Archive for the ‘30-Day Bikram Yoga Challenge’ category

30-Day Bikram Yoga Challenge – Day 27

February 20, 2008

Friday February 15, 2008 – Day 27; Class 30

12:00 p.m. I decided to stick around the studio and do a double for my final class of the Challenge. I have only attended a handful of the noon classes since I began practicing at Yoga Crossing, and I assumed that the class would not be full given the middle of the weekday time slot. Much to my surprise, three spaced-out rows filled the studio. In my opinion, this is the absolute perfect amount of people. There are enough yogis to get a positive, contagious energy circulating throughout the room, yet not too many people that we are smooshed in next to one another so we constantly have to worry about not bumping into those practing close by.

A word about the heat: This quite possibly could have been the most perfect Bikram class – temperature wise – that I have ever taken. The room was all warmed up from the earlier 9:15 a.m. class, and the decent number of people practicing heated the studio up to its perfect, swealtering – but not too swealtering – temperature. I started sweating almost immediately, and my body loosened up in the first set of hands to feet pose. (This also could have been due to this being my second class of the day…)

As for the 26 postures, I felt as though my strength, balance, and flexibility worked effectively together throughout the entire 90 minutes. I knew this was the final class of the Challenge, so I undoubtedly tried extra hard to concentrate, not fidget in between postures, and just perform everything as well as I possibly could. During one of our savasanas, the instrustor Ami told us that in each posture, we have to go to the point between too much and not enough. I’ve come to appreciate how well I know my body and how far it can go. Since we come into class with a different body from one day to the next, only I really know if I am pushing as hard as I can. Ami also told us that even though we all may be in different places in the postures, if we are all working our hardest we are receiving the same benefits that the Bikram practice offers. I love the fact that just because some people are more flexible, or stronger, or have more stable balance than others, if we exert the same effort we receive the same benefits.

I left the studio feeling physically exhausted but overcome with a huge feeling of satisfaction. I think that I sweat out every toxin humanly possible over the past three hours. I am glad to see this 30-Day Challenge come to an end – what a huge accomplishment – but I don’t think I will be taking too long of a vacation away from the studio.

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30-Day Bikram Yoga Challenge – Day 27

February 20, 2008

Friday February 15, 2008 – Day 27; Class 29

9:15 a.m. As the second to last of the 30-Day Challege, this class made me realize the improvements I have made, yetalso how challenging this yoga really is. For example, earlier in the Challenge I wrote about how I would probably be able to straighten my kicking leg in standing bow pulling pose by the end of the 30 days. After 29 classes, I seriously underestimated the difficulty of straightening that leg. Making that sort of an assumption or goal in regards to Bikram Yoga is not how I should approach this practice. Because I learned so well that I come into the studio with a different body day after day, and that I may not always improve from one day to the next, putting a time limit on perfecting a certain skill is an unrealistic, discouraging way to practice. In regards specifically to the standing bow pulling pose, surely some days I was able to kick high and almost straighten my leg, while others I could barely hold my balance for more than 15 seconds. I suppose I made that (incorrect) assumption after a good class for standing bow pulling.

One posture in which I consistently have been feeling more flexible is fixed firm position. I try to get into this posture as quickly as possible because once I create the human bridge by slightly arching my back, the posture really feels relaxing.

I felt strong throughout this class with decent balance, though my flexibility was below my average; possibly this was due to relatively early class. Nevertheless, this class was a great way to head into the 30th and final 90 minutes of this challenge…

30-Day Bikram Yoga Challenge – Day 26

February 14, 2008

Thursday February 14, 2008 – Day 26; Class 28

6:30 a.m. I was back at it on this Valentine’s morning! Being back in the hot room I felt ecstatic. I felt as though I had been gone longer than just one day; entering the studio today seemed like returning to a familiar place after being gone for too long. When I went to Ithaca College in August of 2003 for my freshman year, I vowed not to come home until the Thanksgiving break three long months away. I don’t know why I made this promise to myself – to see if I could do it? To really feel as though I were on my own? I wasn’t, if anyone is wondering. I was still dependant on my parents and family – both financially and emotionally. Anyway, when I returned home that November, driving through my town seemed like a dream. I had never been gone from the place in which I grew up for that amount of time, and turning the familiar corners and winding through the local neighborhoods felt warm and inviting, like I belonged.

This is how yoga felt this morning. After going a full day without practice and then returning, I realized how familiar I have become with practicing every day. The class itself was not one of my “best” – both physically and mentally. My balance and flexibility suffered the most, although I did feel stronger than I do on average. My strength became apparent to me especially on the floor series when balancing was no longer necessary.

