Sunday, January 31, 2010

Questions, Questions

179 classes in 174 days.
32 classes in 31 days in the 101 challenge.

Tomorrow will be my 180th class in 175 days, or basically six consecutive 30 day challenges. This is pretty cool, and along the way I've been asked a lot of questions by different people, from non-yogis to people who started practicing long before me and every type of person in between. So I'm going to list out some of these questions, along with my answers. Hopefully this data will be useful for anyone who wants to try practicing like crazy:)

Does it get easier? Probably the most common question I get. The answer is yes - and no. Yes, it gets easier to the degree that your body gets stronger and more flexible. However... you have to work harder to get benefits. I heard teachers mention this early on in my practice and I thought they were crazy, but now I know exactly what they're talking about. Let's put it this way. I can "do" the postures for an entire class and go deeper than most of the people in the room, and get practically nothing out of it. At this point, there are "easy" ways for me to do every single posture with totally correct form. I do fall back on that once in a while if I get really tired at some point in the class, but normally I feel I'm working harder than when I first started.

Do you get used to the heat? Sort of. I've blogged a lot on this subject before, but my heat tolerance is pretty random. Usually I can deal with higher than normal heat. The "suggested" settings for a Bikram class are 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. I might get conditions that low once or twice a month. Usually the humidity floats between 50-60 percent at my studio. I can handle higher humidity at night than the day. Generally, it's pretty rare for me to have to sit out any postures though.

Do you ever stop being sore? No. I no longer get overall body soreness, but there is always some part of my body that's sore. It just means things are opening up, so I'm happy to have soreness. When you first start (or come back after a while), lactic acid gets released and causes soreness all over. That goes away pretty quickly, but then specific parts of the body get sore as you work them and make them stronger and more flexible. I experienced real and actual pain before I started doing yoga, and there's a BIG difference between pain and soreness. I hate pain, love the soreness.

Have you every seriously injured yourself in class? No. I think this would extremely hard to do by yourself in the beginning class. You would have to completely ignore pain signals (and have an extremely high pain threshold) from your body to tear a ligament or something.

Have you ever walked out of a class? Nope, not even close.

Have you ever thrown up during or after class? No, but I've had a few close calls:)

Do you practice when you're sick? Yep, as I've blogged about before. Helps get rid of the cold faster than laying in bed all day.

What's your favorite/least favorite posture? Don't have one. I really don't. There are certain postures I enjoy watching more than others, like Standing Bow Pulling and Camel, but I love doing the whole class. Now certain postures are certainly harder for me, but that doesn't mean I like/dislike them more than others.

Do you look forward to class everyday? No. Most days yes, but not always. But I'm ALWAYS glad I went to class afterwards.

Do you drink a lot of water outside of class? Yes, yes and yes! I would guess I drink close to a gallon of water every day.

Do you have any sort of special diet? This is a funny question I've been asked a few times. I don't have any sort of special diet. I do eat meat, but mainly chicken. Not a big red meat guy. I hate steak, but I love a good hamburger once in a while. For whatever bizarre reason, I don't like sugar very much, meaning I don't like the taste of it. So I think that helps. I also don't drink coffee or soda, but I do drink a little bit of alcohol. I will say that I've adjusted my eating habits a bit since starting. I listen to my body, and eat generally healthy food, although I still love a good Taco Bell run! Yogis tend to be all over the map on diets, so I just tell people to pay attention to their body. Everyone's different.

Do you do anything else, like take supplements, etc? Nothing other than Emergen-C, which I only recently started taking a few times a day. It definitely helps. I probably should do more along this line.

How many days have you actually missed? Four. I've done nine doubles, thus I'm five days "ahead." Of the four classes I missed, three of them were because the studio was closed or had a really short schedule that conflicted with work. I've actually only missed one day where I simply chose not to go. That was in my very first week of practice.

Have you noticed big changes in your body? Yes, absolutely. Both internally and externally. Unfortunately, I don't have before and after photos, but trust me, it's a big difference. I've probably lost about 10 pounds (I wasn't very big to begin with), and I've gained a lot of muscle tone. Before I started yoga, I had major back pain and was on painkillers. The only back pain I've felt for months is in class:) My knees were also in a pain a lot, and that's long gone.

