Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 31: Irrational Fear

Today was 5:30 with Lacey.  Perfect temperature.  Lots of regulars.  My newbie on the one week pass came back for his fourth class (he's hooked, yes I feel like a crack dealer!!).  All in all the perfect environment.  Lacey led the class with great dialog, encouraging corrections and spot on timing.  Life should be good, right?
Fear has been nipping at my heels the past two weeks.  I haven't blogged about it, I thought perhaps if I ignored it that it would go away.  It lurks in the room, waiting for me, stale, black, sinewy.  I see it in the corner when I lay my mat down.  I feel it breathing in my ear as I kneel down, waiting for class to start.  I've even delayed going into the room until the last minute, hoping it is not waiting, but to no avail.  It's there, sitting on it's haunches at the back of my mat, red eyes mocking me as I stand up for pranayama breathing.  It knows it will hit paydirt soon.  It rubs it's hands together in glee as I set up for half moon, for it knows it doesn't have to wait much longer to torment not long at all.  I have been practicing for over 2 and 1/2 years.  I am not all that flexible, nor am I super strong, but one thing I have always been blessed with is a decent backward bending spine.  I have never worried about backbends before, they were something I could do "decently".  Suddenly I am afraid of them.  Suddenly my feet feel precarious in that first backbend.  Suddenly I have to "smooth out my breathing" as Adele likes to remind us.  Suddenly I see gray spots when I go back.  Suddenly I look at the ceiling and panic, not even looking at the back wall yet.  I used to look at the floor!!  So to stop at the ceiling and panic is insane!  Where did this come from?  Why do I feel it all along the length of my legs.  Why do my feet feel weird?  How come I feel like if I lock my arms and look back, fall back, way back that I will in fact topple over to my death?  What is wrong with me?  And the more I stress and panic about it, the worse I do.  So today I said hello to that red eyed creature waiting for me at the back of my mat.   I acknowledged he was there.  I felt the fear in the backbend and focused on my breath.   The fear did not go away, and I could not get back to seeing the floor but I decided doing yoga was worth it.  The fear was a small price to pay to do my yoga.  So I embraced him, danced with him, accepted him, shitty backbend and all.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 29 and 30: Rain

Saturday was 11:30 with Sumach and Sunday was 3:30 with Roberta. Both classes were very humid. Sumach's especially. I'm quite sure the humidity was up in the 60's. We all powered our way through, dripping like we were standing out in the pouring rain. There was quite a bit of yoga carnage in Sumach's class. Downed yogis, gasping for air, or just plain leaving the room. Roberta's class the next day was hard as well, but mainly due to some self inflected pain from a very full Saturday. I had a friend in town Saturday, the one from Redondo beach. She came to yoga with me Saturday morning and then we were off to a fantasy football draft pick party and another party after that. We had an absolute blast but paid for it Sunday morning! Hence my late afternoon class. Saturday was the first time I have had Sumach's class. I really like him. He stood up on the podium, raining right along with us, the water dripping off his dreadlocks onto his towel. His soothing voice falling on us like waves of water, bathing us in dialog, pulling us along in the heat and humidity, getting us through.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 28: Bikram Addicts Anonymous

Hi everyone! Happy Friday. I'm going to 5:30 yoga with Oksana today (and I think my newbie is going to join me again). I'll be going out with some friends afterwards and won't have time to post, so I pulled this draft of my archives and decided it would be fun to publish it today. Enjoy my tongue in cheek humor, I'm sure you can all relate! Be back tomorrow!

Facilitator: Welcome, my name is Nancy, I'm a Bikram-a-holic!

Everyone: Welcome Nancy!

Nancy: Today we are going to talk about being addicted to Bikram yoga. Michelle, would you like to start?

Michelle: Hi, I'm Michelle, I'm a Bikram-a-holic.

Everyone: Hi Michelle.

Michelle: Well, (looks down in shame), this is embarrassing but I'm on my 4th 60 day challenge in 2 and 1/2 years.

