Thursday, March 31, 2011

Congratulations Monica!

My friend from London, Monica, over at Don't Sweat it, successfully completed her first 30 day Bikram Yoga Challenge yesterday. I'm so proud, I've been avidly following along with her blog. It's great to see everyone has a different experience of a challenge, yet there are similarities as well. Even more awesome is that Mon is already planning her next challenge!!! Bikram is addictive for all the right reasons.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Standing Separate Leg Head To Knee

I have so much to write about still from Saturday's seminar. Things keep popping into my head that I must blog about. Talking to other yogi's at the studio today it is unanimous that the seminar was a success. Everyone found something new that has expanded their knowledge of the practice. The only negative was the length the of day. Some people had to leave and miss the class at the end. I had cleared the whole day as I knew this would happen. I only wished I could have stayed longer and got to thank Craig at the end. There was a line forming and I couldn't keep my fellow car poolers waiting.

One regular was telling me how she realised she'd been doing Triangle wrong as the people she was following in front were doing it wrong, unbeknown to herself. It was the 'just move your arms' part again. Instead of moving the arms and collapsing your whole side body down so you can reach your toes, we were shown how to move just the arms, stretch down whilst stretching up. Thus keeping the side waist lifted and the 'triangle' shape between the body, leg and arm visible. To get the fingers with the toes you have to have those hips down low, where they should be, not slump the body down. I had been shown this move before but it didn't compute till then. It was great this morning and Sunday watching the seminar goers doing it the new way. I shouldn't keep saying new as it's actually the right way. Hopefully we shall lead the people who weren't there the right way from now on.

I'm going to focus this post on a pose that I really like. Standing separate leg head to knee (Dandayamana - Bibhaktapada - Janushirasana). Despite 90% of the time I am blinded and my nose gets filled with a waterfall of sweat in this one it feels good. It comes after Triangle and is the third last of the standing series. It's a great compression posture that massages the thyroid and helps control obesity, diabetes, blood sugar and many kidney processes. It allows the heart rate to come back to normal after it's work out in Triangle. I'm highlighting this pose because it has been bugging me that I see some students doing weird things in the set up despite being told not too.

When it comes to the set up and we are told to move our hips five times to get the hips level. At this point some people start busting out some funky moves. Twisting their shoulders and arms back and fourth quite vigorously towards the front leg. I am guessing they think this is the right way to get the hips round. In actual fact what is happening is yes the hips are moving but then as the arms fling back again so do the hips. Both Shawn and Jo have brought this up in class and have even demoed how to set up and do the 'five times' move correctly. Then on Saturday Craig highlighted. Yes everyone laughed at the funky arm waving but people this is what you look like. I know I'm no expert or authority here I'm just reiterating what we have been told by the instructors.

What I have picked up on this is you need to turn the hips like a ratchet. If you have your shoulders and upper body square onto the mirror/side wall there is no need to move them forward and backwards with the hips. Just bring the hips round. Turn once, stop/freeze, don't let them slip back round, turn twice, stop/freeze carry on till you have turned them five times and they are level with your squared up shoulders. Jabbing the shoulders back and forth may look funky and give you a nice stretch/twist but it's doing nothing but twist the hips back and forth too. Keep the arms/shoulders still people, save your energy for the compression.

Set up, everything aligned to the side wall

The final expression - Courtesy of BYJ

Monday, March 28, 2011

Putting it into practice

To follow on from my awesome experience at the seminar I'd like to start by reviewing the one thing that nearly killed my whole day. I didn't look after myself physically like I usually do. I've mentioned already the headache and lack of food due to my 'child on Christmas morning' excitement. It made me realise how on the game I must be at training. Never leave home without snacks, water, pain killers and a cushion. You never know how long your going to be kept sitting for and I need to keep my strength/blood sugars normal. Hydration is a no brainer but even with 3 litres I had with me I only drank two over the whole eleven hours I was out. This was due to not wanting to take pee breaks and missing something. Anyways...

I was bursting with enthusiasm to get into the hot room yesterday I reviewed my notes from the seminar about an hour before leaving so they'd be fresh in my head *yoga geek* alert. There was so much to remember but I had the feeling Anthony who was taking the 2pm would have soaked all Craig's words up like a sponge and would be able to give us some reminders. I was right!

We all had a joke at reception about the extended Awkward part two we were held in. The instructors were all practicing on the back row (just like at Training) and they were made to hold it even longer whilst we all turned round to watch. I must build my strength in this somehow it is slowly turning into my worst posture in the series. Craig did admit he would never ask people to do something he can't do himself so he must be able to hold it this long too. Okay future students of mine the complete Awkward series will now be a ten second posture!

My arms were so sore all the way up my triceps like I'd done 100 dips. The 'new arms' as Lisa W has named it, is very effective. It makes such a difference to the set up, it not only looks stronger but as a group doing it together we look in sync. = great group energy. It engages all the muscles instead of half arsing them up above the head like floppy rags.

Anthony commented how we'd all done our homework and were putting into practice what Craig had taught us. As hoped Anthony was there with some reminders. Oww my nostrils were flaring like a bull in pranayama as I made the 'so' shape with my throat for the inhale. It made the rattling sound in the throat louder and stronger.

I really tuned into the words for Triangle as well as doing the seminar tip. I'm not sure yet if it's verbatim dialogue but it was said after change to come out, "move your arms first then straighten your leg." This not only felt better, it looked better = smooth transition. Instead of flinging myself up and straightening my leg at the same time the moment the 'c' in change hits my ears. My mind is usually screaming "get out now & fast." It's all in taking it slowly as we were told.

The lights were kept on for the floor series. We had them dimmed the other morning which I loved. It made it so mellow and I wasn't seeing stars when I was looking up at the ceiling lights. We had two newbies so it wasn't appropriate I think, they needed the full beams on to see what to do.

Somehow, out of no where I pulled out the deepest Cobra of my life. This may be because I was looking super up at the ceiling. It felt close to an Updog but without the pressure in my hands/arms. Go spine strength!

I had a great class, I felt strong, focused and tuned in despite being sore. One downfall from the not hot Saturday class was I have friction burns on my knees. I do get a bit of stigmata on my knees but with the sweat the towel doesn't rub so much. It had on Saturday, nice dry, red scabby knees. Nice! I took today, Monday, off to absorb and rest. Back in there tomorrow, ekk can't wait so much to experiment with.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Craig Villani Seminar

 I'll start with a warning. This post may well be long. I know most of my posts are but this may exceed the usual. 

Saturday March 26th, Mount Hawthorn Hall, Perth, WA Australia.
8:10am lots of eager yogis were gathering outside a hall in Perth awaiting the start of the Craig Villani one day workshop/seminar and master class. The doors weren't opening till 8:30 so we were all very keen. I was an environmentally aware yogini and car pooled with two fellow BYJers. Good job as there wasn't much parking about. 

Being there early had it's advantages. We managed to get a spot right in front of the stage. Bit of a neck strain and kinda tricky to get out to the toilet which was right at the back but worth it being so close to the action. With 150 tickets sold, plus extra staff/instructors there wasn't much room between our mats. I'm imagining this is how training will be. It was very cosy, about on hand space between. There was also no mirrors or heat. More on that later.

Right from the offset Craig came across as very easy going and entertaining. Some of the stories he told were hilarious. The first thing I noted was how he wasn't your typical yogi stereotype person. He looked more like a rugby player with well muscled limbs rather than the lean, long, tall giraffe types you see on the front of Yoga Journal. Very refreshing, very normal, no ego and no entourage. He sat on the floor too, just like us. 

