Surviving Bikram yoga: Day 18

I didn’t end up going to yoga on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday last week.  I was just too sick.  Or barely sick.  It was the worst.  Finally, I got up Saturday morning, feeling better but still runny nosed and headed to class.

I asked Aimee about her opinion on practicing when you’re sick and she said that as long as I wasn’t throwing up, it’s best to come to class.  Apparently, many postures are designed to flush your lymphatic system and drain your sinuses, so it’s actually better to suffer through the class and get the benefit of the heat, humidity, and postures.  I’ll have to remind myself next time that happens.

So Saturday was my 18th class in 30 days.  I’m pretty proud of myself.  I had to re-up my monthly membership, since my introductory month expired.  I had that Living Social deal for another month, so I turned that in and headed into class.  I can’t believe I’ve already been at the studio for a month!

Immediately, the room felt great.  I didn’t feel 100% but it was good to be back on my mat.  I struggled more with my balance (not sure why) and my left leg really felt weak.  But it was a great class with really good energy.  I am beginning to really enjoy the smaller classes on early Saturday mornings.

One weird thing happened during class though.  About halfway through, I realized that my sweat was cold on my skin.  I was sweating myself cold!  It was an odd sensation for sure.  I’m not sure if I was breaking a fever during class or my body is starting to really regulate itself in the heat, but it was a very odd sensation.  It made the class so much more enjoyable because I wasn’t thinking about how hot it was and my endurance went way up.  Who knows if it will be a fluke  and never happen again?

Update on the DIY shorts front:  a seamstress emailed me back!  She said that she would be happy to help me with my project.  I just need to take measurements and start that process with her.  I emailed her a couple of days ago and I’m waiting to hear back on instructions for the measurements.  I also asked if she would give me a private lesson so I can sew the first pair with her.  We will see how that turns out.  I’m pretty excited.

This is when you know you’ve gone off the deep end….

I might be obsessed.  It’s truly possible.   For those of you who know me well, you will not be surprised by this post.

Exasperated, perhaps.  But not surprised.

I have been like a crazy woman with this Bikram yoga clothing situation.  Realizing that my fate is inching closer to wearing underwear to class, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect shorts.  My new Nike compression shorts are great, but I NEED real hot yoga shorts!

Here is an example of a standard hot yoga short which is made by companies like Mika and Shakti.  They are anywhere from $35-$48 dollars a pop.

prod13256367624f039c9a2ed218.54138137

You will notice that these are almost like bikini briefs, but the bottom is fully covered.  The side cinching can be taken down for a more traditional boy short.  But the beauty of these shorts is the side cinching.  This is what allows you to avoid the pinching of the leg by your shorts and it gives you a better feeling of mobility during class.

This is where it gets crazy.  I think to myself, I can make these.  They are basically hot pants with side cinching.  It can’t be that hard.

So I take to the interwebs again and hunt for these shorts.  There is no pattern to be found.  I look on yoga boards, dance boards, sewing boards, vintage boards, etc.  It must be the best kept secret because there is no pattern anywhere.  Anywhere!  I even try Etsy, thinking someone would have something there.  Nope.  But do you know what I did find?  People selling their own versions of these shorts.  Dammit!

I’ve never sewn anything with stretchy fabric before.  I’ve never sewn pants before.  But I think I can do this.

I even looked for swimsuit patterns with boy shorts and didn’t find anything outside of children’s sizing.  And the one pattern I did find with boyshorts was too high cut on the butt.  That’s the whole point of these shorts.  They go down low, providing good butt coverage so they won’t ride up.

This obsession has consumed me.  It’s all I’m thinking about.  I can’t justify spending at least $40 on these shorts.  I need to make them myself.  Heck, if I am actually good at it, I could probably sell them myself.  Take that, interweb!

So here is now where things get a little cray cray.  I don’t know how to make a pattern.  I’m skilled enough to know how to read one, but I can’t buy a pair of shorts, deconstruct them, and then make a pattern out of it.  What is a girl to do?

YOU HIRE SOMEONE.

Yes, I’m actually in the process of emailing a seamstress who advertised on Craigslist to see if she will make me a pattern.  She just moved here from LA, has a great portfolio online, and seems hip.  She also does private sewing lessons.  Maybe I can get her to make the pattern and then help me sew the first pair.

It’s nuts.  The whole thing is nuts.

I’ll keep you posted.  This is about to get interesting.

To Bikram or not to Bikram…with a cold?

So I’ve been sick for the past couple of days.  This time, it’s just a garden variety cold.  Runny nose, sneezing, and general crabbiness towards life in general.  After not feeling well last week, I wasn’t happy to start up this cold this week.  I actually brought an entire box of Kleenex to work because yesterday was such a mess.  I bought the anti-viral kind, since I’m literally leaking out of my nose all day.

The cold started actually on Tuesday night.  I thought I’d be able to go to yoga yesterday but I wasn’t feeling that great.  Run down, sneezing, blowing my nose.  Can you blow your nose in a Bikram class?  It seems like an etiquette conundrum.

I was literally miserable by the time I left work yesterday so I just went home.  It was great because I got to bed earlier and was able to rest.  Today, I woke up feeling better but I’m still sneezing and Kleenex-ridden.  I made myself a carrot and beet juice this morning for breakfast, since I read that carrots are good if you have a cold.  I put in a little extra ginger too.

This brings me to the question of the day.  Should I go to Bikram tonight?  I’ve been agonizing over this because if I don’t, I will only have in two days of practice this week.

So I did what anyone would do in this situation.  I went to the interweb.

This may or may not have been a good idea.  Some people say that it’s good to go because you will sweat out the sick.  Other people say it’s too stressful on the body.  Others say that if you are sick from the neck up you should go, but if you are sick from the neck down, stay home.

