Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day 95: "There is no failure, only delays on the road to success"

Today was 430 with Anastashia.  I informed her, as I rushed in 10 mins before class that I had to leave right at 6, so if she was running over, I'd be leaving before class was over.  I let her know I was going to be rushing off to shower and go to my daughters sports banquet.  She gave me a beautiful smile and said in her sweet (russian?) accent "no problem, don't worry about it".  Well, bless her heart, she taught a very nice, very smooth 85 minute class.  She also watched me like a hawk during standing bow and encouraged me to get my "body down, body down, get your body down more Michelle".  I kick up pretty high, my foot is way up over my head, and I really work on lining up the shoulders and keeping the shoulder to the chin.  I struggle with two things:  body down parallel (it's not) and my head.  She actually corrected me on the head second set.  I tilt my head to the side and I get nailed on that constantly by the teachers (thankfully!).  I always think, oh crap! and try to straighten it out and come tumbling out of the posture sideways.  Weird!! I am so thankful for corrections because I never did notice the head tilt thing until called out on it.  So let me give a huge shout out to all Bikram teachers who keep the timing, control the temp, encourage us collectively and sometimes one by one and who correct, being sticklers for form.  How awesome are you!  
The title of my was on the wall of the cafeteria of my daughters school tonight.  I liked it, it spoke to me so I emailed it to myself from my blackberry real quick so I wouldn't forget it verbatim.  It is by "anonymous".  Man that anonymous guy writes some great stuff!   LOL.
You know what, the tone of my post probably sounds like I'm in a good mood.  It didn't start off that way.  I woke up with the breakup pain and loss sitting on my chest like a giant elephant.  I slogged my way through getting ready for work, driving there on autopilot.  Once I got there I pushed thoughts of him aside all day long, like stray hairs falling in my eyes.  I felt strong but absentminded during yoga.  I guess life continues to happen, no matter how we feel inside.  We have bills to pay, banquets to attend, lots to do at just keeps going and we can't afford to be left behind, nor would I want to miss any precious moments like my daughter being honored at school for her dance team achievement.  So I continue to absentmindedly brush those stray hairs aside,  ignore the elephant on my chest and embrace what's in front of me.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Day 94: Cruise Control

Today was 530 with Oksana.
Reggi and I waited patiently in the lobby for class to start talking quietly for once.  A regular, who we love to call "wild Bill" walked in and we hailed him from across the room.  He gave us a shit eatin grin and came over to join us in our pre class conversation.  
Although I was suffering from a stress induced mild headache,   it was one of those practices where I felt like I had my "yoga body".  You know, strong, flexible, lithe limbs, flowing in and out of postures, breath coming with ease.  Due to my stress, my balance was not that great, I fell out quite a bit, but I just got right back in, unruffled, unfazed.  My mind was unable to let go today, there was too much on it.  But instead of working against me, it's almost like I was spaced out, on cruise control, the body working while the mind tried to sift through a bunch of crap.   I really hate the aftermath of breakups.  Even if they are necessary.  They just suck.  The goodbye, now return the stuff, now let it sink in that they are not in your life, nor are you in theirs, and that the caring that was there has been drained and sucked dry by the harsh ending.  In fact, as I'm sitting here typing this, the mild headache lingers, and I NEVER get headaches.  Argh!  But I've never been negative nancy.  No, that is not me.  I'm optimistic, full of light and love, positive....hopeful.  So yes, even in the aftermath, hope still springs eternal.   Time heals all wounds, of that I am sure.  Only because I've been around 38 whole years now and have experienced the healing of time on a heart over and over again.  Oh, and trips!  Trips help heal hearts too!  I've got two trips coming up in the next month and a half, both to sunny southern California for a wedding, bonding time with girlfriends and time spent at the beach, breathing in the ocean air.  Ah, just what the doctor ordered!  And maybe tomorrow, maybe my headache will be gone, and maybe I'll feel a wee bit better.  Baby steps........

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day 93: Screw it, I'll finish what I started

I decided to stop blogging for all the wrong reasons (thank you Reggi, my voice of reason).  I need to finish what I started.  I need to make my 101 and I love sharing my experience with fellow Bikram yogis and getting encouragement and feedback.  This is me.  This yoga, this blog.  This is what makes me happy.
So here we go again:  today was 530 with Frank.  Christian and Reggi and I practiced in the front row together, an R and M sandwhich again.  When Christian first walked in I said "Hi, good to see you, Reggi will be happy, our eye candy is here!".  He smiled and said hi back.  Frank was behind the front desk and overheard me.  Fast forward to practice.  I was very happy to be back in the saddle after a day off.  I didn't feel good today, emotionally, I was a wreck.  As soon as I got on my mat I stood there and thought to myself, this is where I am safe.  I had a nice strong practice and felt so much better when it was over.  During practice about halfway through the floor series, Frank just randomly says, while we are in savasana between postures "Michelle called Christian eye candy".  Chuckles and giggles from throughout the room (from me too!).  After class Reggi said "damn, Frank threw you under the bus!".  I said "nah, only if I hadn't said it to Christian's face, then that would be under the bus!".  We milled around in the lobby, getting zicos, talking, laughing, being.  I walked out, yoga bag in hand, digging for my keys, breathing in the cool evening air.  Suddenly, things came into sharp focus:  there is a whole big world out there!  That thought bounced around my mind as I got into my car.  My heart stopped being constricted, my mind stopped thinking about recent events, I looked off into the distance, toward the red rock mountains I love so much and punched buttons on my car stereo, rolling down the window and blasting "Magnificent" by U2.  That is when I knew, I had to finish what I have started.  That means a double this weekend.  Not happy about that, but know I can do it!  

