February 26, 2011

Yoga Pose - Off

There's a new yoga site out there called The Yogapedia, it was started by Heather from On Common Ground

Heather attended the 2010 fall teacher training, she trained and hung out with a couple of teachers from my home studio Bikram Yoga Saanich and is now teaching in Toronto.  She has started this site to allow people from all walks of yoga to come and read and share information about yoga.

Check me out here.

February 24, 2011

Trust the Process

"Sounds like you're in a rush."  What?  Me?  Wanting something now - immeditately - as fast as I can accomplish it?  Never!

This is what one of my teachers said to me a couple weeks ago after rambling on to him about how I wasn't sure if Bikram yoga was the right path for me, that I wanted more, that I felt I was missing something.  It hurt.  Even though I know, more than anyone else, that when I decide I want something - I want it immediately - it brought me crashing down to reality.

I was a little angry when I got home.  I felt as though what I wanted or what I dreamed had been stomped on by someone who I felt was a friend and who understood me and my yoga practice.  I felt that I had every right to feel the way I do - to question my yoga and my practice and the teachers and to want more from my yoga practice.  And I definitely do feel this way and have every right to question it!  But I had started getting myself worked up about it. 

Let me clarify myself a little bit.  You know when you first started your practice and you pick up your foot in Standing Head to Knee and the teacher says many times, "Lock your knee.  Before you kick, lock your knee.  Lock your knee!".  But you don't.  You see the other students around you who have been practicing for a while and they are kicking out and it looks so amazing and you want to be there - where they are!  But your standing leg is wobbling and your knee isn't locked and the teacher calls you out and tells you to bring your leg down and to lock your goddamn knee!  And then you feel a little sheepish or you get angry because you really just want to kick your leg out!

This is how I'm feeling about my yoga practice - I am trying to kick my leg forward before my knee is locked - I am trying to reach a point in my practice that I am not ready for yet.  Training for the competition gave me this glimpse at these amazing yogis who not only do amazing things with their bodies but also have this beautiful peace about them that I admire.  I practiced with them.  Got to know them a little bit.  Received little tidbits of their knowledge and I decided I want to be like them - I want to gain their knowledge - I want to follow my own yoga path.  And this is what I was trying to relate to my teacher - I want what you guys have or know or what I think that you know!  And he told me very promptly to lock my goddamn knee.

This has taken me a couple of weeks to process.  I've let it drift out of my mind.  I took an Iyengar yoga class.  I've practiced at home.  I bought a yoga anatomy book.  I'm still only practicing at the studio two or three days a week.

And then yesterday I was determined to go to class.  I just wanted to be in that room.  Through a blizzard, I drove and got into that hot room.  It was a tough class - I'm still a little sick.  But I knew what I'd come for when, lying in Savasana immediately after Cobra pose, the teacher says, "Trust the process."  I'm sure she said more insightful things after that but I had tuned out because I suddenly remembered how far I have come personally - how much I have grown and changed - both physically and mentally in 19 months of Bikram yoga practice.

I just need to keep trying to lock that knee and the rest will come.

February 23, 2011

On Practicing While Ill

On Saturday night I got bowled over by a cold.  Sniffling, coughing in my sleep, snoring so loud that LW had to get me to roll over, achy, hot and cold and just tired.  I've noticed that since practicing yoga regularly I rarely get sick.  I may teeter on the edge of a cold but it rarely hits me.  It probably got me hard this time because LW and I spent our Friday night drinking a bottle of Scotch and dancing around the living room.

I spent most of the day on the couch Sunday, alternating between hot and cold, staring at the TV, wanting to eat my face off (does anyone else get super hungry when they're sick?) and reading.  I took the day off on Monday - stayed home and nursed my cold.  I decided that I would go to the 1:45pm class and try to sweat the sickness out of my body.

The lovely Carla was teaching and she told me that Balancing Stick is really good for getting rid of the fever because it raises the heart rate and that Fixed Firm opens your lymphatic system and that Cobra opens the chest and helps clear congestion.  She told me to take it easy and that the Standing Series would probably be easier than the Floor Series.

Some poses were more challenging than others and introduced new sensations in my body.  I could barely backward bend in Half Moon, Eagle was more trying that usual, Standing Bow caused me a little pain in my lower back.  I loved Standing Seperate Leg Forehead to Knee - loved! - normally I loathe this pose and Triangle - well it just exhausted me.  I was so ready to lie down when we finally got to floor. 

