Surviving Bikram Yoga: Days 15 and 16

I can’t believe that I’m almost to my one month mark at the studio!   This Thursday will be exactly 30 days in practice.  I plan to go three more times to that mark, so I will have 19 classes in 30 days.  Not bad for a beginner Bikram yogi.  I plan to up my attendance in the next month.  I’ve wanted to go more, but I learned my lesson long ago with overdoing it.   I’ve been averaging 4 days a week for the past month, so I plan to up it to at least 5 days a week.

I went Friday night and Saturday morning last week and had a couple of really great classes.  In particular, I discovered a little bit of bravery on the mat, courtesy of a very small Saturday morning class and Pong’s excellent suggestions.  Aimee practiced next to me that morning, which was a treat to see her in action.  I am finding that I like the really crowded classes for some reasons and the really empty classes (like 8 people) for other reasons.  In the large classes, there is a great amount of energy in the room and it tends to get hotter, so you really work harder.  In the smaller classes, there’s a little more attention from the instructor and I get less distracted by people around me.  I always set up right in front, to the right or left of the instructor.  It’s my thing.

Anyway, on Saturday, Pong was really giving some great dialogue additions.  She helped me move out of some postures the proper way, rather than using my “I’m afraid I’m going to hurt myself modifications”.  I really appreciated that and surprised myself with a couple of really scarily good transitions in class.  She complimented my willingness to take suggestions (she clearly doesn’t know how I’ve been beat down by PT- ha!) and said she would continue to do so if it looked like I was not moving forward when I could be.  She said she can tell when people are hitting a mental wall.

One other thing that she mentioned during one of the postures is pain.  She says there are two kinds of people in Bikram  classes.  One kind avoids pain and the other seeks it out.  Then, she explained that it is important to know which one you are, understanding why you go that way, and then moderate yourself to the middle of that range.  I thought that was very insightful.

The one pose that I really worked on was the Standing Bow Pulling Pose, or Dandayamana- Dhanurasana.



This posture is so easy and difficult at the same time.  The key is to get your torso down and your leg up, all the while, reaching your arm forward.  And, you’ve got to keep your grip on a sweaty foot.  It is important to really contract your quads and butt on this one.  The kicking helps you balance, but you can’t be afraid to tilt forward.  Pong says you have to find your tipping point otherwise you don’t go far enough.  Even in this photo, this woman could be down lower with her torso.  Ideally, in the best situation, it would be parallel with the floor, but that is very difficult.

There’s a lot of benefits with this posture:

  • Stimulates the cardiovascular system
  • Increases circulation to the heart and lungs
  • Opens diaphragm
  • Opens the shoulder joints
  • Helps with frozen shoulder conditions
  • Improves the elasticity of the spine
  • Improves strength and balance firming the abdominal wall and upper thighs while also tightening the upper arms, hips and buttocks
  • Increases the size and elasticity of the rib cage and lungs and improves the flexibility and strength of the lower spine
  • Helps to reduce abdominal fat

Mentally, it’s a crazy meditative pose.  You have to really concentrate on your eyes or someplace on your body to keep your attention.  While people are falling out of the posture around you, this breaks concentration so it’s even more challenging.  In an emptier room, I do much better in this posture.

In other news, I bought a new pair of yoga shorts.  I had purchased a pair Friday night before class and I hated them.  They were short and stretchy, but the leg openings were tight and dug into my thighs while I was in class.  No fun.  I took them back real quick, grumbling about my fat legs, and then gave myself an attitude adjustment.  I don’t have fat legs.  I am building muscular legs and I shouldn’t be complaining about it!

Poor Mr. Hall got dragged all over Virginia Beach on Saturday as I hunted for new shorts.  We ended up at Dick’s and I got a pair of Nike compression shorts, which are very stretchy.



They are pretty short, as you can see.  I think it’s like 2 or three inches there in length.  I love the purple.  I tried on small, medium, and large in the dressing room because I have no idea how compression shorts fit.  I settled on the medium and proceeded to twist, squat, bend, and check myself out in the mirror.  The last thing I need is any of my lady bits showing!  They passed my test and I happily checked out.

These shorts will be on tomorrow when I go to the studio.  I can’t wait to see how they work!

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