Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quote: Let yourself be found

{what my ride in this morning looked like; photo by the boyfriend}

"Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been
running through the streets trying to find you.
- hafiz

Lot of good changes going on 'round these parts, just super busy. Hope to update soon, right after work slows down a little bit. Keep it rockin', 101ers!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 17/30: Ch-ch-ch-changes

Didn't practice yesterday (Wednesday) either. I spent several hours at work yesterday on the phone with various real estate folks, alternately bursting into tears and hollering. It boils down to this: If I did my job the way some of these people have performed theirs, my boss would quickly be showing me the door.

So by the time I got home last night, I was emotionally (which, for me anyway, is the same as physically) spent. Drained. Didn't help that on my walk back to the train station I somehow developed blisters on each foot. Random, right? I couldn't stand even when I wanted to. I've been dizzy, then woke up this morning with swollen glands by my ears and under my jaw. Rad.

This is one of those rare times in my life, going on a couple weeks now, when it's hard to avoid feeling like the universe is plotting against me.

Gawwwd I'm so dramatic.

But things are turning around today. The combination of my breakdown into a crying jag and being very assertive yesterday (to different people) seems to have really lubricated the wheels of the real estate people. Today, I was informed that we will now be closing on a lovely little house at 1 p.m. tomorrow, only a week later than we'd been planning (for months) on. *eyeroll*

And tonight I start my work-study at the yoga studio. I realized this morning that I've really missed sharing in a studio atmosphere. So, I am so excited to have this chance to rejoin that kind of community. It's not that I hope it's just like my old studio, because it can't possibly be. And it shouldn't be. I'm soooo looking forward to finding my place in a new place. :)

Apologies for my whine whine whine.

101-day challengers, you are getting so close!!! It's inspiring to read how people are feeling at this point in their practice. If you aren't sure about what to do on Day 102, why don't you... wait until at least Day 101 to figure it out? Hope you're all well. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 16: Simple. Good.

After continued real estate infuriation and lots of time wasted last night, I went home and rolled out the mat. Maybe it was because I wasn't as warm as possible, but I really felt every tweak and twinge of my body, particularly my left shoulder/spine/ribcage. I know I'm not the only one with that issue, too.

I've been aware of that torsion (twisting) in my spine for as long as I've been practicing Bikram yoga. From the first "Arms up over your head," when it feels like my torso is twisted to about 11 o'clock on a clock face, and as though my right arm is well forward of my left arm. And then when I try to stay aware of where my body is in space, and keep my arms in the same plane, it feels really exaggerated. Bah. I want to try practicing that motion with my back against a wall.

Lately, though, something has been shifting when I bend to the left in Half-Moon. It's almost like my left shoulderblade is moving toward my shoulder (Wait, is my shoulderblade my shoulder? Maybe I should try to draw this), and forward. It's been a little easier (I use that term extremely loosely) to keep my chin up, and it feels like my left shoulder and armpit are moving not down toward my hips, but instead out and over toward the left side of my mat. The shifting is uncomfortable, but I'm pretty sure it'll be good in the long run. (That last sentence could sum up my life, btw.)

* * *

This post got me thinking about ways to do an inexpensive yoga "retreat." The method I'm planning: Find out, through word of mouth or however, about a good studio with lots of classes, as far away from home as I care to go. Maybe find out where a posture clinic is happening, and attend that studio for several days or a week beforehand. Buy a ten-class pass, maybe.

It could be in a new city, if I feel like exploring or being completely anonymous, or a familiar one, if I'd rather have a sense of where things are and how to get from Point A to Point B (and maybe a friend's couch to crash on?). Accommodations could also be in an inexpensive hotel, or maybe in a tent set up in a beautiful place (as is more my budget). It may not be as consuming, yoga-wise, as an official "retreat" with massages and food and everything taken care of, but I'd like to think that the intention is there. Setting aside real life, and time, and money of course, isn't easy. But I'd like to think I could make this a reality.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 15: You win some, you lose some.

Didn't practice last night. I don't even have a good excuse, like I felt sick again or the world was blowing up. I just, didn't do it. Which bothers me. (Five classes shy of my 30 classes in 30 days goal, for what it's worth.)

