It really isn’t surviving Bikram yoga anymore, so….

I was about to start my blog title with “Surviving Bikram yoga” and then the day, when I realized that I’m not really “surviving” class anymore.

This was a strange realization for me because I’ve pretty much been “surviving” any type of physical activity for the last two years.  Yes, two years.  It’s ridiculous to type this, but that’s the reality of where my body has been.  So it was bizarre to think, wow, I’m not really THAT gimpy anymore.

I think I may have recently graduated from gimpy to the next stage without realizing it.  I think it happened a few weeks ago.  Remember when I had that week of terrible classes at the Bikram studio and then I broke that physiological plateau and have been avoiding sitting down during class ever since?  I am convinced something happened.

Perhaps my body and my inner mind had a dialogue.  I bet it went like this:

  • Body: this sucks. I hate you.
  • Mind:  I’m sorry, you paid good money for this class and you like it here.
  • Body:  Whatevs.  You’re just saying that because you’re cheap.
  • Mind:  But you haven’t been having the hip spasms in over a month.  We haven’t texted Cori begging for a butt massage in weeks!
  • Body:  I guess so but this is hard.
  • Mind:  Exercise isn’t supposed to be easy, you slacker.
  • Body:  But you still can’t do half of these poses without wobbling all over.  You are in WAY over your head, my friend.  Go back to your step class and start complaining about your knee again so we can go back to PT where we belong.
  • Mind:  I miss step class but maybe this is better for me right now.  I have been doing cardio stuff at home and it’s not hurting my knee like step class.
  • Body:  Should we mark our calendar for a hurt knee in a few weeks?  It’s been awhile.  I’m feeling like you don’t care about me anymore.
  • Mind:  No, we are not doing PT ever again and you are actually doing well now so stop complaining.
  • Body:  Define well.
  • Mind:  We are healthy, knee pain free, making neuromuscular connections in the past few weeks, and work our butts off in Bikram class.  We feel powerful and accomplished when we leave.
  • Body:  I can see your point.  I’ve been a whiner……but we like Cori’s butt rubs.

So I’m not sure if that’s EXACTLY what went down, but you get the picture.  Somehow, my mind and body are making peace with each other.  I don’t feel like I’m trapped by fear when I exercise now.  It’s quite liberating.  Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware of my limitations, but I’m not living by them anymore.

Mind:  Namaste, body.  We’re cool now.

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And the winner is…

After being out on the road for the majority of the week, I am ready to come back and give you some updates!

If you haven’t noticed, I deleted my cry-fest video from last week.  If you missed it, email me and I’ll send you the link.  I decided to remove it from my blog for a couple of reasons:

  1. I decided that this blog is not about the bad things.  Sure, I’ve talked about my struggles, but I know that video was pretty emotional and I got some very strong reactions from some people.  I was overwhelmed by the amount of support I got and texts from folks after they watched it.  Thanks, peeps.  Having said that though, it just felt like bad energy on the blog and I didn’t want that living here.  What’s done is done.
  2. I work with the offender mentioned in this post.  This is a public blog.  It didn’t need to come back and bite me later.

Having said that, let’s move onto the yoga studio decision.  Last week, my monthly pass to Bikram expired and I had three punches left on my card for my old hot yoga studio.  I was ready to make some serious comparisons ($80 a month is no joke for a membership to a studio, and this is pretty standard).  I’ve already cancelled my membership to the ODU rec center since I NEVER PLAN TO GO BACK AGAIN FOR PT.  That was $15 a month.  I also decided over the weekend to cancel my membership to One Life Fitness.  I have only been going a couple of days a week because of my yoga activities since January.  I went there while I was in PT with Cori during the summer and then on my own in the fall after I graduated from PT.  I realized that I have made more progress at Bikram in the past 60 days than I had going to the gym several days a week.  My neuromuscular connections are improving (I can tighten my left quad at will now!) and I’m improving my balance by leaps and bounds.  I had to make a difficult decision:  Keep the gym membership or try to do things exclusively on my own at home for weights and cardio?  I spend about $30 a month at the gym.  By cancelling both the ODU rec center and One Life, I have released $45 a month in cash that could go towards a yoga membership.

The decision was easy.  Quit both gyms, go with my gut, and do the yoga.

