Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Day 29: The Penultimate Torture

Tuesday 31st January, 12.30pm class taught by Rachel (she's BRILLIANT, she is!)

Last one tomorrow.  I'm not going in 'til the evening, though, so will have most of the day at home on my own beginning to wade through the pile of stuff that has been shoved to the side until this was all over.  Throwing myself back into my real life, in other words.  I don't think I want this 30 day challenge to end and reality recommence, even though some of the planning stuff I've got to do is something I would ordinarily be really excited about: I'm sure I will be once I get into it.  Really, it seems like no time since I was saying '27 days to get this or that right'.  It's absolutely flown by.  Means the blog's almost done too - and we haven't talked about the half of it, have we?  I might have a tendency towards off-topicism - had you noticed?  Did you mind?  I've had so many nice comments about it that I'm just going to go ahead and assume that we've had a laugh.  More than 1,000 hits already, too.  Never thought people would care enough to read it, actually - but you have, and thank you for that! xxx

When the kids have gone to bed and I sit down to write this, I sometimes have notes or things that I've written down earlier in the day that I put in, and today I'd written down a couple of (what I thought were) quite funny things, but they just don't seem right for how I feel right now.  I always do things intuitively - it's how I've always written music, it's how I usually find where I'm going, how I cook, just how I am - with just a vague, chaotic almost-plan, I do everything by feel, and it's how I've written this every day.  Feels more personal and immediate and honest that way, I think, and that was what I wanted to communicate - to tell you who I am and what this experience was to me.  I told you it would be haphazard, but I think it's mostly summed up what I wanted to say, which, as I look back through it now, is that it has honestly made me happy every single day. 

Had a minor revelation today:  I keep trying to not roll into the arch of my foot in Eagle, and sat down a bit more and found I could shift my weight towards the outside a bit more equally.  Funny, but when I realised it worked I could remember hearing that loads of times before, "if you're rolling into the arch, sit down more", kind of didn't sink in until I could feel it, though.  Maybe because I couldn't do it before without losing my balance, I don't know.  One of those things that just suddenly works, and then you think, yes, I knew that already.  I knew that, but today I DID that.  I might not be able to do it tomorrow, but I don't mind, because it means I understand it now, and if it doesn't feel the same tomorrow, it will again another day soon.

So day 29, almost there now ... but I'm thinking I'll have to get on with some of those jobs quickly the next couple of days (which might hopefully curtail my procrastinating.  Unfortunately I'm a master at that!) so that I can get back in on Thursday or Friday!

Night x

Monday, 30 January 2012

Day 28: Honestly, I try soooo hard!

Monday 30th January, 9.30am class taught by Nicky

This morning worked out really well - was even 10 minutes early!  Yes!!  I felt great today, and think this was probably one of my best classes.  I was standing on the left looking into the magic mirror that makes you look taller and thinner, which helps too.  Other mirrors in the studio I like include the one over on the extreme right of the front wall; well, specifically the join between that and the next one that you can make yourself disappear into.  In some of the floor postures you can look into that join and make yourself only have one eye in the middle of your face like Mike Wazowski from 'Monsters Inc'.  I wonder if Flaming David ever does that (it's where he stands).  It's quite amusing and does not detract from your concentration in any way I find, should you also feel like trying it, Flaming David.  The challenge is not to smile whilst you secretly do this, so no-one knows what you're doing.

So I was feeling like a right smugster, until I saw Rachel's email with the rest of my photos from the other day.  I had no idea that the facial obesity was quite so evident - I'm thinking of doing that Boy George thing when he used to draw the outline of a smaller face on himself, and colour all the outside bit black.  Problem is, it'll run everywhere when the beetroot face gets all hot and sweaty, and make a right mess.

So, here are the rest of the pics, mostly from earlier in the class:

This is the wrung-out towel one.  I'm not sure it's getting better, but I try so hard!!!

All of my instincts are screaming at me to NOT put the following picture on the internet (my fatness of face has depressed me no end), but Rachel has tried to send it to me seven times (and has almost broken the entire world wide web) before succeeding.  She has had a MASSIVE falling out with the evil postmaster, so I sort of feel obliged.  The point of this very unflattering shot was to show me my tricep.  Do you see it?  No?  Kathryn said it was a bingo wing.  Kathryn is a ... reader of this blog, and fellow Bikram classmate.  Hello, Kathryn!

Oh, Beetroot!  Straighten your arms, sit down more, lean back a bit.  Honestly, it doesn't look that bad in the mirror!

Is this one always so pathetic?  Feels like I move more than that!  Although, Karen, who is next to me, doesn't look like she's even bothered to try at all, and Karen is officially AMAZING, so I'll not worry too much.  I want to be as good as Karen when I grow up.

Haha!  This is the one I hate!  I hate this posture and I don't even know why.  Have I mentioned that before?

So, there you go!  Two days left.  Still loving it, and feeling really happy that I'm doing this.  Bikram yoga is one of the most fantastic things I've ever done, and I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone.  Maybe don't put the worst photo you've ever seen of yourself on the internet for everyone to see, though! 

More tomorrow x

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Day 27: Only 3 Days To Go!

Sunday 29th January, 10am class taught by Nicky

I'm really not sure how to feel about only having three days left.  I'm feeling completely exhausted tonight, but still enjoying the 30 day challenge.  I suppose I just don't want it to end, although I also need it to.  Of course I'll keep going, just not every day.  Will have to make an effort to get in a bit more often than I had been before the challenge, though (still waiting to hear about that job - they need another two weeks to sort through applications as they've been overwhelmed, apparently!)  

I've been quite overwhelmed by all the great encouraging messages I've had from friends who've seen Rachel's photos of me in class.  (I think there are some more photos, so I'll hopefully add them soon).  Lots of my friends who've never been to Bikram have been really impressed by it, and by me (!) which is lovely, but also strange because I always think about how much further I've got to go, and how I would like to be able to do it better.  Hard to see your own progress objectively sometimes, I think.  I always want to do everything in my life better, not just this.  I suppose that's the point of life, to always try your best, to try to be your best, whatever that may be.

My work sometimes involves taiko (Japanese drumming), and I'm quite often struck (ha!) by many parallels with yoga.  This quote seems apt: "(Taiko) is a long road, but progress on a long road can be measured in small steps."  One thing I often say when I'm telling people about taiko, is that it's about doing simple things well.  I should try to keep that in mind more about the yoga, I think, because I'm often lazy about doing the simple things well, like getting back out of postures, for example.  I think I could do that better.

I could say more, but I could have said less.  Night x

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Day 26: Hahahahahahahaha

Saturday 28th January, 10am class taught by Sharan

Sometimes I find it really hard not to laugh.  I know I'm old enough not to be so weak-minded and to just be able to control myself and behave properly.  I did try to stifle it as much as possible (and hope I succeeded, pretty much), but I think I was still feeling a bit delirious from Bikram overdose. I do try to talk myself out of it (the manic laughing, that is) when it happens, but I usually lose; the laughing me is too strong, and the serious me doesn't try hard enough.   If I tell you now what I was laughing at, it doesn't even seem funny, but here it is:  I saw someone near me had one of those little bar towels (you know the really little ones you see on the bar in pubs?)  Well, it just seemed so bizarre and incongruous that I couldn't help but laugh.  It made me think of whole lists of useless things you could bring into class with you, and of kids who used to bring those ugly little gonk doll things into their 'O' level exams in the '80s.  But mostly it made me think about bar towels.  That's all.  I said you wouldn't find it funny.

Really liked this class.  Laughing's good, means you're happy.

Night x

Friday, 27 January 2012

Day 25: A Very, Very Sweaty Patchwork Family

Friday 27th January, 6.45am class taught by Rachel AND 9.30am class taught by Rachel

I was going to say something about yoga yesterday, but what with all the excitement of espionage and parking, I completely forgot.  It was this: I've been really aware of feeling very unsymmetrical in the past few classes, for example in Half Tortoise I can stretch back and just about touch my left heel, but not the right.  Also in Cobra I just don't feel like I'm in a straight line, if that makes sense.  I put down my mat in a straight line at the start, but by the end of the class it is about 45 degrees to the mirror - I'm even messing up the alignment of my mat!  Only five days to get it right, too - or the rest of my life, I suppose!  Quite like deadlines, otherwise I'd never get anything done.  But this doesn't work like that, does it?  Patience!  Yeah, keep forgetting!

So, today, then:  I'm sure it's not supposed to be this much fun, so I can only assume that I'm still a bit delirious and dehydrated because I thought both classes were an absolute blast from start to finish (oh, apart from Janushirasana, which is instantly like a big, dark raincloud descending and puts me in the worst mood - entirely out of character, I'm usually a really happy person, but it just totally drains all mental and physical energy from my body.  Am happy again as soon as it's over!  Really weird.  Hate it.)

The second class was (I think) the third birthday celebration class I've been in during the past week.  Balloons and sparkly confetti and extra postures-a-go-go!  Absolutely hilarious!  There are so many genuinely lovely people at BYL it kind of feels like a great big, supportive, encouraging, crazy, very, very, sweaty patchwork family.  How could anyone not love being part of this?!

Also, Rachel very kindly took lots of photos of me in the second class, even though I said 'don't take one of that!' and 'delete it!', and other such ungracious miserable comments, and here they are.  (The purple sparkly thing on my shoulder was a prize, I think!  Also, might need to turn down beetroot contrast controls to not damage your screens and/or retinas!):

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Day 24: Synchronicity

Thursday 26th January, 12.30pm class taught by Libby

The towel that was on my mat today is at least fifteen years old and came from Boots, a relatively unlikely place to buy a towel, I'd have thought.  So WHY would anyone have the same towel as me?  Why WOULD he?  Well, if it's some kind of espionage briefcase-swapping type thing and he thinks one of them has a secret microchip sewn into it, he can just forget it.  We are NEVER going to swap towels.  Put Libby right off her stride, it did.  'Synchronicity' she called it, probably thinking that would be today's title.  Well, she was right about that.  I did once go for tests at GCHQ because I'm quite good at code-breaking and that (obviously not that good, though, because I didn't get the job, maybe just because it was not my destiny!).  Anyway, I didn't even have that towel with me when I went there, so how did you even know about that, spy man???  No swapping: I've got my peripheral vision on you.  The rest of my vision is fully focussed on me in the front mirror at all times.

Check this out:

I am just like a parking ninja or something!  You could just about fit a piece of paper between my blue car and the two in front and behind outside the studio today.  This comes from my optimistic outlook:  "I can fit in that space", "I can lock my knee", "I will not fall over".  30-Day Challenge: Q.E.D.  Sadly enough, after I took this photo, I got back into the car and straightened the front wheels, just incase you were wondering.  Parking ninja.

And how great was that demonstration of what a locked-out knee should look like today?  Thanks, Libby.

Double tomorrow to hopefully get me back on track to complete thirty classes by Wednesday.  Just as well, because one class was not enough for me today.  I might ONLY do doubles from now on.  Or I might be joking.  Looking forward to them, though!

Tomorrow, then! x

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Day 23: Thank You, Maria!

Wednesday 25th January, 9.30am class taught by Rachel

Even leaving at 8.30am (thanks to my lovely friend Maria, who I dropped the kids off with this morning) only just got me to class in time today -  have to find another route for 9.30s, I think.  It's a shame, because that class would be great for me even after the challenge is over (if only I could get to it!).  I even went to the supermarket on the way home!  I quite often do that when I can because it makes me feel less guilty if I get another job done at the same time, and I don't even think twice about the wet hair and beetroot face because I can't see them, so I imagine I look normal.  Actually, this 'just pretend everything is normal' technique is the way I get through most days.  I imagine most people do, do they?

Last year, I was quite convinced that the 30 day challenge was directly responsible for all sorts of positive happenings in my life, such as job offers.  This year, two very short-term offers have already come my way during the challenge, but there is one application in particular that I've been waiting to hear back about, because I was hoping it could be something quite important for me.  Interviews/jumping-through-hoop-exercises are happening next week and I still haven't heard anything yet, so I just emailed them to check if there was any news, and had the following cryptic enigma back: "We are sending a correspondence out in the next couple of days explaining next steps.  You should hear from us shortly.  Thanks."  What do you think?  'Explaining next steps' seems to suggest there are more steps to be taken than merely 'sorry, no'. No?  C'mon 30-day challenge, pull it out of the bag for me again, you know you can!!!

Speaking of which, 30-day challenge:  yeah, that, still doing it.  Still great, you know.  Life, eh?  It's all happening! x

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Day 22: A Musical Suggestion

Tuesday 24th January, 12.30pm class taught by Nicky

It was great to be back today, and made me appreciate it all the more after yesterday, but I'm finding it hard to summon the energy to get all the other things done that I need to do at the moment.  I don't know, I think I do a lot, and maybe it is ENOUGH right now with the challenge (which is almost over, after all).  Maybe I should try to loose this tendency to place unrealistic demands on myself all the time, and then feel like I'm not organised/good enough when I can't get it all done!  Can't I just do Bikram yoga every day for the rest of my life, please?  I would love that.  

Actually, I'm also really enjoying this blog malarkey too; it feels quite nice for it not just to be going on in my head, but to be able to connect with other people about it too.  In fact, I really enjoy seeing familiar friendly people when I walk into the studio, and it seems there are quite a few people doing the 30 day challenge, or at least practising quite often at the moment, which makes for a really happy, supportive atmosphere.

And finally, when I was looking up Bikram on iTunes yesterday, I discovered that there are also other recordings to Bikram's name, such as this very lovely one.  I wonder why our teachers never sing to us from the Bikram back catalogue?  It'd be nice, wouldn't it, to just spur us on a little bit, and I'm sure would not feel awkward in any way at all.  "I woke up in the morning" seems perfect for early class, and I look forward to it on Friday.

Night. x

Monday, 23 January 2012

Day 21: iTunes and My Olympic Bid

Monday 23rd January, 10.15am class taught by Bikram (via iTunes!)

Well, the good news this morning was that I was back home from Leicester for 10.15am.  The bad news, therefore, was that once again I missed that 9.30am class.  I didn't just feel bad for me missing the class today, but my children had been so good and helpful all morning, making sure we got to school early and saying I could abandon them in the playground, and still those blinkin' roadworks foiled me.  The best I could make of it was to not fall another day behind, but turn the heating up, put some more clothes on and practise along with Bikram on iTunes.  He is very funny, and he says 'sweetheart' a lot - I think he meant me!  

