60 Days.

I thought I’d seriously regret the 4 pints of beer last night before my 60th Bikram class in 60 days. When I breezed through the lesson I was convinced the heating was low, same as yesterday – until I left the studio and it felt far colder. I had a series of mini-breakthroughs and again enjoyed the entire session. Learning from yesterdays mistakes I stayed for a few minutes after class.

No euphoria, but then an instant hit would be a bit freaky. Between the cold, beer and girlie issues I figured there was no chance of reaching those dizzy heights…

Arriving at work I had to delay to make way for apple juice cravings, they were severe!! I drank most of a borrle of ‘Innocent’ apple juice before I’d left the shop. I knew that I couldn’t be doing with extra sugars etc and although I’ve never tried the brand felt a compusion for that particular one. Bliss, utter bliss to quench that craving!

Arriving at work was akin to any other day, yesterday I was nearly asleep at the keyboard. I felt a little more alert, but then I’d not just squeezed 3 sessions into 16 hours! Lots of people enquired about the euphoria, the ‘Bikram juice’, but it didn’t look to be happening. Not even as good as my 40th day experience.

Gradually during the day, the negativity brewing in the office was bouncing off me like I had a protective bubble. Then the energy surge began, slowly but surely… I can’t quite tell if it’s the original hit that I used to get or something different, but I feel like I could explode with this energy! I’m tearing through things that I’ve been meaning to get done, have 4 bands lined up for Thursday and am feeling overly helpful in the office! I’m sure this unleashes a different personality in me too, but certainally the drive and excitement that I embarked on this programme for are very much here. I may have felt similar in the duration of this 60 days, but not anything like it before taking up Bikram’s yoga. Maybe as a child, but that’s about it.

I have yet another super busy day so won’t be able to update on progress this evening but tomorrow I’ll let y’all know how it’s going.

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Influence

I’m having a slight concentration issue in practice at the moment after reading a scathing write up about, what the writer refers to as ‘Bikram’ yoga. In actual fact the article is about hot yoga in general and by the authors own admission is not concerned with the series. I will add the link sometime soon, for those keen to find it the title is similar to ‘Bikram Yoga, not as good as it seems’ – I’m not being lazy in not locating it, as it happens this was only one article in a sea of negativity.

I do agree on one thing: Bikram yoga is not for everyone.

That said, with consultation there are few reasons not to try a session. The author of said article, to her credit, did attend a session and in some ways it doesn’t sound much like any session I’ve had. The motivation to attend was on the anecdotal evidence that so many people she met provided. The experience was clearly not a good one, feeling there was a lack of guidance for beginners and that the heat was dangerous the article is then shaped to command scientific evidence for any said benefit.

Admittedly, if there were some papers to read on the science I’d be all over them. There are, as I’ve covered, some days where it doesn’t feel so great, getting the eating and hydration balance during the day is testing and indeed I’ve had minor stretch injuries. (For those of you who’ve read ‘x marks the spot’ – I have since found that the brusises on the back of my leg were likely to be small veins which can tear if stretched too far but will be longer / more flexible when healed. They have nearly gone…

Science and yoga? It’s not exactly been, from what I can tell, that heavily funded. So whilst there is little tangible evidence of the benefits I’ve not managed to find the ‘scientific’ evidence against neither.

A large proportion of the argument was that sweat will not expel the toxins that Bikram claims to… not a claim that I’ve heard myself. What I have heard, and I’m definitely no expert, is that the postures (also used in other types of yoga) squeeze on the lymphatic nodes speeding up the detox process. As with aromatherapy, my first couple of sessions left me needing a wee on a much to regular basis – by the same principles I understand that to be the lymphatic system draining. Although I’d attempted to hydrate, I don’t think that I’d drunk much more water than normal following the class – I have since learned the error of my ways!

So the heat, (and it really did leave me thinking) is only to allow deeper movement into the postures, increase the mental challenge and (bonus side-effect) get the skin ridiculously soft. Perhaps it’s also designed for impatient people like myself that would loose interest before spending years waiting to be able to achieve a single asana.