Instead of practicing, I:
• argued with my boyfriend about our looming house purchase and how ridiculously lame the people responsible for it are acting.
• made lasagna!
• watched "The Hangover" with said boyfriend while we sort of made up over ice cream.
• stared at a census form for longer than it would have taken to fill it out, trying to decide whether to fill it out at all if I'm not going to be living there on April 1 (if the !%$%^$% mortgage folks can get their act together).

I have had this general sense of restless dissatisfaction the past few days. I don't know if it's just stress over the house thing, and lacking control over that process. But I was frustrated in my practice on Saturday (my eyes were really bothering me and it was hard to focus), I cut my finger open on Sunday, then last night I almost came to tears while spreading a cheese mixture over lasagna noodles. It wouldn't spread right and the noodles were not staying in line!!!

Seriously. Fifteen hours later and I'm still irritated about the damn lasagna (which turned out great, despite the deviant noodles).

On the plus side, though, I haven't bitten my fingernails in about two weeks, and I'm loving the pink sparkly polish. So there's that.

I have to run over the the real estate office tonight to turn in some papers (gripe grumble gripe), but after that, it is YOGA TIME. I may not eat dinner. There may be dirty laundry piled higher than my head. My dog might whine and whimper for attention. The lettuce seeds will stay unstarted. But I neeeeeeed to exorcise this aggravation. Or, at the very least, go through motions that will center me, and distract me temporarily from this...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 14/30 (part 2): I accomplished what I needed to.

Practice last night (3/14, Pi Day!) was good. The boyfriend got home from an attempted run through mud just as I was starting Awkward Posture. His "run" was less than fulfilling, so he rolled out his mat next to mine, we skipped the iTunes back a few tracks, and he practiced with me. Then he took me out to a kickass dinner.

I'd had grand plans to cook a lot over the weekend. Assuming the next few weeks will be crazy with last-minute new house stuff, I wanted to have healthy, hearty food ready to pop in the oven at night, or ready to grab while we're running out the door in the morning. I stocked up on lots of veggies at the store Saturday, planning to make a soup or two, scones, bread, lasagna, and roasted root vegetables. I also wanted to start seeds for my garden-to-be at the new place...

I made the bread, anyway. (It's good.)

So I didn't get done what I wanted to. But I got in two solid yoga practices, and met with a studio owner to start a work-study program. That's what I needed to do.

Maybe I'll get to the lasagna tonight?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Days 12, 13, 14/30: Ending on a high note

Day 12: Friday. I didn't practice Thursday night because I was headache-y and barfy when I got home from work. Friday, more of the same, plus sore throat. I was in bed at 8:30. Four classes down; this is not good...

Day 13: Saturday. I slept til 10:30 on Saturday morning! I never sleep that much. Crazy. Woke up with the same sore throat, but it went away after a few hours. Thought about going to the $10 karma/donation class at the studio 45 minutes away, but decided to save myself lots of time and do a hot-as-possible class at home. how did I accomplish this? I baked bread and squash all day, so the apartment was warm; it was humid because it's rained for three days; boyfriend built a fire and I ran the space heater; and I left my fleece on over my thermal long-sleeved shirt the whole 90 minutes. Sweaty!

It was probably one of my "worst" home practices. My contact lenses were really bothering me, so it was hard to focus on whichever spot on the wall was representing my eyes or knees at any given time. The lenses just kept moving around. To add to my list of good things about practicing at home: Cursing is less frowned upon. Again, Leo the dog assisted:

(This picture is from a few weeks ago, but this is what he does. Here, his head is tucked under my arm. He was making sure my "exactly forehead" was on my knee.)

Despite the challenging practice, I didn't sleep that well. High winds have accompanied the rain, and we're living in fear that tree branches will come flying through the window at any time. But particularly in the middle of the night.

Day 14: Sunday (today). The real estate office was showing our apartment this afternoon, so we tried to go for a hike. Alas, the place we wanted to go was closed. So we wandered around down by the Hudson instead. (Here's a picture, not by me, of what it looked like.) Walking back to the car, my phone rang with a weird number, so I almost didn't answer it. But then I did, and it was the owner of the 45-minutes-away studio!!! She was calling about work-study, and asked when I could meet her to talk about it. She had a class getting out at 4:30 could I come then?

