Sunday, February 27, 2011

Li'tya Marta Kodo Rock Massage

I headed back to Bodhi J Day spa again yesterday. The 30 day challenge is a perfect excuse to get some pampering. Some people may feel uncomfortable in such surroundings as a day spa but the staff at Bodhi J are so professional yet totally relaxed and normal. When I arrived Danny who was running the desk was chatting away to me like a long lost friend.

My treatment of choice was the 90 minute Li'tya Marta Kodo Rock Massage. I've had a hot rocks before but this one knocked the pants of it. I had the same therapist as last time, Tegan, which was a nice surprise as I hadn't requested her. This was a nice touch as I liked her approach and felt comfortable with a familiar face. 

We started with a relaxing foot soak whilst we sensory tested the massage oil to see which I connected with. I went with the second one I smelt which turned out to be the detox oil! It was full of refreshing lemon myrtle, I think this is why I was attracted to it. Then I was asked to select four out of eight stones that were laid out in a spiral. I had to pick up each stone and see which I liked in terms of shape, weight, colour, feel. This is another part of the experience I like. Everything is connected to the earth and your feelings. For me to select which stones I wished to have used and which oil is very personal. It makes it unique.

The rest was pure bliss. The warm pressure of the stones is amazing. Your muscles wake up and react to the heat, just like in Bikram. I think I did actually fall asleep at one point I was that relaxed. 90 minutes seemed to fly by. I felt great afterward, so good I sailed through a multanova on the freeway 8km over the limit. DOH!!! What an end to a great day, I may get stuck with a speeding fine. (if I do it will be my first ever speeding/driving offense in 15 years of driving so hey ho!) I still highly recommend Bodhi J, it's only 20 minutes from Joondalup with loads of free street parking down the side. Go get some pamper time both guys and gals you'll love it.

Day 27 - Bon Voyage Liz

Sunday 8am. I don't usually head out so early on a Sunday, I like to spend the morning warming up for the afternoon class but today I had a good reason. It was Liz's last class at BYJ. We all went out for a lovely lunch yesterday to say goodbye but I felt like I needed to be there for her last class as well. Plus I was in charge of the her leaving gift and card so I had to be there!! My man was working today and headed out at 5am so no excuses I was up and moving at 6am.

I had just enough time to squeeze in a slightly more substantial snack before class. I had my usual nut spread but with half a slice of whole grain toast. I thought I might be pushing it with bread an hour and a half before class but it was fine. I managed a litre of water too.

Usually the 8am is pretty busy but not today. It was heating up outside for another 40 degree day. Some non-Bikramites might think we are totally crazy on a day this hot to want to go into a just as hot room to do yoga. It's awesome, your already warmed up, acclimatized and ready to go. Summer is a great time to practice. Plus you don't get a chill when you come out, you just keep on sweating!!

I matted down next to fellow challenger Gemma and I had 60 dayer Dee to my right but way over. It's nice to be surrounded by your friends, especially those who are sharing the challenge experience. I believe you can share energy and help each other through. We were second row but with a sparse first row we had good mirror views. Apart from mine was just on the join which makes one side of your body look huge between the two mirrors. 

I felt good today. Pada-hastasana warm was crunchy the first set. I did notice how I'm in need of a pedicure and polish, ahhh stay in the room! Jessica my first Bikram instructor always used to comment at this point, "Don't look at your pretty toe nails." I find my mind/eyes wondering in the set up for fixed firm too, 'oww look at my scabby heels.' So stupid how you notice these things in the yoga room. 

I had a good class today. My kick out was better today but I backed off as I felt a slight pinch again in my hip like yesterday. I went really hard in the first set of balancing stick which led to my balancing leg crumbling in the second set. I couldn't set a solid foundation and performed a perfect broken umbrella! I really enjoyed Camel today, I felt I went a touch further back and my hips further forward. I had no crazy feelings or cravings. I must have been cleared out in my massage yesterday.

One thing I will take away from Liz's classes is how perceptive she is to people not staying present. The moment I feel I've lost the plot and come down early Liz is there, on it, "stay present!" I also love in the first part of Awkward the way she says "push your booty back towards the back wall." The word booty wouldn't sound the same in any other accent. It's a light relief in a posture I swear under my breath about. Oh and "no crazy fingers" in Awkward as well. It's true so many people forget to keep their fingers together and have the crazy fingers going on! Liz we'll miss you, come back soon!!

I contemplated doing the double today. I felt good and strong but realistically I wouldn't have enough time to get my errands done, get back home, eat, hydrate and be back out the door by 1pm. I had a busy day yesterday so had to take this afternoon to catch up on all those boring jobs that have mounted up over the past few weeks. Real world life can only be put on hold for so long.

A couple of people have asked me about the Himalayan salt I'm always talking about. Here's a picture. It is expensive ($11.95 for 500g) compared to table salt but it is packed full of 84 trace minerals that is bleached out of normal salt. I've had this box since August but using just a pinch every day it lasts a long time. Not everyone likes the taste but you get used to it and I actually crave it if I forget to put it in. I put a pinch or a third of a teaspoon in 750ml of water. I have it in my class water and it tastes so good at the end when you need some salty goodness. You can add fresh lime and honey to the mix to make a natural electrolyte. But I'd keep this outside the room as there is nothing nice about a bottle of warm, salty, lime mush. Limes are very detoxing and the sugar in the honey stimulates digestion and replaces lost sugars. I get this from any Health Kick store, there's loads round the city and one in Lakeside Joondalup.

Only three more classes to go now. I have a long 33 hour mini break now between classes as I'm going to the 6pm tomorrow. That means I miss Karen's first 5:45am and I won't see the morning crew but that's okay we'll all be reunited on Tuesday morning!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 26 - Do what you love

I'm going to start with a great saying from my fellow challenger and good friend Karen Lewis.

"Do what you love or else you'll get wrinkles."

How awesome is that and so true. Karen lives by this and looks fantastic for it! Take a look at any Bikram Yoga instructor how much do they radiate happiness and light as they are doing what they love.

Saturday 9:30am. I toyed with the idea of trying a back to back double for fun but you know what I didn't need to do one, why kill myself with five days to go. The challenge of it which would be awesome and such an achievement to do three hours of Bikram in one hit. Even at teacher training students are required to do daily doubles five days a week but these are splits not B2B. If your in training for training I would certainly see the point of getting some split doubles in but the idea of a back to back is a bit hardcore. Despite this two fellow challengers did do B2B and survived. Well done Courtney and Gemma you rock!!

Karen was leading the way today. I matted down in the third row right next to the post so had to watch out I didn't smash my hand when going sideways. I had a totally blocked view which occurred very last minute. I did find it hard today not to being able to see at all. I know I've been wanting this but now I think I have done blocked views enough. It will be time, when I return to my regular practice, to get back near the mirror so I can really concentrate and develop my form to get the full benefits from doing this challenge. 

The room was very steamy after the 7:30am had finished but we had some nice blasts of fresh air circulating. My hips were pinching today in standing head to knee so I didn't get near the full expression. I kicked out for as long as I could stand but did feel I gave up a bit. That being said I followed up with a fairly good standing bow as I'd not used all my energy up. I came so close in toe stand to lifting my gaze and myself off my heel. I've been a bit wobbly the past week after doing so well in this one. It still makes me laugh at how one day you can be awesome at a posture then the next day totally useless. That's what makes this yoga so interesting, it's the same every day with the dialogue but your body is so different.

Cobra is coming along after some shared tips from another student that Anne gave her last week. By putting your hand so close into your body that they are actually under the side of your boobs to start with makes it easier to keep your arms in the right spot when you come up. If your hands are too far out you won't be able to get your arms in the right place. This made such a difference to me as in Cobra my elbows always seemed to hurt and I couldn't keep my palms flat. Probably as I was bending them in to get them closer to my body when I should have been moving my hands in to keep everything aligned. 

