I did it.  I made the jump.  I no longer take daily injections, I made the switch to an insulin pump.

I chose the Omnipod, which is a disposable pump without tubing.  It’s controlled by a blood sugar meter/ remote control device.  I thought that it would be a better fit for my lifestyle than a pump with tubes… I’m not sure if I’m right yet.

I was so excited when I left my doctors office after she helped me get set up.  I felt just like I did when I got my ears pierced in elementary school – wearing something that made me feel proud, and grown up, and profoundly different for indescribable reasons.  I drove home, got out of my car, and immediately felt a painful tug on my hip.  I had just ripped the pump off my body for the first of many times.  My heart sunk… was this what it would be like?  Constantly having to watch out for this little life saving device?  Having to ease myself in and out of cars and chairs and beds like an invalid?  How would I do yoga?  Sail? Keep working around little grabby-handed toddlers??

One of my main concerns with the insulin pump, was how it would affect my activities, especially yoga.  I have been skipping yoga a lot lately, so I have really only been to one class with the insulin pump so far.  I am happy to report that I really didn’t notice it a lot during class.  I am able to wear it many different places; my abdomen, lower back/ upper hip area, arms, and legs.  I’ve tried my hips, stomach, and right now I have it on my arm.  The one thing I have struggled with in yoga class, is when I have to lie directly on top of the pump.  When I took my class I was wearing it on my stomach, so, I had to figure out how to distribute my weight more comfortably during the first part of the floor series.  The one pose I just gave up on was locust pose.  Because of the way you have to position your arms under your body, I ended up having to put direct pressure on my infusion site from the side, which I thought would probably have torn the pump off (something that happened getting in and out of the car several times!).  

I really think I will be able to figure out things that work for me.  When I sail, I have been wearing an ace bandage around the pump, and that has prevented me from hitting it on a lifeline, shroud, or  stanchion (I was having trouble with that at first too.

I knew going into this that it would be an adjustment for me, and I know I have to continue to just work through these fairly minor hiccups.  The slight soreness from wearing the pump, the awkward questions about what is on me, and working around it in yoga class, I will get accustomed to those things in time.  

insulinfully yours,

C

Pictures: One just the pump, and one with the ace bandage covering it. Not too bad huh?

My goal during my last 30-day-challenge was to “stop being afraid.”  I have recognized for a while now how much fear can hold me back from doing the things I want to and need to do in my life.  Fear of unknown, fear of consequences, fear of vulnerability, fear of getting hurt.  By recognizing that fear was holding me back, I have been able to make strides by forcing myself to push through my fear.  “Don’t be afraid” is what I told myself this while buying my first car recently, while signing the lease to a new apartment, and while I severed a long term partnership last month.  What I have come to learn, is that fear, while totally normal and acceptable, is not a reason to stop moving forward.  It is not a reason to say no when the answer should be yes.

Fear of pain is a fear that comes up for me often both in and out of the yoga studio.  I am terrified of hurting myself.  I don’t want to push too hard in some stretching postures because I’m afraid of what might happen to my body, and I am afraid of looking at emotional situations head on because I am afraid of what it will do to my heart.

In yoga recently, it has been very hard for me to dive into the practice mentally, because I am afraid of the pain that is inside my heart.  I feel very sad during so much of class, and today I found myself repeating over and over “don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid,” because I needed to push through that fear, and feel that pain, in order to release it. 

At some point during the floor series, I did allow my emotions to come to the surface, and I had a very interesting experience.  I felt that my grief was tangible.  I thought I was able to truly take it out of my body and look at it head on, and in doing that I decided (however ugly it was) my grief was manageable.  I am not a believer in God in the religious sense, but I do like the saying that “God will never give you more than you can handle.”  When we are given these challenges in life, it does truly force us to become better, stronger, more compassionate individuals.

I stopped being afraid of my grief.  I confronted my feelings face to face, and I feel I will be able to begin moving through them now.

Bravely yours,

C

 

“You’re never too old, you’re never too sick, it’s never too late to start from scratch once again.”

This is something Bikram tells his students, and this is something Shavon reminded us as we lay in savasana yesterday morning.  “If you’re struggling right now, if your mind is racing, it’s ok.  Just take a deep breath and start again.”  Take a deep breath.  This is something that many of us at times struggle to do, or take for granted, and it’s something we all need to do all the time.  When we practice yoga, we are reminded how important breathing is.  It can make the difference between a great class and one you’re barely able to complete.

 Yoga has a way of reducing us to our most raw and basic functions: drink water, breathe, move, sweat.  We are muscle and tissue, a working system, a well-tuned machine. The practice can be so beautiful when these things work together, but take one away and it wouldn’t work at all.  So much of what is true in yoga, is true in life.

