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.

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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

- FIVE -

- FIVE -

Yesterday was day 5 of my challenge. I was planning to go to the 9:30 with Kristine, but we ended up going to the 7:45 instead, which was tough because I had eaten around 5:30, but I decided to go anyway.

The class went fairly well. In terms of my own motivation there were some postures that I didn’t push myself as hard in, maybe because I was a little tired, also because I was really focusing on balance today as opposed to strength or flexibility for the most part. One thing I am proud of though was that in tringle pose, I very nearly lied down for the posture because I honestly didn’t feel like I could do it. Then I thought to myself that is such a cop out. I knew I could do it and I was not going to let myself cheat. I decided I would do at least one set. So one side at a time, one set at a time, I completed triangle pose without having to take a break.

I was also pretty excited about standing head to knee pose, which I was able to hold for the entire time in both sets (although I did a l m o s t lose my balance at the end both times on the second set. It was kind of funny I was hopping around thinking I am NOT going to come out of this posture no matter what!!) In the pose after, standing bow, I was really excited to find that I was able to hold it for most of the time, only falling out of it once in the second set.

In Locust pose with both legs, I was able to get all of my legs and my hips off the ground, which was pretty awesome because I didn’t think I would be able to do it a second time.

There were a lot of small moments of success in last night’s class. For example during pranayama breathing, the first breathing exercise, there was one breath – just one – where I’m pretty sure it felt exactly how it was supposed to feel. I felt like I could keep breathing in forever; my chest felt so open and cavernous and my throat felt open too, like I big tunnel full of air. Unfortunately, though I tried, I couldn’t repeat it the same way. Hopefully it will happen again and I can figure out how I did it.

Rabbit pose is also coming along really nicely. After Julia helped me a couple classes ago, and showed me how it was supposed to feel, I have been much more successful in that pose, although it is much harder. Two classes ago, the teacher corrected me on the seated head to knee pose and I was disappointed to find that with correct form I wasn’t able to go as deeply as I thought I could. That’s ok though because I’ve been pushing the posture really really hard and I know I’m improving. Not to mention when I began these yoga classes, I never would have been able to even come close to where I am now in that posture, even with the correct form.

It’s nice to feel like I’m improving, even if it’s only in little ways : )

Last night I did drink some gatorade after class and my head feels better this morning, but it still hurts a little. I think it is part electrolytes (which I hopefully fixed), part dehydration, and part fatigue. Part of the problem is I have been staying up so late lately. This class basically takes up all of my personal time in the day, and so I have been staying up late to read, write in this blog, watch Greys Anatomy, and do other things I would normally due during the class! I need to use a little discipline and make myself go to sleep, because I am getting so tired and I can really feel it. As far as dehydration goes, well I guess I just have to drink even more water, as well as maybe trying to cut salt out of my diet a little more? I’m not sure I guess we’ll see how it goes.

I was planning on going at 9:15 this morning but I was just too tired, so I’m planning to go to the 2:30. That means I can’t tan before semi, but it’ll be ok. I can go home, shower,do my nails/ hair then head to Hil’s for the pre-semi bash! I can’t drink too much tonight because I do not want to experience a hung-over yoga class!

More later if I have time!

-Claire

P.S. Image from http://www.icanhascheezburger.com

So Hi,

I’m Claire.

I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t start writing this in the first place. I wrote, but only on the computer in a private journal. Why do that when it is so much more fun sharing my personal business with the world? Well anyway, as you may already know from reading the info about this blog, I have decided to do Bikram’s yoga for 30 days in a row. Bikram’s yoga, for those of you that are unfamiliar, is a form of yoga that includes 26 postures and two breathing exercises in a period of 90 minutes. It works every muscle in the body from the inside, to the outside, and is organized in such a way that every posture warms you up and prepares your body for the following posture. This form of yoga is done in a room heated to about 37 degrees celcius, which mimics the temperature and the conditions of the human body. For more information about this practice you can watch the short video below or go to http://www.bikramyogavancouver.com, which is the website of the school where I practice.

How it has been going so far:

Today will be day 4 of my 30 day challenge, and already I am noticing some changes in my body, both in the yoga room and outside of it.

I am used to being easy on myself. If I am sore, have a headache, am tired, or am in a grumpy mood I will usually skip class, but the teachers always say half the battle of Bikram’s is just making yourself go to class. I try to remind myself of this, and I try to remember that even if I just go and lie there for 90 minutes, at least I will have made it to class. Hopefully it wont come to that! But as long as I’m going to class I feel that I am successful in my challenge.

The more I go, the more in tune I am becoming with my body. I have noticed how important breathing is. For example, one posture I have always struggled with is Triangle pose. I really focused n my breathing in class yesterday and was impressed at how deep I could go and how much easier it was to sustain the posture for the full 60 seconds. It is still a challenge, but something as simple as breathing can help me get through it. The same goes for other postures, focusing on the breath throughout the entire series makes a huge impact on how deep into something I can go, my balance, and my ability to sustain the posture for the full amount of time.

As far as balance goes, I feel like my balance has been worse on certain postures that are especially difficult for me. For example with standing head to knee pose I tend to fall out of it when my standing ankle starts to ache. I want to try to not have this happen, because I feel like it could be a subconscious excuse to come out of the posture when it is getting too difficult, as opposed to a genuine loss of balance, because I actually feel that balance could be one of my strengths. Again, focusing on my breath does help, as does certain kinds of imagery, such as imagining my leg is attached to a pole, imagining I don’t have a knee. The teachers always say that before you even start a posture you have to make up your mind to hold it no matter what. This helps too.

One really fantastic thing I have noticed, is that my flexibility is really improving. I had a back injury from a snowboarding accident years ago that was severely aggravated by forward bending. As a result I never did any, and the flexibility in my hamstrings basically disappeared. I think this in the long run really messed up the balance of my body and made my back pain worse, but I never knew what to do about it. Since I’ve been practicing yoga, I have made vast improvements in my hamstring flexibility in particular, and my back pain has mostly disappeared. in the floor postures meant to stretch that area of the body, I am able to hold them, and go fairly deep into them. I can straiten my legs and I can grab underneath my heels in forward bending poses. I am so proud of myself, and it is exciting because this is such a measurable improvement.

I am pretty sore today and I have quite a headache. This could be due to the amount of sweating I have been doing, so I should definitely try to get some electrolytes. My teacher has mentioned that headaches are a sign of electrolyte imbalance, so I will try drinking a little gatorade and see if that helps. I am going today at 4:15.

That is all for today as I am sure you have already stopped reading my boring observations. I am really excited to continue this thirty day challenge, and to see where this practice takes me. I am so lucky to have found an exercise that is so fulfilling.

More updates later! Thanks for reading!

-Claire