Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 28: Bikram Yoga Challenge - Standing Head to Knee Tip

Me in Standing Head to Knee in 2008, notice my head is NOT on my knee! (still working on it.)

Today in Standing Head to Knee I tried a new technique I learned yesterday in Advanced class and really felt a difference is my ability to balance and get my head to my knee. Standing Head to Knee is where you stand on one leg, grab the foot of the other leg and lift the leg straight in front of you so both legs are perpendicular to each other, with both knees locked.The dialog of the pose tells you to bend the elbows down to the calf muscle and eventually the elbows will go below the calf muscle. Next you are to tuck your chin and touch your forehead on the knee.

Tucking my chin in and touching my forehead on my knee always makes my elbows come up so they are no longer below my calf muscle. But today I used more of my back and shoulder muscles to round, like in Rabbit Pose, or put another way expanded my upper back as if I was hunching over. This seemed to give me more room to tuck my chin and get my forehead to my knee and also gave me more space to drop my elbows down.

I still need to work on it, I feel out of both sets, but I could get my forehead closer and I could tell a significant difference in my stabilization in the posture. It also helps to push the hip of the raised leg, pushing the knee even further out, giving more room to touch the forehead to the knee.

Standing Head to Knee is one of those postures I think I could work on my whole life and not completely master. There are so many tiny nuances and things to correct, I love working on it and trying to always make minor corrections or changes and watch what my body does. Some day I hope to be able to keep my kicking leg parallel to the floor, without my hands clasped against the foot! Now THAT would be AMAZING! I have the rest of my life to work on it.... namaste.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 27 - Bikram Yoga Challenge: The new vent system is a gift to all the students

Image: Tina Phillips /

Here we are, day 27, class 26 of my 60 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge and I am feeling pretty good. I had sort of been dreading going to class and frankly, being social, for the last few days. Sometimes I just get in a place where I prefer to just be alone and at home, which is nearly impossible when you are in the middle of a 60 Day Challenge! I have come out of my "funk" though and am feeling much better physically and mentally. Today I took the regular Bikram class and the Advanced class, which by the way, only counts as ONE class towards my 60 Day Challenge. If you count my Advanced classes, which we aren't, but if we WERE, I would be at 29 classes!

David taught today's class and he was perhaps very funny today. He made a joke about the exhaust system and giving these guys in the back a "gift" when it when went on because they were right underneath it. It was funny because David made a comment to one of them that his friend put them in just the right spot, under the vent. And these poor guys were dying in class, when it came on I instantly saw relief in their faces and everyone kind of laughed because we have all been there.

I think it must have been the first class for one of them and the other one must have been new. At one point one of the guys opened the back door and poked his head out like he was trying to get some fresh air! That was really funny, not sure anyone has every done that!

And it was someone's birthday today so we sang Happy Birthday during the second set of Triangle with was so nice, it makes it a little faster and even if it didn't, you don't really notice because you are focused on singing, a great distraction.

It might have been one of my better classes in weeks, maybe it was the breakfast tacos I made myself early in the morning.....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 23 - Bikram Yoga Challenge: Towel or No Towel? No Towel!

Image: Suat Eman /

I'm feeling the tolls of taking class every day; feeling a bit run down lately. I feel a little silly even mentioning it because I've pretty much decided 90 minutes of workout a day is a bare minimum for me but man, taking Bikram Yoga everyday is HARD! I better get use to it though, I will soon be taking TWO classes a day for 9 weeks. No wimping out now, I'm not even half way through my challenge, I need to pull it together! :)

There was a funny phenomenon in class the other day. One guy, "Jim" moved his towel during Separate Leg Stretching. Jim comes to yoga on a regular basis and knows in Bikram Yoga we discourage turning towels when we do poses that are sideways from the mat. The instructor looked at him with a smirk and he just smiled and said, "my feet slip." That wasn't the funny part.

The funny part was when another student, "Ed", moved his towel to the side in the next posture. I was smiling inside because what they say is so true, it is a group energy thing and when one person sits down or "moves their towel", others all the sudden feel like they need to do the same. You see it more often when people get exhausted and sit out a posture. Others then feel it is ok if they sit out a posture and you can see it in class, all the sudden there will be several sitting out a posture. This isn't my own opinion, I've actually done this, been exhausted but no one else is sitting out so darn it, I'm going to keep going but the second someone takes a knee, THANK GOODNESS, all the sudden it is a sign it is ok to take a breather.

In the Corporate world they call this teamwork, where everyone works together for the common goal, everyone does their part to get the team to the finish line. In yoga that is called group energy. As a group working together we can all make it to the end of class. Even though we are all there for our own individual practice and the improvement of our own bodies, we are also there in a group and as a group we have an amazing power to help each other. It really does help to have all the people in the room working together. If you are feeling tired you get energy and motivation from the others in the room and if you are going strong and on a roll, well, you give energy to those that need it. Working together, everyone makes it to the end of class.

So this little towel episode made me laugh because one guy set in motion an energy that altered the class. For me, it made me want to try even harder to stay in the poses, to see if I could do it, in spite of my feet slipping. And they do slip, I can't really help that, my legs aren't strong enough yet to keep my feet planted. But I keep trying every day.

As a little side note, the reason they discourage moving the towel is to help build up the muscle in your legs. By not using the towel, you are forcing your legs and glutes to do all the work, making them stronger. Using a towel uses the friction of your feet against the towel to keep you planted in the position so although you might be able to hold the position longer or better, you aren't getting the same benefit as a person that is struggling with no towel. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 18: Bikram Yoga Challenge - Now That's Some Good SWEAT!

I did a double today! I haven't taken two Bikram Yoga classes in one day in over a year, maybe two. The last time was also in the middle of my other 60 Day Challenge. Before I decided to go to teacher training I thought doubles were only for "hardcore yogis" (or those in Challenges) but I have come to the realization lots of people do doubles. Oddly enough, some even find taking class twice a day perfectly normal! There are apparently people outside of yoga that workout for 3+ hours a day at least 1 or 2 times a week so doing two Bikram Yoga classes isn't really too much different that working out at the gym or running for 3 hours, except it is 105 degrees and 40% humidity. And actually, I have run and cycled for WAY longer than 3 hours in over 100 degree weather in Texas summers.

