Again, with the withdrawal!

Monday was a fantastic trip back to the studios. Tucked at the back of a busy class I inherited two beginners who reshuffled from front row so that they had someone to watch – that someone being yours truly. With the no talking rule I felt like a demonstrator for a sales pitch, thinking carefully about how I went into each move so that they could follow. This wasn’t casual glances over, we were tightly packed and I was aware of a full assessment being at each stage of how the asanas worked. It kept me in posture and I held standing bow better than ever – something seemed to click in that I found a new ‘lift’ as I moved my abdomen closer to the ground – quite different from what I thought I was trying to achieve and yet I was holding the stand with far more control than before.

 

I was relieved to find I could breathe calmly thoughout and had eaten exactly the right foods despite lacking the aid of cravings that continuous practice brings. I spent some time recovering after although I felt I could have happily got changed and left fast, however from experience this hastyness causes me to make stupid desicions.

 

Again I’m on hold due to a combination of late shifts and important events – tonight I’m off to see ‘Bleech’ who I think are from the St Albans scene, I’ve been wrestling ‘iMovie’ to upload band videos from Music Hunter nights and last night was the final night of Open Mic at Filthy McNastys. Tomorrow I’m double booked but have plans to opt for a local art show … so that leaves Friday.

I had an interesting encounter on my way out of session whereby a Big Issue seller waited for me to trundle down to the station. I declined, I do buy the Big Issue occasionally however I pass sellers far too frequently to always buy one at £2.50 a pop… He asked me if I’d been to Yoga. My attempts to succeed the reply of ‘yes’ by scuttling away were reigned in by his challenge ‘Why’. I say challenge because it was pretty darn aggressive. I considered pointing him in the direction of this blog, but really I didn’t have the feeling I wanted this guy to know so much about me. I kept it simple and said it was good to stretch. He asked if it feels good… nodding and stepping backwards to escape this full on unwelcome attention he then began to tell me that Jesus would do that too… It went on a while and I haven’t the inclination to regurgitate the entire conversation but it seemed to me an interesting situation. Usually, in my experience it’s the church that approach the homeless to offer support, not the homeless approaching Yogis! Anyone who’s read ‘Religious Disgruntlement’ will know that the man was wasting his time with me – not to mention nearly causing me to miss the tube and begining a premature chip away and my newly charged zenfullness.

I’m still eating more than before but the appetite is slowly subsiding, I miss how much I was loving food! At my colleagues suggestion I’ve tackled some various smoothies, not really my thing especially with spinnach and kale but in the name of good health I will persist. The Shakti mat? fabulous, love it. and Ouch. but mmmmmm. and very very relaxed sleep immediately after some laying down time!

 

On the work front still no word on the future so sitting tight, although a reasonable job offer has arisen that I’d be tempted towards if things don’t go according to plan. I’d rather be more local, particularly trying to run music nights as they eat a great deal into my day. All fully equipped I hope for sligtly less stressful future experiences, although that will rely on my puppy keeping her teeth away from my new kit. She’s turned into the world’s biggest ball of muscle on springs I have ever seen. Cute ball of muscle on springs.

Upcoming Cyprus yoga and with any luck Febuary will bring a cheeky little visit to Kenya and … more yoga!

Withdrawal.

I’ve only done one session of Bikram yoga since the 60 day challenge ended on Friday. not that I haven’t wanted to, my kit is ready and I desperately tried to squeeze another session in but the developments over the 60 days have left my plate well and trully filled up.

At the forefront, http://www.MusicHuntersGB.com is holding a Rock ‘N Blues night tomorrow with an amazing lineup. This in turn requires equimpent in abundance, far more that for the acoustic night and I’ve certainally spent a pretty penny to ensure that no one will be left unable to play … This has involved fitting and entire drum kit into my peugeot 206, dashing up to Denmark Street in my lunch break, covering my house in freshly printed flyers and ineveitably missing yoga.

I have narky moments, although I do recognise this is part of an ‘old’ me that won’t be staying. I’m not craving good food as much, but I’m still not too inclined to eat a tonne of junk food. Last night I braved the smoothie making attempts, inspired by a colleague. I wans’t brave enough to add the Kale and Spinnach, however the pears, apple, celery, cucumber and tomatos were plenty adventurous enough for me. I was tempted to put in all sorts – chilli, Worscter sauce, yogart… I’ve only drunk some so far. I findit to be a little too thick to drink confortably and as I’m not craving health food righ now I’m a little indifferent to it. Maybe later.

I promised to update you on the 60 day side effects…

On the day of the 60th session I experienced a densely packed hour/hour and a half of boiling energy that I struggled to manipulate due to my desk job. The intensity subsided and I didn’t experience the same delight (odd word, but fitting) that I did after 40 days however I did have a very interesting experience that I unfortunately can’t relay on this blog… I intend to research that further. So far I’ve learned more about what Tantra means to yoga and the way we deprogramme and reprogramme our minds and bodies through practice.

I’m not keen on the way yoga makes me sound when I talk, mostly becasue I live with someone who is overly sceptical of it all. ‘Mind, body and soul’ are words I would have used far more easily as a teenager but the preception that people quickly have when faced with those words is a difficult one to work with. When I read about it, though, I feel like I understand 1000%.