Monday, April 27, 2009

A proper goodbye

I have decided to stop blogging and wanted to give you all a proper goodbye instead of mysteriously disappearing from the blogosphere.  I want to say goodbye because I want to tell you all how much I appreciated having readers.  Some are my friends and family, others fellow Bikram challenge yogis, fellow bloggers, and maybe just people who stumbled across me by googling Bikram yoga.  However you found me I hope that I have in some way inspired your yoga practice or perhaps even encouraged you to try Bikram.
Thank you for all of the encouragement, love, light, blessings you have sent my way.
What started as a 60 day challenge morphed into more and the end result is I feel great, deepened my practice and formed a habit.  Will I make it to 100?  Quite honestly I am taking the evening off to quietly decompress at home.  But because I have put so much heart and soul into this challenge, my crazy ass will probably do a double so that I make the 100 classes.  If not, I'm ok with that too as I am ecstatic that I made 90.  I will be doing Bikram for the rest of my life and have already decided to do at least 2 challenges a year whenever possible.  So, later this summer I'll probably be back, doing another 60 and reviving the blog. 
Good luck and namaste.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day 91: Turn the Page

Today is the most difficult day for me emotionally that I have experienced for a long time.  I won't get into details, but I will just share that today I finally ended a 9 month off and on relationship.  It was a veritable emotional roller coaster. I have learned how to walk away at the end when things don't work. Not today. Today I made a scene. I did it on purpose because I finally understood it needed to happen that way.   I don't feel good about what I did, but it was necessary because I knew I could not allow myself to invest anymore of my heart in this back and forth game. I dragged myself to 130 yoga feeling very much like a wounded animal. I looked at my own two eyes in the mirror and saw that I looked calm. The room was upwards of 110, brutally hot. I stood there waiting for class to begin looking at the other yogis around me, mostly men today for some reason, and thought how funny that nobody knows what is going on inside me. Nobody knows there are violent ocean waves of pain pounding my heart, my mind, my soul. As a wounded animal will lash out in pain, so did I. I lashed out to the only person available. Myself. I pushed, I pulled, I stretched, I kicked, I went to my edge and beyond on every single posture including the first breathing. Frank encouraged me, corrected me, walked around me every now and then as he checked the temp in the room, unaware of my struggle, of the dragon I was trying to slay. I punished myself for trusting, for loving, for believing, for hoping...I punished myself for always looking for the good in every single person no matter how they start to behave towards me. I fell to my knees second set of triangle, staggering back up for more. By the time I got to camel I thought to myself "no, I can't do camel, my hearts been open for 9 months, I just can't" and then I did. I did it anyway, because that is the essence of me. I walked out of the studio into the sunshine, shaky, fatigued, beaten. Frank was walking back from his car and said "Mish, you are beautiful". That is Frank. He is always telling us women how wonderful we are. He doesn't really know us, he just teaches, but yet perhaps he knows us better than anybody, watching our beautiful struggle. I thanked him and he asked how I felt. I answered back that I felt good, that I really pushed myself today. And I do. Feel good. Because this too shall pass. Heartbreaks are minor compared to deaths, illnesses, loss of job, home....the list goes on. This is just the end of a chapter. Not the whole book. So I take a deep breath, and turn the page.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day 90: She looks the same folks!

Oh well, what do ya do?
Today was 930 with Frank.  Reggi was there for class 2 of her double.  She kills me.  You can't even tell she is on her second class.  Talk about grace under pressure.  Geez.  I am a mess on my second class! 
 Today I had a fairly strong class again.  Not as good as last night, but then I always am a little tighter and slower to warm up in the early am classes.
Even though I look the same, I'll post the pics so you will believe me!  :)
Day 1:

Day 90:

Days 87-89: Emotional turbulence, physical ease

Well good morning everybody.  I am back and have missed updating my blog and reading your comments.  Thanks for taking great care of Reggi!  I will just write a quick post to update you on the last few days of yoga and then I'm going to be heading off to the 930 am with fabulous Frank to celebrate day 90!  Here's hoping for a great class!
The last few days have been somewhat of an emotional roller coaster for me on a personal level.  The issue that came to a head really has not been resolved so to speak, but I still feel a great deal of peace regardless.  I have faith that things will turn out for me the way they are supposed to for each facet of my life.  This yoga has given me so much strength and endurance on so many levels.  I've just got to take care of me and the rest will fall into place.
So here I sit at 7:30 am on a lovely Saturday morning, listening to my halfway restored ipod (I say halfway because I got it working but it wouldn't let me drag music onto it, instead it created a playlist and copied as much as it could over and not the songs I wanted!).  I'm annoyed about the ipod, but it gives me a great excuse to get an ITouch in the near future.
My practice the last three days during this emotional turbulence has been phenomenal.  My body is really showing up for me.  Last night was 630 with Patty in the small room, which I love because it's cozy, and as I was picking up my foot for standing head to knee I thought, "wow, that was easy!".  That's how that whole practice went, easy, effortless, wonderful.  This is the strongest and most flexible I've ever been in my whole life.  I am excited about the fact that I'm not done.  I've got so much room for improvement and growth and depth in the postures.  
I will bring my camera this morning and have Reggi snap a day 90 pic.  I'll post it later tonight.  I honestly don't think you will be able to see a difference, as the scale tells me I have remained the same the entire challenge, but I do feel a difference in my hip area.  So we'll see if that difference I feel is noticeable on camera.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another Guest Post by Reggi: Day 88 For Bikram Yoga Chick!!!

Its 530 Class as usual with our beautiful "Goddess from Brazil" Instructor Anastasia. Picture this beautiful, tall, perfect body with a sweet personality. She is a doll. The class is a lovely 105 degrees, 40 percent humidity...pretty damn perfect I might say...I am not gonna bitch about my bruised big toe or my struggle of stiff limbs, but rather applaud the lovely environment we had in and out of class.

For Mich and myself, it was "cocktail hour" shall we call it, before class began in the lobby. We run into our "pass-me-a-cigarette sexy-ass" instructor Frank coming out of the 330 class all wet and scrumptious I might add. He hollers across the lobby, "Hey Reg, how did it go at the Red Carpet Event?" I hollered back, "Fantastic with all the interviews...I got some nice one-on- ones." For those of you wondering what I am referring to...I am a freelance correspondent, who interviews celebrities, real people, whoever I can get my hands on to share their story. It is my passion, but doesn't pay the bills yet! Nevertheless, Frank was getting ready to see some shows on the strip. He explains he was invited to two shows the same evening! The man is in demand! The lobby was full of veteran yogis and yoginis laughing and chatting like we were at happy hour. It was a good day.