I have to take back what I said yesterday about morning classes and no sweat. Oh my gosh, today was like a shower! I sweated like I had a passion for sweat, it was nonstop the entire class. My towel was soaked and certainly dripping as I left class. Not complaining, loved it. I felt so great today, flexible and strong. It was perhaps one of my better class of late.

I even had enough energy after class to pratice putting my leg behind my head, both sides. It is funny how the body is different on each side. The right side is easy for me, my leg goes over my head and I can look at myself in the front mirror. I don't look like the champions from this past weekend but I can at least get my foot over my head and see myself in the mirror! The left side is not so easy. My leg goes over my head fine but lifting my head up to see myself and basically straighten out my spine is so much harder, I look like a turtle all curled up. My goal is to eventually be able to do Om Pose and Good Bye Pose, well.

My second class was in the afternoon. I hadn't really set my mind to taking class; I had to meet with a vendor and I took some clothes "just in case" I decided I wanted to take another class. I was a little nervous I hadn't eaten enough to take class again but once I was at the studio, I felt fine. My friend Doug was there and he was planning on taking the 4:30 pm class and talked me into taking it too. Megan, who went to the championships with me, was there and so was Mark, a fellow teacher in training, so it was a class full of good strong energy. Sweaty too! TWO sweaty classes in one day! Sweat was streaming down my face, my whole body really, all class, I don't think there was a moment I felt dry. Funny too because someone was saying after class the room was too hot and I had been thinking to myself at some points in class that it wasn't hot enough! Of course, we don't say that in the studio, they may turn the heat up!

I really feel like my practice is improving each day I go to class. It is small things like a tighter grip in a posture, or a bit further stretch, or a more locked knee or sitting deeper in a pose. I love seeing what my body can do when I am really focused and dedicated all the while remembering where I was when I started 4 years ago like not even being able to grab my elbows in Wind Removing Pose. There is so much to correct and improve upon, I think some days it may take me a lifetime to master the 26 basic poses.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Train for a Half Marathon?! Ok, if You Insist!

From 2010 Dash for the Beads

I have decided to try something new for my upcoming half marathon in March, I am going to actually train! I know, shocker. I ran about 3.5 miles today, about 44 minutes. It was perfect weather in Dallas for running. I ran with my friends Jessica, Dave and Callie (dog) along the Katy Trail. It was a great first run to get the "training" started.

The only other time I ran on the Katy Trail was for the White Rock Half Marathon and I wasn't really paying attention to the trail or the surroundings, I was too tired and in pain. Today I took more time to notice how nice the trail is with cement or soft rubbery stuff to run on. There were also lots of markers to help you track where you are and how far you have gone, which is good for me because every piece of technology I get to track my miles seems to break. I haven't splurged and gotten a Garmin but I might have to just to have reliable info for my runs. 

The trail was also landscaped well tall bamboo lined one side shading most of the trail, and as Jessica pointed out, it is more shaded than White Rock Lake. I'll have to keep that in mind when I run in the summer when it can be well over 100 degrees. The trail also goes over lots of streets so there were bridges every so often making my intervals nicely timed, I just walked every time I saw a bridge.

I'll keep you  updated on my "training" for the Dallas Rock N Roll Half Marathon.Hopefully I will run again, it will make 13.1 SO much easier!

Day 17: Bikram Yoga Challenge - Bendy in the Morning? Be Serious.

From Carolyn's Poses

I've decide I can't count. I posted yesterday that yesterday's class was class thirteen when if fact yesterday was class 14, day 16 with today being class 15 and day 17. Either way, I've done a lot of classes! :) I took the 7:30 am class today to change up my practice. Now you might this is strange, who gets up early when they aren't working? I know, I know, as I laid in bed, warm and still a little sleepy, I wondered myself why I was get up. I looked at the clock and as the time ticked by I reminded myself of all the things I needed to do today; it was  struggle but I decide to get up.

Morning classes are different, the body is still stiff and sort of has a mind of its own. Every move today hurt, ever bend or stretch I did seemed to be only half of what I could do yesterday. But such is a morning class.

We were just talking about morning classes and afternoon classes at the yoga competition. There was a friend of mine there that said she doesn't like taking morning classes because she can't go as far in the postures. The response, "That is why you SHOULD take morning classes, to experience different levels of your practice. Of course the body is more stiff in the morning, you haven't had all day to loosen up. But you get use to morning classes and what your body can do and you say this is my morning class body and then there is the afternoon class body."

That was great to listen to and really internalize since I am going to soon be taking morning and afternoon classes everyday for 9 weeks! It was appropriate for today too. Of course you want to push your body and try your hardest every class but your hardest can be at different levels each class. Accepting what your body can do each day is part of the process. So today I thought about that during class as I barely moved in Half Moon and my back really did "hurt like hell" like the dialog says.

It was a nice class though, just a few people, maybe 20-25 people. The energy was perfect for so early in the morning. I hate to say it but it it didn't seem that hot today, I was barely sweaty.  Could be because it is REALLY cold here in Dallas or it could be just because mornings are different and the body isn't ready for class. I started off sweating but by the time I was on the floor, my skin was almost dry. I tend to gauge classes and the heat level by my sweat; a really sweaty class where I look like I took a shower in my clothes is a HOT class and probably means I worked really hard. A mildly sweaty class where my towel is wet but doesn't drip sweat when I pick it up usually means I tried but could have done more. And like today, when the towel is wet but certainly not dripping, well, that is called, a morning class!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 13: Bikram Yoga Challenge - Muffins have a Place in Yoga?!

From October 2008 Yoga Competition

 Me at the 2008 Texas Yoga Championships

Today is day 15 but class 13, I missed two days of class while I was in Los Angeles watching the Yoga Championships. I'll have to make those two up sometime in my 60 days to get in all my classes. It was worth it, I got to see all so many great yogis show off their beautiful practice while inspiring others. I certainly was inspired and motivated to work harder on my own practice and I really felt like in today's class I went farther, deeper in the postures.

