Scientific Excuse

Jogger

I believe I share far more with you guys in my head than actually makes it to WordPress. I then overcompensate and re-tell stories rather than read previous posts. I have no idea if I have told you about this upcoming weekend, so…
Last year my super sporty, charity orientated, instantly likable and always present friend was killed in an ironic yet tragic road accident. Ironic because he took to his bike during the Olympics to avoid travel issues on the underground at a busy time when we’d all been warned to seek alternative methods / times of travel. Ironic because it was an Olympic bus that he was hit by. Ironic because the last tweets I’d read from him only days before included a rant at cyclists jumping red lights and another musing over painting his cycle helmet like ‘Toady’ from Mario Man. Ironic because the first press release was a quote from cycle champ Wiggy (Bradley Wiggins) who retorted along the lines of – if people don’t wear cycle helmets, what can they expect. you will have guessed from the above – of course he was wearing a helmet.

A charity event was organised for his first love, the Royal National Lifeboat institution. It was awesome. This is plan number two. Several days before the fatal accident Dan and seven friends competed in the Thunder Run – a 10k relay that runs over 24 hours. They had agreed to repeat this year. Now without Dan, another close friend as a replacement his team are one of eight, all comprised of his friends, in the race.

We are of varied abilities. Personally, I used to run long distance, but I have brain battles and began to find excuses to stop running. Eventually I realised I just didn’t like it much and stopped, entering only the occasional charity race. The last was several years ago now. Still, competitive by nature I intend to complete 3 laps. THREE! ARGH. 30k in 24 hours.

I was also on the reserve list and naturally didn’t begin training until I was confirmed – three weeks ago. Hopeful that Bikram Yoga would mean I was in decent shape I hit the treadmill… to begin with things weren’t frightful. They weren’t amazing, but not frightful. But then my boyfriend got competitive with himself, which increased my competitiveness and t’other day lead to a brain blow-out, which is what I really want to tell you about.

Setting off with the intention to run 10k along the beautiful south Devon coast, I was sure that the scenery and company would keep me in check. From the very first downward hill there was trouble. I was out of breath and panicky. As we hit the promenade I began to relax, we’d beaten the crowds and I could at least obscure my heavy panting by closing my mouth again. There were then sand dunes, soft, luscious, uneven sand dunes….

Beach

Desperate to find stability I zig zagged across the terrain, relieved to finally reach the even, tough stretch of beach. This kept me going for the whole of about 100 meters and my brain cut out. No more. Upon stopping, I checked in with my legs. All good. Usual culprits – the ankles – best they’d ever been. reactive, strong and supple, almost certainly from yoga. Calves? Chest? anything else…?? All good. As I watched Gary bounce off into the distance I blamed the cut out on my mental attitude and strolled several meters, maybe a bit more in his trail. Inevitably I spend the rest of the morning stewing in 2km frustration, snapping at Gary’s “disappointment” for only managing 8km. Dammit.

And then I was genuinely ill – but that has nothing to do with this story.

Back at work I instilled confidence in all of my sponsors by relaying this story. Painfully open, I should really learn to consider what is about to come out of my mouth. However I was pointed in this very helpful direction –

Prioperception.

Kenetics. Balance. Nerves. Uneven terrain.

I’m not bad at running, I’m utterly CRAP at Prioperception. I wish I knew about this term years ago. Essentially the brain has to work especially hard to gauge the surface, the reflex required before it happens and balance. This requires high volumes of brain juice, so presumably by the time I was hurdling great big rotting beach divides the gauge in my head was on red. Gary, on the other hand plays football twice a week. Actually he trains once and plays once, explaining why his brain juice stores would have dwarfed mine.

Of course he argued that he was just intelligent enough to look for tougher surfaces (?!?!?! as if I wasn’t!) but frankly, proprioperception has reignited my confidence to go for it this weekend. Never mind only having hit 6km in training, of course, I anticipate that music, crowds and lots of supplements will see me through. And Yoga? It certainly helped keep my calves in check and breathing calm, I think I have a way to go yet to replace negative thoughts and ’embrace the pain’. EEP.