As for Mich, she is kicking ass on her 88th Day and looking good! I wonder what's in the kool-aid she was drinking today. Something has definitely shifted in her. She is glowing and beaming nothing but good vibes. She was in a great mood and smiling throughout class! That's my girl! Let's commend her for staying the path! The Beautiful Struggle stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Guest Post from Reggi: Two Days Off And Paying For It...

Reggi speaks....Enjoy!

As I drive to 530 pm Class, I realize I have a hundred emails to write for work. Nevertheless, I must get to class no matter what. I took two days off for a hot date and for networking. Hey, a girl has to further her career right? And for the hot date...well, what can I say, he was adorable! I am a sucker for a charming guy! Now, back to yoga class, and I see my favorite partner in crime...Mich (AKA Bikram Yoga Chick) in the parking lot to the studio. Her and I have our social half hour filling each other in of our day. Mich says, "The system at work was down for about 3 hours. What a day! I have a lot on my mind and I need yoga to straighten my ass out!" Now this is our usual talk amongst each other, which is such a delight and a breath of fresh air after the chaos of a busy day. We both get dressed in the locker room, and I realize I gained about 6 pounds in two days! WTF?! Now, I am a healthy eater and I usually average 6 days a week of Bikram. Is it Hormones? What is this world coming to? My yoga pants were tight and my gut was hanging over the band. Ouch! I am horrified! So I just give Mich the look that I am disgusted with myself and she dismisses my reaction and tells me to go out to the lobby so we can chat more.

So we run into our instructor Ms. Darla. She is a great woman who doesn't let anything bother her. Laid back but very direct. She doesn't take any crap from anyone. I love it! The usual regulars and eye candy guys were MIA tonight so it was was pretty mellow for the most part. As Mich and I get our front row spots and class begins, I knew I was in a little trouble because I was feeling fat, stiff and unbalanced. What is going on here? After doubles over the weekend and regular practice, I felt like I was in my third month of practicing. I have been doing Bikram for more than a year and a half. I looked over at Mich and she was falling out of one legged series more often than usual. I thought, " I am not the only one struggling tonight." As I let go my self image thoughts, the class began to flow and I relaxed into the rest of the postures. But that is what I get for taking two days off! We continue the beautiful struggle to be better than yesterday...

An unexpected death (of a device, not a person) and a Very Special Guest

My ipod nano died today.  It was playing a song in the car and froze up.  When I reset it, it was wiped, all music gone.  When I got home, I tried to put music back on it but it said I needed to restore it.  I did that and started copying songs over.  Then it died again.  So I tried to restore again, no dice.  It came back up with some japanese symbols and one english sentence that said "use itunes to restore".  I tried one more time and itunes basically said "go straight to your nearest apple store and lay down a couple of bills for something new because you are screwed".  Oy vey, life without an ipod.  How terribly tragic.  This means I have to listen to the radio!  I actually feel great loss not having this device!  It sits in my ihome alarm clock and keeps me company during the evening.  It then wakes me up in the morning and comes with me to work, where it entertains me on my morning commute.  Oh the sadness!

I'll be taking a few days off from posting.  Not from yoga, just from posting.  I promise I'll come back well before getting to day 100 and update you with my progress.  In the meantime, a very special guest will be posting here.  You've read about her all along.  I give her free reign to do as she wishes with my blog.  She can let you know about my classes if she wants, or just hers, or she can write about whatever tickles her fancy.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you.......Reggi.  Be gentle with her please.  :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day 86: Peace

Today was 430 with Connie.  We were in the small room and I actually saw alot of familiar faces.  I normally don't make it to 430 so that was nice.  Josh, Christian and a few others floated in early as well.  I parked myself in the front row towards the door and knelt down on my mat, ready for class in full acceptance, not caring if it was going to be good or bad.  Just happy to be there.  I don't know what happened to time...but I lost some of it.  The 90 minutes felt like 20 and before I knew it we were in final spine twisting.  What just happened , I wondered?  The class went by like a beautiful dream.  I did every posture, flirting with my edge, with the yoga.  What a completely peaceful experience.  Nirvana.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 85: Frank roasts us out, but I maintain grace under pressure

Yup.  That's pretty much today's class in a nutshell...the title of my post.  Today was 530 with Frank, sans Reggi.  I haven't practiced with her in a few days and was a little bummed she wasn't going to be there.  Hey, she has a life, right?  Me, well, this IS my life right now.  So I park myself by Christian and instructor Patty.  Lonnie and Jo (married couple) were in the back row and a whole host of other familiar faces surrounded me on the left side of the room.  I walked into the room feeling good, but have done this enough to know feeling good doesn't always equate to a good class.  Well, my Sunday afternoon of pasta, water, some chores, some relaxing and eventually an awesome 8 hour sleep paid off today.  I was strong, focused, fluid, flexible, graceful again.  My "yoga body" was back.  Oh thank God!  In fact, I had such an awesome focused practice that the few times I noticed it was hotter than normal, the thought just slid out of my mind and off my body along with the hundreds of droplets of sweat that I didn't even bother to fidget with or wipe.  I was just totally in the zone and instead of fighting the heat, I completely surrendered to it.  After class, Frank asked how I felt and I thanked him and said "I'm back to normal!".  He said "you're so strong!".  He is so supportive and encouraging.  
After class, in the locker room, several red faced yoginis sat on benches, looking completely wiped out.  Two of them asked me, "was it just me, or was it hotter than normal today?"  I acknowledged that it was indeed very hot and humid and lamented with them a little (even though I had a stellar class) because they needed that, I know I do when I have a class wrought with suffering.  I walked out of there amazed at what we can do and endure and once again blown away by this yoga.  Blown away by the fact that every day is completely different in that room.  I am in love with this yoga and instead of getting tired of it I continue to become more and more enamored with it, even after bad days like yesterday.  

