Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bikram withdrawal

I haven't blogged for a week but it doesn't mean I haven’t done any BY. I practiced 5 days in a row last week (Sat - Wed) and then I flew to the NW to celebrate the holidays with the family. I am working remotely for a couple of days and then taking time off. There is no BY studio nearby so I am going through major withdrawal. On top of this, I am not eating very well. I am normally a health nut. I love to cook but I can't bake. But here, in my family, everyone is a pastry chef. So dangerous to be around so many delicious cookies, truffles, cheesecakes … ok, just once a year!!

I envy each one of you that are reading this and going to Bikram class today. Next week, I am driving to the closest city with a BY studio (probably 1 hour from here without traffic). Obama, why didn’t you include this as part of your health reform? We need a BY studio in every major city in the US. As you know, this thought has been with me for a while and then Rajashree said something funny a couple of weeks ago during her seminar at my studio “we just went to Nevada [teacher training] now we are going to Obama”. YES

Anyway, I just wanted to post a short note to wish everyone happy holidays!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rajashree seminar - what a treat!!!

Today, I spent 8 hours with Rajashree. What an incredible person and what an incredible day. The seminar started at 9:00 am. I arrived at the studio at 8:20 thinking that I would be one of the first ones. When I open the door, there were only few spots left. There was one in front of the little “stage” so I took it. Sitting in front of me was Joseph Encinia (national champion) and to my left a guy called George who just finished teacher training in Las Vegas. He is going to be teaching at LV Red Rock. Michelle, if you are reading this, I mentioned to him that I knew you (well virtually :) and he smiled and said "ohh yeah, Michelle. She works with us.[Do you work at Dray’s now?] Hey come to our studios one day". Then he gave me his business card with some free class offer. Not bad. I guess I am all set for next year when I go to LV ;) BTW, George came all the way to San Diego with Lisa, another teacher from LV Green Valley, who later on asked him to sit by her side so he eventually moved.

The seminar started with 1 hour lecture. Rajashree went over some familiar concepts (the real meaning of "yoga", the connection between the mind and the body and how we are all part of the universe) and some new concepts too. She mentioned something about our backs and how they are divided into two by the spine. The right part representing the sun (ha) and the left part representing the moon (tha). The sun representing the masculine and the moon representing the feminine and receptive. All going back to hatha yoga. Very interesting concepts that I’ll definitely love to learn more about.

After the lecture, we had a 90 minute class. What a treat!! Practicing next to Joseph is so inspiring. He is a pretzel! The class with Rajashree was just amazing. She is sweet and tough. My goal for this class was to stay in the room fully focused & concentrated, giving it 100%. Mission accomplished!! This is the biggest class I’ve ever taken. Not sure how many students were there. Someone said 65. I got kicked in the head a couple of time, unintentionally of course. But it didn’t really bother me at all. On the contrary, it was very VERY nice. Not to be kicked but to be with so many people, hahaha. Rajashree gave us the best meditation during final savasana. As soon as she was done, I ran to the showers as well as 2 other students. I knew it was going to be crazy there. I took a really quick one, changed my clothes and had some free lunch at the studio. They had sandwiches, fruits, pita & humus, salads, Vitamin Water, Zicos, etc.. It was pretty good.

Right after lunch, we headed back to the room for posture clinic. The room was cold now. Rajashree asked Joseph to go over each one of the poses and to show us the right and wrong way to do things. It was very inspiring. He is a very funny guy and likes to make faces while doing the wrong things on purpose. Rajashree also provided us with a list of medical benefits for each pose. Wow, talking about information overload!!!

After posture clinic, Rajashree asked everyone "do you want to have another class?" Ten people (including me) replied "YES". Of course, we thought she was joking. "OK. Stand up" she said. You must be kidding. We did the standing series all over again but in the cold room. This time we did everything faster. Now, we didn't see this coming. I am glad I put some stretchy pants after showering. Some people were wearing street clothes. After second round, we had some time for questions and answers and we went around introducing ourselves (name, how long we have been doing yoga, what BY means to us, etc...) Some people had very interesting stories. Some were a living proof of the medical benefits of this practice. We finished the seminar with a half hour meditation and smiley faces. I took a good picture with Rajashree and also Joseph. Happy about it!! This is what I call a Perfect Saturday

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bikram Yoga 60 -Day Challenge - Mission accomplished!!