Like in Rabbit pose, I really worked at rolling my spine, tucking my head and getting my head to touch my knees before I rolled all the way forward and touched the top of my head on the floor. In doing so, I got an up and close look at my stomach, not a pretty sight! It looked like three muffin tops stacked together or maybe three billowy marshmallow poofs.  Either way, not pretty. I tried to suck my stomach in as much as possible and the three rolls of "fat" didn't move. I stared at my stomach the entire posture, a little disappointed in myself that I had allowed my abs to get so flabby. I was remembering all the competitors from the cahmpionships, Joseph Encinia in particular. The last day of the competition I remember his Rabbit Pose, it was perfect. His stomach was sucked in and tight, not a bit of fat and certainly no rolls. There was a perfect open space between his legs and stomach.

So as I stretched and pulled in Rabbit Pose while looking at my "in poor shape" tummy, I set my mind to working on my abs, right away. Nothing like a yoga class where you wear almost no clothes to motivate you. You can't help it really, no flaw gets hidden, they are all out there for the world or at the very least, the yoga room to see. Not that I think anyone else is looking, they are all suppose to be looking at themselves. If I actually thought people were looking at my big hips, flabby stomach and other imperfections I see, I would probably wear a big t-shirt and long loose pants. Thankfully I am SURE no one is watching me! :)

And since it is late....I think I will work on my abs...tomorrow. (wink)

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Reaching Dreams, One Yogi at a Time

7th International Yoga Asana Championship Bishnu Ghosh Yoga Cup Winners

Leaving Los Angeles, headed back to Dallas. What a wonderful, inspirational weekend full of amazing yogis. I feel so blessed to be able to be a part of such a great group of people. I learn more everyday through yoga how to improve myself in my mind and body. It is a beautiful thing to find something so simple, yoga, that helps uncover my inner strength, determination and tenacity. I may never make it to the stage of the International Yoga Championships as a Yoga Champion but seeing the Champions and hearing their stories inspires me to be a champion in my own life.

I am so proud of all the competitors, they all did a wonderful job. I have a small glimpse of the stress and nervousness that accompanies competitions like this from my own experience as a yogi competitor in the Texas Regional Championships and have great admiration for anyone that gets up and performs yoga in front of hundreds of people. It is a nerve racking experience and you never know what your body will do on stage. A pose or routine done perfectly 100 times can become a persons greatest challenge on the stage. But when you nail it and give it your 100% effort, it is wonderful, regardless of the scores.

So CONGRATULATIONS to all the Competitors and the Winners of the International Yoga Asana Championships

From 2010 International Yoga Asana Bishnu Ghosh Yoga Cup Championships

Men's International Winners
First Place: Kasper Van Den Wijnaard (Netherlands)
Second Place: Joseph Encinia (USA)
Third Place: Bel Carpenter (USA)

From 2010 International Yoga Asana Bishnu Ghosh Yoga Cup Championships

Women's International Winners
First Place: BrandyWinfield (USA)
Second Place: Chaukei Stefanie Ngai (China)
Third Place: Gloria Suen (Singapore)

Young Men's International Winners
First Place: Griffin Peddicord (USA - Maryland)
Second Place: Kehonu Sturm (USA - Nevada)
Third Place: Satyajeet Salvi (USA - Illinois)

Young Women's International Winners
First Place: Mei Ling Lu (Singapore)
Second Place: Stacey Boulaev (USA - California)
Third Place: Katherine Marshall-Kramer (USA - Kansas)

Here are the photos I took of the event
USA  Yoga Championships
International Semi Finals
International Yoga Asana Bishnu Ghosh Yoga Cup Championships

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Best of the Best, USA Yoga Championship Winners

From 2010 USA/InternationalYogaCompetition (by Eye-Fi)

Yesterday's championship competition was an amazing sight of yoga talent. It was a culmination of the winners of all the regional yoga competitions throughout the United States coming together to challenge themselves and demonstrate their practice to hundreds of viewers.

Yoga Competitions can be debated by many over whether "competition" is even something yoga is suppose to encouraged or if it should be "part" of true yoga. Either way, you can't deny the spectacle that is a yoga competition is awesome and fascinating to watch.

I feel so lucky to have been able to attend and watch beautiful yogis of all sizes and shapes come together to share their hard work and dedication to yoga. It was wonderful cheering people on I never had met and throwing them good thoughts when I saw them wobble or shake.

The Championships have a specific format which includes 5 cumpulsory postures and 2 postures (asanas) of the competitors choice.
  1. Standing Head to Knee Pose
  2. Standing Bow Pose
  3. Bow Pose
  4. Rabbit Pose
  5. Stretching Pose
  6. Additional Pose
  7. Additional Pose

The Winners of the USA Competition:

Men's USA Champions

First Place: Joesph Encinia
Second Place: Bel Carpenter
Third Place: Jeff Rangel

Women's USA Champions

First Place:Brandy Winfield
Second Place: Ann Marie Paul
Third Place: Afton Carraway

Friday, February 12, 2010

USA Yogis Show Off Skills at 2010 USA Yoga Championships

From 2010 USA/InternationalYogaCompetition (by Eye-Fi)

At the 2010 USA and International Yoga Competition, in Los Angeles. The USA Men's division is almost done, everyone has done an amazing job! These are truly some of the best of the best yogis! Dallas' beloved Joseph Encinia is in first place! YEA!

You can watch the live video feed of the entire competition here.

Never be late for your flight when it snows

My plane! It LOOKS ready to take off but it isn't really
Sitting at DFW airport waiting for my flight to Los Angeles (LA). The USA and International Yoga Championships are this weekend and I'm going to volunteer and see some of the most awesome yogis! I'm so excited! I missed my flight, uh, due to the weather, yea, that's it, the I had a lovely stroll through terminal D and did some shopping and got a pedicure. (Something I needed to do before I left but didn't have time.)

