Arms:

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Time: About ten minutes, or two and a half Dada Life tracks.

Review:  I have weak arms.  This hurt.  Half way through I went to my knees, and for the last ten I moved to a table top and did them at an incline.  I seriously need to work on my push up power!  For the purpose of this challenge, I really wanted to limit myself to exercises that required no props (weights, yoga mats, stretch bands, etc.) but I found it pretty difficult to find an upper body workout that did not require some kind of weights.  This push up one is simple, though, and really great.  It definitely targets the whole upper arms and trap.  Add a plank for your core and I think we have a winner.

Abs: 

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Time: I had enough time to do this before I got in the shower to get ready for work.  During this time I would normally be pressing snooze two times on my alarm clock.

Review:  Not being someone who knows a lot about crunches, I’m not sure I got the form right on some of these.  If I were to do this again, I would probably want to do some googling on proper crunch technique.  Other than that, It didn’t seem like too hard of a pill to swallow.

Going through these work outs that target muscle strength and that don’t have much of a cardio element to them makes me realize how much I enjoy getting my heart rate up. Without the cardio, the endorphins don’t really get there.  It makes these work outs a little boring.

Yoga:

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Time: Yep.  8 minutes.

Review: Being my first week back working in preschool for the year, my back is already starting to ache from being hunched down with those little three year olds all day.  This workout was quick, and helped me chill out after week one of preschool boot camp.  I put on some chill out tunes (yep, spottily “Love Life. Love Yoga” genre), got out my mat, and went through these poses.  I added some chatarangas at the end and a few warrior ones, and it was really nice.  My back felt better too!

This week I plan on making sure to get that cardio in!

Sorely yours,

C

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Hi Yogis,

I have some exciting news to report: Sometime in the last 6-8 weeks, my back stopped hurting.

I have been babying my back for many years now. I have been careful about forward bending and posture and lifting heavy things. I have been afraid to fall down, afraid to sleep without a pillow under my knees, and afraid to even sit for too long because I never knew what might start it hurting again, and when it decides to start hurting, it can be pretty debilitating.

That all changed one day recently, as I was talking to a physical therapist friend of mine. I mentioned to her that my back hurt all the time and that I was frustrated by my tight hamstrings. I was sure that stretching them made my back hurt worse. “No!,” she exclaimed, “tight hamstrings are probably making your back hurt!” Wow. So all this time I have been treating my back like an acute injury, and never moving into a phase of rehabilitation.

A lot of times in class, we are reminded to just listen to the words of the dialogue and follow them exactly. As students of yoga, we are encouraged to have faith in the practice, trust it, and the more I do that, the better my practice becomes. I decided to do exactly that, especially for the postures, such as rabbit and hands to feet pose. My hamstring flexibility has increased tremendously (although they are still pretty tight!) and I think that is the number one thing that has lead to my decrease in pain.

I will admit, that at first my back hurt much worse. I used a little ibuprofen at work, and some heat and ice, but I continued to really push myself in class, especially in these postures that are so challenging to me. I simultaneously tried to work extremely hard in the spine strengthening series, and consistently keep my core engaged throughout class.

My back pain, miraculously, began to subside. I can’t pinpoint the exact day it went away, and there are still days when I have some pain, but I realized recently while I was at work that I felt fine. In fact, I felt great.

I am beginning to feel more balanced and more comfortable. I am slowly losing that off-kilter in my body feeling that I really think was contributing to my back pain. My posture has also improved quite a lot since early November, and I’m sure that helps too! I guess this is just another lesson in learning to trust the practice.

Bikram’s really does heal all!

-C

Disclaimer: I’m obviously not a doctor. Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on 30dayyogi.wordpress.com.

Hi Yogis and others,

Yoga and writing to me have been inextricably linked from day one. Bikram’s teaches me so many things, and I get excited about them and feel like I need to share my insights. Blogging is my way to document my mental growth.

Yoga is most certainly a form of exercise (especially Bikram’s) but, what I’m sure is already abundantly clear to you all, is that yoga is also an exercise for the mind. Learning how to overcome pain, and push through drama and difficulty to attain success; to build up your sense of self efficacy, boosting your confidence and driving you to become mentally healthier. Yoga helps you practice being in the moment, not getting caught up in the transitive phenomena we are confronted with daily, and hourly. Yoga is an incredible workout for the brain. But I don’t have to tell you that.

Do you know who I have to tell that to? The teachers at Bikram Yoga Seattle in Fremont. I’m not linking to their page, I’m not trying to slander them. I know I have discussed before the reasons why I dislike that studio (and the reasons why some people might prefer it!), but that is where Kaleesha and I ended up doing our 30-day challenge. Just to recap: there was a groupon sale that got us an incredible deal on unlimited yoga for a month at the Fremont studio. I decided to go for it, even though I knew I hadn’t particularly liked that studio in the past, and that was a huge mistake. I didn’t particularly enjoy the classes there, I didn’t get that same incredible spirit lift there that I do going to the Sweat Box. I didn’t know why that was for a while, but I soon realized that it is because the Fremont studio completely ignores the mental aspect of the practice.