How long do you plan to continue your streak? I have no answer for this, but I'm not ending the streak anytime soon. I look at it this way. I spent over 30 years messing up my body one way or the other. 6 months of daily practice doesn't reverse all of that. I also care a lot about improving my postures, and missing days is not good for that. I know people that have practiced for years a few days a week, and they don't make fast progress on postures (although they DO still improve). I have a vague idea of where I'd like to get my body and practice to, and then I might ease off the gas a bit. Plus things happen in life, so we'll see. My next immediate goal is 365, and I'm more than halfway there...


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Death, but Not For Me

176 classes in 171 days.
29 classes in 28 days in the 101 challenge.

"Death. But not for you, gunslinger." - Stephen King, The Last Gunslinger

Can you tell who my favorite author is? The above quote is said from a rather evil character to the main character in the story, and he's predicting the death of some people the hero knows. I thought of this quote today in class. There were 60(!!!) people in there tonight at 5. I'm not even sure that's legal given the size of my studio. Roberta was teaching, who bikramyogachick has written about many times. She rarely teaches when I'm there, but she likes it hot. She has a t-shirt that says "I Like My Yoga Hot." No kidding (I want one of those shirts).

I was right in front of the podium, which I was very happy about considering all of the drama in other parts of the room. The humidity got really high, which is normal when the room is packed. At least ten people walked out of the room! They did come back I think. The door was opening and closing most of the class. At one point, a person near me just yelled out "It's too humid!" With 15 minutes left in the class, Roberta asked, "Are you guys hot?" It was hysterical.

But, like the title of my post says, I did not die. I actually did great. It's funny because the last few classes have been really humid (like over 60%), which I don't really like, but it hasn't bothered me. I partially attribute this to taking more electrolytes recently, but mainly it's my improved breathing, which deserves it's own blog entry later.

So, no death for me. Today anyways...



175 classes in 170 days.
28 classes in 27 days in the 101 challenge.

Since the first week of January, my studio has been packed most nights. I'm not exactly sure why this is. Part of it is the 30 day challenge and people wanting to start off the new year healthy (I guess). Part of it is people wandering over to my studio from the other two studios in Vegas that have disappeared. And there are a fair number of new people each night. Two nights ago there were 8 new people in class!

Whatever the reason is, I'm not sure how I feel about a packed room. Now I'm not talking about a packed room of experienced yogis, like when teacher training is going on. That's a whole experience by itself (and a fun one!) In the studio, I'm fine with packed classes when it's a lot of experienced people. A packed class with newer people is a little harder for me. The one thing I'll say is it helps me work on focusing more, because when there's that many people, you can have a lot of distractions, or potential distractions.

Oddly enough, the thing that distracts my attention the most isn't loud breathing, or drinking water or moving around by other people. It's the postures by other people. I like to be in the front row, but it's not always possible lately. So I often end up having less experienced people in front of me, and believe me I notice their postures. I'm not talking about minor corrections, but major things. It's hard to miss these things when the people are right in front of you. When I'm in the front row, I barely notice anything except myself, but it's trickier when people are in front of me.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Exciting Times Ahead

174 classes in 169 days.
27 classes in 26 days in the 101 challenge.

How ironic that the I just read DancingJ's blog right before writing mine, since I was already planning to write about the Advanced Series. But from a different perspective, since I haven't taken it - yet.

My studio happens to offer the Advanced Series three times per week, and is the only place in Vegas that offers it. It's not advertised or anything, but regulars certainly know about it. I've been interested in this for a few months, and I've even had people who take the class tell me I should do it. So last night after class with Sheri (she leads the Advanced Class), I talked to her about doing it. Her reaction surprised me a little bit. She just calmly said that yes I was going to do it, and she wanted me to start taking it a few months before competition starts. That would be around September or October, so she wants me to start in the summer, like June. I like the timing of this, as it gives me a few more months of daily practice with the "normal" classes before I dive into Advanced. Sheri also showed me some interesting stretching things to do after class each day which will help me.

Oh, did you catch that I'm competing this year? I mentioned this to a few teachers last month that I was thinking about this. Apparently, it's now an accepted fact that I'll be doing it!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Goodbye Cold

173 classes in 168 days.
26 classes in 25 days in the 101 challenge.