I was super hyped up, over excited which totally spazzed me out. I knew this would happen. I'd had crazy dreams the night before that we'd got the venue wrong and missed it all. I could barely eat breakfast which is weird for me. I didn't pack any snacks as lunch was provided so didn't even think about it. I did have over three litres of iced water which was something. By the time lunch came I'd not eaten for over seven hours and I had a tension headache that was brewing into a migrane. Of course I'd not even thought about packing pills as I've not had a headache in months. Janette and Lisa to the rescue who found me a Nurofen! Even then I only ate two very yummy veggie wraps as I didn't want that full, sick feeling for the class at the end.

The day was awesome. I was torn between scribbling notes and hanging on every word so not to miss anything. We started with the basics, the very basics, ie. Mountain pose. How to stand correctly, weight evenly spread over the feet, hips, legs, knees tight and engaged. The most interesting part was what to do with your hands. Yes they are by your sides but they need to be engaged too, stretching down with the energy directed out of the finger tips. 

We were given some very handy tips for Pranayama. I was always confused with being told to look for the back wall but no back bending. It's amazing how your head follows your eyes without really thinking about it. Looking where you want to go really does lead your body there, it really opens the throat too. The optic nerve even gets a work out in yoga!

Craig then went on to explain how the bring he arms over the head correctly for half moon. Stretching down, to the side and up drawing an arch was a great way to remember to keep everything tight. There was a big emphasis on 'don't compromise form for depth.' I see so many people sinking into their side, slumping forward just to get deeper. The hardest thing when we did Half Moon was there wasn't a mirror. Without being able to see my form I found it hard to correct myself. I had to feel it instead...but was what I was feeling looking okay?

I won't go into every posture we went through but there was lots of demonstrations and audience participation. Small tips about grips, solid bases and fluid transitions made postures come alive. The tiniest alteration makes such an improvement. Eyes play a huge part in helping the alignment of the spine.

At lunch Jo came to ask me which posture out of Standing Separate Leg Stretching or Triangle I'd most like help with. Even though Triangle has been bugging me the former is something I'd like to improve on as I hit a road block. So there it was, I was going to make my debut on stage in front of 150+ people. Deb very kindly got some photos of me but as my camera is pretty old and crappy now they are a bit fuzzy. So there I was, on stage, getting patted on the head by this yoga master. Yes he was patting my head, saying "good yogi get your hair line on the floor." Of course I lost the plot, couldn't stop laughing, hence breathing and the whole thing went to pieces. As soon as I corrected one limb and went to correct the next the first correction disappeared. He had to tell me three times to get my arms back to my shins, oppsie.

But now I know what I need to do the most. Keep my chuffing forearms back with my shins. The moment I role forward to my toes and pull they fling forward. Least my back is staying straighter. Then I had the opportunity to ask my question to Craig. My mind went blank. I have about a years worth of questions for this man and all I could say was "I can't touch my head to the floor." This is the least of my worries, it's my back and arms that bother me the most! Oh well...stage fright gets the best of us.

The day was really long. Sitting on the floor was really painful. I should have packed a cushion. Every minute was worth it, I would have sat for three days. We didn't start class till about 5:30pm. There was no heat but with all the people in the room and a 30 degree day it was no way cold. I had been getting cramp in my toes and calves from certain postures we'd practiced so I still took my electrolytes as I knew the magnesium would help. Craig told us to be aware that there wasn't heat and listen to our bodies.  I did this in Cobra as no way was my back going to flex to it's usual depth with no heat.

Despite no heat I was pretty darn sweaty by the floor series. My throat was burning dry and I had to drink to moisten it. This never happens in the hot room. It was so weird without mirrors. At least being at the front I stared out a board on the stage in front of me to keep my balance. Craig told us, mentally picture ourselves in our mind instead. So there I was in my minds eyes visualizing myself gracefully going into full standing splits and my head touching the floor with only a metre between my feet!!!!! hahaha. Full locust was funny, it was a tangle of arms and we had no choice but to lay out hands on both neighbours backs.

Craig is notorious for holding the second part of Awkward for a long time. He does this because he can hold it for that long. He wouldn't ask people to do something he was not willing or couldn't do. Nice. Jeez I was dying. With my right knee/muscle/thigh still bugging me I gave up. Crapola effort Kat. However to lighten the mood the students got to come out and the instructors at the back got to hold out for a bit longer second set. Go guys, you are so strong and inspirational.  

It was an awesome, energizing class. I learnt so much, I hope I remember it all in class today. Especially the Triangle tips. That made all the difference. I had such a great day. I was dead on my feet by the end of it, hungry, fatigued but elated. What would I have been like if there was heat!!! I couldn't hang around after, I was officially spent and still had an hour's drive home. So pleased I was only driving half of it, thanks Keeley xx. It would have been good to speak more with Craig, maybe next time. I am really wishing I could go to France this June for the retreat but if I am to make TT happen too, financially it won't be possible. Maybe next year! I did have a win on the Lotto this weekend, a whole $12.90. How cool is that, something is better than nothing. 

Here's some photos. Excuse the quality...

The room, getting set up for class
Jen, Bikram Yoga Perth Director, demonstrating a beautiful Standing Bow

A very inspiring Standing Head to Knee
Me getting my head patted

Me again, forearms nearly in the right place

Triangle set up

Friday, March 25, 2011

Big weekend ahead

I managed to take two full rest days this week, Wednesday and Thursday. The muscle above my knee is still feeling odd. There was no strength there is toe stand on the right to push myself up for the final expression on Tuesday. There isn't any pain but just a weakness. I don't feel it in any other posture apart from Awkward when I come up out the posture. I'm just glad it's not in the knee joint and it's muscular. 

I did feel nice and refreshed today for the 5:45am. I had a nice surprise that Meagan was teaching. I've only got to know her since she arrived back from TT in November and I turned into an unofficial cheer squad/supporter. I was so pleased to take part in her class today and watch her journey come full circle from fresh graduate trainee to fully fledged instructor. This will be me at the end of the year so the more I learn from these new instructors the more prepared I will be.

The class was tiny, only five of us. The temperature was spot on, I had nice juicy limbs and felt good. A bit stiff though, my hamstrings were nice and morning short for kicking out. Burning, blinding sweat in my eyes nearly floored me coming out of standing separate head to knee. I had to close one eye it hurt so much and wooow wobbles.

It was good to hear some verbatim dialogue. I'm really starting to tune in and pick out all those Biklish sayings 'put you're exactly head on the knee.' I can't wait to hear it live from the man himself!

We breezed through and even finished a few minutes early but I just can't relax and enjoy it as I knew i needed to shower and get out. The parking at the station has been crazy recently and I didn't fancy the idea of leaving my car on the street again. 

Tomorrow is the day! Craig Villani is in Perth, he was at BYJ this morning. I was so tempted to take the day off so I could go to the 9:30am but I don't want to turn into some mad instructor stalker type person. I will wait for tomorrow. Ekkk a whole day of information, postures and advice. My inner yoga geek will be in her element.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yoga anatomy

I am a self confessed girly swot. I actually enjoyed school and university so much I even completed a post graduate degree last year through distance learning because I could. Having a thirst for knowledge and learning is one of the reasons I am going to training. To learn more about this yoga I love so much. 

