Friday, July 31, 2009

Our Front Desk Staffs Got Talent

There was a mix up tonight and the teacher was going to be 20 mins late. Young Patrick was working the front desk. He asked the students if they wanted to wait the 20 mins or have somebody start the class by reading dialog until the teacher could jump in. Everybody wanted to start on time. It was a small class. A few of us were sitting on the benches, wondering how this was going to work. Patrick comes over with a binder. "This is the dialog. Who wants to read?". Me and one other volunteered. Patrick thought about it a minute and said "what the heck, I'll do it.". So we go in and kneel on our mats in the dark room, waiting. Patrick walks in and flips the lights on. He's wearing nothing but long khaki shorts, a strange hat and a big shit eatin' grin. Gentle chuckles of appreciation abounded as we stood up to get ready for class. Patrick opened the book and started reading. "Good morning". More chuckles. It's 530 in the afternoon, right? With the big grin still pasted on his face he turns to the one new person and gives her instructions to watch others and stay in the room. Then he launches into the breathing dialog. And you know what? That kid nailed it. 6 count breathing executed perfectly. Once both sets of breathing was done, he drops the binder on the floor, says "where the heck is monica?" and launches into half moon WITHOUT THE DIALOG. And you know what. He freakin' nailed it. He still had the grin pasted on his face and he was talking us through it, freakishly close to normal dialog with no help! The teacher showed up after second set of half moon and gracefully took over. Patrick said "you want the hat?". We all laughed and I said "Patrick, you've found your calling, you need to go to training!!" Applause and smiles erupted after my comment and Patrick left us in Monica's gentle hands, shit eatin' grin in tact all the way out the door.....

Thursday, July 30, 2009

First class back post surgery

Toad the Wet Sprocket sings a song called "I will not take these things for granted".  (I know, my younger readers may be going, Toad the Wet What? Bear with me please).  It's a beautiful song, both the melody and the lyrics.  The chorus, when he's saying over and over again "I will not take these things for granted" has such a raw angst about it.  I love it.  Tonight, going back to yoga, the chorus to that song rattled through my mind as I sweated it out in that hot room.  Often I blog about gratitude, so I don't feel like I'm necessarily "ungrateful", however tonight I felt a powerful powerful wave of gratitude for my health washing over me as I faced the limitations of my post surgery body in that hot room.  Tonight was an exercise in gratitude, and maybe also in being humble a bit as I backed off when I needed to back off.
Before I get into the yoga practice I just wanted to make note of something.  People always ask me "how can you fit that in everyday.  I mean its 90 min, that's too much. Normal people don't have time for that plus work!"  I absolutely hated not going to yoga after work.  Coming home at 5pm with an endless evening in empty house (when my daughter is not here)  stretching before me did not make me into a more productive human being.  It was boring, and awful and I hated it.  I LOVE my yoga routine.  Work all day, yoga at 5:30.  Home by 7:20ish.  Eat dinner.  Make lunch for the next day.  Maybe wash some yoga towels/outfits.  Lay out my work clothes.  Pack my yoga bag for the next night.  Then finally relax and maybe write a blog entry or listen to music or read a book or watch a movie.  Then it's suddenly time for bed.  That routine day after day, night after night is as soothing as a lullaby to me.  I'm grateful to have it back.  So very grateful.
Ok, now for class tonight.  I had great support.  On my facebook I said I was going back to yoga and was excited.  (Hoping to get some of my friends to join of course!).  It worked.  Shelley made it a point to come to the same class tonight in support of me.  She even teased and said on facebook "Roberta's teaching, Uh Oh!".  I said back "oh crap, I think I just peed in my pants a little."  Roberta is the toughest teacher at our studio.  She is the sweet-as-pie-brazilian-bombshell-I'm-going-to-kick-your-cute-little-bootie teacher.  We fear her a bit.  We love her more.  She encourages, corrects, pushes.  Let's face it, sometimes we get complacent and don't push ourselves.  When I walked into the studio tonight I inhaled the sweet scent of home.  I felt so good.  Ah, I am happy.  Really really happy, was the thought that popped into my mind the minute I walked in the door.  Sitting on the benches before class chatting with Reggi, Mark, Duane, and Shelley was the best.  All was right in the world again.  I was a bit fearful and of course warned Roberta beforehand that it was my first class back after surgery.  She was awesome.  During the first foreward fold she said "Michelle has been out for awhile.  I want you all to work hard for her because she can't right now".  She called out Reggi, Shelley and Mark, all lined up in a protective energy field in front of me and encouraged  them to work harder for me.  It was so cute!  
Physically it was a very very tough class for me.  The standing series was brutal.  My heart was beating like a jackhammer from awkward all the way to tree pose.  I could not catch my breath.  Pranayama breathing made me dizzy.  Oddly enough standing bow was pretty solid.  I couldn't hold it the whole time but I kept getting back in and found the same depth I had two weeks ago.  The floor series proved to be the issue.  Some of the postures on the floor I had to sit out completely.  Camel, locust and floor bow were the culprits.  Odd pulling sensation on my stitched up belly button, so I backed off.  After class, Roberta gave me some good advice for camel next time.  She told me to keep my hands on my hips, put my head back and just focus on opening up my chest.  She said not to push my hips forward yet so as not to strain that area.  So I'll try that tomorrow instead of sitting it out.  The other odd thing I noticed is the first three postures I was sweating MORE buckets than normal right away.  I mean I was soaked through quickly.  Almost like my body was in major major detox mode.  Then it leveled off to what is normal for me.  I know that I still have anaesthesia in my body that needs to come out so that didn't surprise me.  
Outcome: success.
Tomorrow:  I'll go back.
My studio is doing a challenge starting August 1st.  I have a business trip on Monday/Tuesday of next week and will miss those two days.  The owner said I can jump into the challenge after that if I want.  So depending on how I continue to hold up post surgery I may jump in later and just knock out a 30 day challenge.  My strength and flexibility seem to be intact, it's just my endurance that has gone to shit.  So maybe jumping in later and completing a 30 will help get my endurance back to where it was.  Baby steps.  