Now sitting at my gate waiting, feeling pretty darn lucky the lady at the counter got me on this flight instead of standby. The flight is full and there are 50+ people on standby. UGH! Feel so sorry for those people on standby. Is it bad I am secretly smiling inside, SO happy I got on the flight? I've been there though, on standby, hoping someone didn't show up for the flight. That is pretty much what these people are hoping, someone else's bad fortune is there good fortune.


Made it to Los Angeles (LA). Just 8 hours AFTER I was suppose to be in LA. I was suppose to be on a flight that got in at 11:30, missed that, was rebooked on a flight that was suppose to leave at 1:25 and arrive in LA about 3:30. My new flight, the flight that was suppose to leave at 1:25 didn't board until sometime after 1:40 (I gave up looking at the clock.) Once we got on the plane we had to wait for everyone to get on, which seemed to take FOREVER! Then we had to wait for all the bags to be loaded. Then we had waited so long we needed more fuel, had to wait for them to refuel. Then we had to wait to exit the gate.

Once we left the gate we were told to not get too excited, we still had to wait in line to get "de-iced." AFTER we cruised all the way around the airport we got in line to "de-ice", we were 9th. They must have been "de-icing" the plane with tiny scrapers, it took so long I fell asleep.

After waking up I realizing we were still on the ground waiting to leave. UGH! And then, about 6:10 pm the pilot comes on to tell us we are next to leave! YEA! Just 5 hours later than scheduled, most of that time on the tarmac, with one water service.

Am I annoyed? Not really. Do I think it was a crazy day? Of course. But I got to shop a little in Terminal D, get a pedicure at ExpressSpa, admire cute boys getting manicures at ExpressSpa and I got dedicated time to study my dialog, which was much needed. So sure, I was delayed and got to LA way past when I thought I would but heck, I made it and I got to see Joseph Encinia, the 2009 USA Champion.

Can't wait to see him and all the other USA competitors compete tomorrow. It is going to be an exciting display of yogi talent! Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 10: Bikram Yoga Challenge - My hair made me fall out of the pose!

From Bike Run Yoga

Me in Standing Head to Knee at the 2008 Yoga Championships

There are many things a person can consider a distraction or excuse in yoga, the activities from the day, undone to-do's, the sweaty person next to them, wrinkles in the towel or really just about anything. But I never thought of my hair as a distraction, until yesterday. In Standing Head to Knee was I went down to bring my head down to my knee, my ponytail flung forward and "made me" fall! The motion of the hair flipping over and forward was enough to make me lose my balance! I know it sounds crazy but it's true, it happened on both sides. yea, that's it, my hair made me fall out of the pose! LOL

This preoccupied my thoughts for a few poses until I noticed I was having a hard time "sticking" each pose. It was one of those classes where I just had to accept things as they came. I could tell my body was still sore and tired from taking the Advanced class a few days prior and taking class everyday can be hard on the body too. At some point the body tells you what it needs and often in yoga that equals not being able to hold each posture the same as the day before. I feel like the key to enjoying these type of classes is to embrace what your body can or can't do and accept the class for what it is. It is true what they say in class, as long as you are trying the right way, you are the benefit of the posture.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 9: Bikram Yoga Challenge - Class almost didn't happen today

I'm combining class 8 and 9, yesterday and today's class in one blog. Yesterday was so hectic I barely had time to go to yoga, certainly didn't have time to blog about it. (Evident by the missing post!) And today, well, today, I was so focused on studying my dialog for posture clinic, I thought the noon class was at 12:30 and was 20 minutes late! I was sure I wasn't going to be able to take class this evening because my parents are in town but thankfully, everything feel into place and I was able to take class after all. Thank goodness too, I didn't really want to have to take a double tomorrow!

Yesterday's class was like a latte with an extra shot of espresso. I took regular Bikram Yoga and then took the Advanced class where we go through the 84 basic asana postures. Talk about hard work, man, the Advanced class kicked my butt!  I hadn't taken the Advanced class in several weeks, it was tough getting back into the swing of the postures but it was great to get the extra workout on the body. In class I was thinking it was like a 90 minute session with my personal trainer and once a week just wasn't enough. They have the Advanced class twice a week but I only go to one a week, I might have to start going to both just so I can feel like I get the added strength training!

Today I got up this morning and could barely move my legs, my hip flexors were as sore as I think they have every been. I took the regular Bikram Yoga class and the Advanced class yesterday and wow, my body can feel it! I stretched every muscle, ligament and joint TWICE yesterday.

Between feeling like an old person hobbling around my house (because my muscles were tight) and practicing dialog, I spaced on when class was today and was sure the class was at 12:30 when it was really at noon. At the time, I was really upset with myself for not knowing what time class was, I mean, I work at the studio! Geez. After debating with myself on what I was going to do about class and my 60 day challenge, I decided to check the other studio's to see if they had a class I could go. No such luck. Bummer.

I had resolved myself to not taking class today and just taking a double tomorrow but my parents were running later than they expected so I was able to sneak in the 4:30 class before they got to town. SWEET! And what a great class too! Not because my postures were that great, I kind of sucked actually, but because I felt energized, I was just so darn happy to be taking class! Namaste

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 7 - Bikram Yoga Challenge: Coming to Class Counts


I am sitting in a Starbucks writing my blog and freezing, wishing I was in the heat of the yoga room I JUST got out of. Never satisfied, that's me! :) I am eating a yogurt parfait with a fork because Starbucks for some reason can't seem to order enough spoons, or figure out how to go to the store to get more. This is the third time I've been to a Starbucks, bought a yogurt, only to be told AFTER I purchase it that they are out of spoons. People, really. This is very simple, you know you have inventory of yogurt and you can see you don't have enough spoons. Quick solution, go to the store and get some plastic spoons! I was too hungry and exhausted from yoga to argue with the lady at the counter, I just took the fork and tried to eat my yogurt. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, the granola pieces kind of filled in the open spots in the fork, making it more like a spork. Ok, done eating, feel much better...and less hostile over the fork issue. I might need to got back to yoga, I think yoga is suppose to calm you and make you more at peace!

