March 29, 2010


Today I reached class number 200.

The class itself was nothing spectacular - it was not terribly difficult.  But I am proud to say I have done 200 Bikram yoga classes in just over 10 months of practice. 

Yes, I am a yoga nerd.

March 23, 2010


Do you ever catch yourself doing something just because that's what you do?  Giving it no thought, no pause for consideration.  Your morning coffee.  Slouching at the computer.  That piece of chocolate before you go to bed.  The ice in your water bottle.  The after dinner cigarette.

I've been slowly trying to change my routine habits.  I have now completely eliminated the ice from my water bottle.  I only drink Emergen-C if I feel I need it.  I am trying to wear clothes in my closet that I have let gather dust.  I recently quit smoking.  I don't crave it at all anymore but sometimes I feel like I should have one, just because that's what I used to do.

These habits exist in my yoga as well.  In my class with Ida, I was doing final Spine Twist.  Leg lifted over the knee, arm over the leg, arm wrapped around my back, hand gripping my shorts.  This was as far as I could go, the idea of grabbing my thigh with my hand seemed a million miles away.  Ida gently took my arm and moved it lower and closer to my torso so that I was almost grabbing my thigh!  This was so much closer than I ever thought I could go!  I had just automatically stopped at the waistband of my shorts because that was my depth - my body would not go any deeper - it was how I was built and that was that.

I think that once you become aware of these habits - once you become present while going through the motions of these routines - it becomes easier to change them.  It is definitely not a smooth transition - it can be really hard.  Hell, I just ate too much because I was sitting at work, frustrated and bored.  But at least I was conscious of the fact that I was going to feel bloated and regret it later.  I think the more you realize how you react in situations or how you take hold of your moments the more you will keep moving and growing - in and out of the hot room.

March 22, 2010

New Energy, Focus, Excitement

On Saturday morning, I walked into the studio for my private class with Ida Ripley.  I wasn't sure what I expected, but I wanted to learn - a lot.

I laid my mat down in the hot room - it seemed very large and foreboding with no one else in it.  I was nervous and unsure of how this class would go.  Ida walked in and immediately made me feel at ease.  She sat down with me and asked if I had specific poses I wanted to work on, any injuries or concerns.

It felt strange talking in the room that is strictly a no talking zone when practicing a regular class - a room I have only whispered in - a room where I have never heard my voice reverberate against the walls.  Ida encouraged me to talk at any point during our class with any questions or comments.  I knew then - I was going to love it.

In the first 10 minutes I could have walked out and felt satisfied.  I learned so much in the 2 hours I spent with Ida - I don't even know where to start.

We focused mainly on my alignment in poses.  And I worked - hard.

I learned how to really constrict my throat in Pranayama Deep Breathing.  How to make the noise in the back of my throat.  I had never understood how to inhale with my throat.  Ida had me kind of growl in the back of my throat - I felt like I was going to hoark something up.  After a few tries I finally understood how the noise is created when you inhale.  I understood how to constrict my throat and inhale through my nose without really inhaling through my nose.  I know it doesn't make sense and I can't really explain it but I can do it now!

I have been fighting with Standing Head to Knee for a few months now - gotten to where I have started bringing my head to my knee and then losing my balance and falling out.  I felt like I had advanced well but something was off. I knew my kicking foot was not straight - my toes were always leaning out but I wasn't sure what else was going on.  Well, that was just the start of it.  First we focused on my grip.  Ida had me loosen my grip and then press the heels of my palms to the sides of my feet, she then showed me how to lean forward more into the ball of my foot.  I had been keeping all of my weight in my heel.  I then squeezed my knee that was up in the air into my body and suddenly my hips and feet were in a straight line.  As I kicked my leg up, Ida told me to keep my upper body light that all the strength should come from my kicking leg.  My goodness, it was incredible - it was a whole new posture - the bottom half of my body really was solid, concrete - my torso and arms were light and airy - it was bloody hard! I think I tried Standing Head to Knee about 5 times on each side - I started getting dizzy by the end and had to have a rest.

In Standing Bow, I learned to contract my hips and to really stretch my arm forward.  I was always concentrating on the kick - I wanted to get that leg high up over my head but I could never ever balance.  Ida had me stretch - stretch - stretch my arm forward so that my shoulders were in line.  Chin up, leg locked.  The difference in my balance and strength was amazing.  I could feel so many more muscles in my body working and completely understood why the dialogue really emphasizes the stretching forward.

I learned how to stretch my stubborn hip flexor muscles in Tree by gently pushing my bent knee towards my straight knee, simultaneously lifting my hips and torso up.  Amazing.

Half Moon, Balancing Stick, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee, the Spine Strengthening Series, Fixed Firm and Tortoise I was fairly confident with, have good alignment and a good understanding of the poses.
So we breezed through them with only one set. 

The two hours flew by!  I was exhilarated and energized when I left the studio and wrote down 5 pages of notes of tips and new discoveries I remembered.  I haven't written them all here - I am still marinating on the endless information I was given.  I am consciously allowing myself to explore my new yoga with a clear and fresh mind- with patience and precision.

If you ever have a chance to take a private class, it is SO worth it!  I have a renewed sense of passion and excitement for my yoga.  This morning I felt like I did when I first discovered Bikram yoga.  An awe and admiration for the practice.  I can't wait to get up at 5:30 tomorrow morning and practice again!

March 16, 2010


Yoga food cravings.  You ever get them?  After a long hour of sweating, stretching, bending, twisting and breathing - when you finally get to lie down on a sweat soaked towel, heels together, arms by your side, staring at the ceiling - focusing on your breath, trying to keep your mind empty - do you ever think about food?  I have many cravings when I'm in that blissed out space for two minutes and I often go home and consume that yoga craving.

Juicy ripe watermelon dripping down my chin.  Orange juice sucked from the slice of an orange.  A cup of strong milky coffee.  A piece of toast with real butter and local honey.  Fresh cherries picked right from the tree.  A cold blueberry smoothy.  A bagel with avocado, egg and tomato.

Well this morning I was lying there, thoroughly enjoying my couple minutes of rest and I suddenly wanted a tumbler full of gin, soda, a couple ice cubes and a wedge of lime.  Yep, that's what I wanted.  The stringent, piney taste of gin, the tingling of the soda bubbles and the tartness of the lime.  I lay there, wishing I had a bottle of gin in my cupboard and cursing the fact that it was 7 am and I really shouldn't drink gin before work.  Hmmm, maybe a cider would do?

March 12, 2010

Private Class with Ida!!


I have a private class booked with Ida Ripley next week! 

Eeeek!  So excited and nervous at the same time!

March 9, 2010

A Double

I have been inspired by you.  By all of you that I read every week.  So Monday evening I decided I would do a double on Tuesday.  My own challenge.

I went to my regular 6 am class and made sure I told the instructor I was going to do a double.  I needed someone to be aware of my intentions.  It was hot.  I don't normally sweat all that much in the mornings but today I was dripping.  Sweat rolling down my legs, off my elbows, dripping from the end of my ponytail.  I had my water bottle but not one drop of water touched my lips.  I am really starting to notice a much deeper compression in my internal organs when I limit my water intake.  Loving it!  My balance was way off.  It felt like I was back at the beginning of my practice.  I would tip and stumble and dip and sway.  I take this as a good sign.  My practice is coming round full circle again!

Went to work with a fresh set of yoga gear in my car and made it back to the studio for the 5:45pm class.  Again, HOT!  But such a different heat.  All those bodies sweating in the room all day had left the room humid, the air heavy.  My toes went numb until about the 3rd asana.  This used to happen to me when I first started Bikram yoga.  I'm thinking it has to do with circulation??  Once I got the feeling back in my toes, my standing series was strong, again my balance was off and my butt muscles were burning!  I only had a couple sips of water during class and noticed a headache in Kapalbhati breathing. 

I have been re hydrating since I got home and will be back to my 6am class tomorrow morning.

Thanks again for the inspiration!

LW showed me this one ages ago.  Just found it again today here.  I love it.

March 7, 2010

Sweat and Peace

This morning I practiced in the front row.  A couple laid their mats down next to mine.  They both had very well toned, defined muscles, it was very obivous they frequented a gym regularly. 

I was aware from the moment we took our first breaths that I was going to have to focus hard on finding my peace during the class.  They were constantly wiping sweat, taking swigs from their water bottles, wiping sweat, moving around between poses, wiping sweat, leaving the room.  I was willing them to stay still.  To breathe through the sweat dripping down their faces.  To focus on the moment.  I had to keep bringing myself back to my practice, back to looking at my own eyes and form in the mirror, to avoid catching them out of the corner of my eye.  I was eventually able to find my peace once we got to Balancing Stick pose.  I had a strong class and got a nice thumbs up from the teacher.

I hope to see them in class again with some new found stillness and composure.  And knowing that we all sweat in Bikram yoga.  Sweat is one of the best side effects from being in the hot room. 

March 5, 2010

Yoga Dream

This morning I awoke at 4:30 from a chaotic yoga dream. 

I was in the hot room but the room was like a jungle.  Hot and humid, plants everywhere, leopard print couches, and my fellow yogis lounging, drinking beer and sleeping.  I left the room to fill my water bottle and the reception area was the same as it always is, peaceful, calm, bright and people chatting.  When I walked back into the room chaos had erupted.  Loud music was blaring from speakers, people were dancing, drinking and spilling beer everywhere.  My instructor walked in and I thought, ok things will calm down now and we can start our practice.  But he just proceeded to jump up on the teacher's podium and play air guitar.

I sat bolt right up in bed.  What the fuck?

March 1, 2010

Yoga and Fungi

As many of my friends know, I am not only a yoga nerd but a bit of a nature geek.  I love learning the new names of trees, flowers, insects, and if I can learn the Latin name, that is even better.  I love the power of nature.  Have you ever walked along a new piece of pavement that has only been laid 6 months ago and it already has grass poking through minuscule cracks?  That is magic to me.

I often think that we, as humans, seem to think of ourselves as separate from nature.  That we no longer have natural instincts, that we aren't nourished by the Earth, that we aren't a part of the Earth.  We manipulate our environment to suit our needs.  We create these intense cleaning chemicals, build infrastructures from materials that need to be processed extensively, exercise our bodies on strange machines.

In class we are told by our teachers that yoga is natural, that this is how our are bodies were meant to move, that through our practice we are rebuilding our natural foundation of strength and flexibility, both, mentally and physically.

This article in Time magazine, Industrial-Strenth Fungus, (courtesy of Criminal Wisdom) makes me think that there are other people who believe that we are capable of living in harmony with the Earth.  That using a very simple life form that grows everywhere could be more beneficial than digging large holes in the ground.  It's a possibility, it's interesting to think about.  Maybe these guys are on to something. 

Could you imagine a house contructed from fungus bricks!?