Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Class 21 Oh No!

I left work in a rush to make it to my class, and I did, barely. I asked Dan to set me up so I could come in even if he just started. I didn't have time to get into the zone. I barely made it through the warm up postures before I had to take a knee. Then a mat. Then I got up for the second set of standing bow and managed to grab my feet! I got excited, and then the room spun and my stomach turned.

I lay on the mat. I got up to do the separate leg forehead to floor and while I felt release in my lower back, I almost fell over. I lay on the mat. My stomach didn't feel right and I was overwhelmed by the heat. I nearly panted trying to get some relief. I felt foolish for laying there and barely wanted to move into the floor postures. I tried some, but I felt bad. Sick. I wanted to leave the room, get some air, get out of the heat.

I don't know why, but I attempted Camel Pose. One back bend and I did something I have never done - I left the room and threw up. I was ashamed and embarrassed to have left the room, to have gotten so sick. I don't know what was with me. I didn't go back into the room.

Driving home I was thinking about how awful that class was for me. What was with me? I think it was a combination of things: I left my 60 degree office in a rush to get to class on time, I wore pants in class for the first time, I wasn't mentally there, and the spicy grilled jerk chicken for lunch I had did not agree with me.

I am going to leave myself the usual 15 minute buffer to prep for class in the future, and if I can't leave early to get to the 4:30 class, I will take the later one. I am also going to try to adjust my meal before class to be milder.  No more PANTS! They were "yoga pants" but they didn't wick sweat away or breathe a bit. In hot yoga these are two very important things.

Though I am dreading class tonight, I know it will be better. I got in 3 liters of water yesterday, 2 the day before, so I guess i am trying to increase by one until I get to the almost 7 I need.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Class 20 and the H2O intake

At Easter dinner with my family, my brother (chiropractor/martial artist/yogi) turns to me and says "You should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a day." I though, that's a heck of a lot of water. Then he continues, finger to his chin "but since you are practicing Hot Yoga every day, you should really increase that to 75%. Yes, you should sim for intake of 75% of your body weight in ounces." WTF?

He went on to let me know that the increase will have me living in the potty for about two weeks until I reach a sort of stability.  Then I will be used to it. My sister in law thinks he is nuts and two large bottles should be enough or about a gallon a day. I did the math. I will need to drink almost 7 liters a day, or 1.71 US gallons.

I drank 2 liters yesterday and went to Pilates. I was my own personal shower. I think I will have to bring 3 towels and a squeegee for the floor if I drink more.  So as I am writing (gulp) I am on my first (gulp) liter of water today. I envision a few days and I will be wearing dresses and skirts, going comando, all for ease of expulsion. There is seriously too much of a process dealing with buttons and zippers and layers when you are on a mission to pee.


I (gulp) don't mind water. It is a neutral taste, sometimes quite refreshing beverage. How to keep track of my progress is the question. It's not that I can't count to 7, but it is hard to track when I spend most of my time working and peeing. I am using the same method I used when doing 6 Week Body Makeover (for 100oz), I have six rubber bands around my liter bottle and as I refill I remove one (more like double it around the neck). When there are no bands around the middle and I am halfway done with the bottle, I am done for the day. (GULP).

Oh, and because I like my coffee in the morning I should have an equal size cup of hot water with lemon after my coffee. That is so not going to happen today because I am drinking a sip of coffee then some water, on and off. Like anyone really wants to know this...

Oh, and Pilates Mat last night was killer. I like Jody's classes. She makes even the most grueling sets of lunges bearable. Even though I am not getting 70% through the moves, the trying is really good. I can totally tell I have abs and inner thighs this morning - ouch.

Got to run (to the WC)...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Class 19: Sunday Funday Bikram

An 8:30am Sunday Bikram class is not my idea of ideal, especially when the morning person in me is still at the house wanting black coffee and rye toast. The yoga me was in the room, prepping for class, I guess.
I think it is in the second set of deep breathing that I actually came into my practice in the room. It is jarring to realize just how absent I was until that moment.