I was quite worried before going to class. My cold moved up to my head starting on Sunday and continued on Monday. If I moved my head up or down very much it felt like someone was stabbing me in the head. This didn't make me very excited about going to class, since you're moving your head up and down quite a bit in various postures.

When class started, my head was hurting a bit, but then as soon as we got to Hands to Feet pose, my headache disappeared! No sharp pain for the rest of class and afterwards. I was very surprised. I think last night's class was the final deathblow for my cold. Let's hope so.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Professional

172 classes in 167 days.
25 classes in 24 days in the 101 challenge.

Still have my cold:( However, the last few classes were surprisingly good. I was especially happy with my floor series on Friday and Sunday. Despite barely being able to breathe for parts of the classes, I did Ok.

Saturday was a special day. Lynn Whitlow taught a class and did a seminar at my studio. I wasn't able to stay for the seminar, but I did take her class. She's a senior teacher and very respected and loved in the Bikram community. Now I know why. She's the toughest, most ruthless teacher I've had yet. In other words, she's fantastic.

Yoga carnage would be an understatement for her class. Yoga demolition is more like it. The room wasn't even very hot, but the class lasted 105 minutes and Lynn is so demanding and kept us longer than usual in a lot of the postures. It's amazing how just a few extra seconds can make a big difference in how you feel. We're so used to the exact timing of the postures, but it is fun to mix things up a little sometimes, particularly when you're getting spot on corrections. The corrections I learned on a few postures was well worth the extra cost I had to pay for her class.

Since you had to pay separately for the class, only really dedicated yogis showed up. Half the class or more was other teachers, and Lynn didn't hesitate to call them out for sitting out some postures or having a hard time. At the most, maybe five people in the whole room didn't sit out at least part of some postures. The only thing I sat out was not doing Camel all the way. Otherwise, I slogged through everything.

Lynn's attention to detail is phenomenal and she has a wonderful understanding of what each of the postures does for you. For example, she pointed out that Balancing Stick burns more calories than any other posture. I've never heard that before.

After class, she told me, "Good work in there." I'll take that as a high praise coming from her:)


Thursday, January 21, 2010


169 classes in 164 days.
22 classes in 21 days in the 101 challenge.

Well I still have my cold, but I went to class tonight. I felt like I had a knife stuck in my head for most of the class. Good news is the headache went away at the end of class, bad news is my cold sucks. Since the 101 challenge started I've had two colds and a head injury! It's not like I started the 101 challenge after a long break or something! Maybe I'll just blame it on the weather. We've had four days straight of rain here in Vegas. My body doesn't respond well to changes in the weather. Maybe that's a lame excuse, but I think I'll go with it.

All I know is if I can physically walk through the doors of my studio tomorrow, I'm going to class.



168 classes in 163 days.
21 classes in 20 days in the 101 challenge.

Ok, here's a new one. I felt fine all day, felt good in class and in fact I had a very good class. Then... I got sick! Nothing awful, just a head cold, but it's very annoying. Still have it as I write this. How does this happen right after class?!! It started almost immediately after walking out of the room at the end of class. Really weird.

Theoretically going back into the hot room should help this go away, so we'll see how it goes tonight.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


167 classes in 162 days.
20 classes in 19 days in the 101 challenge.

Another great Tuesday class with Sheri. The room was a little less packed last night and Monday as well. I think some of the 30 day challenge people are falling by the wayside. A few days ago one of my teachers asked me if I was doing the 101 challenge (a lot of people seem to know about this!), and then just laughed and said, "Nevermind, why am I even asking?"

I consider myself fortunate to a degree to be able to engage in such a challenge and go everyday. Many people have much more complicated lives than I do, and I know not everyone can come everyday. I have the opportunity and luxury to go everyday and I don't like to waste that chance. Of course, the funny thing is, the more I go, the more I want to go, and the more things arrange themselves in my life to make that possible.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010


166 classes in 161 days.
19 classes in 18 days in the 101 challenge.

