Wednesday, March 24, 2010

All five toes in the mirror!

So I am winding down my challenge. Friday night is my last class and for the past week or so I think I have lost sight a little on why I am doing this. I have been going through the motions and feeling good physically but haven't been reflecting as much.

This morning was a 6:15 and I can really tell my body is getting stronger from the inside. I am able to withstand the heat much better than ever before. I pushed through everything this morning and felt not nearly as overwhelmed and simply out of breath as I have been. I have also been trying to focus more on my breathing. I have to try to keep breathing through some of the harder postures but it makes them SO much easier and manageable. I had some weird balance issues going on this morning. I fell out of standing bow way more often than usual and during balancing stick I actually felt like a stick, blowing around in the wind. I shocked myself in Eagle Pose. For nearly two months I have heard "look at all five toes in the mirror" and thought, "yeah right, maybe one day." Well, it was today! I wasn't even thinking about it, I just did it and then I shocked myself. I could only do it with one side but it was such a major accomplishment. I was excited about the second set to see if I could do it again, and I did!

In general, I have realized how well I respond to "challenges." I am one of those people who need some type of goal. When I have nothing to work for, I just become lazy. Last year when I was in better shape it was only because I was going to Carnival and had to prance around half naked in Trinidad. After Carnival, it was a wrap and my daily activity consisted of walking to and from my car. I am thinking my next challenge will be some type of running. There is a 10k in June that if I get in gear starting next week, there is a chance I could do.

During the first 30 days I think I have was appreciating, and just noticing, particular body parts. I discovered my knee caps, foot arches, my pinky toes, muscles I have never given any attention to. Lately I have been appreciating the entire package. My body and how it all works together. My shape and size and the little things that it does. Its curvy and 100% hour-glass-like. It looks really proportioned. When I just look at myself during postures, in general I have been able to just focus on my gaze. I'm noticing the parts less and just the person looking back at me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Second chances

After today, I will have three classes to go. I am going Tuesday morning, Wednesday morning and Friday night. I planned to take Thursday off so I am a day ahead. I have loved this challenge but I am really looking forward to getting some flexibility in my schedule back.

This morning's class was just OK. I was consumed by doubt. That alone isn't that big of a deal; we all experience self-doubt. But there is something in my brain that finds it unacceptable for me to not be the exact person I wish I could be. I want to be confident in every way all the time and when that doesn't happen, I feel like a failure. Then I get frustrated for even thinking that way -and repeat. So this morning, I was hyper-critical. Every little flaw I could imagine was glaring at me in the mirror. I would go maybe 10-15 minutes without criticizing myself but then get sucked back in. It was really frustrating. Then after all that I went home and weighed myself. I think I was looking to beat myself up this morning. It was not healthy in any way. Normally this is frustrating but this morning, I was really discouraged. I have come so far in this experience. I have been feeling so good, free and airy. This morning I felt tired, old and defeated.

Even though I was so frustrated, I think this morning is good motivation on what I need to work on.  One of the things that the instructor kept saying this morning was that “we always get a second chance.” People were struggling and she kept encouraging people to “just try” during the second set, even if they didn’t have a good first set. I am trying to take that with me today. I had a crappy morning but I have a second chance to have a great day, which is what I plan on doing.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 51 - I know I keep saying I am not going to write as much ...

I just had to! Today was AMAZING. Even more amazing than usual. I just had a wonderful day, the weather was fabulous, the Maryland Bar informed me I am not morally bankrupt, I even went to the dentist in the first time since before law school! And to end my day I took the 6pm with Megan and it was so fabulous. I am not sure what it was but I felt super strong today. My focus could have been better but I was going way deeper into postures that I usually do. I just felt like a regular. A part of me has really started to think of my centering place. Not quite in a spirtual way but in another kind of universal way. I can't put my finger on it.

I think so much tension was released after I had a successful character and fitness interview with the Maryland Bar people. I don't think I realized how much that bar limbo was stressing me out. I also am uncomfortable with the idea of actively finding a profession in which I ask to have my character judged. Something about that seems really unnatural. But I walked out my interview and went straight to yoga. It was such a fabulous way to end my day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 50 - Gassy Men

This morning some guy had terrible gas, especially during the floor series. I really need to work on my focus because it was really throwing me off. I would try to think, "its only a fart" but then I would think about how my body was breathing a gaseous form of poop! Then I would get all distracted and grossed out and repeat. I think if I were truly focused on my yoga 100% I wouldn't have even noticed. Overall, this morning felt great. I have been kind of moody for about a week and have felt kind of stuck in my yoga. But this morning I felt rejuvenated again, even if I was pretty stiff.

I keep surprising myself with the body parts I notice. Lately I have been very aware of the arches in my feet. They ache during Awkward Pose. It seems new to have such a odd part of body feel alive. I have also been noticing my shoulders. I think they are getting stronger and I think I can see it. It is exciting.

More than anything I have just felt more and more confident. I compare my confidence to the first breathing exercise. I keep taking in more and more and just when I feel like I am at my limit for that particular moment, I can squeeze in a tad bit more. I walk confidently around the studio in my ridiculously small and tight shorts. I fix my clothes less and less lately. Wherever my clothes end up in class, I am more comfortable just leaving it there (even if it means a bit of pudge sticks out).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I should start counting down!

Today will be my 49th class :-) I am really in the home stretch.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Classes - 46

I got a pleasant surprise. Somehow I lost count of my classes and I am not behind! Whohoo! I am right on track again.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Classes 42 & 43 - Stubby McStuberson

It's official: I have short, stubby little arms. I'm OK with that.