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day 84: Depleted

Today was 130 with Frank.  I was an absolute trainwreck.  Frank came over to me during 2 min savasana to ask what was wrong.  It was that bad.  In fact, the class was similar to my second class yesterday.  The only way I can describe what I went through is just to say I feel completely and utterly depleted right now.  Like my body literally does not have the resources it needs.  I left the studio wiped out and craving pasta.  Huh?  Ok, maybe my body is trying to tell me something.  So I went to sunflower market and bought some fresh veggies, pasta sauce and whole wheat capellini.  I'm going to listen to my body and see if that helps.  Water, electrolytes, good food choices, that's probably all I need to focus on to get myself back to normal.  At first I was frustrated with myself during that mess of a practice today, but then i just stopped and sort of scolded myself.  I mean really, when in my life have I ever done 84 days in a row of any kind of exercise?  Never!  Of course my body is going to have good days and bad days.  It's not used to doing anything like this.   I can't believe I have less than 20 days left.  I actually will really miss doing this challenge, writing this blog and having contact with all of the nice bikram yoga students leaving encouraging comments.  Thank you, all of you.  You don't know this but you help keep me going.  

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Day 83: A double and one of the "P's"

Today was my double day.  I went to 1130 with Frank followed by 130 with Oksana.  Reggi and Shelley were coming out of the 930, Reggi having done a double...730/930.  She said the second class was tough, that she threw up in her mouth a little.  She saw the horrified look on my face and said, I know, TMI, but there ya have it. 
Frank was great as usual.  There were quite a few new people (three teenage girls) and I brought a co-worker.  The new girls were all lined up in the back row behind me.  After the first breathing exercise was over one of the girls, a very slender blonde gal sat down abruptly then suddenly was flat on her back, her head hitting the floor and not gently!  I was standing there in shock, holy shit she just passed out!  I tried to sneak a look at the newbie I brought to see if he was freaked out, but he looked unphased.  I've been going for 2 years and have never seen that happen!  Frank rushed over to make sure she was ok (she came to right away) and he handed the headset to Roberta, who was practicing in the front row with me and took the girl out on the lobby.  He was only gone for first set of half moon, came right back in.  The other two girls, to their credit, did not freak out about their friend, they stayed in and continued on.  The one that passed out came back in about 15 minutes later and proceeded to finish the entire class!  I was totally impressed.  The guy I brought did pretty good.  He did leave the room for a bit and come back.  I asked him in the lobby afterwards what he thought and he said while he was in the lobby taking a break he signed up for a week!  I had a very very strong class with Frank and felt good going into the second class.  I changed my towel out, changed into dry clothes and had a zico and emergen-C to get ready for round two.
Round two: It's a knockout.  Michelle is down for the count.  I'm not even going to get into detail about the trainwreck that ensued between 130 and 3.  Suffice it to say I sat out all of triangle, all of camel and was laying in savasana ALOT the last 15 minutes of class because I couldn't really even move at that point.  After class my ears were plugged and my chest was tight.  This always happens to me second class on a back to back double.  I do not know why.  It takes me a couple of hours to recover from it and get back to normal.  I have not heard anybody else having that problem but me.  Hmmmm.  Weird.  Well, it was miserable but it's over and I'm all caught up!  Yippee!  Now come hell or high water I'm getting to class everyday because I do NOT want to do another double.  It is TORTURE!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day 82: The Five P's

Today was 5:30 with Yuko.  One of the regulars, Karen, asked me to "facebook her" today to prod her into coming today.  So I did, and she was there, even skipped happy hour to do it.  She was sitting across from me and she said "guess I'm back in the saddle".  She had missed a week or so and wanted to get back on track.  Like usual for a Friday the class was not very crowded.  I parked myself in the front row to the right of the door and kneeled down expectantly, wondering what this class would bring.  I have not had Yuko for so many months, that I can't remember even how long it's been.  Last time I had her she was fairly new from training, struggling to find her timing and style.  Today I could feel her confidence and her timing was spot on.  She is a very petite little Japanese gal who practices ALOT (read: twice a day most days) and is just sweet as pie.  I enjoyed her class immensley and had a nice strong practice.  
During the 2 min savasana between standing and floor series she went to open the far door and while she was doing that, a guy picked up his mat and left via the door by me.  I didn't realize it but she had actually went out that door and circled around and suddenly the door by me opens and in comes the guy with Yuko trailing behind.  She said "I caught you!" and helped him put his mat back down.  She was very cute about it and he did not appear mad or anything.  It was funny, alot of the class did a very low key chuckle as he sheepishly set back up.  She was very gracious, thanking him for trusting her and went back up onto the podium.  She said to us "only leave if you have one of the five P's:  Pee, Poop, Puke, Pass out or Period.  And it's temporary even then, you come back in".  I have never heard that.  Thought it was amusing.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day 81: Cruisin' along with Connie

Today was 530 with Connie.  Reggi was not there but alot of the other regulars were....Karen, Christian, Lonnie and Jo (married couple) and some others.  We sat on the benches, lined up in yoga clothes shooting the breeze before class.  I went into class feeling pretty content and relaxed and that carried through my practice.  I was pretty strong again today and did what felt like the best triangles ever, both sides, both sets.  My hips are really opening up, allowing me to get that L shape on the bent leg, finger in between the toes and really stretching that other arm up and getting the little spine twist in at the end.  No wavering or wobbling today, my foundation was solid.  Other things of note:  final spine twist on the second side I am suddenly able to grab my inner thigh on the bottom leg with the tips of my fingers.  I remember when it was a struggle just to wrap that arm around my back.  I never thought I'd be able to be sitting there, spine straight, twisting around comfortably and reaching that thigh finally.  Also in locust posture (for non yogis: you are laying on your tummy, arms trapped under you like you are serving a volleyball and you lift your legs up)  I've really been working on my arms being a base, spreading my fingers out, getting my elbows to touch, getting the weight forward into the shoulders, and for the first time I actually felt my triceps engage as well, and suddenly it really was my arms doing all of the work, elevating those legs even higher into the air, my hips starting to lift.  Wow!
I was telling a good friend tonight about my practice and how I felt and I said "I feel like I don't want to stop at 101, I feel like I just want to keep going".  It's almost like some energy is building up and this day 60 through 90 range is all about making progress and really building on the hard work you did the first 60 days.  It really is incredible.  It feels so good right now to be feeling strong and having some breakthroughs in postures that I don't want to lose the momentum.  Anyway, I'm not saying I'm committing to anything further than the 101, I'm just acknowledging and documenting this sort of crazy euphoria that seems to have been consistent since I came out on the other side and got beyond the knee pain and broke through the mental struggle that ensued shortly after day 60.  Incredible.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day 80: Message in a Bottle