I will admit I did an awful job of documenting my most recent 30-day challenge, but it’s because a massive part of my practice was missing. I didn’t have anything to say, because my landscape of epiphanies was stark. My hopes for that strength of mind, and greater wisdom that comes with a challenge like that were sadly unfulfilled.

Right after I finished my month at Bikram Yoga Seattle, I went directly to the Sweat Box and began taking classes there. I finished my challenge at the sweat box in October, and since then I have been attending classes at the sweat box about 3-4 times a week. I feel so grounded, and so comfortable in my own body right now, and I am definitely in better shape than I was in over the summer. Most importantly, despite the fact that I have been working in a preschool, my back is in wonderful shape (that’ll be a topic for another post!).

I am so happy to report that unlike my 30-day challenge three years ago, I have been able to continue to work my yoga into my life post-challenge.

Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful holiday, filled with friends and family and love.

Namaste!

-C

And my back!

I have the official doctors orders: I can walk, but no running OR YOGA until further notice.

Bummer.

-C

I am discouraged. I am on run three, and I am now certain that every time I run, it gets more difficult. I didn’t expect it to be easy by now, but it didn’t even cross my mind that it would be more difficult on run #3.

I have a few problems in particular. One is that my back hurts a lot. This is lower back pain, like I’ve had for years now, and running seems to be exacerbating it. I’m thinking it could have to do with running form or something? More on that in a moment.

The other thing is, my joints all hurt. I read on one of the websites about training that this is totally normal for new runners, but knowing that it’s normal doesn’t make me any less achy!

The third and final issue I have, is fear. I seem to have a terrible fear of falling. For those of you who know me, this is a totally fair fear, as I am someone who falls down. A lot. The ground is wet now, and the fallen leaves are slippery. It seems treacherous to run down a hill in those conditions.

I rarely get comments on this blog, although I know people are out there reading it (I have site stats, people!), so I am asking if you all would break your silence for me. I need some words of encouragement, running tips, advice on what’s normal, and anecdotes. I’m sure some of you are runners, and can indulge me in my plea for words of wisdom. You can comment anonymously. No one will know who you are!

I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend, and that your week to follow is productive and successful.

With gratitude,

-C

Hello fellow yogis and non-participatory yoga enthusiasts,

I know I haven’t written in a while – it’s because of finals.  I can barely find and hour and a half to go to class and then writing about it afterward?  Forget about it.  But, well, here I am writing about it.

Last night I took the 11:15 class, which I haven’t done before.  Kristine and I came to the conclusion that a person who took the 11:15 class must either have no life (and thus nowhere to wake up and go the next day), or just be kind of dumb.  Actually, as it turns out, the class was amazing.  There were seven people including me in the room, we all got a front row space, Katie was teaching, and it was the best class I have had in a long time.

The past week or so I have really been struggling with a lot of different issues.  I think it started with my back hurting so much and I kind of lost faith in the yoga a bit.  Then I started losing my balance a lot, losing my focus on the class, and not finding the experience quite as rewarding.  Last night, being so close and really being able to connect to myself in the mirror and really see my body, I feel like I kind of found my yoga again.  I felt very focused on myself and on the poses.  I was so in the moment that when we had finished the floor series I was surprised, because I just wasn’t thinking that way last night.

In terms of Katie’s teaching style, I really appreciate it.  I think of all the teachers I have taken classes from, she is the best at reminding me that the yoga is all about me.  I’m not doing it for the teacher, for any of the other students in the class, for anyone but myself.  She said two things last night that I really liked.  The first was “I don’t have to make the class hard, it’s already hard enough.”  This just reminded me to push myself, work hard for myself, and not rely on others to do it for me.  A lot of the instructors will call you out, ask you to do things you haven’t done before, and sometimes I like the encouragement, but especially lately as I have been doing modified postures to reduce my back pain, I don’t like it when they ask me to do things without knowing where I’m coming from, or what’s going on with me.  Sometimes they do know about my back and they have their own opinion about what I can do in the class, how I can do the posture.  I appreciate Katie’s belief in me to pace myself, and her respect for the fact that I know my body better than anyone else.

The other thing she said that I really liked, which also kind of goes along the same lines, is that “yoga is the only activity where the goal is you.”  She explained how in soccer the goal is to get the ball in the net, for example, but in yoga the goal is to improve yourself, which is pretty unique in terms of physical activity.

Speaking of my back, it is feeling so much better.  I have basically stopped putting any pressure on my back during forward bending by keeping my hands on the floor supporting some of my weight (in separate leg stretching pose and in hands to feet pose), and completely avoiding rabbit pose altogether, modifying half tortoise by not pushing my knees together and focusing on keeping my head below my heart.  I think it helps really understanding the goal behind each posture, for example in standing separate leg head to knee pose, it can stretch your legs and back, but the point of it is compression of the neck and abdomen to improve the endocrine and adrenal systems (among other things).  So I can do that pose, and focus on the compression and just bend my knee a lot to take the pressure off my back, as well as helping myself back up into a standing position to take the strain off my lower back.  For rabbit pose, I just generally do a second and third set of camel instead.  Backward bending is good.  I also really work hard in the spine strengthening series.  I’m hoping to increase the flexibility of my hamstrings, without over-stretching my back, and increase my spinal strength a lot, and I think that will heal my back.

