Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 20: Not two-thirds done.

I so wish I'd been able to practice this yoga on each of 30 days. (That brings to mind the saying, "If wishes were fishes..." — what does that even mean?) But this month, it wasn't to be... It did, however, get me into the chiropractor's office, and on a path to minimizing daily pain. If the primary goal of every endeavor is to learn even one little thing, then I've met that, as I've learned a bunch by trying to complete this challenge.

Last night, the BF was out hiking with the dogs when I got home, so I did two sets of each posture in the standing series, and a single set of the remaining postures before they got home. The dogs needed baths IMMEDIATELY, smelling vile after rolling in who-knows-what. Once they were clean and fluffy, I went back to my mat and goofed around with more postures. I did a few sets of standing head to knee on both sides, a couple standing bow pulling poses, and some other random postures. Anything involving toes touching your head is a hell of a lot easier in a warm studio, you know?

Something possessed me to work on headstands. They, like my living room's floor, are HARD!

One thing I really appreciate about a home practice is the flexibility to do an extra set of postures, or hold something just a little bit longer than we would in class. I'm not sure anyone really likes standing head to knee, but I am enjoying it for now because I've been feeling a progression in it, especially as my hips start to even out. On my 30 Before 30 list, I have "Do 29 backbends." I love backbends, I really do, but I'm thinking of editing that to-do, changing it to "Do 29 standing head to knees." So much more of a challenge. We'll see...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Days 17/18: Disappointed | Day 19: Bittersweet

I ended up taking off all of last week. After my surprisingly awesome double on Sunday (9/12), I didn't practice again until yesterday (9/19). It was a strong class, and fairly flexible, but the goodness of it was bittersweet. I would rather have had a mediocre class with daily practice leading up to it, but (to use an expression I really dislike) it is what it is. I am ridiculously sore today, and my hamstrings feel loose and floppy like shoelaces. But it's all good.

I read Mei's post, and made a phone call about the competition. Apparently advanced classes are available to people training (is that even the right word?) for the competition. They are during my work days, but maybe I could get to at least one. I still have no idea what my two optional postures would will be.

I noticed some tiny alignment changes in the mirror yesterday. It's nice to see some results from the S&M beatdowns from the chiropractor. :) And, in a sign of progress on that front, I'm down to one day a week with her.

Looking forward to doing my — our, really — yoga tonight. I love practicing with mirrors, but I learn a lot by practicing without them, too. Especially in my left hip, I'm getting to really feel the alignment from the inside, out.

The outdated browsers on my work computer are incompatible with Facebook working in more than a cursory way, so I've stopped wasting time there. (Which is good, because this is a busy time of year here at the mag.) I have, however, filled all that time with reading blogs by Bikram yogis and yoginis. Congratulations to those just starting teacher training! I hope they have an incredible experience in my old hometown.

And I hope you all had a stellar weekend. :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Days 14/15/16: "Do What You Can Today, And Do Not Judge Yourself."

The title of this post is from a piece over at this blog, which I found through another blog.

And it's something I know that I know, but definitely needed a reminder about.

I don't know if it's because of looming chilly weather, or work stress, or life stress — or catalyzed by the yoga and the bodywork — but my body is hurting... Beyond the unbelieveable stiffness, beyond the for-no-reason muscle soreness, beyond all sorts of other symptoms that can be explained away. It feels like the fibromyalgia is back from its slumber. I know that it's back when my skin starts to hurt.

Basically my nerves freak out over normal sensations (god forbid I get goosebumps) and minimal stimulus (please don't pat my arm, thanks). Maybe I have written about this here, before? It's theorized that the nervous system doesn't know what to do with this input. You know what is really good at calming down the nervous system?


So after a four-so-far-day hiatus (it was only supposed to be three, but a train breakdown kept me from the hot room last night. *shakes fist!!*), my goal tonight is to simply move. I'll just do a single set (maybe [poutyface]), slowly and deliberately. I'd like to do that every day, from now until whenever.

The chiropractor got insurance to authorize this:

Ostensibly, electrical impulses sent via the little gel pads have a pain-relieving effect. Thus far, that hasn't really happened for me. I do feel like the muscle spasms are breaking up, a little bit, and maybe that's the first step to the pain relief. We'll see. It isn't hurting anything and it didn't cost me a dime, so I might as well give it a go. Even though it reminds me of an old-school garage-door opener.

A few hours later:
Well, just got back from a productive visit with the chiropractor, Dr. E. I mentioned my concerns, she sounded surprised by them, but then she kind of switched gears and was really nice. She recommended a homeopathic treatment specifically for nerve pain, which is kind of cool. I am not totally convinced that homeopathic treatments work, but if it does, it only costs $6.99. And if it doesn't, I'm only out $6.99. Also, I'm only seeing her once next week. (YAY!!$$$!)