I nearly fell asleep in the 2 minute Savasana!  That has never happened to me before but I woke up when I heard the cue for Wind Removing Pose.  Everything was sore and achy during the floor poses - my hips - my lower back - my upper back - my shoulders.  I tried every pose once and sat out many second sets.  By the time class was over I was exhausted yet content.

Best thing I could have done for myself was going to class.  The cold is still with me but I think I coaxed most of it out of me on Monday and this morning.

Does anyone else practice when they're sick?  Or if not, why?

February 22, 2011

What Makes Me Smile

As I sit here at my desk waiting for files to merge and change I think of all the little things in my life that cause a slow smile to creep to my lips.

- LW dancing in my living room after drinking too much Scotch.
- walking into the yoga studio after being away for a week and feeling like Norm on Cheers
- today is my Dad's 60th birthday and him and my Mum are in Hawaii and knowing that he will be receiving a special order of wine and cheese from his kids.
- watching LW's little buddy (8 years old) get super excited to see him and ramble off a mile a minute for his attention
- receiving text messages from the lovely SDP all day long that keep me sane

February 15, 2011

A Morning At Home

I had a lovely sleep last night with moisture filled eyes so I skipped the studio practice, cranked the heat, turned on Patrick Watson and started Pranayama.

There is something so satisfying about practicing at home - the music - the choices - the silence - all add different challenges to the practice while keeping me very relaxed.  I am able to get a good sweat going through my standing poses and my spine warm enough to get into some deep back bends.

I do miss the cleansed feeling of walking out of class - having sweat out a bucket of moisture and toxins.  And I miss the challenge of Standing Head to Knee and Standing Bow - the teacher's voice telling you that you MUST! - I just can't seem to hold those poses for a minute in my living room.

I used to carry guilt when I would not go to yoga class.  I would feel as though I was cheating myself and letting down my fellow yogis and my teachers who expect to see me every morning.  LW said something very insightful to me on Sunday, that I should do what I need for now and that when I'm ready, go back to the studio and see how feel and where I am in my practice.  I think I'm going to listen to him, for once :-)  

February 14, 2011

Dry Eyes and Counting Calories

So, after practicing two lovely mornings in the hot room I've noticed that my eyes have been terribly dry at night.  I wake up and they hurt to open - I stumble to the bathroom and blindly put drops in them.  I am attributing this to the yoga; 1) Because my eyes were not nearly this dry before my first class back. 2) They had been keeping their moisture at night until I started my classes again. 3) The lovely Jane told me that at teacher training her eyes got super dry from practicing twice a day. 

So, I didn't practice this morning.  I dragged my sorry ass out of bed and did a quick 20 minutes of stretching until rushing off to catch the bus to work. I'm going to see how my eyes fare tonight.  If they feel better, I'm going to do my at home practice and leave the hot room for another day.  If they are the same, I'm heading back to the hot room, baby.

On another note - I am trying to get back to healthy eating - just over 1700 calories a day if I don't do any workouts or yoga.  Today was hard!  But, as long as I don't cave between now and bedtime, I think I will have gone over by only 37 calories and that includes a scotch on the rocks.  So I'm pretty pleased with myself.  Work is the worst.  When I'm not super busy I get bored and then what do I want to do?  EAT! 

Sometimes I think to myself that I shouldn't worry about the calories but you know, it keeps me focused.  If I stray and eat cupcakes all day, I'll write it down but I remember it and I especially remember how I felt when I was munching.  So, I'll just take it one day at a time.

February 13, 2011


A week off from yoga and I am sore.  It's great!  I love it!  I'd forgotten that yoga works your muscles - that they stretch and bend and work - hard.

Feeling good.  Feeling alive.

Happy Sunday :-)

February 12, 2011

I Heart Yoga

I seriously fell in love and was re stimulated again today.

I was tired.  My muscles fatigued quickly.  My eyes stung and I sat out a couple poses because I was worried about disturbing the healing process.  I looked myself directly in the eyes.  I breathed so deep that my breaths lasted longer than the 6 counts for Pranayama.  My hips felt better.  My back was sore.  There were a lot of new people in class.  There was a lot of chatter.  The soles of my feet hurt.  I felt a little soft from my overeating in the last week.  I felt like superwoman in Half Locust.  Savasana was Heaven.

And yet all of this didn't matter.  Because.  I loved every second of my class this morning.

First time in a long time.

The heat and humidity was just right.  My breathing was strong.  My legs were tired and alive.  My back was strong.  My eyes stung yet were healing.  My hips were open.  I looked at myself - fully - in the mirror.  I thought about nothing else.  I loved the sweat.  Half Locust was the best I'd done in ages.  Savasana was Heaven.

I loved every second of my class this morning.

February 9, 2011

Hello Out There!

Oh my goodness, I feel as though I haven't been here in a while.  It feels as though Life has taken over.  I started a new job in January - it's great, very challenging but my brain has been kicked into overdrive and it basically stops working when I get home and all I can think about is my glass of wine.  I had Lasik eye surgery last Friday and can you believe it, I can see!  I wake up in the morning and don't have to fumble for my glasses.  I go to sleep at night seeing clear outlines of the furniture in my bedroom.  My yoga, I haven't practiced since Friday morning before the surgery.  I'm not allowed to get sweat in my eyes for at least a week and I tell ya I'm grateful for the forced break.

I've developed a hate on for my yoga in the last few weeks.  Well, not my yoga - the yoga that I love and that keeps me sane and strong - it's the yoga where I leave my house at 5:45am; scrape or defog my car windows; drive to the yoga studio to find it too cold; listen to the same damn dialogue; finish class 5 to 10 minutes late; rush home; shower; blow dry my hair; dress; get to the bus stop in 25 minutes so that I am work for 8:40am.  I am exhausted just writing that.  Now, I must confess that I don't have to be at work at 8:40am, I could walk in at 9:00, so I shouldn't complain too much but I don't like finishing work at 5:30pm - I just don't like it.

So, the week before my surgery I did a few at home practices.  They felt so amazing and it was so indulgent to not have to rush.  I used to have a personal practice when I was involved with Iyengar yoga that I would do 4 mornings a week so I've been incorporating what I learned through my Iyengar practice with my Bikram practice.

I do a vigorous standing series which lasts 45 to 55 minutes.  It includes many of the poses from Bikram's beginner series, as well as Sun Salutations and Warrior poses.  I then get to the floor series which is another 45 minutes.  I work on some back bends and forwards bends to get my spine really supple.  Then comes the Full Camel attempt.  I would love to get into this pose.  It is so beautiful.  I think I saw my toes the other day but I was practicing sans eye sight so I'm not sure if I really saw them or not.  Next come the hip openers in preparation for Pigeon pose - this is another beautiful asana where I am trying to get into the full expression.  When I was training for the competition I attempted this pose everyday, it wasn't until the competition was over and I was at home in my own living room completely at peace that I was able to get deeper than I ever have before.  My inside arm is able to grasp the wrist on the arm that first grabs the foot.  When I first tried this I would feel dizzy and sick, which is typical of backbends but it would always stop me from trying to go further.  I think I needed to be in the right mind space.  Finally, I do some preparatory poses to get myself grounded to attempt Tittibhasana (often called Crane or Firefly).  This is a challenge for me but I am enjoying the attempt and I definitely notice a difference in my ability to find my balance and strength than from when I first tried this pose in my very first advanced class.  I complete my practice with Spine Twist and then Savasana.

I love my home practice.  I feel very peaceful, in control and free.  I turn up the heat so that I am warm and the sweat comes in the Standing Series.  I listen to Patrick Watson and find a peace that I've created for myself.

This could never replace my studio practice because I love the teachers, the heat, the pure dripping sweat and the other students but I definitely am in need for some kind of change.  I am going to try practicing in the evenings to start.  Although I will miss seeing my mum in class, I think this will be a nice change for a while and will stop this "every evening a week" wine habit I've created for myself.  I want to keep practicing at home.  I love having control over my practice and I have a hard time starting my day without yoga, so yoga in the morning at home and then evening yoga at the studio sounds perfect.  I also really want to try a new studio in town which is solely an Ashtanga studio.  It is close to work and I could go there after work an evening or two a week.  I met the couple who owns it and they were so encouraging, open and enthusiastic - I would love to learn from them.

Haha!  These ideas for the growth of my practice have been in my head for a couple of weeks and now that I write them down it appears that - I may have to quit my job.  How in the world am I going to fit all this yoga into my life and still have time for friends, LW, downtime and family?

I'll just have to take it one step at a time.  My first step will be getting my eyes healed enough so that I can go sweat in a hot studio.  My second step will be to try a couple evening classes at the Bikram studio and some at home practices in the morning.  And then - well - I guess I'll play it by ear.  The Ashtanga studio isn't going anywhere and I need to be confident in my belief that when the time is right for me to try the Ashtanga yoga it will all just fall into place.

Here are some gorgeous photos that the lovely SDP took of me.