I can’t believe I’m back here. After moving to Vancouver for UBC, finishing UBC last year, and moving back to Seattle (I thought it was for good – but only lasted for a month or so), and getting a job in Vancouver and moving back there, and working in 3 different positions, I have arrived back, full circle, in Seattle. With a job.

I’m not sure how I feel about this… I haven’t been to a yoga class here yet. It’s been over a week since I’ve been in the studio, but I’m looking for something different. I went to a metal show and loved how loud it was, it drowned everything else inside out. I want a workout that drowns everything else out. I know at some point I will go back to Bikram, but right now I don’t want to deal with the introspection yoga has to offer.

I know this is so unlike me. I’ve been accused of being in a yoga cult, I am a yoga devotee, I am a yoga enthusiast of the greatest extreme. Maybe I should head back and follow my own advice. Yoga can fix everything, it allows me room to experience my emotions within the safety of my practice. As Bikram says, the hardest poses are the ones you need most. Maybe the hardest time to go to a class is when you need it the most too.

I think I’ll go to spin class instead. They play loud music there, right?

-C

Yeah.  I said it.  This blog has been about…. the physical and mental challenge of yoga so far.  I have avoided talking about personal things.  I have avoided discussion of the emotional impact of yoga.  Now it’s time to get personal, because that is a big part of how this class tonight went for me.

I knew it was going to be a tough class from the start.  We began with the breathing exercises and 6 breaths in I was gasping for air already.  Partly I think it’s that I’m a little bit under the weather (with a cold no less and only allowed to nose breathe? ugh…), but partly it’s that yoga makes you release all the toxins out of your body.  Yoga makes you release all the toxins out of your body, but in order for that to happen, they have to flow through your body, which means you have to experience them and that can often be painful.  Bikram always says that the poses that are the most challenging, the ones that hurt the most are the ones that you need the most.  I have always kind of thought of this as being purely physical, but tonight it got very emotional.

Maybe I have been holding on to a lot more than I thought I was.  I actually made it through the standing series, but right after tree pose, lying in my savasana (dead body pose), it was all I could do to not burst out crying.  I am not a person who cries a lot, or who cries easily.  I am a person who distracts herself, moves forward, dislocates herself from her problems, but I found myself lying in my yoga class with tears in my eyes and I didn’t know why.  Then I started thinking.  I started accepting that this pain that I was feeling (and it was a deep, emotional pain) was just like the physical pain I was in during certain postures.  I thought to myself that in order to get stronger, I was going to have to be present and feel this pain… and do you know what?  I started realizing (really really realizing) that it was ok to be sad… because I have done a lot the past few months.  I am coming off of a broken engagement, moving away from everything I know and love, missing all of my best friends in the world, jobless (and other things but let’s not wallow too much)… and aside from all that, even if none of that was there, it would still be ok to cry.

So this class, tonight, for me, was about realizing the appropriateness of being sad sometimes, and crying sometimes.  I thought a lot about the importance of being present, and allowing one’s self to feel whatever is there.  My very first yoga instructor ever once told us to stop  categorizing our feelings.  She said there are feelings.  There are no bad or good feelings, just feelings.  She said if you are feeling pain, allow yourself to experience those sensations without categorizing them, and you will be suprised how much you can handle.  I’m allowing myself to be present now, and I think that will do a lot for my psyche.  I didn’t just expel physical toxins tonight, I expelled emotional toxins as well.

So why get personal now?  Why expose my innermost feelings to the world wide web?  I guess I hope that other yoga practitioners, and anyone else who is reading this, might realize that it’s ok to expel some toxins of their own.  Maybe I am looking to see whether or not I am alone in feeling this way.  Maybe I am running out of people who will listen and I am throwing my thoughts out into the ether in hopes that someone will catch them and say “I get it.”  Either way, it feels like the right thing to do tonight.

Sincerely,

-C

As some of you may know, over the past few months, I have fallen off the wagon when it comes to my yoga practice.  I basically stopped going more than once a week, then moved to Seattle, and didn’t go to a single class until this past week, and let me tell you:  my body knows it.

While I still feel good after a class, and I still enjoy the workout, I have been feeling very differently than I used to.  Now I know I don’t usually make body or weight-based goals, but I have gained a lot since Joe and I broke up, and I don’t like it one bit.  I can wallow and sigh and make excuses that I was going through a rough time, but I know better.  “I’m doing my best is an excuse used by people who are weak” – Bikram.  I haven’t been doing my best.  I haven’t been coping my best.  I haven’t been my best, and I have absolutely no excuse for that.  So I guess, since I am so anti body goals, my goal will be to do my best.  My goal will be to do my best and mean it.

When I left for Seattle, one of my friends in Vancouver asked me “what are you going to do?”  and I answered “I’m going to set goals and then I am going to meet them.”  I think back on that and wonder if I’ve let myself down in that way so far.  My lack of goal setting, my lack of drive, could be contributing to my overwhelming sense of being directionless.  I set these half-baked, random idea-goals and then I have no follow through, which leads me to be very discouraged.  “You want the key to success in life? Lock the fucking knee.” – Bikram again said this.  By going to class, I started trying to lock my knee.  By setting realistic goals, I will continue trying to lock the knee.  When my knee is locked, I am confident that things will fall into place for me.  I know everything will work out if I just lock the knee.