Last night I went to the 8 and this morning I went to the 6:15. The 8 was wonderful. It was really hot but I felt super focused. The instructor even told me I was doing well during my standing bow pose. I think that pose is my favorite. It is the easiest to see my progress and it feels very yoga-like. I have also decided triangle pose is my least favorite. Such is life.

Starting now I am not going to write as much. I am running out of stuff to say. Maybe I am not reflecting enough but I am kinda enjoying just going, breathing and being there. This has been quite a journey and I think I have gotten exactly what I needed. I am excited to complete the 60 day challenge but at the same time I already feel pretty accomplished and proud of myself.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Class 41

It is becoming harder to wake up early to get to class. This morning I flopped out of bed and somehow managed to make it to class but it was as if I was in a fog the entire class. I am doing a double today to hopefully my pm class will be a bit better. I took a couple days off so I am once again three days behind. I am going to do a double today, Saturday and one next week to catch up. I made the unfortunate mistake of weighing myself. I have gained weight, which sucks. I think I may be bloated but I doubt that accounts for all of it. I find it hard to eat "light" while doing all this yoga. I craze meat a lot. I need to find a nutritional balance and I think I will feel a bit better.

I think I might start standing in the front of the room, maybe in a corner. I am certainly not the person to have beginners look at but at the same time, I am getting easily distracted by people in front of me lately. I wonder if it will be easier for me to focus if it is just me and the mirror.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 40 :-)

So I continue to feel amazing after class but during class I have really been struggling. I sat out a couple of postures in the floor series today. I am really beginning to be able to tell exactly what the temperature is in the room. I am good up until about 102. After that, its a wrap. A lot of the teachers leave the temperature around 100, which I love but when they crank it up the temperature it is actually supposed to be, I feel myself fading. But I made it through and am 66% way through my challenge.

I saw an old friend of a friend today in class. It was a great surprise but the look on her face when I told her what I am doing made me realize how bizarre it really is. Amazing for me, but pretty over the top for most people. I forgot about that.

I have also turned into a snob. I hate it when new people are next to me. This girl literally fell on my towel today during the standing bow pose. She was jerking all over the place because her knee wasn't locked and literally fell into me. It was so annoying. And then during the floor series she kept looking in the wrong direction so we would get awkward eye contact. I don't know why it is so hard to just listen to the intructor for new people. I was irritated. It showed me how far I have to go in the calming of my mind. That sort of distraction is a just a challenge and I need to learn how to focus on myself and push through it.

I felt so good about my body today. I just felt comfortable. It is such a new, exciting feeling of self-discovery. I even feel more confident wearing different kinds of clothing not just to yoga. Yoga is such a safe space, I could literally wear a bikini and nobody would care. But I find myself looking for sexier clothes to go out in. I may even buy a sleeveless shirt! Gasp.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day 37, 38 & 39

Thats right - I did a triple! My back was bothering me yesterday so I didn't go to the Saturday 5pm but I didn't want to get off schedule so I went to the 9am and 11am, took a fabulous nap and then went to the 5pm. The 11am was rough but I made it through and now I only have one more double to do and I will be all caught up. I just really don't like the feeling of being behind. If anything, I want to be ahead. Clearly, moderation is not my forte.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 36

Today I went to the 9am and it was packed. I had a pretty decent class teven hough it was really distracting having all the people in class. There were also 6 new people and a bunch of deaf students who were also really distracting. It was pretty obvious they didn't look up any of the postures so they were doing things all wrong and then when the instructor tried to correct them, it didn't work so well because, well, they are deaf. I kind of felt like a jerk getting annoyed by the deaf students. I think the instructors should learn some basic sign language or something. I was thinking about learning some sign language too. I am so close to Gallaudet, whenever I go out around my house there are always deaf people. It would be neat to be able to communicate at least a little.

Anyway, I felt good after class. I am going to try to do a double today and take the 5pm. We will see...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 35

Took the 6:15 again today and felt WAY better than yesterday. Glad that feeling wasn't a trend.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 34

Ok. 1. I am still writing even though I said I wasn't going to. 2. This whole plan to do doubles for the next three days straight is becoming improbable. I am exhausted after yesterday's double. This morning in the 6:15 I probably laid there like a lump for a good third of the floor series. I could not pull it together. My attitude sucked and I left feeling just worn out. Usually when I get really tired and sit something out, someone else is sitting out too so it makes me feel like it isn't just me. Today, the entire class was going strong and I was gasping for air like I had just run a marathon, flopped out on the floor. I think I need a full 24 hours until tomorrow morning's class. I do have a whole month to do these three doubles I have left, so I may spread them out a bit depending on how I feel.

I weighed myself this morning. I have lost 3 pounds. It isn't that much but I have also been eating everything in sight. I don't know how to eat really healthy while doing this challenge. I need energy. But I also think my body has definitely changed irregardless of any weight loss. My butt is higher and everything just feels tighter. I like it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 32 & 33

I did a double today. I took the 6:15am class, which was wonderful, relaxing and calming and then I took the 6pm class, which was like boot camp and I thought I was going to throw up for half the class. But I have one double out of the way. I am going to try to do doubles Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then I will all caught up.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 31

So I am not going to write as much but I have decided to turn my 30 day challenge into a 60 day challenge. I took 4 days off so that means I have to do 4 doubles in the next month but I am hoping to get them out of the way in the next week or so so I am right on track. This morning I took the 6:15am class and I stood in the front for the first time.

