Friday, 29 June 2012

Class 15: Breathe

Class 15: Friday 29th June 12.30pm, (yes, the same day!) taught by Libby

I was still feeling floored by the morning class when I walked into this one, but was also thinking that it would be good to have another opportunity to practise what I'd just learned (and what a luxury - TWO classes in one day!!!).  And this class was being taught by Libby.  I love Libby's classes, and haven't been in one for ages, so I was feeling positive about that too.  But I felt a bit shaky and unbalanced from the start.  It didn't actually stop me (I read something yesterday a conductor had said about a concert he had just given, when asked if it had gone well.  "Well, yes, in that the orchestra didn't stop halfway through the piece!").  It's about degrees of expectation really, isn't it?  I did it, but not BRILLIANTLY.

In Camel, I couldn't actually see the back of my mat at all.  I attempted everything, but none of it was my best.  But that was okay, because I did feel like I was dying, and to keep that stoically contained was an achievement - particularly when someone complained that they were cold, so the heat was turned up!!!  I really felt like having a hissy fit at that.  I actually thought for a moment, "right, well I'm just going to sulk then and not do it", and then I remembered that that would be mental.  Just in time, eh?  Phew.

So, I made it.  Fifteen classes in thirty days.  Half the challenge, but nothing half-hearted about it.  I do feel lucky to have been able to get to that many classes, because how I spend my time is not just about me.  I took my children to a one-off class for kids in Fulham a few months back.  The heat was off, but they practised the floor series, and completely loved it.  It's great that they have an understanding of this obsession of mine, and are all keen to come to proper classes when they're older.  I've just been scouring my computer for a photo of them doing their kids class, but can't find any. :-(  

Anyway, I've really enjoyed this challenge, and look forward to the next.  Thanks for reading, and supporting.  I love sharing this experience with all the other challengers and classmates, and with interested friends.  Thank you all.  When Libby said "Well done.  You've survived!" at the end of the class today, I thought "funny, that's just what I was thinking!"

Night x

Class 14: Getting Away With It

Class 14: Friday 29th June 9.30am, taught by Nora

Wow!  This was a tough class.  But I LOVED it!  Nora puts so much energy into it that there is no option but to try too hard and end up feeling like hell.  And that was just in Pranayama Breathing.  I'm not even joking.  Between the two sets, Nora demonstrated where your elbows should be, and when I tried again without letting my elbows drop down, and really looking back more, it felt weirdly like hard work!  It's just amazing how making fairly small changes can totally alter how a posture feels.

Lots of good information in this class, and the great thing about listening to a different teacher is hearing different things.  Or hearing the same things differently, I suppose.  In Camel, there was stopping in the usual place, but then, try to push more, and then stop, and try to push the hips forward more.  I could see more of my mat than I have in that one before, so that felt good.

Also, I loved Nora's description of curving the spine in Rabbit so that you look like a 'pissed off Halloween cat'!  I liked it because it made me think it was a good description for the thing that I most hate to see of myself in class, and that is when you turn your head to the right in between sets of floor series postures and can see yourself in the side mirror.  I wish that I could see myself with a flat, straight back, and I don't, and I hate that very much.

The heat seemed quite oppressive, maybe because of trying harder, or trying differently, but I definitely reached a point where I thought I wouldn't be able to do any more.  It's a bit scary to have that slight panic and to imagine that you're not going to be able to breathe normally, but I talked myself out of it without any drama, and suddenly started to feel okay again.  And then it makes me laugh to think of all this that goes on in your head, and no-one else knows anything about it if you don't actually stop!  Getting away with it, I think of it as!

One down, one to go! x

p.s.  Forgot to say, she called Triangle/Trikanasana 'kickyourassana', which I liked!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Class 13: Apocalyptic Windmills

Class 13: Thursday 28th June 12.30pm, taught by Harbinder

Arrived in the muggy heat of a sticky June day, and emerged a couple of hours later into a full-blown monsoon, having squeezed past the assembled group by the front door who were waiting for a lessening of the torrent.  Presumably these are the type of people who leave more than the time actually required to get anywhere, to, er, get anywhere.  My life, being incompatible with relaxed meandering, required me to leave immediately.  Can't remember the last time I walked through rain like that, and it was not entirely unpleasant, although I didn't enjoy the squelching of my shoes, but I quickly realised that I need not have bothered with the shower, so thorough was the soaking!  The thunder and lightning was a little disconcerting, although the thought that someone not too far away was running with a big metal olympic torch held aloft towards the crazy electric sky made me feel a little safer.  I hope they were wearing rubber gloves.

