I am blind as a bat.

Ok so maybe that is an exaggeration, but I am certainly blind enough that I cannot see people more than 6-8 feet away from me. I can recognize them, I know they aren’t a statue, but really see them? Not a chance. To be honest, this usually doesn’t bother me. I go through life waving at strangers like it’s my job.

In the yoga studio, the teacher often tells us to make eye contact with our reflections in the mirror, or focus deeply on a certain area of our bodies and, without my glasses on, I can’t do that. So today I decided to wear my glasses to class. I know this doesn’t seem like some monumental thing to those of you who haven’t experienced Bikram’s, but there are a few things which have stopped me from doing this in the past.

1. My glasses fog up: This both obscures my vision and makes me feel like a huge nerd. The nerdiness I can handle, but constantly having to take off and wipe down my frames… so inconvenient. Not to mention distracting.

2. Sweaty noses = glasses slippage: This is once again just inconvenient. I don’t want to come out of standing separate leg stretching pose or balancing stick only have to put my glasses back on.

3. Discomfort: The bottom line is, my glasses are incredibly distracting. One of the most annoying things in yoga is having to make adjustments physically, whether that is pulling my shirt up or down, fixing my hair, or adjusting my glasses so they aren’t hanging from one ear.

I will do a lot to avoid having to make adjustments in class, because it distracts me from the meditation of my practice. Unfortunately, without my glasses, I am left out of another aspect of class, and one that could potentially help me with my balance, form, and focus (ironically).

So wearing my glasses in class did everything I expected it to do for me.

Pros: It helped my balance and my form. In standing head to knee pose, I could actually see the dimples that formed above my standing leg, assuring me that my knee was locked. It gave me the confidence and ability to start really kicking out my other leg in the posture. In some other postures, eagle pose, tree pose, and standing bow (to name a few), being able to make eye contact with my reflection in the mirror really improved my focus and balance.

Cons: My glasses did slip down my nose a lot, but guess what? They didn’t fog up once, and they never ended up hanging from one ear. I guess I would put them in the same category of inconvenience as I do my bangs. My bangs get sweaty and I have to brush them out of my eyes occasionally, but am I growing them out? No. (well actually I am… but not because of yoga).

So in conclusion: Why in the world was I so opposed to even trying to wear my glasses in class? It was a better experience for me with them on. I guess I’ll be a glasses wearing yogini from now on.

Coming soon: Guest post from Travis, who was tough enough to brave the heat and come to his first Bikram’s Yoga class ever!!

-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

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

So I’m really excited to have made it 7 days in a row. This is the first milestone and it means I am a quarter of the way there!

One of my favourite instructors, and the one I actually took my first class ever from, Katie, was teaching class tonight and she’s been gone for quite a while so it was a nice treat to have her back.

I really wanted to maintain my concentration tonight and I think I was pretty successful. I did it by doing something I usually don’t do, which was just fully concentrate on what the teacher was saying. I listened to her voice and just let that be the only thing I thought of as I did exactly what she said. By doing this not only was I able to stay focused on my body, but I was also really able to push the postures because I was thinking about all the details.

There were a couple poses I thought were especially successful today. I did really well in standing bow today I was able to hold the second set for the whole time, and I was also able to go quite deeply into it which was great and it looked great in the mirror too. I also felt really good about half tortoise pose. I found that by pushing my knees together (of all things) I was able to get a much deeper stretch through the lower spinal area.

half tortoise - from www.bikramyoga.com

half tortoise - from http://www.bikramyoga.com

I’m really tired right now. I went to hang out with Joe and his friends and I thought it was about midnight and it was actually 1:30. I decided to go home and just leave Joe to chug his beer, I am really tired! I’ll probably have more to say tomorrow when I’m a little more awake.

I still have to give myself a reward for my 7 day milestone!

Go me!

-Claire

Today will be day 7 of my 30 day challenge- I’ll be a quarter of the way through already! Unfortunately the alcohol was a bit too tempting last night and I’m slightly hungover today. I just have headache, am a little dehydrated. I’m slightly nauseous at the moment. I really hope that part goes away because I can get hydrated and I can handle a headache but nausea I’m not so sure how that’s going to sit in the yoga room.

I’m going to the 7:45 class so hopefully by then I will be feeling good. I was hoping there was a 9:30 today but no luck there.

I will let you know how it goes afterwards!

-Claire

EDIT:

I’m just going to write a bit more before class. Luckily, with some food in my stomach and a couple of litres of water, I am feeling much better and I think this class will go well. Plus also Jessica is coming with me today and it is always really fun to bring someone new and share the experience with her. I really feed off of other peoples energy in the room and I think it helps to have some new energy. When you go to your first class there is so much excitement and I can really feed off of that energy.

Speaking of using other people’s energy in the class, I have noticed a little funny thing that happens. If someone falls out of a posture, then other people around her often do. It’s kind of a chain reaction and it makes you realize how connected the class becomes. I have been guilty of coming out of a posture with someone as well. I don’t really know why it happens, but I think it is because we really do use each other’s energy in the class and if there is a break in that energy then everyone feels it.

I am feeling really frustrated because of my lack of flexibility in my hamstrings. I know I talked about it before and said my flexibility was improving, and it is a lot, but it is still bad enough that it is preventing me from going fully into certain postures where hamstring flexibility is necessary. for example, in standing head to knee pose, I can’t kick out because of my lack of flexibility; in balancing stick I can’t tilt forward for the same reason. I know that I just have to keep trying. One of the teachers, Danny, says “a millimeter today a millimeter tomorrow and eventually you’ll get there.” When I get frustrated I just try to focus on those words, because he’s right: a millimeter of progress each day will eventually get you to where you want to be. I hope I make a millimeter of progress today in everything.

The last two classes I have had a lot of trouble with my concentration. Today I really want to be able to just leave the world behind me and be successful in centering my thoughts, because the actions and abilities of my body are definitely led by my mind. I get much more out of the practice when I am not distracted. In the last class I found myself actually making a grocery list in my head during savasana. wtf. That just totally takes away from my ability to participate and if I am going to put myself through such a strenuous experience, I want to get the most out of it possible.

So that being said, my goal for today is to stay focused.

Finally I wanted to show you some pictures of some of the postures I talk about a lot, just so you non-yogis can know what I’m always blabbering on about.

Staning head to knee pose

Standing head to knee pose

In this posture I do it so the knee that he kicked out is actually just at a 90 degree angle.

Triangle Pose

Triangle Pose

This is from http://www.bikramorlando.com.

Locust pose with two legs

Locust pose with two legs

We also do this with just left and just right legs. full locust is below…

Full Locust

Full Locust

from http://www.tracis.info.com

Standing Bow

Standing Bow

from http://www.bikramyogabozeman.org

I can’t do it quite this well!

Tree pose

Tree pose

From http://www.bikramyoga.com

In Toe Stand, you hold this posture then bend your standing leg until you are balancing with your hip just above your heel, and you bring both hands in to prayer.

Hope this helps you understand what I’m talking about!

Who knows when I’m going now… Joe wants me to go to go see Twilight with him and some of his buddies and you know I can’t resist a good vampire tale. 6:00 yoga maybe?

P.S. If you read this and want to see a picture of a pose I am talking about, leave a comment and I will post a picture.  Sometimes in the different forms of yoga poses are different, like triangle for example sometimes can look like this:

triangle pose

triangle pose

which isn’t how I do it. So if you want to know what a pose is for Bikram’s specifically let me know!

-Claire