Wow, I haven’t been writing here in a while. So, yesterday, I decided to do my first double today. What that means is that today, I will do two classes of Bikram instead of one. So, I have already done one class at the Westminster studio and I am planning to do another in a hour. Honestly, I wonder what is so ambitious about it… I think I could a double once or twice a week and it might help improve and anchor my practice.
I know of a few days right now that would be perfect for doubles: Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I will look at my schedule and see if doing doubles on these days would work out.
Today in class, I was having some serious Charlie Horses in my legs when I was doing some of the postures in the spine-strengthening series. Namely, I was having this problem when doing Bhujangasana, Salabhasana, Poorna-Salabhasana and of course, Dhanurasana. This was kind of scary, especially after talking with my friend Savannah concerning the charlie horses that I have had in my leg after some activities and learning that it could be blood issues. I talked with the yoga teacher tonight and she feels that the reason why I am having this particular problem is because of a lack of electrolytes. You know, the kind of thing that Gatorade promotes on all of it’s obnoxious, sports-themed commercials? Thing is though, I know that Gatorade has a lot of sugar, Propel has fake sugar (which tastes nasty) and of course, Coconut water is just plain nasty too… So, what do you do to restore electrolytes in a way that is not nasty? What do you drink to help keep your electrolytes in check so you can continue your practice?
Today’s Daily Post prompt is about what it means to be home and even though I wrote a post on my main blog about what home meant to me in a more general aspect, I must say that have an understanding of what it means in a Bikram Yoga context. I honestly believe that Savasana is home in the context of yoga, considering the fact that once you make it through the Standing Series, the full Savasana that you get is a truly beautiful thing. I feel that it is more than just a way to relax after doing the full Standing Series, but rather – it is where you get to work on a practice of patience. It is where you get to come to relax and to drink in the benefits of your Hatha Yoga. I know that my subconscious calls out for me to scratch my head or to towel off my sweat or get a drink of water but the fact of the matter is that I am working on using my Savasana to practice patience and learning how to control my mind for other meditative practices. So, that is my view on what home would be in my Bikram practice, at least – that is what it is for the time being. I hope that helps to provide a different, unique answer to the question of what is home…
Well, I do not like to toot my own horn but I do have to say, I had an awesome session of Bikram Yoga today! This is awesome, given my poor performance when I tried to do class on Friday, with the new teacher at the studio. I was able to make it through the standing series, the spine strengthening series and I only had to sit a couple of postures out! Furthermore, I only had to drink one bottle of water during today’s class (and half of that was drunk before the class began) so I am feeling really positive about my progress in class. I know that I did not go as deep as I would have liked into each of the postures and of course, I had to do a second set of Tadasana instead of doing a set of Padangustasana. But the thing is that I made it this far, which is great progress, considering the fact that I would have lost a lot of stamina shortly after Ardha-Chandrasana and this loss happens well into Utkatasana. By the time we reach Garurasana, I have lost a lot of my stamina and motivation. Not so today, I was able to push through my barriers and make it to the end of class doing some of the postures. I even made an improvement by not using the balancing bar, despite the invitation of my instructor to do so.
I have also figured out a way to put it all into perspective. I have started asking people how long they have been doing their own individual Bikram Practices and I find that the average Front Row Girl has had a couple of years of experience, whereas I just finished my first week. Clearly, I cannot be that good yet but it does give me hope that it’s okay that I am not that good yet, perhaps I will be that good through continued, rigorous practice. And as always, I feel like a million dollars after class and I made sure to enjoy a bit of a longer final Savasana than I usually do.
One of the other things I improved upon today, I made a point to try to use my Savasana as an opportunity to quiet the mind and to remain still. I had not previously been using it for that, I would scratch my head or my nose, towel off sweat or take another drink of water. No, my Savasanas are now just for quieting the mind and relaxing my body so that I can relax from the standing series. So, now I feel that my practice is definitely going in the right direction. And of course, I will try my damnedest to try to be in class tomorrow and every day where possible, so my practice can improve.
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I have been reading through Bikram Choudhury’s book, Bikram Yoga: The Guru Behind Hot Yoga Shows the Way to Radiant Health and Personal Fulfillment. I do have to say, this is a very informative work that has given me a great deal of insight about my practice. It is not just a thorough description of each asana and of course, Bikram also offers tips and hints for those of us who are new to the practice. This is important, given the fact that the instructors cannot give you individual attention when they have a full house of students and it would be nice to be as competent as you can be when you decide to get a private class a couple of months into your practice. This is especially true for me now, given the fact that I am having trouble completing the standing series, let alone doing a number of the postures even somewhat competently. Knowing is half the battle and I think I might have a problem with going too deep into the postures. I should probably talk with one of the instructors at the studio about that before my next class, especially considering the fact that it is hard for them to provide detailed, constructive feedback during class.
Let us also not mince words, your yoga instructor might not know about all of your medical maladies, considering the fact that they are not doctors. Sure, I am not flexible and quite obese but the fact of the matter is that I also have back problems, sleep problems and fatigue. The great thing about the Bikram Yoga book is that it helps show you what each posture does for your body clearly. Sure, they do mention some of it in class (especially the benefit to the colon in Pavanamuktasana, at every class I have been to at this studio) but this goes more into detail and shows the practical uses of the Sequence for curing several conditions. Especially since I see that, if I do not suffer the conditions that are discussed in the page for each asana, I know that they include areas of my life that I think I should work on.