Class progressed as usual today, no major breakthroughs, save for less pain in my lower back. I want to say it is moving forward, improving due to practice, but I am careful not to get all excited. When I was able to get all the way up on my toes in Awkward Pose, I did a little cheer to myself, then wiggled and shook and went down to my flat feet. A small win and I will take it. This is an incredible feat of feet as anyone who knows me well knows of my nubs of toes; they are so short and tiny it is as if I am missing a knuckle. The two little ones (my ring and pinkie toes?) stick out like kickstands when I am on the ball of my big toe. They are funny but cute toes.
~~~~~
Some of you may have noticed I upgraded the URL of this blog to www.challenge-myself.com. I thought about a handful of different domain names (and tried several others) before actually purchasing some name-space. For a while I thought I was going to start a new blog, leaving my immense success of the 60-Day Juice Fast behind me. I thought I would start something else, something about the challenges and games I play with my mind to move through goals. I realized that the fast was just one of those things.

As I move forward, I want to do a little more writing about the challenging myself aspect of yoga/life/work/home, whatever you will. I am not preacher telling anyone else how they should do things and how they can challenge themselves. It's more like here I am, the 30-something woman with her life right here, right now, and this is what I am doing to challenge myself everyday. For now, it is taking shape in 60-day challenges, because, well...., because I just started doing it like that. I took some inspiration from and inspirational man, and applied/tweaked/ran with it.  Who knows? Maybe someday, somewhere, someone will find some nugget here inspiring enough or interesting enough to run with it.

For now, as self-indulgent of a thing blogging is, I am putting it out there, all those ups and downs, for me. I guess for you too, if you, reader, are taking anything out of these rambles.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Classes 16, 17, 18: Barken meets BikramX2

In the Barken class Thursday night I felt sore, but good. I am not getting the flow portion yet and I modify to my knees a lot. I still am drenched and my heart pounds in my ears. It is funny that the one posture I can totally do with little strain is square pose (agnistambhasana). Because of my thick legs I stack ankle above knee without gaps. My hips have always rotated in a way that allows my knees to fall down in butterfly. I feel success, but know that if I had thin legs, my ankles and knees will have further to go. Still in a room of flexy bendy bodies, it feels like a little win. Sure in fixed firm, kneeling in Japanese style trying to get your butt to the floor between your feet, well, those thick legs totally prevent that from happening.

When I got up Friday morning I ached all over. I walked to the bathroom, towel in hand (because I seemingly shower endlessly these days), well it was less of a walk and more of a waddle with my toes to the ceiling and stiff legs. I felt stiff and while a hot shower helped, it still sucked to move my back.

I got to Bikram and made it through the warm up bends when I felt a pinch in my lower back. It spasmed and I all but yelped. I found myself on the floor rolling into a spinal twist and trying to stop it from freaking out. Shooting pain in my lower back down into my leg consumed me for at least 15 minutes.

Being hot and sweaty and hurting is no fun and it took a lot of my control to keep me in the room stretching my lower back. I wanted to run out of the room, curse some, and go home and take a hot shower. Instead I cycled through those thoughts as I stretched and lay on the mat. I finished the floor series and left to go get an adjustment.

After 30 minutes on the electro-stim machine and a few nice manipulations of my back, knee, ankle and the muscles of my abdomen, I felt a bit better. It ached overnight and in Bikram this morning, but I successfully made it through most of the class.

I try. It is the most I can ask of myself. I try to stop being negative when I tap out for a pose or can't get into a pose in that perfect yoga way. I go until it feels like my heart is going to burst or the room spins. Sometimes I need to regroup. But that is okay. Honor your level the instructor says over and over. I must honor where I am at today and try to give it everything I can so I can progress further in my practice.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Classes 13, 14, 15 - Long week of Yoga

