Once upon a time, there was running, and there was yoga. Running sucked, yoga was mostly awesome. I never thought they would work together; then they met and fell in love.

Bodies change. Bodies change a lot faster than you think they’re going to. I have been running (trying to run? Jogging? Limping??) for exactly 1 month, 12 days, and 4 hours. You wouldn’t think that this would have had a chance to change me yet, but I’m finding myself morphing both outside and in.

I really haven’t done a lot of yoga since I’ve been running, so during my class today, it was very interesting to notice how different everything feels.

Right off the bat I noticed my legs have gotten significantly stronger. During Utkatasana (awkward pose), I noticed I could go deeper into the posture, and I could hold it much more comfortably. Additionally I was able to get much more of my weight onto my heels, improving my technique. In all the one-legged poses, I could both see and feel how much stronger my legs are.

I also noticed that my cardiovascular endurance and aerobic ability has gotten a lot better. I didn’t find myself gasping for breath as much as I used to. I definitely still got my heart rate up, but the head pounding, dizzy, I’m-going-to-die feeling was mercifully absent. This allowed me to really improve the depth of my Ustrasana (camel pose), which felt amazing, as well as improve the form on Trikanasana (Triangle Pose), among others.

The last place I noticed a stark increase in strength was especially surprising to me: I noticed it in my core. I have always felt that if anything, the yoga would be the thing to increase my core strength, but the running has improved it so much in such a short time. It felt amazing, and so stabilizing, and it helped me to get a lot more benefit from many of the postures. I was able to do all but the last few sit ups between postures, and the forward bending.

Strengthening these areas allowed me to focus on smaller details of my form, and I really felt like some of the postures just clicked into place today. With Wind Removing Pose, the instructors always say to pull your leg back, completely avoiding the rib cage, and that you should feel a pinch in the hip-joint. I have never been able to feel that pinch, and it has always frustrated me because I felt I wasn’t getting the full benefit of the posture. Today, I realized the alignment of my leg was such that from the knee down, my leg was angled in. I focused on aligning my calf to my hamstring, and voilà! A glorious little pinch! I was so excited.

I just felt that I was doing these poses properly. They just, as I said, clicked.

Of course not all was perfect. My ankle strength is less than stellar. My calves, shins, and ankles cause me a lot of pain when I run, and now they cause me a lot of pain in many of the yoga poses. Additionally, my hamstrings and quads have gotten even tighter than they were before. Stretching out before an after running is definitely going to be something I need to focus on.

When anyone starts doing a new physical activity, there are obviously changes in strength and ability to be expected, they just usually aren’t noticed or appreciated until much later in their development. Doing an activity which requires me to be so in tune with the nuances of my body, has allowed me to benefit from the running I’ve been doing so quickly! I have already noticed so many exciting things happening. What a great motivator to keep on running.

All the best in running and in yoga,

-C

Advertisements

Hello,

Today was day 11.  Can you believe it… already day 11?  It hasn’t seemed very long.

This morning I took the 9:15 class and I was apprehensive about going because my back was hurting so much, but of course I did go.  I did experience a lot of pain during this class, but I didn’t go deeply into the postures so I didn’t hurt myself more.  I mostly just focused on form.  I’m very good at telling the difference between good pain and bad pain in my spine, probably because I have an unfortunately large amount of experience with spinal injuries.  With some of the postures I did sit out for one of the sets, because I was hurting badly and I didn’t want to push too hard.

So you know how I’m always talking about how Bikram’s is mostly mental?  Well today I taught myself a big lesson in just how true that it.  The whole point of taking the class is to improve my body.  I want to get the most benefit possible out of the class, so it is important to not do something if it is going to do more harm than good.  I think the hardest part about today’s class was sitting out at some points.  Not trying to do everything was the biggest mental challenge of the day.  I had to remind myself not to be competitive, I had to think about only the good of my body, and I had to refrain from putting too much stress on my back.  Some people might enjoy having a break… or having an excuse to take a break.  Those people probably don’t do Bikram’s Yoga.

During triangle pose, I was very very uncomfortable through the hip area.  It felt really pinchy and a bit stiff, so on the right side, I stayed in the set up for the posture and didn’t bring the arms into triangle.  I instead worked on my hip.  As I tried to roll my hips forward, go deeper into the thigh muscle and get my knee to a 90 degree angle, something kind of snapped, or gave way, and I had to come out of the posture.  I was sure I had hurt myself badly and it was all over for me, but it turned out that whatever did happen made my hip and thigh feel better, and made my back feel a bit better.  I’m not totally fine by any means, but at least there was some improvement.

I have this weird feeling like my left side is all tight together and my right side is quite loose.  This is supported by the evidence that while doing half moon pose I can bend to the left normally, but I can hardly come down at all to the right without sever lower spine pain.  Like there is a big ball in the way of me leaning down that is pressing all along the lower spine.  I really hope this gets better.

Since I wasn’t going deeply into postures today, and I was taking extra care not to hurt my spine, I decided to focus on contracting my stomach muscles.  I was amazed at how when I focused hard on this my balance improved ten times over,  I guess I do know how much contracting the stomach muscles helps me to balance, but I forget sometimes.  Of course I skipped the sit ups today.  I think I’ll be skipping them for a while.

I’ll be going to yoga tomorrow night if anyone wants to join 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

- 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