Driving through it turned out to be even more hazardous.  There were a few loud cracks and I wondered for a moment if lightning was hitting the car, but it turned out to be huge hailstones.  Hailstones in June, on one of the warmest days we've had this 'Summer'.  As I drove alongside Victoria Park there was massive flooding, running towards the houses on the other side of the road, and a couple of students in swimming trunks doing I don't know what in the middle of the road as though they were skipping amongst the fountains at Somerset House.  There were little spurts of water emerging from all the manhole covers and the water was up to the height of the all the cars' tyres.  This could only mark the beginning of the apocalypse, I thought, as I planned that I would have to quickly find my daughter's wellies for gardening club in the single minute I would have at home to change my clothes again and get to school for kicking out time.  Arrived in usual-to-excessive bedraggled state to a dry, sunny playground in an apparently storm-free Market Harborough.  Most bizarre.

Oh, the class?  Yes, fine thanks.  One of those that I didn't love, but, on reflection, I kind of did love.  You know?  In my effort to practise in every single spot in the room, I stood at the back on the right, and the unexpectedly great thing about that was that I was behind Kathryn.  In previous classes, I had noticed that Kathryn does something elaborate preparation-wise before Eagle.  I'm about 70% sure she won't mind me sharing this with you, although I'm not sure any description could really do it justice.  I'll try.  It involves what I must describe as a windmill motion of both arms in opposite directions speeding up and gathering momentum before finally and unexpectedly swinging the other way at the last moment to connect and twist like ropes.  It really is extremely complicated and confusingly impressive.  As I was fully focussed on my own practice at this (and every other) point of the class, I just had my brain record it and watched it later.

Night! x

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Class 12: Regular Fickle Limbo Policeman Hashtag

Class 12: Tuesday 26th June 12.30pm, taught by Nicky

At 11.15am this morning I'd almost resigned myself to missing today's class.  Almost.  I wasn't sure I would be free to go because the school might 'phone me if my youngest wasn't feeling well (it's just a virus, so no treatment to see it off, but she keeps feeling unwell and has had a few days off recently), and just found out yesterday that I can't do Wednesday morning because I'll be needed elsewhere.  That meant not completing fifteen classes in thirty days - aaarrrgghhh!  Failure.  But then I decided, "what's the worst that can happen? I'm going."  And, of course, it was fine.  The world kept turning without me and my absence from it whilst I escaped to my Bikram parallel universe was entirely unnoticed by all back in reality.  Yay!  

It had been four days since my last class, and it felt like hard work.  Even a few days off and it feels like every single posture needs a bit more effort compared to how it feels going on consecutive days.  That muscle memory that had been playing so nicely when I reminded it so regularly is just too fickle: it's only been four days, not four weeks, and suddenly it's giving me all "you want me to do WHAT?" attitude.  Forehead was nowhere near the floor in Standing Separate Leg Stretching. You were doing that for me at the end of last week.  Fickle!  Having said that, I did spend most of the class listening and doing and not thinking, and getting caught out (in a good way) by not anticipating the order of the postures so being surprised by which stage of the class we were at a few times.  Loved it, in other words.

Most regular (btw, I love it when they call us 'regular' students because it implies normal and usual, and that makes me feel like I belong!  Although 'regular' is a bit too American-fast-food-associated for it to warrant a place in my own heavy-rotation active vocabulary.  Anyway...) students have their usual spots where they always practise.  I think I quite deliberately choose different spots every time, because it makes me feel differently about how the practice feels each time, and the view of the room not always being the same, which I like.