One thing that I have found disconcerting is that Bikram has told me that using a balancing bar or a wall is like not doing the posture at all and I am concerned about that since I use the balancing bar a number of times. I should probably ask my instructors about the balancing bar, because if I will not get benefit out of the posture if I am using the balancing bar, I probably should not use the balance bar at all. He hammers it out often that the right way is the hard way and that we should not be “cheating” in the postures. However, he also mentions how beginners to his Sequence could start off the postures, both in the description of the posture and his “Bikram’s Keys”. He also mentioned the fact that people have a hard time just lying still and enjoying Savasana.
One of the good things about the book that yoga talks about is the history of Bikram and the creation of Bikram’s Sequence. It talks about his experiences as a young boy being raised in India, him finding his guru and how he came to the United States. He talked about how he healed a number of people throughout India in their hospitals through Yoga. I must say that this is a very interesting history of a very interesting man and it gave me some insight into Bikram Yoga. So, I would like to make it very clear that this book is very helpful to the beginning practitioner and I think that it should be read by every beginning practitioner. Although, since I am still a newbie, ask me again once I get a bit more practice in.
Yesterday at class, I had serious dizziness and had to drop out of the class at Half-Moon pose. Seriously, I tried to get up to do other postures but the fact of the matter is that each time I tried to get up, I was unusually dizzy. This is considering the fact that I was fairly dizzy in some of the previous classes but I was able to push through that and do as much of the Sequence as possible. But this was dizziness to the point where it would disable much movement. I had to leave the yoga room but I must say, I felt so embarrassed, that I felt that I had to write an apology to the owner of the studio and the guest teacher that was at the studio.
I hope this will not repeat itself today, as I am going back to Bikram for the 9:30am class today.
Even though it is logical, as talking with them reveals that they have extensive experience with Bikram Yoga, I still feel inadequate and incompetent when I go to class with them. They seem to have a better understanding of the asanas, despite the fact that, logically, some of them don’t kick out in or go too deep into tree pose. But when I get winded during the standing series, have to forgo doing some of the asanas due to fatigue or have to sit out for the first set and rejoin in the second set when I don’t feel competent enough to do that particular posture safely – it is disheartening. I want to be able to go much more deeply into the asanas but I feel as though at this point, I cannot either due to the fact that my muscles are not strong enough to go deep enough into the asana or it could be due to the fact that I have to navigate around fat. Yes, that is right, the fat that resides on my stomach and legs make it exceptionally difficult for me to do the asanas correctly so in order to go sufficiently deep into the postures, I must lose that fat. Which means I need to do more yoga and stick to my diet, which is pretty important.
I sit in the back row, near the balancing bar and with a clear view of myself in the mirror, so I can learn. I have to use the balancing bar so I can even do some of the poses. I was not gifted with balance… one of the many things I hope to achieve in a Bikram practice. I was not gifted with the ability to stretch my muscles as much as many of the people in the front row can, which is another thing I am hoping to achieve through my practice. Finally, I wish to be fit and enjoy the health benefits of having a regular Bikram practice – and these include the ability to do other things that I would enjoy, such as practice Aikido or perhaps learn how to play soccer – without worrying about it expending too much of my energy. So, needless to say, I want to get to a point where I can be healthy enough to do what I wish to do and to try new things that I have not had the luxury to try yet.
But, I have to remind myself that in order to be as good as the “front row girls”, I need practice. My muscles need to grow and adapt to that much stretching and I believe that this will happen as I gain strength and stamina and am able to go deeper into the postures. I know that it is not going to come overnight and that is good, because I would not appreciate it if it were easy. As I lose weight and gain strength, I will be able to go further into many of the postures and be able to reap the full health benefits of the practice. And that is the benefit of becoming a front row girl.
The thing that is very important for new people to Bikram to know is that they need to keep themselves properly hydrated. Bikram will make you sweat, this is a fact that every practitioner of Bikram Yoga will become very familiar with. At most, if not all, Bikram studios – you can buy bottles of water but it is going to wind up getting very expensive very quickly. Being a 273 pound woman, I wind up drinking two liters of water in a single class period. Sometimes, I remember to bring my stainless steel water bottle but I tend to forget so I wind up spending $4 on bottled water at the studio. Not very cost effective for the practitioner who is hoping to make her practice daily – as that would amount to $28 a week or $112 per month. $112 per month on water… not very economical at all.
So, for the new practitioner, it is vital to get a water bottle or two that you can bring into your studio. Some have restrictions on the types of water bottles they will allow (for example, Mile High Bikram Yoga says that only plastic water bottles are allowed in the hot yoga room but the Bikram Yoga studios in Longmont and Westminster sell Sigg and Stainless Steel water bottles). So check with the studio you think you might be doing more practice at and consider how much water you really need during your practice. Right now, I think I can get away with a water bottle that is 1.5 Liters but, as in all things, your mileage may vary.
Here are the two posts from my main blog about Bikram Yoga: