Monday, March 15, 2010

Bikram Yoga Days 4, 5 and 6

I didn't fully realize when I decided to write here in my blog about my experience with my yoga classes, that having a working internet connection would be so crucial. That time would be an important factor as well. I also recognized that I need to give myself permission more often to write, and to create.

Day 4 was a turning point. I wrote that I needed to accept the heat and sweat for what it was. To let go and focus. I did exactly that. I allowed myself to be present in the room, and to recognize and appreciate each pose. This was the first class where I was able to begin focusing on myself and not what was going on in the room around me. I did look to others for quick visual reminders of how to do a certain handhold, or to even pick up a pointer on how to enter a pose. Other then that, I tried my best to allow everything else to fade away so that it was just myself doing each pose and the instructors voice gently guiding me along. I employed a little trick as well, to help me continue to let go of the heat and sweat. After savasana and for the remainder of the second half of class I "compromised" with my mind that I was only allowed to drink my water after each pose. I started looking at it as a kind of reward for doing each pose instead of looking at my water as a way of cooling down or calming down.

Class on day 5 went by super fast. It felt as if it was over before it even really began. This was how I knew that I had finally started to fully accept the heat.

Yesterday I woke up with a headache. It wasn't severe, just a mild annoyance. After I ate in the morning it seemed to diminish slightly, but it was ever present while getting ready. I recall standing outside of the room putting my fingers under my eyes and applying light pressure to my sinuses. This seemed to help alleviate the pain to a slight degree. Lora and another student were in agreement that if it was my sinuses that it should be completely gone by the end of class and that my sinuses would be open and I would breathe much easier (which is true! I have found that during class, I can breathe easier through my nose then I have ever been able to. My sinuses usually bother me throughout the day and at especially at night, and I've been noticing some improvement!)

I really didn't think too much of my headache as class started and got under way. It wasn't until the second-half of class that it started to really come back into my focus. For every posture, it was the same sequence: do sit up to get out of savasana. There is a slight pain in my head from sitting up so fast. Do the pose. Feel the pounding in my head as if I can feel the blood rushing through my veins like a full-force running bull. Rest in savasana. Breath. Aching and pulsing slowly subsides. Sit up. There is the pain again, with dizziness making an appearance. Do pose again. Repeat sequence.

After class, Lora mentioned I may be dehydrated. She has seen this before with new people getting accustomed to Bikram. Her advice was to replenish my electrolytes and drink more water then I felt was necessary so that I could replace what I sweat out during class.

I got home and I drank water. Then I drank some more. My headache got worse. My french lover suggested bananas for their potassium and Vitamin Water or Powerade for the sugars and sodium. He also proposed that I may have a vitamin b deficiency. As the night progressed and I finally ate fruit and drank electrolyte infused drinks, my headache slowly went away and I was able to enjoy our time together.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bikram Yoga Day 2 and 3

A rather quick recap, if you will :)

Day 2 was more intense then the first, as I found myself fully doing the poses in the sequence. Not surprisingly, it was just as hot as the first day. I forgot to put my water bottle in the freezer earlier in the day, so by the end of class my water was lukewarm. Yuck! I did manage to sweat a little more then the first day, and I was sore walking out of class. Both of those are good, right?

Today was day 3. Rough, is the only word I can use to describe it. Unbearable is another word that just came to mind. It was so hot in that room, I thought I was going to die. Everything was going along alright until we reached savasana. Those two minutes of stillness were the apex of the class. It was all downhill from there. In those two minutes you are supposed to lay there. You are not supposed to think or fidget. You are not supposed to listen to the mexican music that the street vendor is playing underneath the window that is only cracked about two inches for those two precious minutes. Absolute stillness is what you are trying to achieve. Focusing on your breath, always your breath. Deep, slow breaths in. Deep, slow breaths out. How can I do that when all I am thinking of is the sweat rolling down my back, or the fact that the room is hotter today then it was yesterday?

"Did they crank the heat up? It's hotter in here then it was yesterday. Even though they said it was the same temp, they had to have cranked it up. This is some sort of cruel joke they like to play." I definitely had those thoughts during my moment of "stillness".

I wanted to give up around camel pose. I didn't want to "lift up on my heels" anymore. I didn't want my only option of rest to be savasana in a sauna. I wanted coolness, fresh air. I was trying to think of ways to get out.

