a strong class for me, and I'm always grateful for a strong class. Always.

This morning, however, I woke up and missed the 8 a.m., then thought I'd maybe go to 10...but I just didn't want to. It was so great to just decide then to go to 5 p.m. It freed me to enjoy my day, and just know today I was running on credit vs. debit. That is, when I practice in the morning, I feel like I'm on debit - I put money in my account and now I can comfortably go out and enjoy my day knowing I'm covered. When I practice later in the day, however, I struggle a bit because I feel more like I'm on credit - I'm spending myself all day and not putting money in the bank until the end of the day. On work days this is ok, but somehow on the weekends, it causes me a little strife. Another thing I can work on, I suppose :)

Class #9, 2010

Friday 4 p.m. has classically been one of my most favorite times to practice. Something about kicking off the weekend right, with a crowd of others doing the same. Plus, I've always been happy with 4 p.m. because you still have an evening - getting home around 6, plenty of time to eat and still have some time. The 6 p.m., getting home at 8 p.m., feeling too late to eat and when you do eat, it's 9 p.m. before you settle in for the night...well, that has never really been ideal for me.

Last night class, with Melissa, was just right. She's an energetic, dialogue-heavy teacher who seems to have a knack for keeping me engaged in a way that seems special. I do her every command, and she is commanding! Her heat/humidity management is spot on - I feel taken care of, pushed and encouraged. Everything you want in a good Bikram teacher!

One thing I don't get is the people who continually do things that are not part of the class, even when they've practiced for years. Things they either corrected or made fun of you for doing at training. Like in Eagle, taking your leg out a foot to the right, tapping the floor, and then lifting it up and over your left leg. Unnecessary. Just lift up and over. Heavy nose-breathing - outside of breathing exercises, no one should hear your breath. And one of my all-time favorites: Slamming oneself into savasanas with a big "har-umpf!". Isn't that counter-intuitive? Slam yourself down into a resting position....great plan, sure to lower the heart rate... I mean, things happen. We all occasionally audibly squish, slap, burp...god forbid, toot. These things surely happen if you practice a lot. But the folks who make those things a choice in their practice rather than an "oops" - I don't get how that helps.

And all that said, we move through our practice at a pace which feels right to us. I was a terrible student in the beginning. For example, for a long time, I just didn't do the sit-up before final stretching after head to knee...just didn't. Nope. It felt unnecessary to me. Then a day when I thought: In general, if everyone else is doing it, I ought to be doing it. If no one else is doing it, I ought not to be doing it. And this, I think, is my point. While it's all our jobs not to let anyone 'steal our peace' as Bikram reminds us - and yesterday, next to an, how shall I say, individualist...I had to work at that - tell myself not to be annoyed, to let it go, to let that person be as they need to be for whatever reason they need to be. It's not my job to try to control anyone else but myself...on and off the mat.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Catching Up On Comments

No class on Thursdays for me. I am doing a writing certificate program at the University of Washington in Creative Non-Fiction which meets on Thursday nights from 6:00-9:30 p.m. This means with a 8-5 workday, the only way to go is 6 a.m. And that is too much for me! Unless I'm doing a challenge, this is the kind of day I see as appropriate and sensible to take off. Ideally, I'd like my yoga practice to not be a source of serious stress in my life! And, hopefully, you'll see my writing grow and improve, too :)

So, today, I thought I'd catch up on a few comments. First, thanks for them! I love comments - I love the interaction that a blog allows with people who have common interests. I do moderate comments not out of fear of people disagreeing with me, but rather to avoid SPAM and also mean-spirited comments. Those don't come often, thankfully. If you do post, think about putting your name in there - I don't mind Anonymous comments really, but it's fun to know who you're talking to, and frankly, all the Anonymous comments blend together and it's hard to relate past comments from the same poster, etc. Consider it!