 I have a friend who got her chance to take a deep breath and start again last night.  She has cystic fibrosis, and she received her new set of lungs.  Thanks to the sacrifice of an organ donor, this beautiful, smart, inspiring woman will be able to continue to laugh, smile, make an enormous impact on everyone she touches, and all because she is most importantly able to breathe.

 If you are not already an organ donor, please register here (in the U.S.).  You could potentially give someone the chance to start from scratch once again.

 Don’t take your breath for granted. 

 Sincerely,

 Claire

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First of all, thank you so much to The Bliss Project for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award.  I think her blog is just lovely as well so you should run check it out.  

The way this award works is, since I have been nominated, I get to share seven things about myself, and then I’m going to nominate seven other bloggers for the One Lovely Blog Award too!

Since this is a yoga and health blog, I am actually going to tweak the theme of the award a bit, and I’m going to post seven things I have learned about myself and others through my yoga practice.

1. I am really tough. I’ve always known I am a mind over matter person, but yoga had reconfirmed that for me. I know that I can decide to do something and it will happen. It can be skydiving, or it doing the next posture in a Bikram class instead of lying down.

2. I have learned when to say enough is enough. As I said, I know I can force myself to do a lot of things. I used to feel like I had to constantly force myself to do more more more. Harder, faster, better. I’ve begun to be much better at focusing on myself, trying to tune out my ego, and analyzing what is best for me.

3. I love to sweat. I used to be mortified by sweat. I used to be absolutely grossed out by the smell of it, the feeling of it on my skin. I hated what it did to my hair, how my face would get all red. Now I love it. I love how it makes me feel clean and refreshed; it’s like a shower from the inside out.

4. I like my body. I’ve hated my body for more years than I have loved it, and for that I am deeply deeply sorry. One of the first things I learned after I started doing Bikram yoga, was that I had a great appreciation for the things my body could do for me. I still feel so grateful for my body. It carries me inside of it somewhere, and when I practice yoga it is like giving back to myself, and at the same time reminding me to be grateful.

5. Take things one day at a time. When I used to get really overwhelmed with homework or chores or just stuff, my dad used to say “one fish at a time, Claire.” It never really clicked for me what that meant because I’ve never been fishing. I don’t really understand the feeling of being intimidated by all the fish you have to clean. I really feel like I have a better understanding of how to work on something a little at a time, and I have faith that I will reach my goal eventually. That’s the knowledge that led me to run my 8K last year, and to be honest, it’s partly what helps me get through every day and feel successful. “One day at a time, one millimeter at a time, and eventually you’ll get there,” is what Danny at BYV used to say to our Bikram class. I’m still waiting on getting there in standing head to knee…

6. Pedicures and shaved under arms can wait until later. This harkens back to #3 bit, but I think it’s worth reiterating. I am so much less judgmental of myself than I used to be. I have much more reasonable expectations for my looks, and more importantly, I have different priorities. I used to always always ALWAYS have my toes and fingernails perfectly done. I used to sometimes skip yoga because I didn’t have time to go home and shave my legs. I can’t even imagine that now. It might partly come from my work in preschool (where looks mean next to nothing), and it might come from my super busy schedule this year, but my time is important to me. Getting to yoga class, and getting a good nights sleep, and doing the things I love to do with the people I love to be around; those things are my priority. Painted nails can wait.

7. Patience and compassion. Yoga has strengthened these qualities in me. I have become more patient and compassionate both with myself and with other people. It is a gift to me, my students, my friends, and everyone I see. I feel so much less judgmental of others, and so much less judgmental of myself. I think this is one of the greatest things Bikram Yoga has given me.

Now for my seven nominations:

Vegan Sparkles

Bikram Butterflies

Hannah, Just Breathe

Living in Possibility (it’s a super new blog, but I love the theme and the writing in superb)

Woman Eats City

A Bikram Adventure

Safa Shares

Enjoy checking out these seven very lovely blogs!

Appreciatively Yours,

C

My last couple classes have been bad. I was having trouble motivating myself, I was getting so frustrated because my balance felt off, and I was just basically being grumpy and mean to myself. I knew I needed to get out of my own head, and I even tried talking to myself like I talk to my preschoolers. “Are you going to sit here and throw a fit?” I sternly said to myself, as I sat out a pose, “or are you going to get up and do your best and have fun with the rest of the class?” It didn’t work. I remained sullen. I just could not seem to lift myself out of my slump.

Today in class, Gary was teaching. His classes are always fun, but during eagle things got hilarious. He said something like ” there should be no gap between your caffles” or some weird mixture of calf and ankle. I had a total giggle fit. I almost had tears in my eyes because I was trying so hard not to burst out laughing. It was just a silly slip of the tongue, but it was exactly what I needed. I had a great class.

