Friday, October 12, 2012

Yoga Lesson

I went to class last night at 6 and it was great.  James led us through a wonderful 90 minute moving meditation and I realized how unfair I had been to go into a yoga class with expectations of anyone other than myself.  I still hold that perhaps he shouldn't have positioned himself as close as he did, but I should never have expected anything of his practice.  That's not how yoga works.

The reason last night's class was so good, I believe, is that James really kept us focused on our breath.  He was patient, encouraging, and focused.  And no, I don't think he ever opened the door, but I didn't notice the heat as much as usual and I didn't drink as much water throughout the class as usual, nor did I douse my towel with water to cool myself (both are habits we are encouraged to let go of).  So there it is, I learned one of the lessons of yoga.  Let go of your expectations -- even expectations of yourself... the only goal you should have when you practice yoga is to be present and do your best.  Not a bad goal for every minute of each day, whether practicing yoga or not, wouldn't you say?

And yes, I completed my 100 push-ups yesterday.  Two days down, 98  to go.

Since I have no yoga-related images, I'll show you a pic of the kitty we adopted about a year and a half ago to torment Hans and Tinka (ok, not the goal, but he's awfully good at it!).  Here he is... our little Gatsby when we first brought him home in May of 2011!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

No Yo

I didn't go to yoga last night.  I know.  I'm a little disappointed, too, even though it was my decision.  It's just that I am SO tired at work because I don't get home from yoga until 8 PM or later, then I have to change clothes, eat, take care of laundry or whatever, prep my meals for hte next day, wind down and hopefully get to sleep at a decent hour.  Which I don't.  Especially on nights (like Tuesday) when my husband works until after 11 PM.

SO instead I got on the treadmill.  I had to do SOMETHING, but I just didn’t want it to eat up my whole night from 5:15 PM until 8 PM, like yoga does.  And I accepted a 100 push-ups for 100 days challenge by Commit and Conquer in Pueblo, CO.  I used to go to C&C for Boot Camp classes, so when I saw them issue this challenge, I was excited to sign on for it.  Now every day (starting yesterday), I will do 100 pushups.  By the time January 17 rolls around, I will have done 10,000 pushups! Pretty cool, huh?  Let me know if you want to join me!

Unfortunately, while doing my second set of 25 push-ups, I sneezed and tweaked something in my neck.  Between yoga tonight and the massage I have scheduled for tomorrow night, I figure it’ll be feeling much better soon, and it didn't keep me from finishing my 100 push-ups.  Tonight’s 6 PM yoga class is with the guy I was talking about yesterday, so maybe I’ll go to the 8PM class since I can sleep in tomorrow if I want. 

Hmmmm… What to do? What to do?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

He sang Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star…
and I couldn’t stop laughing.  Seriously.  During our first Savasana (dead-body pose where you lie on your back, very still, for about two minutes after the end of the standing series before the start of the floor series of postures), Reggie, the instructor I would have previously characterized as stoic, sang Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  He was a totally different guy last night, cracking an occasional joke about how much water some of us were guzzling, the temperature, etc.  So there had been laughter in the room (a first for me during a Bikram Yoga class), so when he started singing… well, I couldn’t stop giggling.
No one else seemed to be laughing.  Too bad.   It was funny.
Okay, something else.  I get there early and put down my mat in a place where I will have clear view of myself in the mirror (totally necessary for Bikram Yoga).  Invariably, someone will come in and put their mat right. in. frontofme.  So, I have gotten more strategic and now I only place my mat when there is a spot back a row from where 2 mats are already placed so I can slip in the gap.  Sometimes that means I am looking into a seam in the mirrors… Last night, I put my mat down in a spot where I was a row back from the mirrors between two others AND no seam in the mirror.  I thought I was GOLDEN.  But instead, another of the instructors situated himself  thisclose to me on my left side.  Annoying.  He could have shifted, but I guess he didn’t because he didn’t want to be on a mirror seam, but seriously… kinda rude.  Especially for an instructor.
Here’s the thing, though, I thought, hey, this guy is an instructor!  I will be able to see precisely how to do these poses correctly, because, if I haven’t mentioned it before, the instructor leading the class doesn’t actually do the poses – he/she just guides you through them orally.  Guess what?  This guy totally doesn’t do the poses right.  Now I admit, he is older and maybe be has some limiting conditions, but he didn’t even do the pranayama breathing right – his head hardly tilted back and his mouth was barely open AND he closed his eyes!  He didn’t keep his arms by his ears in half-moon pose, or balancing stick pose.  And then, when it was time for Head to knee pose with intense stretching posture (Janushirasana with Paschimottanasana), he was so close that I had to move to the front of my mat so my leg could extend.  Now, as I was set up first AND he is and instructor, shouldn’t he have been the one to shift?  I know… why does this bother me?  Who knows… but it did.  And I guess it still does a bit.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect that just because a person is an instructor that they can do every pose perfectly, or even do ANY pose perfectly.  BUT, Bikram Choudhury stresses that you do it right if not completely… that is, you attempt it in the right sequence getting each element right before you try the next part.  That is, if you are doing Standing head to knee pose (Dandayamana Janushirasana), then you don’t even attempt to pull your “up” leg in front of you until your standing leg is “locked, lamp-post, you have no knee.”  It just bothers me a little… makes me want to not go to his classes.  Which is fine, except, I want to go every night and invariably, he will be teaching some of the 6 PM classes.  I am just going to have to let it go… because honestly, when I’m in there, I’m the only one I should be focused on anyway, right?