Part of the training curriculum is an anatomy course. This makes sense, you need to know fully what is going on inside and out in order to understand the benefits and assist students with any problems. I've heard the course is designed for complete anatomy beginners, it's easy to understand and the Doctor is fantastic who runs it. Still the girly swot in my would like to go in there being a little bit familiar with muscle names etc. I would also like to be up on this side of things as students are always asking questions as to "why does this hurt, I have recurring issues here, what's pinching there, is it normal?" I would like to be a well read, well informed instructor who can answer these question confidently. (I'm sure this will all be covered at TT)

I'd seen this book, Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff, a while back and read other recommendations from fellow bloggers that it's a good read. It arrived on my door step last week and I've got stuck straight in. It has lots of lovely illustrations that appeal to me, I like cross referencing words to images it helps me get an understanding of what's going on. All the poses are broken into different chapters ie. standing, sitting, kneeling etc. 

The first chapter is really interesting and goes into detail about the respiratory system and spine. This book is for yoga in general but there are a lot of the Bikram series in here, some with slightly different names and variations. It still highlights which major muscle groups are being used. I've not done anything slightly scientific for over 16 years but after reading a few of the chapters some of my GCSE biology started to kick in and it wasn't so alien to me. Also during the Bikram class instructors will talk about the medical benefits and name some of the muscles or parts of the spine that are being engaged. So I'm getting mini anatomy classes during class as well!

Anyone interested in the inner workings of the body and relating it to yoga I'd say get this book. It's not too heavy on the words and the illustrations are clear and easy to follow.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Good advice

It's Sunday afternoon and I decided to rest up today and take the day off from my usual Sunday 2pm class, get some essential jobs done and have lunch out with The Man. As I've mentioned so many times Craig Villani will be hosting a posture workshop and master class next Saturday so I want to be refreshed and on top form. 

I also went out last night and had my first alcoholic drink in two whole months. I didn't plan to go this long, it just sort of happened. The sparkling wine tasted so good but I was super sleepy after just a few hours. I may have lost my drinking endurance! I didn't drink too much and felt fine today. I haven't missed hangovers. At teacher training it is in the agreement that students do not drink for the duration of the course (9 weeks) or risk expulsion. My dry run has been good practice for that.

Yesterday I did the 9:30am with Dom. He'll be moving on after next weekend which is again sad. I may not have said that before Christmas as his classes used to kill me. Now I am used to his style and really enjoy them. He is full of very useful hints and tips and I've learnt a lot in the past month. Isn't funny how you can change your mind so easily. What was once hard becomes easy and not an issue anymore, just like postures.

The class was hard though. It was like the old days. I had well digested my light breakfast but something was tight in my chest. The feeling I get when I've eaten too much. It was weighing me down, it was hard to breath. The room was the spot on humidity and temperature but the air was thick. I was screaming out for some circulation, I felt like I couldn't breath. By Standing Bow Pulling I was contemplating taking a knee, I was zapped. I didn't I pushed through. British Bulldog determination.

I got some more well needed help in Trikanasna. The moment I adjust one body part I loose the one I just fixed. For example, I get the hips down then go to adjust my arms and the hips come back up again. 

I literally dragged myself through the rest of the class. The Yoga Bus was back. I flaked the first set of camel, as did half the class. The air came on and I managed to get through nearly the whole second set but it was a crap effort. I didn't feel good and drank throughout the floor series. I can not pin point what caused this, it doesn't matter really but it would be nice to know so I can avoid it happening again. I was very well rested, fed and hydrated. Only today I realised it was a moon day. Could this have been why my energy was all over the shop?

This leads me to the good advice we received in class yesterday. We were told to stop scrutinizing and judging our practice. Just go in there, do it and except that's how it is for that day. Obviously I do scrutinize and then I come in here and write about it! This is how I keep a record of how I'm doing. What I'm finding hard, what I'm finding easy. The good advice would mean me letting go of that. I understand every day is different, we should be in there to have fun not turn it into an exam. It's yoga practice not perfect, we will never be perfect. I do enjoy analyzing it all, it's part of my fun. Through the feedback I get from this blog other people find it useful to know that they are not alone with their personal struggles. I'm going through it too. However, I will take up this advice as I think it is valid. 

I shall stop judging myself whilst I'm in the room. Instead of scrowling at myself when I fall out of Standing head to knee or get cross when I can't even kick out one day I will let it go. Whilst I am in there I shall stay present and not judge. Then afterward I will look back and review how the class went and write about it as I enjoy doing this. It's nice to look back and remember a good class and the high it brought. It's a reminder that gets me through those tough classes.

Being zapped of energy left me with yoga brain. I had it before leaving home too as I forgot my entire wash bag. Then on my way down the freeway after class I missed my exit as I was so totally absorbed in driving/thinking/singing I forgot where I was going. Good job I was running early. But what a feeling suddenly snapping out of it and thinking 'where am I going, I missed my exit!' At least I didn't end up in the centre of Perth before realizing, what a waste of fuel that would have been.

Nut butter is back!

It's been nearly three weeks since I couldn't find my favourite pre-early morning class snack of nut butter. I got a message from a fellow yogini who had found it and tried it out so I knew it must be in Perth somewhere. I know I said I was going to Thermomix my own but time has been short and organic raw nuts are pricey. Fret not I located the last jar on the shelf of the city store on Friday of Woolworth's own version in their Macro range. It's just the same as the Melrose spread ingredients wise but I am yet to try it out for taste. I'm sure you can't really go too wrong with blended nuts and oil. Other products I've bought in this range have been very good. The only down side is the price. Organic = more money. It's worth it, as the saying goes 'you can't put a price on good health.' 

This is one product I'll be stocking up on, bubble wrapping and taking to teacher training. I'm sure Wholefoods does something like this but for the first week in till I find my feet I can't risk not being without it. Hopefully California doesn't have any rules on food importing like WA has. No way would you get this past the oh so cute sniffer dog in customs. Sorry I am attaching to this one, just like my electrolytes!


Gratefully Received

I have very good reason to be grateful this week. On three separate occasions I was the recipient of three generous gifts. All were very unexpected but very much appreciated. The first was a handmade soy wax melt from my yoga buddy Lisa. Her sister, Charlene, makes fabulous homemade soaps, candles and home products. You can check out Scentual Flairs range on the blog spot here and make sure to follow them on Facebook too. Lisa had mentioned the day before how she's never been to the Lululemon shop but loved their bags. Being a pack rat of carrier bags I have kept all the bags I have from the store so thought I'd take Lisa a couple, a big one and a small limited addition super hero bag. They are designed to be reused so passing them on will fulfill their purpose. In exchange I was given the melt which has lasted about twenty hours now and still going strong. It smells so fresh and natural and doesn't leave the sticky mess like the oils do.

Gift number two was also from Scentual Flair. Charlene was promoting her products on Facebook last week and I dropped by the page to have a closer look at what else was available. I hit 'like' as I do with quite a few pages I go to and just happened to be the 100th person to do so. I had no clue there was a prize on offer until I received a message congratulating me for being the 100th person and i had won a prize. My prize is a box of gorgeous handmade soaps, a melt and an oil diffuser. I couldn't wait to get it home to try it all out. 

The presentation box was so lovely I felt bad ripping it open to get to my loot. The vanilla cream diffuser has filled my home office with delicious sweet scent. So much nicer and more environmentally friendly than air fresheners. The soaps are unbelievable. The rose vanilla is beautifully wrapped with handmade labels and the soap has real rose buds infused. I have cracked open and used the raspberry and mint soap which smells good enough to eat. I am truly grateful to have been given such a useful and generous gift. I highly recommend you all go check out Scentual Flair.