Of course it wasn't the same, but better than not doing it at all today.  I've already decided I can't put us all through the journey again on Wednesday, so I'm going to have two doubles to fit in to complete the challenge.  Hoping to do one on Friday (6.45am and 9.30am - yippeee!) as my husband will be here and can do the school run, and will have to work out what I can do for the final few days.

So, are we supposed to have signed up for the Olympics already?  I'm assuming there's a clipboard and a sheet of names going around the country, although I haven't seen it yet.  I was thinking of putting my name down for Modern Pentathlon if that's alright with everyone else?  In fairness, I haven't actually done any of those events (yet), but I have looked it up, and I'd be prepared to give them all a go.  I see the athletes have to ride 'unfamiliar' horses over 12 show-jumping obstacles - I don't actually know any horses at all, so I'd be alright there.  I was a bit put off by the running bit, but it is interspersed with stopping to shoot three sets of five electronic targets, so I could probably get my breath back then.  Didn't it used to be cross-country skiing in between the shooting?  Also, no wrestling :-(  Maybe they'd let me swap the swimming for wrestling?  And fencing always looks fun, although, again, I've never tried.  I know the sword thing is called an epee.  That's useful in crosswords, often.  And they're electronic, so a bit like laserquest, but with epees.  The Ukrainians probably have a good team.  Several (well, 14) of the readers of this blog are in the Ukraine, I wondered if they were attracted by the 'beetroot', perhaps looking for a recipe for borscht?

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's class.  12.30s I like! x

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Day 20: Dichotomy

Sunday 22nd January, 5pm class taught by Harbinder

Be nice to be in two places at once, sometimes, wouldn't it?  Coming home from two hours standing by the side of a cold, windswept rugby pitch to make dinner for everyone, and then having to leave the house to get to class whilst they all ate without me didn't feel right.  I did, though.  And I was glad to be in the class, just sorry to not be at home!

I could say it was hot today, and that it felt like hard work.  Well, duh!  Feel better for it now, though.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Day 19: Loving It!

Saturday 21st January, 10am class taught by Libby

Frustration was gone today, and I was still trying as hard as I could, and just really, really enjoyed this whole class.  I feel well and am getting stronger and even during the class I was just feeling so happy and glad to be there.  Think I'm getting addicted, actually.  During the standing series I felt like I was sweating more than I ever have in my life - it was even dripping off my eyelashes in Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee, strangely not as disgusting-feeling as it sounds!  

I love the constant stream of information Libby gives in class.  It all just sounds so amazingly positive that I just want it all to happen to me - I'm not even sure what freshly oxygenated blood is, but I want it to flush through my body!  The lists of benefits of each posture, and explanations of how to protect the spine, and talk of organs and fibres and nerves, oh, just all of it, really, it all just makes me want to try harder and to get properly good at this!

Have a great day! x

Friday, 20 January 2012

Day 18: Frustration and Trying Really Hard

Friday 20th January, 12.30pm class taught by Sharan

As soon as today's class was finished, I realised it had actually been a really good one for me.  I did think so several times during it too, but for some reason I found it hard to keep still when I was supposed to be still and got a bit frustrated when I couldn't keep my balance.  I actually tried really, really hard today, and think most of it went well (there are definitely loads of improvements), but I haven't felt annoyed with myself in there for months until today - I think it's because I suddenly cared more about doing it as well as I could today.  I wonder why.  Maybe because I'm feeling slightly sad that it's going to be over quite soon.  That whole 'let go of any expectations' thing doesn't come naturally to me!  I also think too much.  Not always, but almost constantly!

Oh, and the tricep thing from yesterday?  You have to lock out your elbows, 'cos Sharan said.  Feels really, well, 'awkward'!  Oh, is that why it's called that?  I've probably never done that properly before, because my arms were shaking when I tried it.  That's not good, is it?  Twelve days left to perfect it, because I've already decided that my thirtieth class is going to be brilliant.  Only joking - I might just let go of my expectations on day 30, for a laugh.  

Night. x

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Day 17: Order Is Restored

Thursday 19th January, 12.30pm class taught by Rachel

I am so glad to have made it back in today after yesterday's momentary aberration, and ... Rachel's back!  She said not to write anything bad about her!  Haha!  Actually, I can't even think of anything bad to say about Rachel.  She is an absolute force of nature with superhuman reserves of energy (there, that's not bad, is it?).  You know when you're talking to someone on the 'phone and you can tell that they're smiling?  Rachel always sounds like she's smiling, and the range of expression in her voice just saying the same words she says every class is incredible.  Somehow it's energising and encouraging, and she's doing something extremely clever with it that I don't understand - just quite ridiculously good at her job, really.
Have been so slack on these hitlist-of-my-inadequacy postures of late, so here's one now: Awkward Pose (Utkatasana).  Had forgotten that Rachel goes on about this tricep business:  I don't really know what triceps are, and I'm pretty sure I haven't got any.  There's been mention of your arms feeling lighter if you engage your triceps throughout this posture, and how are they ever going to improve if you don't, blah, something.  I do not experience this lightness of arms, so I clearly am not capable of this mysterious manoeuvre.  I will keep trying until I do, which will be within the next thirteen days for sure.  Oh, there's also constant moaning about not resting your hips on your heels.  I don't do that.  Much. 

