Monday, August 30, 2010

Long Shorts

393 classes (4 advanced) in 383 days.

Last week I had a sad reminder of why it's important to wear the correct yoga gear. When I first started out, I wore various random shorts, basketball shorts, whatever. It didn't take long for me to get some proper yoga attire, which made a big difference in my practice. One of the easiest ways to tell newer students is by what they're wearing. As students become more experienced, they start 1) wearing less clothing and 2) wearing actual yoga gear, rather than various workout clothes.

So last week I forgot to bring yoga shorts to class one day. Luckily, I had another pair of shorts with me, but unfortunately they were long basketball shorts. They came down to almost my knees. Class was a mess. I had forgotten how awful it is to try and practice with something other than yoga shorts. These shorts are heavier and collected more sweat which made things even heavier. I had to pull them up sometimes just to properly get into the postures, like Standing Head to Knee and Triangle.

The funniest part was the teacher noticed the odd attire I was wearing and the hard time I was having as a result. At one point she told me that I need to find my yoga shorts because my "mojo" was in them! How true. I think I'm a lot less likely to forget my yoga gear again!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Personal Thermometer

382 classes (3 advanced) in 372 days.

The subject of the temperature of the room is always a hot topic (sorry for the pun!) of discussion amongst yogis. Some people like it hotter or colder, and it's really a matter of personal preference. I prefer it on the hot side as you know if you've read some of my earlier blog entries. Over time, I've developed various ways of determining if it's hot enough in the room for me. Now my opinion of whether or not it's not enough actually depends on how I feel that day. It's not so much the exact temperature and humidity readings, although that gives an idea. For example, I prefer it to be a little cooler on the weekends but during the week, I like it hotter, sometimes insanely so. So below is a list of things I use as my own personal thermometer:

1) How fast my water melts - I stick my water bottles in the freezer everyday before I go to class. They are usually a nice solid brick of ice when I start class. If it's not hot enough, they don't melt very much. If the heat is good, they melt nicely, but are still very cool when I drink them.

2) My hamstrings. A very important reason I like it hot. My hamstrings are generally a little tight, and a nice hot room loosens them up well. If the temperature is hot enough from the beginning of class, my hamstrings are fully warmed up by the time we get to Standing Head to Knee. If it's too cold, they never get fully warmed up during the class.

3) My lower back. If my lower back is stiff after the first three postures, it's too cold, that simple.

4) Sweat on my feet - On Hands to Feet pose, I obviously can see my feet up close. If there is no or very little sweat on my feet, it's too cold.

5) My towel - A great gauge of the temperature. The hotter it is, the more I sweat and obviously the more my towel is covered in sweat. You can practically weight my towel after class and the heavier it is, the hotter it was in class.

6) My right heel. I broke my right heel about 13 years ago and it never quite healed correctly. When it's cold outside it starts to hurt a bit. A few times, it's been so cold in the yoga room that it starts to hurt. This is a sure sign that it's a bad day in the room! Luckily this is a pretty rare occurance.

7) Steam. Yeah, that's right. A few times I've been in a class that's so hot and humid that I've seen steam, and the mirrors have fogged up a bit.

8) The temperature of the floor. If the room gets hot enough, the floor at my studio will actually get pretty warm. This is fairly rare, but it's happened.

9) The feel. My personal favorite and an obvious one, but it really works. After nearly 400 classes, I can feel the temperature and humidity very accurately. I usually check the temp and humidity when I first walk into the room and after class, and I'm pretty good at guessing the numbers. Sometimes I'm convinced the thermometer in the room is wrong, but that might just be how I feel that day. The teachers generally don't want the students to know the temperature and humidity, but most of them are fine with me checking because they know I'm checking for the exact opposite reason most other students are checking. I want to make sure it's hot enough, not that it's too hot!

I'd love to hear any other ways people gauge the temperature in the room.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


373 classes (2 advanced) in 364 days.

Today, August 11 marks the one year anniversary of my first Bikram class. One year ago I walked into the Green Valley studio for the first time, as a total broken down mess. My back was in a lot of pain, I couldn't sit down without pain, I was on pain killers and just a wreck.

I still remember my first class, who taught it and where I was set up in the room. Oddly enough, I set up in one of the hottest parts of the room. There's a part in the back row that's near the humidifier and away from the fans and that's where I ended up! I guess that was a precursor of things to come. I remember the heat and the crazy amount of work the class was, 90 minutes seemed like 90 hours. But I also remembered the energy and the love in the room, and the way my body felt after class. I was hooked instantly.

A year ago, I was worried about getting through the day with my back and knee pain and sleeping comfortably. Now I'm worried about figuring out some of the advanced postures! What a difference a year makes...

Monday, August 2, 2010

First Advanced

364 classes (1 advanced) in 356 days.

I finally took my first ever Advanced Class yesterday. This is something I've been looking forward to for a long time. Below is a link from Dancing J (another blogger) with an excellent description of what the advanced class consists of. I suggest you check that out in addition to what I'm writing here.

First off, the class is much more laid back than the beginning class. It's not a super disciplined, dialogue-driven class like the beginning class. This DOES NOT mean it's easier by any stretch of the imagination, but in some ways it's more relaxed. However... the pace is much much faster than the beginning class. There's like 84 postures (even more with certain variations) to get through so we move fast. The beginning class seems downright slow compared to advanced. There were definitely times things were moving too fast for me and I didn't really know what was going on! I'm sure this will improve over time.

Yesterday there were about twelve people in class, which is apparently a lot more than normal. Four of us were first timers, so at least I wasn't alone. The good news is the advanced class actually has a number of postures that aren't crazy impossible, so I wasn't totally left out in the cold. The speed and volume of everything is certainly overwhelming, but after class I thought about different postures and I can see how I'll be able to improve them and make progress.

Oh yeah, one little detail I haven't mentioned yet - I was dying in there! I took the beginning class right before, which turned out to be a bad idea for me. I had one of the more experienced students tell me he never takes the beginning class right beforehand. Some people do it, and they're fine, but I won't be doing that next week. I'll take an earlier class. I was SOOOO dehydrated. I had to leave the room at one point for about 15-20 minutes. I wasn't the only one. I'd say at least 7-8 people left the room at various points for a few minutes. One person left and never came back. It's funny, because just like my body had to get used to the beginning class, it's having to do the same thing now with advanced. It's like a shock to the system, but at least I know it's a good shock, and I have enough certainty in the yoga that I know it will turn out alright.

The best part is now I have a huge amount of other postures I can work on learning and improving, and that can keep me busy for quite a long time:)