Let me be clear though.  I only made this decision AFTER I went to the old yoga studio.  Here’s how it went down.

The first day I went back, I went to a hot vinyasa class.  I love vinyasa.  It’s nice to flow through positions and it’s really relaxing.  I got to the studio early and set up on my mat.  It was a packed room and I was ready to work.  And then it hit me.  The flow was hurting my wrists like crazy. I  had totally forgotten about how much my wrists hurt in vinyasa.  Then, I realized that I was hurting my hips during class because I didn’t have enough time to hold a position accurately.  I was miserable.  The next day, I went to see my beloved Sandra and take another regular hot class.  I set up, ready for some granola crunchy hippy time, and waited for class to start.  I have a pretty good gauge of time passing in class now because of the 45 minute segments in Bikram.  I estimated we spent 15 minutes in the beginning prepping with relaxation exercises.  It wasn’t relaxing. I wanted to get to work.  What was once peaceful to me felt like it was dragging along.  I adore Sandra, but I wasn’t enjoying class at all.  And, the music was making me CRAZY.  Bikram classes don’t have music.  Again, what was once relaxing was very distracting to me.  People around me were verbally emoting during class, which was again, distracting.  This happened in all three classes I went to, including the class the next day.  I never really realized how the vocalizing during class by students was apparent until now, mostly because it just doesn’t happen in Bikram classes.  I was frustrated with myself because I felt like I was being judgy with the old studio.  The two are like comparing apples to oranges.

I had to think it out over the weekend.  I had a free pass to the Bikram studio from points I earned for attending during the month, so I decided to make an experiment out of it and see how I felt about the Bikram studio after going to the old studio for the past three days.  I was ready to feel overwhelmed again by Bikram yoga, stressed out by the bright room, and maybe bored by the standard positions.  Instead, what I got was instant “active” meditation.  It was calming to know what to expect in the next posture, to have the comfort of knowing I wasn’t hurting myself by moving into/out of postures too quickly in a flow yoga style, and I actually felt like I WORKED in the class.  Don’t get me wrong, the old studio was relaxing in a way (maybe because the room is dark), but I didn’t feel RELAXED when I left.

When I leave Bikram, I feel like I’ve worked my ass off, but I am so peaceful at the same time.  I understood the idea of active meditation, but I don’t know if I really realized that is what was happening to me in the room.  I don’t think I really bought into the idea that was even possible in a bright room with it being so hot.  But now I think it’s almost like what runners must experience.  It’s not like the runner’s high, at least from my lack of running, but it seems like it’s being “in the zone”.  I’m so in the zone at Bikram.  It’s physically and mentally stressful, but it captures all of my attention.  The music, the dark room, the other groaning and sighing with exasperation students at the other studio all are distractions to me.

These revelations were shocking but clearly obvious to me after I left the Bikram studio on Saturday morning.

I have two more free passes that I will use this weekend for Bikram and then I will go ahead and make the monthly auto-debit commitment.

In other news, my sewing lady emailed me back after being MIA for several weeks and apologized profusely for ignoring me while she and her husband moved out of their home and into another.  The shorts are still a go!

Making comparisons

Sunday was my last day of my Groupon at the Bikram yoga studio.   I now have some decisions to make about which studio I’d like to attend.

I have three more classes left on my punch card at my old studio.  My plan is to go today, tomorrow,and Thursday to revisit the studio, the instructors, and the classes.  It’s time to make some comparisons between the two and make a decision about which studio I’d like to attend.

I’ve already decided that I have to do yoga.  It’s really helping me and I’m rebuilding some neuromuscular connections as a result of going to class. I know this because I’ve made more progress by myself in yoga than I have going to the gym since I “graduated” from PT with Cori.

I really hope that after the next three days I have an easy decision.  I like both studios and the instructors.  I’d like to wake up Friday and have a clear, unwavering decision.  I do have a free class voucher for the Bikram studio that I plan to use on Friday morning.  Perhaps after that I will have a better idea about which way I want to go.  I don’t want to go to both studios because whatever I decide to do, I plan to do unlimited monthly packages, which will run me at least $80 a month.