A final thought of today's post is that one of the reasons I decided to keep this blog was to connect with some of the other people in the class, and to let other people I know know what it is that I keep going off to Leicester to do all the time.  I've been really touched by the feedback and encouragement I've received from so many people that I had no idea had even read it.  Thank you all - it really means a lot to me. Oh, and keep it coming, thank you. xx

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Day 16: Today Does Not Deserve A Title

Wednesday 18th January

Missed it.  Even though I rushed all morning making breakfasts, organising everyone, drinking water, packing lunches, persuading my daughter that she would be fine if I ran off and abandoned her in the line with her friends just before the bell, drinking water, reminding someone to please brush their teeth, brushing hair and doing bunches, shouting at everyone for the third time to 'put your coats and shoes on NOW', drinking water, driving to school,  finding a parking space, walking them through the gates, drinking water, talking to the school office from the car because eldest son had forgotten to tell me that there was a letter to sign so that he could go to the library with the rest of his class, drinking water, worrying about him, panicking about being late and why is there even more traffic than last week, drinking water, and driving (just a little bit) in the bus lane. 

Sometimes it's just not meant to be, I suppose.  At first I thought that now it's broken I'll just give up.  Drama Queen.  I probably won't give up.  Don't think I can risk trying to get to any more 9.30s though.  It worked last year, but there are roadworks in a different place to last year's roadworks, and they seem to be more disruptive (only to me, though, I'm told).  The problem is, that when I am on my own (like now), I can only do the during school hours classes, because there's no-one else here over the age of ten in the evening or before school.  Can I even still make it to fifteen more classes?  AND my back is still sore.  AND I could have really done with being in that class today.  AND I came home and typed this instead of crying - thanks for listening.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Day 15: Halfway Point

Tuesday 17th January, 12.30pm class taught by Nicky

Quite ridiculously, the 'phone rang this morning just before 7am; I jumped out of bed to answer it, and aaaaarggggghhhh, my back!!!!  Could barely get down the stairs, it was so painful.  Really, really excellent things must be happening to my spine, I'm sure of it!  This can ONLY be positive, right?  Ha, yes I'm still quite convinced that it's all good, and bizarrely, am feeling very, very happy right now!  Don't exactly know why, but I'm sure it's to do with this challenge.  I'm just really enjoying it, and looking forward to getting in for tomorrow's class already - although it's another 9.30am: traffic, please play nicely.

Halfway through now; have lost precisely no weight whatsoever, facial obesity shows no signs of abating, but my muscles are definitely feeling stronger, and they're currently feeling quite tired, in that relaxed, warm kind of way that only people who've just done fifteen consecutive days of sweaty yoga can understand and deserve:  if that's not you, then I'm sorry but I can provide no fuller description because you just haven't earned it!

Didn't quite know how class would go today, but my back didn't feel too bad once I got in there.  Still steering clear of the sit-ups and getting into postures in a bit more of a careful bent-knees manner, but apart from that felt fine.  In fact, better than fine.  Felt like my brain was completely unengaged and just listened to the words and seemed to be all on auto-pilot.  Flew by, actually.  Nice.

Right, shall I tell you a quick story about my evil superpower I once discovered in a Bikram yoga class?  So, having spent my first LOADS of classes not wanting to see myself in the mirror (I've NEVER liked looking in the mirror), I then realised that it would be really quite useful if I could force myself to see what I was doing wrong in order to try to do it less wrong.  Okay, so one day this guy arrived late, as in after we on-time people had already started, and he put his mat down immediately in front of me so that I couldn't see in the front mirror AT ALL any more.  Yes, I have been late for class before, but I hope I don't block anybody else's view (if I do, just, you know, breathe in an 'irregular' way, and I'll know what you mean, and move).  Yeah, so, we did the first couple of postures and I felt a bit annoyed, and stared at the back of his head (really, just very momentarily, for less than a couple of seconds), and he just swayed and sat straight down, and stayed sitting down for the whole of the rest of the class.  True story.  

Also, I was once told off in the changing room for having been in the front row, because, actually, I need to be a good role model if I'm going to stand in the front row and not, like, smile or laugh, or whatever, and not take it seriously enough.  Hmmm.  I accidentally did the stare at her too, and I've never seen her again, and would not be at all surprised if that stare had actually killed her.