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bonus Post: Remember when she called Jenny....

Well with all of the flurry of MISSING Bikram yoga for what feels like FOREVER due to my appendix surgery, you might be wondering "Hmm.  She had just started back on Jenny Craig, what happened there?"
Here is what happened.  Two days post surgery I went for my week 2 weigh in.  My daughter came with me so she could carry out my food (she's such a good girl!) and I had lost 4 pounds.  Today was the week 3 weigh in.  Even with 11 days of no yoga, alot of laying around watching TV and reading while I was out of work recovering, and some guilty days of soup and saltines (comfort food) for dinner, I lost another pound.
Week 3:  Down 5 total so far.  WOOO HOOOO!!!
Like I said, never give up on yourself.  Even if life throws you a very sizeable monkey wrench.  I'm keepin' my eye focused on the prize:  good health.  Sure I'll also look great in jeans, but really, after seeing pictures of my internal organs in the surgeon's office and after feeling so damn vulnerable on that ER gurney I really want to end my 30's with the smiling confidence of a woman who takes care of herself so that she may better take care of the ones around her that she loves.  In the end, that's all that really matters.  

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 10 without you......

Well folks, it is now offically the longest I have gone without doing Bikram yoga since I started a little over two years ago.
Oh yoga how I miss you. My lonely mat sits in the trunk of the car. My usual spot next to Reggi filled in by somebody else. My mental state not quite as sharp, my emotions not so easily contained (um, just read previous post for embarrasing evidence of that...but I'll leave it there! For when I feel better, I can look back and say, hunh, I guess I was a little bummed that night. I really do need this yoga!), my body getting softer and weaker. How is it possible to start to break down in 10 days what it took over two years to build up?
On the bright side, I have complete faith that once I get back onto that mat in that hot room where I belong, I will once again, just like a new person experience the exponential benefits and improvements right away.
This I do know! Sometime next week I will go back. I'm waiting to get closer to the "two weeks since they stuck cameras and junk in me and grabbed my appendix and yanked it out through my unsuspecting belly button" mark and if my body tells me it's ok to go, I will go. With a HUGE disclaimer to the instructor of course! In case I have to take a knee for most of the brutal standing series. **Gulp. She swallows back a bit of fear**

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My heart on my sleeve...