She said that stiffness is often an intermediate step between pain and not-pain, as more blood flows to the area. She said to keep moving, keep using the garage-door opener, keep doing what I'm doing because my spine is moving.

My thought: Yeah, but to "keep doing what I'm doing" will make things hurt. ??? That is counterintuitive, at best. So, as I wrote above, I'm just going to go slow and steady, gently. And I'll try the sugar pills.

Love love, and happy Friday, ladies. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 13: Getting frustrated

First things first: No yoga last night. I'm now two classes down, again. My goal wasn't just to do 30 classes in 30 days (which I'm fairly optimistic I can still do). I'd wanted to do at least one class every day for at least 30 days. So: Grrrrrr.

The midback pain that I initially went to the chiropractor for seems to be resolving quite well. My spine feels straighter, and now that the initial insane muscle soreness has passed (despite Dr. E's continued efforts to leave me black and blue), my back-back is feeling pretty good. My lower back, on the other hand...

Dr. E has been working on moving my left hip around, trying to get it to want to become unstuck. Not forcing anything, but gradually opening things up in there.

My, how they are opening.

The shooting, stabbing pains in my sciatic area started a few hours after yesterday's appointment. The long-compacted SI joint seems like a creaky door that has been shut tightly for years, and is going to need some coaxing to stay open. That groan the door makes when you open it? I think my joint is making that noise. I took ibuprofen (Advil), then naproxen (Aleve) later on. Left a heating pad on it while sitting at my desk. Seemed to help.

Then I stood up and tried to walk, and the joint screamed at me. Two hours later, sitting at home, after more ibuprofen, I had an ice pack on the joint. The pain was so bad that I felt like I was going to vomit. So, no yoga last night either, causing me to be pretty frustrated.

Last night, I went upstairs to find feathers everywhere and two holes in my not-new-but-until-now-awesome down comforter. Lucy, the 7-month-old puppy, had a guilty look on her face.

She is cute, but she is sneaky.

It was the last straw for me. She had already chewed through the only decent pairs of shoes I had. (I'm not a shoe whore, but now I think I should be. It would have been nice to have backup shoes.) My car is falling apart. My computer is falling apart. Because of my weight gain since moving to NY, a lot of my clothes don't fit. I am flat broke, and I can't seem to catch up on basic things in life outside of utilities, train passes, and credit card payments (and believe me, I am incredibly grateful that I mostly have those under control, but this is my freakout). I'd wanted to visit San D in November, visit my friends and some family and my old beaches and Bikram teacher training, but I have no idea where money for airfare is going to come from. I'm not a materialistic person by any means, but is it so much to just ask for one thing, just one, to be in reasonably good shape? Normally, in the face of such destruction/dilapidation, I can say, "Well, at least I've got my health." Not this time.

That's right. I went from superkilling back pain to total freakout just like that. I spent the next 20 minutes or so wailing in the bathroom — didn't want to wake the BF — torturing myself with questions like, Is it (this nebulous "it") karma? Is it fibro, which I recently thought I'd been so good at appeasing, rearing its ugly head? Do I deserve this pain and this instability (inside and out, I guess) because of something I've done (or didn't do)? On and on and on it went, verging on self-pity but (I hope) not totally giving in. It's more frustration, I promise.

And then I remembered all the times that people have told me we store emotions in our bodies. So hopefully that is all this is. I'm a control freak about very few things, but I think maybe some of those tendencies are coming out, as maybe all of the bodywork I've been having has accelerated the process.

But it'd sure be nice to not be frustrated. And it'd be nice to be able to walk/sit/breathe without my nerves screaming at me.

Gahhh, this is quite the unfocused rant, but that's what blogs are for, right? If you've read this far, well, I apologize. At least you got to see my cute dogs. :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Days 10, 11 and 12: The picture I wanted to post before

That's pitcher Jered Weaver, one of my favorite players on my favorite team, practicing crow pose before a game on April 21, 2009.

Day 11 was good. Would you believe I took class from Bikram himself? It's true: he taught in my living room! The CD is cool like that. For a long time I really didn't like the CD. It aggravated me in ways that are hard to pin down now.

But now, I giggle at most of the Bikram-isms and really find a kind of comfort in the rest of his dialogue. The man is funny. His accent and pidgin English are also kind of funny (except "much more higher." That is not funny. It just hurts my ears.) He segues into singing at times, from silly ("Don't look so sad/Don't look so lonely/Long way from home/To kill yourself...") to more somber tunes (he intones something during a savasana in the floor series, and he could be singing Britney Spears for all I know, but it just seems less jokey).

