Every teacher says, Don’t throw this posture away. They say it at various points in class, and often it’s during one of the deceptively easy postures or during the stretches at the end of class. But the further I get into this thing, the more meaning this has for me. It’s tempting, some days, to think to myself, I do this every single day, I’m going to sit out this one set. It’s very tempting. But what I found today was that my temptation to throw things away come early in class. It’s during those warm up postures that I feel lethargic, sleepy, and a little whiny. Particularly tempting for me is Pranayama.

Pranayama, standing deep breathing, is the first thing you do in a Bikram Yoga class. Pranayama opens the lungs, increases the circulation of the body, and prepares the body for class. Yet, this seemingly simple series is one of the most difficult things to really master. I certainly haven’t mastered it, in all my years of doing Bikram. In fact, I would say I am only just beginning to even understand it. Yes, it’s that tricky.

So some days it’s hard not to just muddle through the breathing to get to the rest of the postures. I’m working on this, trying to make a conscious effort to really do every…single…inhale, and every….single…exhale. But each and every posture builds on the next. Pranayama warms the body and prepares the lungs for the full class. But it also loosens the shoulders and begins to open the hips for Half Moon. Half Moon moves the spine in four directions, preparing it for Awkward. Awkward warms the lower body for Eagle. Eagle opens the hips and prepares you for the balancing series. You get the idea.

Bikram has said, of his series,

If you take the formula for Penicillin and remove one thing, you no longer have Penicillin. If you take Bikram Yoga and remove one thing, you no longer have Bikram Yoga.

Nothing added, nothing taken away, nothing thrown away – yields the benefits and results of the yoga. That’s it.

Today I did a double, and it felt great. I worked hard, and felt amazing after my second class. There really is so much depth in the second class that you often don’t find in the first. I feel strong. And I can’t believe the time is starting to fly.

Tomorrow I have a meeting with Arnie, Jen, and Daren after class. Should be fun to brainstorm together about things.

If you are keeping track, I have done 31 classes now out of my 60 and this is day 26 of the Challenge.

See you tomorrow.

Day 24: Losing Count.

June 25, 2008

I’m losing count of the days/classes ratio thing. Tonight I did class 29 in 24 days and it was wonderful. I was sandwiched between some of my favorite yoga friends and loved the energy in the room tonight. I’m starting to really pick apart a few of my postures. Pranayama and Trikonasana were the ones I focused on tonight and really really saw some progress. I also took very little water tonight which really felt good. This experience is so rich for me and I really am enjoying watching things unfold in my body. It feels gooooood to pull and pull and pull on my legs in some of the stretching postures and feel all of the vertebrae open up along the back of my spine.

Anyway, I have to be up early for my class tomorrow, so I will cut this short. Thanks to everyone for encouraging me. I love you all.

Well, after yesterdays whine-a-thon, today’s class was SO MUCH better. Of course, I know this happens. Have a bad class, have a good class, have a bad class… you get the idea. This is the life of day after day after day.. after day Bikram yoga.

I had the most lovely opportunity to take class with Miss Fabulous Cynthia Wehr.. Super Yogini Extaordinaire and former Bikram World Champion. She’s visiting us humble Texan yogis for a few weeks and lavishing her lovely accent and intense teaching style upon us. Oh how I have loved her class. Cynthia has a way of knowing everyone’s name and giving very personalized instruction, all the while leading the class in a graceful and encouraging way. So, as you can see, I love her class.

I decided today to NOT stand beside the stage and occupy my usual position. I just didn’t think I could take the “hot spot” today. And I had a very strong class. I felt amazing, and drank very little, much to my surprise. My yoga friend, Daren, had decided to do his challenge with no water during class. I salute him, but I am still hauling my water in. Even if I don’t drink it all.

Today’s lesson was, “Karen MUST learn to do Pranayama without backward bending.” I know this, really. The teachers say it over and over and over, “no backward bending, spine straight.” But somehow, when I drop my head back, I always seem to want to backward bend. So today I focused on this, spine straight, and found new room in my ribcage to breathe. It felt good, and I got a little bit lightheaded (GOOD NEWS!). See, I can learn!

Today’s a busy day in our family, but I am glad this class is done. As usual, the yoga has restored my faith in my practice. One day at a time..