Friday, October 31, 2008


10:30 am with Connease

Connease is our new teacher.  I like her because she said my second part of Awkward Pose was "beautiful."  She also had very good energy, gave what sounded like good corrections, and taught a very nice class.

The room was cold.  I think getting the heat right is just hard for new teachers.  They know the dialogue and the yoga, but every studio has its own HVAC system, and I guess they all have peculiarities.  Today, I wasn't the only one who thought it was too cold.  About 4 other regulars spoke up after class, and Connease said, in the future, just to speak up.  She also said if you think its too hot, you are on your own.  I liked that-- it shows a nice sense of humor.

She also said she's going to see Bikram tomorrow.  It turns out he's giving a seminar in Orlando and she's flying out for it.  I checked the Orlando studio website, and the seminar is basically all day, including a lecture a posture clinic, and a class.  It costs $200.  Someday....

Class was fine today.  First forward bend was a bit stiffer than yesterday.  I may have pushed a little too hard in my enthusiasm.  But I don't think I hurt anything.  Balancing series was pretty good.  I fell out of three parts of Standing Head to Knee, but Connease said she liked the way I was kicking out.  (Both times Connease complimented me today, I immediately fell out of the pose.  I understand it in the balancing pose, but I never fall out of Awkward.  I probably just felt so strange to get such a great compliment.)

Standing Bow was really good.  I almost made it through in each of the four sets.  But couldn't quite hold on at the end.  So I ended up falling out all four times, but it was still probably my best overall effort yet.  And Balancing Stick was pretty good.  I fell out once because the person next to me did, and the sudden motion threw me off.

The floor series was fine as well.  The only strange part was Rabbit.  In second set I came close to pulling something under my shoulderblade (right side).  I've never felt that big a stretch there before.  Rabbit was really going well a couple of weeks ago, and now I don't feel quite so deep into it as I was and I'm getting different stretching feeling than I used to.  I need to ask someone if I'm doing something wrong, or if what's going on is a kind of progress.

And I got a good correction in Locust.  I wasn't locking my legs enough in the single leg raises, and need to concentrate more on stretching back with them instead of lifting up.  These changes make the pose even harder, and I don't get as much lift, but I could really feel more in my leg and even in my back.  But that's just what I needed:  a way to make Locust even harder.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


4:30 with Miranda

I went to the hot side of the class today and it kicked my butt.  There were only 10 in class, and they all set up near the windows.  I was all by my self on the other end.  When I looked in the mirrors, there was no-one beside me, no-one behind me, and I could barely see the others in my peripheral vision.

I was looking forward to that kind of isolation.  I thought it would be great for my focus.  But no dice.  I was middling at best in the balancing series.  I should have known better.  The distractions don't really come from the people around you, but from within.  And in a strange way, I think by eliminating all the people around me, I just put a stronger light on the internal stuff that was going to lead to distraction anyway.  Once again, I got through one of four tries in Standing Head to Knee and Standing Bow. 

Balancing Stick, however, has improved alot in the last few days.  I'm getting closer to a "T" and less like a broken umbrella.  I haven't fallen in several days, and I even come out of the pose in more or less the starting position.  In the past I have tended to fall back to the right as I came out of the pose.

The big thing today was the first forward bend.  I got my head to touch my shins for the first time, even if it was a bit of a push.  And I am very, very close to locking the knees.  Considering I could barely get into this pose when I was struggling with sciatica, this is an amazing improvement.  When the knees finally lock in this pose, maybe I should throw a party.

Fixed firm was good today as well.  In the second set, I allowed myself to spread my knees some, and the hips went down to the floor pretty easily.  I went back onto my elbows and even started inching back from there.  My knee didn't scream, and the pose felt pretty good.

On the negative side (maybe), the heat kicked my butt.  I almost sat out a set of Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee.  And I think my pulse, at least in my ears, was pounding at about 200 beats a minute, like Gene Krupa playing in my head (or maybe its more appropriate to say it was like Wipe Out playing in my head?)  But I made it.  Now I need to think about whether its better to take my usual spot, where I usually feel strong and on top of things, or whether its better to be in the spot that is more challenging.  I don't have a scientific answer for that, but I can see good aspects to both.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


4:30 pm with Miranda

Today, I thought the room was too cold again.  In the floor series, I saw Miranda repeatedly go to the controls, and I thought she was trying to get things warmer, and it did seem to be getting a little warmer.  Then, after Rabbit, she opened the door to the lobby and said she was giving us a treat because no matter how much she tried to turn the heat down, it just kept getting hotter.  So I guess my class was stronger than I thought -- at least the heat was obviously no obstacle.