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day and it made me think about something I love very much about Bikram Yoga. MLK had the amazing ability to bring people together from all walks of life towards a common purpose of freedom and human rights. Bikram also manages to bring any and all types of people together for a common purpose.

Look at it this way. I can't even get four people at work to get together for more than 15 minutes to do anything. Yet for 90 minutes (or more!) each day, a diverse group of people get together in a hot room to improve their lives. At my studio, and I imagine most others, you'll see a huge range of people, from ages 7 to 70, different cultures, religions, backgrounds, etc. But for those 90 minutes, we are all working as one. It's a beautiful and powerful experience each and every day. Where else in society do you get such a diverse group of people to do something positive for 90 minutes every day? Any and all people are always welcome in the hot room...


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Don't Try this at Home

165 classes in 160 days.
18 classes in 17 days in the 101 challenge.

Wanna really spice up your practice? Try doing what I did over the weekend - or not. On Friday morning, I managed to roll over in my bed and slam my head into the corner of the side table, resulting in a mild concussion, a big gash in my head (luckily hard to see), and lots of blood.

So after getting that all cleaned up and going to work all day, I headed off to my 5 PM class. Why wouldn't I? You can take a wild guess how the class went. That was the closest to fainting I've ever experienced in class, and that was on Half Moon! Saturday wasn't much better, but by today's class things had sorted out Ok, and it was a fairly normal class. It's kinda interesting doing an entire class dizzy with a headache, which is what it was like on Friday and Saturday.

Ahh well, I think the class actually helped with the healing. I'm looking forward to some more normal classes this week!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Keeping Score

162 classes in 157 days.
15 classes in 14 days in the 101 challenge.

There were a lot less people in the class last night. After having 56 a few nights ago, it was back down to around 30. I'm sure the Friday-Sunday classes will have similar numbers. Where do all the Mon-Wed people go the rest of the week? I'm not complaining. I was happy to have a little more space and get my usual spot in the room.

At my studio there are lists of everyone on the 30 day challenge and people circle the number each time they finish a class. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, there's about 84 people. It's fun to be able and see how other people are doing on the challenge. It looks like a bunch of these people are falling behind, but my favorite part is out of these 84 people, three of them are "ahead" like I am. Only three? Oh well, I guess people don't do doubles unless they have to.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Second Wind

161 classes in 156 days.
14 classes in 13 days in the 101 challenge.

Yesterday's class started out similar to Tuesdays, and I was a bit sluggish. I was also a little annoyed at the beginning because the room was so full. There were 56 people in there, according to the teacher! I have mixed feelings on classes where it's stuffed wall to wall. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don't, especially if I have to end up in a spot in the room I don't like.

At any rate, I was a bit sluggish for the first part of class. Nothing horrible, but I figured it was just going to be a similar class to Tuesday. Then out of nowhere during the floor series, I felt fantastic, and did great from Fixed Firm until the end of class, including Stretching. Stretching is often a tough one for me, due to the position in the class it's in. But last night, I did great! Let's see if this energy carries over to tonight's class!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Day After

160 classes in 155 days.
13 classes in 12 days in the 101 challenge.

I kind of figured Tuesday's class would be a little rough, after my double on Monday night. I was right, but it wasn't awful by any means. I was pretty happy, all things considered. Standing Series was pretty good, floor series not so much.

One interesting note. Sheri taught yesterday and she makes a point to NOT tell people to step to the back of their mats in Balancing Stick. She's told us before that it doesn't help anything in the posture. Most of the other teachers I've had tell us to go to the back of our mats for that posture. So yesterday I stayed put, while most other people moved back out of habit. Sheri then said, "Well at least I've got one person trained correctly."

I don't know if "move to the back of your mat and towel" is part of the dialogue or not. I'm curious what other people have experienced with this posture. I can't tell one way or the other if it really matters for the posture either. I'd like to hear a little feedback on this.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

180 Minutes

159 classes in 154 days.
12 classes in 11 days in the 101 challenge.

As you can tell from the numbers above, I did a double last night! Back to back, the 5 and 7 PM. I certainly wasn't planning to do this when I went to class at 5. However, the 5 PM went really well and during that class, I started thinking about doing a double. Then after class, one of my best friends showed up for the 7, so that was the clincher. The 7 PM went just as smoothly as the 5, and it really felt like a continuous 180 minute class, rather than two separate classes. That's when doubles are a lot of fun.