I finally decided that I needed to make my decision based on the people in the room.  It is not nice to spread germs.  In a hot room that breeds germs.  To be near people who are sick.

So I am electing not to be that girl.  I could probably go and figure out a way to mop my nose, but I would hate it if I showed up and someone parked next to me who was sick and sniffling the whole time.  It’s just rude, people.

I’m going to take the time to rest, paint my nails, and spend time with my husband and cats.

That’s not a bad way to zen out.

Surviving Bikram Yoga: Day 17

The shorts were a success!  They sort of rode up during class but I didn’t feel the need to tug on them and it made such a big difference to not have wet fabric loose on my legs.  The only thing that I noticed a difference on was eagle pose because my heel didn’t have any fabric to rest on, so I did tug it down a little for that.  Now I know why people wear tiny yoga briefs to class.  It really is better.  I also noticed an improvement in my floor postures because I was able to easily move from my front to back in between postures because the fabric was a little slippery.

Al taught last night and he definitely has a different style of dialogue.  He likes to clap his hands to enunciate postures, which is startling but at the same time good to wake your brain up to action.  Al is the first person I ever took a Bikram class with and I haven’t seen him since that first day.  He gave me a couple of adjustment suggestions and really took the time in class to explain how each posture creates a situation where the blood flow is cut off to a certain area of the body during the posture and then how healthy blood goes into that joint or whatever.  It was pretty interesting.

I didn’t really work on a specific posture last night.  Earlier in the session, Al was talking about how each posture has an area of the body that you should be activating and one area of the body that you should be relaxing.  I’d never heard that before in class, so I paid attention to that for the entire class.  He said that it also is important to realize how not relaxing the area of the body is tied to your breathing.  Without calm breathing in and out of your nose during the posture you are not relaxing your body in the places it needs to relax.  Makes you think.

So tonight I’m off to class again with Aimee and I’ll focus on that again.

Branching Out: Coconut products

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been using coconut products in my daily diet.  I didn’t want to post about it until I decided whether or not I would continue with this change.  I’m happy to report that I have started two new, healthy routines!

The first thing I did a few weeks ago was to purchase a big container of coconut oil.  My Costco has a great deal on Carrington Farms coconut oil for around $16.  This is a 54 ounce container and is raw, cold-pressed, organic, and unrefined.  That is the way to go.

CoconutOil_54oz__77698.1357740457.1280.1280

 

The entire jar (which is pretty big) will last about a year or so before it spoils.  I keep it on my kitchen countertop and haven’t had any issues with it getting liquified by the stove or anything like that.

I’ve been putting it in my egg pan in the mornings instead of using spray (read: plastic) oil.  I just take a small fork and drag out about a half of a teaspoon.  It can be used up to 350 degrees, so it melts really well without smoking.  Any leftover on my fork goes straight to my cuticles.   I’ve found that my eggs actually taste buttery using this oil, but I’ve used too much once and it does taste a little tropical.  I also have noticed that my eggs seem fluffier (remember, I use two egg whites and one regular egg).

I also purchased some coconut water to drink after my yoga classes.  I got a case of it for $14.  know it seems like a lot, but I actually only drink about a third of the carton for each class so I’m not going through them really fast.  I think I drink about 8 ounces after each class.  The brand I got is Zico, which is one of the three that most people by (Vita Coco and O.N.E. being the others).  I researched and Zico is better in terms of chunks (none) and less calories and no added sugar.  I learned that coconut milk is made from the meat of the fruit, while coconut water is the clear stuff in the middle of the fruit.

318F8CBHoWL._SL400_

 

Apparently, Zico makes flavored waters, but I just got the plain.  At first taste, I was surprised that it didn’t taste very sweet. Now, I’m just used to it.

I chose to start adding these two products into my diet for two reasons:

1)  The coconut oil has great health benefits.  While some people argue that the saturated fat in the oil is bad for you, it’s actually not.  The reason this doesn’t apply to coconut oil is that about half the saturated fat in the oil is medium-chain fatty acids, which are easier to digest than the more prevalent long-chain fatty acids in most other oils, including butter.  Nearly 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is of a type rarely found in nature called lauric acid, a “miracle” compound because of its unique health promoting properties. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties.   The cool thing about lauric acid is that it is only found in high concentrations in one other source….breast milk!

2)  Coconut water is, in my opinion, the best natural electrolyte drink out there.  It’s naturally high in potassium.   I’ve seen recipes for making your own electrolyte supplement using water, salt, lemons, and a host of other things.  Frankly, I don’t want to drink salt water after class. I still haven’t decided if I really need salt after yoga, but if I do, I’ll figure out a way to get it in without giving up my coconut water.  Coconut water also has lauric acid in it, so that’s even better.  I’ve learned also that in WW2, coconut water was used on the troops as a universal blood donor.  It is identical to human blood plasma!

 

So there you go.  Yay for coconuts!  I purchased some coconut flour last weekend and I plan to try some baking with it this weekend.

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.

Woman-doing-Standing-Bow-Pose_1

 

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.

pDSP1-14738837p275w

 

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!

Portable juice!

I’m so pleased to report that I have successfully carried juice to work!  I woke up this morning and didn’t feel like my normal breakfast, so I juiced up some greens and apples (same recipe that I posted last week).  I wasn’t sure how to transport the juice to work, since it needs to stay cold and not spill everywhere.  I’ve seen online that some people use mason jars, which is a great idea, but I was in a hurry this morning.

Kevin suggested I use one of his Nalgene water bottles.  It has a tight screw top and it didn’t leak at all.  Even better, I can see how many ounces of juice I drank (26 in this batch) and I was able to throw in some ice cubes to keep it cold.  All I did was shake it real good when I got to work and stuck in a straw.

Delicious!

portable