The first topic: Sciatica - joy! Sciatica can be caused by various problems but the result is the same issue: Nerves in the spine get crushed by your vertebrae, causing a shooting pain down one leg, and often resulting in problems on that whole side of the body. My best description of the pain follows: It's like someone jammed an ice-pick deep into my right hip, and out it's end, battery acid cascades down my leg causing my thigh to burn, shin to ache, and foot to be somewhat numb. The hip joint itself becomes sensitive. Compensation results in low back tightness on the right side, and often difficulty turning my neck. My right arm sometimes hurts too, aches in my hand, wrist and forearm, with a more burning type of sensation in my upper arm. Good times!

My only solution to it rest. And it's hard to do, but when it's really bad, I reduce the number of classes I take. At it's worst in my first 'outbreak' for lack of a better word, I went down to 2x/week. After a month, it was SO MUCH better. This last time, it wasn't as severe and I went to class and took it very easy on each and every backbend (reducing the compression on the 'pinched nerve'), 1-legged postures putting extra pressure on my right leg, not always 'sitting down' far enough in triangle to reduce pressure on the hip, and did not 'pigeon-toe my feet' in Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose. There did not seem to be any good in pushing it - I had a teacher push me to "work harder" and I got to where I couldn't even grasp my knee in the separate leg portion of wind-removing! Bad advice, IMHO. Advil reduces inflammation, and I'm not adverse to taking it for that reason. There are my thoughts on sciatica!

Next, I got the following comment from Anonymous: "Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up! " At first read, of course, I thought: So, how bad was it before?? But of course, I appreciate the comment a lot. God-willing, my writing gets better as I work harder at it. And, like anything you do regularly and work hard at, phases happen...sometimes I'm inspired and have lots of time to think and write. Other times, my life feels sucky and I'm just not that into it...but mostly, I try. So thanks. And I'll keep trying to be creative and original :)

Do I get bored teaching the same 26 postures? Well, it's like asking, "Do you get bored practicing the same 26 postures?" My answer is actually the same: No. After so long, there's still so much to learn in both teaching and practicing. As a teacher, every batch of students is so different. For example, recently I taught a small class of 'regulars' - my approach to them is to help them grow in their postures, to push and push and push. My focus there as a teacher is very different than it was in another recent class that was huge and more than half of the students were in their first 5 classes. There, the job is to encourage listening, stillness, focus - the postures will come later for those folks. While the dialogue is the same, the emphasis, energy, encouraging words - they vary so much with every class, it keeps it very interesting to me. Keep in mind, though, that with working full-time I only teach 2-3x/week, and it uses since a different part of my brain than my day job, I'm pretty much always excited and enthusiastic to teach!

Special to Anthony: I'm teaching Sunday 8 a.m. the last two Sundays in February at SB Shoreline! :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Class #8, 2010

I must say, I love to practice the day after a day off. And, also, once PMS is over. These two things together: Genius. Today I went to 4 p.m. at the last moment and had a really nice practice. Then, later, taught the 8 p.m.

Here's the thing: I cannot figure out how to take 6 and teach 8 back to back. If you eat lunch around 12, snack around 3 or 4, then it's 10 p.m. before I'm home and who wants to eat dinner then! Then I wake up at 4 a.m. starving. My solution is this notion of taking 4, eating dinner, and then going back to teach 8...and it actually worked!

Anyhow, my standing series felt so strong and energetic! Then I hit the floor and felt on fire, struggled a bit but by full locust my head was back in the game and I finished happily! All was well. And you know what...I really, really love the yoga. It's just good to remember that, and say it sometimes I think. So I did.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Class #7, 2010

The humidity here in Seattle is really strange right now. I mean, I've lived here for 16+ years, and done Bikram here for nearly 4 - and in the past two classes I've taken at my home studio (where I've practiced hundreds and hundreds of times without the fans being turned on once...) the fans have been on for almost the entire class. That class last Saturday, they seemed to barely help (though were appreciated). Today the instructor put them on after balancing stick, and other than savasana and wind-removing, had them on the entire class.