At the 7 PM, the teacher asked how many people were doing a double, and like 6-7 raised their hands! They were all making up a class on their 30 day challenge. I was the only person not making up a missed class. I just do doubles for fun, because I'm crazy like that:)

As a note, the 5 PM class was one of the fullest I've ever seen. There's something like 80 people doing the 30 day challenge at my studio, which is really cool. I couldn't go to my usual part of the room, which is fine. I don't mind switching things up a little bit. I ended up staying in that same spot for the double too.

Hope I'm not too wiped out and tonight's class goes Ok!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Endless Mysteries

157 classes in 153 days.
10 classes in 10 days in the 101 challenge.

The more I practice Bikram, the less I seem to know about how my body will respond each day. I don't know how many times I've been asked by yogis and non-yogis alike if I get bored doing the same 26 postures everyday. I emphatically tell them it's never the same class. This was proven to me again over the weekend.

As you know from my last posting, I've been fighting off a cold the past few days. Thursday's class was rough, and all day on Friday I felt terrible. I really had no interest in going to class at 5 PM, but of course I did. I then proceeded to have one of my best classes ever. I had a few of those "Is my body really doing this?" moments during the class. I simply smoked the standing series, it was effortless and lots of fun. Floor series went great too, and i don't even recall being tired at any point during the class.

Then on Saturday and Sunday, I felt great going into class, but the classes themselves were just Ok. Not rough by any means, but nothing special. I wasn't too excited about my class on Saturday, but the girl I was practicing next to told me a had a really good class. It's funny, it's not the first time I've been told by someone I had a good class when I didn't feel it was very good. I think this is a good sign actually, when I don't feel great, but my postures still look Ok.

So who knows how Monday will go? Or Tuesday? Or next month? That's part of the reason I keep coming back everyday!


Thursday, January 7, 2010


154 classes in 150 days.
7 classes in 7 days in the 101 challenge.

Today's class was not much fun. I have an illness threatening to get worse, and so I had trouble breathing in class, and was really really tired. As one of my teachers once said, "It's a whole different type of yoga when you're sick." So I slogged through the class tonight. It wasn't as bad as it could have been. Amazingly, I did one of my best Standing Bow Poses ever. But that was the sole highlight of class.

I do know from past experience that continuing to go to class keeps the cold from getting too awful. I once did a double when I had a cold. Yeah, I'm crazy like that.

Hope tomorrow is a lot better.



153 classes in 149 days.
6 classes in 6 days.

Tonight Dray taught. He was a regular teacher at my studio, but then moved to open up his own studio in another part of town. That's the studio bikramyogachick goes to. The studio is closed right now for some repairs. Dray happens to be the teacher of the first two classes I ever took, so he will always be special to me just because of that.

Because of his own studio, Dray hasn't taught in Green Valley in at least a month, so it was a nice change to have him yesterday. Not taking his class for a while made me notice some differences he has from other teachers. Not bad by any means, just a few differences.

The thing I noticed the most was the rhythm. The Bikram dialogue is definitely rhythmic, and with most teacher you can predict things really well, almost too well. You can get stuck on "auto pilot" if you're not paying attention. However, Dray has his own unique rhythm which makes it impossible to do his class on "auto pilot." He follows the dialogue fine, but you can't tell from his cadences exactly when he'll end the posture. Which means of course, that you have to pay attention! This is a good thing.

The entire universe has a rhythm of course, whether people are aware of it or not. Life has a certain rhythm and is predictable in many cases. When the rhythm changes, it can cause all kinds of chaos, both good and bad. I never like to get too stuck in a particular pattern, as life then becomes too boring. So indeed it was a nice change of pace to have Dray teach again.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010


152 classes in 148 days.
5 classes in 5 days in the 101 challenge.

I figured I'd list out some goals of mine for the 101 challenge. Of course, the real challenge isn't doing the 101 classes, but making some noticeable progress in my practice. I'm way beyond the point of struggling to make it to class every day, but there is PLENTY of work to do on my practice. So here's a few goals I have over the next 100 days or so.