I raced down there, walked in at 4:33, and walked out at 4:39 with a job! Woooohoooo!!! I start Thursday night, vacuuming and cleaning mirrors (she didn't mention washing towels, but I imagine that'd be part of it, too). I'm so, so, so excited. I have absolutely no idea why she is letting me do this (she doesn't know me at all!), but I am so humbled and honored. Weekend morning doubles, here I come!

Now it's time for me to fire up the heater and roll out the mat. I want to get a good practice in before continuing to cook. I hope you all had a great weekend!


Friday, March 12, 2010

11/30: Sick and Tired

Felt barfy and headachy last night on the train ride home. Maybe something in my lunch didn't sit well? So I didn't practice last night. Feel pretty lame about being down three classes again, but there will be doubles this (rainy, therefore climbing-free) weekend. Regardless of how this 30-day challenge looks on March 30, I am stoked that I have already gotten into a habit of practicing more, and being really excited again about this yoga of ours...

We also found out yesterday that the closing on our house, which was supposed to be today, is going to be pushed back at least a week because of mistakes made on the financial folks' end. Ugh. We needed as many weekends as possible to get it ready to move in. Now, we're hoping to have two. I suppose that means I will have extra time to yoga it up, since I won't be shuttling boxes between Home A and Home B. Woohoo!

We're getting my favorite weather here this weekend, a little chilly with rain. Besides the yoga, I hope to start some seeds for a garden — even though I don't yet know where I'm going to put the trays. I have seeds for basil and mixed lettuces. A friend sent kohlrabi seeds from Germany, but I don't know much about that vegetable. It was so fun being a wannabe gardener last year; I hope to grow much more produce this summer!

Happy Friday to each and every one of you. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 10/30: Yoga to the People

The boyfriend had a meeting "upstate" at 7:30 last night, so wouldn't be able to pick me up from the train station. So I made an after-work date with David's Bridal to try on bridesmaid dresses for my friend's October wedding. Hey, I thought, I could get out of there in time to do some yoga! So I brought my yoga clothes with me to work.

And I'm so glad I did! There is nothing like bridesmaid-dress-trying-on to motivate one to work out. It's irrelevant that most of those dresses are universally unflattering. The yoga studio had a 6:30 class just three blocks from the store, so after trying on four dresses and taking the requisite pictures for my friend, I made a beeline for the studio.

I had looked into going to another studio near work where one of the Bikram 101 challengers often practices, but HOLY SMOKES! Their single-class price is up to $30! Zoinks. Maybe that's to give students an incentive to buy a many-class package, but I can't afford one of those right now. So off I went to Yoga to the People, where classes are just 10 bucks. The only other time I've been there (in November I think?), I was worried about the quality of the instruction, and was so, so pleasantly surprised. They may not be an affiliated Bikram studio, but that teacher had clearly been to training and was A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

The studio was packed as usual when I got there. I didn't have any cash with me, and they don't take cards. Yikes! Awk-ward. But the girl working the desk and the woman who was to teach just told me not to worry about it; I could hit an ATM in the neighborhood after class and pay then. That was such a nice surprise. I set up my rented mat ($2) in the back (third) row, in one of the few remaining spaces. It felt really cool to not have an attachment to needing to be near the mirror.

A funny thing I noticed the first time at this studio, and this may be true of many classes in New York, was that students are really, umm, vocal with their breath. In the first breathing exercise, there was the slight hissing/snoring sound that I've heard at a couple studios, same as the noise sometimes demonstrated by teachers for new students. But the exhale, oh man, the exhale. It's like an actual vocal exercise. I really don't know how to describe it. You know the noise some people make when they see a cute baby (or baby animal, in my case)? That Awwwwwwww? Well, the exhale noise is like that, but breathier. It's not quite a moan, but certainly approximates it.

It's so foreign to me, but I have on more than one occasion felt like I am really restrained in producing noise with my body. (That sounds bizarre.) I guess I've just never really found that place in myself that experiences anything other than awkwardness when deliberately trying to create some kind of primal sound. For me, for me, there is nothing authentic about it and so it feels like a waste of time and for me, dignity.