Today was 530 with english-accent-I'm-going-to-kick-your-ass-and-roast-you-out-of-the-room Mark.  He was working the english accent but he didn't kick our asses or roast us out of the room.  Last time I took his class, he tried to kill us.  Perhaps he felt guilty.  Or maybe he was just in a mellow mood.  Regardless, it was a nice, perfect temp, low, slow, flow kind of class.  Ahhhhh.
Pre-class activity included me, Reggi, Christian, Christians visiting brother from Salt Lake City and Darla cutting up in the lobby.  Darla was re-enacting our headset snafu from yesterday for Christian.  Then another instructor, Roy came over and somehow the conversation turned into "wardrobe malfunction" stories.  Roy told Reggi and I a story of wearing some cheapy target type shorts and having a major wardrobe malfunction in separate leg stretching.   A little rip in the crotch and some parts playing peek-a-boo.  He didn't think anybody saw, but sharing the story later with fellow yogi's they said "oh yeah, I heard about that".  He was mortified!  Him retelling the story to Reggi and I was hilarious.  
I had a solid class.  Not rockstar, not bad...just solid.  Reggi, Christian, Darla and I all practiced together in the front row and there was a very nice energy, focus, determination.  I felt great when it was over.
I got home today and checked the mail.  A tiny box was in there.  I opened it and inside was a small glass bottle with a cork.  Inside the bottle was some sand and seashells and a rolled up message, tied to the cork.  I pulled the cork, the message coming out with it.  I unrolled the pretty paper and proceeded to read my very good friends very beautiful wedding invitation.  Like me, she is late 30's still single.   She is getting married in May and I have been planning to go to her wedding in So. California since last fall.  Seeing the invitation, so pretty, so cute, rolled up in that delicate glass bottle brought tears to my eyes.   My best friend from high school, who I roomed with in college, is getting married.  I already knew this, but holding that delicate paper in my hand, reading the details in a fancy font, which spells out the date in words all formal just touched me beyond anything I can describe.  I am so happy for her.  I realized, holding that paper in my hands, that I need to be as helpful as I can when I am out there, and do everything in my power to help make her day special.  She's not doing a bunch of brides maids or maid of honor, but she did ask me to help her with details that day.  Is the photographer here? The minister?  Etc etc.  I said "Yes, of course!".   When I talk to her, I can feel her calmness, her peace, her sureness.  She knows.  And it came to her when she had given up, when she was least expecting it.  I think it's beautiful and I'm honored to be a part of it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Day 79: Drew, and he did not drop trou

Today was 530 with guest teacher from Ventura, Drew.  No ladies, he did not have any dye leaking wardrobe malfunctions and thus did not drop trou (if you are confused, read yesterday's post!).  He is an awesome teacher and sounds like a cross between an auctioneer and a monk.  I know that sounds strange, but it works for him!  He adds little "drew'isms" to the dialog and they are always something to make you think.  Today a couple of them really hit home with me.  The first was when he said "you come here to practice what you already reclaim your birthright".  This really resonates with me, down to a soul level.  The first time I ever came to Bikram I was miserable and hated it, even had a bad teacher.  I am not the type of person that would have gone back.  But I did, for reasons I cannot understand.  So that really makes sense to me, because I do believe that on some level, deep down where I am not even aware a piece of me knew I had come home, even if my mind and body had no idea that day.  The second one that really got to me was during the floor series, camel.  After first set, we are laying in savasana and he's talking about the benefits of camel, of opening up that heart chakra and letting your emotions out.  He said "when somebody hurts you, you want to crawl in bed, in fetal position.  Don't do that, do camel instead.  Better yet, come do bikram yoga, twice a day three days in a row.  You won't remember his or her name after that.  Then just move on and don't make the same mistake again.  Don't gravitate toward the same sun.  It will burn you again. "  That one punched me in the gut....because I do that.  
The other awesome thing about today's class was the addition of Shelley and Michelle A, both practicing in the front row with Reggi and I.  Michelle goes to the green valley studio and Shelley (see post about 50th bday party, that's Shelley) doesn't always make it to 530 so it's a treat to see her.  After class, Reggi, Michelle, Shelley and I were shooting the breeze in the lobby.  Our energy was high, excitement and energy flowing through our bodies, chattering happily.  Darla (an instructor) had just taken class with us and was about to teach.  She wandered over, fresh yoga clothes on and the headset in her hand, ready to teach 730.  She joined in a conversation that was a bit rowdy.  Reggi loves to say "pass me a cigarette" after a class where a cute male teaches (think: old movies, they smoke after sex).  So she's cutting up, about pass me two cigarettes after Drew's class and commenting on yesterdays class, all of us at some point joining in on the banter, talking, laughing, having a great time.  A man comes out of the yoga room, black shorts, salt and pepper hair and goes straight to Darla, leans into her and whispers:  "your headset is on, we can hear your whole conversation".  All of us stood there, faces frozen, like "what?".  After a moment Michelle A covers her mouth, starts laughing and blushing and Darla just stands there "I don't think we said anything bad!" and all of us just start laughing.  I look at Reggi and say "it's time for me to go home!" and head into the locker room, chuckling at the absolute absurdity that sometimes is our little studio.  Reggi and I think it would all be fodder for a great reality TV show.  I agree, but for sure would not want to be in it!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 78: an R and M sandwhich....

