Celine's challenge, part of a much bigger project, is an amazing feat that stirred inspiration and excitement within me. Doing the 30-day-challenge is one of her "30 things to do before turning 30" (one of my favorite ones, and one which has been on my to-do list forever, is to learn how to surf). So, here's the recap behind her experience in the hot room:
MH: Cool, so you've crossed one thing more off your list. But why Bikram? How did you learn about this practice?
CN: I first heard about Bikram back in maybe 2005 when the first Bikram studio was set up in my hometown, Manila (Philippines) by Pye Trinidad. I was a Beauty Editor back then for a lifestyle magazine so I tried out a class in order to write about it. It was a great class but I found it so challenging that I was pretty intimidated from coming back. I did not step into a Bikram studio again until 2007, when a friend convinced me to take a class at Bikram Yoga Union Square. Again, I had a rough time and after that first class, didn't come back to Bikram again. And then for some reason, Bikram popped into my head once again in March 2009 and I went for a class at Bikram Yoga NYC. This time, I didn't have to go because of work or because a friend made me. I went because I really wanted to practice Bikram, and this time I came back for a second class. And I just kept on going from there!
That's really cool, when you make up your own mind to do something. I think it changes everything. Do you remember your third "first class"?
Yeah, that's thee one I remember most clearly. I came in thinking I would do well because I have 12 years of ballet training and I was attending a first time only class at Bikram Yoga NYC. I thought, well if we're all beginners I'm sure I'll do great ... Boy did my ego get beaten down and dragged back to earth. I was, hands down, the worst student in that first class! I was seeing spots by the time we finished the awkward pose, and surrendered to the mat soon after that. I spent more time hyperventilating on the mat than practicing the asanas. It was really bad. I got my ass thoroughly kicked.
I always felt that the best thing to do is to just jump into a regular class, since it is structured as a beginner's class. The range of levels on any given day in any class is pretty diverse, but that's the way it's meant to be! So, you took a first-time only class, though it was really your third time, and you tanked it, but you came back. Why?
No matter how terrible that first class was, the high that I got afterwards was just so amazing that I had to go back. I came back better hydrated and left my ego at the door, and the second class was a hundred times better than the first. From not even making it past the awkward pose, I was able to complete a full class. When I saw that I was actually capable of completing the class without keeling over, I was hooked. Within a month, I availed of a special one year offer at Bikram Yoga Union Square and have been practicing ever since.
That's awesome! Pretty great at realizing so much on your first class: the absolute pre-requisite of coming in hydrated, practicing for the sake of the practice and not letting your ego drive you... Good stuff. So, are you working through any injuries?
Besides a once severely bruised ego, not really.
Hahaha nice. And what is it about the practice that you like and dislike?
I like how great my joints and my muscles feel afterwards. I really feel the restorative effects of the practice on my body. I also like the intensity of the practice because it forces me to quiet my mind and concentrate on the task at hand. What I dislike at times is the repetitive nature, since the same 26 asanas are done every time. I find myself wishing I could learn more asanas. Though when I did the 30DC, I realized how much more work I need to do on the 26 asanas that I've been practicing, so that took away some of my antsiness to try something new. There's so much work to be done here still!
Totally, there is always somewhere to go. Especially as a beginner, I think it's important to understand that you are not expected to master these poses in a month or even a year. It's a lifetime process, and these postures take years and years of consistent practice. Plus, of course, there's also the part of us changing all the time, what we eat, how we feel, etc will come up in the hot room. There will never be two classes alike. What is it that inspired you to do the challenge?
The main reason really is because I decided to put it on my 30 Before 30 List. But why did I add it to my list? Well, when you're in your late 20s, you start getting the feeling that your body is past is prime and you start pining for the good old days when you had a tiny waist, no flab on your arms, and so on ... well, at least I did. I missed the body I had when I was in my early 20s, the body that was so flexible from years of dancing and so resistant to the onslaught of fat! I wanted to see if I could still get some of that back if I just worked really hard. So I thought, why not do the ultimate workout, the 30-Day Challenge! And I have to say, the challenge put me in the best shape of my life.
That's rocking. Haha "the ultimate workout", that's pretty funny. I can almost hear it on an infomercial. So what got you through during the rough days? What were your intentions?
My intention was just to get through it, really, and see what it does for my mind and body. I wanted to see how much flexibility I could regain, and was happy with the results. I'm not as flexible as I was when I was still dancing ballet, but I accept where I am right now and I know that I can improve more with more devotion to the practice. I was surprised at how strong I got over the 30 days. I can honestly say that I'm stronger now than I've ever been in my whole life! I became very lean and muscular, which was fantastic. Moreover, I was really happy too with the effect it had on me mentally and emotionally. It made me such a calm person, which is difficult to achieve in a crazy city like New York. Mentally too, I was pleased that by the end of the challenge, my mind had become so quiet, just focusing on the practice rather than blathering about random things like what I'm having for dinner, the way it did when I was just starting out.
Yeah! My favorite one is "what am i going to drink right after class?" I used to daydream about walking down an endless aisle of deli refrigerators lined with zico. But it is pretty amazing whenyou catch yourself and you bring yourself back. Lastly, my dear, what is your fav and least fav posture?
The standing head-to-knee pose is both my favorite and least favorite posture. Even when I was a dancer, forward extensions had always been my weak suit because I never had a strong core. During the 30-day challenge, I always both dreaded and anticipated the head-to-knee pose because I felt that it was my "barometer" of how much I was improving. I was really pleased that by the end of the challenge I found it much easier to maintain my balance in this pose. Though the more classes you take, the more you learn about the pose, and the more you find needs to be improved with the way you're doing it! I still have light years of improvement to go on this one, but I'm definitely happy with the progress I made through the 30-Day Challenge!
Totally agree on standing head to knee. I've been practicing for about three years and only now am i learning to properly kick my leg out. This was of course after i realized that going for it all the way "just to get my forehead to knee" was rubbish if other alignment details were ignored. So I've gone back to step one and now I'm kicking out! Anyway, thanks for the inspiration, I'm gonna go and do a similar list. Good luck on the rest of your adventures!