So, no class for me again tomorrow :-(.  Doing half of this challenge is actually quite frustrating because I want to do it all, but I always knew I wouldn't be able to because of so many other things going on this month.   Hoping to get in on Thursday and double on Friday to take the total to fifteen, which would feel like a great achievement, considering.  Really hope I can do that, or my half-challenge just won't feel completed.  And then I'll just have to spend the rest of my life wandering around in uncompleted limbo.  And I don't want to do that.

Night. x

Friday, 22 June 2012

Class 11: How much is enough?

Class 11: Friday 22nd June 9.30am, taught by Rachel

This is what I was thinking about today, and the thing I learned about myself today:  I don't ALWAYS try my hardest. I like to think that I do, and, in fits and starts, I sort of do, but not consistently through the whole ninety minutes.  I didn't do the very last part of my least favourite posture today.  That was a bit rubbish of me and, of course, if I'd really tried to, I could've done it.  Usually, I do attempt completely everything, and never sit anything out, but once you even enter into that conversation with yourself it's so easy just to let your lazy self talk you out of it, but at that exact moment I didn't like myself enough to do it.  I can still hear Rachel saying at the end of class "just be happy with yourself that you've tried your hardest for today", but did I?  I mean, if I really, really tried my absolute hardest, how far into the class would I get before collapsing?  Maybe I wouldn't collapse, and maybe I'd be really good at this now!

There was another posture too, where I suddenly caught myself not trying very hard at the end, and I thought "I used to put more effort into this, and now I don't try very hard because I can't do it and I'm not getting any better at it".  I'm not getting any better because I'm not trying very hard, of course.  I KNOW THAT!  So, here's what I've decided:  I will try harder and never give up and be better.  I only have four classes left too!  Although, I might try to do a double next Friday and see if I can do even more than the fifteen classes I'd challenged myself to in thirty days.  I love this!

Good afternoon! x 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Class 10: Super-me and Spleens

Class 10: Wednesday 20th June 9.30am, taught by Rachel

Had to give yesterday a miss as my youngest child was at home unwell. Much as I didn't want to feel frustrated at having my practice interrupted, I was a bit (what a great parent!).  That's horrible, isn't it?  Bikram has made me into a horrible person!  I was really nice before.  That is the thing that I find hardest about the 30-day challenge, actually, and what is preventing me from doing the whole thing this time.  It does mean putting yourself and what you want to do before everyone else and being a parent of three children who are 11, almost 9, and 7 means putting them before everything else.

I do have a story, however, of how Bikram helped me to be a super-human parent once!  Apologies to anyone who has already heard this one, but it is quite a good story (and completely true!).  A few months ago, we were just leaving judo after a long day to go home and have dinner, and my youngest was racing her brother across the playground.  She tripped whilst running at full speed, flew forwards through the air and landed with her head forced through the back gates of the school, two cast-iron railings either side of her neck, framing her face!  I ran straight to her, and with visions of the fire brigade I was going to have to call, and the hours we were going to be hanging around, and the state that she was going to get herself into, she let out a huge scream, and I grabbed one railing in each hand, sucked my stomache in and just wrenched the metal bars apart immediately, without even thinking about it.  Bizarrely, once she was out, I pushed them back together again too (thinking we might get into trouble!?).  It wasn't until we got home that I started thinking about what had just happened, and wondering if that really had just happened!  And what if her head had collided with one of those bars instead of exactly in the gap?  The next morning after I dropped the kids off, I went straight over to the railings and tried to pull them apart, and could barely move them at all!  Weird, eh?  During the classes leading up to that incident, Sharan had been telling us to push ourselves up with our fingertips, instead of our whole hands after - when is it, actually?  Is it after Cobra and Locust?  Think so.  Toe stand too. - anyway, that probably helped.  Amazing what you can do when you have the right incentive, isn't it?

So it was good to be back today.  I really enjoyed it, although there were a couple of moments later on in the class when I thought, "I'm not sure if I can do a second set.  I might sit this one out."  And then told myself not to be so pathetic and got on with it.  Getting through the class is sometimes more of a mental battle than a physical one, I think.  I suppose that's the thing I learned today.  Although Rachel taught me something specific, which I will now share with you: Bow Pose is really good for your spleen.  "Come on, Amanda" she said, "this one's really good for your spleen." I wasn't sure what or where my spleen is, or even what it does come to that, so I googled it for us all and can now report that the spleen is usually fist-shaped, purple and about four inches long.  Lovely.