Night. x

Monday, 16 January 2012

Day 14: Ouch

Monday 16th January, 9.30am class taught by Nicky

9.30am. Arrived just by the skin of my teeth today, which is never ideal, but much better than not getting in at all - just have to do some classes at 9.30 if I'm going to do one every day.  Actually, I hate being late, and I think it just looks as though you couldn't be bothered to leave enough time, and that you don't respect the teachers or the other people in the class by not turning up on time, which is certainly not the case.  It also makes the journey much more stressful.

My back is slightly worse today, but I'm still thinking it's actually something positive happening!  It's not too much of a problem, really, except for carrying heavy stuff round the supermarket on my way home was a bit painful.  Still couldn't attempt the sit-ups, and didn't kick forward in Standing Head to Knee, but the only postures where it seemed to be a bit of a problem were Balancing Stick and getting forward into Half Tortoise.  Still, not going to worry about it!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Day 13: A Slight Edge

Sunday 15th January, 5pm class taught by Harbinder

There are certain nights that are worth the hangover, and there are certain brilliant, hilarious friends who just make life so much fun that they make you into a better version of yourself.  I have some amazing people in my life, some that are related to me, and some that circumstance and choice have hooked me up with.  I feel really blessed to have them all.

Had wondered vaguely at some point about getting in for 10am class this morning, but following a good friend's 40th birthday party last night, it wasn't happening.  Also, the children were so good this morning, that I just decided we needed to go to the cinema straight away, so we went to see 'War Horse', which we'd read together during the Summer.  My eldest reminded me after the film of how we'd had to have little breaks when we were reading the book because we were all crying so much (I am a very emotional person!).  The film was great, even with Anthony Worrall Thompson playing the French grandfather (didn't show him nicking any cheese, though, mostly jam-making.  Random.).  

Yoga, then:  woke up this morning with a sort of pinching at the base of my spine.  Weirdly, this happened when I did the 30 day challenge last year, got worse over a couple of days, and then got completely better all at once.  It's not too annoying, but didn't feel right to do the sit-ups, so I didn't.  Did everything else though, and mostly seemed to help.  I'm not actually worried about it at all, because I think that things started to get better after this blip last time, and wonder if it's some kind of readjustment 'thing', as osteopathic surgeons undoubtedly call it.  Thought I was going to end up having to do a double in the morning, but don't need to now I'm still on track after all (did I mention I am hardcore?).  Feel strangely good, all things considered.  And lucky, too.

Night. x

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Day 12: Just Get On With It

Saturday 14th January, 10am class taught by Libby

Day 12, and I'm feeling really happy that I've been able to get in every day so far.  I did take time to appreciate that as I walked back to the car after class, on such a beautiful sunny day too.  It does feel like a real luxury being able to just take time out of my life every single day, especially at weekends when it means abandoning my family, but they're all being really supportive, and the fact that football was cancelled today due to a frozen pitch also helped!

Seem to be getting through most of the class with no problems at the moment, except for one huge, fat stumbling block: Head to Knee and Stretching Pose (Janushirasana and Paschimotthanasana).  This is my fault, because this is the one point of the class I have not been trying very hard at all.  It's quite near the end, and I'm usually so tired by then that I just haven't put much effort into this.  To be honest, I mostly just close my eyes and rest my head on my bent-up knee and don't stretch anything at all.  Realised today that if I worked harder at this it would probably help with Standing Head to Knee, because it's sort of the same but sitting down, isn't it?  Anyway, tried harder second set after Libby noticed that I was giving up at this stage yet again, and I will make an effort to make more of an effort with this for the rest of the challenge.  Promise.

Was great to have another class with Libby today, some nice imagery ('bending like ears of corn', and 'dive-bombing into a cup of water' were particularly memorable) to help us get through it.  I also enjoyed the description of the posture to help alleviate back pain and to prevent future back pain.  It made me think if they made a sequel to 'Minority Report', the Tom Cruise film where he prevents future crime, they could do a yoga version where they prevent future injury.  Yeah, the concept may need some work, it was just one of those things that sometimes flies into your mind whilst you're trying to empty it.  Thoughts, yes, those are the things I mean.  

See yas x

Friday, 13 January 2012

Day 11: Being Better

Friday 13th January, 12.30pm class taught by Libby

This is my third attempt at writing this - have lost it twice.  So just don't expect it to be funny today, because I am losing the will to live right now.

I often feel, in Libby's classes, as if she is willing everyone to excel and exceed their expectations through the sheer strength of her own conviction and belief in Bikram Yoga.  How brilliant to be so passionate about something, and to care about other people so much as to want them to feel the benefits that you yourself have felt.  That is a fantastic thing.  Also, Libby notices everything: I'm not sure that is such a fantastic thing.  And she is always very generous with the number of corrections directed specifically to ME!  So, so, very generous, in fact.  It's tempting to think that this is because I am not very good, and Libby has noticed.  Well, I refute your facile theory.  I think I get so many, many corrections because I take direction so well, actually.  Yes, that must be it.  Actually, I do really like it, because quite often I know what I'm doing isn't quite right, but I don't know why it isn't.  You see, Libby KNOWS that.  Also, sometimes I forget where I am.  I think Libby also knows that.