I’m almost done with my thirty days, and I have seen such a huge change in myself, not just in my body, which has changed a lot, but also in my lifestyle and  in my outlook on things in life.  Last night Katie said to take some pictures of ourselves doing poses now (camel, standing bow, standing head to knee), and then take more in a year and see what a huge improvement you’ve made and how much your body has changed.  I think that if I had done that at the beginning of the month and now I would already see an incredible difference.  I know my postures have improved a lot, and my body shape is changing.  I’m so much healthier than I was 4 weeks ago.

Happy holidays everyone!  I am so excited to go home and spend Christmas with my family.   Katie recommended The Sweat Box in Seattle, so I’m planning on giving that one a try.  She said there’s also a good one in fremont, so we’ll see!

here is some adorable-ness before I go.  Have a great end of the week!  I’m done with my challenge on Monday!

Lily

Lily

Hi Yogis!

So today is day 15 which means after my 4:15 class today I will be half done with my yoga challenge. I feel that today it would be a appropriate to make some reflections on my progress over the last two weeks, but I’m not really sure it is that interesting. I could make a million teeny tiny observations about little bits of progress I’ve made – ultimately they will add up to big progress – but I think the best change I have seen has been in my mental health.

Never have I felt so level headed, happy, and content. I was taking anti-depressants before I started this challenge, and something I noticed (even just doing yoga sporadically), is that after class I always felt super happy (endorphins, blood circulation? I don’t know…), and one of the things I was hoping is that through this challenge I would get more of that feeling. I slowly weaned myself off of the medication, and now I’m taking none. I know it’s only been a week off of them, but so far I feel better than I ever felt with them. I feel so much less manic; just super stable and happy. I’m not having awful mood swings, I’m not wanting to stay in bed all day. I’m really truly happy.

I think some of this is chemical. My body is producing endorphins, fresh blood high in oxygen and nutrients is flushing to my brain and reactivating my neurons, etc etc., but some of it comes from other things. You can get an incredible sense of self esteem, for example, knowing that you’re body is capable of doing things you didn’t know were possible. It gives you such an appreciation for your entire system. It puts much more of an emphasis on what your body can do than what it looks like, and while making your body look better too! I can’t wear my belt anymore because I have lost weight. That isn’t the point of this challenge at all for me, and I didn’t really want to even go into it, but I do think it is all a part of my body functioning more effectively, and my health improving overall.

In addition to this, yoga encourages me to make healthy choices in my diet, bedtime, everything I do contributes to the type of class I have. Ultimately, yoga trickles down to effect everything in my life in a positive way.

I can honestly say that I feel better than I ever have. I feel kind of like I did the first time I got glasses. Like before I started this challenge I was just ok. I was well enough to function, and I didn’t really realize I was missing anything. When I first put on my glasses I was amazed at what I had been missing. Street lamps, people, trees, my body, my dog… it all looked different. I was living in this crisp, clear world and it was incredible! Similarly, I didn’t know how my body was supposed to feel. I was functioning… but I was only just functioning. Now I feel so much more alert, so clear and comfortable with myself and my surroundings. I’m way happier in my relationships and I’m much more confident in myself.

Who here is familiar with Albert Banduras concept of self efficacy? It is different than just self esteem because it isn’t about measuring yourself up against others, or deciding if you are good enough, it is about believing in yourself and knowing that you have the ability to do whatever it is that you want to do. Bandura’s therapy that he provided was designed to improve a person’s self efficacy beliefs, and this combated anxiety, depression, and other cognitive disorders. Yoga for me has done that. It has improved my self efficacy, it has improved every area of my life.

I owe Kristine a pretty big thank you for dragging me to Bikrams six and a half months ago.

-Claire

P.S. Just a quick note before I forget to tell you this! So I was sitting in class on Friday, and I noticed that on the palms of my hands, my wrists, and my fingers, I could see all of my veins. Not in a gross sticking out way, just that I could see them under the skin full of richly oxygenated blue-black blood. This is so awesome because the thing I have been most worried about with diabetes is my circulation, and I’ve noticed so much that my hands and feet aren’t as cold all the time. It is so amazing!

P.P.S: On Joe’s birthday I chipped in with his brother and mom and sister in law to get him Guitar Hero World Tour. He got so excited that he ran over to kiss me, and in his drunkenness, he bent my back over the side of our couch and it cracked in like 5 places and it was soooo painful. I was pretty sure I was going to be paralyzed and I started crying, but of course I ended up being fine. The funny part of all this is that after that incident, my lower back pain has decreased by about 80%. It’s still there but wow do I feel better!

xoxo

Remember to always look on the bright side of life…