The first set of the balancing series was terrible.  I fell out four times on one side.  As soon as I lifted my foot up, my weight would shift to the outside edge of my standing foot.  And I couldn't bring it together.  Second set was much better.  I managed to hold the full length on the right side, and did pretty well on the left after falling out once at the very beginning.  After that, my focus returned, and I did OK in both Standing Bow and Balancing Stick.  I still only made it all the way through one of the four tries in Standing Bow, but at least I felt like I was working through the poses.

I seem to have hit a new level in Awkward Pose.  In the second part, I'm finally all the way down in the chair, while keeping my back straight.  I still have a ways to go to get all the way up on my toes, but otherwise the second part is looking good.  The first part has been pretty good for a while.  And I'm not feeling limited by my knee in the third part anymore.

The floor series was pretty standard.  It occurred to me today that I still have a lingering fear of Locust, even though its been a while since the pose has caused me any real trouble.  I haven't spit up for a while, and I don't fall out of it very often at all any more (and for some reason, I never seem to fall out of it in Miranda's class).   Locust still gets my heart zooming, and its not easy at all.  But it is a pretty satisfying pose these days.  That makes me wonder when I will start looking forward to it as it now actually is, instead of as the dreaded monster that it was for several months.

Monday, October 27, 2008


4:30 pm with Miranda

Something was wrong with the heat today.  At the start of class, the room was 87 degrees and 51% humidity.  By the end, it got up almost to 102, with 46% humidity.  Most of the time, it felt cold, and that had some interesting effects.

Of course, flexibility was a bit off, and I could really feel that in Fixed Firm, Camel, Rabbit, and some of the stretchy poses.  That's to be expected.  One of the selling points of the heat is that it makes you more limber.

As an odd benefit, I found the balancing poses much easier to do in the relative cold.  I held two full periods out of the four total in both Standing Head to Knee and Standing Bow.  And I had no trouble at all holding, and even pushing, Balancing Stick.  I had not been all that aware before how much the heat adds to the challenge of these poses.  It makes some sense:  there is a mental aspect to dealing with the heat, and I can see how that might make it harder to keep focused like you need to for these poses.

The other benefit, if it is a benefit, is that a strength pose, like Awkward, seems so much easier in the cold.  Same thing with the entire balancing series.  I felt like I did all of these really well.  But then, it was cold, so its kind of a cheat.

Afterward, I'm feeling a little bit weird in both of my knees.  They aren't hurt, but they are a little sore.  That may be from pushing the stretches too hard under the colder conditions, and its definitely something I will have to mind tomorrow.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Sat. 9:30 am with Amy
Sun. 2:30 pm with Miranda

Saturday's class was really hard.  For the first time in months, I think, I had to sit out one of the postures.  We came out of the first half of Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee, and I couldn't keep my breath.  I was gasping some through my mouth, and in keeping with the new rules I set for myself, I went to my knees until I had my breath back and could give the pose my all.

Not being able to make it was weird for me now.  On the bright side, it means I'm still capable of pushing my self to the outer edge.  And I didn't blame myself too much for it.  Maybe I'm getting a little better about accepting each day for what it is.

After class I asked Amy about the humidity.  She said that the humidifier didn't kick on until sometime in the floor series.  When class started, the room was under 100 degrees, but with over 50% humidity.  And all of the humidity was just from the natural conditions.  She kicked up the heat to draw some of the water out of the air, but she insisted that it never went over 105.  Maybe so, but it felt really hot.

By the end of the class, it was perfect Bikram weather, and I was doing really well again.  So while the end of the standing series was really hard, the floor series was good.

And since I'm starting to keep score, my balancing series was fair at best.  I made it through a second set of Head to Knee and Bow without falling, on the right side only.  And I made it through one full set without falling in Balancing Stick.  I've got a long way to go to hit my goals in this series.  It should be interesting.