I know I keep saying this but I feel absolutely amazing! My mind is clearer and I am more comfortable with myself in every way. I only knew a certain level of comfort and self-awareness when it came to my body before this challenge. I feel as though now I am going deeper. I am aware of each one of my toes, my foot arches, my knuckles, my pinky fingers, my butt and even my upper back. I have thought about my lower back but I don't think I have ever really thought about my upper back. My body is way stronger and toner and I am way more flexible. Everyday I think about the first week when I was wobbly and falling all over the place. Now there are poses where I don't even budge.

I have also noticed I have short arms or a long torso - I can't figure out which one. I think this fact would have really bothered me in the past. "What is wrong with me?" "Great, yet another abnormality." "Why can't I do this and everyone else can?" "Oh my God I have stumpy little arms!" What amazes me is that none of those thoughts haven't popped up. At all. I think at one point I was just confused and then it just came to me that my body doesn't work that way. Done and done. That was all. More than thinking of it as a negative, it was like an epiphany. I was almost excited to have figured it out.

Most of all I just feel more confident. My posture is better and it isn't just because my core is stronger. I am proud. Even when I don't have a great class, I am super proud of myself. I don't aim for perfection I just try to stay in the room and it works every time. I walk around with a little secret - it is as if I hold the not-so-secret secret to peace. When I find myself stressed out, I think about what I have learned in Bikram and I bring it to my everyday. I look forward to going and I miss it when I don't go. More than anything, I am so grateful to have been introduced to this. (Thank you Peter and Erica!)  I am realizing how incredibly lucky I am. I have a wonderful partner, job, friends, family and home. And now on top of all of that, I have this wonderful new appreciation of ME. This is just amazing.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 30!

Last night was day 30. I did it! Insights to come.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Days 28 & 29

Last night I went to the 8pm with my favorite male instructor and this morning I went to the 6:15am with Lithuanian Light. Both classes were completely different. The male instructor is gruff and tough and cranks the heat way up. Yogis were dropping like flies. At one point there were about 8 people laying down. Two people left class after the standing series. The instructor literally stood in front of one of the people who was trying to leave and told her to lay back down. A few minutes later she just walked around him to leave. It was intense. It felt like bikram yoga bootcamp. I was so proud to have made it through but by the time I got home I was too tired to even eat dinner. I ate some cheese, had some coconut water and was knocked the hell out.

I went to the 6:15am class this morning because Lauren gets back tonight from Norfolk from taking the bar! I am so excited that she will be done. I am amazed at how hard she has worked; I feel like I haven't seen her for three months. I did this yoga challenge at a perfect time because she has been so busy, it has been like she hasn't noticed that I have been gone more. So anyway, she gets back tonight and I am excited. I am going to cook and I have to clean up all the cat hair I have let accumulate this evening. So I was basically forced to go to the 6:15am. I felt really good going into class and had a wonderful class. It wasn't nearly as hot as last night but I just love LL. Her energy is so calming and positive. There was a pretty large woman in class today and I just really liked the way she gave her more individualized attention. And the way she gives people individualized attention is not distracting the way other instructors do it. She is just really sweet.

For some reason it smelled horrible in the studio today. And there was a new student next to me. She apparently did not know the difference between "right ear on the floor" and "left ear on the floor" because when we were resting on our stomachs, I kept having to look at her. The instructor would say "left ... left ear ... left" but she clearly wasn't listening. It was super annoying. Finally I mentioned to her to turn her head so I didn't have to look at her. Then she caught on.

It is tough getting up so early but boy does it feel wonderful to start the day with Bikram. I feel energized, calm, strong and just accomplished and it is only 9:30! It's a pretty awesome feeling.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 27 - Earning my stickers

Today was the epitome of a major lapse of judgment. I went to the 6pm after running around like a crazy person to make it. I had not expected I could make it so it was nice not to have to go to the 8pm class. However, around 4pm, after I had already eaten a full lunch, I thought it would be a great idea to eat a second lunch. Maybe it would give me lots of energy for my class. I still had a couple hours. Yes, I know this may be a shocker – but I totally overate. As soon as I had the huge bowl of spaghetti I thought, “uh oh. That was probably too much.” I waddled around the office feeling like I had a “food baby” and then forgot about it in my haste to leave. Well as soon as I entered the studio, I felt different. During the very first pose I felt like I could hardly breathe. I struggled throughout the entire class. At one point while in savasana (dead man pose), I literally was wondering whose name I put on the emergency contact sheet, just in case I died. Yes, died. It crossed my mind about 10 times to just run upstairs and throw up just to make myself feel better. But I stuck it out. I sat out the first set of camel pose but other than that, made it through the class. But boy did I feel pitiful.

I put my sticker on the wall after class and I almost wanted to call someone over to look because I felt like I really earned that sticker today. All in all, today I maintained, which is fine. I am almost a little sad thinking about the end of my challenge on Thursday. I am thinking about extending it to 60 days. I will be out of town for a couple days so I will have to do some doubles but I think I can handle it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 26 - The Rog in the house

Today my dad went with me to Bikram. I was so impressed. The instructor was not one of my favorites but she really looked out for him and helped with the poses. He tried every pose even though he couldn't physically do all of them. I was almost shocked at how eager he was. He didn't seem to have a grasp on the limits of his body. He wanted to do everything even though it was his first class. There was this young college girl next to him and it was also her first class and I have to say, even though yoga isn't supposed to be competitive, he wiped the floor with that chick. I was proud and I think he liked it.

After class about 4 people in the changing room told me how "cute" my dad is and how their dads "would never, ever go to Bikram." I felt so proud that I have such cool parents. At one point the instructor pointed out that we were father-daughter and it just felt good to know I could share that with him.