I really pushed hard in head to knee stretching to make up for my poor effort in standing H2K. My arms are still up round my ears and no where near my calves. My rounding in is coming along and my head in further up on my thigh than knee.  

No breakthroughs today, which I didn't expect really but you never know. I am very pleased my lower back has held out and my thighs aren't as sore as I remember from the first challenge. I was still having a treat today as I'd booked in for a 90 minutes hot stone massage back at Bodhi J Day Spa. I'm sure my body will appreciate some pampering after 26 days of yoga.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 25 - The last Friday 5:45am

Not only was it the last Friday 5:45am for the Challengers, it was the last early morning class Liz would be guiding us through as she's leaving on Sunday. I know we shouldn't attach to things or people but it is sad after six months when an instructor moves on. Other visiting instructors only stay a short while, they do this job as a life style so they can travel, see the world and teach Bikram. It's Liz's time to move on to her next adventure. 

I am tired. Mentally I think, not so much physically but the former does impact the latter. I found I was looking for some comfort today. Usually I take care to select which work clothes I'm going to pack. Today I wanted easy, I wanted my jeans, trainers and thick hoodie. (My office has freezing air con, despite being +38 C outside today I needed warm clothes!!) I'd also decided I needed a Sumo Salad lunch so I didn't have to think about packing any. I also had an important task to complete and not forget. My mind was fully focused on not forgetting that task and hence everything else went to pony poo. I forgot that I needed a new book for the train today so ended up lugging the same novel with me today which I didn't feel like reading again so soon. I have a very basic mobile so didn't even have the luxury of internet. 

Even with the important task done, I was still all over the place. I matted down in my crutch spot of under the vent. I don't know why I did,  I've not been there for a while. It was steamy this morning, even driving in when it was still dark it felt warm outside. We were treated to some cool air early on, it was right on top of me and very icy. This actually was quite uncomfortable so I ended up stepping back a bit on my mat to avoid it. Apart from in Balancing Stick when I got it full force on my back. I love a cool blast in the floor series but this early on, even though the humidity was up, it wasn't good. Time to let go of the vent spot for good, it doesn't help, I need to keep sweating. After class I mentioned the cool air and it hadn't circulated its way around the room, not everyone had felt it. Maybe I was too attached to the cool air,  but now I don't need it as much as I think and it's a distraction. (However the air was very welcome by the time we reached camel!)

I do feel like I'm pushing through now. If everything else in life vanished for the next five days that would be great. But I know it won't and I can't afford to waste three days annual leave so I can spend next week purely focusing on yoga. (I can dream though!) At least it's the weekend and lots to look forward too tomorrow including a hot stone massage!  

Here's the poster for the Craig Villani Posture Workshop, I just finished it yesterday. Still don't know where the venue is yet but I'll got anywhere. (Most true as I first planned to go to his South of France retreat!)


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 24 - The last Thursday

I woke up this morning thinking it was Friday. Don't you just hate that?! Our last Thursday of the challenge. I only have two more 5:45am's to do as Monday I will be 6pm-ing it due to a staff meeting. (*tut* don't they know by now I have yoga Monday mornings! hahaha)

It was Sarah's last class with us today as she's jetting off back to South Australia. The general vibe at the studio is the challengers are feeling a bit flat, a bit over it. The end is close. We've all tried so hard and achieved a lot in 24 days. I am looking forward to having Wednesday nights off as I find the night classes followed by the early mornings a bit tough. I got home late, 8:30pm, as I stopped for fuel and couldn't be bothered to wash my yoga clothes. Double load tonight. After eating and blogging it was time for sleep nothing else. You can only juggle the rest of your life for so long.

I had a good class today. My balance and strength have returned in equal measures. I did fall out one side of Standing Bow pulling but I did have a strong standing head to knee which always then sends SBP a bit off. No water issues today. A few random crazy monkey mind moments that are too shocking to mention. Why I was thinking such things during class is beyond me. Standing separate leg stretching has gone to s**t as I'm doing it properly. Courtney yours was awesome last night, I caught a glimpse as I was looking in the wrong place! Class wrapped up quickly and I even managed to get a quick chat with Jo in before dashing off for the train.

Six days to go and four weeks till Craig Villani's posture workshop. Posters should be out very soon so watch out in all the Perth studios and book your place QUICK as this will sell out.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 23 - Wednesday 6pm

I thought I might not make it tonight. I had a very last minute rush on at work. The sort that I was actually packing up to leave and then had to get back to it. I did make it for 6pm and had plenty of time to change, mat down and have a very quick chat before class. 

Liz was leading us through today. I had no problem staying present today. My mind was so tired I found it easy to turn off and tune into her voice. I made a strong effort to stay in the full length of the posture. My strength left me in standing head to knee and I bombed a few seconds before the end without getting near the full expression. I could describe today's class as present but not strong. I felt weak but not in a yoga bus kinda way, just tired. Instead of going hard I tried to concentrate on alignment and form. This didn't go so well and I nearly fell over going into tree! I wobbled my way through toe stand and felt a little down about having a rubbish standing series.

We got a nice mini break whilst Janette demonstrated a fantastic Balancing stick whilst being pulled from both ends. I took the opportunity to kneel down (obviously so the people behind could see :-) ) and catch my breath.

Not to worry the standing series was not great the floor series went well. Not the best but not horrific. My mind was telling me it needed a drink and it was so hard to ignore it in Fixed Firm. I lost the plot and even started glancing round to see if anyone else was drinking so it would be okay for me to drink. What a nutter, who cares what everyone else is doing!!! I got back on the job and got my head and shoulders on the floor pushing those watery thoughts away.

There was one issue I had with today's class. Sorry to moan but it was a little stupid. One new student decided he was going to be sick so tried to leave the room. Liz tried her best to keep him there but he went. We finished our posture and she went to check on him by leaving the room. Suddenly the room erupted into movement. I could hear the sloshing and sucking of drinking, people talking and I could sense moving. It was like being at school, 'quick teachers left lets be naughty.' Jeez all I was thinking was hoorah, we get a longer savasana, I couldn't think of anything better than to lay still and enjoy the moment. I was quite disappointed today fellow BYJers. Order was restored, the sick student return which was great and he stayed till the end. 

I felt I finished the class well with a good final spinal despite having a good glug of water before the end. Another nothing to write home about class. I know deep down I want to be stronger but at this point in the last challenge I was broken down. I had very bad lower back ache and tight hamstrings. I couldn't have even contemplated doing a double. I'm in much better shape this time, nothing is painful and I should be proud of my achievements. I'm even thinking of doing a 'just for fun' double on the weekend. There was no way I would have done that in the final few days last time. I think I'm just feeling the toll of working full time, commuting one hour (car and train) every day and running a home as well as doing the challenge. On a positive note I'm loving this yoga, I'm liking the routine it gives me and the 90 minutes of pure me time where I can let go, cleanse and heal myself in my happy place.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 22 - Away with the fairies

I had a super magnesium filled dinner of broccoli and spinach last night after reading Kat Eden's 'Food for Yoga' blog. I don't generally get cramps as I'm very aware of keeping up my electrolytes but anything extra is a bonus. 

5:45am with Liz today. There was a very considerate yogini today in class. She was a couple of seconds late and we'd started pranayama so she went straight for the big empty spot in the middle. Right in front of me. Yay at last a blocked, blocked view. My first plan being inline with the podium was that Liz would be blocking my view now I had a whole person who won't be moving. Challenge!! Alas the nice yogini realised her mistake and so kindly stepped to the side of her mat so I could see. Thank you, that is good etiquette. So funny I actually wanted to be blocked but in general people don't so please be aware when you mat down of those around you. Then after pranayama she scooted her mat over a few centimetres so I could see properly.