Everyone: (nods of encouragement)

Michelle: What's worse is I think I'll do more. Maybe 3 or 4 a year. And I want to try for 101 days again. I did 99 out of 101 days. (more hanging of head)

Nancy: It's Ok Michelle, we all suffer with this demon. You just need to take it one day at a time and remember it's hard to fight this

Michelle: I even go to the grocery store after yoga sometimes. With wet sweaty hair, in an after yoga sundress and flip flops, no makeup on!

Everyone: (gasps of horror!!)

Michelle: ....and I dream of going to Bikram teacher training someday, even of owning my own studio (looks up carefully)

Everyone: (more gasps of horror, and a couple of exclamations of expletives)

Nancy: You're going to be OK (look of pity...pats Michelle on the arm). Keep coming back Michelle....keep coming back....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 27: Fresh Blood

Today was 330 with Dominique. A friend of mine came in, a newbie, fresh blood! Actually he had been once before, back in February. So this was his second time ever and the first time was far enough back that he remembered it was hot, and difficult and the rest was a blur. He was sitting quietly on the bench when I walked in, awaiting his fate. I pointed him out to Dominique and she sat by him while I changed, telling him "the ropes". He did fantastic! He attempted every single posture to the best of his ability, leaving the room red faced and exhausted. He purchased a one week pass, so hopefully I'll see him back Friday night.
My practice was solid. Nothing special, nothing rockstar, just a nice solid practice. I feel pretty dang strong right now. I love that "halfway through a 60 day challenge I'm so strong I can't believe it" feeling. I still have some doubles hanging over my head to "catch up" with the rest of the studio. If I just do one double, than I can say I started Aug 5th and go straight through to 60, ending 5 days after everybody else. Or I can knock out 4 like I planned and keep the August 1st start date. To be honest, there are maybe 4 people, including me, on the board that look like they are shooting for 60. So I don't think it really matters which avenue I decide to take, as long as I make it to 60 classes in 60 days. I'm not bowling this fall, on purpose, because you know me, I'll contiunue on past 60. Knowing that was my desire, I opted out of the one night a week committment. I'd rather do yoga everyday. I obviously need my head checked!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 26: These new teachers are insanely good!

Today was 5:30 with Mel, a newly trained teacher from Spring class.  All I've got to say is damn.   This batch of newbies are blowing my socks off.  Energy, confidence, great dialog, smiles in their voices, wonderful control over temp in the room and timing is spot on.  
I think it speaks volumes as to the quality of our studios here.....both of them have commented that they had great support before and after at their home studio.
I had none of my "regulars" around me today, but familiar faces nonetheless.  There were no new students, just a bunch of yogis with solid practices.   We all rocked it out.  Chatter was happy in the locker room afterwards, we all felt fantastic.  I did wind up kicking out both sets, both sides of standing head to knee, which I rarely do because it exhausts me and ruins my standing bow.  But I've decided I need to deal with the exhaustion, build up my endurance and start making some progress.   You know, take advantage of the fact that I'm in the middle of a challenge, and challenges always come with breakthroughs of some sort.   Feel pretty darn good today!  The yoga is working on me.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 25: Guilty by association