To add insult to injury, the Bikram community seems a little under fire (re-visit the ‘cult’ post) since recent revelations. I’ve hit a couple of times on the practices of this man – not in the yoga room. Some describe him as a guru, and I’ve been hugely impessed at the series he created, however I’ve not found that much to like about his personality beyond his earlier days. I don’t begrudge his money or success, I don’t feel uncomfortable with the fact he loves high value cars and to be surrounded by women. I have been more concerned by listening to the interviews of previous law suits – he certainally appears to sound racist, sexist and lecherous. Worse, although he verbalises what he know is the ‘right’ answer in inteveriew, it is done so with an element of contmept and amusement suggesting that everything put to him was probably true. I found myself considering this in classes and what teachers think of him. They certainally speak highly of Bikram and his beliefs, relaying phrases with adoration. At times I’ve wondered if they know something else, if the interviews are out of context in some way.

Nothing really prepared me for the new sets of allegations that have been released. I read these with a morbid fasicnation – this is not a sex offender that uses crude force or basic manipulation, drugs or empty promises. If true (I’m pretty convinced but that’s still open to discussion), this is a man who perhaps was once genuinely dedicated to his practice, to teaching, pushing people on to achieve their best who has himself grown into dark corners of his personality and inflicted torment, pain on those he’s drawn close into his circle. The use of exhaustion (presumably through practice) is a sickening dimension that as a criminology student and crime analyst I have never come accross before – but makes perfect sense

The Guardian Report

Benjamin Lorr’s view (before the new cases)

It leaves a bad taste in the mouth and me in a quandry. It is not so easy to rave about practicing Bikram yoga with pride, yet one of the threats made to a victim was alledgedly the impact of destorying the Bikram yoga community. This is an unknown quantity, yet the people who run and teach the practice are not Bikram Choudhury – they are yoga practitioners who reach out, help, support and encourage their students to become the best they can through practice. The benefits to be are undeniable, I certainally couldn’t give up the series now – I’m happier, stronger, eating better, taking bad news well and finding more good news in what was previously mundane… and I love the yoga community.

I’m settling on a conclusion that perhaps the studios will have to focus less on the big greasy man on the podium, but that the practice and studios that exist will thrive and continue to help people re-align their minds and bodies as well as facing the amalgamation of experiences that the practice provides. After all, the postures already existed…

I’d love to know everyone elses views on this, I feel pretty dissapointed that the name ‘Birkam’ is so integral to the new corner stone in my life and desperately hope that the victims receive the justice they serve and that thousands continue to experience the health and wellbeing benefits of hot yoga and the series simultaneously.

I have no opportunity to practice until Monday, so perhaps I’ll use the time to reflect. I do miss it, though!

 

 

 

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.

Worlds Colliding

It’s an intense end to the week.

By 6 ‘o clock last night I’d psyched myself so much for my post-work double session that before I could account for my actions I’d told the staff that was my intention – from then on there’s no going back. I have recently found that more time in the studio before a session really seems to help. I have a funny twitching thing that’s started since practicing yoga and it takes some relaxation time for that to happen. When the teacher came it I felt like I’d been abruptly woken early in the morning. I was shocked to see how full it had gotten without me noticing! But once up I felt aclimatised and calm. This helped massively through 1/2 moon, my most feared posture.

My alignement seemed better than ever and I worked to keep weight in the heels as the balls of my feet start to hurt by awkward pose. Frustratingly I came out of stading bow, I’m sure I just forget what I’m supposed to be doing, particuarly if the instructor reels off commands and I am trying to focus on everything at once ‘strech forward, kick up, kick back, breathe, come down lower, standing leg straight, stomach in…’ bah!

Other than that the occasional thought about how very long I’d be in the studio for and the guy who seemed to be deliberately touching my hand (I’m sure that can’t be the case, but even in final savasana I had to pull my hands closer twice) the session went smoothly.

Session two was a dream. My 58th Bikram yoga session on my 58th day, and I LOVED it. I wasn’t in any hurry to move on, enjoying the streches of each posture and fully embracing Savasana. No panic, no fear, just utter indulegence. It didn’t take me forever to get out either (usually I’m the last person rattling around the changing room visialising the shut down chores occuring outside). I may have been lured too, by the pasta bake I knew was waiting at home.

5am this morning. I knew there was no option, apart from a short test of the snooze button. It had to be done, there were only two viable time slots left for me to get the final sessions in as I have some serious music hunting to get done in preperation for next week. Getting up was the last thing I wanted to do. Complete contrast from the begining of the challenge – single, trying to get my life back on track, avoiding studying and with deamons to shake. Then, I had to get up and get active to press forward. Now I want to be at home more, adjust to the changes in my life and just enjoy it…

Approaching the studio I felt pleased that I had got my backside out of bed and even had time to relax before the session. I don’t know why I didn’t realise at that stage that the studio was room teperature. There was no mention made of that, but it weighed on my mind throughout. the session again went smoothly, I even had a couple of breakthroughs in leg stretches.

I got out of class far faster than ever before, I thought I’d relaxed appropriately. How very wrong. Second in and out of the showers I felt pretty jammy about being ready to get to work not just on time but early… Stood on the platform I calculated the 10 minutes would be plenty of time to travel to Victoria and change to Vauxhall… and then managed to somehow convince myself I was on the Eastbound platform. Like, what?! It did flit through my mind that I use these stairs everytime, yet my common sense went for a cup of tea whilst I hot footed it across to the opposite platform and boarded. The next opportunity to step off was Waterloo – a rabbit warren if you don’t know where you’re going.

I rolled into work 15 minutes late, and shattered. I’ve eaten everything eadible in sight and then some, but tonight I’ve a band to see and talk to. I really don’t feel chatty but it’s gotta be done. the band are awesome, review time tomorrow for Red Eye ‘Dazey through MHGB!

And then tomorrow night, staff meal and then Citadel (actually another very kewl Ska/Punk band), hopefully fuelled by the 60 day bikram Juice!!! Will keep y’all updated 😉

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’.

a-to-z-letters-y

  • 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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