My mind was not in the room this morning. I don't know where it was, I can't remember what I was actually thinking. Maybe I was just very zoned out. I was right on the back row in the centre and I've noticed I get distracted back there as I can see what's going on in the rest of the room. When I'm up front with my nose on the mirror it's easier to focus. Even Liz noticed and commented in general that we weren't in the room, it must have been a group thing. I think if people in front of you drop out early or come down from a posture it's the natural flow to do it too. I know I was anticipating the end of the posture. After 22 days (or 8 months) you kind of know the last few lines of the dialogue and that 'change' will be next. But not always! Some instructors might drop in an extra 'push' or 'go up' so you get the maximum benefits at the end but you need to be switched on.

Nothing major to report today. I think it was one of those classes that 'just happened.' I went through the motions, I did feel stiff so backed off a bit in a few postures. I have a good full day and a half now till tomorrow's class, a bit like a mini break. A few people have taken day's off during the challenge for what ever reason and have felt recharged by it (even though they will have to double up to make up). I'm still pushing through, I have my 'spare' class but I'm not planning on cashing it in. I really want to do 30 consecutive days of Bikram Yoga as personally for me that is the challenge's aim and to receive maximum benefits I want to do it this way. That's my choice, we are all different. If you need a day off take it, do what's right for you, it's your practice you make the rules! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 21 - Hello hips

I thought my hips were sore yesterday but today I am walking like John Wayne. It didn't help having to run up the station steps this morning either! Monday morning, 5:45am with Sarah. I crunched, popped and grinded my way through the first 25 minutes. The hamstrings were still feeling good but oh the hips. 

Awkward my least favourite posture has suddenly come on a lot in part two. The instructors are always telling us the lower you are, ie. thighs parallel to the ground, sitting on the chair not below it and up high on your toes will make it easier. Of course they are right. I've been too scared to get down to the correct level, it hurts! I tired on Saturday and it wasn't so bad and it actually made keeping my back straight easier. Once I was actually down to the correct level it didn't hurt so much. Lesson of the day, listen to the dialogue, it makes sense, trust the program!

Back to the hips. Yesterday Sarah was the first person to notice  that I am wonky in fixed firm. It's my posture, my hips are not actually level. I only found this out in September through a Kinesiology session. My right tibia is actually longer than my left, therefore wonky hips. Yoga should actually help re-align me. When I lay back in fixed firm I can see clearly in the mirror my left hip in sticking up higher. I just thought that was the way it was. But no, I can straighten up I discovered by dropping it back down. It feels really weird, I don't feel level as I'm so used to being wonky. It's also noticeable in half tortoise, I find it difficult to sink my hips back onto my heels. Left hip goes down well but right is still in the air. It's funny how you just accept things and live with it. When a simple adjustment can actually help. Again how amazingly healing and correcting is this yoga?! I'm hoping my hip soreness might lead to a new breakthrough, no more wonky hip perhaps?

Now I know we all like to talk sh*t so I will. A few people have mentioned their digestive systems are going a little crazy during the challenge. Again, normal. It's detoxing, flushing out your insides. It may also be a sign to stop eating so much junk. Put the right balance of fuel in and you'll get more out. Quite a few challengers got a touch of gastro on the last one. I usually have rock solid guts but I too have been feeling the shift. I know I need to cut down on sugar, chocolate is my main vice. However I've officially gone four whole weeks without any alcohol. It wasn't planned it just happened slowly after New Year. Something in my make up is shifting and changing. I no longer crave or even want champagne which I used to guzzle down quite often. I'm also terrified of being dehydrated this month so eliminating any sabotaging factors is also a good move!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day - 20 Sunday 2pm

I can safely say I was feeling sore after going hard yesterday. I was feeling my hips had shifted somehow or maybe they were just super stretched out. I had the morning to wake and warm myself up, hydrate and eat in plenty of time for the 2pm with Sarah. This would be my third last class with Sarah as she is moving back to South Australia next weekend. It will be sad to see her go but it's just another part of this crazy Bikram world. The heat, dialogue and sweat will always be the same but everything else is so variable. Each instructor brings their own personality and techniques to a class making it so different. Mixing it up is important or else we would get bored with it. (& we can't be having that now!)

The conditions for today's class were spot on so I could just concentrate on the postures and just be. My strength has returned. I was even close to locking out my knees in hands to feet. My hamstrings are feeling good again. Separate leg stretching when done correctly is so hard. My fingers were throbbing from being stood on and my head was so far off the floor I can't believe it ever touched. I will push on, I will do this correctly. I worked hard not to rush into standing head to knee. I was so determined not to rush I quaked and went too quick and yes fell out. 

I nearly drowned though in separate leg head to knee. Tucking my chin into my chest and rounding down put my nose in the perfect spot to collect a stream of dripping sweat from my top. I stayed down there but what a challenge trying to breath calmly when your nose is filling rapidly with salty water. Usually its my eyes in this one that get sweat logged and I stumble up blinded. Despite this the standing series seemed to fly by today.

I did have to deal with an external challenge today, other people's yoga drama. Two people next to me where really struggling. That's cool, sit down, take a rest. I do not knock anyone who has to rest. However they were struggling with keeping still even when down. Rolling forward, onto their sides, wiping and fanning. In savasana I could see out my peripheral one person fanning their top up and down. I had to stay focused and not be distracted by this but it was tough. I know it's hard, it's hot but even Sarah mentioned today all the faffing around is burning up extra energy. You need every ounce of energy in there, don't waste it. Stay still. I could barely hold myself up by the end of yesterdays class but I gritted my teeth and held out. If it's that bad lay down and stay still, you will recover quicker and easier. I know it may not feel like it at the time but it will...just try it!

To end on a positive note, one fellow challenger wasn't feeling up to class today. She was quite low and feeling tired. After class I saw her and she had had an awesome 90 minutes. She was happy and bubbly, totally different from the start. That's whats great about this yoga. You can feel like crap going in but it can totally heal you inside and out, wash away any bad emotions and replace them with lots of happy endorphins. It does give you energy and the achievements you make, even the smallest one's, can give you a real pick me up.

On we go into the final full week and the last ten days of what has been so far another very enjoyable 30 day bikram yoga challenge!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day 19 - Very excited!

Today has been the day of three very exciting developments in my Bikram bubble. 
  • #1 Mika Yoga Wear has arrived at BYJ and selling out fast, secured my Ella top in chilli.
  • #2 Guest instructor Anne from Bikram HQ LA lead our 9:30am class. (More later)
  • #3 and the most freaking exciting thing is Craig Villani will be in WA on March 26th for a seminar and master class.
I'll start with more on Craig. For those who don't know who he is the former director of Bikram Yoga teacher training and runs his own luxury yoga retreats in the South of France along with Ben Sears. I actually received the dates for the summer retreats only yesterday from Ben. I was so excited I could combine a retreat with a trip to the UK to see the folks. Wow, now I get to take a master class too. I know already I will probably end up on my knees (even my back) in a mass pool of exhausted sweat and fatigue. But just to be able to experience the wealth of knowledge this man has about Bikram yoga the pain is priceless. 

I actually jumped up and down when I heard the news, what a loser I know but how often do we get a chance like this. Australia is a long way from anywhere and if something good ie. shows, bands, exhibitions etc. do come down under hardly they ever come to WA. This is not to be missed people. I am on the list, set in concrete I am there. Even more exciting it's two days after my birthday and I couldn't think of anything I'd like to do more on my birthday weekend than this. (The man will be working all weekend I know already so that's cool, I won't be neglecting him.) I admit right now I am brainwashed by this yoga.

Back to Anne. I was tipped off she was teaching 9:30am but regardless that is my class of choice. I met her as soon as I arrived, a happy, smiley lady who put me at ease straight away. I was a little nervous as I've heard in America they have more hard core techniques and tougher classes despite the dialogue being the same universally.

I matted down in a 'safe' zone, under the vent, second row. Then Jo told me to go up front. The only spot left (as lots of instructors were in there today) was right next to the podium but I'd have Janette on my right so that would keep me strong. Who needs the cheating air vent!! The class was awesome. Very, very different from any class I've experienced. I went hard, seriously pushing myself. I was so tanked up on adrenaline which helped. I couldn't feel any of the aches or pains that I had yesterday. The sweat was pouring like a rain forest. You could hear the drip, drip, drip all around the room.