I realized last night that many of the students there are likely actors, singers, or other kinds of performers. So many of them have practiced working with their breath, and have exercises that mimic pranayama breathing, but with that additional step of warming up the vocal cords. Once I figured that out, the breathing didn't seem melodramatic. It just seemed like an extension of their other passions. Which, to me, is pretty awesome.

The instructor was fabulous. The woman (I think her name was Kati, like kah-tee) has been teaching for 25 years (not sure if it's been Bikram the whole time) and she was amazing. Super, super strong, very deliberate with instructions for anatomy, good energy, good with the new students. I don't know this woman at all, and she never called me by name (students write their names on a sticker that goes by the mat), but just by her presence, I was pushed to go deeper into some postures. It's possible that was my deepest floor bow since moving to New York — it felt like my stuck shoulders were finally, finally, opening up. (I would give anything to have a photo of the time three years ago that my old studio owner picked me up by the wrists while I was in this posture. I wish I could see where my shoulders were then, because they actually feel better now.)

Today, I'm not too sore. I feel it most in my feet, and in my left knee, which had another rough/tight class. It's really interesting to feel something happening there. I imagine I must have developed a bad biomechanical habit when I busted my ankle in November, and now (despite post-activity tenderness in the ankle) I'm working through the mechanics. It's good. :) With the exception of some unfortunate loose short-shorts slippage on a guy in front of me during the spine-strengthening series (really, I was overdue for some kind of sighting like this), and some aching guts due to eating fabulous tacos for lunch, it was a great, great class. That studio packs people in, but people are respectful despite being mat to mat.

Another note: I really like my peace and quiet in savasana. On Sunday I got all snippy about people slamming the door at that studio. Well, here, after class, people were whispering (but 50 people whispering adds up, noisewise) and the studio doors are opened to the lobby (I don't know if this was just last night, or is always the case) where people are arriving for the 8:30 class. It was LOUD!

Then I remembered something in Bikram's orange book. It's nice if you can meditate in a soothing place that smells good, with an altar and whatever else you need to achieve total serenity and oneness with the universe. But one point of his yoga is to help us get to the point where we can meditate under any circumstances, whether we're upside down in a hot room or sitting in traffic in Los Angeles when it's 90 degrees and the car's air conditioner doesn't work.

This is my challenge, my opportunity. To be able to go inward to find that quiet, still place. I wonder if this is linked in any way to my difficulties with rabbit posture, if it is truly the opposite of camel (which I usually find fun, without the difficult physical and emotional experiences so many others have). Rabbit brings up in me the same things I often hear mentioned with camel. So, time to look inward.

Namaste, kids!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mat towel?

A friend of mine just asked, "Can you recommend a good Bikram towel?"

Now, I am cheap and lazy, so I grab whichever one is around the house and doesn't smell too bad. But I see lots of people using the yogitoes one, and these ones from Breathe (who used to make awesome shorts; where did they go?) look cool too.

So, folks, what are your towel preferences?

Day 9/30: Also, there's rarely a line for the shower.

One of my favorite/least favorite things about having a home practice is that I never miss the last class. Tonight's, for example, started at 10:30. It was silent, except for the heater and my quite labored breath, but it was fabulous.

I kept remembering two Bikramisms: "Struggle harder!" and "Try the right way." I think I did both of those OK tonight. My muscles feel so tight, but I also feel stronger than I have in a long time, so I must be doing something right. Right?

OK, time to go get my six hours of sleep. Glad I didn't get further behind!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 8/30: Drained


"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea."

(I first saw that quote a few years ago, I think in a surfing-related context, and I've seen it a million places lately, and I love it to no end. It's by Karen Blixen, aka Isak Dinesen. I will try not to hold the "Out of Africa" movie against her, although it bored me to tears in high school. After reading a little more about her, maybe I should give it another shot. She had quite the interesting life!)

I didn't practice last night, kind of a letdown after my double Sunday. Had a relaxing dinner and a movie with the boyfriend instead (can you believe this was the first time I've seen "Say Anything"? I swear I was alive in the ’80s). I hardly drank water at all yesterday and last night, and I've been paying for it by feeling like absolute crap. Lesson learned and I am guzzling today!

So I'm two classes behind in my 30-day challenge. I'm looking forward to 1) not missing any more, and 2) a few more doubles, maybe just for fun!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 7/30: Maybe it was the eggs Benedict?