Today was 530 with Frank.  The hilarity of the regulars prevailed in the lobby and it helped take the sting off my difficult day.  Difficult because my poor daughter has mono of all things!
So Reggi and I were hanging out with two other regulars, Christian and Eddie.   We put our mats down, left of the podium, like this:  Eddie, Reggi, Christian, Me.  We went back out to the lobby and Christian says, "Cool that you two are near's and R and M sandwhich!".  Reggi and I just can you not giggle around Christian, he is about 33, six foot 2 and built like a Calvin Klein underwear model.  So we are all talking and laughing and having a good time and here comes Toni Jo....she was getting out of the class before us (330 pm).  She comes out all jacked up and sweaty and talks about the guest teacher they had.  His name is Drew and he just opened a brand new studio in Ventura Ca (my hometown!!) and had taught at my studio in the past as a guest teacher (I've had him twice) and she is cracking up!  We are like, "what is so funny?"  So she proceeds to tell us how that was the funniest class she has ever had because he bought some shorts from our studio, and as he sweat, the dye was running down his legs.  Ok, if you know Drew Rouse, you know he is an awesome teacher, has studied under Bikram himself and is just  Ok, so the shorts are leaking on him, he is teaching and apparently he said "What is this crap?  The dye is toxic!" And he wrapped a towel around himself, dropped trou and taught the rest of the class with nothing but the towel.  Toni Jo was about rolling on the floor laughing, telling us the story.  And I'm sorry, but she's right.  That is pretty frickin funny...a yoga teacher dropping trou.  Not to mention, like Christian, he is very easy on the eyes.  Hilarious!  So, in light of all of that....I'll just say, I had another very very strong class today, kicking out both sides, both sets of standing head to knee, having a strong standing bow and nailing triangle like crazy both sides.  Ah, love feeling strong!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day 77: Happy Easter

Happy Easter everybody!  This morning I went to 930 am with Connie.  I was not fully awake yet, nor did I have time to properly hydrate.  As such, I was not expecting a repeat performance of yesterday, nor did I get one.   Just the opposite in fact.  I felt stiff, sore and sluggish.  I literally slogged my way through the 90 minutes, grateful when it was over.  Oh well, you take the good with the bad in yoga and in life, don't ya?
I hope you all have a wonderful easter sunday filled with peace and love.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 76: Best Class of My Entire Bikram Life

I cannot explain the euphoria I am feeling at this moment.  I'm not even going to try and write it out, instead, I'll just catalog what happened today.  I went to 1130 with young Mark.  I parked myself front row, snuggled to the left of the podium with instructor Patty and regular Christian to the left of me.  Class started and I could feel the quiet focused energy flowing up and down that row.  Breathing started and I could feel it, feel that I was strong today.  My mind started to wander in glee, chattering in happy surprise and that quiet watchful piece of me kept pulling it back in, into the breath.  I focused and breathed.  Flowing in and out of postures with strength, ease and grace.  Strong awkward series, finally getting up on my toes and getting my body back during that second part and holding it, thighs strong and steady.  No falling out of eagle and almost wrapping on the right side.  Standing head to knee, this is where I really saw that today was different.  I kicked out, both sides, both sets, holding it the whole time with the exception of once (fell out with about 5 seconds left).  Usually when I kick out I cannot stay there for very long.  Today I really sucked my stomach in and focused on breathing, not worrying about the elbows coming down yet.  I just breathed, sucked the tummy in, kept both knees locked and really worked getting that heel toward the mirror, and getting the stretch in the Achilles tendon  It was the absolute best I have ever done!  Standing bow, again, I had strong postures, both sides, both sets, holding the right side for the full minute!  Balancing stick, was strong and by the time I got to triangle I made progress there as well.  I've been getting my finger between the big and second toe left side only (started a few weeks ago) but today, I nailed that on both sides both sets!  My hips are finally opening up!  Floor series was solid, with some very strong spine postures and by the time I got to that last stretching posture where you try to get your forehead to your toes I made a leap the second set.  I got my tummy down onto my thighs finally and my elbows went on either side of my calves for the first time ever!  I came out of the posture realizing I just had the best practice of my life and my heart started to pound with wild elation.  It was an unbelievable feeling!  To really nail a strong posture here and there is common, but to have an entire series of doing the best ever on almost every posture, to feel so focused, so calm, so flexible was amazing.  This is why you go past 60 days.  This is what Mary Jarvis was talking about!  Holy shit!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Day 75: A fabulous guest teacher

Today was 530 with a guest teacher.  Ren Soriano.  He is a senior teacher at Bikram headquarters in Los Angeles.  He is also a judge for the yoga competition every year.  I have never met him so it was a treat to take his class.  He is a small guy, very cheerful, and well....flamboyant!  He has a great energy and was very engaged with us all througout the class.  The room was smokin' hot and the toughness of the class kicked in right away, during pranayama breathing.  Ren does so much talking and coaching interspersed with his dialog that it feels like you are inhaling and exhaling FOREVER.  And you are, at least alot longer than 6 counts.  My lungs were burning and it was all I could do not to choke down some air in advance of him saying "inhale!".  Lets put it this way, he was so busy talking, joking and correcting that we finished eagle 30 mins into class!  He was very funny and had a few students that he pinpointed, 3 males, and pretty much was on them the whole class.  He was telling Hector "you are so flexible, that's good for a man!"  "But you need to work on your strength!" Then he asked David "how long have you practiced?" (5 months was the answer) and proceeded to correct and push poor David on every other posture it seemed like.  Then there was Sadartha.  Oh did he ever pick on Sadartha.  Really, I felt bad for the guy because Ren was pushing, prodding, correcting, encouraging.  None of these things are bad by any stretch of the imagination, it's just that it was sooooo hot and when you get that special instructor attention you do what they tell you and you exert so much more than if left to your own devices.  So I just kept thinking to myself "Oh Sadartha, you poor thing, you must be frickin' exhausted!!".  He even kept the guy in fixed firm, made us all come up and applaud Sadartha for getting all the way into the posture.  It was all very cute, amusing and fun.  I'm just really glad he did not single me out!  :)
It really was a neat class.  I love having new teachers because you do not know their rhythm and you cannot "check out" nor can you go on "auto pilot".  So it was really good for me, tough, but good.  I was hot, sweaty, exhausted, red faced, panting and relieved when it was over but I felt like a million bucks!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Day 74: This is how it's supposed to feel