The class itself was fine. The temperature was way off and it was much cooler than usual. It was distracting having my dad there because I guess you never lose the desire to make your parents proud. I am glad he got to see exactly what I have been doing every day. I think it has been somewhat abstract and I hope he can better understand when I say Bikram yoga is no joke!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 25 - Prego

Today I went to the 11am (and today was flanked by new people). I love this pregnant instructor. She kicks everyone's ass and its like you don't even realize it because she is so freaking cute. I also could see the temperature and clock today so I was very aware of how flipping hot it was. It was a struggle but I did it so I'm proud of that.

Lately the sweat has just been pouring out of me. It feels good. I can also tell that I have been eating less salt. One day Altin said that if your sweat is burning your eyes, you are eating too much salt. So I have been aware of the amount of salt I am eating. It is something I have never really thought of that much. I tried one of the coconut water sports drinks the other day. I really liked it. I had another after class today. I feel so cliche with all this "search for inner peace" stuff when in reality, my life is pretty freaking sweet but I liked walking down the street with my coconut water. I felt very urban.

Day 24

Yesterday I went to the 8pm class. I was totally not in the mood and I thought it would be empty considering it was a friday night. I finally had another class with LL again. She is so positive and bubbly and I really like her energy. There was a brand new student in class next to me and she was really distracting. I could feel her looking at me a lot because she didn't know what she was doing but instead of looking in the mirror at me (or anyone else), she would actually just turn her body and look. It was really distracting. I almost wanted to move.

I realized last night that I really like classes with Altin. I was sore in new places from classes with him all week because he has taught me that I have totally been doing cobra all wrong. It is probably my Locust pose all wrong. I am also realizing that the sheer size/shape of my body doesn't allow me to do some of the poses the way I want. I, unlike a lot of these women, have boobs. Big ones. And they get in the way. On a side note, boobs have been on my mind a lot lately because we are in trial and it is this outrageous sexual harassment case where boobs are discussed everyday.

I was thinking about continuing this challenge to 60 days. I am going to see how I feel this week after really trying to go to the 6:15am classes. I don't think I could go another month if I have to go to the 8pm classes but if I can get it together and wake up, I think it is a possibility.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 23

I don't have anything to say. I went to the 8pm. It kicked my butt. I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 22 - just sitting

I took the 8pm class again. I really am not crazy about taking the class so late but it is either that or wake up at 5:30am and that hasn't been happening so 8pm it is. Class was amazing and the instructor kicked my butt.  It feels great to be in the home stretch and I am super excited that my dad is coming to class with me this weekend. All I can do right now is sit and breathe.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day (and class) 21 - Foxy

Well it's a good thing I did that double last week because my body needed a day off yesterday. So instead of going to class on my Monday holiday, I went to the mall! I even bought some new yoga clothes, which I know defeats the purpose of feeling good from the inside-out but whatever, it can't hurt to look good too. I went to the 8pm class and I felt like a new person. I was excited to go to class and right before class I saw my wonderful neighbors and their fabulous dog. I was pretty early because my new routine is to lay down in dead man pose for as long as possible before class. I typically get there when some of the last people from the class before are leaving. So I was feeling great, laying in the dead man pose and then, I started to panic.

Lauren and I are dog-sitting this weekend and I remembered we need to get a copy of the neighbors keys back. All I could think about laying there was what if they went away, we all forgot to get the keys, and poor Foxy is trapped in their house, having to pee and we can't get in to take her out. Does the back door have a security gate? Yes. Does that window upstairs have bars? Shit - I think it does. Could we call the fire department? They get kittens out of trees but I doubt they would break into someone's house for a dog. A locksmith? I could lie and pretend I lived there but they might require some type of verification. Poor Foxy! Alone. Hungry. Scared. Wondering where her caretakers are. Sweet, kind Foxy. Miserable constipated Foxy. In my head I was thinking, I won't forget to get the keys. But crap, what if I do! Damnit. What if I forget and they leave? Then I kept thinking about how I was going to be thinking about this the entire class! Shit shit shit. This was going to ruin my class! Finally, I ran out and looked at the computer to check the time. 7:57. Yes - more than enough time to run upstairs, text them and run back down. Turns out class started a couple minutes late so I even got to lay back down in dead man pose and relax and the panic washed away with each deep breathe. I could practice my yoga knowing that Foxy wouldn't die from starvation because of me. All was right in the world and I ended up having a fantastic class.

I was going way deeper into postures than I usually do. It was like one day off translated into me shocking myself the entire class. I also knew that the instructor tonight had recently lost his mother.  Throughout the class, it was as if his grief (real or imagined) fueled me. I wanted to do better not just for me but for him too. I know he must be hurting and it was almost as if I wanted to make him proud, to perhaps give him something. I wanted to squeeze out a little bit of my joy and present it to him like a gift - a little, nicely wrapped gift. I pushed myself even harder for him and felt really good doing it.

I introduced myself after class and told him that he and his family were in my prayers and that I wanted to let him know. He seemed happy to hear me say this. I am sure it didn't hurt that the other person waiting to talk to him wanted something from him. I just wanted to give him my condolences. I walked home feeling like maybe I had left a little piece of my energy with him. I hope he is ok.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Class 20 (day 19) - heat rash

Today was probably my worst class so far. I was all excited and then everything just kind of fell apart. For the first time, I seriously considering leaving the room. The room was ridiculously hot because I don't think the instructor knew how to work the heat controls. I got a heat rash on my arms and basically just laid down for about 1/3 of the class. I would roll my head around and a good half the class was on the floor at some point during the class. It was pretty ridiculous.