Oh, that was a long one, wasn't it?  I bet you thought it'd never end!


Monday, 18 June 2012

Class 9: Brilliant!

Class 9: Monday 18th June 9.30am, taught by Rachel

Brilliant.  Loved it.  Have always loved Rachel's classes.  I know I've said before that Rachel seems to have more energy than anyone I've ever known in my life, but it just amazes me how she can be so many things to so many different people with so many different needs in the class all at the same time, whether it's encouraging, annoying(!), correcting, reassuring newbies that they won't die in class, looking after those who aren't convinced of that, shaming us out of laziness, praising good efforts, delivering hilarious deadpan one-liners, and all whilst keeping the class flowing - and to do it all with enough humour to make everyone laugh when they least feel like laughing.  Brilliant.  Thanks, Rachel.    

AND my forehead touched the floor in second set of Standing Separate Leg Stretching!!! Have been miles away from that recently, but seemed able to stretch from lower spine a bit more today, and it just worked!  I really like it when that happens, because it usually doesn't for me, and I feel a real sense of achievement when it does - even though that step was fairly wide!  Not bothered about that, though, just feels like reaching a goal.  I know there's further to go, and I hope I will be able to do it even better.  Definitely feeling improvements at the moment, though.

And that's about all I have to say about that today!  Night! x

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Class 8: The after-glow and eating oranges

Class 8: Saturday 16th June 10am, taught by Harbinder

This was a busy class, and to be honest, I didn't love it.  I don't really know why, I just didn't feel quite as motivated as I have done the last couple of days.  I still managed to attempt everything, but the best thing about it was definitely the Bikram after-glow I felt as I drove home after stopping off for some luxury Fathers' Day food shopping.  During class, I felt as though I was trying quite hard, and did it thinking, "I'll feel better for this afterwards", and I did, but I'm ready for a day off tomorrow.  It'll give me chance to miss it too, and then I'll come back re-energized and ready to put maximum effort into it again (hopefully!).

I'm enjoying craving more healthy foods again.  I quite often eat too much chocolate, and really feel like I need to eat it to give me energy, but practising Bikram yoga every day this week I haven't felt that at all.  I never really limit what I eat or deny myself food, I just eat what I feel like, but this week I've been eating fruit and drinking orange juice in its place.  Not a conscious choice on my part, it's just what I feel like eating, which is quite amazing to me - how does that change happen?  I don't know, but I like it!

Enjoy tomorrow, everyone practising without me.  Hope you have good classes, and I will hopefully see you all again next week! 

Friday, 15 June 2012

Class 7: Millimetre by millimetre

Class 7: Friday 15th June 12.30pm, taught by Nicky

Third day in a row!  Yay!  I suppose the point of only doing half of the thirty classes is that there could be a day off in between each one, although so far it's just been all (now) or nothing (half-term).  I'm really enjoying this all phase, makes me wish I could do the whole thirty days this time.  Even during this past week, I can feel small improvements.  A millimetre at a time, as Nicky said today.  I'm sure there've been a few millimetres improvement in Camel because I can just see the back of my mat now.  Cool!  I'd love to be really good at all of it!  Just got to keep clocking up those millimetres, I suppose, and will try my best to do just that!

Was a surprisingly small class today, but, even so, it seemed ridiculously hot.  I had thought that it was maybe because I'd put myself next to the big noisy heater thing, but Nicky reckons that's one of the coolest spots in the room.  Being there also stopped me hearing everything properly in the floor series, as though I was listening to Charlie Brown's teacher.  I really enjoyed the class, anyway.  In fact, I'm loving it at the moment, and want to get to as many classes as I can.  Doing Bikram yoga makes you feel good about yourself, it makes you happy, the teachers are great, and the students are great - thanks for coming to practise next to me today, Lara: that  communal energy and support really help.  I read Hannah said something similar on her blog yesterday.  She's doing the whole thirty days, and is extremely widely travelled, so if you haven't been reading about her adventures, I recommend that you do!