And I didn't mind a bit.

The thing is, when the heat is "right" you are not out of your gourd. You can listen, hear and implement the commands without thoughts of dealing with extreme heat/humidity taking up mind share. I realized today I was more focused, more about to stay with the teacher and do her every wish because the heat felt just right. I love the heat, obviously. But I do believe in the heat being right, and I'm a big fan of teachers who are engaged and aware and manage the heat properly, and I certainly aim to be one of them!

Glad I went, felt good and tomorrow I'm taking the day off! :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Class #6, 2010 + A yoga-related "guest post"

First, there are a bunch of toughies out there doing a 101 days of Bikram Yoga in 101 days! They started on January 1, and will wrap it up on April 11. They are allowing doubles, as it's impossible to think you'd never need to miss a day in 101 of'em. They have a blog, and asked for "guest posts" on Sundays - so being that I'm recommitted to writing every day, I offered. My post is up as of today - my take on the concept of surrender during our practice - stuff we've all heard many times, but honestly, I don't mind hearing it over and over in different voices and perspectives. Hence, I added my own out there on the www:

I taught 8 a.m. and took the 10 a.m. again today - but oh, how nice today was! I do believe rough classes are often balanced out with a stunning class, and maybe I wouldn't call it quite stunning, it was a great class with good heat and a new teacher who just graduated in December from TT. I set up in front of two new women to keep myself honest and focused. Did I mention I love boundaries? And that I need them so I create them for myself all the time? Ok, the secret it out. (ha!)

Not a lot to say about the class, really. Well, two things actually. One of the new folks who struggled through, left a few times, etc., but after class, said to me, "Wow, that was A-MAZE-ING!" and I got all gushy inside thinking, "Wow, that could've as easily been 'I'm never coming back, that was terrible...'" but it wasn't. And I was so excited for her!! Second, the teacher who is still so new, was so different even than two weeks ago when I took her class! She said, "the more I teach, the more I realize how much I still have to learn..." Ah, so true - about teaching AND practicing. We all have so far to go, yet it's doing it day in and out that teaches us, and it's worth it :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Class #5, 2010

Let's talk about Humidity.

The other day one of the teachers said, "My sensor said humidity was started to rain, and I looked down a minute later and it was 50%!" Welcome to Seattle in wintertime, folks.

So yesterday I taught the 8 a.m. and the temp was a little low, but the humidity was toward 50% - so the heat index, the "feels like" temperature, was definitely where it needed to be. I decided to stay for the 10 a.m., well, I had already decided, but I decided again.

Humidity is evil. I think we all know that. I'm all for a 105 degree, 40% humidity class - or it's equivalent. Today was brutal. The very, very seasoned instructor did all he could to manage it - fans on probably for the half the class, on high, and hardly making a difference. At one point, he said, "In case you didn't know, my sensor indicates the humidity is out of control in here." Thanks for the newsflash (I actually said that to him :) and then later, he said, "How high does the humidity have to get for it to rain in here?" Another student replied, "Uh, 100%." We would've normally laughed, but who had the energy or wherewithal for that?

I posted something about this to my facebook to which my darling baby sister, a self-admitted geek, responded with a link to Wikipedia's entry on Humidity - I prompted read the segment titled, "Effects of Humidity" Here is an excerpt:

Effects on human body

The human body sheds heat by a combination of evaporation of perspiration, heat convection in the surrounding air, and thermal radiation. Under conditions of high humidity, the evaporation of sweat from the skin is decreased and the body's efforts to maintain an acceptable body temperature may be significantly impaired. Also, if the atmosphere is as warm as or warmer than the skin during times of high humidity, blood brought to the body surface cannot shed heat by conduction to the air, and a condition called hyperpyrexia results. With so much blood going to the external surface of the body, relatively less goes to the active muscles, the brain, and other internal organs. Physical strength declines and fatigue occurs sooner than it would otherwise. Alertness and mental capacity also may be affected. This resulting condition is called heat stroke or hypothermia.