My third and final gift of the week was from one of my work clients. Ida has recently opened a franchise of the Coffee Club just down the road from my office. We've helped her out with her printing and design as well as teaming up to offer some of our clients a free coffee as a thank you for their business. As a thank you to us Ida gave myself and my three colleagues a card for unlimited free coffee at her store anytime, for an unlimited period. How nice is that?

I'm not the sort of person who only does things to get something back in exchange or befriends influential people to get ahead. I do try and do my karma yoga or selfless service when I can. When these unexpected gifts come my way it makes me feel very blessed to be surrounded by like minded, generous people.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekly Round up

This week I decided to mix up my usual schedule of Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday practice for Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This was to trick my body into doing something new. Always good to mix it up. I'm keeping up with moving round the room. I now fully appreciate not getting attached to a spot. I've noticed a few other students who almost always go to the same spot every time. That's cool, they can do what they want but I'm glad I'm a mover now.

Monday 5:45am
Since the challenge has finished the morning classes have been rather quiet. Fine by me, more room in the changing rooms and not waiting for a shower. It also means the instructor can really help out with individual corrections. 

Anthony took this class. He's still a fairly new instructor but if you didn't know you wouldn't be able to tell. When he jumbles up the dialogue or goes off track he laughs it off which I think is awesome. We did warm up stretching for half moon in both the first and second set. There was a few confused faces but we went with it and we carried on smoothly like it was meant to be there. Again if this was your first class you'd never have known this was out of place as he didn't let on. 

Anthony is one of the few instructors that actually says the "Mama give me money" line in the first set up for Standing Bow Pulling. First time I heard this I was like WTF, crazy visiting American lady! Then I learnt it was in the book. I do attach to individual instructors twists on the dialogue. It's what makes the class personal to them. My favourite Anthony-ism is "put your wings away" after Full Locust. A few people I've noticed keep them out to the sides and don't retract them.

The heat was having a malfunction that morning. I was right between a hot vent and a cool vent. Both were on. Hot one arm, ice cold the other. This was soon sorted out. We all like a refreshing blast but not before we've warmed up.

Wednesday 6pm
Shawn was back for the Wednesday night class. An opportunity not to be missed. I had a double reason to attend this class. Fellow regular Dee was finishing her 60 day challenge. She had been there to support us 30 Day Challengers on our last class so I wanted to be there for her. Another shining example of our strong BYJ community. Spirits were high. I managed to persuade Dee to come front row with me to finish off. She's never been in the front row and has been practicing as long as I have so is more than worthy to lead the class. At first I got the "I'll do it next week," but I'm pretty persistent and she came down to join me. Another fellow regular Keeley moved over too so we had a nice line of three going on. Nothing like finishing out front, excuse the pun. 

It was lovely and humid, sweat flying everywhere, dripping from my ears. Only us Birkam-ites can appreciate how good this feeling is. However the stream of sweat caused a few vision issues early on. I was blinded in Pada-Hastasana. I'd not washed my make up remover off properly so I had not only sweat but burning, stinging alcohol remover running into my eyes. Of course this made my nose run too.

Another set back was I'd had a massive lunch. I always try and eat well at lunch if I'm doing an evening class but I'd gone overboard with a huge serve of Thermomix chicken and vegetable risotto. Yes I eat carbs and I'm proud, with every meal in fact. One yogi friend was shocked to hear this but I believe in balance and not cutting out food groups. However a smaller serve might have been better as it was sitting like a lead balloon. This did slow me down. I felt a bit off kilter despite the food overload. I was craving my salty water which I drank on two occasions during the floor series. It wasn't till after class when I went to take my electrolytes and they weren't there. I'd left them on my desk and not taken them before class either. This is the first time in six months I've not used them for a class. I did feel it. I felt lagged, that could have been the food but I've over dosed on food before and this was different. I didn't cramp up but my muscles didn't feel right.

Overall despite my road blocks I had a fair class. It was fun celebrating Dee's achievement. Shawn is very motivating and inspiring. A few postures he actually did them along with us whilst delivering prefect dialogue smoothly. Obviously we couldn't watch as we were in our own but it was good to know he was right there with us. 

Friday 5:45am
I missed Thursday morning in favor of Friday so I could take a day to rest and have a lie in after getting home late Wednesday. A muscle just above my right knee has been niggling me. Especially in Awkward. I've wobbled and fell nearly every day this week in that one, parts 1 & 2. My strength wasn't there. I've been lashing on the Tiger Balm and backing off a bit but there still is something going on. Hopefully it's one of those tight muscles that lead to a breakthrough. Oh I've love to perfect Awkward before September. 

Karen was in charge today. She's just returned from Melbourne full of great feedback and new ideas for teaching. We had lots of Zhoom's and some good dialogue extras. 

The room was hot but not in a knock out, draining way. A good slippy hot. There's nothing worse than getting friction burn in Eagle from dry legs. (That sounds soooo dodgy!) I lacked strength which lead to wonky balance. I can't put my finger on it yet. Maybe I need to back off, take two days off at some point between classes instead of one. I'm feeling stiff and sore like I'm on a challenge. Usually in my normal practice a day off revives me and I go back feeling refreshed and ready. Now I'm just flat. My determination is there, my enthusiasm is high. I won't dwell on this. There must be a reason but I won't stress out trying to find it out.

Only eight days till the Craig Villani workshop which is a good reason to ease up, rest and be on top form for next Saturday. It felt very real yesterday when I finalised the tickets and got them printed. Not long to wait now. I'm so excited, there's so much to learn!!  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A happy place

A favourite blog read of mine is that of Bikram Yoga Manahattan. A recent post I just read today is about home studios. It got me thinking. One of the main reason's Bikram Yoga has become a big part of my life is because of my home studio, Bikram Yoga Joondalup. Bikram yoga is very new to Western Australia. The first studio, Bikram Yoga Perth, opened just over a year ago in North Perth. Then BYJ and Bikram Yoga Scarborough Beach opened in May 2010. Then later last year BYP opened a second studio in Myaree, South Perth. Bikram Yoga is literally on fire here!

I chose BYJ as it is the closest studio to where I live. In saying that it is still a 25 minute drive but it's only a five minutes from the station I take the train to work from. Perfectly organised. I'm a stickler for good customer service and manners. Maybe it's my British up bringing shining through. I can easily be put off a place if these two things are lacking. But they are fully in place at BYJ. Happy smiling faces greet you at reception. At my first class I received a full briefing of what to expect in the next 90 minutes. Being a brand new studio everything is shiny and modern. There is a team of staff and Angels that keep the place spotlessly clean and organised.

Staff and instructors are approachable and friendly. If you have any concerns or questions these are answered with knowledge and professionalism. You may need to get in line though, as they are so friendly everyone likes to have a chat after/before class. 

The studio is a good size, not too big, not too small. I think the fullest class I've been in was about 45 people and that was a tight squeeze. The carpet is antimicrobial and antifungal making it hygienic and soft under foot. It is vacuumed daily with a huge industrial cleaner thing. I can say it has never smelt either. This might be down to the good air circulation as well but even going in to the room after a class has finished it doesn't smell sweaty. Unlike the cycle room at the Arena which is vile after back to back classes. 

