Today was day 4 of my yoga challenge. It was challenging.

I really did not want to go to class today. I was sore. I was tired. I had a headache. Oh right! Those aren’t excuses anymore! So off I went to class, albeit a little behind my usual schedule. I didn’t leave the house until 4:00.

I felt like the room had a weird vibe today. It was a bit uncomfortable for me, and I’m not sure why. Was it because I was running a little behind schedule? Was it because I had an instructor I hadn’t had before? Was it because there was a weird lady next to me and I wasn’t in my usual spot in the room? Whatever it was I thought I was going to have a bad class. I was sure of it. I was just doing the poses thinking about how I was going to blog about my various failures and how nothing went right. Then I thought I should probably make sure I have something positive to blog about, and as I focused on positivity, and on aspects of today’s practice that were successful, the class started to turn around for me. I noticed I was holding postures longer, going deeper into them. I truly wanted to be successful and as I started to focus on this, I started to notice I was doing well. We always hear the instructors say that the practice of Bikram’s is mostly mental, but I really found the truth in that during today’s class.

Yoga has helped me in other ways. Bikram says “no drama,” and what he means by this is that if you show no pain on your face, it will not escalate into something bigger. This is true when you are doing the postures – a calm face helps you control your body, and accept your feelings of discomfort without making them worse – as well as in life. I had an upsetting experience this evening, and I found that I was able to control my anger and my frustration with the person in question by simply walking away and coming back to my breath. Relaxed breathing leads to relaxed thinking and relaxed body.

I felt a lot more centered today than I have before. I felt really in control of my body and this displayed itself in a few ways. Locust pose with both legs, a position which has been difficult for me, I was able to bring my legs completely off the floor. It happened really abruptly for me. I just really focused on gripping with my hands, and trying to shift weight into my shoulders and it just sort of fell into place. Another posture which I really felt was indicative of my control was the toe stand, which I was able to fully balance in for about 3 seconds – a big deal for me! On top of that, I was able to rise slowly from toe stand into tree, hold tree, and then with control finish the posture.

Tree for me is a very spiritual posture that makes me feel happy and comfortable and connected to not just my body, but to the entire natural world. Partly it is the imagery I associate with it: strong, tall, leafy and green and natural. Just really a good symbol of the natural world and the cycle of life. That being said, being successful at this posture makes me feel wonderful, connected to myself and the outside world, strong, and comfortable.

My body is reacting very differently to the heat than it has in the past. Yesterday after class I mentioned to Hilary and Kristine that I had just sweat more than I had ever sweat in a Bikram’s class. Funnily enough, the same thing happened today. Maybe it is my body adjusting to the heat. I imagine that it is improving the detoxification process, or because I am drinking so much water my body is able to sweat that much, but I really don’t know what other reason there could be. I can’t really describe to you the amount of sweat my body is producing. I feel it streaming down my body in rivulets. It’s almost disturbing to know that my body can release that much water and still be hydrated. I guess I have to make sure that I am really getting enough water every day. Dehydration could maybe be behind my headaches… which I still have : (

One thing that yoga really does for me, is it makes me so aware of what I am putting into my body. I don’t eat lots of fatty foods because it makes it hard to participate in the class and get the full benefits; I can’t really drink because it dehydrates me and could make me feel sick which could potentially cause me to miss a day; I have to drink a lot of water in order to be comfortable during the class. I think that part of practicing yoga, and this form of yoga in particular, is that it makes you hyper aware of how your body feels, and how it reacts to certain things. I ate a large breakfast this morning with Joe and I really felt it. I especially felt it in camel, which made me really nauseous, and I generally don’t get nauseous any more in that posture (although that is a common feeling to experience).

I was disappointed to find that in standing head to knee pose I did fall out of it a few times. During the second set, I was able to hold it the whole time, and that made me feel better. In standing bow I had a hard time finding the strength and endurance to both lock my standing leg and push my other leg into my hand. I find that this pose is difficult to do following standing head to knee pose, because my ankles hurt so badly! Fortunately, I have discovered that pain will not kill me, and it is just a feeling. That is not the end of the world.

This is, however, the end of this post.

See you tomorrow for day 5! I get a reward at day 7!

-Claire