Surviving Bikram yoga: Day 11

Yesterday was rough!  The studio was packed.  I’ve never seen so many people in there before.  As a result, it got super hot, super fast.  All of that body heat, plus the energy in the room made for an intense class!

My beloved Aimee was teaching last night and I practically wept with relief when she opened the door when we got to the floor series.  I’m starting to notice that the standing series is going by much more quickly for me.  Perhaps it is because I’m concentrating more on the postures, or maybe it’s because I’m learning how to shut off my mind in class and not think about how hot it is in the room.

I’m also starting to recognize and smile at some other yogis in the class now.  One thing I like about Aimee is that she makes a point to get each person’s name down before class.  This is good so I can learn people’s names too.  The last thing you want to do after class when you are sopping wet is try to corner someone to learn his or her name.

I’m also beginning to realize how my hair needs to be worn during class.  I’ve gone between a french braid, a ponytail braided, and a high messy bun.   The two braided options are not working for me.  Anytime I’ve got hair hanging, it finds a way to stick on my neck or my forehead.  It’s all about minimizing distractions.  So I’ll keep working on the high bun option. I can use a few little clippies during class and that helps to keep any strays tamed.

Last night, Aimee spent a lot of time talking about the locked knee concept in the postures.  In most of the dialogue, the instructor will say lock your knee.  Most people mistake that for pulling the knee back and locking it in a hyperextension. This is bad.  What it really means is that you want to pull your knee cap up and tighten your thigh.  Cori would love this for my PT.  It’s like all we worked on for a while last year.  This action has given me something to focus on in many of my standing leg postures.  I focus on my knee, pulling it up and look for the dimple above the joint.  If I start to loosen it and bend my knee, I refocus and tighten.  This is great for my neuromuscular issues.  Since I have really started focusing on this, I can tell a marked difference between my right and left leg.  My left leg, the gimpy one, gets weaker much faster and I notice that I break postures in the locked stance much more quickly.

Because the room was so hot yesterday, I really focused on my Dead Body posture, or Savasana.  This is the posture that you do at the end of most yoga classes where you lay on your back.  In Bikram, however, this is what you do after the standing postures and then in between each floor posture.  And of course, you do it at the end of class.

The pose is simple in theory.  You lay on your back with your legs out, heels touching, toes fall open to the sides.  Then, you have your arms by your sides with your palms up.  The first Savasana is two minutes long and this is where things are pretty serious.  You just worked your butt off in the standing postures and you flop down on the floor in gratitude.

This is also where things start to break down in the concentration department.  Most people fidget around, drink water, wipe sweat, itch, etc.  The idea is that you need to remain completely still.  Trying not to blink, letting sweat drip into your ears.  Resisting the urge to fix your hair.  It’s harder than it sounds.  Especially because you want to keep your eyes open and be present.  At the end of class, you can close your eyes, but this middle posture is really a concentration pose.

There is a reason for this pose in terms of your health and well-being.  When the body is still, the circulatory system is unobstructed and delivers oxygen, nutrients and white blood-cells to where it is needed. These materials are the building blocks of healing, which creates the therapeutic benefit of this pose. Specifically, this posture:
  • Returns cardiovascular circulation to normal
  • Slows heart rate, reduces blood pressure
  • Teaches complete relaxation
  • Stills and calms the mind
  • Allows the body to absorb the benefits of the standing series
  • Build the ability to access relaxation when necessary – in stressful situations, before bed, etc.

For someone who is always going a million miles an hour, this posture has proven to be very beneficial for me.

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