Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 31

9:30 am with Amy.

Today was kind of typical.  I felt stiff and tired going in.  I got over that by the time I managed to bend myself in half in the first set of Standing Head to Feet.  That first forward bend is getting harder and harder.  Then I felt fine through most of the rest of class.  Triangle was a struggle, but I was actually good in Standing Separate Head to Knee, keeping my balance with my hands in prayer and almost locking my knees on both sides.  Floor poses were fine, even Locust.  Then, once I got some water in me (4th class in a row with no water during class), I felt much better than before class, and very energized.

I remembered what Lenette was talking about when she said my body was changing.  It was during Toe Stand on the right foot, because I had my left hand in prayer position for the first time.  The reason I remembered is because today I couldn't do it -- at least not on that side.

Now that I'm halfway through (assuming I only go 60 days), its probably a good time to review my progress in the poses.  It would be tough for me to remember where I was when the challenge started, and I've only been doing Bikram for about 4 months, so I'll compare where I am now to when I started.

1. Pranayama Deep Breathing  To start with , I could do the breaths for about 3 counts and then I would get dizzy.  On the inhale, my elbows would get up just above my shoulders.  On the exhale, I could not get my elbows to touch.  Now, six counts seems too short for my breathing and I'm sometimes lagging behind the class.   My elbows go over my ears on the inhale (still a long way to get them touching my head, but its progress).  And I have no problem getting them squeezed and parallel to the floor.

2.  Half Moon Side Bend  Before, my elbows would not lock, and my arms kept a sort of diamond shape.  The bend was more of a wish, unless I let the inside collapse.  Now, this is one of my better poses.  Elbows firmly locked behind my ears, hands clasped together, and I'm rounded about 70-75 degrees.  Not the full 90 degrees that I see, but not too far off, and I'm definitely getting there.  The outside is a definite arch, without and noticeable folds.

2a.  Half Moon Backbend  Before, I could see the ceiling only.  The bend was only in the lower back.  My hands didn't want to go back at all.  I tended to bend my knees.  Now, its a little better.  I can feel the bend get deeper with each breath, and I can get to where I see the back wall.  Also, it feels like my upper back bends some.  This is a hard pose for me to judge, because it feels so weird, and I really have no idea how deep I'm going.  Also, coming out of this pose always seems to cause something to "pop" in my mind.

2b.  Standing Head to Feet  This was one of my worst poses to start.  No matter how much I bent my knees, I couldn't get my hands under my feet.  So I settled for grabbing my ankles.  My chest was about 2-3 inches away from my stomach -- definitely not a Japanese Ham Sandwich.  And that was even more embarrassing considering how far my stomach was sticking out.  Now, I can almost get my hands completely behind my heels.  My chest presses against my thighs.  I get good leverage and feel a real stretch in the back of my legs.  But I still can't lock the knees.  I think I'm pretty close, but I can't tell for sure.

3.  Awkward Pose  In the first part, I sat on a tall barstool.  The second part was even worse.  I could barely get on my tiptoes.  In the third part, I would lower down nicely for about a foot, then collapse to the ground.  Going up was fast.  It was basically impossible for me to hold my arms extended for all three parts.  Now, this is one of my better poses.  I'm down with my thighs almost parallel to the floor in the first and second part.  I can come slowly down and up in the third part.  My arms stay up, but they could still stretch more to the front.  And my back could be a bit more upright.  The funny thing about this pose is that the better I get at it, the more it hurts.

4. Eagle  With my arms twisted, my fingers on one hand would touch the base of the palm on the other hand.  My foot could get about 4-6 inches away from my other leg and just hang out there in the middle of empty space.  Balance was not good, and I would have to unwind my legs to regain balance very often.  Now, I can interlace my fingers, and in prayer the fingers come up to the first knuckle on the other hand.  So some progress there.  I can get my middle toe to touch the standing leg, but wrapping it still seems a long, long way away.  Balance is much better, which is probably mostly an indication of how much more stamina I now have.

That's the warm up.  Next time, I'll go over the balancing series.  

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