C'mon England!  What a win!!!  Night. x


Thursday, 14 June 2012

Class 6: Team BYL

Class 6: Thursday 14th June 12.30pm, taught by Rachel

Today has turned out to be a GREAT day!  My eldest son was playing in a cricket tournament, and, although they didn't win, I just loved watching him trying hard and playing well, and even had a few moments of proper heart-swelling pride as he made some fantastic catches.  But one of the nicest things was seeing how well these kids supported each other as a team, and how obvious it is how much they like each other, and how much they're all growing up.  All the support the students give each other at BYL makes me feel that we're a team too.

Because these events never run to schedule, I really wasn't sure whether I'd be able to get to 12.30pm class today.  A lovely parent bought me a coffee about 11.15am, but as I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast, I just thought "it'll be fine!".  Anyway, after staying for their third match, I ended up rushing to class, running the length of Friar Lane from the car to the studio and so arrived feeling sick, and tried to do Pranayama breathing whilst still out of breath.  I did not, therefore, deserve this to be a good class at all with preparation like that, and yet... I immediately got into it, and my super-human level of concentration even provoked impressed comment (disguised as a backhanded compliment!) from Rachel.

Rachel also said at the start of Dandayamana-Janushirasana, "If you think too much, you make this much harder".  Not that I would know, as I am still LIGHT-YEARS away from being able to do this one, but perhaps what makes it harder is that you have to reach forward and pick up your foot straight away, without thinking about it, just do it, NOW, immediately, don't talk yourself out of it, just do it, etc. and then ... we have to wait just like that, in that wobbly state of limbo for AGES through talking, talking, talking which gives me at least three opportunities to fall out before we're allowed to attempt any kicking forward.  Maybe it's THAT that makes this much harder?  Just sayin'.

Night! x

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Class 5: And Relax

Class 5: Wednesday 13th June 9.30am, taught by Nicky

Feeling much better today, thanks for wondering.  Still quite tired, but didn't feel too bad during the class.  I'm not sure if it was my state of mind, or something in the atmosphere this morning (a few other people seemed to be struggling a bit), but my mind kept skipping so that I wasn't always sure which posture we'd just done, or what was coming next.  At one point I was thinking, "oh, it must be utkatasana soon.  I don't really like that" and then realised that we'd already done it ages ago!  Yippee!  It happened again a couple of times during the floor series.  There's something really relaxing (even though it's physically demanding) about not having to think, just listen and do.  Can't really think of anything else I do now which is really like that, where you don't have to make decisions and be fully mentally in charge, but can just be on cruise control.  I do like that feeling.  It reminded me of a couple of temp jobs I've done in the past doing tasks where you don't have to be mentally present, which I enjoyed in a perverse way, because I could just think about something else.  

I remember someone saying to me in January "you're doing yoga every day?  That must be so relaxing!", and feeling slightly offended, thinking "it's not rubbish yoga in a dusty village hall somewhere where you all have to hold hands or whatever they do" (not that I've ever done that in my life, or have any idea what I'm even talking about!), but the thing I learned today is that even though it's hard work, Bikram yoga can be really quite relaxing mentally.

I'm not sure if anyone else will relate to this, but I quite often find savasana slightly uncomfortable because my right arm doesn't want to lie flat down with my palm facing up.  It doesn't feel quite right, like it would feel more natural for it to face in, and I have to fight against it, like pulling magnets apart.  Left side feels fine.  Weird.

So, having done five classes, I'm a third of the way through my half-challenge, but almost half the way through the total available days for it.  Bit of catching up to do, but really grateful for all the classes I can do.  Feeling a bit addicted again.