This next paragraph I've pasted from the BYJ website as it explains the environmentally friendly hot water system. "Hot water for the studio is produced by heat pump systems which absorbs energy from a renewable and free energy source – The Sun. The systems use significantly less energy, (approximately 75% less then traditional electric hot water heaters), therefore dramatically reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses produced." There one thing we are not short of here in WA it's sun. 

The change room are clean and actually nicer than my home bathroom. Lots of bench space and hanging hooks. A full length mirror, hair drier (not that I ever have time to use this), lots of power points and lovely smelling body wash. 

Towels and mats are available for hire. There are mat cleaning products to wipe down your own mat after class. A wide variety of hydration products are for sale as well as yoga wear, mats, books, towels, bottles, candles and audio cd's.

The reception and chill out area is airy and spacious. Lot's of room to relax before and after class. Quite often students are so busy socializing the instructors have to round them up as the class is about to start. Last week a gong was introduced to gong five minutes before hand. 

It's a fabulous studio and a great credit to Jo who moved all the way from her home in Melbourne to set it up and run. All the students and staff are so nice we have such an awesome community going on, it's the main reason I keep going back day after day. It's a nice, happy place to be and practice.

Here's some photos from the BYJ facebook page. These are from when it first opened so now there are loads of posters, pictures, notices and photos adorning the walls and the retail sections has grown!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Trikanasna sorted

The powers of the mind never fails to amaze me. If you think positively about something it somehow sorts itself out. After writing about my problems with Trikanasana on Saturday I had them fixed in Sunday afternoon's class. It was quite spooky actually but goes to show I needed some serious help with this one.

Jo was taking the class and I'd parked up front row right next to the podium. I'll just say now Jo hadn't read my blog for a while and wasn't aware of Saturday's post. Therefore it must have been very obvious I had some crazy things going on that weren't right. She came straight over and realigned my hips, opening up the bent knee and pushing down the thigh and opening the straight leg hip. Oww I could feel it. I still need to take a smaller stride and get down low to start with before windmilling the arms. But now I know how this one should feel and where the hips should be. Back at the start of the challenge I was concentrating on 'just moving the arms' not bending/moving the whole body over. I think this lead to me to neglect what was going on with the legs. So much to think about here in this master posture.

I also got some much needed help in Head to Knee with stretching (Janushirasana with Paschimottanasa). I have seriously rounded shoulders which screw up my alignment and stops my elbows going where they should. With an adjustment and some gentle persuasion my shoulders opened up and it felt like a whole new posture. This is great as the head to locked out knee, heel off the floor is there but the arms and shoulders are all over the place.

Sunday's class was good, I felt strong and could really focus once I'd forgotten about the shorts. Jo also made the announcement to the whole class during the two minute savasana that they'll be seeing more of me around the studio as I am going to training. Ekkk, I did freak out a little hearing someone else say it out loud. I'm not having any second thoughts at all, by spreading the word is setting my intention. But not in an ego boosting way of 'look at me, I'm so awesome, I'm going to training' this is so far from it. Apart from talking about it in here I haven't been telling people in person, I wait for them to bring it up first then I'm happy to talk about it. The intention is set but I'm still a little shy about it. As Shavon over at Bikram or Bust commented a few posts back, "we can be our very worst critics and it doesn't help the heart heal." So I must hold my head up high and get used to the fact everyone will know soon. I've mentioned before I've had very positive feedback from those who do know so what am I scared of?! I must keep up the positive affirmation that I need everyone's support and they are behind me on this one.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Small shorts

The reason this post is called 'Small Shorts' is because for the first time yesterday I practiced in small shorts, really small shorts, butt cheek skimming shorts. (Mika Lucia style to be precise) This is another hurdle this fantastic yoga has got me to overcome. 

It took me nearly four months of practicing to get out of capri pants but with the Australian summer looming it forced me to change my yoga wardrobe. Like most women out there I have some body issues, especially my legs. The size, shape and length of them are fine it's the skin covering them!!! I have keratosis pilaris which is a common skin condition in which a protein in the skin called keratin forms hard plugs within hair follicles. The result lovely angry red bumps all over my thighs. It doesn't hurt, sometimes gets irritated, it's just there. I have tried every treatment in the book and spent a lot of money trying to expel this. So far nothing has worked. Apart from when I burnt my legs to a crisp in Thailand but this is something I don't wish to repeat. Fake tan covers it but there is little point me doing this as it would sweat off quick time in the studio. I also have a lot of scars which aren't that noticeable but I know they are there. Hence I was reluctant to let these shocking thighs out in public. 

But I did. Mainly because no one cares in the Bikram studio, it doesn't matter, you are their for yourself not to think 'urrg look at her scabby thighs.' Plus it's blooming hot in there, the less clothes the better. I started with the longer mid thigh length Lulu Groove shorts which I love, good coverage of the thighs, butt and belly. However we had a fresh shipment of Mika in at the weekend and Janette suggested I try the Lucia's. Wow they are small. They have tied sides so I attempted to make them longer by letting the strings out but pretty much after Eagle they had ridden up to where they were designed to be. I admit, I did faff, I did try pulling them back down but they still rode up. A quick whisper from Jo that "The shorts look good" decided it, I left them alone. Whole thigh out to show the world. They were comfortable and very light weight (& halfthe price of Lulu). Once I let go of their size I breezed through the class and focused on what I was supposed to be doing.

It's one of the most confronting things in Bikram practice to face yourself in the mirror. Even fully clothed some people may find this hard. To face yourself half naked with every lump, bump, self proclaimed flaw on show and to a room of often twenty or more people is a recipe for a freak out. No one cares what you look like, you're in their to improve your health not to judge others. The smaller, lighter clothes you have on the more you and the instructor can see how well you're doing in the postures. I will make sure I keep wearing these short to build my confidence in them and maybe buy them some friends in the future. (Stock piling yoga clothes for TT has started, the less time I spend on laundry = more revising dialogue, well that's the theory!)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tricky Trikanasna

Saturday 9:30am. I was wide awake after nine wonderful, restful hours of sleep and could have made the 7:30am. It would have been awesome as Jules (blog photo model!) was taking it and I can't remember the last time I took her class. But no, my man was due home from night shift so I grabbed some time with him before he went to sleep. It also gave me chance to get some food and water in. My small protein fixes before the 5:45am's work well, but it can't compete with being nourished and hydrated.

Not such a busy class today. I went second row for a change of scenery and there was no one on the front row. I had a nice crowd of regulars around me which was great, we formed a strong circle of energy. Dom was leading us through again. I think I am over my fear of his classes now and as I have not been left for dead afterward since the Yoga Bus incident during the challenge. 

Straight away he was onto all of us with corrections. I do like corrections, even other people's I take note of as they might help me too. I want to know I'm doing  this right so I can fully benefit. Mon over at Don't Sweat It wrote a great post on Thursday about this subject. To quote, "it's good to know that the teachers have an eye on how you're getting into the postures and that you are doing it correctly and not just going through the motions of talking you through each posture."  I agree, I think it's fantastic how instructors get the dialogue out, are watching the room and can give corrections all at once. Classes would be very dull if they just went through verbatim and didn't offer any guidance. 

My half moon, Ardha-Chandrasana got sorted out first. I was next to Peta today who can almost get parallel to the floor in this one, very inspirational, which gave me a boost to try harder. I know I've been hanging out half way in this. I used to sink down into my waist/lower back to get depth but since being corrected a while back not to push until I have the lift up and out of my waist I've not been pushing at all really. It's remarkable how the tiniest, lightest adjustment can take you to the next level. It was uncomfortable, things were stretching and pulling but isn't that the reason why I'm doing this?!