On another note, last night I went to a yoga party celebrating everyone who has completed and who are currently do a 30-60-or 90 day challenge. It was so fun. I love the energy of my fellow yogis. I feel so cliche walking through my gentrifying neighborhood to go to a yoga party, drink healthy cocktails (literally mimosas made with odwalla) and eat soul food. God I don't think it gets much cheesier. But I love it. I think I am realizing that I have missed having a "group" or a home base. I can see this studio becoming a new home base, somewhere where people are excited to see you and where you are always welcome. It is a really wonderful feeling to have that.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 18 (class 19) - Prego

So after doing a double yesterday and then sleeping for approximately 10 hours, I knew my body was tired. I then proceeded to waddle around the house for an hour or so because I am so freaking sore. I was in no mood to go to the 11 today as I had planned but I made myself go anyway. 

SO glad I did. I had one of the best classes I have ever had. I did every posture and every set and I felt like my body was regulating the temperature better than normal (or maybe it just wasnt as hot, I couldnt tell). And the instructor was the cutest instructor ever because she was preggers! Visibly preggers. I loved it. I couldn't help but smile a little everytime I would get a glimpse of her belly.

On a side note, the whole not being able to see during class is definately a good thing.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day 17 - Just Blobs

Today I completed class 17 and 18. Correctomundo: I, Valerie Lisa Collins, did "a double."  Two classes in one day. I have done 3 hours of yoga today, which is pretty crazy when you think about it. I was wavering after the first class on whether to do it but I figured even if I just layed in the room for 90 minutes, that would be better than nothing. Turns out, I felt pretty strong during the second class, not as strong as the first, but better than I had anticipated. And, as usual, I felt freaking amazing after each class.

Something happened during the second class that is worth mentioning. I lost my contact. This alone really isn't a big deal but the aftermath was, at least for me. Well it is impossible to wear only one contact so I had to take the other one out. I have been wearing contacts to class instead of glasses because I hate getting sweaty in glasses and having to push them up all the time. So there I was, half way through the standing series and I couldn't see shit. Blobs were standing around me and I got into my "don't look anyone in the face because they might be getting eye contact and you will never know because you can't see and then they will think you are an asshole for not acknowledging them" zone. This is easy because during yoga, there is no interaction among students. So anyway, I couldn't see, which led to the fact I couldn't see anything "negative" on my body. Usually I am very aware of every roll and every hint of pudge but today, during the second class at least, I was just a blob just like everyone else in the room, including the ridiculously lean and tone instructor. It was slightly refreshing. We are all blobs - at least in my natural non-seeing state. I think I might try to see the class, including myself, as blobs again tomorrow.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 16 - snOMG

Today was awesome. I went to the noon class (again no work) and it was packed. The instructor was great and class flew by. I felt good about all my postures and my body felt loose and strong. What was really noticeable was the wonderful energy of the class. Everyone was so excited to be there and everyone was really pushing and giving it their all. It made class so much easier.

After class the studio owner invited people to play in the snow. I had watched them do this once before and passed after I saw a man in his undies do a belly flop in the snow. But today I don't know what came over me. I thought, "why not?" So for about 30 seconds about 7 of us ran into a huge snow bank and flopped around while someone took pictures. It felt good for maybe 3 seconds and after that I was freezing but I loved it. I was flopping around in the snow with total strangers wearing next to nothing. It was so freeing.

I am finding this experience not only benefiting my body and self-image but also somewhat healing. I feel like I am getting back to center. I don't think I have felt such peace since before Lisa died. Everything seems still and I find myself really grateful but in an almost overwhelming way. It is so new I don't really know how to process it yet. It is almost as if through these silly classes I am getting a piece of me back that I thought I would never see again. It is like with each deep, full breath, a little bit of innocence returns.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 15 - Half way there!

Today I literally walked through a bona fide blizzard to get to yoga. I am so glad I went because I have sucessfully completed my 15th straight day of Bikram! So excited. Everyday when I put a new sticker on the wall I feel like I am in AA or NA or something and am getting a chip - it is such a great feeling. (And for anyone who is wondering, I know a lot about AA and NA because I used to be a substance abuse counselor, not because I belong to either organization. Ask me about it - I love talking about recovery programs!) I was surprised how many people were in class today - there were about 20 of us. It was great. I struggled a bit today but I am glad I stayed in the room.

I have been eating everything in sight. This stupid blizzard is not helping me eat healthy - I just sit around and eat comfort food, go to yoga, watch tv and sleep. Today I got so bored I made a cake from scratch. The strawberry frosting almost looks inedible but overall not too shabby for a first try. Lauren ate it but at this point she is studying so hard I could put anything in front of her and she would eat it.

Anyway ... Day 15! Woot!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 14 - Lessons from Skelator

Today's class was amazing - more so than usual. I had another snow day today so I was able to go to the noon class. The owner was the instructor and I love the way she really explains all of the poses. I had a great class in spite on Skelator.

So as I was changing upstairs, some anorexic girl jumped in the conversation I was having with someone else to correct me. (I'm not exagerating, there was clearly something wrong with this woman.) The thing was, she didn't know what we were talking about so she was wrong. (Yes Skelator - the federal government was closed yesterday but the District government was open so shut up). So already she is irritating. But whatever, she was just trying to be involved.