I went rock climbing later in the day, finally some "easy" stuff (the routes my BF finds are not usually easy enough for me, and it's never truly easy). I climbed the strongest and fastest I have in a long time, and with less hesitation/freak-out about moves. Yes, it was an easyish route, but I wasn't scared. Pretty sure that's the yoga effect, my friends. :)

Since I'd missed Friday night again (it's not even like I'm going out and partying, I just cook longer and relax longer and start drinking wine earlier...), I had to do a double Sunday and make up for at least one of my two missed classes.

Previous experiences with doubles had not been good: I had done one class early and one class later, and the later class was usually really hard. So of course I was realllllly intimidated by the idea of doing back-to-back classes, followed by my usual hours of cleaning. I'd carefully planned out that in the half-hour between classes, I would chug a coconut water, shower quickly, change clothes, and help as needed at the desk. Well, the desk was chaos from the start, and I didn't have a chance to shower or change. (Importantly, I got the coconut water!)

I ran into the room for the second class just as the teacher was about to start pranayama, and I had a good, strong class. It was small, and nearly half of the students were brand-newbies. I think I decided that since I had to be an example, I *couldn't* have a weak or unfocused class. And I didn't. (And the new kids did so great! I was so proud of them.)

The first class was really aggravating on a personal-space level, and the work-study cleaning after class was really frustrating, and I could go on and on and on here about the specifics, but I'm mostly going to just try to let it go.

One funny thing, though:
I thoroughly cleaned the mirrors during the long gap between the second morning class and the (usually very small) afternoon class. They looked awesome. They were perfectly clean. The later-class's teacher and I had been discussing various cleaning issues/dramas. Usually after class, the mirrors just need to be spot-cleaned. I told D that I'd done everything possible to make her post-class duties easy, and she'd just have to spot-clean the mirrors before leaving. ... ... ... ...

And then The Flinger walked in. As soon as he was safely in the studio, we just smacked our palms to our foreheads. The best-laid plans...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Day 9: A public service announcement

via dialaview / sxc.hu

This public service announcement sponsored by your local friendly work-study student:

PLEASE, for the love of all that is good, PLEASE, do not be an overzealous sweat-flinger!

As part of my work-study duties, I clean up around the studio after classes. Emptying trash cans, spraying down mats and showers, vacuuming, laundry, etc. No problem. On weeknights, I typically spot-clean the mirrors from the incidental and inevitable sweat splotches. We are, after all, touching that mirror in Standing Bow Pulling Pose, aren't we? ;) Of course we are.

But man, oh man. There's one guy who always stands in the front-left corner of the studio, sequestered waaaaay into the corner in a way that isn't necessary when there are only 10 people in class, and he throws sweat everywhere.

(Now, I understand this sweat business: Unfortunately, I consider myself a super-sweater, and have soaked my fair share of towels. But I try, at least, to keep my splish-sploshing confined to my mat and towels. I get that it's 105° and we're dripping. I do.)

After classes that The Flinger is in, I have to bust out the squeegee and Windex and many towels, just to clean this one corner. I understand that this is part of my job, but there are many, many other things to tend to and it's already after 9 p.m. when I start cleaning, and I have a 45-minute drive home. For the same reason that we don't leave our sweaty clothes laying around the dressing rooms, we should try to be considerate about cleanliness in the rest of the studio and other people's time.


(Inspired in part by Cristina's awesome post here.)

It would have been nice to get home before 11. Otherwise, last night's class was pretty good.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Days 7 and 8: Multitasker

Tuesday was a full day, crazy and hectic at work, but I knew I could power through it. Dinner at home ran long and the dogs demanded attention. I was really looking forward to my yoga class at 10:05 p.m. It's an unusual time, I know, kind of late, but totally worth it. Why? Because I can put on the Angels game (7:05 Pacific) and practice while I listen!

(There's another picture I want to put here, but I can't find it now.)

Oh sure, it kind of defeats the whole meditative purpose, but once in a while I just want to feel back in touch with my favorite team. Even if they are having a miserable year. Listening to the announcers cracks me up, too, because they are awesomely badentertaining. Occasionally I'll find myself holding a posture extra-long, caught up in listening to an interview, for example. I rarely stay up for the late game times, so when I do, practicing yoga is a way to multitask and avoid feeling like I'm staying up crazy late for no good reason. And there's that whole challenge thing, too. I sure love this home practice! :D

EDITED TO ADD: After I finished my 26+2, I ran through the series of postures required for competition a few times, making sure to keep a smile on my face. I have no idea what my optional postures will be. Has anyone here (that's you, readers) competed? Advice? Insight? I still don't know if I will, but... but...