Surviving Bikram Yoga: Days 32-34 and the change of season

Last week was a bust for my plan to go 6 days in a row.  Pollen came out in full force early in the week and I was miserable on Wednesday and Thursday.  I hate this time of year!  Every year it’s different with my symptoms.  Some years it’s itchy, watery eyes.  Some years it’s the stuffy nose.  Last year, my ears itched like crazy.  This year is the year of the sinus headache. I learned my lesson on going to yoga with a headache a few weeks ago.  If it’s a general stress headache or a mild sinus headache, I’ll go to class.  But if I’m feeling like my head is in a vice, I won’t go.  So I didn’t go Wednesday or Thursday, which really bummed me because I wanted to see Stroud.

To make up for it, I decided to do a double class on Friday.  This is when you go two times in one day.  Crazy, it sounds, yes.  (that sounded like Yoda)

But it’s actually not that bad when you do it first thing and last thing.  I can’t believe I did this, but I actually got up for a 5:30am class.  I was up at the studio right around 5:10am and ready to go.  I was pleased to see that there were a few die hard people there with me and we had a great practice with Aimee.  I had the day off, so I went home, made a green juice for breakfast and worked on grading papers.  I had a carrot/beet juice for lunch to make sure I was really hydrated and headed out for a 5pm class.  When I got to the studio, Aimee said, “didn’t I see you this morning?”  Becka was there too and she was excited that I was giving a double a try.  12 hours between classes isn’t much different than me doing a 7pm class and then doing an 8 am class the next morning. I commented that I felt really good and hoped not to fall out after the first water break.

To my surprise, I did really well! I only sat down for one set of a posture because my hip felt like it was spasming.  I am finding that in some postures, I tend to dump my weight into the back of my leg instead of focusing on the front of my foot.  Aimee has been cuing that a lot in class lately, which makes sense.

After class, I fist pumped my way out of the studio and headed home.  Kevin and I met up with some friends for Mexican, and I drank a lot of water instead of a margarita and had some fresh guacamole for dinner.  I enjoyed the chips without any guilt and picked a little at Kevin’s fajitas.  I knew I had another class at 8am the next morning.

Saturday morning, I headed into the studio for another class with Aimee.  I was surprised when Becka set up her mat right in front of me.  I’ve practiced with everyone in the room except Stroud and Becka, so it was a treat to see her practice.  It was a good class with a lot of good energy.  The room was really full with new people, including a guy behind me who insisted on wearing a baseball hat the whole time.  It was really weird. I just wanted to tell him to take it off because he’d be a lot more comfortable.  Only two people tried to run out of the room this time, so the newbies did really well compared to past weeks. I think sometimes having a really full room makes people work harder.

Yesterday I woke up with full intentions on going to class but Kevin and I had a TON of work to do in the garage.  It was one of those days where we were out running errands first thing (Dollar Tree for newspapers, Costco, then Sams Club, then grocery store).  Costco has my coconut water and my green apples, Sams has our other fruits and  veggies, and then the grocery store has my kale and Kevin’s almond milk.  We got it all done, despite the crazy church traffic by lunch and set up the crock pot for our weekly lunch.  Then, we got to the garage and worked at it until nightfall.  Thank goodness the days are getting longer because we really needed the extra time.  While Kevin was moving things around, I started working on the winter clothes packing and unpacking of summer clothes.

Changing clothes around is one of my least favorite time of the year.  It’s a total fiasco.  In addition, I run laundry for about a week straight because I can’t unpack a Rubbermaid and just hang things up.  I have to wash everything, even though I know it’s clean.  It’s just a weird thing I do.

For the summer clothes, my Type A personality comes out in full effect.  I arrange Kevin’s casual shirts (he keeps those in our room and then uses the front bedroom to hang his work shirts and pants year round) by color.  Yes, by color.  It’s a little extreme, but so is his shorts collection and I find he does better when I rainbow his shirts in the summer.  He continues to have 500% more clothing than I do.

Then, I go after the swimsuit drawer.  I like to have everything neatly folded and ready to go.  I double check all of my suits to make sure there isn’t any frayed edges anywhere and put all of my bikinis in ziplock bags so I don’t get strings everywhere.  As I do every year, I hold them up, think about  how I’d love to wear one someday, and put them in the drawer.  I own three bikinis and have never worn them once.  Maybe this year will be my year.

