Surviving Bikram yoga: Day 24

I can’t believe I’m almost to 30 days!  My goal is to go to class 6 times next week.  I’m taking a few days off to grade papers, do yard work, and fix my car so it can be inspected.  There’s so much to do at the Hall Hacienda.  I’m going to go to the morning classes on those days and see how that goes.  Right now, I’m just doing the morning class on Saturdays because I still go to step class on Sunday.

Class last night was great.  The room was not too humid when I got there so it made it easier to ease into the class.  The room was pretty full and there were a couple of new people.  Aimee was instructing and she spent some time talking about personal happiness and how people who spend time “in the zone” are happier than those who have things, status, or wealth.  I’m pretty happy, so it must be my 36 hours I’ve spent “in the zone” over the past 5 weeks!

I had to figure that out.  24 days times 90 minutes is 36 hours.  Crazy!

As I was waiting for class to start, I was laying on my back, rotating my ankles around.  I looked at my legs and realized that they are looking slimmer.  Stronger.  So I sat up, put my legs out on the floor flat and tightened up my quads.  I couldn’t believe it when my left leg snapped right to attention.  I have to show Cori.  I can actually SEE it. It just reaffirms for me that Bikram yoga is necessary for me and it’s needed frequently.  It’s like my PT, my cardio, my strength training, my therapist.  I love it.  I hate it.  I dread it.  I can’t stop going!

Last night, I really worked on my Awkward pose, or Utkatasana.  This is the third posture in the series and it’s much harder than it looks.

utkatasana

 

This posture is actually three parts.  I’ll go through each one, from  the left to right.

All of the postures are the same in that the arms are out and stretched out to the front.  This is one thing that really surprises people because it can really hurt to keep your arms out like that.  There’s this buff football player looking guy that comes to class and he has a terrible time with this part.  I don’t think that being super strong in the arms is what helps.  It’s a lot of shoulder and back strength.  The arms stay up the entire time, even in between postures.

In the first part of the posture, you squat back like you’re sitting in a chair, then you tilt your upper body back.  And hover there.  They say you’re supposed to feel awkward in this, like you are almost falling back.  Then, you straighten your legs and lift your heels up for the middle posture.  This is so difficult for me.  After you lift your heels up, you bend your legs and pretend like you are sliding down the wall and hover there.  The key is to really lift up on your toes like you are wearing the highest heels and then lift up your knees.  It’s really great for my ankle strength but I’m sure it’s also building up little strong feetsies.    Then, in the last part of the posture on the right, you come back to standing, lift the heels slightly and press the knees in together.  That’s what you can’t see in the photo above.  It’s like you are holding a coin in between your knees.  Then, very slowly, you lower down to the floor on your toes, knees together, back up, and arms out.  And you do the whole thing all over again.  It’s rough!  I’ve found that if I really keep my abs in, it helps my back to be strong.

Here are the benefits of these three postures:

  • Helps to tone and shape your legs.
  • Heals chronically cold feet.  This is probably because they are working so hard!
  • Relieves rheumatism and arthritis in the legs.
  • Helps to cure slipped discs and other problems in the lower spine.
  • Aligns skeletal system.
  • Relieves menstrual cramping.
  • Relieves sciatica.
  • Improves flexibility in toes and ankles.
  • Exercises liver, intestines, and pancreas.

 

 

Surviving Bikram Yoga: Day 23

Last night was HOT!  I practically had to drag myself to class.  These 7pm classes are rough.  I just want to go home after work and veg on the couch.  It really is an exercise in motivation to go.  I love the class, but I’m just so tired at the end of the day and I know it’s going to be 2 hours more.

Aimee taught last night and the room was really hot when I walked in to set up.  I thought about checking the temperature and then decided that wasn’t the best way to start the class.  I quietly laid down on my mat and wished for sleep.  I don’t know why I’m so tired all the time.  I never got right with the time change.  I think it’s partially all of the things going on in the classes I teach too.  Busy busy busy!