Day 6 is done. Class was good, I felt strong through most of the class. I'm somewhat anticipating the day my body revolts from going to class every day. So far each class has been better than the last but I know there will be a day I can't do one or more of the poses I normally can do well, it is just one of those things about yoga, you never know how your body is going to react. Bikram Yoga is meant to be a daily practice so going everyday shouldn't be a problem but there are always good and bad days and sometimes the bad days can creep up on you.

The guy next to me was taking his second class. It's unfortunate I have peripheral, I caught myself noticing him and I wanted so badly to help him with his form or tell him to breathe, he was struggling so hard. The first few postures I heard grunting and pained moans like someone far away was being beaten. I was thinking to myself, "om my gosh, who is that? What are they doing?" It was only after a few more postures I realized it was the guy next to me! The poor guy was struggling so hard to do each posture.

I've never understood grunting while working out. Does that really help? I've tried it and it just makes my throat hurt. And I've tried scrunching my face like I see people doing and all it does is wrinkle my face. I don't see any benefit to my workouts by doing these things. But I know people do it and some do it without realizing it, I suspect this poor guy today was doing just that. He made it through class though, I was impressed, he tried every posture the best he could and stuck in there.

I saw him after class and congratulated him on his class. He chuckled and said, "Thanks, I don't know what I'm doing in there." "Yes, but you came to class and that is what counts," I said. And that pretty much sums up class 6. Namaste

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day 6 - Bikram Yoga Challenge: Why is it so HOT in here?!

Courtesy of Image: federico stevanin /

Class was PACKED today! It was like a 90 minute sauna soak with 60 + of my closest friends, and I do mean close, we were all mat to mat. You gotta love the New Years Resolution crowd, they have good intentions, only time will tell if they can stick it out. It is not easy to stick out Bikram Yoga, you kind of have to want to torture yourself every time you come to class. This is pretty much the hardest thing I've done, except maybe for running the San Diego Marathon and even then, I only did that once. I torture myself with Bikram Yoga, by choice, daily. Each time, working my hardest, irritated at the heat, loving the heat, hating the sweat, needing the sweat, loathing the discomfort, loving the challenge and all the time waiting for when all those things don't bother me anymore.

Today a few of my "issues" got the best of me and I wanted to leave the room in the floor series. I didn't, but I wanted to. Two things kept me there, one, I am going to teacher training and you just can't leave the room if you plan on being a teacher and two, the room was so darn packed, I probably would never have made it to the door!

We had made it through about 2/3 of the class when my mind started focusing on the heat. I have no idea if it was hotter than 105 degree or not, and really, it doesn't matter. It can be 100 degrees, 105 degrees or higher and it all feels the same when the mind chooses to focus on it. Hot is hot at that point. There is a tipping point when it comes to thinking about the temperature in the room. It is normal to think it is hot, I mean, it is 105 degrees with 40% humidity. But there is a big difference between thinking it is hot and letting it go and letting the mind focus on the heat to the point that you THINK it is TOO hot.

Sometimes I lay in Savasana and think, "man, it's so hot, PLEASE turn on the exhaust!" Is it hotter some days than others? Sure. Are the hotter days the days I wish for the exhaust or hope the teacher will open the door to turn the heat down, letting in nice cool air? Not necessarily. It is all in the mind. If I allow my mind to THINK it is hot, well, the mind will tell the body it is hot, too hot, and it needs to leave the room. If my mind isn't thinking about the heat, it is amazing, I can go through the whole class and not really know if it is hot or not. Of course it is hot, it is Bikram Yoga, but the question of hot enough or too hot doesn't come up.

Today I let my mind get the best of me and at one point I could tell my mind was too focused on the heat and the new exhaust system because I kept thinking about when the instructor might turn the exhaust on or off. I kept wishing for it to be on, then I started wondering, "did she turn it on or off last time?" and the whole time I was thinking "man it is hot in here!" It is a mental battle with myself some days. It usually happens about the time we do Half Tortoise. As I lay in Savasana between poses, my mind starts to tell me it is too hot and I have to tell myself it is NOT too hot, that everything is fine, that the temperature doesn't matter. Today I chant in my head (because we are not allowed to talk) "It's not hot, you can do this, you are almost done." I do the same thing when I run to help get me to the finish line. Then right before Stretching I thought to myself, "you are in the home stretch" and I pictured myself running down Bishop Ave towards Davis today in my 5k and I knew I could make it through class.

And of course, I made it through and didn't die. Class 6 done! And I love the torture so as you might imagine, I will be going to back tomorrow for more. Namaste

Join the 2010 Bike Run Yoga Challenge

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Dash for the Beads, a Race Against the Hills

From 2010 Dash for the Beads

At 6:30 am I crawled out of a warm bed, walked half asleep to the bathroom and wondered why I was getting up so early on a Saturday morning! Eyes still half closed I rummaged around for my running capri's, still annoyed with the guy at Run On that convinced me to NOT buy long pants. I contemplated wearing a long sleeve shirt and wished I had a white long sleeved shirt to wear under my race day shirt, no such luck, so tank it is. I found my purple fleece which went with my Dash for the Beads race tee and found my other necessary running gear; watch, hat, headband, "stuff" waistband holder and race number. I headed out the door and was automatically annoyed again with the Run On guy, it was FREEZING outside. BRRRR. Goodness, what was I thinking wanting to run? It is too cold to run, should have stayed in bed. Thank goodness my friend Jessica wanted to run or I might have just called it a day after I walked outside.
From 2010 Dash for the Beads
The Dash for the Beads 5K run benefited the Bishop Arts District. The proceeds from the event went to the Light Up Bishop Arts Project where, as it was explained, the group wants to wrap trees along the streets with lights all year round to help beautify the area. The Bishop Arts District is an eclectic area with unique shops and a flavorful group of people milling around. It had some wonderful old buildings with funky businesses that look like they have been there forever. It reminded me a lot of South Congress in Austin.