I've decided my Triangle/Trikanasana is shocking. I need help. I got some pointers the other week which I've been trying to put into practice but still I feel I'm in the wrong place. I'm paranoid about my bent knee over shooting my toes and causing an injury. My legs are always too wide apart too as I find this way it's easier to get my thigh parallel to the floor. I've been pulled up on this a few times now. In the mirror I look so gumpy, I have long thigh's, even when I'm down there I don't look neat and tidy, it's legs all over the place. Now I have my hands in the right spot it's easier. I had some adjustments on the twisting back and getting my straight leg hip forward. This felt right, it felt good but I couldn't seem to repeat it on the other side. There is so much going on in this posture. It works every muscle, bone, ligament and organ. You're heart is pounding. You're hips are opening. Everything working together. It's not easy but it's what's called The Master Posture.' At least I have six months to work on this and it does need some work!

Trikanasana as its should look on a Perth beach. Courtesy of BYJ.

The rest of the class ran smoothly. We were treated to an icy blast of cool air during Standing Head separate head to knee. The room was hot but not dripping in humidity. It was very manageable and I wasn't crying out for a drink at any point. Maybe my mind was just on the job today. 

I was pushed hard again in Cobra. Last Saturday I was doing 'damage control' where I don't go into the full expression straight away, I come up slowly as I know we will be there a while. My mat buddy was doing the same and we were called out to go higher. Same today, except I had to go up more and Peta need to come down. I found this quite amusing. I was going to go up more but was just waiting till the last possible moment. So bad I know. 

On a final note, after sharing with everyone the brand of nut spread I get I now can not find it anywhere. Perth has run out of nut spread. Three Woolworths I have tried and no spread. Time to get Thermomixing my own, which is better I suppose instead of being lazy and buying shop made.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A week later

It's been a week now since I finished the challenge. I'm feeling good despite having what I could only describe as withdrawal symptoms of not practicing everyday. I actually felt a bit low on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, even though I practiced Monday and Tuesday. I'm adjusting back to my regular schedule but I'm missing all those daily benefits and endorphin rushes. It was hard not to go to the 6pm last night as I knew Shawn was back for a few weeks. I think I've convinced myself I need to take at least day or two off a week to relax and keep on top of the rest of my life. Once I'm adjusted again it will be easier. (& time for the next challenge in May!)

I practiced at 5:45am this morning and felt much better. It was a really small class and I matted down on the back row with lot's of space around me. Jo took the class which was great as I don't get to take her classes very often. I was complimented for my back bend which made me smile. It's a hard posture to tackle but I love that feeling of my spine bending the opposite way to it's usual hunched forward over a computer. I read a comment on another blog the other day but I can't remember who's blog it was. (I read so many!) However it was the super Dancing J over at Lock the Knee who commented that in the back bend dialogue it doesn't actually say that your arms have to stay back with your ears, it's just 'arms back immediately.' I had been worried that I shouldn't be bending back to my maximum capabilities until those biceps were glued to my ears. But no, I can go back and the arms one day will catch up, hopefully. 

Another thing I've noticed from my time hanging out on the back row is the number of people who aren't listening in Eagle pose - Garudasana. After you have twisted your arms like ropes and pulled those shoulders down so your fingers are below your nose the dialogue directs you to sit down low 'and stay down there.' Then wrap you opposite foot round your calf muscle. So many people I've seen stand back up to wrap, then sit back down. This was one thing I remember clearly from our posture clinic with Nathan Dennett. He told us to make sure we do not bring our hips up once we are sitting down low in the chair. Yes it's harder to wrap but that's the point, you need to be working hard. If you don't realise you are coming up, next class pay attention to your movements and stay down low whilst wrapping your foot. Below is Jules demonstrating an excellent Garudasana, look how low she is, thighs parallel to the floor. If you find it hard to wrap, practice at home or at work whilst your sitting on your chair. It works!

Garudasana - Courtesy of Bikram Yoga Joondalup

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A new adventure

There you have it, I am going to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training aka Bikram's Torture Chamber or Yoga Boot camp. It just seems like a natural progression for me. I was thinking how I could improve myself and my practice? Then I made the realization I could achieve this and help other people at the same time. That made my mind up. I am a giving person, I rarely take anything without feeling the need to repay the favour. By becoming a certified instructor I can achieve a personal goal of learning as much as possible from the man who invented this practice, then impart this knowledge to others to help heal themselves of any afflictions they are carrying. I've said it before but I truly believe in the medical benefits of the sequence, it can heal bodies and souls. I want to pass on this message, I need to share the wealth.

I was scared to go public with my decision. All the usual worries about "am I good enough? Will I survive daily doubles five days a week for nine weeks? Can I leave my life for that long and up sticks to LA? How will I pay for this? What about my career!!" I do love my day job and will find a way to balance the two. I already have kind of as I do the design for the studio. My big fear was not being ready. After talking with Jo a few weeks back my doubts were erased as she is 100% behind my decision and actually encouraged me to aim for the Fall 2011 training instead of my planned Spring 2012. 

Having your studio director behind you is so important. You need their recommendation for the application form and all the help, support and guidance they can offer. At the end of the day it will be them that will be employing you so you want to feel like your part of the team. This journey will be mentally exhausting as well as physical, anything that will make that easier should be embraced. By having solid, inspiring mentors to fully prepare you and who have been through it themselves is priceless. The other instructors I have spoken to have been encouraging as well which is great. I'll need their help too to get my practice up to scratch.

Going public to my fellow students is the next hurdle I have to master. I don't want people to start watching me and comparing me or saying I'm not good enough. The two people who's opinions matter to me the most support my decision so if other people don't think I'm ready I need to let that be. Jo told me about a great book to read called The Monk who sold his Ferrari. I bought the audio version and have listened to it twice already. One chapter says by making a public pledge of your intentions you put pressure on yourself not to fail, to stick to your goal. The word is out now, I have to do this, no going back. I did want to slip away to training, do it and come back with the big "surprise!" But now I have realised I need to build my support system before I leave. 

Not many people have heard yet. But the few who have have been awesome. I received such lovely words of encouragement from two regulars yesterday. They said they'll be sending me positive energy and will be there to support me. So good to hear. After all these people will be my students in December. I need to know they've got my back when I'm up there on the podium forgetting my lines, pooing my yoga pants and keeping them in Triangle for five minutes. The BYJ community is so strong and caring I need them all to help me along this journey. I'll need bodies to practice on, mock classes to fill, willing volunteers that I'll only get by being open and honest about my goal. 

My practice may not be the best but my passion is there, I believe in the process. I'm not doing this because it's cool or the next new craze or so I can swan around in a cute Lulu outfit saying "I'm a Bikram Yoga instructor". This will sound cheesy but I'm doing this for everyone, not just myself. There are people out there who would love to go to training too but can't, so I will go and soak up that knowledge and bring it back to share with everyone.  

Now I have a new journey to blog about. Here's to my new sweaty adventure, the road to BYTT Fall 2011.