If you go back to my first post, you will notice that this was going to be a 30-day challenge. Copying and pasting a little “fragment”

Day 1
So this is where I stand. I am starting my challenge today and I am committed to complete at least 30-days and revisit, on day 29, the possibility of completing an additional 30 days. We'll see. BTW, the class today was hard (…) but I finished. 29 classes to go!! Or maybe 59 <-- this number scares me.

I am glad I went for the 60 days. Did I “revisit” my options on day 29? Absolutely NO, I kept going. The fact that the studio did a 30-day challenge the month of November really helped too.

I didn’t set up too many goals from day one. I just wanted to practice continuously for 60 days, non-stop. However, as the days went by, I started noticing changes (physically and mentally). I noticed that I was giving up too easily on some of the poses and I was not 100% focused. Mentally, all kinds of things went through my head during the challenge. There were days I felt tired, sore, and sleepy. There were days I had fever (x3) or a cold (x7). I even went to the class with a torn ligament in a finger. But there was not 1 single time when I wanted to quit the challenge. Only towards the end, the last week, I started questioning what the heck I was doing, dragging a little bit. When this happened, I acknowledged it and moved on.

Half way through this challenge, I put together a summary of what I was experiencing. Here you go:

- I have more energy at all levels. I feel good!!!
- My body is getting toned (especially arms and thighs)
- I am no longer an emotional eater. I only eat when I am truly hungry.
- My posture has improved tremendously.
- I am getting more flexible each day.
- Greater focus, control and determination on and off the mat.
- It supplements my running too
- I feel very creative and alive.

At day 61, I still feel the same way but multiplied by 4. Or shall I say 3? click here to read about my mild case of OCD since I started Bikram :)

I am also grateful for finding this great community of Bikram bloggers that share my same passion. It’s awesome.

On the physical side, here are some of my major improvements over the last 60 days:

- Ardha Chandrasana (back bend compression of spine, 2nd part of half moom) – My back bend is deeper.

- Utkatasana (Awkward pose, 2nd part) – I can sit lower now and with a mona lisa smile too. I removed the painful expression from my face.

- Garurasana (Eagle pose) – During this pose, the teacher always says “imagine that you are the shortest person in the room”. I always laugh because I am probably one the shortest person in the room regardless. I am 5”1. Anyway, before I was sitting in the bar stool and now I manage to go very very low. Well, occasionally I get reminded to go down lower but I can see major improvements here.

-Dandayamana Janushirasana (standing head to knee pose) – I kick out (during both sets) even if its only for few seconds. Before the challenge, I always gave up. I didn’t even try to lock the knees during the entire 60 or 30 seconds. I would just stand there watching everyone thinking “am I going to do this one day?”

- Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Paschimottanasana (Standing separate leg stretching pose) It was a disaster in the past. I blogged about it and with the help of some new blogger friends ( ;)wink wink) and some determination I fixed the slipping issues. I was excited I was able to touch the floor with my forehead but then the instructor pointed out that my spine was not that straight so I am still working on this.

- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose) – Before the challenge, I used to do it wrong, like a mini push up. My cobra is looking much better nowadays.

Someone asked me a couple of days ago if I would consider extending the challenge to 90 days. Of course I would love to but I can’t. Too many things going on in my life right now. Plus, in 11 days, I am going on vacation to a city that doesn’t have a Bikram studio. I am writing this with sadness, really. Gosh, this should have been part of Obama’s health reform (a Bikram studio in every major city in the US). Anyways, I am going to squeeze as many classes as possible before the holidays and see where this practice takes me.

Yes, Bikram cures it all!!!!

Love to everyone

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bikram Yoga 60-Day Challenge - Day 60 - Part II

Mission accomplished!!!

I took two classes yesterday. The first one was not very memorable. It was at 6:00 in the morning. The room was the coldest ever. There were only 4-5 students in the class and the instructor kept the fans on the whole entire 90 minutes. There was no energy in the room and I hardly sweat. Can you believe it? I talked to the instructor afterward. She mentioned that it was cold outside and that it was taking a little bit longer to heat the room. "Yes, but you kept the fans on as well", I replied. Now, this was me getting a little bit pissy (not good) ;( To this, the instructor replied "Ooopsie, I didn't realize it. Please remind me next time". What can I say? I was not a happy camper. I went home kind of disappointed. My 60-day journey couldn't finish that way, with a very "blah" class. I worked remotely for another 8 hours, with a very cranky mood, and headed back to the studio in the afternoon. A 360 degree turn. I am so glad I did a double!! Keep reading.