This was the first time for this event, it was pretty cool to be part of the inaugural run. Plus, I liked that it was outside of my normal running area. I typically train (when I train) and end up running racing in the same general area- it gets a little boring. This race gave me a good opportunity to run some where new and get out of my comfort zone.

There was a costume aspect to the run, which I did not participate in, but plenty of other people did! It was great, there was Pooh, a chicken, lots of jesters, Jersey Shore look-a-likes, ladies in pink tutu's and other crazy costumes. I have a hard enough time running as it is, I don't need a costume to add to the mix. I did wear some Mardi Gras beads which swung around and made a lot of noise as a ran. I'm not sure if they were more of a distraction or annoyance during the run.
From 2010 Dash for the Beads
As we stood around waiting for the run to start, the announcer lady asks, "How many Oak Cliffers are there?" Lots of people raised their hands. "Those of you from here know about our hills," she says. HILLS? Jessica and I both look at each other and at the same time say, "Hills? No one said anything about hills." We crack up laughing. I hate hills. I haven't run hills in a long time so the idea of running hills today did not excite me. But heck, I was already there, so I made the most of it. I think to myself, "It is only a 5k, I'll be done soon enough."

The chicken is apparently the guide, he is on a bike and is suppose to lead us around the route. Of course, I am slow so I only saw the chicken for a second before people ran in front of me. Jessica and I started together and quickly she got farther and farther away from me. I saw her from behind for a few blocks before the masses rushed ahead and covered the distance between us. It wasn't but a few minutes into the run when my shins started to tighten and I knew it was going to be a hard race. I made it to mile 1 at 11:40 and knew I needed to pick up the pace but just couldn't. My shins were really hurting and all I could think about was how it was only a 5k race and I didn't need to push myself to the point of hurting myself, if I had to walk, well, I was going to walk.

About 1.5 miles in there was a turn around and I saw Jessica, waved, then started up the hill. I couldn't do it, or more accurately, I didn't want to do it so I walked. My shins felt like they did when I ran my marathon last year and my feet just fell flat to the ground, my legs were so tight, they barely bent. I did a walk run pace through 2 more hills and made it to Bishop Ave. I knew I was close, Bishop and Davis was were we started so all I had to do was run down Bishop and I would be done. Thank goodness Bishop was relatively flat. I turned up the tunes and just kept running. I looked down at my watch and the time was 34 minutes. I estimated I had at least 3 - 4 minutes of running left. I started to feel irritated with myself for being so out of shape but quickly talked myself out of that bad thought. I am not in bad shape, I am just not in running shape.

From 2010 Dash for the Beads
I was next to 2 of the Jersey Shore look-a-likes and felt the need to beat them to the finish so I picked it up a little and just kept running. Then up ahead I saw a street light. "Is that Davis?" I can't tell. I squint to look at the street sign but I was too far away from it, I couldn't tell if there were 5, 6, or 7 letters on the sign. UGH, I think to myself, "what if I have to run PAST the street light? MUST find out if that is DAVIS!" I kept running and finally I could see the sign, yes it is Davis! YEA! I picked up my speed, I did it! I was almost there...I run around the corner, wave at the photographer and ease into the finish. My watch said 37 minutes. Not my best time but I consoled myself with the fact that I am not trying to win, or even, beat my times (apparently). If I was, I would actually run once or twice before a race!

Winner of the Pet Costume Contest:
From 2010 Dash for the Beads

Other pics from Dash for the Beads

Friday, February 5, 2010

Day 5 - Bikram Yoga Challenge: Proper Form is Key

From October 2008 Yoga Competition
Me in Stretching at 2008 Championships

Today was my last day at my "regular" job, to celebrate some girl friends of mine and I went out for a few drinks and dinner. In anticipation of this fun evening, I decided yesterday I would take the 5:30 am class today. I think the last time I took the 5:30 am class, there were about 8 people. Today the first three rows were full, there must have been over 30 people! All those people created great energy, perfect for an early morning class.

Day 5 and each class seems to be getting better. Class was good today; I made it through Triangle again without falling out and David gave me a great tip to help me with my alignment. I had been stretching my arm up and bending my neck so I could look up at my fingertips. Instead David said to stretch up and look basically through my armpit, then just my eyes should look up. It is a completely different stretch in the neck and much harder! I like it when they give corrections like that, who knows how long I had been doing it incorrectly. I could have started out doing it right, then slowly adjusted the posture to where it was comfortable, losing the basic form. It is always good to learn ways to bring the pose back into proper form.

David mentioned in class today, it is always better to do a posture the right way and maybe not go as far then to go really far or deep and lose the proper form. You can actually hurt yourself if you don't listen to the dialog and do the posture the correct way.

Tomorrow I am running in the Dash for Beads benefiting the Bishop Arts District in Dallas, THEN, taking yoga so I am sure I will have much to report tomorrow. Until then, be bendy!


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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 4 - Bikram Yoga Challenge: Rocked Triangle!

From October 2008 Yoga Competition
Me in Bow Pose at the 2008 Yoga Championships

No tattoos today. No flying sweat. Just yoga. Today's class was noticeably better than yesterday, I went in with no expectations and was pleasantly surprised at what I was able to do. I was worried after taking 3 classes in a row that my body would be fatigued and my practice would suffer a bit. Plus, I have been eating more raw foods like making my own green juice, trying to be more healthy, and changing my diet always impacts my practice. But today was a good day, my balancing series was better, I stayed in Triangle and Fixed Firm worked on "fixing" my knees.

The balancing series was better today. I was able to balance longer and go farther in Standing Bow which for some strange reason has been hard for me lately. It is one of those things you just have to keep working on. I've started practicing balancing on one leg while I brush my teeth. I have a Sonic Care toothbrush so I use it to time 1 minute for each leg. I just balance on one leg while I brush, then switch to the other. Whola! Teeth clean, balancing practiced!

And wow, Triangle! I stayed on all 4 of the Triangle poses, two on each side. I didn't even set my mind to do it, I just did the posture and tried to stay focused. On the right side I kept looking up at my hand, stretching toward the ceiling, watching the sweat roll down my arm. Before I knew it, the posture was over and we have moved to the other side. Left side, just kept looking at my hand, stretching up and trying to raise my chest so my fingers at my toes weren't crammed against the floor. And then done! To me, finishing Triangle is like climbing a mountain. I have such a hard time doing it but once it is done, I feel such a sense of accomplishment.