I had my laptop on my lap after yoga and dinner last night, planning on updating the blog since I have been lax this week...but....I was too tired to type. Can you believe that? I couldn't think of what to write about (mental block) something I haven't had in a long time.

Classes this week, well here's a quick recap:

Pilates Mat - holy hell the lunges and ab work is killer. I have never felt such jelly in my legs and weakness in my abs, so when we were sitting on our sacrums, legs straight 45 degrees above the floor, leaning back halfway between sitting and laying down, it was a challenge. I spent a lot of time cursing core weakness and trying to do the moves.

Bikram Yoga - I am getting better and better, at very least in the warm up, where I have more range than before. I have been trying to get myself into standing bow and have a small strap that assists. My Quads are still so tight. I need an adjustment of my left lower leg which cramps on me. I found balance in tree pose regardless! I have not done that for more than a few seconds, but this week I was able to hold through the whole count. Woohoo.

Hot Vinayasa Flow - I like Sue's voice in this class. She speaks softly and helps remind me to release the nagging thoughts that interrupt my practice. Pain pain pain in Down Dog. Trying to do Locust Pose in Bikram the night before left tenderness and pain in my elbows (imagine laying on your arms, palms and inner elbows on the mat) so weight on my arms was terrible. Sue showed me I could modify into Dolphin Pose (down dog but on elbows and forearms instead of palms).

I am going to a Barken class this evening, taught by my big bro John. Last week it was HOT and fast, but I expect nothing less. I want to progress faster than my body is letting me, a frustrating situation for sure, but I just try to keep it one posture at a time. If I am not able to do a move today or this week or this month, if I keep in the practice, eventually I will get there. Still I just wish I was sans belly right now so I could get my head to my damn knee already!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Class 12 - Bikram Weekend complete

Do you know that little voice in your head that talks you into things? Mine talked me right out of the 8:30am and 10:30am classes on Sunday, but I bitched it out and took it to the 5pm Bikram class. Between the whining and moaning, that little voice got all quiet and when my heart was the only thing I heard beating in my ears, I cheered.

The class was packed, and that was great. I was more focused on myself than ever before.  I think this is partly due to the full mirrors and it is hard to get distracted by how great that other person is in that pose. For a newbie like me, distractions abound, bringing myself into the hour and a half with myself is a challenge in itself.

I am a fidgeter, endlessly fighting the urge to "fix": the creases in my clothes, how they hang on my sweaty body, the insanity of my hair, the towel going from smooth to wrinkled, the sweat in my eyes, etc. My brain sometimes wants to do anything by look in my own eyes in the mirror.

On this last statement, I find the most interesting reflection. In fact I kept telling myself over and over in class, look at yourself, in your eyes, over and over.  Why is it so damn hard for me to be still and just look at myself when I am in yoga? I find it helps. I relax my shoulders, correct my position, generally get better into a posture, but mostly I am avoiding my own eyes much of the time. Is it creepy to look into your own eyes the whole time? Is it too much to handle? Am I avoiding myself? Any thoughts?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Class 11 - Bikram in the Morning

After my knee adjustment yesterday, my right leg was so much better bending, standing, and stretching, my left leg however, sucked. I got a MAJOR cramp running up the outside of my left leg from the ankle to the knee which brought me to tears. Yes folks, that was me crying to myself in class. I kept working through it, it continued to cramp up; I stretched, I rubbed, I sat and stretched, rubbed, stretched. It was a charlie horse on the side and even now, 3 hours since class, it is still aching.

Even so, I refused to commit to Savasana today during the standing series and tried to breathe through the bumps and fight to keep in the moment. I kept falling out of standing head to knee but I kept trying. I had Dan hand me my foot in standing bow and I was able to do the first set. He was letting me balance on him as I tried to grab my foot myself for the second set, but the cramp was too bad and I had a hard time. I still did my first bow in years though! Thanks for the assist Dan.

On the floor I got a better grab on my legs in wind releasing pose (yes, fart pose, ;}). I have no prayer of wrapping my arms around both my legs for at least 40lbs. That's ok, because when I am 40lbs down I will be already stretched enough to get right into poses.