Tonight I pace my house. I get to go back to work tomorrow. The surgeon also said I can do yoga when I feel like it but not to do anything crazy (**scratching head, what??). I'm not quite sure she knows what Bikram yoga entails. It's hard, it's intense. I sat there in her office, in a sundress, looking at the photos of my insides (gross!) and dropped the cap to my water bottle. She bent over and picked it up for me, telling me I shouldn't be bending over yet. That made me realize that she didn't know what she was saying, releasing me to Bikram. So I'll wait. A little longer. Maybe one more week.
So I pace. Today was hard. That leaf, the one that flutters aimlessly in and out of my life, I picked it back up today. It always used to make me feel good, feel beautiful. But not today. I held the phone to my ear, listening to his voice wash over me like candy and heard what he didn't say. "Do you need anything?" "Can I pick you up anything?". That's what they all have said, everybody that cares, everybody but him. I stared at the phone when we hung up, feeling hollow and empty and understanding that it was time to stop the madness. I emailed and said goodbye, but it wasn't necessary....goodbye was said long ago.
Feeling raw, vulnerable and exposed I pace and pace. Re-invent yourself. That's what my father said after my parents divorced. Chubby, intellectual, painfull shy, glasses, I stared at him, dumfounded. Thirty something at the time, and hearbroken to lose his preteen daughter his big brown eyes, a mirror of my own pleaded with me "re invent yourself". And I did. Reinvent myself. I went from chubby painfully shy child to outgoing vice president of my class cross country running team captain of the jv swim team michelle. I reinvented myself. So I pace tonight, and I hear his voice again, telling me to do it once again. My belly is swollen, the three small incisions angry due to my restless pacing. My body is soft, less defined, and my hair hangs loosely down my back in a long thin ponytail. And I pace, trying to ignore the heart that sits so very prominently on my sleeve. Damn, why me? Why am I so open, heartfelt, transparent? Why can't I be more....bitchy? So I pace, back and forth.....chewing at my fingernails, the weight of the world on my thoughts swinging back to yoga and how much I miss it. That is what is important to me....first and foremost after my role as mother. I am a yogini. No need to re-invent this time. That is who I have become.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Last week the universe reached down and hit the pause button on my life.  Tuesday night I had pain in my lower right abdomen.  When I woke up Wednesday, it was still present.  I dragged myself to work anyway and led a meeting with anxious faces staring at me as I held my side and suffered sharp intakes of air while talking.  I was pretty much told to leave (stubborn me, I was "toughing it out" hoping it would go away) and after a misdiagnosis at quick care and a trip to the ER where they took a CT scan, it was finally determined to be my appendix.  I sat there, in the ER naked as a jaybird, with a flimsy hospital gown, open all the way down the back on a cold hard gurney all night Weds night waiting for my 6am surgery.  To make matters worse, my blackberry blew up.  My address book was gone, it wouldn't receive email and some keys didn't work, meaning I could not answer text messages even.  Without my address book, I couldn't call everybody I wanted to call.  I sat there, all night, frightened about the surgery, listening to the sounds of people coming in and out of the ER to be treated.  The cute little voice of a toddler, who didn't want "tweezers! NO tweezers mom!".  She was being treated for some kind of bug bite.  Then an elderly couple came in, right next to me, on the other side of the curtain.  I couldn't see them.  Just feet as nurses and doctors came in and out.  He broke his hip.  Days ago.  His worried wife, in her adorable accent soothed and comforted him in between visits of staff.  Their love for each other hung in the air, tangible, I could feel it....years and years of marriage, it hung thick and poignant in the air, causing my eyes to water and my ears to burn.  I felt like an intruder, barging in on very intimate whisperings as he tried to reassure her, trying to be brave through his excruciating pain.  I stared woodenly at my broken blackberry, sitting upright on the gurney, clenching the back of my gown together modestly, even though nobody could see me behind the curtain.  
I felt like some giant had reached down and hit the pause button on my life.  My daughter did not even know what happened to me until the next day.  My mom was there, she was the one who dropped me off at the ER and she was with me for a few hours that evening.  But I was alone for 90 percent of the time, yet I didn't feel alone.  In the recovery room the nurse was great.  Checking on me, answering all of my questions, commenting on how well I was doing and how strong and healthy I am.  Then in the observation room I did what they told me.  Rest and walk, rest and walk.  Every half hour.  Just hours after surgery I walked down the hall, pulling my IV stand with one hand, holding the gown shut with the other, a determined look on my face.  Rest and walk, rest and walk.  Hmmm.  When did life get broken down to these things?  Rest and walk.  Wait for your bowels to wake up.  Can you eat yet?  Yes, time to leave the hospital...11 hours after surgery.   Carefully I pulled my burnt orange sweat pants back on, gasping in wonder at the laproscopic surgery that allows for my stomach muscles to function still.  Able to walk, sit up, lift my legs into my pants with ease.  Wow, this was not like my C-Section almost 15 years ago!  
So I'm home.  Phone is fixed, friends and family all contacted and still resting and walking, resting and walking.  I'm grateful that Bikram yoga gave me such a strong core.  The nurses all commented on how strong I was to be sitting up and moving around with such ease.  They were also shocked because I wasn't bugging them for any pain meds.  It was a dull ache, sure.  I could feel it, but I wanted to feel it.  Because it told me when to rest, and when I could walk.   Pain is not always a bad thing, it's our body, telling us when to go, when to stop, when something is wrong.
I don't know when I'll be able to go back to yoga.  I miss it.  I crave that hot room, my friends, my life.  I even want to go back to work.  I can't wait to go from "rest and walk" to stretch and kick and breathe and move.  I can't wait to get back in there, look into my own two eyes in the mirror and thank God for my health.  For my body that can normally do more than rest and walk.  I chuckle to myself now thinking about my 30 day challenge I was going to do.  I'll be grateful to make it through 30 minutes!  I'm nervous and anxious and scared about getting back in that room.  Will I be starting over?  My body, after just one week of missing yoga feels softer, looser, less defined.  Will I even be able to bend over?  Put my foot in my hand?  
None of that matters, I'll just be grateful to be back.  Meanwhile, I'm trying to soak in the quiet that this pause button has afforded me.  I was forced to be quiet and still in that ER all night, I was forced to listen and appreciate the sounds around me.  No distractions, just life, happening all around me.  I did not sleep at all that night, and it was OK.  It wasn't a bad night after all.  It was was life.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Day 167: Class 152~ NEVER give up.....on yourself