The moment I arrived at the studio, Coleen and Wendy (the studio owner) ran to me and gave me a BIG hug. "It's your 60th day girlfriend, woohoo, I knew you were going to make it" this was Wendy. "I am so honored to be your teacher tonight. Get ready, Ciry" said Colleen. There is an expression in Spanish "el que avisa no es traidor", basically she gave me a "fair warning". She really kicked my @$$ last night. I couldn't even blink my eyes during the whole entire class. She was watching me very closely.

After the party time, water break, she told everyone "attention, I normally don't do this but I want to acknowledge Ciry's great efforts. Today is her 60th day. She is incredible" Applauses, claps, big smiles jajaja I turned very red. It was a cute moment. Then she said "and she thought this was going to be an easy class, get ready now, the class is just starting". More laughs. During Wind Removing pose, the teacher physically pushed on my knees. It was awesome. During locust pose, second part, she lifted my legs and asked me to release them very slowly. Ohh, this was incredible. I received the best adjustments ever. It was almost like a private class. After final savasana she asked me to stay in the room and she gave me a mini massage in the head. My goodness, I really received the royal treatment last night. Best class ever. On top of this, my husband called Wendy in the afternoon and asked her to let me pick something from the boutique as his present. Nice!!!

What a way to finish my challenge. This is exactly how I envisioned it and more. I Love love love my studio and the instructors.

My collective thoughts about the challenge in the next blog :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bikram Yoga - 60-Day Challenge - Day 60

The day has arrived!!! I am planning on finishing on a high note - I am doing a double today, just because ;) Blogging about it tonight, recap in the morning. So excited!!!

Bikram Yoga 60-Day Challenge - Day 59

Monday 6:30 pm
It was hot, humid and crowded. Unfortunately, sitting next to me, there were a couple of students doing everything wrong (not using the lines, drinking water after the second pose, talking, taking way too many breaks, just hanging there doing nothing). No, they weren't new students. Aghghgh, this was so distracting. Lucky me, I was able to disconnect from all this after 30 minutes of class and focused on my practice. I LOVE how it ended though, with the instructor sitting next to me, side by side, doing Paschimo :) 1 more day to go!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bikram Yoga 60-Day Challenge - Day 56 & 57 & 58

I am behind on my blogging but it doesn’t mean I am behind on my practice. The last three days have been a little bit crazy

Friday 6:30 pm
Very good class with Wendy. We were a small crowd so we received lots of personalized attention. For the first time, I received a correction during rabbit pose. Looks like I have a tendency to separate my hills when I am supposed to have them side by side. The funny thing with this pose is that I can’t tell what I am doing right or wrong. I have a list of small things I want to perfect in each pose but for this one I have no clue. I wish someone will take a picture of me doing rabbit one day. It’s like balancing stick. I think I do it right. Unless the instructor provides with some feedback is hard to tell.

Saturday 10:00 am
Another amazing class with Wendy. There were at least 50 students in the class. It was extremely hot and humid. Right after this class we had a quick award ceremony for all the studio 30-day challengers. Basically, everyone that completed the challenge (+/- 25 people) received: one week of free yoga, 2 guest passes, 10% off on next class package or next retail purchase, 1 Zico drink and a surprise gift, a cool 30-day challenge t-shirt.

On top of that, we had the raffle prizes including: 60 min Swedish massage, 90 min European Facial, 1 Acupuncture session, a lunch for 2 at a fancy French restaurant and 1 month unlimited classes.

OK, this is the best part: the winner of the top prize (the 1 month unlimited class of BY) was ME!! I am so happy. Like I said before, I didn’t do this for the prizes. But hey, it’s always nice to get them !! I love my studio. What else can I say!!

Sunday 10:00 am
Today I discovered that one of my favorite instructors practices Vipassana meditation as well. Of course, I find this very interesting. My mom practices Vipassana and felt in love with Bikram right away. She has told to me in multiple occasions that they are very similar in many senses. My instructor also mentioned that 10-day of Vipassana is way harder than a 30-day challenge in all levels (physically and mentally). Supposedly, when you practice Vipassana you are asked to stay still in the same posture for hours to meditate. This is one of those things that I want to try. If you practice both, I would love to hear about it.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s class. Only 2 more days to go.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bikram Yoga 60-Day Challenge - Day 55

Yeahhh, Friday is here. Finally!!! I am looking forward to this weekend as we are celebrating the 10th Annual Little Italy Tree Lighting festival as well as December Nights in San Diego. Happy season!! Tomorrow morning, we are also having a quick award ceremony for the 30 day challengers at my studio. I’ve already talked about the raffle prices, etc… What can I say? I love my studio, the owners and the teachers. Everyone working there is so thoughtful. Last night, 3 days after the challenge was over, we were still getting our “congratulations on your great accomplishment” from some instructors. Very nice!!