I was so proud of everyone in the room. We were all so present. Coming back to the left of our mats arms still above our heads patiently waiting to be told to bring them down. I think Anne was surprised too at how disciplined we were. She told us to just relax, arms down, we know the drill just do it.

I must end my love affair with standing separate leg stretching and touching my forehead. I knew I was doing it wrong, I was compromising depth for form. Anne pulled me up in the second set, got me to start again and to grab my heels (thank G the nails are gone!), get my legs closer, fold down and pull. Before my back wasn't straight, it was bending, not correct, even if head was on the floor. I ran out of time to have a real go, one for tomorrow. 

Another thing I learnt today was not to get cross with myself in Standing head to knee if I fall out. Janette gave me some valuable advice after class not to rush in, that's why I fall over. I need to slow down and take it easy. Another few tricks to try tomorrow. After all I've only just manged to kick out this year and that took six months, the full expression may well take just as long.

I officially ran out of steam in the last 15-20 minutes. Camel got me in the second set. I was physically spent, my thighs could barely keep me up so I took to my knees. Head to knee with stretching was weak but I managed a fare final spinal. I had worked hard, it felt great. I could barely hold myself upright in kapalabhati breathing!! I did manage to walk and not crawl from the room to my ready prepared electrolyte cocktail. Funniest thing in the shower though. I actually sat down, on the floor of the shower and just let the cool water wash over me. It made me laugh. I was tired physically from pushing hard for once, not from the heat or other factors, just simply going hard. It was the class I needed, half way through the challenge to take it to the next level.

My buzz is only just starting to subside, a whole three and a half hours after we finished. That's the reason why I do this yoga, you may fee like dying the first few minutes after class but give it a bit longer and your flying. I could easily have gone back for the double but I didn't want to ruin what I'd achieved today. Plus there is lots to do, posters to create, conversations to be had.

Thanks again to everyone who is following, your feedback is awesome, I still can't believe people are actually reading my babble. A huge shout out to my friend Monica in London, 'Engerrrrrlannnd' who has been inspired to take a 30 day challenge herself in March and is blogging too. Check out her adventure here. Stay strong challengers, I know some of you have hit road blocks this week. Only 11 days to go, only one more Saturday. Just think next Saturday there will be only 4 days left!!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 18 - Letting go

I had mad energy going on yesterday. Had a bonkers day at work, teachers me not to take a mid week day off despite being fully prepared and had our freelancer cover me. I'm thinking this may well be to do with that full moon tonight. Ashtanga students never practice yoga on moon days as they feel so unbalanced by it. However I am not using the moon as an excuse. Onwards we go into day 18, Friday 5:45am.

Always expect the unexpected. I'd heard Anthony was down to teach today, then it changed to Jo but when I got to the studio it was in fact Sarah. This was good, I needed a Sarah class today. Straight forward, no messing, in and out of postures, finished 8 minutes early! My hamstrings were tight as today, I could barely move to warm up for hands to feet. That was the only real point of soreness. Head touched the towel but only briefly. Full locust flew up even higher and cruised through camel. I felt my strength had returned to me.

I did have a kinda of cleansing ritual last night. I decided after five months of having gel nail extensions it was time to let go. They weren't meant to stay so long, they were a treat for when I went on holiday so I could have pretty nails. Then I got sucked into having infills. I canceled my appointment for tomorrow, got out the acetone and off they came. I did make a bit of a mess but it saved me $50 getting them professionally soaked off. Wow the money I will save every month now. I have no excuses now not to grab my heels or stand of my fingers in postures. I felt happy afterward, I've let go of something that was pure vanity, I don't need them, gone, finished and natural again. (Just to add I didn't end up saving money as I spent the equivalent on a new Lulu hot class top. I'm Kat, I am addicted to yoga clothes.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 17 Thursday 5:45am

Yesterdays hot spell was finished off with a nice rain storm which didn't really clear the air. The room this morning wasn't as steamy as last night but everything got slippery quicker than usual in morning classes.

I was feeling 'hungover' from last nights class despite getting two and a half litres of water and many electrolytes down me that evening. It really took a lot more out of me than I first thought. I heard this morning that pesky Yoga Bus hung around for the 6pm and had taken out a few more people. I tucked myself up on the back row, near the pole and the door. I felt like I was hiding. I wasn't getting my best out of practice today. Those last crucial seconds of each posture I was flagging and was anticipating the end. Liz commented to the whole room we needed to stay present and hold out till the very end. My hamstrings were starting to pinch a bit today. This went after a good effort in standing separate leg stretching where my forehead touched the floor comfortably today both sets. My legs are still way, way wide.

Toe stand is becoming my favourite posture of this challenge. Probably as its going so well. I didn't have to drag myself through as much as last night but with the classes being so close together I feel some of the negative energy was still hanging around. I managed both sets of Camel but I had some mad cravings when I came out. This happens to me a lot in this posture. When it's not kicking me down and stamping on me I get some weird sensations, mainly cravings for food or drink. Today it was ice cold Sprite I felt like I wanted. Probably because there's nothing like a cold, fizzy, sugar filled drink to pick you up when your down. By the time I actually get near a shop to fulfill these cravings it has passed and I don't give into it. Most of my cravings are for thing I don't usually have, like sugary drinks. But once I came up from Camel starving and needing a steak.

This video link is fantastic from Bikram Yoga Manhattan. It explains why we have those bonkers feelings in Camel.

I'm hoping my yoga mojo returns to me soon. I shall not dwell on it or get sad if it doesn't. If I have to ride that Yoga Bus for the next thirteen days so be it, I'll fasten my seat belt and hold on tight.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 16 - The Yoga Bus is back

I thought I was fully prepared for today's class. I had taken the day off work as I had loads of 'personal admin' to do that could only be done during office hours but without being in an office!! I had a nice lie in clocking up a good eight and a half hours sleep. I ate well and hydrated. What could go wrong?

I went to the 4pm class as I could. The outside temperature was 38 degrees C and it was really humid. Walking into the room wasn't much different. I felt okay, I'd shaken off the sore throat and flu symptoms of yesterday. Dom was teaching this evening. I've only ever taken one class before with him and it nearly killed me. I didn't let that bother me and just went for it.

I found I was backing off from my full potential in the standing series. I was faffing wiping my hands for standing head to knee. It was so wet in there my hands were sliding all over the place. Every time we came to rest between postures it took all my strength to stand still, I was actually urging Dom mentally to hurry up and get us in the next posture, knowing I'd feel better once I had that to concentrate on.

I never drink during class but my mind was screaming at me so I drank at fixed firm and again before head to knee with stretching. It didn't make me feel better, I know better not to drink when I'm like this, it makes things worse. I battled through. I didn't take a knee. I could feel my arms flopping in triangle set up and I allowed my fingers to rest on my toes. At one point on the floor in savasana I had to start counting my breath just to slow myself down and not start breathing heavily. The yoga bus was definitely running over me today. Every sit up was an effort. Then it was time for camel!

I was spinning as I reached for my heels and bolted straight back up. I didn't lay down I just stayed kneeling and breathing. There is a mantra by Craig Villani painted on the door to the BYJ yoga room, "The only way is through." This popped into my head in savasna and I knew it was the only way. Second set a forced myself to do a strong sit up, I needed that energy. I got fully into position, focused on my breathing. Then Dom appeared next to me and gently guided my hips more forward. That made me not give up, I couldn't flake out whilst getting a correction. I got through.

After class I was guzzling my electrolytes and extra water when Jo came up and asked me if I had struggled today. She practiced right in front of me and could feel my flagging energy. I didn't realise it had been so obvious. Not to worry, this is the week when crazy things might happen. A bit like what I've heard week five is like at Teacher Training.

