Friday, April 30, 2010

Posture Discussion Part II - Half-Moon

272 classes in 262 days.

The first of the "warm-up" postures, and it's quite a warm-up. I've come in to class many times feeling stiff, and just doing half-moon usually takes care of it. The posture is divided into three main parts:

This wakes up the spine and sort of informs the body, "Ok, we're going to move the spine around now." It took me a while to get the grip right, and be able to interlock my fingers and get the palms together, but once I did, I really started to feel the benefits from the posture. Keeping my weight on my heels is generally the biggest challenge for me, and it's HARD to do that for 60 seconds.

There is a point about this posture which I always find interesting. Many people that are quite flexible and can go very deep into other postures, can't go very deep in half-moon. And the reverse is true, where I've seen people go nearly horizontal in half-moon, but not have tremendous depth in some other postures.

2)Back Bend:
This usually produces the first groans from students in the class. It's very valuable near the beginning of class, but I also like to practice it after class sometimes, once I'm more warmed up. When I started, I could barely do anything, and now I can at least look at the back wall, and I definitely can feel the stretch in the back. One of the harder parts of this posture is actually keeping my knees locked and feet solidly on the ground. I've managed to fall out of the posture backwards a few times because I couldn't keep my feel on the ground.

3)Hands to Feet:
A wonderful complement to the back bend you've just done. I've come close to locking my knees on this posture recently. I'm still not exactly close to getting my head on my feet, but I can get it on the shins. An important part of the posture is coming out correctly, with arms and head together. I see a lot of people brush this off, but I've noticed it helps the spine a lot if you keep the contact with the arms and head.

After two sets of the above, my spine is ready to go for the rest of class, no matter how stiff I was walking into the room. It also does a lot to warm up the body and get the sweat happening.

Next up...Awkward Pose.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Posture Discussion Part I - Pranayama Breathing

269 classes in 259 days.

Today I'm starting a multi-part series of blogs about the different postures. These cover my experience and opinions on the postures, rather than just a clinical technique and benefit discussion of the postures. If you want that data, check with one of your teachers. I'll discuss my personal benefits and thoughts. Hopefully, people find this interesting and/or helpful!

Pranayama Breathing:
Teachers all the time will tell us that this sets the tone for the entire class, and it's true. It's easy to get complacent on this, but when I concentrate on it, it really does help me the rest of class.

One of the first and immediate benefits I gained from Bikram Yoga were improvements in my breathing. This is not something I really thought about before. After all, breathing automatically happens in the body. How much could there be to learn about it? But honestly, I was breathing incorrectly my whole life, and so do most people. There's no good reason I know of to breathe in and out of the mouth, but I used to do that all the time, particularly while exercising. Now I have excellent control over my breath in and out of class. In class, I generally have a very steady and even pace of breath throughout the entire class, regardless of the postures I'm in, and I can't even hear myself breathe. Nor do I do dramatic exhales while coming out of postures, something my teachers refer to as, "yogasims." If you're breathing correctly, this never happens.

All of the above are made possible by Pranayama Breathing, that's why it's the very first thing we do each class. As far as improvements I've made, my lung capacity is MUCH higher than before and I can get my elbows up pretty high now. A few times my teachers have pointed out I looked bored doing it, and they're right. I know how important it is, but I do get bored! That's the thing I'm working on improving the most right now.

Next up... Half-Moon.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Appreciate the Heat

265 classes in 255 days.

The past few days the heat has been messed up in my studio. This has happened before, but not this bad. It was actually around 80 (!!!) degrees at the beginning of class last night. Also, there was a guy trying to fix it, so at one point, COLD air was blowing out of the vents! Things did start to get better as the class went on, and apparently, the heat was mostly fixed by the end of class. At least warm air was blowing out.

When teachers tell you that the heat is your friend, they're not kidding. Although I have to say that practicing in cold temperatures is a good a way to judge your practice. If you can still do Ok in non-optimum conditions, it's a good sign. But that doesn't mean I want to practice that way everyday...


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Teacher Balance

263 classes in 253 days.

Been away from the blog for a few days, but not away from my studio. Teacher training started here in Vegas a few days ago, which is very exciting. It was here this past fall as well. I'm sure I'll make it over to the big tent at the Hilton a few times to take class with everyone.

The start of teacher training, along with other recent events, made me think of some other points about teachers which I haven't mentioned. I have discussed qualities I like about teachers earlier, but there are a few other points I wanted to mention.

I've noticed more and more the variety of teaching styles that exist. There are teachers more suited for "hard core" students, that give very good critiques, know their postures backwards and forwards, and are ruthless. Then there are teachers that are a little calmer and/or very good with new students. You have teachers with different backgrounds as far as their own health and bodies and practice.