So before class we all lay there in our "dead man" pose. It is really relaxing and is a great way to get your mind ready for the upcoming 90 minutes of concentration and sweat. Skelator first was two people down on my left. Then she made a commotion to move two people down on my right. Ok. Whatever. I can't get irritated about that because I literally have one of two spots I like. So she lays back down. Right when we are about to do teh first breathing exercise, she moves again - directly in front of me. If possible, everyone tried not to be directly in front of anyone else because you need to see yourself in the mirror. So in my head I am thinking, "Really Skelator? Directly in front of me?" So I move over a few inches and realize I am now directly in the mirror crack. I hate this. I will admit I can be a little OCD. I hate the mirror crack, more so than I hate having to pick a new spot. The thing was, the class was pretty full so I had to suck it up and deal with the crack. Turns out I survived. The walls didn't crumble into the room. Nor did I fall the entire class because my equalibirum was "off." So in her own way, Skelator taught me to adapt. It was a good thing even though I had to actively ignore all of her vertebrae jutting from her back.

Something else happened today too.  I was doing the Standing Bow Pose when I starting getting really proud of myself. I actually looked like someone who did yoga, rather than a chunky girl attempting to do yoga. So I am staring at myself thinking, damn I look good ... hot even! Of course, I then fell because I was not concentrating on my pose but rather thinking how hot I looked. But it was the first time I had a positive reaction to how I looked in the mirror during yoga. Usually I just look awkward. It was nice.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Day 13

Today was amazing. I feel like this blog is going to get old (or has already gotten old) because I essentially say the exact same thing over and over. Today I had a new instructor - the owner of the studio. I really liked her. She is perfect for beginners and made me feel really comfortable with my progression. I think sometimes I push myself too hard trying to be good and I really need to just focus on baby steps because this stuff could take months to get. I also really liked today's instructor because she wasn't super skinny. She even had a little tummy. She was curvy and healthy and a really good instructor and was really good with the beginners.

I am really beginning to feel something I have never really felt before. I don't knbow how to describe it but I am so much happier. I feel calm and feel like I have let certain things go. I just feel lighter. It just feels really good.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 12

This morning was the first time I was really not looking forward to yoga. I drank a lot of wine last night and woke up feeling sluggish and stiff. I went to class expecting an instructor I liked and got a pleasant surprise - Aura was teaching the class today. I'm not sure if it was wine from the night before or what but it felt like it was 120 degrees in there today. Sweat was literally pouring from my body. During the first breathing exercise sweat was dripping from my elbows. It was rough. I didn't make it through all the poses but I still felt pretty good when class was over.

I have been feeling more comfortable looking at myself in the mirror during class. I find myself focusing less and less on how I look and more and more on my form. It isn't so much a feeling of comfort, it is more like I am not preoccupied with body image. It is a very peaceful feeling and I spend less energy actively trying to feel at ease, it is just happening.

Today is the Super Bowl. It is a good thing I went to yoga today because I plan on eating a drinking up a storm the rest of the day! Go Saints!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Days 10 & 11

Woohoo. I am a third of the way there! Yesterday was class number 10. I went to the 4pm class because everything closed because of snowpocalypse 2010. It was great. I felt really flexible, really focused and overall had a solid class.  I was super proud to put my 10th sticker on the wall. It doesn't look like a lot but to me, it was a proud moment.

And then snowmageddon occurred. If you haven't heard, DC is covered in 2 feet of snow and it is still coming down. A state of emergency has been declared and you can actually get a ticket if you are clueless or desperate enough to try to try to drive. Well, good thing the studio is three blocks away! I had originally planned on going to the 11am class but I woke up at 8:30 and decided to get my butt in gear and run over there. I had to walk in the middle of the streets because the sidewalks are impossible. Right around ten minutes till the class was supposed to start, I rounded the corner and in my head music from 2001: A Space Odyssey was playing. All of a sudden you could see "yogis" emerging from the sideways snow with mats in tow. Everyone was walking slowly and deliberatly and it was almost as if I could feel the wonderful energy coming from my fellow students from half a block away. It was pretty cool. I walked in to Aura's smiling face and she declared "Student number 4!" I was so excited that I made it I knew I was going to have a great class.

The class was awesome. My body was much more stiff than usual, probably because I had just woken up. I really was forced to focus on my form because it was impossible to hide amonst the masses today. And then -  it happened. Instructor (In Lithuanian accent) : "Valerie get those shoulders back, shoulders back back waaay back ... and change. Very good Valerie." Oh ... my ... God ... she knows my name. I felt like a regular! Throughout the class she pushed me to go harder, go stronger and go longer. It was an amazing class and I felt like I could conquer the world as I walked through the blizzard on my way home. I chose a smiley face as my sticker.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Day Nine

Day nine was AMAZING. I really pushed myself and am very proud of how I am progressing. I also really liked my yoga shirt fit too. I didn't think about my pudge at all. It was just an awesome class. I am finding myself not only planning my days around bikram but also really looking forward to it throughout the day.

There was one thing that happened after class yesterday that really took me out of my zone. Class was over and we were laying in our final pose for the day. At the end of each class, the instructor will hand out cold towels that smell like peppermint/eucalyptus and you are supposed to just lay there for a few minutes. It is really relaxing. So I was laying there and some man walked by to leave and all of a sudden a large droplet of man-sweat landed on my cheek. I was so offended. At first I tried to remain still and "send my energy" to the spot to wash away the nastiness but it was as if a snowflake was slowly melting into my warm, pure cheek. Then I started thinking about Mount Vesuvius. (On a side note - after 4 years of Latin I think about Roman history more than I would care to admit.) It was almost as if the grossness was slowly washing over my entire body and I was being frozen in time. I finally just used my cold towel to wipe off my cheek but it was not the way I wanted to end such a great class. I realized that I like to sweat a lot through class but I have no desire to have anyone's sweat even remotely near me, let alone two inches from my mouth!

