Rose from San Francisco! (i loooove your picture)Tell me. What drew you to Bikram?
There is actually a Bikram yoga studio 3 blocks from my house and I've been walking/driving past it for the last 2 years and seeing how steamed up the windows get. It was pretty intimidating because I usually feel slightly claustrophobic in extreme heat. I went on the Fluid Yoga San Francisco website and read about all the benefits of practicing Bikram.
Haha that's true, the steamy windows. The studio at Park Slope in Brooklyn is crazy steamy, and when the door opens literally a cloud of steam escapes. Passerbys are always trying to see through the cloud at what is going on. What made you actually go in though?
Well, I try to set 3 goals for myself every year and 2010 had just started and I thought trying a class could be one of my goals. My initial plan was just to survive a class but I never imagined actually completing a 30DC this year!
You go, girl. And what of your first class, tell me about that.
I forced myself to chug tons of water before the class (I used to hate drinking water and now I LOVE water). When I got to the studio, one of the members advised me that the heat is tolerable as long as you don't breathe through your mouth. The instructor also told me that my goal was just to stay in the room the entire class and to kneel down if I felt dizzy or nauseated. I was surprised at how much I was sweating and we were only doing the first breathing exercise! I was also really proud of myself for trying all of the poses and giving it everything I had.
That's all you ever ever ever need to do. Stay in the room, come in hydrated, give whatever you have to give on any given day (it will ALWAYS be different). What of that first class made you want to come back for seconds?
I tried doing Toe-Stand during my first class. On the first side, I was hesitant to bring my hands to prayer. When we switched to the other leg, as cheesy as it sounds, I made eye contact with myself in the mirror and told myself that I could do it and then I brought my hands to prayer and held the pose! That was the first time I had ever willed my body into doing something and I LOVED that I was able to make that mind-body connection. It was empowering and it got me hooked.
That's awesome! That mirror is SUCH a tool. And so is the dialogue you hear each class. It really comes down to making the mind-body connection with the words you hear spoken. Bikram will often say to us that during those 90 minutes, he is doing all the thinking for us, all we have to do is listen and connect our body to the words. "My mind, your body," or something along those lines. Tell me what you like and dislike about the practice.
I like noticing the small improvements in my poses with each class. It's usually a surprise, like the first time I touched my forehead to my knee during the Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee pose. And the first time I hooked my left foot during Eagle Pose. I usually end up smiling to myself during class when it happens. I dislike how much time it sucks up out of the day. It would be one thing if it were just a 90 minute class, but it really ends up being more like 3 hours when I include getting to and from class, making sure I'm hydrated, planning my meals a few hours before the class, washing all the sweaty towels and clothes, not to mention having to wash my hair everyday which makes it frizzy. But the pros definitely outweigh the cons so it's not a huge issue.
Tell me about it. You basically just enumerated all my cons. It's crazy how you totally plan your day around it. Even more so when you're practicing every day. What made you do this for 30 days straight?
After I heard about the 30DC I instantly knew that I wanted to try it. I thought it could be a nice 2011 goal but when I realized that my schedule would allow me to try the challenge in June 2010, I thought "I'll try it one day at a time and if I hit 30, then great!" That's pretty much what happened. I went one day on a Friday and again that Saturday and then that Sunday and by Monday I thought "well I've already done 3 days in a row, if I don't go today I would have to start all over again!" And it kept on going until day 31! I'm kind of a quitter so I really wanted prove to myself that I can commit to something if I put my mind to it.
Yeah, then 4, 5, 6... 31. Well you certainly showed yourself! What sort of things have you noticed as a result of this daily practice?
I wanted to be able to turn off my thoughts and just focus on my breathing and build a stronger mind-body connection. And although I still catch my mind drifting to other thoughts like work or my next meal, I can now use my breath to calm my heart rate after a particularly difficult pose (or anytime I'm anxious) and now I use breathing to transition through poses. Oh and people telling me that it looks like I've lost some weight doesn't hurt either :) It's definitely icing on the cake.
And what a yummy cake it is. It's great when you can take the practice off the mat; out of the hot room. Do you have any fav postures? Not-so-fav?
My new favorite pose is the Half Moon Pose. It wasn't until my 3rd week that I finally figured out how to pull my arm over and shift my hips properly. It really does take a lot of strength to keep your arms perfectly straight behind your ears. My new least favorite pose is Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee pose. I dislike the choking feeling and how there are days when I can touch my forehead to my knee and some days when I can't. When I can't touch it in class, I keep trying the pose when I get home to prove to myself that I still have it i
I like your determination. But don't forget that your body needs to be warmed up in order to do these postures (not too hard in this heat). Generally, we dont recommend doing poses outside of sequence, since their order is cleverly set. It is better to try the posture you want to work on right after class... just a bit of advice... but you seem to get the idea, the mind-body connection intention. Prior to the challenge, did you have any other intentions?
I love that even though there are only 26 poses, there are endless possibilities for improvement! There's always something to strive towards. Even the breathing exercises are a challenge! Hopefully someday I can learn how to properly inhale through my throat and be able to make that sound! Maybe it can be one of my 2011 goals. :)
And so it shall be, and better!