Thursday 6:30 pm

Back to last night’s class, when I arrived at the studio, Sarah, one of my favorite teachers, was welcoming everyone at the front desk. She asked me how I was feeling. I told her “oh great. Wait I am lying. I don’t feel like been here today”. She laughed and said “Ohhh, no worries. Today is going to be your best class”. Was it? Very close. I think at this point my mind is playing tricks. I have a few days left to finish this big challenge and it’s getting harder and harder. I never felt like not going to class until a couple of days ago. I just need to focus and ignore these feelings.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bikram Yoga 60-Day Challenge - Day 54

Wednesday 6:30

This was a rough day. I am glad it ended with a good BY class. The teacher was Coleen, one of my favorites. She is so tough and at the same time sweet and energizing. I arrived 5 minutes before the class started so there was only one "good" spot available, in front of the exit door. Yes, the class was packed again. Thanks to many 30-day challengers that came back after taking a day off. In the past I used to enjoy small crowds but now after practicing with so many students for the last weeks I prefer a bigger group. I can't wait to take a couple of classes at TT next year. Yeahh, it's going to be fantastic to visit the torture chamber with another 300 students and Boss :)

Back to class, practicing in front of the exit door can be a blessing sometimes. I normally don't like going from extremely hot to cold in a matter of seconds. But this class was so HOT that I actually enjoyed the extra waves of unanticipated cold air I received when 2 new students left the room in the middle of class.

Overall, it was amazing. I was able to kick out during the first set of head to knee pose. Yahoo, this is my first time. I can normally kick out for few seconds during second set. Happy about it!!

Looking forward to class #55 this afternoon. Only few left. Almost there!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bikram Yoga 60-Day Challenge - Day 53

Tuesday 6:30 pm

Not too excited about last night's class. The room was at least 10 degrees cooler than the night before. I thought of Traci and her “looking at the ceiling” trick. I actually tried it but the teacher didn’t get it. I should have quickly moved to the floor and wrapped myself in my towel :) Instead, I kept quiet. I could also tell that the studio’s 30-day challenge was over because the class was almost empty, only 15 students on a Tuesday night (vs. 50 the day before).There was some energy missing too. I pushed hard throughout the entire class, trying to make the most out of it but I didn’t feel anything special. Just one more class.

When I woke up this morning, I felt sore and extremely tired. I didn’t feel like doing anything (getting out of bed, driving to work, etc…). One of those days. But then l listened to some news on the radio that made me laugh very loud and with it a change in attitude. Still sore though. But no worries, I will drag myself to the studio tonight no matter what. Aghghghg.

This is one of the news that made me laugh ( BTW, completely unrelated to BY)
"Snoop Dogg lends his voice To TomTom GPS"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bikram Yoga - 60-Day Challenge - Day 52

I found myself crying on my mat during final savasana yesterday. This was my first time. Let me explain. The class was extremely hot & humid. It was very packed too, 45 to 50 students. It was also the last “official” class for all the 30-day challengers at the studio and many people looked tired and sick. By the time we reached the Standing Bow Pulling Pose, more than half of the class, was on the floor and some students have left the room. I managed to stay focused and finished the standing series but I was completely out of breath.

The 2 minute savasana felt like heaven, no room for thoughts during this pose. I was living in the moment. I had a good cobra and locust afterwards. I felt I was flying. Then, I lost my breath again during the floor bow pose. I ended up taking a mini break during the first set of camel pose. I honestly was going to stay there for the whole pose, second set included, when the teacher said something along these lines “good classes feed your ego but the classes that kick your ass are the ones that make you stronger”. I stood up and finished it without further breaks.

By the end of the class, I was exhausted (like never before) & happy & full of love, crying on my mat. I felt exactly the same as when I saw my daughter for the first time after 21 hours of labor. I am not exaggerating here. It was the most amazing feeling. I wish I could do this every single day for the rest of my life. One day I will. But for now, I am just enjoying one class at a time. Has did ever happened to you? Crying on a BY class?