What I've learnt again today is no matter how well prepared you are you never know how a class is going to turn out until your in it. Even then a strong standing series can be followed by a floppy floor series. Hopefully that yoga bus will keep on driving, I really don't like it much at all!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 15 - Half Way Point!

It's official we are half way through the first 30 day challenge of 2011. I know some of you feel like it's been a battle to get this far but don't stop now this is when awesome things might happen... You've had two weeks to get into the swing of things, get organised, find out what is working best for you, set you intentions. You might feel like every muscle and bone is aching and shaking it's way through classes. That's good, you are building muscle memory, you are getting stronger. I found last time where I got sore a week later I had major breakthroughs in related postures. Stick with it. If it hurts, just smile, it will naturally relax you.

Nice surprise today at 5:45am. I resisted looking at the sign in list yesterday to see who was teaching, even though I did ask Liz if she was but she wasn't. Jo was at the helm again! I matted down on the back row but I have a feeling it was pretty much the same spot as Friday. I was creaking and crunching my way through the first warm up postures. My Awkward was all over the place and I just couldn't find the strength in my thighs to keep me from falling forward. Fellow second time challenger Gemma rocked this pose, she did such a good job it looked effortless. (maybe if I'd concentrate on myself I might have been less wobbley!!) My backbend was good I felt though. I'm remembering to stretch up and back lifting my chest up instead of sinking back into my lower spine for more depth.

My forehead touched the floor again! Spooky as it hasn't happened since Jo's last class, when I was in the near same spot. I shall not get attached to this thought, how well I do in a posture has nothing to do with having a 'lucky spot.' Jo actually came and stood by me at one point and directed my chin forward so the correct part of my forehead was on the towel. It felt good, I held it longer than last time. My legs were vastly far apart still but straight and strong.

Overall I felt good about today. However on the train to work I ran out of steam. I had drunk nearly one litre of water since class finished but I could feel my throat getting scratchy. Ahhh, after I said I don't get sick. But, this is probably a side effect of 15 consecutive days of Bikram. I am detoxing from inside out. Those toxins need to be released and a common symptom of detoxing is feeling like your getting the flu. I did a yoga, cleanse and detox last September in Byron Bay and I developed a stinking cold, I felt terrible. Over half the group got it too. My fault for not weening myself of caffeine, sugar, alcohol and meat as advised and going cold turkey onto a full organic vegan diet with non of the above. My mission for today is drink extra water to flush out any nasty things and eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. And I get a lie in tomorrow morning woo hooo!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 14 - Happy Valentines Day!

I had the weirdest dream this morning. I checked my clock and it was only 4am so I rolled over and went back to sleep. The dream that followed was mad, I had over slept by about three hours, missed class and was late for work. I was really panicking whilst packing a bag for the 6pm or possible the 8pm. Luckily my alarm did go off and I made it to 5:45am with Liz.

Day 14, half way point tomorrow. I feasted on left over chicken and steak (giving steak a go again but not alone this time). Just to note I'm not eating like a HUGE piece of meat, generally the size of the circle you can make with your thumb and fore finger. (Divers "OK" sign). Today I had two, one red, one white. It really helped and I felt fueled up and ready.

I tucked myself up on the third row by the back door and had two people in front of me. At last a proper restricted view. I could not see my leg in Triangle to had to feel if I was all the way down and if my arms where back and strong. Nothing major to report today. I felt new muscles in my calves today, especially locking out in standing separate leg head to knee and bring my 'behind' hip forward so two hips were in one line. My head was far from touching my towel today, goes to show how you need to take everyday as it comes. I have to mention though the awesome floor bow fellow second time challenger Melissa did today. I was behind her and caught a quick glimpse as I checked my own alignment. It was very impressive!

Yesterday I was talking with a fellow student who only started Bikram three weeks ago. We discussed the whole wiping sweat issue. I can't tell people enough not to wipe your face. I know some people physically can't stand having a wet face but you are fighting a losing battle. I did the wiping thing in my second and all time worse class ever. I will never wipe again. The more you wipe the more it comes back and the harder your body has to work to cool down. It's a habit formed from other sweaty sports but here don't do it!! I know it's uncomfortable, it's gross and stings the eyes, nose, ears but let it be. Embrace it, then forget it, concentrate on your practice, let it roll. And with that rolling sweat let everything go, cleanse and clean your body and mind "from inside out, bones to skin, finger tips to toes...."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day 13 - Sunday 2pm

Despite being a crazy person who was actually awake in time for the 8am class I decided to get all my jobs done at home instead. Then I could go to the 2pm class and know everything was taken care of. There has to be a balance of everything in life whilst doing a challenge. More on this later...

Sarah took us through our 90 minutes of moving meditation. I moved over to the opposite side of the room to yesterday to form a nice triangle between Jo, myself and fellow regular Barry. Everyone else in the room was jammed up on the right hand side so I had the whole second line to myself. Lots of space for sideways spreading out.

I did feel like I'd over loaded on carbs for brunch. This was because I'd made homemade bagels and banana bread so decided to have some of both. (with some smoked salmon and philly for protein) It was over the two hours but I felt heavy. Despite the fullness I managed another good class. I had a great head to knee with stretching and I even felt my legs lift away slightly from my thighs in the third part of locust.

I was talking with Jo yesterday about how good I was feeling and I wasn't as sore as the first challenge. I have come to the conclusion that the first challenge was a huge learning curve. My body didn't know what to expect so naturally it would get sore and fatigued. This time it's like the muscle memory has picked up where we left off. It's remembered how it can survive 30 days of Bikram and it's not so bad. Therefore maybe it's time to step it up.

After class today Sarah asked me if I thought I should start doing doubles now. I have cruised the first two weeks and yes doubles would push this challenge further so I get more out of it. I seriously considered this and yes I'd love to step it up. However for me to attend the 6pm or 7:30pm it would be taking up a huge chunk of my life in the evenings. This brings me back to balance again. There has to be balance. If I took the evening classes I wouldn't get to spend time with my man or have time to whip up dinner for us which I enjoy. I'd basically get home, shower and be off to bed, then up again at 4:40am. My personal relationships are important and they need care and attention too. If I didn't work full time (but I love my job too which is great) then yes I could do daily doubles there would be time but it's just not realistic right now. I'll just have to try out a back to back double on Saturday or the staggered doubles on Sunday.

Hope you've all had restful and enjoyable weekends.... here we go into week three!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sodashi Chakra Balancing Treatment, Bodhi J Spa

I'm still feeling floaty from the amazing treatment I had today at the Bodhi J Spa in Wembley, Perth. I had a couple of massages during my first challenge and it's a great idea as it helps work out those tired muscles and rid the body of extra toxins. It was a twenty minute drive from the studio but it was the only spa that I could find that incorporated a massage and a chakra balance. It also used Sodashi products that are 100% organic and made right here in WA.

I received a warm welcome to the tranquil, clean and professional spa which is Bodhi J. I do tend to judge spa's on the decor, cleanliness and professionalism. I need to feel I'm in the right place for relaxing, hushed voices and soft fluffy towels a must. The treatment room was quiet and comfortable. I was given an eco bathrobe to change into and all my clothes were neatly hung up in a cupboard. I know some people aren't into these type of energy therapies and are skeptical as to whether they work. I believe in them and they leave me feeling so great physically as well as mentally, it's money well spent. But like everything it's up to the individual.

The spa menu describes the treatment as:

“Deeply meditative, this experience aims to bring the chakras into alignment through a fluid combination of massage, specific essential oil synergies and beautiful crystals. Working subtly on the energetic body with profound effects, this truly unique experience leaves you feeling calm and in a state of harmony, resulting in an increase in wellbeing and spirituality.”

I was then briefed by my therapist Tegan on what was going to happen. We started with a kinesiology style chakra test to see if any were out balanced. I was surprised I was fairly well balanced, nothing screamed out it was off. Last time I had my chakra's balanced I was out it my creative zone, scary as I need that the most for my job! There for we would be working on the upper chakras 4 to 7.

