Monthly Archives: December 2011

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I don’t think I am going to blog for the rest of the weekend, so here is the Bikram lowdown for me this weekend.

1) Go to the 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. class. (I made that 2 in a row decision on a whim)

2) Try on some new attire at the studio – if I get around to it.

3) Tend to my Bikram laundry.

The Discipline of Simplicity and Today’s Class

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Simple living is not synonymous to easy living.   I have learned the hard way that committing to living simply can be a very difficult discipline to practice.

Yesterday, I had some time to spare because I have had the entire week off from work.  The major battle for me is choosing between net surfing/Travel Channel viewing, unnecessary shopping in my neighborhood and completing the cleaning project I set out to complete.  Thankfully, I chose to forgo my trip to the Korean grocery store (hence, avoiding rush hour traffic and the hectic nature of shopping in an Asian grocery store during rush hour) and spent plenty of time cleaning the area around my desk and nightstands.  I have three nightstands.  One standard nightstand handed down from my parents and a makeshift nightstand that used to be a TV cart, which was also handed down from my parents and finally, a three drawer plastic makeshift nightstand with wheels – again – handed down from my parents.  I found my metro transit card (glory!) in my Hello Kitty wallet which had fallen between the nightstands several months ago.  I also found three dividers, three partially used legal pads, three three ring binders and two accordion files.

Finding things I forgot I had fortified my will to continue on with focusing on taking better care of my space over buying more things for my space.

“Today’s Class”

So if you are an avid Bikram yoga practitioner reading this, you probably want to hear about how class went today.  Because I found my public transit card, I took the bus to class and felt less rushed to get settled in.  I think that it also helped that I had time to enjoy a coconut water before getting started with class.

I knew that class was going to go well for me after the first set of awkward pose.  I actually felt good, not fatigued, after that first set.  I think that I am beginning to feel good during the majority of class because I am now used to the heat and have more of the strength, breathing and flexibility to complete and hold the postures.

However, I had a slight scare during Triangle Pose.  As we were wrapping up the first set, I thought I was settling deeper into the posture but my feet slipped and I had to run backwards in order not to fall onto my bottom.  I think that the falling backwards was kind of a good sign because it shows that I really was trying to sit down at 100% capacity.  But the issue that came up for me was the fact that I probably didn’t sit down all the way or subconsciously my hips came up – I am not quite sure.  When I am in the moment of practicing Bikram, I don’t really think too deeply about making adjustments because my body is already stretching itself to its limit.

For the first time in about a month, I am finally wearing something that looks nicer than my typical “post Bikram loungewear” without a major reason or anywhere important to go.  I feel a little bit more energized because I think that dressing up a little can put some pep in someone’s step.

I need to make sure I go to WalMart and the Asian grocery store today, so I shall go.

Happy TGIF!

 

 

Pooped & Ms. Half Moon’s attire

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“Why I am tired and why I will not be going to the 4:30 class tonight”

This morning, I went to the 10 a.m. class.  I don’t know exactly why, but I am absolutely tired from practicing today.  The temperature was the same, but I believe that practicing six classes in three days (I enjoy doing double classes when my schedule permits) caught up with me.  During hands to feet pose, I had a very difficult time grabbing my heels from behind my calves.  I also found myself drinking water more frequently during the floor series.  But, what counts is that I made it through every posture and I tried everything 100% the right way.

I think I am going to skip the double today because I have dinner plans with my friend who is visiting from out of town.  I also want to clear the clutter out of my apartment. I also  plan to go to a popular Korean market in the city to buy a few items so I can make bi bim bap, a delicious Korean dish.  Although I will not be actually in the hot room for the second time today, I feel as if I still practice yoga by maintaining a state of mind that embraces simplicity, peace and discipline.

“Kinship among fellow yogis”

At the studio, I had a chance to chat with a fellow student who swears by Bikram.  Hopefully, more people like us will populate the studio and continue to encourage others to step into the hot room and practice.

“Caught on Camera”

During class, a camera crew from a local TV station came to film us.  I wasn’t expecting to be filmed on TV. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel distracted, as they filmed during the standing series.  One Bikram instructor said that you have mastered your practice when an elephant runs through the room and you are still calmly moving in and out of the postures.

“Ms. Half Moon’s Attire”

Since I started practicing Bikram seriously, I have been more relaxed in my dress.  I consider myself to be a fan of fashion, but recently, I have become one with leggings, soft long sleeved tops and furry snow boots.  Sometimes, I wear the same florescent pink Lululemon shirt several days in a row when I am off duty from work.  (Don’t worry, I try to look more presentable at work).  When you work out so hard, so frequently, I can’t imagine wanting to wear “complicated clothes” with buttons and zippers and all of the bells and whistles.  The up side of my casual attitude about fashion is that any temptation to splurge at the clothing store (other than Lululemon) has been squelched because I am so mellow and relaxed on the way home from class, all I want to do is hang out in my apartment.  The disadvantage is that I look like I don’t really care about my body, when the opposite is true and I feel a little bit like a hermit because I am very content to be at home with my kitty, but I do care about people and I do want to connect with people.  Luckily, most of my clothes are soft and comfortable, so I just need to vary my wardrobe a little so I look like I actually care when I do go out.