Overall, I felt great in class. I hate getting up to go on the weekend, but I feel so much more accomplished when I am done.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Classes 9 and 10 - Barkan v Bikram

My brother taught Barkan Method Thursday night and Sue taught Bikram Friday morning, so in a little over 12 hours I got a good comparison. Without going into the whole Barkan learned from Bikram and then branched off to modify his own way of teaching Hatha Hot Yoga, lets say they both are tough in their own ways.

Barkan, at least they way John teaches, is fast paced and it moves and grooves. You are flowing through postures into other postures and then holding. It is cardio intense at points. It also has more upper-body weight bearing postures and inverted (or inverting into your front) moves.

Bikram is all about holding, squeezing, and pressing deeper into postures. You heat up from the holding and the squeezing. At points the air is limited because your throat is compressed, at other times you are breathing deep into your toes. While less of a flow, I enjoy adjusting into the postures and trying to get there.

The pools of sweat in Barkan are on your towel, around your towel and everywhere. In Bikram, they are mostly on your towel and mat, under you. In both you need to hydrate and do the best you are able.

I did a lot of Savasana in both classes. My knee was killing me so the one legged postures and the lock your knee ones (and anything that had me kneeling) was unbearable if I pushed. So I went for a chiropractic adjustment (at my dear wonderful yogi brother's office) and I now feel freaking fantastic.

The absence of pain after he worked on my knee was immediate. I feel a HUGE change. I need to get regular adjustments again. Sometimes you don't even realize you are in pain until it is gone. My neck and shoulders have been bothering me for weeks, crampy and annoying, and I felt such a breath of air when he gave me a good adjustment. I am ready to put my new knee to the test in class in the morning!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Class 8 - Hot Hot Hot Vinyasa Flow

Fighting trough the postures, again. The humidity in the room was almost like a sauna, and before Anayra turned it down halfway through class, I thought I saw a cloud forming near the duct work.

I like this class. I like the music and the full room of sweaty folks that are working it as hard as they can. I think I feel my lower back opening up some, maybe a half inch, but it is progress.  I was able to hold some of the lunges and though my legs were shaking like crazy, I was able to stand in tree and Warrior III on one leg. I may not have had the other leg resting in my inner thigh or parallel to the floor (it was more like my calf and a few inches off the floor, respectively) but this is improvement from last week when I was laying on the mat or stumbling through it.

The downfall for me was the weight bearing positions involving Down Dog, really anything that involves me supporting half my body weight (or more) on my arm(s).  It is really hard for me. I watch some of these women struggle and they are 1/2 of my size or less, and sure, relatively, I have larger muscles to deal with my larger body, but sometimes it feels like I am Atlas and gravity is playing a cruel cruel joke on me.

So Down Dog and associated postures worked for me part of the class before my elbows started hurting and I wouldn't risk pushing them further. This morning I feel like I may have asked too much of my right one, but I am sure it will feel better once I stretch and move some today.

Oh yeah, and the oddest thing: I had a few slices of red onions on my salad at lunch and they were all but coming through my skin whole in class.  I was onion girl. Previously I never noticed that I particularly smelled after I ate garlic, onions, cumin, whatever, but hot yoga had a relatively small amount of stinky food coming out my pores. It was gross, but whatever. Everyone in that room smelled of something or another. I swear I walked past one dude who smelled like hot dogs and sauerkraut. (Ewww)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Class 7 - Hot Yoga Fusion - Barkan Method

Oh nausea, how I loathe thee.


First-off, Dan is a tough teacher, but he participated in the first half of class (a quite full class) so more props to him.  Somewhere around the Revolving Triangle (Parivritta Trikonasana) and the Standing Seperate Leg Head To Knee Pose (Dandayamana Bibaktapada Janushirsasana), I got a wave of nausea. It was awful. I laid down in Corpse Pose and it made it worse. I breathed, I tried to calm my stomach, I breathed, I tried to get back into postures, it was no use for almost 15 minutes. But I worked through it and didn't leave the room. Eventually, I was able to get back up and finish the standing series and chose not to lie in Corpse while transitioning to the floor series, to avoid getting sick.