Which brings us to this afternoon's class.  I set up in the back row.  It makes a huge difference in the balancing series for me, and not for the better.  I fell out alot.  I think I made one side of one set in Standing Bow, and that was it.  On my left leg, I was falling to the outside continually.  It's much harder to focus on a single point in the mirror from the back row, and there seems to be alot more peripheral distraction.  But I'm thinking that the difficulties could also provide an opportunity.  I'm going to set up in the back a bit more regularly, on the theory that if I learn to focus there, it will increase my ability to focus more generally.

Miranda helped out today in a couple of poses, and it was great.  She pushed really hard in Wind Relieving, and was giving her general instructions to me specifically as well.  I got my knee much closer to my shoulder than I have before, and in the third part, I could really feel something opening up in my back.

Then she helped out in one set of the final stretch.  This was a bit scary, because I don't know how aware she is of the knee problem I've had.  After pulling out on my legs in the stretch pose, she whispered "I had to hold back a little so I wouldn't break your legs."  Nice to know that she was thinking the same thing I was.

Fixed Firm was good today.  I got down on my elbows in the second set with no pain.  Once again, I think Lenette's advice has worked wonders here.  She said I had a tendancy to let my left toes point too much to the outside, and I really needed to work on getting the toes of both feet pointing straight back, as much as possible.  This has made a world of difference in how the pose feels, and I'm getting much more of a stretch in the ankles and feet.  It's still slow going, but it seems like the foundation I will end up with should be much more secure.

The other thing I noticed about the back row is how different the eye directions can be here.  I'm pretty used to my eyes reaching certain points on the floor, or ceiling, or mirror, or wall, depending on the postures.  And I've tended to use those points as a measure of my progress.  Moving to the back room messes with that frame of reference, and that is also probably a good thing.  My guess is that I pushed myself a little harder today in some poses, because I didn't know what the usual end point was.  That is yet another reason for moving around in the room, and one I had not thought of before.

Friday, October 24, 2008


4:30 pm Thursday with Miranda;  No Yoga Today

I missed blogging yesterday, but not class.  Today I'm setting the balance even, by missing class but catching up on the blog.

Yesterday's class was basically perfect.  I felt good throughout, had no problems from any of my little nagging injuries.  I went in feeling good and came out feeling better. 

 I had really good focus in the balancing series.  By the way, I think that is what I'm going to focus on for the near future.  My goal is going to be to get through the entire balancing series without falling, while pushing it, and then to do that for at least three classes in a row.  I think that's going to be more of a challenge than my 60 or 100 days.  It will probably take longer too.

Today, I felt really good all day.  I didn't make it to class because of one of those 1-5 pm repair calls.  The repairman said he would come sometime after 1 pm.  And I guess 4:30 is sometime after one.  So is Sunday, for that matter.  Anyway, my hips were talking to me some during the afternoon, so I guess a day off isn't all bad.  Now I'm really looking forward to tomorrow morning's class.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


4:30 with Miranda

I need to learn to shut out the people practicing nearby.  Today I was next to a guy who started just around the same time that I did.  He's in his twenties, in decent shape, and has probably been going to class 4-5 times a week.  I've noticed before that in Half Moon he tends to drop his arms alot, like maybe 6 times in the first set alone.  For some reason, this habit of his draws my attention to him.  I want to take him aside and tell him that he should just focus on keeping his arms raised high and stretching up and locking the elbows.  Anything further that he does would just be a bonus.  But I don't know how to approach him about this.  The teachers haven't said anything to him that I know about, so I'm probably just being too picky.

And today, in every Savasana, he was wiping his forehead, adjusting his hair, taking a drink, and it was just so busy.  Again, I wanted to say something, but I'm afraid he would take it the wrong way.  It's just that his practice would really start to open up, I think, if he just settled down.  On the other hand, its not really much of my business, unless he asks me, and I really would be much better off if I could just bring myself not to notice on it (or maybe to notice it but not to think about it so much).

Practice was about average.  My knee feels much better, and I'm pushing harder on the poses where it was causing problems before.  The only time it feels at all weird now is coming up from the third part of awkward pose.  There's a sort of pop as I come up that is definitely not right, but even that is getting better.  Fixed Firm is still a ways away from where it was, but that's just a matter of time.

