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...



  1. Hear, hear. Excellent summary and I agree from my personal practice on almost all of it. One question I would add that I seem to get all the time is: What's next after the 101. Hmm, I guess the answer is it's 2+ months away we'll see how I feel when the time comes. But right now I can't imagine going back to a once a week practice or something.

  2. 365? Come on Greg, let's shoot for 1,000. I haven't heard of anybody doing that. I wonder if there is a record in Guniness book for consecutive Bikram classes? ;)

  3. Re: have you ever seriously injured yourself in class?
    I broke my thumb a few years ago, transitioning back into Savasana after Camel. I just wasn't paying attention to what my hands were doing, I guess. How strange is that?!?

    I love reading about Bikram challenge "streaks"; looking forward to following along through No. 365!

  4. Nice Q&A! that's awesome that you're striving for 365! and it's definitely interesting how the practice gets both easier and harder in different ways as we become more experienced! keeps us on our toes... :)

  5. BYC - I have a friend in Philly who did 1,000 consecutive days. He's writing a book about it. :)

    Daily practice is a lifestyle, and a nice one. It doesn't last forever - there are usually ups and downs - but there's no reason to STOP! I mean, I started serious practice in 2007... did 380 classes in 2008, probably hit the 500+ class mark in 500 days, but stopped counting after a while. Tapered off last year cause of grad school (down to maybe 5 or 6 per week), but now am going strong again. It never ends!!

  6. Btw, the 500 days were NOT consecutive - lots of doubles in there. Consecutive is way too high maintenance for long term, means you can never go on vacation...

  7. Yeah, my days aren't consecutive either, as I noted. That's kind of impossible, since every studio in the world closes for one day in July, and most are closed on Christmas. But even with time off, I can keep in the average of one or more classes per day. That's just going to get easier when I start doing Advanced.

    There are definitely people in my studio who practice more than me, like 10 classes or more per week. They don't even keep track like I do.