I was given a warm up massage and gentle stretching before each chakra is gently massaged with the corresponding Sodashi oil. I am directed to take a deep breath and inhale the scent of each oil before it is applied. After each chakra has been massaged a crystal is placed on it. This treatment was so relaxing, I wish I could fall into the floor so deeply in savasana. After the treatment was finished it took me a while to get up, I didn't feel like moving. Another great way to spend 90 minutes! 

When I finally got up and went out to the relaxation room I was presented with a plate of fresh fruit, herbal tea and a small dark chocolate. I was de-briefed on the treatment and as with all spa's offered the chance to look over the oils that were used to purchase. I was tempted but I have so many lotions and potions at home I resisted!

Sodashi Chakra Balancing oils

I was so blissed out and impressed with the spa I booked in for another treatment in two weeks to finish off the challenge with. Next time I am trying the Li'tya Marta Kodo Rock Massage using hot stones along with Australian Aboriginal techniques to tone and re-align energy flow, enhancing mind and body balance and wellness. Two spa treatments in a month is very indulgent for me but you can't put a price on your health and well being. I'm using the challenge as the perfect excuse to have some 'me time!'

Day 12 - Saturday 7:30am

Your probably wondering why I was heading out to Bikram at 7:30am on a Saturday when there's a perfectly good 9:30am. After class today I was having a Sodashi Charkra Balancing Treatment. I was booked in for 11:20am so I had to go early to yoga, as I was thinking I wouldn't want to go at 4pm! More on the treatment later, even a full post dedicated to the blissful event!

I arrived at the studio a bit early and was left locked outside with a couple of other regulars, so keen we at BYJ! Karen was teaching us today which was cool as she's been away so not taken her class for a few weeks. It was great to see her happy smiling face this morning! I decided to mat down next to Jo who was also practicing today. Always good to have some strong energy next to you. There was a bit of musical mats just before we started. One lady didn't want to be on the front row (there wasn't much room left) so swapped with her friend who didn't want to be right next to the podium. I didn't mind moving over to podium side as that would get me away from the cushy door spot. There is a draft extractor under the door but a bit of breeze does get under occasionally. I've cheated once this week with an airy spot so not again.

I was feeling strong today but my balance and knees were a bit shaky. I wobbled through awkward and nearly fell over in part three as I straighten my back and brought my knees down and forward. I really don't like Awkward, it hurts, it's at the start so I'm not warmed up. But I NEED it, it's the best one for my round shoulders and slouchy posture.

One thing I love about Karen's class is her sound effects! It's hard to put in words but when we are directed to put out arms straight out in front of us (Awkward again) Karen says 'zummmm.' It makes me smile, 'zummmm' arms out in front. Zummmm appears through out the class too.

The temperature was perfect today, steamy, drippy and hot but still breathable. My head didn't touch today. I was having grip issues. My right hand actually slid so far forward I was barely holding my toes. This lead me to readjust but didn't give me enough time to stretch down. I must learn to grab my heels. (without snapping off my nails hahaha!) Floor bow went well today. This is another one I have a love hate relationship with. I've been trying really hard not to let my legs splay out in order to get higher. (as this is easier, looks cool but changes the posture completely so don't do it!!) The side effect of keeping those knees 6 inches apart hurts and my calves get cramp. Hence I must push through and do it properly!

I did take a drink before head to knee with stretching. Purely because I was soooo hungry. The 50 cent sized piece of steak I had just didn't cut it. I did feel sick but not heat/toxins removing sick, it was that gurgling hunger pangs, I can tell the difference now. So a quick swig of water kept those at bay. Mental note for snacks stick with the chicken, nut spread or eggs. Despite that I felt great after class and managed to get a slightly longer savasana in.

I thought I'd share a photo with you of my kitchen table and the small stack of electrolytes and supplements I use. The turmeric was suggested by Janette for temporary relief of pain and inflammation. It's especially good for reducing stiffness and joint swelling. Handy during the challenge and perhaps this is helping me as I'm not as sore as the 1st challenge. The immune support is only for those days I feel a bit scratchy and need some echinacea. I'm always up for anything that makes things a little more comfortable and helps me perform to my optimum capabilities. The only thing missing here is my Nuun's, I keep them at work for after the morning classes.

No double funning today as I was planning to be very blissed out after my massage!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 11 - A Breakthrough

It's Friday and wow was it a job to get up at 4:40am. But I did because I knew our fantastic BYJ studio director Jo was teaching this morning. Jo doesn't often take the early classes which means I miss out taking her class. So this was a real treat.

I had left over roast chicken for pre-early class snack, this was a good move as I was fairly hungry. I find if I'm tired I tend to get hungry easily, maybe its my body's way of telling me it needs some fuel. 

I got a great spot right on the back row which got me some strange looks from another regular who I hadn't filled in on my consistent spot swapping regime. Alas not one mat appeared in front of me giving me a clear view straight to the mirror. Are you all being courteous yogis out there or just avoiding me?!!

I had a breakthrough today which is totally not normal for me in the mornings. But as we always hear nothing is ever the same and definitely expect the unexpected. My standing head to knee returned after a stiff few mornings. I got as far as getting my head down before I fell out, first time this week in morning classes. However, this was not the breakthrough. That came in Standing Separate Leg Stretching. 

I am not naturally a human pretzel so when I could feel the whispy bits of hair slightly touch the towel I got excited. I've been 'nearly there' for about six weeks now. Second set I opened my stance wider and pulled so hard with my upper body strength. And my head touched...for a second and my knees stayed locked out. Woo hooo! BUT no way was it right. My hands had slipped forward to nearly my toes (I still have to grab the outsides of my feet) so my arms were not bent back to my shins. I don't think my biceps were parallel to the floor either (probably as my legs were so wide!). Not to worry that head still was on the floor, one step at a time. Below is how this should pose should look and is perfectly being executed by BYJ instructor Jules.

Standing Separate Leg Stretching courtesy of Bikram Yoga Joondalup

Jo mentioned something that was quite fitting for this scenario. In the mornings we are stronger so we have to utilize that strength to maximize our flexibility. In the evenings we are more flexible so we can use that to build our strength.

I felt so energized after the class, really blew those cobwebs away and set me up for what has turned out to be a hectic day.

Again thanks to everyone who is following and thanks to Jo for the extra plug in class this morning. Please feel free to send me any questions via the comments or find me at the studio if there's anything extra you'd like to know about my challenge experience. Bring on the weekend!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 10

Wednesday night and Thursday morning class always seem so close together. Probably because they are! No sooner have you packed up your mat it feels like your throwing it down again.

5:45am was lead by Anthony who I think is on his fifth class now as a fully fledged Bikram yoga instructor. He's doing great. My lower back is not so great, its starting to stiffen up. It could have been the early start but I know from my last challenge I did get some pain there. My backbends were quite shallow today. I need to stay focused at sucking my stomach in during key postures so that the lower back gets the support and protection it needs. 

We cruised through today, a few mix ups on left and right but no big deal. Finished barely two minutes over. I hate in the mornings I have the leg it for the door the moment the instructor leaves. It's during challenges when we need extra long savasana's to fully recover and absorb the practice. It was great on Saturday when I opened my eyes at the end to find I was the last person in there, I was in danger of being vacuumed up!

A few of us were talking after the class the other day about being late or finishing work early to fulfill our challenge commitment. I am very lucky to have a boss/colleagues who don't mind me doing this. I make it just on time for 8:30am. The day I have to leave early, Wednesday, I come in early and don't take a lunch break. It all balances out. I think as long as you get everything done that you need to it shouldn't be a problem. Also this yoga is so good for us mentally and physically our bosses should be supportive of our practice. It will give them a happier, more productive and healthier work force. I've not taken a sick day since I started Bikram in June and haven't had the usual colds/flu that come with taking public transport. If you do find some negativity in the workplace suggest that person come along to a class...they will get a rather sweaty wake up call!!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 9 - Wednesday 6pm

It's Wednesday again, hump day in the working week. I was feeling so flat all day, work was slow and there was nothing to get my teeth into. On the upside I could quite happily leave at 4:30pm to get to yoga as I had nothing pending to finish off.