I got up at 6 on Sunday morning and was out the door by 6:30. I had set my yoga gear by the door the previous night, so I wouldn't forget my mat, as has happened at least once before. The two-hour drive north was beautiful as the sun came up and warmed everything... It feels like spring! At the beginning of my drive, I had half a cup of coffee (sounds crazy but having some is essential for me), a banana, and a little bit of farina (generic Cream of Wheat) that happened to be in the fridge. My belly was feeling good when I got to the studio. I could probably have gone without the farina, but I wanted to start a long yoga day with plenty of carbs.

Class was good. As planned, I snagged a spot in the first row, in a corner. I've only ever been in/around that spot in that studio; no one ever told me it's the hottest part of the room. Teacher-friend complimented me and another student on our backbends while we were in them, so of course I looked over (while backbent) to see where the other student was, and we pushed each other even further. It was cool! My friend had been teasing me about Triangle before class, remembering how I'd totally and completely sucked at it a few years ago when we were both in Utah. I warned her that it had gotten better as I got stronger with my home practice. Well, Triangle came along in class and I think she was pretty much dumbfounded. Yes!! Score one for my nascent hamstrings. (She was standing behind me, and I couldn't resist whispering a "Told ya so...") Also, she helped me out in Half-Tortoise. Awesome.

Pretty sure I got deeper into most postures than I do at home, which was so nice; the heat is my friend. But this studio is DAMN hot, the only place I've ever felt like my skin is actually on fire. Also, and it could be me, I feel like I am under heat lamps here. The lights burn my brains out and make it really hard to want to keep my eyes open during floor series savasanas. I recognize, though, that this is all a test! Apparently I passed, because I didn't claw my eyes out or find ways to blow the lights' fuses. And I just sipped water, which was cool. I guess I'm just not in the habit of doing it anymore (since there's really no reason to when I'm home, not sweating like crazy).

A couple strange things happened: I got a really bad headache in class at some point. Then about 20 minutes later, it was gone. Uhh, OK. Something was just moving along, I guess. Then in Kapalbhati breathing at the end, my left knee seized up like crazy! It felt like there were shards of glass in it, so we moved gingerly after that... After spending forever and a day in Savasana (note to students: Could you try not slamming the studio door while everyone's resting? kthx) I was fine, and apparently the knee was too. Weird!

Teacher-friend, her friend and I went out to brunch, then hung out with their dogs and walked around town a little bit to kill time before my class at 4 (the silent-but-with-music-wtf? class). Despite my pre-emptive caffeination and plenty of water, then more water with Emergen-C after class, the in-class headache had returned, and with a blinding vengeance. Ugh. I was not looking forward to driving home (into the sun) with a migraine, but didn't think I could take another class.

I'd decided to go home anyway and do a single set of the series at night, but then... friend's friend had some errands to run before they'd do dinner, so I JOKINGLY suggested that she take the 4 p.m. class with me to kill time. Much to my surprise, she said yes. So it was decided: I was really going to double up.

Ooohhhhhh, the "silent" class.*

My understanding had been that it would be led by someone who counts out the postures, maybe controls the heat, too? This was not that. And I never did get a good explanation for why the "silent" class has a musical soundtrack, which ranged from soft-alternative-ish-mellow-rock (meh) to Annie Lennox (whom I love, but not when I'm sweating buckets or trying to), to something that sounded like a Bruce Springsteen song being sung in Mongolian. No, seriously. And it wouldn't end. Finally, the last thing I want to hear when I'm in the Savasana between the standing series and spine-strengthening series is a tortured rendition of "Amazing Grace." Nothing could relax me less.

Maybe I wouldn't have minded the tunes so much if my fellow students weren't also attempting to commit grand larceny with my peace. People were toweling off between every posture. I could hear water being gulped, frequently. People were up and down and leaving the room and blah blah blah blah blah sigh... I should keep in mind the bottom line: I wanted to have two classes in a hot studio in a day, and I did that. I got good corrections and feedback in the first class, and I really tuned in with my breath and the collective energy in the second class. One thing I can say for the students at that studio - they are really, really enthusiastic about Bikram yoga. Maybe it's not as "disciplined" (others might say uptight?) as where I practiced before, but the studio is relatively new, too. And maybe, just maybe, I need to take myself and practicing a little less seriously.