 

Mental Health

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“Mellow Yellow”

Practicing Bikram has really relaxed me.  When I was growing up, my parents and friends always admonished me for being overly high strung and easily irritated.  To put it simply, I am naturally a hypersensitive person.  If I perceive that someone is being short with me, I could easily be upset about it for the entire day without any sort of thought monitoring or vigorous exercise.

After a month of practicing Bikram, I learned how to let go of negative and irrational thoughts that used to race through my mind.  Although I had learned how to cope with stress and difficult people through experience and such for well over twenty years of my life, I felt as if I was constantly searching for a peace that was missing.

From a practical standpoint, I believe that the peace also exists because the vigorous asanas, heat and discipline of Bikram yoga has left little energy for me to worry about what people think or me or trying to control everything around me.  Believe me, after 90 minutes of cardio, strength training and flexibility training without any opportunity to talk, let alone daydream, there is very little energy afterwards to hold grudges and worry about dealing with other people.

“Sorry Church, You Just Don’t Cut the Mustard”

It is funny that I say that my peace has not come from my faith as a Christian.  In fact, I believe that practicing Christianity as a religion and being entrenched in the American Christian subculture can be emotionally draining with its high’s and low’s of figuring out where a relationship with Jesus Christ and conformity to Christian principles  fits into the context of navigating through an increasingly more complex world.  I still acknowledge my Christianity, but I definitely would have to say that the discipline of Bikram yoga has really helped me achieve psychological wellness and increased faith.  When there is peace, there is a connection to God and there is a higher tolerance of the community around me.  Furthermore, my daily practice of the 90 minute moving meditation has given me opportunities to pray and examine myself more than ever.

“Envy is a four letter word”

The last issue I want to mention is envy.  It is always going to be a struggle for the rest of my natural life.  But when I am in the hot room – who do I have to compete with?  The hot (no pun intended) career woman with the cute flowered shorts, big diamond ring and flat stomach?  That tall handsome man who is probably an attorney at a big firm with impeccable standing bow pulling pose?  By the way, these fellow students are fictitious hybrids of people I typically envy. My teacher?  No!  It is I.  I must compete with me.

I listened to a New York Times webcast about Jeanne Heaton, a yoga instructor at Bikram Yoga Manhattan and I thought about what the director Raffael Pacitti, said to her when she first started practicing.  You see,  Jeanne was a recovering drug addict who wanted to hide her scars by wearing long sleeved shirts and pants to Bikram classes when she first started practicing.  Raffael said in the webcast that it was time for her to unhide her scars and face the truth about herself in the mirror.

Towards the end of this afternoon’s class, I thought deeply about what Raffael said and realized that when I look in that mirror for 90 minutes, I can choose to just focus on a good workout, or I can grapple with the truth of who I am.

Who I am:  Ms. Half Moon – cat lady, conservative bachelorette with a liberal attitude towards different people and persuasions, crooked tree pose, scared of falling, always looking for improvement and yes, sometimes I feel like a loser around many of the yuppies who share my practice.

The point is, I know that I will never fully “arrive” at enlightenment, but having the privilege of seeing the truth about myself for that hour and a half has and is continuing to help me achieve mental health and self control.

Reflections on my dietary changes

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Two weeks into starting my Bikram practice, I drank a cup of coffee every morning.  In fact, I had to have that cup of coffee in order to feel functional at work.  I drive about an hour to work both ways and I need to be alert in order to arrive unhurt.  (cha ching!  Love those rhymes!)

When I used to wake up at around 5 a.m. to stumble over to the local gym, my “reward” for getting that workout out of the way was a nice piping hot cup of coffee.  Honestly, I don’t know how I was able to get through the constantly mind numbing loud music and joint jarring days of cardio at a health facility that was as beautiful as its people, but was the opposite of a fitness community center.  Whenever I raced back from the gym, I always made sure my coffee beans were ground and my coffee was brewing before I did anything else.  Before I started practicing Bikram yoga, I didn’t question my caffeine addiction because it was the legal, safe drug.

As I became more of a Bikram fanatic, I stumbled upon Esak Garcia, a Bikram yoga instructor, doing a demonstration on YouTube.  I am not allowed to embed it here, but just look for him on Youtube.  Anyways, I read a small part about preparing for a workshop/seminar he was going to lead and he discouraged the intake of caffeine in order to improve asanas.   It was uncanny that I started to feel as if I didn’t need caffeine to stay awake during work and one day, I found myself turning down an offer for a cup of coffee.

Instead of coffee, I drank a cup of hot herbal tea in order to feel energized in the morning.  I noticed a distinct difference in my ability to stay in tune with the class and to persist in following the instructor’s words, rather than sitting it out for the fifth time.

Sometimes, I walk past a Starbucks and I smell the fresh coffee wafting in and out of the perpetually opening double glass doors.  I am curious about how I will feel if I drank a cup of coffee again, but I feel so good, I don’t really miss my caffeine addiction.

For the record, I don’t think there is anything wrong with having one to two cups of coffee a day, as long as one stays well hydrated.  I just think that it took some time and practice to realize that I really don’t need it as a crutch to get through the day.

Tomorrow, I will blog about how Bikram yoga has changed my psychological state.