There is a posture on the floor, Fixed Firm Pose (Supta-Vajrasana), I use to be able to do with no problem. I have noticed lately and in particular today that my knees and my thighs have a stretching pain that didn't use to be there. Not a sharp, bad pain but a stretching pain like my muscles and my ligaments are tight. This is probably due to my running and perhaps that evil stair climb I did.

Fix Firm Pose is where you sit with your legs bent, butt on the floor and your calves and feet out to the sides of your thighs. Then, without lifting your knees off the ground, you bend backwards and lay on the floor. It creates a wonderful stretch in the knees and thighs! It is common for the knees to spread apart, the key is to keep them on the floor. Not trying to brag but I can get my knees together and keep them on the floor. Lately this has been harder and when I press my knees down and together, I can feel a real stretch in my knees and thighs. It is a good thing, it means the yoga is fixing what the rest of my interests damage. And that is one of the great things about Bikram Yoga, it heals, and in amazing ways. Things you didn't even know where wrong can be fixed.

Tomorrow's class should be interesting, I am getting up early and taking the 5:30 am class to make sure I get in my class for the day. It is my last day at my corporate job so I am celebrating after work. YEA! I haven't taken a 5:30 class in over a year, I hope I do well! Off to bed, happy reading! Namaste

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 3 - Bikram Yoga Challenge: Keep the Mind in the Room

From October 2008 Yoga Competition
Me at the 2008 Yoga Championships in Dallas, Texas

One of the hardest things about Bikram Yoga is keeping the mind in the room and on yoga.

I made it to the 6:30 pm class today and decided to switch it up a bit and put my mat on the left side of the room. WHOA! I know, I am wild and crazy like that. I normally like one spot and always try to get to the studio early enough to make sure to get my spot but today I was a little later than normal so rather than be annoyed with myself for not getting their early, I used the opportunity to expand my "spot" selection. It is good to move around the room to not get too comfortable in any one spot. Particularly for me in preparation for teacher training, I need to get use to just setting up where ever there is room, no spot can be a favorite spot at teacher training!

And do you know what I saw AGAIN today? Some guy had a tattoo on the side of his torso! Stars this time and in blue and red colors. Is this a new trend? I've never heard of this being done, well, except for the one time my friend mentioned it and yesterday when I saw it for myself. If you know the significance of the side tattoo, please let me know. I am so curious why that spot on the body is so popular. They aren't just cool graphic tattoos either, two were words going down the side, and the one today was a series of stars. So interesting.

As I am smiling to myself at the star man, the instructor is trying to get everyone to squeeze together so more people can come in. I sat myself on the left side of the podium. (I know, yesterday I was on the right side of the podium. Big change. Whatever, I have issues, I already mentioned that in previous posts.) The last person to get in class managed to squeeze in between me and another person on the front row. Now there is a person about 6 inches away from me. This is fine with me, I have room, I think.

We start class, everything is going fine. I get a stitch in my left side which makes it difficult to do Standing Head to Knee and Standing Bow Pulling and I was already having a hard time staying in Standing Bow Pulling so this was just an added excuse to fall out early. My side hurt through Standing Separate Leg Stretching, then I seemed to forget about it. I stayed in Triangle longer than yesterday but I still fell out early. Before my 60 day challenge is up, I am going to stay in all the postures the whole time, darn it!

The floor series is where I noticed the girl next to me even more. In the floor series, for some reason the mats shift a little and some times my mat can end up crooked or inches off from where I started. And this happened to the lady next to me. Now you might be asking yourself why I think it was her and not me. That is easy, because I was next to the podium and my mat was already butted up against the edge of the podium, I had no where to go. As a matter of fact, I noticed at one point my mat was folding a little because I had scooched it toward the podium even more.

At one point I swear the lady next to me had scooched over 4 - 5 inches towards me! I was feeling a bit claustrophobic! I mean, I had a podium on one side and a lady on the other that seemed to be inching toward me with every posture. She wasn't touching me and really she wasn't even in my personal space, yet, but I was TOTALLY aware she there and tried really hard to not be annoyed by it. I already mentioned in Day 1's post about my personal space issues, something I am trying to work on. So as I laid there in Savasana after each pose, I kept thinking SHE was going to be bothered with being so close to me, but no such luck. She was focused and her mind was on yoga, which is where mine should have been.

It is amazing to me, I have been practicing Bikram Yoga for 4 years now and I still have so much to learn and so far to grow. Some days my mind is completely on yoga and in the room, other days my mind is a million miles away, organizing my day, thoughts and to-do's or worrying about things in class, like mat scoochers. This is why I love Bikram Yoga, because even though it is the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, it is different every time, there is always something to learn, something to improve or something to discover. Tomorrow I hope to discover what it feels like again to stay in Standing Bow Pulling the entire time. :D Namaste

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 2: Bikram Yoga Challenge: Tattoos and Inches


No bacterial eye infection worries in class today. Class was pretty good, I felt strong for most of the class. What they say in class about taking your second class within 24 hours of your first class is true, you really do get twice the benefit. Not that that this was my second class ever but it was my second class after 8 days of not taking class and sometimes it is great to just get that extra boost by taking two classes.

I walked into class with my two water bottles (yes, I take two in, I am a sweat machine and need liquids!) and just as I was about to stretch I noticed the guy next to me had a tattoo down the side of his torso that said "GRACE." This strikes me as mildly funny only because a friend of mine just told me the other day of someone else that had a tattoo going down the side of their torso. Before that, I knew no one with a tattoo in that spot. My first thought is, wow, that must have hurt! My second thought, is, why would you do that to yourself? But then, I am not really a tattoo girl. Ever since I wanted my ears double pierced and my father gave me one of his "one eyebrow raised" looks with "I wouldn't do it but if YOU want to, that is your decision." That was always the kiss of death, when you knew what you wanted to do was NOT ok. So if I can't get my ears double pierced, no way is a tattoo ok! :D Thus, no tattoos...and only one earring hole in each ear.