Today was 5:30 with Roberta.  Reggi, Mark, Amanda and I chatted in the lobby, trying to mentally prepare ourselves for the ass kicking we knew we were about to receive.  Roberta is our adorable "brazilian bombshell I'm going to kick your ass and roast you out of the room with a smile" teacher.  You've got to bring your A game when you show up for Robertas class.  
We all went into the room, maybe one minute before class was to start.  The heaters and humidifiers were going full force.  We knelt down on our mats and gave each other the hairy eyeball look that said "crap, we are in for it".  The door opened a few more times to let other yogis in, each of them muttering "shit" or some other even worse obscenity under their breath as they came in and felt the blast of moist blazing heat.  
By half moon I knew I was a lost cause.  It took all I could do to keep my arms up, sweat dripping into my panic stricken eyes.  My left foot went numb.  I fidgeted between sets and during second back bend saw gray and white spots and had to come out early for fear of toppling over.  Oh dear.  Awkward starts and my mind sounded something like this :  "Ok, just don't go down all of the way.  Conserve your energy.  Are you breathing?  Shit, your breathing is raggedy already!  Did she just call out poor Mark again?  Oh boy, don't call me out, please don't call me out.  Crap, I still can't feel my left foot.  Second part of awkward, damn, I can't get up on my toes, they are rolling out.  Oh shit, sweat is going in my eyes again, keep your arms up damnit!  Wait, you are in your head too much! Shut the hell up and listen and breathe!......"
You get the picture.  It was UGLY.   I hit the deck a few times in standing series, a hot sweaty dizzy numb mess.  By the time we hit the floor, Mark had to almost throw up.  A few postures later I could not feel my hands either and I knew my electrolytes were screwed and that I was about to lobster claw up.  I staggered up, water bottle in hand to go get emergen-c.  I was called out of course as I was leaving, but alas, I couldn't muster the courage to just stay and cramp up.   While I was gone, I found out later that Roberta teased Mark, giving him a hard time saying it was his fault that I left.  Then she said "Reggi, don't even think about it!".  In the lobby after class, Mark, Reggi, Pam and I were cracking up as they told me that.  Reggi said "I was just minding my own business!"   Mark laughed and said, "damn girl, you were guilty by association!!"
Classic.  I love this yoga.  It's times like this, when we can stand around and laugh about the hot sweaty beating, joined together in shared agony that makes me adore my studio....the awesome instructors and amazing yoga buddies.  Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 24: Feeding off the Regulars

530 with Lacey.  The shoulder was ok today, no popping.  Yay!  For some reason I felt sluggish after having 3 pretty solid classes in a row this past weekend with Oksana.  First breathing exercise my mind was wandering around like a small child, belligerently dodging my efforts to reign it back in.  Half moon I felt tight and sore and it was painful to stay in the posture.  My labored breathing reflected the strained effort and I thought to myself "oh shit. one of these kinds of classes".  My eyes swept the yogis to the left and right of me.  Reggi to my left, George to my right, Pam next to him.  Karen was behind us, the caboose to our little train.  I took a deep breath and just tried to feed off their calm steady practices.  George is going to teacher training in October.  It's been awhile since I've practiced with him.  His quiet steady practice kept me moving through the standing series, even when I wanted to give up and sit down during triangle.  I just kept thinking to myself "you've got this. just stay in the posture, no sitting today".  
Sometimes you just can't make it on your own.  I needed my friends today, and they were there in full force.  

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 23: Close Call

Today was 130 with Oksana.  I had a pretty solid class, considering some thai food from the night before was not agreeing with me.  I got to standing bow, second set, right side and was really getting deep.  I was really kicking and stretching and paying attention to form.  Chin to right shoulder, breathe....kick left leg up keep hip down, breathe....kick and stretch, breathe....kick and stretch, breathe....POP!  My left shoulder as I was kicking up and releasing it decided to pop.  I froze in the posture, taking inventory.  Does it hurt?  No.  Ok, stay in but don't push.  By the time I got to floor bow the same thing happened.  Left shoulder went POP!  
Needless to say I didn't stay for a double.  I decided to back off and see what happens.  Right now it feels perfectly fine.  It didn't pop out of place and nothing feels pulled.  I think I'm ok.  Phew! Close call!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 22: Worth the wait

Today was 330 with Oksana.  Last night was 5:30 with Oksana.  Both classes went by fast.  Last night's class was shaky on balance, but today I was much better in that area, even looking down at my kicked out leg in standing head to knee, imagining that someday soon I will touch my forehead to my knee.  My elbows aren't down far enough yet to make that happen, but I keep working that way....kicking my heel out, sucking in my stomach and really trying to pull my upper body out over that leg.  I was thinking last night about how it took me two years until I could even kick out in that posture.  Some lucky yogis come in and are able to kick out within days, weeks or months.  So if you are like I was, just struggling to get your damn foot in your hand, huffing, puffing, falling faced, sweaty, frustrated....take heart.  It will happen someday.  Even if it takes two years, please trust me.  It's worth the wait.
I said Thursday night that I was going to shoot for one double this weekend.  Looks like that day is tomorrow.  So unless I fall apart tomorrow physically, I'm goin' for it.  