Due to the impending snowpocalypse, I am getting off work early and may try to do "a double." That's right - two classes in one day, or in my case, two classes in a row. This weekend is the superbowl and it might be nice to have a reserve class just in case I miss a day. We will see. I might not be ready for doubles yet.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 8

Yesterday I went to the 6pm class again. I had my first male instructor. He was very down to business and almost forced me to focus. There was something soothing about his voice and he concentrated more on form than other instructors. I had a pretty good class. It still amazes me how my body is responding.

My dad reminded me of a story that I had forgotten about. Apparently when I was a newborn, the pediatrician had to force my hips open because I was so stiff. Think lockjaw of the hips. I always thought newborns were ridiculously flexible (eating their toes and whatnot) but apparently not me. With that as my starting point, I am happy to report I can now sit with one leg out, wrap my fingers around the bottom of foot, lock my knee and push my forehead against my knee. I think that is progress my friends.

I am finding the physical positions more strenuous. I think I am just pushing myself more each class, especially with the floor series. I also want so badly to be able to do the standing head to knee pose but I am not even close. I can barely hold my foot for the entire time. I am accepting the fact that the pose may take way longer than the other poses for me. I attempted to do the toe stand pose last night and I was surprised that I could actually bend down some.

I bought my first "yoga" tank top. It is considerably longer than my other tank tops and I am hoping that means pudge wont stick out when I do some of the poses. I have tried to force myself to get over the pudge but it is now turning into a distraction. I don't think I am ready to feel comfortable letting the world see my tummy. Almost ... but not quite there yet.

When I read other people's yoga blogs, they often talk about other people in the class being their motivation and inspiration. I, however, like the anonymity within the studio. I don't like to focus on what other people are doing. I just want to follow the instructor and make them my motivation. I have started saying hello to people before and after class but when I am doing the yoga, I don't want to notice people I know. Other students are starting to recognize me. It feels nice to be a regular and to be comfortable with all the routine that goes into each class. I am beginning to feel like I belong to a little community. It is nice.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 7 - I have a week!

Today was day seven! I am so freaking proud of myself. I have completed 10.5 hours of yoga in a week. I think that is pretty impressive and I am really happy that I am sticking with it. The class went ok. Nothing fabulous but a solid class. I noticed I was much less focused today. I found myself looking more at other people. I also felt really fat today so I was more insecure than I normally am. It was slightly irritating.  I also found annoying some other people in the class who were always ahead of the instructor. It was a little distracting. The instructor was new for me. She had a slight accent that kind of sounded like the Lithuanian instructor. I shall call her Lithuanian Light (LL). LL was pretty good. Her pace felt faster but the room felt cooler today. At first I thought my body was just responding differently but I am pretty sure it really was cooler.

One thing I did that I shouldn't have is weigh myself. I guess I was looking for some kind of concrete affirmation and the scale did not budge not one pound. It was disappointing. I know it has only been one week and building muscle doesn't mean losing weight and bla bla bla but I was still disappointed. I have limited myself to one weighing a week and I might not even do that. If I weigh myself next week and it is still the same, I don't think I am going to weigh myself anymore. I don't want weight loss to become the focus.

I have noticed that emotionally and physically I feel amazing. I am not as sleepy in the mid-afternoon and it just feels really good to know that I am doing something positive. It also feels great to just have something that is all mine. I know other people do challenges but this one is all mine and it feels great. I just generally feel more positive, have more energy and more at peace and feel fabulous. This is pretty awesome.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day Six - God Bless Lithuania!

Today was AMAZING. I went to the 6pm class and to my surprise, the Lithuanian instructor was leading the class. I had an amazing class. I did every pose with energy and focus and I was really surprised how my body reacted. I went way deeper in multiple poses than I ever had and it felt great to be able to see concrete improvement in my yoga. One of the things that really stuck with me is when the instructor stated that meditation doesn't have to be some long exercise and that it is possible to mediate for a second. To have your mind at peace for just a moment. That is all meditation is. It sounds really simple but it resonated with me.

I think I need to move outside my comfort zone a little. I always sit in the exact same place in the room and I think it may be time for me to move more toward the center of the room. Just to see. I also want to not get too comfortable with my Lithuanian instructor. I don't want to be closed minded towards other instructors.

I will be able to leave work early all week so I am going to go to the 6pm class each night. I think it is a great way to end the day and I like how I can adequately hydrate slowly all day. Lauren is in Boston all week for work so being at home is quiet and a little lonely. But it is really easy for me to go to yoga so that is good. I'll keep you posted.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day Five - Spinach

Today was day 5. I went to class and it was ho hum.

The only thing I can think about is spinach. I want lots of it. The thought of it makes my mouth water. I don't even really like spinach.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day Four - I have a crush

I originally did not think I would be able to go to yoga today but my ski trip was canceled due to the snow so I made it to the the 5pm class. As I was walking in the snowstorm, I kept thinking that I hoped more than just a few people would show up because I am not ready for intense, personalized instruction. When I arrived, however, I realized that these people are intense. It was packed, more so than usual.

I had an amazing class. I did something new today and I could tell that I had already gotten better. The woman sitting next to me was clearly in a foul mood but I was able to not let her negative energy mess with my flow.  The woman on the other side of me was like a toothpick so that was annoying but I managed to not let that mess with my flow either. I also actively tried to not fidget today.

I officially have a new favorite person. She doesn't know it yet but I so love the instructor with an accent. Her name is Aurelija and she Lithuanian and I think I have an instructor crush on her. She is awesome. I wanted to go up to her after class and tell her how much I love her classes but I chickened out. I saw her and immediately knew I was going to have a great class. She puts me in such a good mood and I find myself smiling during the class. It really feels like therapy.