I was not parting or anything the night before, though perhaps that Bacon-Party I hosted on Saturday came back to haunt me. (I swear I did not consume that much bacon, but hosted a potluck with the central theme.)

I was feeling some stomach thing during the day at work, so I am not sure it that contributed, but I never want to be like that again.  I am going to another flow class Wednesday, so I will be mindful of what I have to eat at lunch to try to minimize trouble later.

Other than that physical sensation, I am fighting through mental blocks - anger, frustration, sadness -- while I move through poses. I get so pissed at myself, at my body, for not being able to get into a pose properly. I am yelling at myself instead of accepting and moving towards improvement. It is an ugly mess in my head sometimes, and I think the heat of the space intensifies emotions. The frustration that I am not moving forward fast enough is ever-present, but I am working on that. An inch of improvement this week will be a foot at the end of this challenge.

And Sadness. I feel like I am leaking tears instead of sweat sometimes. There are moments, like when I know my head should be on my knee, or when I should be able to stand on my hands, that I curse the extra weight and physical boundaries that impede on my progress. Other people in the room struggle as well, and who really knows what their barriers are, it is just that mine are so visable that it. well... it gets me all emotional.

In the meantime, I know that the more I practice and push myself, the better my nutrition choices are, the further I can push past my physical limitations.  I am considering another juice fast to help speed things along.

Class 6 - Hot Pilates Mat take 2

How many years have passed since I did 4-5 dance classes a week and could plie for hours and hours without the quivering legs? It is hard to believe it was 15 years ago, and boy how my body has changed.

I feel some hope that I will regain that dancer strength because in class tonight, though it was more intense than last week, I did better. I still can only make it through some of the poses and pilates moves, but I can do more than a week ago. I found myself correcting instead of trying to get by in any way possible. I only went down to the mat with the spins twice - and for that, boy am I happy with myself.

However, I totally hate that my job has me sitting at my desk looking at the computer for hours because I am so locked up in the shoulders and hamstrings. I swear it is like a block of wood in my upper back and wayyyyy to tight behind my legs. My hammies are less like rubber bands and more like plastic zip ties.

These are two areas I am constantly fighting in class to release. For instance, when I reach behind my back and interlock my fingers palm to palm, it's all good until I try to straighten out my damn arms. I pull down and away, down and away, and the tightness in my shoulders fights back. Heck, at least I can keep my palms together now; this is an improvement. My arms should look like the later 3 in this video:


In my legs, besides fighting past my belly to grab the floor or my ankles, my knees want to bend because they are so tight. Grab and cup my heels in my hands while straighten out my legs and bringing my forehead to my shins? Oh I am not going to get there for some months or years.

A little bit forward at a time and eventually anything is possible.  I think back to my fast and it seemed endless some days. I just kept it up and it seems so long ago now! Progress is found through determination and commitment, a celebration in every step forward be them huge leaps or measured inches.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend Update

I abstained from yoga this weekend because I sorta messed up my right knee. I fell out of that head-to-knee standing pose Friday (with a twist and unlocked knee) which hurt, and a few hours later could really feel the soreness build. When I woke up Saturday morning, my knee looked like a swollen melon.

After ice, heat, and stretching at home, the swelling has gone down a lot, but it still feels stiff and sore. I am back at class Monday after work, and will take it easy on the knee. I have to focus on my balance because I am rockin' and rollin' when I try to stand on one leg.