I need new perspective, new motivation.  I need to stop wallowing in self pity and proclaiming to be “doing my best.”  I want to actually be my best.  I encourage anyone reading this to ask himself what his best actually is, and what excuses he is making for not being there.

Happy Halloween!

-C

sleepy-7999971So I’m sitting at my desk at my (relatively) new job.  Did you look at what time this was posted?  Does it seem early to be working?  It is.  I’m on the graveyard shift.  This whole nocturnal existence I’m trying to live is challenging.  I forget which day it is, and what morning went with what afternoon, and what meal I ate last.  Then of course there’s the challenge of actually achieving sleep whilst the kids upstairs run around and cry, and *some people* try to clean the apartment for mom and dad’s visit, and the phone’s ringing and… oh I could go on and on.

Of course anyone who has read this blog (or, say, the title of this blog) knows what the prescription for this problem is:  yoga.  I need some center and balance in my life!  I need help regulating my sleep cycles!  I neeeeed my yoga.  Not to mention, it also helps me keep some kind of schedule.

My life is in a flux of change at the moment, and I can’t tell you enough how I rely on the Bikram’s series to keep me physically, mentally, and emotionally grounded.  I don’t usually go into personal details on this blog, but I will say this:  I will not be sharing my toothpaste with anyone for the foreseeable future… and that is absolutely amazing.

-C

I completed my thirty day challenge.  I’m done.  Today was the last day.  And my last class was…. just like any and every other class.

I was kind of disappointed.  I thought for some reason this class would feel different.  But you know what?  Just because it felt the same… no major breakthroughs, no epiphanies… doesn’t mean I haven’t accomplished something.  Because I have definitely made an accomplishment.  I’ve challenged myself, I’ve met the challenge, I’ve changed my mind and my body, I’ve found strength within myself that I didn’t know was there.

I can honestly say now that I have done yoga.  I’ve done it in the rain, I’ve done it in the snow, and I’ve done it in the sun.  I’ve done it sick and healthy and everything in between.  I’ve done it on lazy days, and I’ve done it on the busiest days of the year.  I have definitely done some yoga.

People keep asking me what now?  Will I keep going a lot?  What will I do after my challenge?  Well of course I’m going to keep going!  I have found the best exercise in the whole world.  I’m going to keep going.  Maybe not every single day.  I actually think taking a day off here and there will be a good thing for me.  It will give me time to reflect and relax.  It will give my body time to recover and regain strength and stamina.  I think taking a day off here and there will be good.

But having done thirty days in a row has been an amazing experience and I really hope that some month you will give it a try.

I’ve learned so much about myself and so much about my body.  I feel like a different person now… and it only took a month.

You can keep reading, because I will keep writing.  I still have a lot more to say about yoga… and I still have a long way to go with my practice.

Thanks for reading along this past month!  And thanks for your support!

Now I’m gonna go get ready for my Christmas party.

-Claire

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…

When I began attending this class my nose used to run a lot.  It was pretty disgusting.  I think the body does some pretty disgusting things when it is adjusting to this activity and nose running is definitely one of them.  For those of you that aren’t quite sure what I’m talking about think of when you are eating hot soup and your nose runs from all the steam.  Now think about your face hovering over hot soup for 90 minutes.  Youre nose would run a lot right?

So anyway my nose ran a lot and I had to blow my nose like every other posture and it was gross and loud and annoying.  Since I’ve been taking class I still have to blow my nose but less and less often  and outside of class I am noticing some major differences.  My lungs are clearer than they have ever been before.  They are so open and accommodating of oxygen!  The only way I can really describe it is in this analogy:  when you come out of a really stuffy room into a cool comfortable open atmosphere, you breathe in, and you feel the cool air sliding down your throat – almost like drinking water when you are parched.  That is how every breath feels to me now all the time.  It’s a truly amazing feeling.

It is funny how practicing Bikram’s yoga, and getting so much out of it, makes you realize how much we are fighting against our own bodies every day.  I guess I didn’t know what I was missing until I found it again, but I can’t exactly describe in words just how much I’ve found so far.  You just have to try it yourself : )

-Claire

Hi everyone,

So far, doing this challenge has taught me a lot of different things about myself, but most importantly it’s taught me that I have a lot of self determination, self control, will power, and personal strength. I’ve actually always thought I was kind of lazy. I really like to sleep in, I like junk food a lot, I’m a little messy (Joe would tell you “little” is an understatement). For the amount of food I eat I’m pretty sure I should be obese – but strong_woman1I’m not. It was almost to the point where I really didn’t think I could stop eating that candy bar or I really didn’t think it was possible to make myself wake up… so what’s one class missed? Of all the things Bikram’s yoga has taught me, the most important is that there are no excuses ever.

