spiritual self-exploration through health, fitness, and nutrition

Posts tagged ‘bikram’

Weekend 2: Standing, Restorative, Pranayama

I know I’m a bit late on this one, but better late than never..! We’ve been on a 2-weekend hiatus that I mostly spent celebrating my birthday week with my incredible boyfriend who flew all the way from MD to spend time with me on our gorgeous oceanfront hotel room in Pacific Beach. We did everything from attending a Padres game, to hiking at Torrey Pines, to visiting the San Diego Zoo…not to mention ate at some delicious, exotic restaurants! Bonus: he attending yoga classes with me every morning. I’m a lucky lady 🙂

The second workshop weekend, while less physically intensive, was no less challenging than Weekend 1. We spent Saturday learning the first set of standing postures, and Sunday was restorative and Pranayama (breathing). The restorative class further affirmed my love for that style, and I am thrilled that my mentor, Jackie, specializes in restorative. Because we only had time to learn 3 restorative postures, I am inclined to get further training in this specific area after I’m done at Pilgrimage. Something for the future, perhaps? Restorative poses are a place of rest and inner calm, grounding, cooling and rejuvenation. These poses promote deep relaxation and letting go. They calm the mind/body/spirit, helping to relieve stress and fatigue. They also help relieve anxiety, depression, insomnia and headaches. 

On another note, who knew breathing technique would be so (for lack of a better word) complicatedUjjayi Pranayama is the foundation of proper yogic breathing. Ujjayi helps improve life force energy. It is said that life is measured by the number of breaths we take; thus, lengthening the breath will lengthen our life span. Ujjayi improves concentration and instills a meditative quality that maintains the rhythm of our personal practice. During our teacher-led Ujjayi exercises, I felt a bit of anxiety as a result of timing my inhales and exhales, but found this anxiety to quickly dissolve when I learned that half the class was experiencing the same thing! We were advised to stay in Stage 1 and practice that for up to 3 months until we were fully comfortable to progress to Stages 2 through 4.

Outside of workshops, I found myself embarking on a 14-day challenge (which I think I completed..? more on this later) and I FINALLY attended “yoga church” this past Sunday with Jen P. What an experience yoga church was! I was surrounded by some seasoned professionals, and while I found this to be inspiring, it was one of the most challenging classes I’ve ever taken. Even moreso than Bikram. I could try and explain what was involved–from drumming to chanting to writing our intentions down to add to an ‘altar’–but I could not do justice for what the actual experience was like. You just have to try it at least once 🙂

Headed to a meditation class in an hour, need it more than ever! Namaste ❤

 

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Adventure Runs and P90X

Adventure Mud Run

Adventure Runs are Gaining a Lot of Popularity in 2011!

Seems like a big fad for 2011 are these “adventure runs” which is basically like a running race with a twist. I completed the Warrior Dash a couple months ago; a 5k run including about a dozen obstacles, half of which involves gooey, sticky, smelly MUD. It was some of the most fun I’ve had in my life! Despite a sprained foot.

Last weekend, I tried Metro Dash which I honestly have to say was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life (apart from running 2 full marathons). It came down to me just not being prepared enough…but I’m also convinced that I wouldn’t have been able to finish it without my lovely team “Dash Divas” – 3 of my best, most athletic girlfriends! Although we started at a later wave time (5:30-6pm), the heat + 30 intense obstacles + hot parkign lot pavement really took a toll on my body and I experienced my first exercised-induced asthma episode. Literally could not breathe after I finished and had to take a seat and regain my composure. Nevertheless, I was happy to finish it and swore to myself I wouldn’t try anything like THAT again! (Note: mud runs are an exception. 😉 )

My jiu jitsu expert / hairdresser / great friend Chanel proposed that we try P90x together a couple weeks ago, and I hesitantly agreed. So she’s been coming over to my house every day at 7am so we can do the videos. The first few days were hard since I wasn’t in tip top shape… but I’m starting to really see results! Already shaved off an easy 4 lbs. She took some before pictures, which I’ll post along with my 30-day pictures in a few weeks. I already have a love/hate relationship with Tony 🙂 My goal is to look toned and feel amazing by the time I go to Dominican Republic for my 30th birthday in September.