The odd thing now is that the practices feel good, and I feel great after them.  I'm probably making progress, but its not all that noticeable -- certainly not on a day by day basis.  The challenge has basically ended.  So now I have to come up with something (or maybe I don't) that will allow me to take the practice to still another new level.  I'm not sure what that is yet, but I think I'm going to explore some ideas in the next few days.  One idea, of course, is not to push things and let the practice evolve naturally for a while.  That sort of goes against my nature, but its probably worth considering.


8:15 pm with Miranda

It's been a while since I've taken the late evening class, and it was very nice.  I felt looser later in the day.  The energy level in the room was good.  And for the first time, class started after the sun had set.  Practicing in the dark is different, and made things feel almost serene.

I found another pose I've been doing wrong:  Rabbit.  There are several head to knee compression poses in the series.  In at least two others, Separate Leg Head to Knee, and the final stretch head to knee, we are encouraged to put our heads up even above the knee if possible.  When I first started Rabbit, it was impossible for me to get my head near my knees.  Then I could do it, and I was really proud of my progress.  Then, I could bring my head down to my thighs instead of on the front of my knees.  I was so pleased with that progress, that I just went ahead and did "better", apparently without listening.  As a result, I've been rolling too far forward on my head and planting almost the back of my head on the mat.  Today, I realized what I was doing wrong, and followed the instruction of putting my forehead on the knee and rolling forward so the crown of the head touched the floor.  My hips went up much higher, my elbows locked naturally, and I felt less in my neck and even more deep in my lower back.

The odd thing is that I'm making these small discoveries now in poses that I thought I did well.  No, for me, I did do them well.  But that just shows that there is always room for improvement, and sometimes it is fairly obvious room for improvement.  

Overall, today's class was really strong.  I had very good concentration in balancing series.  I did a full minute in Standing Head to Knee without falling out (kicking up right leg).  I did both sides of Standing Bow in second set without falling, and getting a decent view of my foot over my head.  Balancing Stick was balanced for a change, without any falling.

I'm slowly making some progress in the Separate Leg Forward Stretch.  This one is really hard for me because I'm so tight in my hips with my legs spread.  It seems like the key here for me is to keep my eyes open and to try deliberately to lengthen my back.   I've taken this one really slowly for a while because it was probably the chief culprit in my sciatic problem.

Floor series was strong, and pretty relaxed for me.  Back strengthening just felt good today for some reason.  No dreading Locust, and I'm even getting better about easing out of the postures instead of just collapsing to the floor.  

Camel was great again.  It's getting to be one of my absolute favorites, and I'm always amused when the teachers try to encourage people to stick with the pose, because for me its never been that much of a killer.  Today, I was actually a bit disappointed when it was over;  I felt like holding it longer.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with the excess energy I get from the 8:15 class.  It's been a little while, so I'm not used to it any more.  And here it is, at 3:08 in the morning and I'm typing this when I should be asleep....

Monday, October 20, 2008


4:30 pm with Miranda

Cisco came to class today with a friend who went through teacher training with him, and who now teaches in Colorado (I think).  He was just behind me, and he had a really strong practice.  No water, perfectly still between postures, and extremely controlled coming into and out of postures.  The teachers have told us time and again to try to get quickly into the Savasanas on the floor poses.  He took this almost to an art form.  While I was just kind of turning around, he was already on his back and relaxed.

Having them in class was both an inspiration and a hinderance.  It's great to see people with so much energy, focus, and discipline.  So from that aspect, it will probably be a big help for me in the future.  But at the same time, there were several times when I realized that I was losing focus because I was watching more than concentrating on my own poses.  Of course this raised its ugly head most in the balancing poses.

I did learn one detail from them.  I've been going into Triangle wrong.  We're told to move our arms only when going from the last part of the set-up into the pose.  I had been holding the arm-chest alignment steady at right angles and dropping into the pose.  I saw both of them moving just the arms from the shoulders to get into the pose and then moving down from there to get the fingers near the big toe and first toe.  In second set, I tried it that way, and it made a big difference, in my hips at first, and then I noticed that I was able to stretch down in the torso, as well as up, which of course is what we are told to do.  Here's the amazing thing:  once again I realize I'm doing something wrong, and that the right way to do it is the way the dialogue says. 

How many times is this going to happen?  I've really been trying to focus on the instructions and doing what I'm told, and I'm still finding lots of areas where I have either refused to listen, or just gotten it wrong.  I know I've complained about other people not being able to listen, and maybe the reason it bothers me so much in other people is because I know how guilty I am of exactly the same thing.