1. Improve my back bends on Half-moon and Camel. I'd really like to at least see something on the floor from the standing back bend. This is a lofty goal for 100 days, but hey, why not?
2. Get my left leg to wrap around completely and consistently on Eagle. Right leg is already fine.
3. Consistently touch my forehead to knee and hold it on the left leg on Standing Head to Knee. For the right leg, get this to consistently lock out. It's much stiffer than my left leg currently.
4. Improve my Standing Bow Pulling. This is a little vague, but I know what I need to work on with this. Besides, I get at least one new and interesting correction on this posture every week, so things change.
5. Consistently touch my head to the floor on Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose. I'm currently all over the map on this posture. A few times I've actually touched my head, and sometimes I can barely grab my feet!
6. Do Toe Stand consistently from the left foot. Right foot is ok, but I need to straighten out my spine better.
7. Generally improve the spine strengthening series. There's a lot to this obviously, but it's mainly improving the depth, plus some form improvements on Bow.
8. Get my knees closer together on Fixed Firm. A little background on this posture - I have to spread my knees out quite a bit on this. This was one of the hardest postures when I first started. I had all kinds of knee and foot issues prior to starting Bikram. I couldn't even sit Japanese style for the first few weeks. Now it's much better, but I had to start from pretty much zero on this one.
9. Look at my feet in Camel. I'm getting there - slowly.
10. Keep my head on my knees (without walking the knees up) in Rabbit. This is a major work in progress already.
11. Generally improve the depth on Head to Knee with Stretching. This is another posture where I'm all over the place. Sometimes I go really deep, and sometimes not at all.

This might look like a big list, but it's pretty much stuff I work on every day. And don't think there isn't other stuff to improve, but I'm just listing the major stuff. There are always improvements to form I can make every day! I hope you each have your own goals for the 101 challenge!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


151 classes in 147 days.
4 classes in 4 days in the 101 challenge.

At the end of my last blog, I briefly talked about having more energy than some friends of mine, which they found pretty amazing. Yesterday was another ridiculous example of how much more energy I have because I practice every day.

On Sunday, I had a hard time falling asleep, and ending up getting about four hours of sleep. I was concerned that Monday would suck, and I would be lethargic all day. However, the exact opposite happened. I had plenty of energy all day long at work, and then I had one of my best yoga classes in weeks. I almost stuck around and did a double!

Before starting Bikram, I would generally need around 7-8 hours of sleep to feel rested, and now I'm fine on 6-7 hours of sleep, and less in some cases, as you can see by me above example. This is an unexpected benefit I get from practicing daily, and it flys in the teeth of medical "experts" that insist you need 8 hours of sleep.

As for class itself, it was the first Monday after the holidays and it was packed. Note that "holidays" apparently means six weeks or two months for a lot of people:) I saw a lot of people that had been nowhere to be found since October or November. You could definitely spot the people that were getting used to the hot room again! Good thing I'm already used to it...


Sunday, January 3, 2010

And So it Begins...

150 classes in 146 days.
3 classes in 3 days in the 101 challenge.

I started off the 101 challenge on Friday at 11 AM. Fittingly, I did the last class of 2009 at my studio and the first class of 2010. The studio is doing it's own 30 day challenge in January, and a lot of people signed up for it. I hope most (or all) of them finish it. The studio has been pretty packed the past few days, with lots of people wanting to start the new year off with yoga. Always good to see.

My practice has been in an interesting place the past few weeks. Now it's really a mystery what will happen from one class to the next. It seems like in every class I'll do something really great on a few postures, then other postures will somehow end up being much harder than usual. I get tired in weird spots during the class, and then full of energy in other parts. And there is absolutely no predictability to any of it! My teachers seem to be amused by it too, as they sometimes see me struggling with postures I'm normally good at. A good example is Sheri yelling at me in Triangle a few days ago, "Greg, are you kidding me? Touch your toes!" I was having a hard time with Triangle that day...

One funny story to tell. I had some friends in town over New Year's. We were up late on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, I was talking to them about what do to that night. They said they were too tired to really do anything. At which point one of the girls said to me, "Sorry, we just don't have the energy you do. We don't do Bikram yoga every day!" So true...