In addition to all of this, finally found my motivation to get back to Bikram Yoga after a couple month hiatus. So, replacing the P90x yoga video with 90 minutes in the hot room, plus a few more times in the evenings the rest of the week.

Will give an update very, very soon!

Day 30: Challenge Complete!

Well… I did it. [26 + 2] x 30. 🙂

It still hasn’t really hit me yet… and honestly I don’t feel that much different. I guess I’m being modest but overall I’m happy that I completed it. Over the course of the past month, I have learned so much about myself. The benefits that I received were tremendous. I hit some road blocks on the way. But at the end of the day, I learned way more than I thought I would.

It’s more than just writing your name up on a wall and getting stars placed next to each day completed. More than just sitting here and writing my story for the world to read. More than a pat on the back. I walked into this challenge with the idea in the back of my head that I wanted to try 30 new things before I turned 30 this September 2011. The first was falling hard for and letting all my guards down with a man that means the world to me, and being 100% honest about everything with each other up front, from day one.

The second, this 30-day bikram yoga challenge. It has humbled me  beyond belief and I can truly say at this point that I’m more comfortable with my body and my mind than I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve finally come to (almost fully) accept that I will never have a flat belly, and I’ll never always feel like walking into the hot room with just a sports bra and shorts on (that’s rare to begin with anyway!). My body is all I have and I have to take care of it each day. Any harmful addictions I’ve dealt with are far in the past. I’ve found my new addiction not only in hot yoga, but in daily meditation and other forms of exercise and wellness practices. It’s what keeps me happy, sane, and balanced. I no longer feel like I need to rely on others to keep this balance and harmony. Only I can take care of this body and soul. And I’ll certainly continue to do that from now on.

I want to thank the following people, for without you, this challenge would never have been possible!

  • Carrie, for your enthusiasm and lighthearted personality;
  • Swyann, for your calm demeanor and delightful aura;
  • Rana, for your discipline and meditative encouragement;
  • Francisco, for your sense of humor and unending knowledge;
  • Insel, for your strength, wisdom, and impenetrable determination;
  • The entire staff at Bikram Yoga Rockville. It was with you that I discovered my passion for hot yoga in November 2009; and
  • My friends, family, and loyal blog followers… for your constant encouragement and support!

…and of course any other instructors from Bikram Yoga Tysons that I may have left out. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Stay tuned. I will continue to write about my regular practice going forward, and other exciting adventures as I explore myself more deeply through my “30 by 30.”

Namaste 🙂

Day 29: Inspiration in This Moment

Got up early again this morning to take Swyann’s 6am class. What a breath of fresh air she is! With a calm and soothing voice, she instills motivation, inspiration, and confidence in her students.  Her entire aura is just immaculate! She told me after class that she really loves being at the studio, and I responded by saying that it really shows. Today was day 3 in a row of not skipping out on any postures (although I admit I thought about it a couple times).

During savasana midway through class, she read an exerpt that really stuck with me. All I remembered after class was “your body is your child,” so I Googled it as soon as I got into work and found the quote (not the whole thing… but this really sums it up):

“Your body must be disciplined like a child, calmly but forcefully. You are, in fact, reeducating your body and as the various areas are convinced that you are serious, they will begin to obey. Your body is your child.” —Richard Hittleman

I love this because it really shows the connection between mind, body, and soul. While I’ve somewhat been in touch with the connection amongst the three for some years now, I feel it more and more as I practice daily.

She also reminded us to stay present in our bodies throughout the day. It was a reminder from a chapter I read last night in Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of Now”…on feeling the body as a whole as much as possible no matter where I’m at any given moment in my day.

Just one day left!!!