Overall, class was good and strong.  Hot, but not crushing.  I felt really good throughout the floor series.  Camel was great again.  I went back on my elbows in second set of Fixed Firm.  And I even did one set of Blowing in Firm in Japanese Sitting Position.  It's been a long time since I tried that.  So my knee is definitely, if slowly, improving.

Two other pieces of good news.  Rumor has it that Bikram will be coming to Houston for a workshop sometime in the next several months.  I don't know the date yet.  And next year, the Woodlands will be hosting the Texas Asana Competition.  I bailed on this year's competition, which was yesterday, when I got the sciatic problem.  But with the location so close, and so much time to think about preparing, I see no reason not to do it next year.  Maybe that will get me a bit further into Standing Head to Knee.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


2:30 pm with Miranda

I'm back on a roll again.  Stamina just isn't a problem for me anymore.  On Sundays, I go in without having eaten all day, and I used to really suffer from lack of energy.  Recently, that hasn't been an issue.

I started off a bit stiff, maybe from taking yesterday off, and I didn't feel completely with the class until the second set standing Head to Feet.  I'm just barely away from touching my forehead to my shins, and from there I think I might even be able to lock out me knees.  But since this is a forward bend, I also do not want to take the risk of pushing too hard just to make a breakthrough.

Balancing series was pretty good, especially standing bow.  I only fell out at the very end of the first set poses, and then not at all in the second set.  Standing Head to Knee was ok.  I'm still falling out as soon as I think about flexing my kicking foot, but otherwise I'm fairly secure in the foundation.

Since I haven't been doing Toe Stand at all recently, my Tree Pose has become very secure.  Today, Miranda explained in more detail what she means by "hips forward".  I've always taken this to mean that you should push the hip of the raised leg forward.  It turns out that I was listening wrong.  What I had been doing would simply tend to rotate the hips.  Instead, the idea is to push both hips forward.  Go figure that you are supposed to do what the dialogue actually says.  Doh!  When I tried it her way, I could feel more of a stretch in my knees.

Floor series was good, especially Cobra, Full Locust, and Camel.  In Camel I'm now routinely seeing the mats of the people behind me, and in second set I can feel that I'm making even more progress than that.  In Cobra, if I really squeeze my hips, butt and thighs, I can get a very good stretch in my upper back and even the front of my neck.  And I go up higher in Full Locust than I ever imagined I would.

After writing about all my joints cracking yesterday, I paid some more attention to it today.  It turns out that my back, shoulders and hips crack even more than I thought.  My wrists crack in Eagle.  And my elbows, as I said before, are the only joints I have left that stubbornly remain silent.

My knee felt a bit stiff in the morning and also going into class.  It didn't interfere with anything in class, and it has felt much better afterward.  I was actually doing some full out running with the dogs at the park this afternoon, with no ill effects.  So things are looking up.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

113/122 Snap Crackle Pop

Fri. 4:30 pm with Margaux

Getting out of bed this morning, my back cracked in three spots.  I've been cracking repeatedly and sometimes unexpectedly in just about all of my joints.  This had better be a good thing, because there is an awful lot of it, from my neck all the way down to my toes.

In class, there are some pops and cracks that I have come to expect.  In pranayama, my fingers will crack on the first repetition, which is really common, and then my neck will crack on the first or second repetition as I drop it all the way back.  That's a single pop at the point where my neck connects into my skull.

Coming out of the first forward bend, in the first set, my right hip will give a nice pop.  If I don't feel this pop, it typically means that I'm not warming up properly, and it can be a signal that class isn't going to go that well.  In Awkward Pose, in the third part, my left knee will crack and then my right knee right afterward.  Then, between sets of Awkward Pose, when I bring my feet back together, there will be some popping in the joints between my big toes and my feet.

Eagle sometimes manages to get some noises out of my shoulders.  This one is funny though.  It's advertised as working all the major joints, but for what it does it gets very little popping.  Standing series is pretty quiet after that, until Tree, which almost always manages to get some more cracking in the hip and knee of the lifted leg.