Today was the last day of my conference.  It's back to work tomorrow.  I got out early and was able to zip down to the 330 with Patty.  The room was perfect temp, my body felt strong and flexible and the knee was fine.  A little stiff and sore, but one hundred percent better than the class that caused me to take a day off.  Today I was able to get into some amazing backbends.  I was looking at the floor on the very first backbend of the day and the second one my arms were locked out solid finally going back towards my ears.  I've been really working the arms on that posture lately.  I kept my butt squeezed, knees locked and wished I could see what I looked like because it sure felt like a deep backbend!
I've really been feeling alot of mental strain since day 60 and today it lifted.  Today my excitement for this yoga and this challenge came back.  Today I loved being in that room and today I did not have to fight with myself at all.  During final savasana, I lay there with that old familiar feeling, the "aaaaahhhhh....I feel like a washcloth that just got wringed out" feeling and I felt so relaxed.  This is how the yoga is supposed to feel.  I'm glad it's back.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day 73: A day off, it does the body good

My decision to take yesterday off was smart.  Today was 430 with Darla.  I discussed my knee issue with her before class, just in case.  I really didn't know what was going to happen.  I even went to second row, in case I needed to take care of myself and take a knee.  I took it easy, being mindful, breathing, trying to just flow and not push.  I felt fine.  The knee is still sore and I had to work around it a little, but doing yoga today helped it not hurt it.  Having yesterday off made all the difference.  I went from tears two days ago, face contorted in agony, to just having to baby it a little bit today.  Phew.  Let's hope, going forward, that it will just keep getting stronger and better and not backslide.  I will continue to be mindful and listen to my body.  God it felt good to be back in that room today.  I missed it.
I also just want to take a moment to say thank you for all of the encouraging comments, especially the three on yesterday's post.  The Bikram yoga community rocks!  

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Day 72: One behind...either a much needed break, or a disappointment

I skipped yoga today.  I finally gave into the "thousand excuses why Michelle needs a break".
My knee was sore.  It hurt to get in my car after the conference.  I was afraid of what would happen in that room.  I remembered the tears from yesterday.  I justified my actions by thinking that the 24 hours might really help me.  That tomorrow I might really appreciate that day off and my knee might feel strong and on the road to recovery.  I hope so.  Because tonight I just feel guilty, and like I let myself down.  So I either let myself down, or I was smart and took care of myself.  If I go forward and complete every other day on this challenge, plus do a double to make up for today then yes, I did myself a favor.  If i start to have a hard time from here on out mentally, than not so much.  I kind of think the first thing...that I will continue on every day and make up my double.   Because I'm looking forward to yoga tomorrow, not dreading it, so that's a good sign.  Wow, this 100 day challenge is tough!  Tougher than I imagined!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Day 71: Faith in my own edict

Well, today was 330 with Connie.  I was done with my pre-conference workshop and was able to get to yoga early.  Today was a test of my faith in my own edict.  I can hear myself now "this yoga fixes everything....if you let it".  "Your (insert body part here) hurts, well just keep going, work through the pain, the yoga will take care of it". 
I have seen the look of disbelief on the face of whoever I'm running my mouth at.  Ya, I get it.  Today I was looking at myself in the mirror, faced contorted in agony due to extreme pain in my left knee thinking "holy shit, are you kidding me Michelle?".  I could not lock that knee for periods longer than 20 seconds which of course affected the standing one legged balancing series.  It also brought tears to my eyes just to bend it and get it in my hand for standing bow.  By the time I got to floor bow, I was crying a little bit.  Breath coming out in jagged gasps, tears stinging my eyes.  It was bad.  Probably the worst pain in a yoga class ever.  I just kept thinking back to my challenge last year where I worked through pain in my right knee.  That pain is now a faded memory, but I'm quite sure it hurt at least almost as bad and I remember pushing through, continuing my challenge and breaking out to the other side, healed and stronger.
So tomorrow I'll go back.  Because how can I walk around saying those things if I won't believe them and listen to them myself?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Day 70: That Awkward First Kiss

Have you ever had a first kiss that is magical?  Full of promise, tenderness, passion, yearning...all that you would envision a first kiss with your soulmate would be?  I have.  Its wonderful.  Wonderful and might I say, very very rare.  Have you ever had a first kiss that was awkward?  Uncomfortable, strange, cold, weird.  Those, sadly, are much more common.  Tonight was 530 with Patty, an exercise in the ultimate awkward first kiss.  I love Patty and usually have great practices with her.  But tonight, I felt so off, so strange.  Who's body is this?  Why is it cramping so much?  It's out of alignment.  It's a bit clumsy.  It's not strong, but not weak, just sort of there.  It's certainly not hydrated enough and it's a little bit tired.  Foot cramps in the standing series, unable to "get it" about standing bow...falling out, falling out, all crooked limbs and strange alignment.  Spine series: nailed a fabulous cobra, best ever, then felt strange in locust posture.  My arms were under my body, pinned, awkward, numb and my legs would not rise off the ground gracefully like I blogged about a month ago.  Instead I struggled, sweaty limbs, awkward breath and lay there with a numb right arm when it was over.  The magic of fluid, graceful, strong, beautiful limbs that I have been blessed to experience during this challenge was ever elusive, avoiding me at every turn.  But it was ok, because for all of the awkward first kisses we experience, how magical, wonderful, beautiful is it when we find love, chemistry, passion.  And I've found those, in various practices, and I know, there is more....waiting for me....around the corner....