Thanks for reading.  Night. x

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Class 4: Rain, rain, thank you

Class 4: Monday 11th June 9.30am, taught by Rachel

The rain was pouring this morning, which meant that the kids could go straight in to school without waiting around in the playground, and I could go straight to class - which made me very happy, especially as I made it with a minute to spare!  This was the first time I'd practised on consecutive days in ages, and felt quite good during the class.  I was really busy rushing around for the rest of the day, though, and by the time I'd picked the children up from school I felt completely exhausted, to the point that I'd decided I'm not very well.  Aching shoulders (which I never suffer from), and have been feeling really tired all the time for a couple of weeks, but it suddenly feels much more intense.  Not sure whether more Bikram yoga is going to make this better or worse.  I'm never ill, usually. Can't make tomorrow anyway (as we're going to see "Horrible Histories", yay!), so will see how I am on Wednesday.  By the way, I love how you're often told on your way in, "just take it easy today", and then you get in there and it's all "push to your maximum depth, reach up, stretch up, pull continuously, no intermission, try harder, do SOMETHING" etc.!  Hahaha!

Class 3: Back once again with the renegade masters (after a small hiatus)

Class 3: Sunday 10th June 10am, taught by Max

This was a REALLY busy class.  Walking into the room five minutes before it was due to start, I couldn't see anywhere to put myself, but Nicky very kindly indicated that I should put my mat next to hers, in the exact opposite of the 'don't-make-eye-contact-with-the-nutter-getting-on-the-bus-so-they-don't-sit-next-to-me' scenario.  It made me feel very welcome, how lovely - thanks, Nicky!

Anyway, the eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that it has been almost a week since my last class.  Oops.  It's been half-term, so I've been full-time parenting, and there was a carnival to prepare for, and blah, blah.  I know, no excuses - but sometimes it just isn't possible, is it?

It's always interesting to practise with a different teacher, and Max was great.  It is funny to hear new things, though, in amongst the familiar dialogue.  The funniest one I noticed was the bit where we usually hear "nothing loose or hanging" to which Max added "no dingle dangles"  and something else even more mad which I unfortunately couldn't hear because my brain was screaming "DINGLE DANGLES???". Hahaha!

Felt like quite a good class for me.  Whenever there's been a break between my classes I always feel more flexible, but less good at balancing.  I think that'll do for my thing I've learned today, won't it?

Class 2: Ooh we love a good fancy dress class in Leicester!

Class 2: Monday 4th June 9.30am, taught by Sharan

If you haven't seen the photos you're in for a treat!  This class was to commemorate Sharan's last class teaching at Bikram Yoga Leicester before she moves away, and also the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  Suffice to say, it was completely hilarious with so many fantastic people putting a lot of effort into their costumes, but, as promised, here is what I learned today:

When my range of vision is restricted (for example, when wearing a corgi mask), I cannot balance to save my life.  It would be interesting to try some of the postures with closed eyes, but I know it would take me a lot of practice to get used to that.  Made me realise that my (fairly limited) ability to balance is completely dependent on my sight.

Class 1: Half-Challenge Commence!

Day 1:  Friday 1st June 6.45am taught by Rachel

30-day challenge time again.  I have signed up for it even though I already know there's no way I can do thirty classes in the next thirty days.  I'm just aiming for as many as I can do in thirty days, and hoping that I can get to fifteen to complete half.  Although, even that might be a little ambitious!

Got off to the keenest of starts this morning, however, by putting the very first tick on the board for challengers to record their completed classes. Yes!  I think this makes me a winner already, doesn't it?  "A" winner, I said, not THE winner.  You're all winners too, okay?!

I've decided to try to be a bit more informative in as many of these posts as I can manage this time around, so I'll try to tell something I learned in every class.  This one's about food:  I woke up at 5.20am for this class, drank some water and coffee and ate a banana.  Several people have told me they couldn't drink coffee before yoga, but I think I need to wake up enough to get to class.  Anyway, I think it was the banana that made me feel a bit sick.  Not enough to stop me attempting any of the postures, but it just felt a bit heavy and uncomfortable.  After class, I did a quick straw poll of some of the more experienced students about how they prepare for 6.45am classes. (I know!!  Get me, all in investigative reporter mode and that.  It's like I've grown up since January or something!)  Anyways, some said they eat a big meal with protein and lots of vegetables late the night before and eat nothing in the morning.  Someone else mentioned eating an orange for breakfast as they are easier to digest than bananas.  Obviously it's going to be different for everyone, and what works for one person may not for another, but I like the sound of the last one and will try that next time!