In the floor series, I'm already warmed up, so the popping is less than it is at the start.  The main ones I can count on are:  ankles coming out of the first set of Fixed Firm, neck going into the belly down Savasana, right knee in Rabbit, and the left knee and hip getting into the first half of the spinal twist.

The only joint I can think of that doesn't pop now are my elbows.  I don't know why, but my elbows don't crack, not even in Eagle or Locust.

Class was sort of middling.  Nothing that bad or good.  I need to take Margaux's classes a bit more often.  I haven't been able to push through Locust yet in any of her classes, and I'm sure its a mental thing.  So if I took a few of her classes in a row, I'd probably be able to see my way through it.  Camel was great again, as was Rabbit.  My knee felt good throughout.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


4:30 with Miranda.

Everything was good today.  I started strong in pranayama, which was over before I knew it.  I could feel a really good stretch inside my ribs, and my mind wasn't wandering very much.  From there, things got better.  No pain at all in the third part of Awkward Pose, and my first part is beginning to look really good.  I still need some work on keeping my triceps flexed, and on getting down low in the second part, but overall I'm pretty happy with this pose.

Balancing was better than it has been the last few days.  I'm doing well at keeping my knee locked.  In Standing Head to Knee, I've been trying to flex my toes back on the kicking leg, and it makes me fall every time.  So there's still a ways to go there, but I'm falling from pushing myself, and that's just fine.

The rest of the standing series was good.  I was even tempted to try Toe Stand, but held off.  I didn't fidget, I actually locked my elbows for most of Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee, and I kept strong and still throughout.

Floor series was good too.  I had sort of a breakthrough in Camel.  In the second set, when I dropped my hands to grab my heels, they actually hit the floor.  That's a first, and I don't know if I should keep them that low or not.  I need to ask someone.  Anyway, that was so cool that I decided to push the pose even harder than usual, and I ended up being able to see the front of the mats of the people in the back row.  Who knows, maybe someday I actually will be able to see the back of my own mat...

Fixed Firm was better again today.  I went down on my elbows in the second set and could feel my butt pretty squarely on the floor.  And there was no need to pull out of it:  my knee wasn't screaming to come off the floor.

The other thing that occurred to me today is that I haven't even thought about spitting up in Locust basically since the day I got chicken up my nose.  Who knows, maybe I'm pretty much over that fun part of the daily practice.  One big bonus of that development:  I no longer come out of Cobra in a state of dread.  And I've been able to focus on pointing my feet and locking my knees in Locust, instead of just hanging on for dear life.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


4:30 pm with Miranda

Today it felt hot from the start, and it just kept getting hotter through at least Full Locust.  For the first time in quite some time, I was suffering and doing the "It hurts..." mantra which so totally messes up the practice.  Then, for no reason I can think of, I just sort of forgot about how hot it was and everything picked up.  Sometimes it's very hard for me to figure out what exactly is going on.  One thing is for sure:  no matter how still I stay between postures, chanting "this hurts" to myself is just going to create all sorts of internal fidgeting that's ultimately way worse than all the sweat wiping and clothes adjusting in the world. 

My knee didn't feel quite as good as yesterday going into class.   But surprise, it was still better during class, and much better afterwards.  I actually dropped onto my elbows for a second in the second set of Fixed Firm.  My knee didn't come up, but it definitely wanted to, so I came out right away.  But it also didn't put any excess strain on the knee, and my butt was skimming the floor for the first time in a long time.  Maybe that was the upside of the excess heat?

The standing series is sort of a blur now.  Miranda gave me some good correction in Triangle.  I was not stretching up enough with the upper arm, and I needed to twist back a bit more with it as well.  Otherwise, I would have said the whole series was distinctly below average and even a bit discouraging.

Back in 9th grade, I played Football for one season.  Every day before practice, I would trudge toward the locker room wondering whether I was going to quit that day.  (I really hated football, by the way, and I'm still not exactly sure why I played.)  And every day, I got dressed and went to get beaten up in practice, and I never missed a day.  That's how I feel sometimes when I'm coming out of the standing series.  I start telling myself:  OK, I'm going to the floor and now I can just take it easy, and it won't be that big a deal.  But then I don't do it:  I actually overcompensate for the lazy thoughts usually, pulling hard in Wind Relieving, then really pushing it in the spine strengthening series.  That happenned again today.  I was basically ready to call it quits about halfway through Triangle, and then somehow I tried even harder in the floor series in an effort, I guess, to cleanse myself of the negative thoughts.