On that note, if you wish to sponsor, please read below. Otherwise the odd word of encouragement will be relished!!
The charity is the Outward Bound Trust which has been providing out door learning / survival skills to young people since 1941. As a keen climber / hiker / sailor / cyclist etc etc we’ve all agreed this would have been an important and relevant charity to Dan. The full story and some pics of last years teams are all here –
Thunder Run 2013
Support from bloggers would be very exciting!!
Runing1

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BBQ Blues

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I’ve been uber healthy since taking up yoga. Fruits, veg, similar volume of chocolate but almost no fizzy drinks and reduced alcohol. Not for any philosophical reason or planned diet, just that my body has been refusing all the known nasties. So specific have my tastes become that I’ve even started to take head of what fruits are bad, the cons of juicing vs blending and am still experimenting with the salt/no salt conundrum…

In what I believed to be a great state of health I didn’t think twice about a little indulgence as a family BBQ. During the course of the day these are all of the nasties I can remember consuming:

  • Sausage / Bacon / tomato and Fried egg breakfast
  • Can of coke
  • Bottle of Rubicon
  • Lemonade
  • Sausages (x 4) at BBQ
  • Delicious home made cake with raspberries.

I’m not even sure the final item was unhealthy. Come 6 am the following morning, all plans to hit the beach and practice some postures were stabbed away in a wash of burning pains all down my chest and stomach. Recurring around every 15 minutes or whenever I attempted to move I couldn’t even enjoy the sun drenched balcony over looking country and sea… I was devastated. Towards the end of the day I had no real option but to be the passenger in the 5 hour car trip home before finally collapsing into bed. The following day brought further evidence that something was not quite right – indigestion is my best guess but even that doesn’t quite add up.

Several days on I’m treating everything with caution. Surely my intake wasn’t so bad? And if not, what on earth could have triggered it, is my new diet damaging my insides? I doubt it, but until I get to the bottom of it being a little on the hungry side is preferable to revisiting that day. I shall eat with caution…

 

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One of those days…

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I’m hitting 3rd day blues each week. Day one back in the studio is tough and dizzying but fairly stong, day two – massive improvement to the point I’m actually working on the postures, day three – disaster. Like a silent invisible energy vacuum has drained the ability to move, raising it’s greedy heat around about the second set of Pranayama breathing and leaving me useless and practically acting throughout the session. Except for when I refuse to get into the next posture on time, flag or come out early. That’s not acting, that’s for real. Suddenly I feel new to the experience again, wishing time away, imagining cool water or lusting after a water bottle that looks colder than mine across the room. Exhausted Yogi 2I consider stopping, but even Savasana (lying down, essentially) is utterly uncomfortable.

 

Days like these I wonder what the hell is wrong with me. I guess I know the answer really – the reality of widespread redundancy at work hit home during a union and management meeting, I ate far too much too close to class and I ate all the wrong things… I could feel a whole lotta these thoughts going through my body and mind:

bad food 2

I also let yesterdays energy get the better of me as I ignored the passing hours in favour of gardening / tiding / cooking. I must learn to harvest that energy some how.

On the tube home I slept like a baby and woke up a stop too far to change. That’s sufferable, I just jumped on the bus. I don’t have yesterdays energy surge however I know that really this is part of the process… today I probably needed to be there more than ever. Now for lots of juice, vitamins, water, food and sleep to dream up new ideas for a new business idea… an indulgence I experienced on said tube and which point I woke up to a fellow bloggers post who questions ‘do we really try enough to succeed?’  in ‘Stop Trying, Start Doing‘. I admit I’m not a fan of affiliate marketing profiles (sorry Ryan) but it IS great article all the same. The endurance of Bikram yoga is teaching me to keep going through the tough times to reap the benefits, with time I hope to bring that into practice outside of the hot room. This is my yoga.

