There's probably no such thing as easing back into Bikram, but especially not when the first class is with Zeb. And add a weekend afternoon to that.
In short, I felt like I was way off my game, and could not believe how much I seemed to have lost in only five days. It wasn't just pampering my hip. My balance was not good, and I could not get nearly as deep in anything. In some ways, I guess that is to be expected, but it was still a bit disappointing. One thing I should have learned by now is that Bikram Yoga continually offers lessons in humility.
My hip feels better generally, but I still don't have anywhere near the depth in any of the forward bends that I had a few weeks ago. And it feels like trying to push any of them will risk reaggravating the nerve. Right now, it is just on the borderline. So my primary goal now is to continue to do the yoga, while taking care not to make anything worse.
After every class I feel better. And I think that very thing has led me into trouble. Because, while I feel better after class, from pushing too hard i was gradually getting worse each morning. So now my goal is to get better not just after class, but each morning as well. If I can keep that up, I should be on the road to recovery and then to gradual improvement.
The time off was probably a good thing. But the biggest lesson I learned is how easy (and tempting) it could be to fall back into old habits. Almost by definition, a visit to my parents is an eating festival. And as quickly as yoga turned on my "full" signal, the visit turned it back off. For five days, I don't suppose I could have done myself much harm. But it is definitely worth knowing how fragile this practice could be. I guess it's not called practice for nothing. It is definitely something that you have to keep up, or lose your edge and all that comes with it.
On the plus side, going back into the oven seemed natural and like a breath of fresh air, or at least as fresh as a hot, sweaty, humid room can be. The heat didn't bother me at all, and I didn't have any problems with stamina either. Instead, the difficulties I had came either from the yoga itself, or from the tightness in my left hip/butt.
The tightness is really putting limits on the standing series. In the first forward bend, I can hardly straighten my knees at all. In Standing Head to Knee, I can't kick out with the left leg at all, so I'm just working on locking the right leg on that side. In Standing Bow, I feel a deep stretch in the left hip when that is the standing leg, and I can't push it very far. (Today, I was so tight generally that I almost failed to grab my feet at all.) Balancing Stick is really tough on the left leg: its like I don't have the butt strength to hold the position at all. Separate Leg Forward Stretch is maybe the worst of all. In the first set, I could barely touch my feel. Then in Triangle, on the left side I can't bend the leg to perpendicular in the setup -- it's too deep a stretch for my hip. And it's really painful to hold the pose on that side. And so on...
Floor series is much closer to normal. Today the big surprise in floor series is how close I was to cramping. In Locust, which was good today (even Zeb complimented me on it!), I was very, very near to cramping in the hamstrings. That has never happened before. And I had to sit out a set of Camel because of a cramp in the arch. But aside from that, the floor series was pretty good.
The nicest thing I can say about today's class is that going back to class felt normal, while not going to class the last few days felt weird. This bodes well for the future. I still intend to continue on to 100 classes in 100 days. But if things go well (meaning that I can heal my hip while going to class), then I see no reason to stop at 100 or any other number. In the end, I think the numbers are arbitrary. In the end, maybe the challenge is getting to the point where going every day is just not a challenge anymore.