Yeah, what they said.

So the deal is, here we are in a class meant to flood our organs, glands and muscles with loads of oxygen rich blood and fluids, but at a certain point, it's physically impossible for that to happen. Trusting that our teachers are on our sides (they are, I believe that), it's then our jobs to monitor ourselves. Hard to do...ego, ego, ego...but in this case, I was losing my mind. I kept seeing spots (blacking out just a wee bit is good for you, right?) and could hardly organize myself, at times, to get in and out of postures. But, with the help of another teacher next to me who kindly mouthed swear words back and forth with me as an outlet, we got'er done. Brutal. But I got to see a little more of what I'm made of, and also, got a (yet another) reminder to take it down a notch, especially if the teacher is telling us to. Duh.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Class #4, 2010

Yes. That's right. Three days off...which was kind of an 'oops!' - I was tired Tuesday and thought I'd take the day off- forgetting that I couldn't go to class on Wednesday or Thursday :(

So you know when you go to an event, fundraiser, community meeting - whatver - and you don't really want to go...but you go, because it's the right thing to do, you know you should, and you'll feel better if you do.

Well, that is how I felt today about going to 4 p.m. 3:51 I got it together and headed for the studio. There was no parking, except the 30-minute tow-away zone outside the beer microbrewery in the back of the same building as our studio (hops anyone)? So I did what any desperate yogi would do: I went into the brewery and said, "You won't get me towed, right? I mean, it's 4 p.m. Friday - you're not expecting deliveries now, right?" The facial-hair riddled fella was all Seattle-beer-dude about it, "Uh, no, man, we won't get'cha towed..." Sweet!

So with mere moments to spare I jetted in and took a crappy spot on my least-favorite portion of the room. Awesome start. Not. As the teacher explained breathing to some new folks, I noticed a primo front-row spot open and not even blocking anyone! I snatched up my mat and took it and breathing started.

As class went on, after my unplanned 3-day hiatus, I found that I felt great! The best part came in Locust pose. After the separate leg part, we were gearing up for both legs - the time when I typically feel as if an elephant has just sat down upon me and hardly can see the value of trying, though I do. In this moment though, I had the notion to push my hands into the floor and stretch my toes back and then up. Like, kinda "scooping" them back and up... The result was my weight shifted to the upper part of my hip bones. My hand and arm strength was suddenly insanely accessible! My legs went up. And up. AND UP. And, the effort felt like about half of what I usually give to raise my feet (what feels like) mere centimeters.

I'm all for surprises. I felt like I won a killer door-prize at one of those fundraisers I didn't want to go to, like, "This was SO worth it! I'm so glad I came!" I ended up walking out with something unexpected and welcome.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Class #3, 2010

New Years brings lots of new people to Bikram Yoga. And I say, Amen to that! If only they'd all stick with it...of course, I had a start/stop and then got serious a year later, so who am I to talk.

Last night, I took 6 p.m. class with 50 other people. At the helm was Saiko who had a c-section and a beautiful baby girl on November 25th - and is back to teaching us as of the new year already. As a student, I was reminded of all of her "Saiko-isms" that I've always loved. As a teacher, I was just so impressed by her management of a very humid, packed room. Flawless - she kept us going and kept the energy up even though at times, clearly the group was struggling hard. Such a gift to have experienced teachers like her as mentors and guides in our practices and our teaching :)

Class was hard but satisfying. I lost my mind a few times but talked myself off the ledge - a skill I've had to employ and hence have gotten pretty good at lately. It was really, really humid - super drippy by the end of breathing. Of course, I sweat like a Bikram teacher - and a regular practitioner. It's so interesting seeing the newer folks, whose bodies haven't quite become accustomed to 'turning their sweat on' so to speak, and how my towel is soaked by Tree, and theirs have a drip or two...but it's ok. I love my sweat. It means I'm gettin' it done.