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A wonderful new teacher...who sure doesn't seem new!

Yes I'm still here.  It's late late late right now.  I had to bowl tonight and then went to 9:30 pm yoga.  Yes, my studio has yoga that late.  That's how we roll here in the big city folks.  :)
My studio started a challenge on August 1st.  "Michelle, you're doing the 60 day challenge right?".  This coming from young front desk Patrick.  Because I always do, don't I?  I've participated in every challenge my studio has had since I've started.  Because I'm bat shit crazy like that (crazy for the yoga that is.....**clearing throat**)
So I put my name on the poster and started circling days.  I was not fully back to yoga everyday post surgery, then I also had a business trip to Portland Oregon.  So my crazy ass jumped in and started going everyday and there are four, count em people, four days that are not circled at the beginning.  So I could just say I started on the 5th and end 5 days later then everybody else right?  Unfortunately, that's not how MY brain works.  My brain has decided that this being my fourth foray into 60 day challenge world, I should step it up a notch, suck it up and do these four doubles.  I mean we are only on day 20 right?  I've got 40 days in which to catch up.  So tomorrow, you'll see my blog go into daily challenge mode.  With the first post being "Day 21" and off I go.  My goal is to do at least one double this weekend, and one next week.  AND I already know that next Thurs, the last night of bowling, the "money" night runs late and chances are I'll be another one behind.  I say bring it!
And now to the new teacher.  Who is an old soul, in a young body.  Do you know people like that?  My daughter is a bit like that...I knew it as soon as I saw those bottomless blue eyes in that little round baby head.  This teacher just went to TT this past spring.  She is young, she is energetic.  She is a voice like Brandy, a spirit like Dray, a confidence like Roberta, good humor like Frank, and GREAT dialog to boot.  The first time I took her class I cornered her after class.  "Didn't you just get out of teacher training Lacey?"   "Yes, this past spring" she says.  I look her in the eyes and say "Really, you seem like you've been teaching for 5 years.  That was an incredible class.  Your timing, your dialog...everything.  It was awesome.".  She seemed really pleased and smiled and said thank you.   I've been taking this yoga for 2 and 1/2 years.   Everytime TT is done, we suffer through a new batch of newbies.  And we love them.  We stand in the front row and smile as they walk in, nervously adjusting their headsets.  We quietly let them know where we are when they try to get us to do a third camel, or mix up rights and lefts.  We suffer through long setups as they try to struggle through the dialog.  We don't complain when it's a 102 minute class.  Because we know they will find their stride, they will develop a style and they will give us the gift of a new outlook.  We send love and light their way, like proud parents.  So it really threw me off guard to have a newbie come back and instead of toddling her way through class, stood up there like the valedictorian of a graduating class of PHD's and rocked the crap out of that 90 minutes.  

Monday, August 10, 2009

It's been awhile since I've had him.....