One of the things Katie, at Bikram Yoga Vancouver used to say was “it’s yoga practice not yoga perfect.” it was her way of getting us to let go of those fears or pressures or expectations we all create, and just go for it. Just have fun.

Exuberantly yours,

C

My hamstrings have finally finally been getting more flexible.  Mostly I’m super stoked about this.  In the not-so-distant past I thought I would literally never be able to lock my knees in any of the stretching postures, and now I may not be locking my knees, but my legs are straight in the seated stretching pose at the end, and even in the stretching part of half moon with stretching, there is a glimmer of hope that one day I’ll get my knees locked and magically morph into a japanese ham sandwich.

What I didn’t realize, was that this added flexibility would really effect the amount of strength I need in my legs to sustain a locked knee posture.  Standing Head to Knee, for example.  Wow.  My knee does not want to stay locked in this one!  And standing bow… again.  Seriously knees? I am trying to see it as progress.  Two steps forward one step back and all that jazz.

What I’m realizing is that this yoga is really truly an exercise in patience. It isn’t about how far I’m going in class each day.  It is about taking each day, each moment, each posture as it comes.  Danny, at my old studio in Vancouver, used to say: “a millimeter today, a millimeter tomorrow, and eventually you’ll get there.”  When I really think about it, my long term goals in fact have nothing at all to do with depth of posture.  They have to do with mental well being, physical well being, self esteem, letting go of ego, and developing patience, compassion, and respect.  For myself and for everyone else.

I have been having a terrible time at work with my little kiddos.  I don’t know if it’s me or them… maybe we all have spring fever and are super wonky due to the Super Moon astrological phenomena currently taking place.  I have really been trying to take the time in my classes, especially in my morning classes before the day begins, to meditate on patience, respect, and compassion.  That is really the key combination that can make all of our lives easier.  It is amazing how focusing on those three components in the morning can help my day go more smoothly.

I still have days where I come home and cry a little bit though.  I am going to try tomorrow to leave my expectations outside on the way to get the babies off the school bus.  I am going to try to stay present.  I am going to try to stay comfortable in uncomfortable situations.  I am going to try – very very very hard – to bring my yoga with me to work. Because the kids, my coworkers, and I all deserve that effort.

Sullenly (but hopefully) yours,

C

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I finished my yoga class at 7:30 AM, showered, and hopped in the car to drive to work.  From my yoga studio, I get on I-5 and take it all the way to work.  It has become one of my favourite parts of going to morning yoga classes.

When I do yoga in the morning, even when it is a hard class, I am left with this sense of calm happiness.  It starts as a little bounce in my step as I walk out of the studio into the calm crisp mornings of this early spring.  It spreads to my face when I can’t help but grin at everyone I see.  It leaks into my voice when I’m working with my students, magically helping them to be calm too.  Every now and then, when I’m really lucky, it strikes with full force.  A shot of joy to the chest.  This morning I happened to be so lucky.

I was driving in my car, listening to this amazing song by Daughter.  I looked out my window at the gorgeous view of Puget Sound, I cracked the window and breathed the fresh air.  The light was that soft, lovely kind of morning light – very slightly purplish, blue sky, wisps of cloud, and shimmering water.

It was a perfect moment.  I had a moment of perfect joy.  It was made even more special in the knowledge that I created that joy.  I worked to create this space of peacefulness that I now possess.  No matter what is happening around me, I have the ability to create for myself a moment of joy.

Can I get a namaste?

C

806 postures and 62 breathing exercises later, I have completed my challenge.

What I learned this month:
– how to engage my neck during backward bends, especially in bow and cobra.
– how to kick out in standing head to knee.
– how to push through the heel and bring my kicking out leg down and forward from the hip in standing head to knee.
– how to bring my weight forward in standing bow, and just how far down my body needs to be in order to get my leg up. How far forward I have to reach. When they say to reach like you’re going to touch the mirror, they mean it.
– where to place my feet in both triangle and standing separate leg head to knee pose.
– how to not collapse onto my heel in toe stand.
– what angle my hands should be at in cobra.
– where my arms should be in full locust.
– how gosh darn forward I need to roll in bow pose.
– how to keep my heels down during the sit ups.
– how to come out of fixed firm.
– how to tuck my chin to my chest in rabbit.
– how to roll my weight in towards the center in head to knee pose, dropping my inner shoulder down too.
– how to engage my quads in order to stretch my hamstrings.

– how to know when to push myself and when to take a break.
– exactly how much water it takes to stay hydrated.
– that I like morning classes a lot – and that they don’t make me feel tired during the day.

I’ve learned so much this month! I did do the daily double on Friday, but it was hard. I had a rough first class, so for the second class I moved my mat back into a cooler area, and just did as much as I could. As usual, when I stopped thinking about the class as a whole, and began to really go posture by posture, I was much more capable.