As I said, class was really hot.  It was one of those classes that I had to talk myself through the entire time. One more posture.  Don’t wimp out.  There were a few new people there and one bolted out of the room.  A guy behind me was really struggling and after class he said that he surprised himself by really panicking about the heat.  Sometimes I forget how hot it really is in there because some days it doesn’t feel that hot to me.  Yesterday though, Aimee even opened the door and she NEVER opens the door. I practically wept with joy.

Last night I really focused on stretching my arms either out or up in postures.  It’s so easy to get slack with the arms and you really lose the benefit of some of the postures when you do that.

I wore a new pair of shorts last night that I got at TJ Maxx.  They are even shorter than my Nike ones.  I may as well just wear my swimsuit.  The one thing that I realized yesterday is that I’m really getting used to seeing my body in the mirror now.  It’s like desensitization therapy for me.  For the first few weeks of class, I was really not wanting to look at myself in the mirror.  Now, I’m not cringing every time I see my legs.  Either I’m getting fitter or it’s not that big of a deal anymore.  Either way, it’s good.

Recipe of the week: Grain-free tortilla chips

You all know about my problem with chips and salsa.  Call me any time, day or night, with an offer of heading out for chips and salsa and I’m there.  Show up with guacamole and I’m done.  It’s a problem.  I can give up the pasta and bread but don’t take away my chips!

I purchased some almond flour and coconut flour a couple of weeks ago with the intention of trying out some new recipes.  Then Kevin and I got the sick and we didn’t really do anything as far as serious cooking for a couple of weeks.

Last night, I decided to change that.   I have to get a handle on these chips.  Mr. Hall keeps buying chips and I keep telling him to stop.  He’s like a chip saboteur.

I scoured the interweb and found a few recipes, all having the same basic base ingredients- almond flour and egg whites.  Then, you just put in whatever spices you want.  Here’s what I did:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  1. Heat oven to 325.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together to form a firm but supple paste.  I used my Ninja mixer with the dough attachment and it worked great.  I was surprised by how fast it mixed and how the two egg whites provided enough wet for the dough.
  3. Roll out 1/2 the mix between two pieces of parchment paper as thin as you can keep even.  THIN. As in REALLY THIN.
  4. Peel off the top parchment paper and cut with a pizza cutter or knife into whatever chip size you want.
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes.  You’re looking for light golden brown, dark means nasty bitter, if some chips color faster than others, use a flexible spatula and take them out.
  6. Cool on the pan.  Break apart and cool further on a wire rack.

As I mentioned above, I was surprised by how much moisture the egg whites provided in the recipe.  I’m not sure if almond flour is more absorbent (is that even a baking term?!) but it came out pretty well after it was mixed up.  I scraped it out with a spatula and placed the dough on a large piece of parchment paper.

dough

Then, I placed another piece of parchment on top and started rolling it out with my wooden pin.  I couldn’t believe how much it stretched out.  I didn’t follow the directions and cut the dough in half first.  Doh!

rolled dough

 

Yes, I am wearing my hot pink flannel jammies with paisley print.  What?

After much rolling, this is what it looked like when I peeled up the top layer of the parchment paper:

flat dough

 

As you can see, it looks really moist.  I carefully peeled off the top paper layer and got busy cutting the dough with a rolling pizza cutter.  I decided to just to squares.  It was a little difficult trying to peel each piece off and I ended up having a small pile of edges that I re-rolled and cut.  It smelled really good, even before it went in the oven.  I carefully placed each piece on a baking sheet (ungreased).  I used two baking sheets for this recipe.

I ended up leaving them in for 12 minutes because they didn’t seem really crispy.  I think it probably varies based on your own oven how long to leave them in.  Only a couple stuck to the pan and I was able to easily transfer them to a plate to cool.

final dough

 

As you can see, they are a little thicker than a tortilla chip but not as thick as a cracker.  I imagine you could make them like a cracker if you didn’t roll them out so thin.

The verdict? They were delicious!  Spicy and a little nutty in flavor with a satisfying crunch.  I saved a few to see how they do stored overnight in a bag, just in case I wanted to make a bigger batch to eat over several days.

Mr. Hall even liked them!  He ate several right off the plate hot, which was a good sign.  They are definitely more filling than a regular corn or flour tortilla chip, which is probably good because I can really pack away the chips.

I’m going to experiment with a cinnamon sugar batch next time!