Great news: The headache was gone for good after the second class!

* It is entirely possible that none of this would have bugged me if I didn't have a headache, or if these things had occurred in isolation. But the combination was just too much.

This morning, everything was sore. The first muscle I noticed was toward the base of one of my fingers. Really, how does that muscle get a killer workout? But it's been good to feel my body all day. My biceps and lower back, especially, feel very stretched. Can't wait to double up again — if there's a silent class this time, though, it'll probably be at home.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Days 5/6: Double double

Friday night's practice was just fine. I love that the boyfriend "made" me practice, and cooked a kickass dinner while I was suffering 90 minutes (not 90 years) (among things Bikram says on the CD that play on "shuffle" in my head throughout the day).

I repaid the favor by hiking up some serious hills today so he could climb, and I'd belay him. It sounds almost risqué, but it just means that I hold the ropes so he doesn't smash his head open or get hurt very badly in a fall from a story or three in the air... We got up to the cliff, and it was too snowy for him to set up an anchor. Ah well. It was 50 degrees and GORGEOUS outside, and I had fun, despite tweaking my ankle (again! grrr.) in a wretched mix of snow and mud.

He left to do groceries, leaving me (and Leo) to yoga, but then a friend called and talked for... 90 minutes. No joke. We hung up moments before Bryan walked back in with dinner fixins. Since I'd planned on yoga-ing while he was out, and then relaxing the rest of the night with him, I went ahead and honored the second part of the plan. The burritos and wine were so worth it. :)

It's easy to think, well, it's the first week of my challenge and already I've missed two classes; what's the point in trying to do this? Well, my friends, doing it is the point. I'm not too worried, either, about getting in my 30 classes in 30 days. Know why? I have a double tomorrow. No doubt I can fit another one in at some point. That's what weekends are for!

I have to be out the door by 6:30 a.m. tomorrow to make it up to my friend's 9 a.m. class, two hours north of here. (Why the extra half-hour, you ask? I need a good spot, so I can be a mirror-hog!) Brunch afterward, then bumming around Saratoga Springs until the "silent class" (set to music? huh?) at 4.

Soooo looking forward to my day of yoga and friends tomorrow. Hope you all are feeling peaceful and content. :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 5/30 (part 1): Really?

Just walked in the door from work. The boyfriend is "commanding" me to do my yoga. Funny guy...

Day 4/30: I felt strong!!!

I practiced again last night, and realized it was the first time in a long time that I'd done two consecutive days of Bikram's series. (A year ago, when I was still working nights, I often practiced an hour of Anusara or Ashtanga with Yoga Today on consecutive mornings.) Last night was FUN! And I felt STRONG! After the "final spinal," I goofed off with crow and crane pose, and practice for headstands. I don't think I've ever tried crane before, but it was fun! Pretty good stuff, if you ask me.

Posture-specific notes I want to remember:
Something in my left shoulder/ribcage is moving in half-moon. Go with it. Trust the process. ... Saw the back of my mat in the backbend. No idea whether I've ever paid attention before. ... I locked my knees in the forward bend (got to LOVE practicing at night!). ... Got as low as I ever have in the second part of awkward, with no pain in my busted left foot/ankle. ... Quads felt strong, and "pulled up" (as we used to say in ballet) in standing head to knee and standing bow. ... Felt a good kind of tingly-burny-energy in my left hip and sciatic during triangle. My hamstrings cramped, so they must actually exist, somewhere. ... I got my forehead to my knee in standing separate leg head to knee! ... Leo (the dog) likes to lick feet in wind-removing pose. Actually, during any pose. ... New way of doing half-tortoise seems to be working; keep the fulcrum back. ... Kept knees engaged and heels off the floor in the last stretching pose, and got elbow almost all the way down. It's so good to feel strong. ...

The last time I did a 30-day challenge was in August 2007. I didn't blog about it. I didn't write about it. I didn't really have a goal with it, other than to have stickers on every day of a little calendar. Looking back, I don't think it was about any kind of personal growth. I think I knew, subconsciously, that I was on the verge of a really difficult life transition, and going to the studio every day was a way to avoid dealing with my real life. (Also, working 10+ hour days is a good way to avoid real life.)