Day 28: Bittersweet

Took the 6pm with Insel today. Walked in with a clear mind, and for the first time in this last month, I managed to really center myself in savasana before class commenced… to a point that I had a slight smile on my face for the entire 90 minutes!

Got through every pose with no rest again. Second day in a row doing that feels amazing. I think the thing I really enjoyed the most today was bow pose. Insel came out of nowhere in my second set and literally pulled me off the ground from my ankles! My body naturally leaned forward and the wind got knocked out of me for a split second. But the stretch…was…divine. I saw Francisco do the same thing to a 10-year old girl and refer to it as the “picnic basket” as he swung her back and forth. So cool. Insel told me after class that he could tell my spine was really strengthening and I’m more flexible than ever. Four hours later, I still feel the tingling.

I made the decision to do my last 2 days in the early mornings. I want to end this challenge on a relaxing note and I’m not sure if I can take the packed room in the afternoons.

This final week has been bittersweet so far. But as I’ve mentioned before… I’m going to keep up my regular practice 🙂

Day 27: Crack of Dawn

I managed to get my booty out of bed at 5am and attend 6am practice. I can’t believe this is only my 2nd time in the last 27 days that I’ve done this! I mean, it really sucks having to get up that early from my warm and toasty bed, but the benefits outweigh the brief heartache. The type of music (or alarm) that you wake up to really, really, REALLY makes a difference. This morning, I chose to have ‘Break U Off’ by The Roots wake me up…and I did so with a smile on my face. I’ve learned that loud obnoxious alarms do nothing but piss me off and make me want to sleep more, LOL 🙂

Experienced another new teacher this morning, Kristen. Very laidback, very to-the-point… just what I needed to keep my mind focused and yawning at bay. The only slight problem I encountered was the nausea – I downed a banana & glass of OJ before leaving for practice. Since I don’t usually eat much that early in the morning, ever, it didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t give myself enough time to digest. It even lasted through half hour after class was over. But I started my work day with more energy than usual and the stomach ache eventually subsided.

Day 30 is this Friday… I’m already thinking of doing a double on Saturday as the cherry on top! Any takers? 😉

Day 26: All Downhill From Here

For the last week or so, my favorite instructor Insel has been away from the studio. Today, he came back and I attended his 6pm class. Another super packed one as anticipated, so I’m glad I showed early.

It was another strong day for me despite the extreme heat and intense energy in the room. But it didn’t start that way. For some reason, I got really lightheaded during pranayama breathing and almost had to kneel. I think my mind was wandering too much and I slightly panicked as a result of the sensory overload all around me. Just as quickly as that feeling overcame me, I conquered it. And it was all downhill from there 🙂

Here are some of the major improvements I’ve been seeing in myself over the course of the last few weeks (I’ll expand on these in my final day’s post, and give a few tips for anyone who’s thinking of doing the challenge themselves):

  • Strength: Unlike my regular running days a couple years ago (which slimmed me down & strengthened my leg muscles), I’ve increased muscle strength all over my body.
  • Flexibility: Each day, I’m able to go juuuust a little bit deeper into my stretch. I wish I could’ve had someone photograph me in each posture in day 1 and compare it to now. Big improvement!
  • Breathing: My lung capacity has grown tremendously. I admit I used to be a casual smoker (picking one up only when I had an alcoholic drink in my hand), but since starting this challenge, I’ve stayed away for good. And cut back on drinking significantly.
  • Confidence: Although I started this challenge with a healthy level of confidence, I feel like this part of me has grown but not to a level of cockiness or self-righteousness.
  • Compassion: I am gentler and listen so much better not only with others, but also to myself. It’s like I’m more in tune with my inner voice.
  • Mental Stability: Road rage? Gone. Mood swings? Dampened. Panic & anxiety attacks? No more. I can go on and on. This is probably the greatest benefit of all!

I know I’m probably missing a few items but I know I’ll think of them before post #30 🙂

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