A steamy, dripping, sweat flinging class with Shawn again. He didn't disappoint and was on top form just like last week. I did take a few precautions tonight with my spot in the room. There was a class before hand so the room was well up to temp so I positioned myself near one of the cool air vents. I always feel like I'm cheating myself if I'm in direct line of a refreshing blast but tonight I felt like I might need it. Knowing this I made sure I pushed to my maximum effort to counter balance my 'cheating.' I was soaked after five minutes, just like it should be. Limbs slipping and sliding together, sweat flying as I moved my arms above my head and back down. Love it!!! I was surrounded by familiar faces which was great for team energy.

I got a slight adjustment to my stretched up hand/arm in triangle which corrected my alignment. I felt my stance was too wide though as my inner thighs were really burning so stop me sliding wider. Or maybe this is how it's suppose to feel, will have to check up on that one. Toe stand was my favourite again today, it's really coming along. I remember the first few months of practicing I couldn't even bend down and touch the floor with a straight leg. Now I'm all the way down there. Still always room for improvement, after all we never stop learning.

By the end of the class I felt like I needed some water. Before head to knee with stretching I thought I could just grab a few mouth fulls but I resisted. It would not sit well for final breathing. Instead I didn't let it distract me and got straight into set up. I didn't need it, I'd had four litres through out the day. It was just my mind and body getting tired and wanting a distraction.

Another day done, I'm feeling strong and staying positive. The atmosphere at the studio is buzzing, it's awesome! I'm so grateful to everyone who is taking the time to follow my adventure and thanks again for the feedback. Keep smiling and keep up the good work, your are all doing amazing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Be eternally greatful

This poster has been doing the rounds on the blog circuit this week so I thought I would share it too. Really makes you think hey? 

How blessed are we to be able to participate in this 30 Day Challenge? When it starts to get hard, muscles ache, head hurts just remember how fortunate you are to be standing in that hot room. Some people could only dream of having the resources to do more than meet their basic needs. Enjoy and gives thanks for everything you have. Namaste.


Day 8 - Tuesday 5:45am

You know if you've turned into a yoga geek (or freak?!) when you arrive home to a huge parcel of electrolytes from the States and actually get a bit excited. This was me last night, my iherb order was there. The excitement was due to the fact I'm going to test drive a different brand of powdered electrolytes Ultima Replenisher I found out about these from another blogger, The Dancing J at Lock The Knee. To quote J; "their product basically kept me alive during teacher training" A good enough recommendation for me. It's sugar, caffeine and colourings free, fully vegan and no nasty stuff in there. Will let you know how it goes. 

After a pretty rubbish nights sleep I was back on my mat at 5:45am with the lovely Liz again. A fellow challenger found me standing looking lost in the middle of the yoga room clutching my trusty mat and towel not knowing where to go. "Where to go, where to go??" I should have just mat downed right there and then. Or maybe get someone else to mat down for me? hmmmm...

Nice and toasty in the room today. Eagle is a 100 times easier if you've got plenty of sweat to lube up your twists with. I'm starting to feel the burn now of nine classes. More in my thighs than anywhere. It got me bending down to scoop my heals in hand to feet, ouch. But this is only asana #2 so I'm not even warmed up yet. I did feel it again in floor bow but a good stretching further kinda burn.

I was most pleased with Toe Stand again today and Full Locust. I know we are directed to "look up so your body follows" but I did have a quick check down in the mirror to see if my arms were up and found I had some ribs off the floor too!! Seriously I struggle to even get my chin off the floor in this one so ribs is a big thing. (unless my boobs have shrunk which allowed for more space haha?!!)

Talking of chins my Bikram Stigmata is back. Let me explain, Bikram Stigmata is the term yogi's have named the crusty callouses that appear on certain points of our bodies thanks to this series. Mainly in spots that come in contact with the wet towel. I get it under my chin, nice I know, I have to keep face cream on my desk. This comes and goes but the one's on my feet don't. Right on top in the middle, bright red after class or plain old scabby the rest of the time. No matter how much exfoliating or moisturizing I do they come back. It's now started on the back of my heel too. Some people get it on their knees but I've so far escaped this. Wear them with pride I say.

I have a full 34 hours off now till tomorrow nights class. Think we might have Shawn again. It will probably be rammed full as everyone I've seen (& written on here) I've said "you have to take Shawn's class on Wednesday night it's awesome!!" I'm definitely a 'share the wealth' person, can't keep a good thing hidden right?!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Almond & Cashew spread

A few people have asked me where I get the almond and cashew spread that I eat before the morning classes. The answer is in Woolworth's in the gluten free/organic section. Here is the brand I get, Naturals by Melrose....

It's really tasty and easily digested. I wouldn't recommend bread though before the 5:45am unless you have it two hours before. I find a couple of teaspoons is enough to give me some energy to get through the class.

I've recently found a recipe to make your own which is even healthier and preservative free. Thermomix owners its on page 148 of the owners book but here's the method using a normal food processor.

200g of almonds, cashews or any other kind of nut, ideally organic.
2 tbsp Sunflower oil

Place nuts in the food processor and mix on a high speed for 10 seconds. If smooth spread is required continue mixing till nuts are powdered. Add oil and mix for a further 10 seconds. Add a little more oil if required. 

I think it might be trial and error till you get the desired consistency. Place in sterilised jars and store in a cool dry place. As there are no nasty preservatives this spread will last 14 - 21 days, refrigerate after opening.

Another pre morning snack I have as recommended by Kat Eden who gave an awesome "Food for Yoga" talk at BYJ in December is a small hard boiled egg or some cold meat. Not a whole steak but a few small mouthfuls of chicken or lean red meat. Stay away from processed meats like ham.

Hope you've found this useful!   

Day 7 - Week one done!

I'd like to start this post by saying a huge thank you to everyone who is reading and following my Sweaty Adventure. I've had some nice feedback from fellow BYJer's. I'm pleased my ramblings are helping some of you in a positive way.

Small class today at 5:45am with Liz. The group energy and synergy were really in tune. The room didn't seem as humid as usual, wow I can't believe I would ever complain it wasn't steamy enough!! It was fine and in these classes it's good to really push hard as your not struggling with the heat so much. 

I was feeling the early morning today. My joints and muscles took a long time to get juicey. Toe stand rocked for me today. It wasn't perfect by no means, I know I was tipping forward but I managed to get up off my heal with out falling over. The rest of my balancing postures were perfectly wobbly today! My thigh's wouldn't stay zipped in triangle and there was nearly a Bambi on ice moment.

This brings me onto talking about balance. Not just the one legged kind but keeping balance within yourself throughout the series. We all favour a side and have a weak side, mine's the left. For about the first three months of practicing I always turned the same way into and out of Savasana. I got pretty nifty at dropping down onto my left elbow and was fully down before the count of three finished. Then a couple of instructors mentioned keeping balance. Don't turn the same way each time, alternate it, keep it even. The first time I went to the right I was so un-co, gone was the smooth transition. It's coming along now but only because I make sure I alternate the way I turn each time. This will help balance out the weak side.

Liz did a quick and informative demo of 'rounding down' in Head to Knee with Stretching. (Yoga dorks that's Janushirasana with Paschimottanasna) She suggested having a go for the flexible people to lock out the leg, flexing the toes back so the heel comes off the floor to start, then round down with interlaced ten finger grip to grab the foot. I'm one for always bending the knee up to meet my forehead then grab the foot and finally locking out, it's easier. I found today I can actually get right down this way, locked out to start with. I've been called out before for hanging out with forehead to knee when I could get my head on my thigh. Just to note if you can't reach your foot or get forehead to knee contact bend that knee up as much as you can till you get it! Locking out comes later, trust me it will one day, just get that head to the knee and chin in.