Then, I start up the laundry.  I’m home today because this garage/yard adventure yesterday has left me looking like a boxer today with swollen eyes and puffy cheeks.  I don’t know what I got into.  It’s a little bit of a blessing in disguise because I’m going to be out traveling for the majority of next week so I need the time to work on laundry today.

There are piles everywhere in the house of clothes to be washed.  All of the winter clothes are packed away, Rubbermaids are labeled, and they are in the garage.  So I start working on the piles.  There’s the huge piles of t-shirts.  My shorts are already washed and in the drawer.  Kevin has a pile of shorts to try on since he shrunk out of all of his jeans this winter.  I have a pile of dresses.  A pile of work clothes for me.  Piles of swimsuit coverups and tanks.  A pile of spring/summer weight pajamas.

It’s neverending.  Makes me wonder if other people do this too and we all suffer in silence?

My checklist for this summer

The weather is so warm this week in Virginia Beach, it makes me wish summer were here and we could just skip all of the pollen madness of spring.  It got me to thinking about things I’d like to do this summer, so without further ado, I give you my list.

  1. Miscalculate a risk whilst galavanting around, but avoid injury.
  2. Go to at least 4 Bikram yoga classes a week, even if it’s just as hot outside as it is in the studio.
  3. Sit on the beach
  4. Sit on the beach without thinking of grading student papers
  5. Drink only juice for one day
  6. Howl at the moon with friends
  7. Discover a new talent
  8. Be irresponsible for an entire day
  9. Jump on my left leg without holding onto a wall (PT throwback)
  10. Make a mean sangria
  11. Go to the lake in my neighborhood and enjoy the sound of summer, put my toes in the sand on the beach there, and enjoy watching children play
  12. Bike around the lake while Kevin is running
  13. Find Kevin an opportunity to play drums, even if it’s just jamming on a bucket with friends at a party
  14. Eat fish once a week
  15. Take more pictures with my phone when I’m with friends
  16. Go fishing
  17. Try one new tomato variety in my garden

So there you have it.  My summer bucket list.

Surviving Bikram yoga: Day 31

Class with Aimee last night was like a 180 degree spin around from class the night before with Stroud.  She is so calming and I found myself enjoying the contrast in dialogue style.  She spent some time at the beginning talking about “proving yourself” on the mat.  She said that we aren’t there to prove anything to anyone, including ourselves.  She reminded us to sit down if we got overwhelmed or even emotional.  It was a smaller class of 8 and we had a couple of new people, who really did a great job hanging in the room.

During this class, I really focused on my arm placement.  Many of the postures require arms over the head, palms together, and elbows close to the ears.  This is easy in theory, but is actually pretty difficult in a hot room when you are tired.  It’s common for people to bow their elbows out instead of really reaching up and keeping the arms locked and tight.  I also worked on my arm work with stretching my arms forward during Awkward Pose and in other postures where my arms are to the side.  It’s important to tighten up your arms at all times.  Not only does this give you purpose in your posture, but it activates your muscles and even helps with balance (in my opinion).

Tonight is class with Stroud.  I’m so excited.

Surviving Bikram Yoga: Day 30

Another great class last night!  I was having a serious case of the Mondays and didn’t want to go, but I was so glad I did when I walked in and saw Stroud sitting at the desk!  Surprise!  He’s cut his hair even shorter and now he looks a little like a skater.

What I’ve discovered about Stroud is that he does not really give you time in class to think about stopping or mentally checking out.  I appreciate that because sometimes too much space is an invitation for a wandering mind.  Class went by super fast and I am glad I went.

When it was over, I headed to the front of the studio to finish my water (I barely drank any in class).  Becka was out front and asked how I’m doing.  I told her that I have had a really good run of classes in the past few days and perhaps I’m getting over my plateau.  She agreed and said I was looking really good- clear, shining skin and bright eyes.  I’ve heard that this is  common.  It’s probably because I’m basically in a sauna for hours on end.  I have noticed that I pretty much only wear powder now on my face and during the weekends I don’t really wear any makeup.  My legs, which are super dry all winter, never really got that way and I’ve barely had to put lotion on my feet.

When I got home, I drank my coconut water and took a quick shower.  I am finding that I still sweat a little after my shower- perhaps my body regulating temperature.  I made a carrot/beet juice and enjoyed that while Kevin and I watched a movie.  I put lime in the juice and it was delicious!