Surviving Bikram Yoga: Day 22

I was absolutely tired last week!  I decided to take off Friday because I was practically falling asleep at the wheel on the way home.  Kevin did the same and we enjoyed an evening in.  I guess we both were still coming off of the disease from the week before.

Saturday morning, I got up early for the 8am class.  I still didn’t feel super great, but I hauled my butt out of bed and headed into the studio.  It was freezing outside and I was grateful for the warm room.

It was a smallish class and I really didn’t want to be there once I started.  I stayed over on the other side of the room again and pretty much talked myself into being excited.  I wished I would have stayed home as soon as we started the first posture.

Then something happened.  I started doing well.  Really well.  Like I don’t know what happened to my body in the past week but now I’m rocking out these postures well!

I had an amazing class.  If Thursday was 100% better, this class was 500% better.

I dub the class “how Lisa got her zen back”.  I was in the zone.  Becka saw I was working hard and complimented me on several postures.  She also helped me with my standing bow pose and I was able to balance the whole time on both sets.

I sweated myself cold in this class too.  I’m not sure why that happens, but it feels great when it does.

In other news, I haven’t heard back again from the seamstress I emailed.  She and I emailed back and forth a couple of times and then she stopped emailing me.  I’m not sure if I should be stalkerish and email her again or just let it go.

In the meanwhile, I went ahead and purchased two more pairs of shorts.  Both are short like my Nike compression shorts.  One is by a brand called Lululemon and the other is by Kyodan.  I’ve heard on some boards that Kyodan is Lululemon’s knock-off brand.  I’ve already worn the Lululemon and they were nice.  I plan to wear the Kyodan tomorrow.  I am still obsessed with the side tie shorts.

Tonight, I plan to try a new recipe for grain-free tortilla chips!

Surviving Bikram Yoga: Day 21

Last night’s class was SO MUCH better.  Don’t get me wrong, I had to mentally dialogue with myself the entire time to keep going, but it was 100% better than my last three classes.

I moved back over to the other side of the podium, which could have helped. It literally was six feet to the right, but I think it got me out from underneath the heating vent.

Aimee taught last night and I really was ready to work.  Knowing that I had a few days of bad practice behind me, I figured it could only get better.  I got to the studio early and chatted in the lobby with another student who was commenting that she had similar issues this past week as well.  She also suffers from allergies and has hip issues.

I wore a smaller tank to class and I could tell it was fitting better.  I think I’m finally starting to see some visible evidence of weight loss.  I am down about 5 pounds now but I fluctuate up and down 2 pounds.  I am noticing also that the tops of my shoulders look a little more defined.  Mr. Hall says my butt looks smaller, but I think it actually may be the back of my legs getting more muscular.

The balancing series last night was great.  I really worked hard and Aimee was giving some good cues.  It was difficult to get through and I wanted to stop a lot but I kept going.  I’m finding now that I keep saying, just one more posture.  One more time.  It gets me through the tough ones.

Another thing that I started doing this week is acknowledging my practice when I arrive to the studio.  As I am sitting on my mat, I think to myself that I am thankful and grateful that I am well enough to show up.  That my body is healthy enough to participate.  A year ago, I know I could never have pulled any of this off.  I am blessed.

 

Surviving Bikram Yoga: Day 20

Last night’s class was a disaster!  I’m not having a good week so far.  Hopefully, tonight is better.

To start, traffic home was a mess.  I had to get off the highway and take the back way home.  I also had to go to the grocery store to pick up juicing supplies prior to class because I’m a hot mess afterwards.  I’m so sweaty, the back of my headband drips on my back when I’m walking out of the studio.  I don’t think people would like that in the grocery store!

Anyway, I literally got home right at 6:30, which is when I would normally be walking into the studio for a 7pm class.  I like to get there right when the doors open.  That 25 minutes on the mat prior to class is wonderful for acclimating to the heat, stretching, and centering my mind.  So when I rushed in at 6:48, I was flustered and not ready for class to start.

I wore a new pair of shorts, which I think are too big.  They started to stretch when they got sweaty and bunched around my legs.  I got them in medium, but I think I may need a small.  Why can’t clothing sizes be consistent???