During class I had some pudge poking out and just for today, I was ok with that.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day Three

I feel pretty amazing. Last night I went to the late class and I LOVED the instructor. She had an Eastern European accent so it made me focus even more on every word she spoke. She was also funny. If you weren't listening carefully, you could easily miss some of her little jokes but she was cracking me up (this admittedly does not take much). She also gave constant positive reinforcement. It felt like therapy. She would say things like, "Aren't you so happy you know you are taking care of yourself today and have done everything you can do?" Stuff like that. And I was completely into it. Cheesy, I know - but I loved it. 

Then I had a brilliant idea ... I would go this morning so I wouldn't have to go on a Friday night. But it turns out that two classes within 12 hours was not the best idea. Normally I think I would have really liked the 6:15am class but this morning my heart was not into it. I felt energized and was excited to do the class but once class began, I was completely unfocused. I kept looking down at the ground and all around. I kept thinking about silly stuff. I didn't make it through all the poses. I took more savasana pose time (where you basically just lay on the ground and play dead). I also did not feel adequately hydrated. So this morning was a bit much. 

One thing the morning instructor did was call attention to when everyone would fidget in between poses. At one point she told me to stop fixing my tank top because "it is just going to go back to where it wants to."  It was uncomfortable for me to know a little pouch was sticking out from the bottom of my tank top but I was forced to just deal with it. I had to just stand there and stare at myself in the mirror. I tried to just appreciate my presence but I am still working on that. Overall I felt good after the class but not as relaxed and energized as I felt last night.

For the next two weeks I will be able to leave work early so it will be easier to make the 6pm classes but after that, I might try to make the morning classes my new routine. It is a nice way to start the day and I feel so accomplished already. I am really proud of myself.

Body Observations
  • I am sleeping like a rock. I am pretty sure Crystal was sleeping on my chest last night, which usually wakes me up because she is huge. Last night I vaguely remember waking up and looking at her but other than that, nada. For all I know all three of them plus Lauren were sleeping on my face.
  • My back is like a board. I did not have bad posture before but the last couple days when I sit at my desk my chest is out and my shoulders are back.  I feel like I look a little uptight but I feel relaxed, just straight.
  • I'm not sure if I am imaging this but I feel like something is going on with my digestive system. Maybe I am digesting better? Again, I could be making that one up. 
  • My body is sore. It is a new kind of sore. Nothing painful, just a little achy. And one new thing is my toes are sore. I have never had sore toes. I don't think I even remember the last time I even thought about my toes. It is new to even being thinking about that. I like it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day Two

Last night was my first night of my challenge and I think it started off on the right foot. If you have never heard of Bikram, it is a style of yoga that consists of 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises. It is practiced in a room that is 105 degrees, 50 percent humidity and lasts for 90 minutes. In other words, it is fucking intense! I have been once before and liked the way I felt afterward but did not really enjoy the class all that much. The first time I went I started doubting whether I could stay in the room about 30 minutes into the class. Now I realize it was the instructor. Last night the instructor was so good and fast, you really didn't have time to think about how it was hot as balls in there. She kept referring to the class as a 90 minute meditation session. Now when I think of meditation, I think about sitting with your legs crossed in unnatural ways, not moving, and actively trying to slow your mind. I kept thinking last night, this is not my idea of meditation. But at the end of the class, I realized I had focused for a pure 90 minutes on nothing outside that room. I was pretty proud of myself.

I have a real problem with checking other people out. Not in a "I am curious about the human form" way but in a "I wish my thighs looked like that" way. It isn't healthy. I  did it last night in the beginning of the class but the class was so intense I didn't have energy to put into silly stuff like that. I also realized that I was right behind a pretty big woman who had the poses down really well. She was standing next to a really flexible, skinny woman who didn't know the poses. I focused on trying to mimic the fat chick.

After the class I felt great. I don't know if I felt more relaxed but I definitely felt energetic and refreshed. This morning I was exhausted but that is nothing new. However, I could tell I did something yesterday. I am not sore in the traditional sense where it hurts, I am sore in a way where I am just noticing my muscles. My posture also feels great today but I am wondering if that is just in my head. All in all, I think it was a great first day.

I am debating whether or not I want to keep track of my weight this month. I would like to lose weight, but I also don't want this to really be about the weight so much. I also have experienced before when my body changes and my weight stays the same. Maybe I will take measurements or something. We will see. I am going to the later class tonight so hopefully it will not mess with my sleep schedule. I am not sure why I am scared but I am. After having announced to family and friends I am doing this, it creates more pressure to actually do it. I'm not sure how great of an idea that was. I already put enough pressure on myself. But we will see and I will keep you posted on my progress!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day One

Today I signed up for a 30 day Bikram Yoga challenge. The goal is 30 days straight of hot yoga but I am allowing myself a couple of missed days just in case. I am doing this to hopefully lose weight but more importantly, to develop the relationship, or lack thereof, I have with my body. I have never appreciated my body and I am hoping this yoga challenge will help me get a connection between body and soul. I also just want to like my body more. So I figure wearing next to nothing and sweating like a buffalo next to 20 other half naked people may help. Hopefully really skinny people wont always be besides me and hopefully by the end, even if they are, I wont care. I am also hoping this will keep me busier during the evening. My m.o. is to watch TV and munch all evening so now I will be forced to have an evening activity every night.

So why now? I have been exceedingly unhealthy all of my adult life. Even when I weighed 20 pounds less, I was not healthy. Last June I turned 30 and I have to start thinking about how I want to spend the next 30 years. I have decided I want to spend it appreciating all of the things in my life, including my body so I figured I might as well start with taking care of it. My first day is today so I will keep you posted!