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”
Author Unknown


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

There was a crooked man, and he went a crooked mile,
he found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
Here’s the thing:  I have scoliosis.  My scoliosis was diagnosed as a mid-back C-curve caught as a part of a Girl Scout Camp physical when I was 10 years old.  Within 6 months, my spinal curve progressed from about 12 degrees to ~ 32 degrees.  I wore a back brace starting at age 11 which helped with the mid-back curve, but as I was out of the brace by age 15, it may not have been enough. 

In my early/mid-twenties, I started having back pain… sometimes so severe that I would lie down nearly in tears, pressing my low back into the floor to relieve the pain.  I had spasms that would make me suddenly bow forward, unable to stand up straight with pain so sharp it made me wonder at times if I was having a heart attack.  At age 24, my primary care physician put me on Celebrex which he told me I would be taking for the rest of my life.  I wasn’t really cool with that though, as there are a lot of issues with taking that kind of medication long-term.  At one point, when even the prescription wasn’t working, a friend at church gave me a gift certificate to see a chiropractor.  Since then, chiropractors and physical therapists have helped me significantly over the years and allowed me to quit taking prescription pain-killers altogether and only occasionally take a mild muscle-relaxer and over the counter pain relievers instead. 
My adult spine:  I still have a mild curve in my cervical spine (neck area) with mild osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis.  I also have a curve in my lumbar-sacral (very low back) region, with spinal stenosis which is all compounded by the fact that I have a naturally-fused vertebra in my sacrum.  AND that particular section of my spine is also twisted, which means it pulls on one side and pinches on the other. 
The icing on the cake is that in February of 2010, I was in a car accident where the car did a ¾ barrel roll landing on the passenger side of the vehicle where I was seated.  That served to increase my back and neck issues and seemed to cause me to start getting migraines, too.
Now to the topic of yoga…
I have now taken 14 classes in 21 days… not bad considering I was out of town for three of those days.  I had been seeing my chiropractor and physical therapist on a weekly (and sometimes twice-weekly) basis, but, having attended Bikram Yoga classes for these past three weeks, I have not been back to the chiropractor or physical therapist since September 20th because I simply haven’t needed to.  I did feel quite tight Sunday after the drive from NC to VA, but I went to yoga Sunday night and last night and I am feeling good again.  My hips are better aligned than they have been, I haven’t had any migraines, I have more range of motion than I’ve had in years, and my body is shaping up, too. 
So, am I now addicted to Bikram Yoga like I had been accused of being addicted to my chiropractor?  Perhaps… but the benefits have been extraordinary so far and I just don’t see any down-side.  I’m even going back for another Reggie class tonight…
So, despite the heat and the sweat and the discomfort of being in a room that hot and that humid for 90 minutes with a bunch of other drippy people all contorting their bodies this way and that, I think I’ll be visiting my studio as much as possible for as long as possible.
As Bikram Choudhury says, “Give me 30 days and I’ll change your body.  Give me 60 days and I’ll change your life.”