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Post Yoga Experiences

Emotions

No day seems to be the same. The days of a dead cert ‘high’ are clearly over, however I never tire of observing the reaction my body has to each and every session. As yet I’ve identified no correlation between the practice itself and the esperience after, other than perhaps at the end of my 60 days whereby nothing felt too difficult and I adjusted quickly after class – or was I only dreaming those occasions? Repetition certainly taught me leave the pain in the hot room.

Here are the range, from worst to best experiences I have after 90 minutes Bikram Yoga:

  • Confusion. Once I left the room far too early. The blood must have got to my head as, delighted with the speed I was dried and dressed at I actually believed I was on track for getting to work on time. (1/2 hour after the end of class, 3 tube stops and a change away). Arriving on the platform in unison with the correct train I convinced myself I was on the wrong side. Mildly annoyed I ran up and down the bridge to the other side, bundling myself onto the next train. Watching the doors slide together I began to query my decision… 3 stops, a horrendous change and over an hour later I got to work. Doughnuts all round.
  • Total exhaustion. All the way home. And bed.
  • Feeling pretty relaxed and happy, only to have it battered out of me by means of public transport and arriving home not much better than I left.
  • Deep exhaustion that lasts for about 20 minutes. This is best remedied by lying on the benches outside under a strip of natural light from the ceiling, absorbing the cool air and listening to conversations flow around me. This is usually followed by feeling fairly relaxed, but unexceptional.
  • A bit wobbly but instantly refreshed by cool air. Most likely when I’ve tried to fight the need to fidget in final Savasana. A cool shower feels like heaven and my mind is free from distraction until interaction of regular life kicks in.
  • Urge to stretch in unusual ways. Odd.
  • Need to laugh and/or cry for no apparent reason. Also odd.
  • Loose from head to toe. I’m sure this is supposed to be every session but I’m not quite there yet. It does make me resent picking up heavy items / carrying bags etc thinking all the while of my freshly stretched spine… such is life. Beautiful sleep.
  • Clear, deep lung breathing. Who knew air could be so good? Amazing sensation.
  • Excitement. Pure, uncontainable excitement that makes me smile at EVERYONE. And talk to anyone. I could talk for a day about any small pleasure in life – usually fruit juice.
  • Acceptance of everything occurring in my life – generally accompanied by the aforementioned excitement. This can be followed by a calm energy that keeps me cleaning / tidying / gardening / baking through to the early hours of the morning.
  • Bikram Yoga Juice. I can only imagine this is like being high. Indescribable. Utterly amazing. Wish this happened every time – the chance that it may is often my motivation.
  • It took me some time to figure this one out, but reading Benjamin Lorrs’ ‘Hell Bent’ I’ve come to understand that my spontaneous decision making that occasionally follows a session is rooting in ‘changing my mind’. This has been as simple as arriving at work with 4 pairs of shoes I’d not normally look twice at after early practice, and life changing as embarking on my relationship after 14/15 years of friendship with my housemate.

This is only a snapshot of key experiences, there are multiple shades between and hopefully new ones yet to emerge. Today the excitement came before practice! I have no idea if it is a specific part of practice, back-bending possibly – or the entire series, but it’s awesome (nearly) every day.

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From Heat to regular room temperature – Bikram Yoga

It took some time to get used to 40 degrees. As some of the postures became more recognisable, the breathing got harder. The breathing recovered, stronger, and the heat would wipe me out. Achieving comfort between eating well, at the right time, breathing fluidly, keeping the mouth shut, adjusting the weight and tolerating the heat was a mean feat. Over the course of the 60 days I got there and almost instantaneously lost compassion for the ‘me’ in my first few weeks of practice. I tried at times to remember just how tough it had been, particuarly when I could barely feel the heat any more.