I have noticed my joints, like my ankles, are not strong/practiced enough to keep still/locked, and my feet spread and try to compensate when in toe-stands or on one leg, to try to aid weak ankles and shaky limbs. So much going on at once! Suggestions? Anyone? I'd like to figure out how to keep my mind in this yoga thing while my body seems to be flailing about!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 5 - Bikram in a small class is fine by me

I felt the soreness in my whole body when I got up this morning. My first thought was "I do not want to go to yoga today." Then I think I thought "I do not want to get out of bed." When I stood up and stretched I felt like a tight ball of sore, but I realized that just like it was inevitable that I get out of bed, I will also go to yoga.

I dragged The Hubs with me since he missed last night because he went to a job testing pre-interview. I think 

Thanks to Jody who assisted me into the stretch to help work my way into the bow pose! I had hope today that one day I will be able to do it properly.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 4 - Hot Yoga Fusion Barkan Method

It was HOT tonight. Oh lordy.

The flow portion of class, the movement through the sun salutation into the pushups and upward then downward dog add even more cardio and heat to my body. I think I did okay for myself. I was able to stay upright more than I did the other night. That was an improvement.

I swear that I will get into the floor and standing bow before the end of these 60 days. It is like y back refuses to let me grab my feet. Not to mention my body getting in my way. I totally want to get into the poses and stretch further, it is just that I have a lot of ME that hinders my movement.

My forehead ain't getting to my knee until my belly is a lot less - likewise folding in half or doing some of the bends. It is tough on my body with all the extra weight and flesh, sometimes I feel like I am working out with a heavy bag strapped to my front/side/neck/back. You think a position is tough? Imagine doing it 2x or 3x your body size.

That reminds me, I think I am dusting off the juicer after I go food shopping this weekend....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 3 - Hot Vinyasa Flow

Wow was this class something. I liked the concentration on breathing, being an asthmatic. I didn't stop as much as yesterday, but I definitely modified some of the moves because I wasn't able to grab my feet or legs in certain poses and I had a hard time flowing into Chaturanga; Chaturanga Dandasana did not exist for me.  I had my back knee down in later Warrior poses because I was straining and dizzy as all heck. BUT I felt better at the end of class than I did at the beginning.

I think that I need to focus more on hydrating during the day and limiting the salt. My head spun and I had to lay in Shavasana once during the balancing portion again. Then then I stood up, my head was in the clouds and spinning, but bringing my focus back to my breath, I was able to get back into the flow.

I find that I have to figure out modifications for my body on my own, which is frustrating because I feel like I am not doing it right, and I don't get feedback from the instructors that lets me know if my modification is okay. I am a big girl and my big girl bits get all in my way sometimes. I know this is my practice, and I should push myself at my level to move past my own blocks, but it sucks when you are the only person in the room that can't even grab their feet to attempt to do the Bow Pose:



.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The New 60 Adventure

A while back I said I was going to get into a new 60 day thing, and so I have. I just finished day 2 in fact. What is the adventure?

Hot Yoga. 60 Classes, 60 Days.

A room heated to 105-110 degrees (that's 40.5 - 43.3 Celsius folks). Add 60% humidity and you have my little room of magical hell...I mean heaven, but for now, hell.

I did a Pilates Yoga Fusion class on Monday, day one, and my abs are definitely under all that fat. I feel them today, especially when I went to try the balancing series in my Bikram class today - dear Lord. I got so dizzy over and over I ended up on the mat so I wouldn't fall. I will get better. I am no guru, in fact I a quite a mess really.  But I try my best and do what I can with the body I have. The body I am intent on changing one sweaty yoga class at a time.

I am the picture of a rosy beginner, but I made it through the class without vomiting or leaving the room to escape to the cool air of the lobby. Three other beginners left during the sitting series. I may have been on my tummy, but I was holding out and trying my best.

Career: Be a tree - grow in place

In an age when research says millennials change jobs 4 times before age 32 an d job sites advise switching companies to advance in your ...