I rocked in standing bow, and by the time we got to trikanasana I hit my stride. I finished the class – and the challenge – strong.

In our last savasana, Frani (the teacher) congratulated me and another girl in the class on completing the challenge, and double congratulated me for doing my two classes in a row, and then drew the name for the challenger that would win a month of yoga for free. It was me! I won!

In my previous challenges, I have felt like their culminations have been rather uneventful. This did not. I felt a deep sense of accomplishment. I relished putting that last gold star up on the challenge chart.

It has felt strange not having to go to yoga today. I actually already feel inclined to go back. The amount of progress I have made has been really inspiring. I want to go back and improve. Push my postures farther and deeper, make my body healthy and strong.

I spent a wonderful day today with friends and family and my dog, Lilly, and having so much time to just give to the people I care about has made me feel grateful. I’m grateful for the people I have in my life who support me and make me a better person. I’m grateful that I can support and make myself a better person too. I’m grateful that I have this body that works so well.

Gratefully yours,

-C

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It’s hard to believe that in exactly 24 hours I’ll be starting pranayama and the 26 postures of the Bikram yoga series. It’s pretty amazing actually that I’ve made it this far in the challenge avoiding the 6AM class, but sleeping in as late as I can is definitely a priority. I’ll rearrange my schedule into such a blur of activity in the afternoon that it practically requires an event planner to execute before I will take an AM class. Tomorrow, though, my hands are tied. I have no choice. I also have no doubt in my ability to do it.

A friend recently published a little gif on her Facebook wall. It said “stop for a second and consider this: you can literally do whatever the fuck you want.” after doing my first ever Bikram challenge a few years ago, I began to understand what this meant. Now I understand it on a deep, personal, visceral level. I understand that it means I can go to a 6AM yoga class if i decide to, but I also understand it applies to a whole lifetime of decisions I can and will make for myself.

Last night as I fell asleep, I was thinking about my karma yoga, what I am here in this life to do. I was palpating my feelings about things in my life, choices I’ve made, people I spend my time with. It occurred to me that discovering my karma yoga has everything to do with the original intent I set for myself when I started his challenge. I read it every day on the poster we wrote all over in the change room, in my awkward scrawl: I will stop being afraid.

When you realize that you are singularly responsible for the path your life takes, and furthermore that you have control over that life, it is scary. That seems like a lot of responsibility for a gal like me. Yoga also teaches us, however, to take things one teeny tiny step at a time. To forgive ourselves when we’re not ready for something yet, and that if you go to your maximum, and continue to apply pressure to that point every day, one day, without fail, you will blossom.

Buddingly yours,

-C

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Last night Sweatbox Yoga got new floors.  I definitely wanted to be one of the first students to grace the not-carpet with my sweat, so I got up early and headed to the 10 AM.  I wasn’t the only one who felt like devirginizing the flotex this morning, the class was one of the busiest I have been to yet.  

A quick plug for the capeting: I did a little research, and it is pretty amazing stuff.  It’s waterproof, and according to the website, “cleans like vinyl but has the warmth of carpet.”  It is totally antimicrobial and anti-fungal, which is amazing in a place where people show up just to sweat. In actual use, it definitely lends a hand with foot slippage during some of the separate leg poses – especially trikanasana.  Yay for studio improvements!  I already think Sweatbox Yoga is the best, but the flotex carpet certainly doesn’t hurt!

The other day Bikram Butterflies liked my post, here, and I surfed on over to her blog to check it out.  Wow.  I have literally spent about an hour just devouring everything she has to say.  I can relate to almost every single experience she describes.  Bikram yoga, and yoga in general, is a really personal experience, and yet there are commonalities in the struggle.  It’s nice to know that other people have similar experiences, pains, triumphs, and both bad and good days.

Today I had quite a good class.  I felt very strong throughout the series, but I also had some unique sensations come over me that made me feel frightened and overwhelmed.   One in particular stands out, and that is something I felt in sasangasana (rabbit pose).  As I bent forward and pulled on my feet, I felt  my entire spine, from lower back to base of skull, surge in temperature.  It was like someone had inserted a heater right into my spinal cord and turned it on high.  I stayed with the posture, because for the first time ever, I could actually feel every single vertebra stretching along the entire length of my spine.  I wondered to myself if this is what it felt like to actually stretch the spinal cord?  As I returned to a seated position, and subsequently into savasana, the heat slowly slowly subsided.  I sat out the second set of the posture, because  I could still feel the heat up and down my back like a hot water bottle, and I was afraid that I had hurt myself.  The last of the warm sensation slowly drifted away though, and by about half and hour after class was over, there was nothing left.

I wonder what that was… and if it will come back tomorrow?

Warmly yours,

-C