I actually don’t have much to say tonight. I took class early this morning. It was nice, but I was sore from Advanced yesterday. I can’t believe I am nearing the halfway point in this thing. Class was also really small this morning. Didn’t see any of my Challenge buddies like Daren or Sherrilyn today. Ah well, tomorrow’s another day.

Namaste.

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Today I did only Advanced Class. Which, yeah, not so much only. But only, meaning, I didn’t do regular class first. Which was fine. I actually didn’t mind much and felt plenty warmed up and ready to go. Advanced has become something I really really enjoy. There’s usually a point in the class where I seriously wonder why I have come, but that feeling subsides as the hours roll on. By the end of it, I feel awesome and light and happy. Probably the best thing about Advanced class is that the guard is kinda down and it’s ok to talk a little. This helps me, seeing as how I ALWAYS have snide comments in class anyway. Advanced gives me the chance to make them, aloud, AND laugh at myself. And trust me, I do plenty of laughing at myself. And laughing at with others.

There’s a posture we do called “rock the baby.” I’m not entirely sure this is the real name of that posture, and it’s certainly not the Sanskrit for it. But it really is like rocking a baby. And apparently last week during Advanced (where I was not in attendance) everyone took to naming their babies. I missed this totally fun class, but today I thought of a good name for my baby. Miss Jennifer said I would probably end up writing about it on my blog. Silly Jen, I don’t mention names on my blog! Only the teachers (and Daren), I said. The teachers are exempt from my rule. Hey, that’s what they get. But my baby’s name was so lovely and perfect. And as I sat there rocking my baby, looking lovingly at her my right leg, I couldn’t help but laugh.

It was a fun class and I enjoyed it. Tomorrow I will get up early and go back to class to make sure I don’t get so stiff I can’t walk. Ahhh, I love Bikram Yoga.

Day 21: Priorities

June 21, 2008

I think in order to save myself from the boredom of posting another love letter about a certain asana, I am going to talk about something a little different today. I hear a lot of people comment that they don’t have the time to do yoga, or don’t have the time to do the Challenge. I hear that often, and I understand it. I understand demanding schedules, and family, and work. I understand that there are real limits to what we can get done in a day and sometimes fitting in 90 minutes of yoga just doesn’t happen. But I often wonder if these are valid excuses or if they are simply.. excuses. I’m not calling anyone out or trying to speculate about anyone else’s life. That’s not my job. I’m also not here to be self-aggrandizing, or to imply that I somehow have it all figured out. Trust me, I don’t.

I believe it was Cisco who said this once in class (poorly paraphrased, I’m sure): “If you say I won’t or I can’t because of this or that.. It doesn’t matter what follows, you’ve already said I can’t.. I won’t. ”

Those words reminded me how powerful our thoughts and ideas are. It doesn’t matter what the reason you give yourself for saying I can’t.. You’ve already said it. I won’t do this because .. Who cares why? You won’t.

So for me, since I really can only talk about myself here, right?? For me, it’s about priorities. Right now, yoga is a priority for me. A big one. And there are plenty of days (trust me) that I don’t want to do it. There are plenty of days I shuffle things around, and wish I didn’t have to. But I do it. Because. I can. I will.

I know that Bikram Yoga is not everyone’s priority. I won’t pretend to be that naive. But if there’s one thing that Bikram Yoga has taught me is that priorities matter. And if we want to really change our own lives, we have to look long and hard at what those priorities are. I have 39 more days of this Challenge. I have a long way to go and a lot more to learn. So maybe I am preaching to myself a bit here.

Today was a great class. Tomorrow is Advanced day with 9:30 and Advanced at noon. Lots of yoga.. I can. I will.

Sweating it out..

as a footnote: I’d like to add for Daren’s sake, chewing gum in class is REALLY not a good idea. Not only is it distracting it’s downright dangerous. So if you get the idea that you’d like a little bit of Trident before class, skip it. K? Thanks.

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Today is Love Your Camel! day. Because I say so. Also, because I really really do love my Camel today. But before I wax poetic about Ustrasana, go ahead and click on the image above to be taken to the amazing Love Your Camel webshop. Daren, one of my very cool Challenge buddies, has designed these incredibly snazzy T-shirts. You can get your very own piece of BYTW paraphernalia and show your Camel love now! Also, you can get one of the very stylish BYTW Collegiate shirts. So, go ahead, click away my friends. You know you want to!

Alright, alright. I’m not kidding folks. I LOVE my Camel. For those of you not steeped in Bikram Yoga, Ustrasana (Camel pose) is one of two master postures in the Floor Series. It’s the deepest backbend of the entire Bikram Beginning Series. And it’s one of the most healing postures for the spine.

You can see an example of what Ustrasana looks like here.