30 Day Challenge Testimonial

At the end of each 30 day challenge students are invited to write a testimonial. For November's challenge we had the incentive of receiving a 'surprise' if we wrote one which turned out to be a very cool yoga mat bag. As I was already on a writing roll I had mine finished in no time. It became more of a confession than a testimonial. Throughout the challenge I had, without sounding totally bonkers, an awakening. I realized that I was holding myself back from a journey that would not only fulfill a personal goal but will serve others in a positive way as well. I was terrified to admit my findings and 'go public' but as my words were promptly printed and put on the BYJ noticeboard there was no going back. 

Here it is blog fans, my testimonial for February 2011 30 Day Challenge:

"I have now accepted that I am completely obsessed with Bikram Yoga, I have joined the brainwashed. For the simple reason this yoga works. It works for me and I believe it can work to heal anyone of physical or mental afflictions. It leaves me energized, happy and often so exhausted that I can hardly speak. I only wish I’d found it sooner. After the first 30 day challenge there was a noticeable difference to my practice, it took me to a new level. There was no doubt in my mind this time round that I couldn’t do it again. I knew this challenge would be different from the first and I was looking forward to making the comparison.

I don’t have a deeply moving or tear jerking story behind the reason I took the challenge a second time. It bothers me a little that I don’t, I feel I need one. My main reason for taking the challenge this time, which I only revealed to Jo very recently and is still very much under wraps, is that I am considering going to Teacher Training. I decided I needed to test myself with daily practice in preparation for the grueling nine week schedule. I wanted to submerge myself in the Bikram bubble and soak up all the knowledge I could get. I’m a compulsive learner, I crave knowledge and always need something new to focus on. I don’t like rut’s, I don’t do safe, if I get too comfortable I need to make myself uncomfortable again (even though I get freaked out at the thought!). Challenges are perfect for me.

To add something different to this challenge I decided to blog the experience as a daily diary. At first I was unsure whether to share it with the world as it would be a very personal account. Did I want to let people into my mind? I let go and let them in. I have been overwhelmed how many people have embraced my ramblings and the positive feedback has blown me away. One friend in the UK was so inspired she decided to take her own 30 day challenge after not even practicing for a year. It made me realize that if I can reach out to people by writing about Bikram Yoga, then teaching it and physically helping people change their life might well be the right path for me. My ‘considering going to BYTT’ has definitely turned into ‘I need to go and as soon as possible.’ The intention has now been set, it will happen this year.

I am a very dedicated person. If I agree to do something then I do it properly and to the end. A thirty day challenge is a huge commitment and I planned to stick to it and follow the rules. In my own mind I decided to fully benefit from the challenge I needed to complete the full thirty days consecutively just like the first challenge, no days off. I succeeded in this task but I will admit I may
have become reclusive to those outside my immediate family. Luckily people came to visit me instead which took the pressure off. I even did an extra class just for fun. I set a mini challenge within the challenge to get out of my comfort zone spot in the studio and move around the room. I always tended to go in the same two or three spots so I forced myself to shift. I actually quite enjoyed
being back in the back row, no pressure to lead people, I could just be. It was a challenge to deal with the distractions other people bring and the blocked views. I kept reminding myself in a room of 400 trainees I may never see the mirror for nine weeks.

Overall I found this second challenge a lot easier. I knew what to expect and could organise my life outside of yoga easier. I had formed a routine last time so I simply picked it up again. Having the Friday morning early class helped so it meant only leaving work early on a Wednesday. I cruised the first two weeks, I felt strong and felt my body had picked up where it left off on the last
challenge. I didn’t experience any of the pains or cramps like I did the first time. I was stiff at the start of each class but this passed quickly after the first four postures. I hit a road block towards the end of week three. I wasn’t going anywhere, I may have started going backwards in some postures. I did get annoyed with myself which I know I shouldn’t but deep down I did want to have a breakthrough. Mainly I wanted to feel like I was good enough to go to training. Towards the last few days I did get frustrated with everything else in my life, food, washing, cleaning and work. I wished it would disappear so I could fully submerge myself in Bikram and finish on a high. But that would never happen so it was a case of sucking it up and just doing it.

I did finish the challenge on a high. Class 31, day 30 was excellent. I think the high energy of the group lifted the mood and gave me that final boost. I’ve made some new friends and expanded my circle further than the usual regulars I talk to. Challenges are a great way to bring people together as we all share a common goal. Looking back on my blog posts I realise now as long as I have the
passion for this yoga it doesn’t matter if my postures aren’t world champion standard. We never stop learning and there is so much more to learn. My new aim is to share this knowledge and help people to achieve their goals through this fantastic practice."

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Summary

One of the main reasons for keeping this blog was so I could look back and see how I did over the 30 days. It would be a record of at which points I may have struggled or had a breakthrough. For both there may be external reasons that aided or abetted me. Having a reminder of these reasons could help me repeat the good factors or avoid the not so good factors in the future. 

Compared to the first challenge I felt a lot stronger. My practice was in a different place to where it was in November. I knew what to expect with organising my life around the challenge so that it didn't stress me out. I went with the flow and I can safely say there wasn't a day I didn't want to be in that hot room. 

A friend, who has known me for about twenty four years, told me last night she finds it funny how obsessed I get with new things and I have such an addictive personality. I'd totally forgotten this about myself, probably as its so normal for me I don't realise it's happening anymore. Over the years this one friend would have seen me get OTT about many new pursuits. I like to try and experience as many different things as I can. Safe and normal is boring. Small obsessions come and go for me. I think this friend has realised now my obsession with Bikram Yoga has fast turned into a new lifestyle and way of thinking. A majority of instructors say they can't see themselves without this practice in their lives. This is what kept me going back every day, I needed this practice as it makes me feel so good. I can't see myself without it now.

The first two weeks of the challenge were easy for me, I flew through. I was excited, pumped up and ready to go. There was a fantastic atmosphere at the studio. Everyone, even non challengers, were all supportive and encouraging. (Thank you!) We all helped each other through. "The only way out is through," (Craig Villani) we had to keep going if we were to come out the other end. Some regulars/non challengers even turned up on our last class to cheer us on to the end. How awesome is that?! Bikram Yoga Joondalup is right up there on my happy places to be list. It's a pleasure to be surrounded by such good people.

I hit a road block in the middle of week three. I wasn't going anywhere, I was getting tired. I was doing a lot, not just the yoga but a full time job that requires creative thinking, precision and organisation. On top of that a commute that often takes over an hour. It frustrated me I had hit a rut in my practice. I wanted to move forward, I wanted to break my limitations. Looking back I only had two, maybe three what I'd call rough classes. Apart from a few Camel's I never took a knee, I completed two sets of everything. Even in the dodgy camel's I got into the set up and gave it a go. That is an achievement in itself I feel.

I made sure I kept  moving my spot in the room. It made such a difference to my practice. It challenged me further. It's amazing how different you feel in a different part of the room. There are new distractions to deal with. Staying in the same spot every class is easy, yes you can work on yourself without worrying someone else will put you off or steal your space as you go in a spot that minimizes this. Here's a thought, how much more of an achievement would it be if you were placed in the centre of the room, surrounded by people on all sides and you executed a strong Standing Bow Pulling without falling out despite everyone around you falling out, flapping or stealing your energy? I would feel happier about doing a strong posture surrounded by distractions than doing one on the front row with my nose on the mirror and minimal disturbance. 