There is a possibility also, that the motivation provided to push on encourages people to go beyond their actual limits. I’m guilty of keeping on when I’ve felt dizzy or my vision ‘has a moment’ – but this itself has taught me so much about how my body works. For others, perhaps there isn’t enough guidance, only the views and perceptions of blog-type articles.

More disconcerting was the host of catty retorts from the blogger when anyone had anything positive to suggest, or the lack of response to a few scientific studies that were suggested. As a beginner, of course I’m open minded to the findings of others but personally, I want to see both sides of the argument.

The impact was most unwelcome, as I practiced that evening various derogatory comments from the author towards her visitors spun through my head. It was a challenging and disappointing session, which wasn’t majorly trumped by my 50th session yesterday.

En-route to the studio today I managed to download 365 classes in 365 days. It took me immediately back to the basics – yoga is about meditation. Moving meditation. What relief! I didn’t have the determination to do the double I’d half considered however as I left the studio I received pointed praise – and finally I feel I’m back on track.

Clearly, I do react. I react to badly written damning articles that don’t allow commentators to express an opinion, I react to the motivation of understanding other peoples hard earned experiences and I definitely react to positive feedback on my practice!

In keeping with all views expressed here, I’m very open to both good and bad experiences in Bikram yoga!

The A-Z is complete…

But the Bikram isn’t. I wish now that the A-Z was longer, it wasn’t just an outlet to share the experience but a way to shape my thoughts and look at it from a different perspective to make the ‘A-Z’ happen. Even now during classes I have the odd regret – ‘Japanese sandwich’ should most certainly have been J as, on reading another yogi’s blog she rightly pointed out that this isn’t entirely helpful “you should look like a japanese sandwich from the side“. If you don’t know what a Japanese sandwich looks like…

I found an entire community of inspiring Yogis across the WordPress world and a couple of counter-views, clearly, Bikram Yoga is not for everyone. That aside, I found a host of blogs with all manners of topics that I enjoyed searching through and following. Of course some of the Yoga blogs had an immediate impact, but I also enjoyed stories written around each letter, food blogs, comedy blogs and some totally random compilations as others muddled their way through the alphabet.

The content on my reader is now far more diverse than I could have imagined, and I seem to have shaken some of the spam that was coming through (I’ve never had spam on my blog before, that’s almost exciting!).

The picture gallery on my computer is utterly eclectic, after all I did go on the occasional tangent.

It’s been my favourite blogging experience to date and I hope I’ve given as much as I’ve got from it this year. Very much looking forward to the next!

Apparently I’m not the only one confused about Japanese Ham Sandwiches…

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All the ‘Yes’s’.

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  • Getting the back shoulder in and arms back in half moon pose. Whilst breathing normally. Rare, low satisfaction.
  • Getting further back in half moon and spotting the floor – improving, mid satisfaction
  • Awkward – surviving it. Most of the time, mid-great satisfaction
  • Standing head to knee, getting the foot out like an ‘upside down L’. Occasional, mid-great satisfaction
  • Maintaining all 4 standing bows. Frequent – great satisfaction
  • Tree pose – holding balance. All the time now – mid/great satisfaction
  • Toe stand – lifting both hands together. Rare, great satisfaction
  • Cobra – release and feeling the lower back, amazing. Great satisfaction.
  • Locus, Gaining height – often. Mid satisfaction
  • Locust and Bow. Feeling it. Great satisfaction in the lower back.
  • Fixed firm – the relief. Great satisfaction.
  • Half tortoise – gettin the channel from shoulders to neck to  under the ear open – frequent. Great satisfaction.
  • Camel – the cool face coming out of the posture. Great satisfaction
  • Completing the 30 day yoga challenge – Great satisfaction
  • About to complete the A-Z Challenge, – Great satisfaction.

In summary,

YES!

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X Marks the spot. Or rather, bruises do.

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There are no real quirky X’s in Bikram, although X-treeme reaction may be relevant here. This is not intended to freak anyone out, I’m sure this is not normal and perhaps I’ve done something out of class to cause the bruising. I’m pretty sure it’s from last weekend as I had a very uncomfortable day in work on Monday, but only yesterday did I see any sign of bruises and last night the full extent of them. 