Right, don't think I've moaned about any postures I'm rubbish at for a couple of days, so I'll just mention one now.  Last year, I could touch my forehead to the floor during standing separate leg stretching, but now a vast gaping chasm separates us (my head and the floor, that is.  Yes, I think I was just talking to the floor!).  Hurry up and improve please, I'm getting a little tired of this 'learning patience' lark.  *Drums fingers on biscuit tin and thinks "Oh, why am I not better in all ways than I presently am?"*.  Hmmm....

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Day 10: Stillness

Thursday 12th January, 12.30pm class taught by Nicky

Day 10 done: feels like a modest-sized landmark.  If this challenge is going to fall into three sections, like a pregnancy, I'm hoping the next trimester is the full-of-energy and glowing health one, because that's what I'm expecting (and neeeeed!) from tomorrow, please.  To be honest, I felt pretty exhausted today, like it's all starting to catch up a bit and the tiredness is now having a cumulative effect.  

I always like it when Nicky tells us to work on stillness in Savasana - to be fair, I have been working on stillness most of my life, on and off. 

In other news, we have some pretty mild weather for January at the moment: 10 or 11 degrees and sunny all week, and yet I feel cold now all the time I'm not in the studio.  What's that all about?!

That is all. x

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Day 9: Communication Skills

Wednesday 11th January, 9.37am class taught by Sharan

I was so glad to be in Sharan's class today, not only because I was far too close to missing it completely by not being able to negotiate the London Rd single lane nightmare, bus lane restrictions (Michael Winner apparently once said, 'do you know, it's only fifty quid to drive in the bus lane? Bargain!'), and final crawl of the last two roads behind a milk float with it's indicator permanently stuck on left, even though he kept turning right, right in front of me(!), but also because Sharan is a completely fantastic teacher.  She has something really specific to say to help every single person in the class, and it never gets in the way of the flow of the dialogue, and that's a pretty good skill to have, I reckon!  Also, her voice is a mixture of perfect calm and hilarious fast speech patterns.  I have no idea if that means anything to anyone but me, because I think about sound too much, but it sounds a bit like when a really good friend is telling you something very funny and the words come out in short quick bursts - most of what we communicate is not in the words themselves, is it?  Makes people happy to listen to that energy, I think, and that's got to be a good thing.  Makes me happy to listen to it, anyway!

Another good/weird thing:  went to get some chocolate yesterday, and saw an apple instead and didn't feel like the chocolate any more.  I AM VOLUNTARILY EATING HEALTHY FOOD! Nice.

Tomorrow, then. x

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Day 8: Babanzele Pygmy Chanting

Tuesday 10th January, 12.30pm class taught by Nicky

There are days, aren't there, when the universe just seems to be on your side?  For the second day in a row, I bagged the parking space right opposite the BYL studio door, but today, when I put my £3 in the parking machine out came my ticket and ... £2.40!  Wahey, with the auspices this good, this class could only work out brilliantly!

Well, it was a great class, actually.  I really like Nicky's pace, no hanging about between postures, and the energy just flowed.  My last few classes have all been taught by Nicky (as were my first ever couple of classes), and it is quite good to get used to the speed of one teacher.

But we need to talk about Kapalbhati Breathing - the final part of the class.  In the first set, I find snapping the belly in possible, but, when the tempo is doubled, I just can't keep up.  Having had three Caesarian sections, it's only been in the past couple of years I've felt I could engage my stomache muscles at all, but in the faster section, I can only properly pull in the top part of my stomache, near the diaphragm (having spent a significant portion of my life playing the trombone, I know a bit about the diaphragm) but the lower part of my stomache seems to need a bit longer to think about it.  Is this normal?  Will it improve?  Anybody else recognise this phenomenon??  Does anybody else here even have to think about pulling in different parts of their stomache, or do you just pull in at the centre and the whole lot moves at once???

So this one time, at band camp - no, actually, it was in one of Rachel's classes - the Kapalbhati breathing exercise sounded JUST like Babanzele Pygmy Chanting!  For those unfamiliar, the first 45 seconds of this will give you a pretty good idea.  It was just so amazing that I could not believe what I was hearing - everyone else seemed remarkably unmoved, I have to say!  Philistines!  Unfortunately, this has never again occurred in any class I've been to since, and, in truth, is unlikely to, because you need several unusual factors to come into play all at once in order to produce this effect:  at least three people exhaling very loudly on the off-beats (the usually-silent bit exactly halfway between each 'ha'), producing the funky interlocking effect, someone doing that funny whistle that you occasionally hear when someone (irregular) is making a small 'o' shape with their lips whilst exhaling, throw in a bit of asthmatic wheezy texture, and maybe a chest infection or two, and there you have it: Babanzele Pygmy Chanting.  Any one of those sounds is (very slightly) interesting (to me) to encounter in the breathing exercise, but to hear them all come together to create such beautiful musical polyphony, well, you can imagine my surprise and delight.  A highlight, and one I remember fondly in less-exciting moments of my life.