A few people have asked me about the almond, cashew and walnut spread I eat. I'll make a whole new post to cover this later on so stayed tuned!

That's it seven consecutive days of classes done, week one complete. Just got to do the same again times three!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 6 Sunday 2pm

After a lazy morning I headed out for the 2pm class with Sarah. I went to the opposite side of the room to yesterday and wedged myself up against the side wall for something different. In this spot you have to be careful not to wack your arms against the ballet bars when moving them sideways or coming down for the right hand set of standing separate leg head to knee.

Two of my good friends and fellow challengers were there this arvo to do their first ever double class. I playfully shouted at one who was about to mark down her class on the board before the class. All the instructors I've asked about this say the same, tick off after class, not before. You can't tick off what you've not done. But I know some people like to do it first. (In case they get yoga brain after & forget to mark off?) Some studios I've heard don't let students mark off, the instructors do it if they feel they deserve it. I feel a greater sense of achievement in marking off afterward, a job well done and completed. 

Another good class. I know I must seem annoying but read back to my "3 days to go" post I don't always find it easy! I think I have that switch on in my head that says 'it's challenge time you need to stay strong and look after yourself.' I got called out twice in two different postures for the same correction. Back straight and stretch up, shoulders back. First time in Awkward part two and then in Toe Stand. I know in Awkward I tip forward as I think if I straighten up I will loose my balance. I got called out again in Standing Bow Pulling but that was a quick well done call. I felt strong and my balance was focused, unlike my standing head to knee where I fell out before the final expression.

Just a quick note now on 'yoga drama.' This popped into my head today as the lady in front of me today kept adjusting her towel quite a few times. I understand towels twist up, costumes get annoying and hair falls down etc. but it's another part of the yoga not to get distracted by these things. Let it go, your hair will still be there at the end. You are actually burning up precious energy by adjusting things. In between postures you need to stand still and let your body recover. It is also distracting for people around you, your not working together if someone is waving there arms around re- tying their hair.

After class I caught up with my double ladies. Their experience of a double was different to mine yesterday which was no surprise. I felt suppler and all ready warmed up, they felt tired and not as strong. They actually said they felt fatigued at the end and were ready to hit the floor after the standing serious. This goes to show we are all different. Their morning would have been different to mine, they might not have caught up on hydration, who knows. My next double might kill me but I won't know till it happens. If you have a bad day don't stress, tomorrow will be different, the next posture will be different!! Stick with it challengers it's all part of the fun. Remember it is fun, we love this yoga or why torture ourselves!?!!

Brown Rice Salad

I keep mentioning how important nutrition is for optimum performance so here is a very tasty, healthy salad recipe. I make this using a Thermomix  (Page 43 of owners recipe book) but it's easily adapted to conventional cooking.

300g of Organic Brown Rice
900 ml of water
Approx 800g of Mixed vegetables (e.g. carrots, beans, peas, broccoli, capsicum or frozen mix)
Small can of tuna or chicken. (use chick peas or bean mix for veg option)
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
Parsley sprigs to garnish

Ideally wash and soak the rice for a few hours to get out the excess starch and will make the rice easier to digest.

Place rice and water in a large pot and cook for 30-35 minutes or according to the packet instructions.

While this is cooking you can prepare the vegetables ready for steaming. At this point you can also grill the chicken if using. I usually dry fry some red onion and mushrooms and lightly wilt a big handful of English spinach. Put aside.

When there is ten minutes to go place the vegetables in a steamer over the rice and cook to your liking ie. soft or firm.

Give the rice a final rinse once cooked and place all ingredients in a big serving bowl: add protein, lemon juice, beans, chick peas, salt and pepper. Mix well. Garnish with parsley sprigs.

I make a large vat of this on a Sunday and take it for lunch during the week. It's quick, easy and nutritious. Bon appetit!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 5 - Bonus Class

I'm trying in this second challenge to mix it up and not just cruise through. As you have seen from my last post I was having a good day so I decided I was going to do my first ever double. For those who don't know what this is it's basically taking two Bikram yoga classes in one day. Teachers in training do this five days a week for nine weeks. Usually in a challenge if you miss a day you have the chance to make it up with a double. My last challenge I made sure I didn't miss a class, I wanted to be a purist and do the challenge properly. I still aim to do this in this challenge too but who knows what may happen over this month so I have am extra class in the bag just in case.

Everything felt right today. I had a good class this morning so why not. I ran all the errands I needed to. Headed home and had a nice, fresh steak sandwich. Ideally I should have had a side of veg with this but I was starving so quickness won. I managed to get three litres of water down before heading back to the studio. I took extra electrolytes too, treating this class just like any other.

My studio director was there and she also was doubling up so I was not alone. I found a different spot from the morning. I also assisted two newbies in setting up a spot at the back. I've never practiced at 4pm on a Saturday and there was a whole new crowd of people. I took a seat thinking I could just chill out, relax with my own thoughts for a while. Yeah right within a minute I was chatting away to someone new!!!

The class was being lead by a new local instructor Anthony (with a 'the') who's fresh out of Fall TT 2010. He did really well. It was actually cool to hear some of the dialogue that the more experience instructors leave out for timing. Some lines I'd not heard in a while popped back up. When he slipped up he laughed it off. What I noticed was how alert the class was and we were all listening to the dialogue. A few times after stepping back to the left of our mats, there was a longer pause before "arms back down to your sides". Nearly everyone waited, just standing still, arms up and brought them down when instructed. The group energy was fantastic. We did, I feel, do an extra long triangle, I was starting to shake and slide a bit but then again it might have been the correct length!

I noticed in this class the postures I did well in in the morning weren't so strong and vice versa. Overall I felt very happy with my efforts. I made in through without drinking and I even was craving water by the end which often happens. Just to note I'm a non drinker through out the whole class. I take it in but rarely touch it till the very end. The times I do drink I regret it as it zaps my energy as my body is dealing with digesting it and water sloshing around makes me feel sick. But you only way to get through a class without water is to be super hydrated before hand.

That rounds off Saturday and my first double for no other reason but because I wanted to. Some people might think I'm mad or 'don't you have anything better to do' but hey that's my choice. It might not happen again or it may become a regular thing, who knows!!

Day 5

It's Saturday and one of the best things about weekend classes is I don't have to rush off anywhere. I can actually enjoy a nice long savasana. Yes I do have busy weekend commitments but I make sure any appointments are made after 12pm so I have the all important social time at the studio. There was so many people there today, regulars, fellow challengers, staff and friends. There actually wasn't enough time to get round everyone to catch up before class. I did get to meet fellow challenger and reader Courtney for the first time *Hello, nice to met you!*

I did the 9:30am with local instructor Sarah who's classes are what I would describe as efficient, dialogue lead and on time. She has a great way of getting everyone in and out of postures smoothly so it feels like they go quicker. I'm listening, correcting myself, going deeper & change it's time to come out. My favourite posture with Sarah is Full Locust, her energy at the end really makes you want to 'go up, fly up!'

I really enjoyed today's class. My Saturday practice has been off all of January so I was glad to have a good class today. I did reach a record of drinking five litres of water yesterday. I also forwent an hours extra sleep so I could eat a good protein based breakfast of wholegrain toast and eggs two hours before. (I could get that sleep back in half tortoise!!!) I was very prepared and ready to go and it all paid off. I flew through. Hips felt open, hamstrings were flexing and I kept my breathing under control. I notice in the morning classes I don't breath properly and end up yawning a lot through lack of oxygen. I read an interesting fact that yawning is the body's natural way to cool down the brain. However yawning in higher temperatures is counterproductive as your breathing in warm air. So best to keep that steady breath going in and out through the nose so we don't unnecessarily heat up our body/brain more than we need.

More socializing followed class which was lovely as more people arrived to join the party! I'm all set up now for a happy and enjoyable weekend. Hope you all have a good one too.