Yesterday: chiropractor again, where I (nerd alert, E!) learned that because of the scoliosis, my left-side ribs and my right-side ribs grew differently. Yep, the torsion caused the left ones to grow in more flat, and the right ones to be more rounded. She beat me up again (damned if it's not productive, though), and I actually left work early because of the soreness (a heating pad seems to be helping today). I had agreed to fill in at the yoga studio for another worker-studier, so got to take the 5:45 class.

"Taking it easy" in class is actually really hard, but always a good lesson. Be kind to yourselves, people. Show a little compassion when you look in that mirror. Give yourself credit for being there, challenging yourself to just be there.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Days 4, 5 and 6: Learning not to panic

photo via sxc.hu / raichinger

"To stay with that shakiness—to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic—this is the spiritual path." ~ Pema Chodron

Bikram says it's fine if you can meditate in a pretty, quiet room, perfectly appointed with items designed to aid relaxation (I'm paraphrasing A LOT). What's more challenging, and more worthwhile, is to find a quiet mental space when you're stuck in freeway traffic in Los Angeles (I like to think he's referring to the 405), when it's 90 degrees and your car's AC is broken. If you can meditate there, you can meditate anywhere. If you can learn to meditate upside-down in a hot room, with sweat running up your nose, you can meditate anywhere.

I tried to keep this in mind Monday as sweat was indeed running up my nose during Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose. I'd driven up to Saratoga Springs to take class from a friend whom I hadn't seen in far, far too long. My back was stiff and sore because, well, it's my back, and my body was creaky from the two hours in the car headed to a morning class, where everything is always stiffer.

During class, the "traffic/hot/stuck" metaphor translated to my body. If I can learn to work to the edge of the pain, and find/make peace with my spine where it is at that moment, it's possible to learn to breathe and calm down those pain sensations while walking around in day-to-day life.

(My 30-day challenge update: Saturday, morning home practice; Sunday, morning class at BYY; Monday, morning class at Hot Yoga Saratoga. Five classes in six days is probably the most consistently I've practiced since moving to New York. Yay! I might even be looking forward to doing a double one of these studio Sundays...)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day 3: A haiku

photo via sxc.hu / konr4d

Chiropractic lunch
Brutal spine-shifting session
No yoga tonight

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 2: What if I don't want to trust the process?

little duck key bridge
photo via flickr/andy z

Trust the process.

I've (of course) never been, but apparently teachers-to-be hear this nonstop while at Bikram Yoga Teacher Training. But does it apply to us regular ol' students, too?

Right now, I hope not, because I really don't want to trust the process. My body hurts, and I'm frustrated, and I am cranky, dammit!

Some weird stuff has coincided with the onset of this mid-back pain. My digestion has been off. I realized that nerves branch out from everywhere in our spine, so I wouldn't be surprised if some of the nerves in my mid-back feed my guts (no pun intended). If the nerves are pinched or otherwise compromised, that affects my guts. Instead of sitting funny and having my leg fall asleep, my back is situated oddly and my intestines fell asleep.

Visits to the chiropractor seem to have helped with my back's structure, if not its pain.

Thursday night in class, I had a total meltdown once we hit the floor series. I was frustrated at the continuing back pain. I was frustrated with being frustrated. I was frustrated at having so much fear that the pain would continue. I've often heard in Bikramland the saying, "This is the pain that kills the pain." There's no harm in trusting that, for now.

I feel like I'm at one end of the bridge in the picture above. I know that the other end is out there, somewhere. I know it's there. I just have to believe that I can get there.

Come on, I know you sometimes feel like this too.

Especially in those early-morning classes.

video via tumblr / fuckyeahyoga

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 1: Done and done!

Sweat Zucchini
photo via Flickr/Johannes-Konrad

It's really hot here. Again. At the for-all-intents-and-purposes-if-not-technical-end of summer. It hit 96 today, September 1.

Which was perfect for a home practice to kick off my 30-day challenge! It's great/awful not starting until 10 p.m., but it gives me a chance to enjoy dinner with my man and a little walk with the dogs. Then they sleep, and I practice, and we're all happy.

It was a good class, if small. Leo the dog didn't even join - he ran upstairs to the air-conditioning as soon as he was allowed to. I, on the other hand, was dripping sweat not 10 minutes into my practice. I didn't use the CD or anything tonight, and it was cool and peaceful to hear the pitter-patter of sweat drops on my mat. (I just realized how disgusting that might sound to people who aren't fans of Bikram yoga.)

I didn't push my back toooo far, though it did take a few tries before I could get past the fear of doing a backbend while "cold" - at 90 degrees instead of 105. But I did it. Classes for the next five days should be no-brainers as far as scheduling, so (knock on wood) I think I'm in good shape to keep this challenge going!

That's all I got for now, folks, as I have to be out the door in six or so hours. Happy September, everyone! Any plans for the long weekend?