When I was feeling flat I can say it could have been down to my diet. I was having real issues with sugar throughout the month. I wasn't eating cream cakes everyday but chocolate was playing a staring role. After quitting alcohol, I think I was replacing it with chocolate. I was thinking, 'oh I can have another few squares as I'm not drinking at the moment, saved some calories to spend on extra chocolate.' Classic. I wasn't doing this challenge for weight loss at all but I did keep at eye on the scales. Totally stupid. They didn't budge one kilo. My body was in shock, it thought a dinosaur was chasing me as I was on the run. It went into panic mode, clinging onto every ounce of nutrition it could and to save it up just in case. My cortisol levels were probably sky high. Now I've finished, chilled out and relaxed I may well see a difference. Not on the scales but it my clothes feeling loser. This happened on the last challenge and a few people pointed out my butt had vanished. Saggy pants all round. 

My skin was horrific the last few days as well. I thought zits vanished after you hit thirty?! Ahhh all those lovely toxins escaping through my skin. Probably hay wire hormones and cortisol playing a part as well. 

Now it's Monday. I finished on Wednesday night, took Thursday and Friday off which was hard. I got itchy feet on Friday thinking I wanted to go to class but didn't. I needed to rest, I needed some sleep. I had a good class on Saturday morning with Dom again. He was giving out a lot of pointers and adjustments. My mind is in over load now trying to remember all the new information I've collected over the past month. I took Sunday off which was again a struggle. I was craving the hot room. But I also needed time to reconnect with my man. With his new shift pattern at work it doesn't leave us with a lot of time together so Sunday was the perfect time to catch up. 

I was undecided which class to do today as it's public holiday there was a choice of 9am or 4pm. I didn't set an alarm I wanted to wake up naturally, which i did at 6:30am so off I went to 9am. Anthony lead a strong class. My muscles and mind were thanking me for the rest. My hips had locked up however and needed some extra encouragement to loosen. Standing H2K was improving again. I still need to keep my leg up, toes flexed back as I round down. My toes are starting to curl forwards to grip round my fingers as I round down which means my kicking leg will not be locked properly. My towel and mat made some comedy squeaking noises today which got me a sideways look from Janette. It was the rubber honest!!!

I am going to see how the rest of the week pans out. I'll take the 5:45am on Tuesday and Thursday resting in between. Maybe, like the last challenge, I will start to see improvements happening as I've absorbed the challenge, rested and moved on. I must carry on eating properly (get off that chocolate!!) even though the challenge is over my regular practice is four or five times a week so I still need to be aware of this. Eating better may well be what was holding me back in the last two weeks. I will only know with experimenting.

I'll post my 30 day testimonial tomorrow. It's up at the studio already if you can't wait till then. I had a pretty major personal breakthrough this challenge, even if my practice didn't. The testimonial will explain it all....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 30 - Finished in an awesome fashion

I'm writing this on Thursday morning and I can safely say I worked hard last night for our last day/class of the 30 day challenge. I woke up at 4:40am again, despite not having to get up this morning. (I did roll over & sleep for an extra hour!) My glutes are feeling the burn now and needed some Tiger Balm relief. It was an awesome class to finish on, 6pm with Dom. A few of us had arranged to do this class so we could all finish together. The supportive group energy was fantastic. It's the best part of doing a group challenge, the bonding that happens through this shared experience. Everyone seemed pumped and ready to go, get it done, finish on a high.

I had been joking the past few days about Dom taking our last class and how 'he'll kill us.' It's true he pushes us hard but for our own good. I think I was still holding on to his class two weeks ago when t he Yoga Bus ran me down. I'd prepared well, eaten lots of protein and spinach at lunch, downed a good four litres of water so nothing but my mind would hold me back. I matted down front row next to Gemma, in the same spot as Monday night actually. I think it does take a lot of courage to go here as your right next to the podium, in full view (and firing line) of the instructor and under a heat vent.

It was an uplifting, encouraging and motivating class. The cut on my foot was all forgotten, I'm sure it was burning but I didn't notice as I was so tuned into the class. It was one of those classic evening classes where I felt warmed up, lose and strong. Until I nearly toppled sideways in the first warm up stretch in half moon, no idea what was going on there. I really enjoyed the back bend, second set I pushed a bit further. I just would like my arms to stay glued to my ears instead of being a foot above my face. My Awkward was shocking. I had major leg shakes, couldn't keep my back straight and I knew I was physically grinding my teeth. I let it go, forgot it, moved on.

I had serious sweaty grip issues for standing H2K. Second set Gemma and I both dived in to get the full expression and fell out. We were called out for this and Janette's words of advice last week were ringing in my ears. I need to slow down. Spend some time half way, rounded down, chin in, just looking at my knee instead of racing down and losing it. 

The biggest test of my strength, will power and determination was to come in Standing Bow pulling. After the first set I was called out to demonstrate this in front of the whole class. I love this posture, it looks cool and the way it twists, turns, pulls your body in all directions feels amazing. I am no way in the realm of standing splits but I work hard on correct alignment and focus. I pulled it off, excuse the pun. It was hard though to hold it so long and I only just managed to come back out without collapsing. I zoned out and forgot there was a room full of people staring at me. I was definitely channeling my British Bulldog determination. Such a great saying, despite being an Australian now, I'm still British!! After class a few people commented they didn't realize that their pulling shoulder should be disappearing from view and what the true alignment should be. It's one thing hearing the directions in the dialogue but without a visual aid sometimes it's hard to compute. 

Standing Bow Pulling Pose - courtesy of BYJ

I had a few pointers in Triangle again as my legs were far too wide and everything was going squiffy. In standing separate head to knee I was told to separate my hands and use my fingers to push into the floor, which really helped get my hips in alignment and lock my knee. 

Then there was Toe Stand. The first set was disrupted by someone leaving the room. Even when asked to wait they still left which is a HUGE etiquette no no. Please people even if you are going to throw up, die, pass out if you can hold out thirty more seconds till everyone else has finished balancing it would be most appreciated. Those extra few seconds may well just sort you out and you may not need to leave. Especially at that point when there's a whole two minute savasana in which to sneak away. Back to Toe. Just before I bent forward I was told to stop and then try going down with my hands still in prayer. My knees aren't so strong but I tried and crash landed at the end. It's one to work on again as I am finding toe stand easy now. I am doubting I'd be able to reverse out with no hands, I can barely get up out of awkward with two toes on the floor!

The floor series went fine. We had some nice cool air circulating which was a great pick me up. Another student demoed a full camel. It was awesome. My back is no way that bendy yet. My Camel went well, no crazy head spins but my lower back was screaming from being pushed hard.

We all finished strong and it was a great feeling to be completing the challenge as a group. The last challenge finished on a Tuesday morning so we all had to rush off to work. It was nice last night to chill out, have a chat, get our complimentary Coconut water. My challenge now is to take two full days off. To recharge and absorb the last thirty days. It will be tough, I was even thinking of packing my bag just in case I wake up naturally at 4:40am tomorrow like I did this morning. But no, I need to rest, I must rest. Not long though, any more than three days I know I'll get the spins when I do go back. 

Congratulations to everyone that completed the challenge and to those that tried but might not have got to the end. At least you signed up, got your name on the board and that's a challenge in itself. It's been fantastic getting to know you all and bonding as a group. Thank you to everyone that has been following along. I am deeply touched by your feedback so much so I'll keep blogging. I have enjoyed having a space to share my Bikram adventures and pleased my ramblings have helped and supported some of you on your journey. Thanks to Jo and the BYJ team for organizing the challenge and keeping us strong and motivated. We have a great community at BYJ and I'm so happy to be apart of it.