I seriously thought I was going to pass out. That is entirely my own fault though. It was my own fault for not drinking enough water before I went. It was my own fault that all I had for breakfast before hand was a pseudo fruit smoothie. I knew what I was going to be doing for the first part of my day. It was a decision I made to not be properly prepared. A very, very poor decision.

On a good note though (there is always a good note!), I got complimented for my form a few times throughout class. I was also able to do tree stand pose completely (technically it was on the last set of the next pose in the series, but who was paying attention?)! Plus, my shower after class was GLORIOUS. I have never taken a cool shower that felt like heaven before, until now.

I am still sore, though everyday it's a little different. Today it's my neck. Yesterday it was my thighs. I have no idea what tomorrow's muscle of choice will be.

I do know that I am hesitant to go to my class tomorrow. I also know that if I don't go, I will be very upset with myself. Already I am seeing some benefits outside of the class, so I don't want to give up just yet. I set the goal for myself to get through these 10 classes, and I plan on doing all 10 of them. I just need to let go and accept the heat. It is always going to be hot. I'm always going to sweat. I need to find the space where I am ok with that. Hopefully I find it for a few precious moments during tomorrow's class.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bikram Yoga Day 1

Bikram Yoga. 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. One class is 90 minutes in length and is practiced in a room that is heated to 105 degrees with 40% humidity. Yes, heated. Just standing in the room, you start to sweat.

I first learned about Bikram from Kate's blog post about showing up. When I first read of her experience, my reaction was a mixture of a copious amount of intrigue, a dash of apprehension, and a smidgen of fear.

I've done yoga before. Last October, at my library. Before that, never. So, what do I do now that my interest has been sparked, my curiosity piqued?

I looked it up, of course. Researched what kind of yoga it was, and the benefits.

I got excited. I talked about it to my mom. And with my French lover. I think I even talked about it to my fur-babies!

I finally participated in my first Bikram Yoga class yesterday. My, oh my, was it intense! On my way to the studio, I could feel the excitement and anticipation all throughout my body. It was as if my body was singing it's joy and happiness that we were about to embark on an adventure that's only outcome was positive.

When I first walked into the room, I first noticed the heat. It was HOT! Well, yeah of course it is. I started wondering if I could make it through my first class. When I was registering, Lori (or Lora, I can't quite remember her name!) explained that the goal of a first time student is to just stay in the room for the entire class. I took a deep breath, and thought"I can do this". I took up residency in the back row, by a window and a humidifier. As I looked around the room, there were a few students stretching, and I decided to follow the lead of some other students and lay down; which I later found out is appropriately named corpse pose, or savasana.

As I was laying there, I checked in with myself. "How are you feeling?" I was nervous. Nervous because of the heat, nervous about of my wrist, most of all I was nervous of the other students. If they were going to be critiquing me and analyzing how I did each yoga pose. I was acutely aware of my breath and my heartbeat. I could also feel the coolness of the water mist on my leg as the humidifier silently released vapors into the air.

Then class started. We warmed up. (Warm up? That was a warm up? Who warms up in a heated room????--I had these exact thoughts) I recognized some of the poses, and my favorite, the eagle, even made an appearance. There were new poses. There were poses I used to do when I was younger, before I even knew what yoga was. I even got complimented on my rabbit pose! Now that is a boost of confidence.

I had two prevalent thoughts during my first class. The second thought I had while laying in savasana during the middle of class. I thought I wasn't sweating enough (who thinks they aren't sweating enough in a heated room???) The first thought? When I was in standing bow pulling pose (or Dandayamana-Dhanurasana in Sanskrit), I looked at myself in the mirror. I mean I really looked. I took in my strong shoulders, and the flush of my face, and my prominent calf muscle. It was then that I realized that this isn't just yoga. It's a meditation. A meditation of self-love.

I feel that this was something big to realize, especially during my first ever Bikram class. I know that there is more to this then just practicing yoga in a hot room. What I have read about this yoga "healing you from the inside out", may very well be true. I think this is why I am hooked, and plan on going back.

I signed up for the studio's introductory special-10 days of unlimited yoga for $20. I will be there everyday. I also plan on documenting my adventure here. My second class is this evening, and I find myself excited, a little nervous again, and looking forward to the heated room and the feeling of my muscles stretching and singing once more.