The first week of September 2007, I took my first trip out here. Eight months later, I was driving east on I-80 with a U-Haul trailer. I've never thought about it like this, but it would seem that that challenge was a gateway to this, this mostly amazing, mostly fulfilling life that I'm in the middle of now.

Of course, things often look better in the rear-view mirror, right? :D

I have high hopes/ambitious plans to take three Bikram classes (including one with no instruction, set to music, all of which I have mixed-to-negative feelings about, but it can't be "worse" than my home practice) in two studios, as well as climb rocks (or at least help the BF do that), this weekend. What about you guys? I hope it's warming up and drying out wherever you are, too. :) Have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 3/30: A Goldilocks kind of day

On March 1, I couldn't stop biting my nails, but did some pretty good yoga. On the 2nd, I didn't bite my nails at all, but I didn't practice, either. Yesterday, whatever I did was just right.

I walked around for an hour yesterday during my lunch, and found a few new (to me) yoga studios near work, including an actual affiliated Bikram studio. Yay! I hope to make one of the 5:30 or 6 p.m. classes there soon. Maybe the week after next, once I a) get paid again and b) know something about the house closing date.

The regular train home waited just for me (woohoo!) and the BF headed to the pool to swim. Even the dog's low-for-him energy level conspired to help me have a good practice last night. Yay!

I felt pretty good, energy- and pain-level wise, so I started out doing the whole (both sets) standing series. When I got to Triangle, I felt wasted and thought about switching to the single-set iTunes playlist, but decided to plug on through at least Triangle. It would have been lame to switch only during one of my most challenging postures. But it went fine.

Re: Triangle - I have definitely lost a ton of flexibility since moving to NY (and quitting a near-daily practice), but I have come so far with my strength. For the longest time I was skeptical that I actually had hamstrings to use in this pose, but over the past few months they have helped keep me upright in Triangle, instead of sliding out into the splits.

So I switched to the single set before the spine-strengthening series. I didn't want to overdo everything last night and then be completely drained today. As always, it felt so good to move through the series. This yoga is amazing, folks, although if you're reading this you probably already know that.

Not to whine, but it can be hard to practice at home — I miss studios' heat, the feedback, the excitement of others, the heat, mirrors, "talking shop," and oh, did I mention the heat? But I have noticed that I have more energy and excitement to practice lately! I can only chalk it up to becoming part of this blogging community we've got goin' on here.

It could be that something like this is happening:
The best class I took after my 10-day Bikram intro in August ’04 was in May of 2006 (I loved it, and went a couple times, but couldn't afford it and was working and caregiving, both full-time). It was Memorial Day weekend, and my hot-water heater had blown up on Friday night. By Monday I desperately needed a shower. The only place I could think of that I could take one? Bingo! Bikram Yoga Sandy, just down the road from where I lived.

I checked their schedule and they only had one class on the holiday!!! Needless to say, it was packed, maybe 50 people? A lot, anyway, for that little studio. I was kind of tripped out and bugged that I wouldn't be able to see myself in the mirror. Much to my surprise, everyone in the room became super cheerleaders for everyone else. The energy level was amazing! No one left, and I don't think very many people sat out postures, either. We all lifted one another up (literally, of course, in Full Locust).

So even though I've been practicing all by my lonesome, for the most part, I have all the other blog writers and readers to help lift me up and share energy. The compassion that has flowed through comment sections across Blogger and WordPress astounds me. I can't thank this nebulous you enough for this, for helping me return to something I need so intensely for my mental and physical health.

* * * * *

A word (or many, it turns out) on fibromyalgia:
This came up in yesterday's post/comments about my experience of a pain/fatigue complex. This was at The New York Times' website today, and I think it's commendable that they're showing some of the many faces this syndrome can take. But reading the comments broke my heart. It shouldn't matter what causes someone's pain; I would hope that compassion could be shown toward people who are in any kind of pain, regardless of its genesis.