...and he did not disappoint.
Frank that is....
....for yoga that is.
530 class was hot, sweaty, busy, high energy, awesome!  The front row was me, Reggi, Mark and Pam, all lined up all giving energy.  More regulars behind us.  It was incredible.  Frank was ON as usual and we all were very focused and worked very hard.  The past two classes my standing series has felt so strong.  Second set, right side of standing bow tonight I held it, pretty good form going just a bit deeper right at the end, getting the body down a bit more and when Frank said change, instead of toppling over as is normal for me I came out gracefully, breath still steady.  Frank said "Nice Mish!".  The corners of my mouth turned up in a little smile of pure joy.  Joy that I can do this yoga.  Having surgery and being "benched" for two weeks has gained me a whole fresh wave of gratitude for my body.  It's not a perfect body.  It needs to shed some pounds.  It's not perfectly toned and there are certainly some lumps and bumps that need smoothing.  But I love it anyway for what it can do now, today.
Walking out to the car, chatting up Reggi, feeling wonderful another wave washed over me.  More gratitude, for my studio, the teachers there and the wonderful friends I have made.  Real friends, solid friends.  People I trust.  We "get" each other and most of all we accept each other.  We struggle together.  We encourage, we support, we listen before class, we make encouraging eye contact during class if somebody is having a tough time.  I am so very very lucky.
I'll end with a quote I found today, courtesy of wonderful teacher Dray, whom I miss very much as he is busy opening his own studio.
"Love the life you live.  Live the life you love".

Friday, August 7, 2009

One Fully Functioning Yogini Reporting for Duty

Tonight was 5:30 with Oksana.   I am happy to report that 3 weeks and one day after having my appendix removed I am once again a fully functioning yogini.  I had a solid class and did every posture, even pushing myself as much as possible.  I didn't have to baby myself or sit out camel.  Just me, my mat, my postures, my  And it felt so damn good.  
I'm not back to where I was in depth and strength, but that's ok.  That's not any post surgery stuff to worry about, just me needing to work back up to the shape I was in when I was doing my 100 day challenge.
You know what that means.  I'm going to be doing a whole lot of yoga.
And that my friends makes me happy.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Keep doing CPR, she's responding.....

Pump the chest.  Pinch the nose, breathe into the mouth.  The glazed eyes, the still body, it's coming back...keep going, keep going!  That's how I felt tonight at yoga.  I am now 3 weeks post surgery (as of tomorrow).  I have done 4 yoga classes.  The first two were tough and I had to sit quite a few postures out.   So I took Saturday off.  Sunday I went back, cautiously, probably overdoing it on babying myself.  Monday and Tuesday I had to go to Portland Oregon for business and my schedule was too tight to fit in any yoga.  So today I went back, 530pm with Adele.   Reggi, Shila and I lined up in the front row, with Karen behind us.  Karen had missed two weeks due to vacation etc and didn't want to go in the front.  I leaned over and whispered to Reggi "I'm not front row material right now, I'm just getting back into it!"  She leans over and says "look, if wild Bill can do the front row you've got nothing to worry about".  I chuckled and looked at my own two eyes in the mirror.  I saw a soft yogini, needing to get back into her groove sitting on her knees.  Eyes crinkling with laughter at Reggi's comment.  I looked at myself and thought "really Michelle, get over yourself, it's only yoga".  And with that I stood up when Adele walked in and proceeded to power through the series to the best of my post surgery ability.  To my surprise, the yoga started to work.  Like CPR it breathed life back into my pudgy post surgery weak ailing body.  I focused diligently on each posture, going for form not depth and was rewarded with a solid response.  Only one problem:  my feet were cramping left and right.  Lobster clawing it up.  Adele saw my struggles.  I say struggles because I wouldn't just sit down and breathe and succumb to the cramp.  Excited about my body coming to life via the yoga CPR I was receiving I'd drop down, rub the cramp out and pop back up, eager to keep going.  At 2 min savasana, halfway through Adele came over and whispered "are you OK? do you need emergen-c?"  I said no, but ended up running out between first and second set of fixed firm to follow her advice.  My feet just would not cooperate, they cramped even in fixed firm!  After running out and downing a packet of emergen-C and adding ionic fix to my water (thanks Patrick!!) I hopped back into class and powered through the rest of the class, doing both sets of camel, with my hands on my heels for the first time since surgery.
After class, in final savasana Adele said quietly, in her sweet and very wise voice "you are leaving today with a different body than what you came in with.  You are rebuilding your body each day like little grains of sand".  I lay there, breathing, reviving, awakening and thought "oh yes Adele, you are right, and thank God for that".