The best teachers can balance these different qualities and deal with veterans as well as new students well. And a good studio will have a nice variety of different types of teachers. My studio is a bit lacking in this currently. Many of the teachers that were great with new students have moved on to other studios or whatever. This doesn't matter for me so much, but it's definitely a different atmosphere now.

Sure, what we do is hard and tough and precision is vital, but ultimately it should be enjoyable! The teachers are a vital element to that.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Crazy Food

257 classes in 247 days.

Check out this very funny article about foods NOT to eat before doing a Bikram class. Other than the Indian food (#4) I wouldn't eat any of this stuff EVER, let alone right before a class!

Monday, April 12, 2010

My Studio Owner!

Check out the below link. It's a blog from a fellow yogi and this entry talks about our studio owner!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

The End is the Beginning

254 classes in 244 days.
107 classes in 101 days in the 101 challenge.

I finished! Congratulations to everyone else who completed as well! I did it the old fashioned way too, doing a class (and sometimes two) every day for 101 days in a row. In fact, it's even longer if you go back before January 1st. The last day I didn't go to class was Christmas Day. In case you're wondering, I'm celebrating by going to class tomorrow. There is a day off in my future, but probably not until May.

It's really hard to pinpoint big changes during the 101 challenge because as regular readers of my blog know, I've been doing this pretty much everyday since I started last August. Yes, obviously I've made improvements in my postures and I've had nice internal and external changes, but it just makes me realize how much more there is to gain. 101 days isn't really very long when you look at it in the context of entire lifetime. Think how many years I spent messing up my body! It's not going to be reversed in a mere 101 days.

Interestingly enough, the last three days were very rough classes for me, but somehow that seems appropriate at the end of the challenge:) A good reminder that the end of this challenge isn't really an end, it's just a marker on the larger journey ahead...


Thursday, April 8, 2010

The 162 Day Challenge

251 classes in 241 days.
104 classes in 98 days in the 101 challenge.

A new challenge has begun, just a few days ago. It's a special challenge that happens once a year, starts in the Spring and ends in the fall. It involves the following:

- 162 days of dedication, day in and day out.

- Lots of time spent in a really hot environment.

- Intense focus each and every day.

- Perfection is the goal, but rarely attained.

- More mental toughness than physical toughness is required to make it through.

- Attention to detail is a must for success.

- You don't have to be super athletic to be successful, but you have to care and focus to get real benefits from it.

- There are definite rules of etiquette which should be followed to make everyone happy.

Oh, did you think I was talking about another Bikram Yoga challenge? Nah, I'm talking about baseball. The season started a few days ago, and Opening Day happened to coincide with my 101st class in the 101 challenge. Baseball is actually very similar to Bikram Yoga for all of the reasons listed above. Anyone who thinks baseball is easy mentally or physically has never tried it much. Playing the game for three hours every day may look easy, but it takes a lot of mental and physical strength to do it, just like Bikram Yoga.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010


249 classes in 239 days.
102 classes in 96 days.

I received my strangest correction ever yesterday. During the third part of awkward pose, I was coming up, when the teacher told me to... lower my eyebrow! I'm not even sure which one she was referring to, since I just started laughing. So did the rest of the class! I guess she was right, I have no idea. I apparently corrected it and didn't do it second set, but this is the funniest and most unusual correction I've ever received.


Monday, April 5, 2010


247 classes in 237 days.
100 classes in 94 days in the 101 challenge.

You can see from the numbers above that I'm at 100. So tonight will be 101 for me. The real question is will I be done with the 101 challenge after tonight? I know this is a contentious point amongst various people. Is a 30 day challenge 30 classes in a row, or just 30 classes in 30 days? At my studio, it's just 30 classes in 30 days.

Regardless, I'll be there Tuesday for 102, but I'm curious if people think getting to 101 in 95 days completes the challenge or not...


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Another Challenge?!

243 classes in 233 days.
96 classes in 90 days in the 101 challenge.

I'm five classes away from hitting 101 and 11 days away from doing 101 classes in consecutive days in the challenge (which is what I wanted to do). So I'm thinking that I would take a day off somewhere after the 101 days, but then... My studio is starting a 30 day challenge today (April 1). It's not like I can turn this down! Plus I worked out with the studio owner to get a t-shirt when I finish! I can't pass up a free t-shirt, I've been asking for one for the last few challenges!

So it looks like I'll be continuing a little longer after the 101 is up. Not like I was going to stop anyways, but no day off until at least May!