Ustrasana
Camel Pose

Produces maximum compression of the spine. Improves the flexibility of the neck and spine and relieves backache. The peak of the floor series. This posture stretches the abdominal organs to the maximum and cures constipation. It stretches the throat, thyroid gland, and parathyroids. Like the Bow Pose, it opens a narrow rib cage to give more space to the lungs. It also firms and slims the abdomen and the waistline.

In addition, this posture allows release of emotional tension held in the body as stress, anxiety, anger and depression.

Yes, I know, it looks intimidating. This was actually one of the first Bikram postures that I fell in love with when I started doing the yoga. Lately, I look forward to this posture, because I know without a doubt that my back will feel shiny and new when it’s over. Coupled with the “sister” posture – Rabbit – Camel makes everything better. (we’ll discuss Rabbit another day) Some days I groan and moan about Ustrasana like most everyone else. Initially, it IS hard and it DOES hurt. Hurts like hell as Bikram would say. But, one day, you’re there and it just stops hurting. And no, this is not because your spine has snapped in half. Somewhere along the way, the body begins to thank you for this posture. In fact, your body begins to demand this posture. Trust me, it does.

So today, I took my very tender spine back to the mat. I had a great class and really enjoyed feeling my body open up systematically posture by posture. It’s interesting to see it happen, to feel the release system by system. It’s classes like this that remind me why Camel is so important. You work 70-75 minutes just to do Ustrasana. You stretch, you sweat, you work and then AHHHH, Ustrasana. It’s the greatest feeling. And before long, as Cisco would say, you’re “chasing that nauseas high” further and further and further away. Because afterall, that is what it’s about. That feeling when it’s over.

See you all tomorrow!

Day 19: Gentle

June 20, 2008

Hello again everyone! Tonight’s class was wonderful, as Sheila’s classes always are. Tonight I decided to be a bit more gentle with myself. I’ve been really sore the past week or so and felt the need tonight to “take care” a bit. It helped, and I feel much better. Padahastasana still humbles me. But I am learning, and appreciative.

Not much else to report from the mat. It’s late and I should rest so I can do this all again tomorrow.

Be well everyone.

First I have to say this; doing doubles ROCKS! No, really, it does. For some reason doing two classes gives me more energy than doing only one. And I can use all the energy I can get these days.

Now, I also have to say that my spine is MAD at ME! Seriously cranky here. But the yoga is the only thing that makes it better, apart from massages from Arnie. And since I can’t get massages daily (oh to dream) I take my cranky back to class. It is there, on my mat that I feel all better. But really, how far away IS the floor? I mean, really? Padahastasana never used to take me this long! The good news is that once I am down there, I’m good. The descent, however, sometimes makes me feel old and sore and well… OLD! My cranky spine also has taken a particular disliking to Half Moon. And the backbending, that used to be the worst thing ever for me, is now the easiest (well, comparatively).. See, isn’t yoga exciting??

But I’m not complaining. Because my spine will be all shiny and new again soon. At least that’s what they tell me. And since the Challenge is, indeed, a process I refuse to be discouraged. I know that trying to judge the overall benefit and effect of 60 days of yoga now is futile. That’s like pulling the cake out of the oven halfway through baking. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

mmmm cake..

I digress..

So now I’m 22/60. Feels good. Maybe tomorrow my back will stop arguing with me and go for it. But I still love you, spine.. I love you, even when you make me feel old and decrepit. Even then, and I will take you back to that hot little room. Giddyup, Half Moon…..

Anyone who has ever taken a 9:30 class at Bikram Yoga The Woodlands knows that the babysitting room is the place to be. Babysitting is free six days a week at BYTW and it is an invaluable resource to many of the parents attending classes. Recently Yoga Journal highlighted the business of adding babysitting to studios and highlighted our very own Jen Ballew and the fabulous babysitting system in place at BYTW. Jen took the opportunity to share some of activities available to the kids when they come to babysitting. (article by Sage Rountree)

At Bikram Yoga in The Woodlands, children are often treated to special activities. “We have yoga videos we show them, and one of the moms, a kids’ yoga instructor, will [sometimes] come and teach a class. Another mom comes in on Saturdays—she’s an art director at a school, so she has projects for the kids every Saturday,” Ballew says. Such activities focus children’s energies and keep everyone happy.

Rountree goes on to say,

Many women are introduced to yoga in prenatal classes, where they form a bond with their babies and with each other. But the demands of early childhood destabilize schedules, leaving new parents feeling isolated. Attending a studio class offers parents a sense of connection, both with themselves and with others.

Such was absolutely the case for me. Having babysitting available to me gave me one of my only ways to practice early on in my days at BYTW.

I think offering this service is a wonderful way to create community among students. The moms (and dads!) at BYTW are a supportive group who tend to know one another. The environment is positive for the kids and very convenient. Additionally, what better example to set for your children than developing the healthy habit of Bikram Yoga?? My children love “going to yoga with mommy” and are always excited to be at the studio. The staff love the kids and who wouldn’t love to see the bright smiling face of a child after class?? It’s a breath of fresh air!