I now have faith in my own strength, faith in the fact that I can decide to do something and follow through no matter what. I’ve only made it nine days but already I feel like I have grown so much as an individual. So I was lying in bed last night making up new challenges I can make for myself. the 3 hour study challenge – where I will study for 3 hours every day no excuses; the pick up your clothes challenge – where I will always put away what I have on no excuses; or the no refined sugars challenge? The think about a challenge is it makes you continue when you would otherwise give up, it makes you do something even if you feel like you don’t have time, it doesn’t leave room for excuses or explanation because in the end you either did it or you didn’t. The simple yes or no answer will make you realize you can actually go places you didn’t think you could.

Yesterday I was in a huge rush, I had so much to do I didn’t think I could make it to yoga and get everything done. While it was a rush, and it got a little stressful late in the afternoon, I was able to do everything and I still fit in my yoga class. I wrote yesterday that it was a bad class for me, but looking back on it I’m proud of myself because so far that has been the most challenging day to attend class – and I mean to just get my ass into class – and I still did it. That means I haven’t failed yet.

Now today I feel a change in the air. I have a busy schedule ahead of me, but it’s one I made myself. Before these nine days began I never would schedule myself a busy day because I thought I didn’t like them. I think it was a lack of confidence that I could actually get everything done. Well now I know I will get more done because I’m not afraid to schedule it. I know I can do it.

I’ll write about how day nine goes tonight. We are all going at 7:45!

-Claire

So today was not a good class for me, but I will still start off with a couple positive notes.  In standing bow I saw my toes in the mirror above my head!  I was super excited about that.  I am having to think a lot less about keeping my standing leg locked, and so I can focus more on other parts of the posture which is nice.  In standing head to knee pose I am kind of worried about kicking out because I don’t think I can have the flexibility, but I think I am really ready to try.  My hamstring flexibility has improved so much that I think I should stop worrying about whether or not I can do it perfectly and just try.  Two sayings to think of while trying out this posture:  My teacher today said “this is yoga practice not yoga perfect.”  It doesn’t have to be perfect  just have to try.  And of course Danny’s “one millimeter today one millimeter tomorrow” saying, which helps immensely.

Today I was really tired and really stressed.  I’m glad Jessica came because I would have had a lot more trouble making myself get there if I didn’t know she was coming.  I had to cook for holiday dinner, I was supposed to go to a soccer game which I skipped, I knew after I would have to finish my sweet potatoes, get dressed, put on my makeup etc., and I also knew that 45 minutes probably wouldn’t be enough.  So basically today it was hard to fit yoga into my schedule.  On top of that I’m feeling a little burned out and just exhausted.  I stayed up way too late last night and I really need to start going to bed earlier.  It is a quarter to nine now and I’m going to bed after I finish writing this.

So anyway I did go and I worked really hard during the standing series, but I decided that during the floor series I was going to focus more on relaxation than taking it to my edge and working it.  I’m glad I did that because I spent most of the series feeling really sick and just so fatigued.  Like it was very difficult to make my muscles do what I wanted them to.  I sweat a lot more again today than the last two days, but that was probably due to the fact that I was in the hottest area of the room.

My knees are still sore but I think they are getting better.  I’m just being careful in one legged postures and I haven’t been doing toe stand I’ve just been staying in tree and working on balance and concentration.

I’m going to write a private post about some other difficulties that are a bit more personal.  If you are dying to see it just let me know!

So all in all I didn’t feel great about today’s class but I think it definitely had some moments of success as well.  I’m hoping that I’ll get a good nights sleep and tomorrow will be better.  I’ll be going with Kristine and Brittany VZ which is super exciting.  I really enjoy taking this class with my sisters.

Here’s hoping tomorrow is the best class ever!  Day 9!

-Claire

So Jessica didn’t end up being able to come yesterday, but she is joining me today at 2:30. Oh Bikram’s I bring so much business to you!

Apparently at the Bikram’s headquarters where he owns the studio himself, the unlimited monthly costs $250.00 and he doesn’t pay his teachers! What a money making machine!

If he doesn’t pay his teachers why does the yoga cost so much??? I am such a Bikram’s yoga fan (obvi) but this seems a little sketch to me… it doesn’t exactly fit into my yoga ideals.. I thought 99 dollars was a lot! I guess I got lucky here! I wonder how much the classes in Seattle cost… I bet they are expensive because they are in Laurelhurst.

My knee is killing me because oh yeah I forgot to mention: I slipped on an icy road last night on the way to yoga and my already sore knees (well knee) got banged up. I think they will be ok but owww! I’m still having shoulder pain and back pain but it is definitely more along the lines of muscles being sore from working out. And everyone knows the only way to get rid of the lactic acid making your muscles sore is to work out more! Oh irony I love you.

I’m going to work on concentration today again because I have a lot on my mind today what with holiday dinner and all sorts of papers due etc. etc.

We’ll see how it all goes!

-Claire