Overall, my body was open and agreeable, I tried hard to pace myself because I knew it was going to be a tough room with so many people, and having a 4 p.m. class beforehand that was packed. So I took it a little bit easy to be sure I could stay with it the whole class, and it worked. I was sandwiched between two yoga pals, and the new people behind me were earnestly trying and learning, which is always great to see. I'm aim to be very patient with new people as a practioner (and teacher for that matter) because I want everyone to love and practice bikram :) So fun to see people as their practice is just being born. Lovely and amazing.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I am not a fan of teaching *after* I practice - I'd much rather teach first. The risk is being tired, breathless and still overheated from class. And of course, that usually happens when I do this in the evening (not so much in the a.m.) - but the upside is I get my big yoga high/rush right about at the beginning of the balancing series when I teach, so that is good stuff! My class had 40 people at 8 p.m. (!!!) and they were awesome. When you teach, it's not easy to know how the class really went for folks - but last night, they all seemed so energized and happy after class! For many, it was their first class of the new year, and many seemed very proud of themselves, knowing they are on a good path for the year :) I know I feel this way!! :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Class #2, 2010

What a difference a day makes. And a few other things. Class today was 10 a.m. at West Seattle with Frances, after teaching the 8 a.m. I LOVE to practice *after* I teach (not a fan of before) - I'm all warm and gushy from being in the equivalent of a sauna for 90 minutes already, I feel like butter. It's still a challenge - 3 hours in the hot room requires good hydration and focus - but when I taught full time, many days saw 4.5 - 6 hours in the hot room, and I survived it just fine. Still, I can't lie - I'm always excited for some hearty lunch after 2 in a row!

There's something about knowing how your class is going to go from the first few breaths of pranayama that often happens for me. I realize right away my shoulders are super open, I feel stable in my feet, my breath is easy and strong - just like it should be. Then half moon usually follows in that I feel gigantic height and stretch with that sought-after "smooth, steady breath through the nose." This was class today. Strong, focused, no mental ramblings to the state of avocados in wintertime (special to Anthony: indeed, I'm sure I chose poorly, but no doubt I'm willing to risk failure to try again and again... :). I didn't even bolt from the room to lay on the sidewalk outside after class (did I mention that happened yesterday? Classy!). Nope, nice savasana after class, in the room, as it ought to be.

I am teaching just 2x/week most weeks, which is perfect with fulltime work, upcoming classes I'm taking (trying Baptiste yoga intro series, and a writing course), and other life obligations - plus, of course, my own practice - which is more important than teaching to me. As they say, you have to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Class #1, 2010

Today was my first class of 2010. It sucked.

I'm not complaining, just reporting what happened. But it was good too, good to go and power through though my brain felt squeezed and my energy was low. During savasana, I pondered why avocados taste so crappy all winter when I buy them at the grocery, but at restaurants, the guacamole tastes as good as summer. There's some good yogic focus for you! It was with Suzanne, in West Seattle, and after I went outside and laid on my wet towel on the sidewalk at 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday night until my heart rate recovered after about 10 minutes. Nice. Did I mention this studio is on the main drag of a populated business district?

In 2009, I laid down 2 times in class - both were Penni's, for those who know her. I'm not sure how many classes I did in total for the year, but I know I completed three 30-day challenges and practiced regularly otherwise, save for some serious sciatica in the spring (that was/is terrible, btw). I feel good about my year in terms of Bikram Yoga. I looked back over my posted goals from a year ago, and, well, you could said I failed. Epic. Miserable. Fail. But really I didn't. I just didn't reach those particular goals in all cases, and I'm ok with that.

For 2010, I'm not going to set yoga goals. I'm going to let it unfold, but I am going to try to write more about it. Here. :)