When people go through breakups, they lose weight.  They are upset, they can't eat.  They get skinny.  Probably natures way of ensuring they are good to go when back on the market.  I go against nature.  I'm one of those that gains weight after a breakup.  It creeps up on me, like a seductive slow swirling smoke, wrapping itself around me until suddenly I notice it and can't breathe.  Until suddenly I stare at my pudgy face in the mirror and button my too tight pants in bewilderment.  So I finally "came too" and "snapped out of it" and realized it's time to move on.  Move on from the breakup.  Move on from hurting over it, move on from my dashed hopes, my intense feelings that have nowhere to go, move on from beating myself up over imagined failings.  I did not fail anybody but myself.  So I pulled myself back up by my bootstraps this week.  I called Jenny again.  I went back.  I know it works, I lost 20 pounds for my reunion.  So I sighed with resignation and went back this morning.  My counselor is the sweetest thing on the planet trilling Hi in her singsong voice and saying "I'm sooo glad to see you!".  She means it too.  She's not a sales woman.  She's just a doll.  I went to the dreaded weigh in room.  I pleaded with my big brown eyes "Tracey, I don't want to see the number, I just want to get back on track".  "Step on backwards, I won't tell you what it is and I know you'll have a big drop this week.  Don't worry, it will be fine".  We went into the consultation room and I pulled out my pre printed list of foods.  "Oh, you went online and did a menu, good!" she says.  "I'm ready" is all I said.  She looked at me, big eyes of her own, "what do you need from me? Do you need me to be tough?".  "No, I don't.  I want to give myself the gift of hitting my goal weight and staying there.  I haven't been there since 1996.  There is nothing important enough to get in the way of giving myself this gift."
I walked to my car with a swing to my hips, a spring in my step.  My false starts, well, they are not false starts.  Instead they are just evidence that I refuse to give up on myself.  So I went to 330 yoga today with Connie.  I looked at my own two eyes in the mirror, took note of my soft middle and just smiled.   I will not judge.  I will just breathe.  And practice.  I will just do my yoga.  I had the BEST class I have had in months.  I breathed and stretched and focused on form and was strong and determined and non judgemental.  I did not notice the off the charts humidity.  I did not waver when others came crashing to their knees in surrender to it.  I did not get tired and I did not give up on myself.  I lay in final savasana feeling like a giant lake of potential.  I can do this..the thought flowed through my spent sweaty limbs.  And suddenly I knew I would.  I understood this was not another false start.   