I did give consideration to the guy at reception who observed ‘ you must barely notice the temperature nowdays’. He was right – I could feel the room was hot but my breathing and sweat had adjusted to take care of the discomfort. All I had to worry about was improving my postures, breakthroughs were few and far between.

I knew immediately that to not go every day was not such a great move, but with little choice I embraced my fate and ate, drank and partied my way back to a less desirable state of health. Until the Yoga retreat.

 

I’ve never practiced ‘normal’ yoga – at regular room temperature. I fully expected to be less stretchy, but went with the flow.

Day 1 was very poor. Following the flight and a 2 hour time difference (against), waking up at 6am to get to practice was fuelled with excitement of our new practice. I worked hard to get my legs straight in Janese sandwich but realised early that the teacher had overestimated my abilites based on the 60 day challenge. Fixed firm was a no-go for most of us in the class. I was creaking in places I’d never heard before and cramp was constantly threatening to creep into the arches of my feet. I could hold my standing bows but I couldn’t actually back-bend into them and my toes had mysteriously grown so far from my hips that I practically had to fold my lef in half to reach them.

I’m good at the ‘no ego’ ethos of Yoga and quickly dropped the urge to scream ‘I can DO this!’. Ironically I seem to have become bessotted with the only form of practice where ego is prevalent and competitiveness is throughly encouraged – not ideal for someone who naturally sees the best in everyone else around them.

I learned fast what I can NOT, in fact do that I thought I could. The heat, of course changes this, with heat I can stretch, bend, focus in a hot haze of survival and enjoy and ant-free savasana. I cannot get my foot to my ankle in Eagle without a bucket load of sweat. I cannot bend more than an inch backwards in half moon. I cannot flex my foot back from the ankle, nor lift my leg to parallel. I can barely see the floor in seperate leg head-to-floor, let alone get my forehead down on it. The list goes on…

At the end of each class I was far from exhausted. Recovery took a minute or so and an Orange off one of the trees. I always felt looser as my mind juggled the new sensations I was experiencing without the aid of heat to get me into deeper positions. I had new goals.

Attending each of the availaible classes meant that the instructors got to know me and my practice well. They could show me exactly where my biggest errors were and physically re-aligned me. During step 2 in Awkward pose I had my heels teased up beyond what I imagined posible, seperate leg head to floor I was lifted, twisted and lowered until my hands flew out in front of me – still unable to reach the ever sinking floor infront of me. During Savasana I had my feet massaged.

I learned in this time that my shoulders hunch far further forward than I could have imagined, and my butt sticks out so far behind me in tree that I look as though I’m on a space hopper. For the first time ever I figured out how to get my hips in a straight line, and what that really means to the preperation of a posture.

Forcing my body straight I temporarily lost the ability to raise back to tree from toe until eventually, one day, I was doing it right. On a straight, firm, locked knee. This is of partucular relevance – towards day 50 of my 60 days I began to get sore knees. It was no coincidence, but took me some time to realise that it was around this time I’d begun to lift out of toe. During my ‘on-off’ month I’d begun to wonder if I’d have to give up Yoga – my knees were sore everytime I stood up/sat down and I was begining to get reeled in with scare mongering articles online about how bad Bikram Yoga is for the knees… the only thing against the articles was the lack of experience that the authors appeared to have. Many of these conclusions came from a few practices, if that. To find out, and see the proof, that the ONLY cause of my sore knees was coming out of Toe Stand wrong was a revelation that made the entire holdiay worth it before it even began. Unfortunately now I am back to struggling to lift myself from the ground however the pain has gone.

All in all, ‘cool’ yoga never gave me the Bikram Bliss. I became more in touch with parts of my body that the heat had been releasing without effort from me. I adjusted my alignment to something that would see me through future practice and I learned to avoid injury.

12 sessions of this seemed to yield progress… but how would I fare with a return to the hot room?