A few hours prior to class, I started to get a headache, so I took some Exedrin.  I am starting to believe that this may be bad for me because of the caffeine.  I’m not sure.  I actually was doing pretty well, but I felt a little nauseous throughout class because my sinuses kept draining.  Sorry, that’s gross.  But it was non-stop.

Standing leg/head to knee pose was good yesterday though.  I don’t do the head to knee part because I’m working on my leg dimple quad strength.  It was the first class that I got through both sets without putting my foot down and my leg was pretty tight the whole time.  There is so much concentration in this posture.  I think my ankles may be getting stronger too because my foot wasn’t wobbling around as much.  Is that leg strength or ankle strength that makes that happen?

Becka was teaching last night and Pong was practicing behind me.  She was nice enough to demonstrate some postures during class, which was cool to see her in action.  She’s super bendy.  I’m learning that Bikram yoga is not all about being bendy.  There is an incredible amount of strength that goes into these postures, which makes me appreciate these impromptu demonstrations even more.  You could see Pong’s body quivering with effort.  It was really impressive.

I’m starting to get a mental block with triangle pose.  By the time I get to this posture in the standing series, my left leg is really tired. Because we go off the sides of the mat for this posture, I don’t have the grip of my skidless towel to help me out.  I start thinking about this several minutes before it even starts, freaking myself out because I know that my leg is going to slide around.  It’s messing with my head.

Becka spent a lot of time in class last night talking in between postures about how your mental chatter during class can really impact your practice.  She said she used to sit out of the second half of a lot of postures because of it.  It was a good reminder for me.  She suggested that we just focus on the dialogue and allow our body to follow along.  I need to refocus tonight on really being present in the room.

I also am going to try to move a few feet over tonight.  I have been setting up right under a heater for the past few classes, which is usually okay on Saturdays but at a 7pm class, right after one gets out beforehand, it’s hot already and I think I may be overstressing myself.  I’m going to experiment and see how that goes.

By the time I got home last night, I was so sick to my stomach, I just drank my coconut water, hopped in the shower, and laid face down on the bed with a towel on my head.  You know it’s bad when the animals start to surround you because they know something is up.  By the time Kevin got home, it was a sight to be seen.  I dried my hair while he was in the shower, practically crawled to the couch, and sat.  Nothing sounded good for dinner- even juice.  It was 10:15pm and I was done!  We decided to eat some cashews and dried fruit and went to bed.

I’m looking forward to class tonight with Aimee.

Surviving Bikram Yoga: Day 19

I was really looking forward to going to class last night!  Since I was sick last week, I basically went two times in a week, which is pitiful.

When I arrived at the studio, I was surprised by the low number of people exiting the 5pm class.  Everyone was commenting that it was probably the nicer weather.  I headed into the room and unrolled my mat, immediately grateful for the heat.  My back hurt, my shoulders hurt, and I had a low grade headache.  Yay for springtime allergies!

Several minutes went by before another person who came in, commenting that it looked like it was going to be a small class.  Sure enough, only 8 people showed up.  Becka, the owner, was teaching and I was ready to work.

Then, things started to go south.  I was tired.  My body wasn’t cooperating.  I was pushing myself hard in postures, which must have been evident because Becka kept saying, good Lisa or nice effort Lisa. I must have looked like I was really focusing or in pain, who knows!

I actually sat down on my mat three times in class.  I felt nauseous and really dizzy.  It was hot in the room for sure, but I was just feeling like I was really struggling.  I guess that is what happens when you slack on your practice.

When we moved into the floor postures, Becka said exactly what I needed to hear.  She said that we have to take each day of practice for what it is.  She said that sometimes you come to class having a different experience at work or home the day before and that impacts your practice.  Or, you come in and feel great and Bikram slaps you in the face.  Or, you drag yourself in grumbling, only to find that it’s a phenomenal class for you that day and all things are happy surprises.  Either way, you have to acknowledge your experience for that day, be patient with yourself, and try.

I’m definitely looking forward to class again tonight.  Kevin and I had juice when I got home last night, which we will repeat again tonight.  It’s so refreshing.  I pair it with some dried fruit and cashews, which is just enough for a late meal without feeling stuffed.