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Day 69: Rushing Around

Today I had to go to a "Pre-Conference" workshop for work.  I am being sent to a conference this week and Sat-Mon is a certification workshop first.  So we are there from 8 to 4:30ish trying to learn all of the materials in a huge book so we can hopefully pass the proxied cert exam on Monday afternoon.  So basically, aside from my 1/2 day vacation yesterday, I'm working straight through a 12 day stretch, all the while trying to keep up with my yoga challenge.  Which means I'll miss the events they are having at night.  I really don't care about those, everybody drinks and picks up useless vendor swag, so I really don't feel like I'm missing out.
So I feel a bit like I'm rushing around, because the teacher did tell us we need to study for at least 2 hours a night.  So here I am, typing a quick blog, only to go study for 2 hours at 8pm on a Saturday night.  Sheesh.  Anyway, I went to 5:30 yoga with Roberta after my workshop and had a very mediocre and cold class.  Nothing exciting (other than annoying foot cramps again) to report and now I must go study!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Day 68: It's all about form

Today was 1pm with Oksana, in the small room.  I love the small room and hardly ever get to practice in there!  I took a half day vacation today because I have to work Saturday and Sunday this week on top of my normal Mon-Fri gig.  I am going to a conference for work Tues-Thurs and Sat-Mon is a pre-conference class.   Ugh.  I'll be up and at em early in the morning and going to yoga after class/conf just like work.  It's going to be grueling.  I took the half day today to get a pedicure and maintain my sanity.  Oksana's class was fantastic.  I was totally focused and really listened to her.  I was working hard on form because Oksana always inserts gems into the standard dialog.  I rocked out second set of standing bow pulling pose, second side and got a "beautiful Michelle, good work" from Oksana.  I stayed in the whole time, had my shoulder to my chin, was kicking up, foot behind my head, perfect alignment, kicking and stretching equal 50/50 just like the dialog says.  I even got my weight balanced on the standing leg between the toe and heel equal.  It felt like a glorious, wonderful, strong bow!  Then in spine strengthening series I rocked out full locust.  My back is getting so strong!  I was really up there lifting and lifting and went further than I ever had before, and thought to myself, ok, you are here, now don't forget to breathe!  It was awesome.  What a great class!  My declining mental state is gone and I am totally excited about hitting day 70 and then I only have 30 more to go to hit 100.  And how easy is a 30 day challenge?  No worries, I can do it!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Day 67: After turbulence comes peace

I am sitting here listening to music, candles lit. my cat sleeping on top of the sofa in my room.  I just got off the phone with my awesome yogini buddy Reggi.  I've cleaned up the kitchen, opened all of my mail, showered, changed into jammies.....nested.  What does this have to do with yoga?  Nothing.  Nothing and everything all at the same time.  Tonight was 530 with Patti.  Lets face it, I had two very rough practices in a row.  Roberta on Tues night, then Mark trying to kill me last night.  I dragged myself into the studio tonight, a thousand excuses as to "why Michelle needs a break" running through my head like a tired old soundtrack.  I don't know how I made it up those stairs.  I don't know how I was able to scan my card and sign in for that class.   I really had no desire to go to yoga.  I was dreading that place, that room, questioning my sanity.  Reggi was not at yoga tonight so instead I talked to two "newbies" before class.  The girl, Candace, young, pretty, a dancer was on her fourth class and was feeling the first blush of love for Bikram.  I know that feeling.  My collapsing mental state was drawn to her excitement like a moth to a flame.  Her friend, a young male was there for his first time.  He said "I agreed while drinking last night! ".  They were so cute, so young, so nice.  In the room, they were behind me.  "Set a good example Michelle" is what entered my mind as pranayama breathing began.  So I just focused, relaxed, and let Patty's soothing voice take me where I needed to go.  Ahhh, I've found a new favorite!  Patty has great timing, keeps the room perfect (it was not too hot, nor did she open doors too much and let it get too cool) and has a wonderfully soothing voice.  Suddenly, she floated to the top of my "teachers I love list".  I had a strong, solid, respectable practice and drove home on cloud nine, full of peace and love.  Once I got home that feeling of peace never left.  I was listening to my ipod and cleaning the stove and feeling very grateful that I had a stove to clean.  I know, that probably sounds sort of.....well, trippy, but there you have it....I'm at peace tonight.  And it feels very good.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Day 66: An anniversary, some filming and major yoga carnage

Today is April 1st 2009.  Two years ago today, I walked into a Bikram studio (not the one I ended up at, I did a week there, then a week at my studio and have been loyal to my studio ever since) clad in sweats, a tank top and tipping the scales at 198 pounds.  I remember the teacher.  Her name was Patrice.  She really liked herself and had NO patience for anybody.  The room was hot.  I was confused.  I was inflexible, tired, fat and well, again, confused.  I had been doing vinyasa yoga for two months at another studio, but wasn't really getting anything out of it.  But Bikram, wow, it spoke to me.  Patrice was terrible.  She scolded me when i couldn't figure out the arms for eagle.  Tree pose, forget it, I was falling all over the place.  Again, she called me out and scolded me.  "Don't use the ballet bar!"  You would think that I would never have come back.  But I did.  I went to her studio three more times, then found my studio.  Did a one week pass at my studio and signed up for a year.  I was thinking "what are you doing michelle, you never work out, you lose interest and this money will be wasted".  But I didn't.  Lose interest.  Instead I became this Bikram fanatic.  So today, on my two year Bikram anniversary I went to 530 class with "english accent I'm going to kick your ass and smoke you out of the room" Mark.  He informed me when I got there that I should go to the "right" side of the room because channel 15 would be filming.  So when Reggi got there, I informed her of the status, that we had to go front row right.  She said ok.  We tried our best to do good, because of the guy filming for the spanish news channel.  But it was HOT.  People were dropping to their knees left and right.  By triangle, I counted SIX downed yogis.  All panting, all a mess.  Me, I tried.  I tried my hardest.  I made it through the standing series, red faced, panting, breathing through my mouth.  Then fell apart during the floor series.  I found out later that Mark was trying to kill us.  The humidity was up to fifty eight percent.  By the time I got to final savasana I was dying.  I lay in fetal position when Mark left the room.  Then I crawled out and sat on a bench and had the front desk person bring me over a zico, because I couldn't walk.  I finally stood up ten minutes later and was going to the locker room.  Mark said "why are you walking like a thunderbird Michelle?"  I just glared at him.  Then, as I'm limping into the locker room I see Reggi also in bad shape in the lobby and I just started laughing.  So here I am, laughing uncontrollably, limping, red faced, sweaty.....happy!