Laters. x 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Day 7: Zzzzzz...

Monday 9th January, 9.30am class taught by Nicky

My body felt tired today.  I tried as hard as I could, and got through it, but there are just some days when you just can't do as much.  My balance was a bit off, sometimes because I was trying to make sure my feet were in the right place, like not rolling into the arch of my foot in Eagle, and it takes a bit of getting used to.  Was trying to try in the right way!  Still felt happy when I came out, though.  Always find it amazing how Bikram does that for you - you roll up your mat, have your shower, and by the time you stop sweating you just feel calm and warm and relaxed and happy and glad that you came. 

My friend Jenny wrote a really nice positive list of lots of the great things about Bikram yoga yesterday, so I'll just link to that and say, 'yeah, what she said' for today.  Oh, except for the hair - that bit doesn't really happen for me :-( 

Tomorrow's class will be better, and tomorrow's post will include music and Babanzele Pygmy Chanting.  Yes, for real.  Catch you tomorrow. x

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Day 6: It's The Gravitational Law. That's Why.

Sunday 8th January, 10am class taught by Nicky

Left home this morning feeling quite good, and muscles maybe slightly less achey than of late, but found this class the hardest so far.  It did feel really warm in there today (yes, I know that's the point, but some days it's definitely hotter than others, and today was hot), and it was busy.  By the time we got to full locust, I felt like I didn't have any energy left and had to dig deep to get through it all.  During the next sit-up I had my eyes closed (I do know that's illegal, thank you for asking), and then felt completely disorientated because we were facing the opposite way than I had pictured in my mind.  Weird.

One posture (although it's not one of my worst, if I do say so myself) where I quite often feel this disorientated, discombobulated effect is Rabbit.  I quite like this one, but there's something about my head being upside-down like that with my forehead on my knees that makes me not have a clue what to do if I'm told to lift my shoulders to the ceiling.  It makes me realise that I don't actually know which way is up any more and I sometimes think (just for an instant) that it could be possible for me to just fall off the world at this point.  But there is gravity of course.  I KNOW that.  I tell myself that.  And breathe.  I have to say that this slightly out-of-control disorientation is not an entirely unpleasant feeling, it's slightly like being drunk, I think.  Hannah always says something about 'Japanese ham sandwich' in this posture.  What can this mean?  

Anyway, struggled on.  Like you do.  Because I am hardcore. ;-)

Another enjoyable bonus of this challenge is listening to whatever I want to listen to on the radio as I drive to and from Leicester.  There's some great stuff on the radio on Sundays: just on the way home, I learned some excellent facts about bizarre laws in Illinois, such as: it is illegal to catch a fish in Illinois whilst sitting on the neck of a giraffe,  and it is forbidden to eat in a place which is on fire.  It's good that their laws are clear about these things, because sometimes you just don't know what to do for the best, do you?!  Also, spiders' blood is colourless.

It appears that there are people actually reading these posts (up to 226 views so far, not counting me!).  Wow! Thank you for caring!  And I hope you all have a superhumanly energetic day. x

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Day 5: Banana Back

Saturday 7th January, 10am class taught by Paul

So, the Christmas decorations came down yesterday, and I have had to finally admit that Christmas is over.  I hate good things coming to an end.  And this morning was the first class of this challenge where my decision to absent myself from my family affected them, because it meant that everyone else had to go and stand in the cold to watch my middle child's football match.  I did feel slightly guilty, because what I'm doing is selfish, of course, but maybe sometimes you have to be, and I'll make it up to them.  It's only a month!

Paul.  I love his classes.  His amazingly rich voice is lovely to listen to, his explanations are so clear and he often makes you think about postures in a different way, and hear something new in the dialogue that makes the difference.  I remember last time I was in one of his classes he was emphasising the need to pull up from the waist in spinal twist, and I was definitely able to move further by trying to do that more.  Also, his pace and energy are great.  I love all of the teachers at BYL, but it's interesting how your practice can feel so different because of who is teaching, even though it's always the same dialogue.  I like the imagery he uses too - telling us to move left and right 'like windscreen wipers' before half moon pose - that's exactly what we looked like, had never noticed before.

The last few classes (until today) my position has been downstage right, meaning I've been able to see myself from the side in Head to Knee and Stretching Pose (Janushirasana and Paschimotthanasana).  It's the last stretching part where you grab your big toes and pull forward that looks the most horrible, because my back looks all banana-like and disgustingly curved.  When I have been in phases of practising more regularly this improved massively and started to look much more flat and stretched out, so I'm feeling hopeful that in a couple of weeks it might again.

The room felt much warmer to me today, not sure if it had something to do with standing in a different place, or because Paul pushes you really hard, or because it was actually warmer.  I felt terrible most of the time, anyway - and I loved it!