Just as returning home from that first semester of college freshman year felt warm, inviting, familiar, coming back to class today just felt right. I belonged.

30-Day Bikram Yoga Challenge – Day 25

February 14, 2008

Wednesday February 13, 2008 – Day 25; NO CLASS

This is the first day in my 30-Day Challenge that I have skipped class. Based on my work schedule, I couldn’t attend any of the classes that were being offered. I don’t feel great about skipping the day; I feel far less relieved and relaxed as I thought I would at having a day off. Instead, I was irratable, mainly at not being able to attend practice but also because I did not have 90 minutes of meditation, exercise, and focus. This yoga affects me more than I realized, a fact that took me missing a day to realize more so than attending practice every day. While days off now and then are normal, even important, I certainly don’t plan on taking a vacation from Bikram Yoga once I complete this Challenge.

30-Day Bikram Yoga Challenge – Day 24

February 13, 2008

Tuesday February 12, 2008 – Day 24; Class 27

6:30 a.m. For as strong as I felt yesterday, I felt equally as weak today. I accept that each class is different, that my body is in a different place from class to class; however, it still amazes me that I can take two classes within 12 hours of each other and have such drastically different experiences. This morning I had trouble warming up and really feeling loose. My body remained in sleep mode – tired, stiff, uncoordinated – for almost the entire 90 minutes. The room didn’t fully heat up either, or maybe I happened to catch a draft since I chose to set up my mat and towel right by the door. Whatever the reason, I certainly did not sweat as much as I normally do.

I was happy to leave this class behind me, and I look forward to tomorrow. The lack of heat really has a negative impact on my practice. It’s strange that such intense, sweltering heat actually positively influences my performance throughout the 26 postures.

30-Day Bikram Yoga Challenge – Day 23

February 12, 2008

Monday February 11, 2008 – Day 23; Class 26

7:30 p.m. Before I even entered the studio this evening, I became overwhelmed with a feeling of simply wanting a day off; however, once I got into the room I realized that I had unintentionally spaced out this class with the previous class to have an extra long break but still attend class on consecutive days. By taking the 7:30 a.m. class on Sunday, I had 34 1/2 hours until the 7:30 p.m Monday evening class…not bad! I remember reading a Runners’ World article years ago that discussed spacing out running workouts like this if the runner did not want to skip a day but felt like she needed a little bit of extra recovery time. This tip can be used for any workout routine, and I found that I was totally energized and rejuvenated when class started.

As a whole, this class was one of my favorites of the Challenge. My body seemed very strong and coordinated, stronger than it has felt recently. I felt great flexibility in my hamstrings as well which is always a good thing! I also made an extra effort to really stand still in between postures, especially after Balancing Stick Pose and Triangle Pose. My heart does beat much faster when I come out of these poses compared to other poses, but by remaining still and just staring into my own eyes I’m able to remain calm. Also, taking a deep inhale (say for about four slow seconds) and then exhaling deeply even slower (for six – eight seconds) brings my heart rate down. As I’m exhaling, I can feel my heart rate slowing and relaxing which is quite calming. I don’t exactly know why fidgeting around after these postures seems to help alleviate some of the stress that my body feels, but if I can get into the habit of simply remaining still, I’m sure I’ll be better served in the long run.

Only five classes left…I can’t believe it!

30-Day Bikram Yoga Challenge – Day 22

February 11, 2008

Sunday February 10, 2008 – Day 22; Class 25

7:30 a.m. This class was typical for early Sunday morning in regards to its size – large, but not overcrowded. My body felt decently flexible for this early; however, the one aspect of this class that I did not enjoy was the temperature: It was too cold. I don’t know why some classes remain hot through the final savansa while others, like this one, cool down at the beginning of the floor series. I stopped sweating all together during the spine strenghtening series and actually became cold because the sweat started to dry on my body. When the temeperature falls like this, I become frustrated with the entire class. While sweating everything out acts as a great detoxification, the heat also helps to loosen my mucles allowing me to stretch deeper into the postures. Additionally, as “yogi” as this may sound, the intense sweating is such a great metaphor for getting rid of everything negative and letting it all melt away.

I felt tired at the end of this class, and especially tired at the end of the day. As much as I enjoy this yoga (and really depend on it for exercise and mental clarity) I undoubtedly will enjoy a day off when the challenge is finished to become rejuvenated…maybe for another 30 days?? 😉