I consider myself lucky to have discovered ways that work for me in calming my nervous system (someone else's story here). One commenter (No. 126) at the Times story said a few things that resonated. Among them: "[T]he more you don’t move, the more your muscles get locked in, the more pain you’re in, the harder it is to get going. It’s a vicious cycle. But start slowly." Although I sometimes feel like I'm cheating, or being lazy, when I only do a single set of the Bikram series, this affirms a little bit that I can only do what I can, when I can. Sometimes I have good "classes," like last night, when I started out with both sets of everything. And whenever I have the opportunity to be in a studio, I bust my ass to try to do everything! With a memorable exception, it usually goes well. :)

xoxo to all!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 2/30: Well, I didn't bite my nails, anyway.

I felt great, if a little sore, on Tuesday after the previous night's yoga. Because I only did a single set of the series, I tried to work every posture as much as possible, because I only had one shot at it. It's usually a good system for me when I'm strapped for time and trying to balance obligations. It feels like a copout compared to the way I used to practice, but I don't do myself any favors when I compare now to then.

I didn't get a seat on the train home last night so I didn't get that good nap, and I walked partway home from the train station (uphill, naturally), so by the time I got home it was later and I was even more exhausted than usual. Every part of my body hurt. (I have a weird pain condition where, basically, my nerves don't know how to distinguish between normal sensation and pain sensation, so they just freak out and everything becomes a pain sensation. Rad.) That pain, like so many things, gets worse with stress and lack of sleep.

The BF had to work on work, so I concocted dinner. Which I was really excited about. Really, I was! But picking apart a roasted, then slow-cooked, chicken and separating meat and fat and stock and trying to not step on the dog and making soup, well, let's just say it was a bit intense. Dinner wasn't done till almost 9, but it was SO good and nourishing. And I was so happy to have dealt with the chicken. (I'd worried it would go bad when the power was out for 3 days and I buried everything from the fridge/freezer in the 3 feet of snow we got. It was fine.)

To his credit, the BF was very encouraging, saying that I'd feel so good if I just did at least a half-hour before bed. But I was toast. Toast. It took an inordinate amount of effort to lift my arm to brush my teeth. I hate when the pain/exhaustion gets me like this...

So I blew off the yoga on Day 2, and normally this would really get me down on myself. One of those failures of a "why even bother, all-or-nothing" attitude. But — I have an opportunity to take two classes at a studio on Sunday, and I'm really psyched to do my first double in a long time (at least two years).

The only way I've ever been able to subdue the pain/exhaustion syndrome has been to practice yoga regularly, and taking it easy when my body is screaming at me. So until Sunday, I'm going to push less in my postures, and work with the range of motion in a more gentle way. But I'm not giving up on my 30 days.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 1/30

I started a 30-day challenge tonight. Well, two of them, really. Not biting my nails for 30 days, and doing yoga every day for 30 days.

Obviously, the former is vanity-driven. To my embarrassment, the latter is as well - at least waaayyyyy more than I'd like to admit. I know all the wonderful and amazing things this yoga has done for me in the past. I could use a shot in the arm of "feelin' great!" and clarity, etc, etc, blah blah blah.

Here's the thing, though:
I'm taking a trip to the beach (South Carolina, never been!) on March 31 and unless there is three feet of snow like we got here over the weekend, I fully intend to wear as little clothing as possible and get some color on my belly and do my San Diego roots some justice. But I'm at least 15 pounds heavier than when I bought that last swimsuit.

So it's time to get serious. Again. I just finished Day 1's single set of the Bikram series, despite feeling like going straight to bed when I got home much later than usual, then dealing with my landlord (last time handing in rent! Woohoo!!!).

The fact that my back was seizing up all day (shit, I just chewed a nail) was a huge motivating factor for me to practice tonight. An hourlong walk at lunch didn't help much, though the weather was nice-ish and it felt good to move. So even though it's already an hour later than I usually go to bed, I'm feeling good. They say that 30 seconds in half-tortoise gives you the same relaxative (That is so not a word. Um. "Relaxatory"? No? I need an adjective for relax-y) benefits as eight hours of sleep. Since that is one of my tougher postures, I did it four or five times once I'd finished everything else. So really, it's like I got a whole week of sleep, right?

I doubt I'd be doing this if it weren't for the 101 Challengers and other bloggers, so thanks everybody for the inspiration!

Now, time to hit the shower. :)