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 163: Class 150 ~ Studio Challenge!!

Last night was 5:30 with Anastashia. The day before I went to 330 after sitting at the DMV all day. A visiting teacher from Australia was teaching (Judes) and she was amazing. It felt good to be back at my home studio, and also a little strange. I got used to my little Redondo beach studio! I went to that studio every single day while on vacation and got used to the heat, the carpet, the layout of the room, the teachers.
So back to last night. It was my first 530 class after vacation with all of my "regulars". It felt good to sit and shoot the breeze with Reggi, Christian and Karen. Reggi set up our mats to make a Christian sandwich in the front row, on the left, and Karen planted herself in the second row to make a "caboose". The atmosphere was fun, lighthearted and happy. Class was amazing. I felt very strong and aside from my foot cramping up once in fixed firm, I felt great. Anastashia taught a nice class. Perfect heat, perfect tempo...the 90 minutes flew by like a beautiful dream.
I mentioned doing another 30 day challenge in a previous post. Since then I realized the studio is closed on the 9th of course (as all of them are) and I have friends in town two weekends in a row, plus a business trip thrown in the mix. Add to this new information that my studio will start an official challenge sometime in August (Reggi informed me of this last night) and well, it just makes sense to go ahead and wait. So August it is. When I have the date I'll post it so anybody who wants to can join me.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day 158: Class 145~ Home away from home and Hanging Death

Ah.  Vacation.  I have done yoga everyday on my vacation.  Some would argue that continuing to work out while on vacation is not relaxing but I beg to differ.  I am staying at my friends apartment in Redondo Beach with my teenage daughter.  She sleeps in and I get up and do yoga in the morning, trotting back up the apartment stairs refreshed, energized with starbucks coffees in hand to coax her out of bed so we can start our adventures for the day.  A street festival, alot of walking around, a day at the mall (it's been a bit cloudy here, bummer!) and magic mountain yesterday (yes, my friend and I did 630 am yoga before coming back to cart an excited teenager to MM for her first time ever).  
This little studio I've been going to while away has really become a nice little home away from home.  The first day I felt "off".  Flooring is different, temp is different, I don't know these teachers, I don't have a "spot" in the room, etc etc.  Now I roll in, plop my mat down and practice with just as much ease and comfort as if I'm back home.  The teachers have been absolutely wonderful.  These am classes during the week are so sparse that we all get encouraging and correcting by name.  As I sign in, the teacher puts my face to my name, and I get called out during class, unable to remain anonymous.  I have been getting the same darn correction here in my standing bow that I get back home.  That darn hip on the kicking leg.  "Hip down Michelle!"  I'm totally aware of it as I go in the posture, and try to self correct but obviously am not "getting it".  I've been practicing almost two years.  Did it just start?  Or is it more obvious because I am now kicking up higher?  I want to scream with frustration and impatience, but I won't.  I will just keep working at it, keep trying the right way and ask some teachers back home to work with me a bit after class, perhaps talk me through it until I feel that correction.  Sometimes when I correct it, my calf muscle immediately gets tight and crampy and I really feel the kick in my behind.  Hmmm.  There is always somewhere to go with this yoga, that's why I love it!
I'm quite sure doing yoga everyday helped me to survive "Hanging death on a stick" yesterday.  That is my nickname for a very evil roller coaster (if you can call it that, roller coaster sounds too tame for this thing) at Magic Mountain.  First of all, Magic Mountain has a ton of roller coasters now, more than I ever imagined.  I grew up near that park back in the day where it was basically Revolution, Colossus and Free Fall.  There are a TON now.  And they are scary.  The one that put me over the edge, the "Hanging death on a stick" or "Torture" or "Orange Devil" (I could go on and on, this thing had me in a full fledged panic attack) is called Tatsu.  Click on the link for a YouTube video of it.  I swear, it's the scariest thing I've ever been on in my life.  I honestly could not breathe on that thing, the terror was absolute.  My daughter and friend loved it.  They went on it four times.  I sat on a bench, really glad I've been doing yoga all week.  Now hopefully off to the beach.  Please come out Mr. Sun!