At best guess, I tried far to hard and incorrectly to get my head to touch the floor in separate leg:

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It’s really important for this one to keep thighs contracted, they do remind you constantly however I was getting frustrated about hanging around in mid-air each class. So let this be a warning to anyone who doesn’t pay enough attention! (Joking, as I say I felt no specific painful moment to cause this, it’s just a guess…). Also, the extra lines are just from my jeans, perhaps looks less frightful without those 🙂

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Unfortunately this has seriously hindered my session today as I couldn’t get into a stack of asanas  and had been doing so well in leg stretches! 

 

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Water – the big debate.

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I’ve read a lot on the whole water drinking issue – ‘to drink or not to drink’ and resisted the opinions of those against. In a similar vein to ‘understanding the body’ I had a revelation, the seeds of which were sewn at the end of my last session. Once I am out of a class, holding the final Savasana as long as my mind can take I drop all restrictions. I’ll sit in the cool and guzzle, literally GUZZLE water down like it’s about to run dry. I figured my body needs and wants it, that has to be a good thing… until two days ago when it occurred to me that I wasn’t as thirsty as I’d thought. I tried to halt the drinking and found my brain and arm working in collusion against the decision although I managed to drink less, and slower. 

After showering, recovery kicked in and I remained on small, steady sips of water and it occurred to me that it wasn’t the fluid I was craving, it was the end of having to focus the mind, immersion in concentration and exercise and a bid for freedom. Class over, I can do exactly what we’ve been regulated on for the past 90 minutes – I have no floor series to worry about and can drink until my heart’s content! Of coure, that’s what my mind and body are conditioning themselves to look forward to. All the moments of desperation to get out of the class, finish the asanas and run! Because I’ve lined up a reward in the form of excess water!

I wondered then, how long I could put off water between poses – this isn’t entirely new but I’m getting better at drinking less and not relying on the same punctuation of water breaks through the series. In turn, I’m thinking less about how many asanas to go before the next break as I’ve not set a slot for it. With my mind brought closer to the ‘here and now’ rather than the reward there is less panic, less struggle to focus the mind and much more enjoyment (yup, enjoyment!) from every moment of the class. 

I still felt incredibly twitchy at the final Savasana and repressed three get out attempts. I momentarily forgot the water deal however slowed as soon as I remembered – I just hope this is how I’ve interpreted it, I could be back tracking big time tomorrow!

 

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Understanding the body

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By far, this has been the biggest challenge to me. 41 days ago I was a runner, I occasionally go through a compulsion to lift (not very heavy) weights and although I’m a good swimmer it’s not really my idea of a good time. Apart from increasing my appetite massively I pretty much push my limits until an injury surfaces and then pack it in for a long time. I guess me and my body don’t communicate.

Yoga is definitely different, suddenly the body gets a voice and uses it to reprimand all the bad decisions made during the day. The more obvious is a beer-soaked towel from sweating out drinks of the night before – it’s not so much the grim factor but the unbearable restriction on breathing when going into full locust and having to face that stench literally face on. 

As time has gone on I’ve had to play around with eating times – I need energy but any food finds a point of discomfort if eaten too recently. Bananas – bad. Fish and Chips? The devils food. Seriously, even with a 4 hour gap this was responsible for my worst ever session in which every muscle wanted to break out, my brain was crying and my eyes wanted to close 

Not enough food – poor postures, lack of strength, control and determination

Coffee – I thought this was a straight forward ‘no go’ area, with more experimentation if I have to practice after work and am struggling to wake up, a tall latte is pretty good. Otherwise it’s a dehydrating distraction.

Sitting down for hours at work – removes all the built up flexibility and suddenly I’m bending my knees again in every stretch position. Really bad balance from the start.

Short sleep – my eyes want to close as soon as standing series are over

Knowing I have to be somewhere after – serious lack of concentration – doesn’t affect balance in standing bow but disastrous in Triangle

Make up – need to pull bizarre faces and stretch muscles I never knew I had

Work issues – forget to listen to the instructor

Hangover – I nearly laughed out loud when someone suggested it might be a bad idea. I’d not even attempt it, I think I’d die.

I’m sure there’s a whole bundle more going on, I just haven’t figured it all out yet.
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