Sorry, I digressed, back to class. My class started off decent, my neck hurt a little but then, that seems reasonable since I worked in front of a computer all day today. (See yesterday's post.) I was a bit preoccupied with the earlier teachings from posture clinic (where I am learning the dialog for teacher training.) so I wasn't 100% in the room. If I wasn't in a 60 day challenge where I need to take class everyday, I probably would skip class on posture clinic days, I never can focus afterward. Since my mind wasn't all there, class seemed to fly by.

There was a VERY funny part of class, during Awkward where you have to move your right foot out so your feet are 6 inches part. Most people have a hard time with this because 6 inches apart isn't a natural place for their feet. One guy had his feet apparently really far apart and the instructor told him to move his feet closer, that his feet were 12 inches apart. Then she kind of smiled and said "someone has been lying!" It was so funny, everyone had a good laugh, even the guy. Isn't that always the way? Men can't tell the difference between 6 inches and 12 inches! LOL

After that bit of comedy, class returned to normal and the focus was back on our own practice. My balancing series still needs work but it was better today. For some reason I am still losing my balance in Triangle and falling forward, which is a new thing...need to figure out how to fix that for sure! I made it to the floor series without thinking I was going to die, I consider that a successful standing series.

I did notice as I was standing there, not moving, that my ab muscles had faded, or more accurately, they are now protected by a new layer of fat. This slightly annoys me since I worked so hard last year to finally get to a point where I could SEE ab muscles and now they are hidden again - that is just plain annoying. I plan on getting my abs back during this 60 day challenge for sure!

The floor series was fine, I actually felt more flexible today than I have in a long time; part of the benefit of taking two classes within 24 hours. :) All in all, not too bad for my second day of my challenge. I just need to remember, every day is a new day and there are no expectations when one enters the yoga room. Who knows how tomorrows class will be, today I will just be happy I made it through this class! Namaste

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 1, Bikram Yoga Challenge: Learning to Overcome Sweat “Issues"

From FreeYogaDay
This is me in my 60 day challenge t-shirt from my first challenge with studio owner, Karen Buckner

Today was my first day of my 60 day Bikram Yoga Challenge in preparation of Bikram Yoga Teacher Training. The best thing I can say about it is, it can only get better from here! What is a 60 day Bikram Yoga Challenge? It’s where you challenge yourself to complete 60 Bikram Yoga classes in 60 days. Sound hard? It is. I did one a few years ago during a time when I was still traveling a lot for work. The fun part of that one was I got to take class at different studios all over the country. Sixty classes in 60 days is definitely a challenge. The time commitment alone is worth the t-shirt you get at the end. But like the t-shirt says, you get a new body and that is worth so much MORE than the t-shirt!

I am looking forward to refocusing my practice and really dedicating myself to a daily practice again. It has been a long time and I certainly can feel it. Today was a good example of what happens when I don’t go to class consistently. I haven’t been to a real class since Saturday a week ago. I went to class while on my ski trip but I don’t consider that a class since I barely sweated. So basically I haven’t taken class for 8 days. Eight days can make a lot of difference. Plus, I did the Big D Climb on Saturday, which kicked my butt! So all in all, not a great class today.

Today’s class was packed; there wasn’t a single spot left by the time we started. This has become a regular occurrence so I got there early and set my mat right next to the podium - reducing the possibility of flying random sweat by one person. (Or so I thought.)

Class starts and everything seems great. My neck isn’t stiff with shooting pain as my head goes back in the breathing exercise. I am convinced it is because I spent the last week outdoors and not with my head bent staring at a computer screen.

Then in Eagle the guy behind me swung his arms (as they tell us to do in class) and I felt some sweat on my back. ICK! Ok, I think, relax…you are sweating too, it will just wash off. Focus. Ok, I got over that.

I need to interject here and explain my sweat issues. It isn’t just other people’s sweat I have a problem with. In general I don’t like ANYthing from another person touching me, sweat, hands, feet, hair, etc. I have serious personal space issues and it has taken me years to even hug people. So why take Bikram Yoga where you are sure to get sweated on? Because I am sure to get sweated on…and I need to get over my issues. (And not only sweat issues…I have a long list of issues, some Bikram Yoga can fix, some perhaps more expensive measures might fix.) :D I work on these things daily.

Ok, back to the yoga….Then in the balancing series I felt like I had never taken yoga, couldn’t balance to save my life. Fell out of first set of Triangle too. Sat down for second set and David, the instructor gave me a bit of a hard time since I am going to training. “What’s wrong? You sitting down? You are going to training. There is no sitting down at training, unless you are throwing up.” This made me laugh, and get up.

Savasana was like heaven and David got to telling stories so I am positive each of our savasanas were longer than normal, loved it. Then can Spine Twist. I’m sitting on the edge of my mat, about to turn and WHAM, right on my face comes sweat off David’s arm. UGH! The whole point of being by the podium is to AVOID sweat, not ATTRACT it! Ok, so I have two choices, react or let it go. I turn, twist and stay in the position but I can feel the sweat, his sweat, running down my face…and OMG, it is about to go into my eye! In a flash I am thinking of all the bacteria related eye issues I might end up with and before I can stop thinking, David says change. Whew! I reach down and rub my face with my towel. Bacterial eye infection averted.

And then I guess because I was worried about bacterial eye infections, I forgot Spine Twist was the last posture. Kapalbhati in Varjrasana (Breathing in Firm Pose) and then done. Whew! What a class. Struggled through the standing series, worked through TWO bad sweat moments and one that could have potentially produced some eye infection…all on the first day of 60 days of Bikram Yoga. I am sure there are more sweat issues tomorrow.

Come back for more glorious tales as I work through my 60 days! Namaste.

Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class (Second Edtion)

Bikram Yoga: The Guru Behind Hot Yoga Shows the Way to Radiant Health and Personal Fulfillment
New Bag Styles