By camel, I was doing quite well again, and I had a really good end of class.  Coming out, I felt really hot, but satisfied.  And later on, I felt great.  

Another strange thing that happened in this class is that somewhere during one of the Savasanas, I had the strong thought: spaghetti sauce.  I realize this isn't quite the sort of tremendous emotional breakthrough or revelation that some people get doing Bikram, but it hit me with the same force, and I'll take what I can get.  I haven't made a good sauce in a few years, but I followed the impulse and made one of the best sauces I've ever made.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


4:30 with Miranda

The heat was a bit of a roller coaster today.  In half moon, I felt like telling Miranda the room was too cold.  By Eagle, the humidity and heat started cranking up, and I was really dripping.  Then it kept getting hotter and hotter with less and less air  in the room.  By Triangle, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it.  And then it got cooler, and by the middle of the floor series, I was just fine again.  And through all of the standing series, I didn't see Miranda go to the controls once.  So I don't know if there were actual changes, or if it was all in my head.

Class was great.  My knee feels like it is about 85-90% better.  Every pose is now better than when I started, even fixed firm.  My hip pain is really a thing of the past.  So I can now say that I am as good as new, but actually I'm much better than new (or at least when I was new to Bikram).  I was tempted to do the final Blowing In Firm in Japanese Sitting position, but decided to give it a bit more time.  With any luck at all, in a week or so I will be completely pain-free.  Even now, with just the slight discomfort in my left knee, I feel so much better than I have basically since about day 45 of the challenge.  And it makes the class just fly by.

As for the poses themselves: no breakthroughs, and no busts either.  Balancing stick was better than usual.  I kept my balance throughout, my arms were locked or close to it, and I could imagine myself in a T, though it was probably a bit angled.  I grabbed the outsides of my feet in the Separate Leg Head to Floor, which I haven't done in a while.  I was almost locked out in both sides of Separate Leg Head to Knee.  

Floor series was very strong throughout, especially Full Locust and Floor Bow.  I'm really beginning to feel stuff in my middle back, not just the lower and very upper parts.  I'm not sure how much it shows yet, but that will come with time.

Here's what I'm wondering:  I've been careful on the poses that brought out knee pain.  I've now done Lenettes correction in fixed firm a couple of times.  I'm doing Miranda's suggested knee stretches before class.  And I'm doing the strengtheners that the Hatha Yoga Anatomy book suggested.  And I've taken some days of rest.  So what, or what combination, is actually working to heal my knee?  I think its probably impossible to say, and since its getting better, I'm not going to mess with what I'm doing.  In the end, I won't know what did it, or whether the problem just naturally ran its course.  No big deal, I guess, but it would be nice to have something more than opinion or conjecture.


Mon. 10:30 am with Lenette

Another good strong class.  Lenette gave me some great corrections, especially in fixed firm, and they seem to help.  My left toes were pointing out too far to the outside, and she said that is actually making my knee worse.  She had me tuck the foot under more so the toe was more in a straight line to the back.

The same thing happens quite often in Bikram.  The things you do to make yourself feel better often actually make you feel worse.  The easiest example I can think of is wiping off sweat.  I see people doing this all the time -- constantly taking their towel and drying themselves off.  It's true that the process of evaporating makes people cooler, so there are times that getting dry means getting cool.  But simply wiping the sweat off causes the body to generate more sweat, and that just makes you hotter and more dehydrated.  (By the way, the main reason I like to be where there is air flow is because moving air promotes evaporation, which makes you cooler.)

Another example along the same lines is drinking ice water.  Ice water, I'm sure, feels great the moment that you drink it.  I never bring any into the room, so I don't actually know, but I do know how great cold drinks feel afterward.  The problem is that your body has to expend energy heating the drink up before it can absorb the water.

And the last easy example I can think of is not locking the knee correctly.  It's so much easier to cheat a little on this, and it can end up being much more dangerous.  People hurt their backs, their knees, because they have a sort of/kind of locked knee.  On this, because of my recent knee problems, I'm once again barely kicking out at all and just focusing on developing the strength in my leg to hold the knee locked for a full minute.  And yes, it hurts.

Speaking of locking the knee, Lenette corrected my Locust posture today.  This is another one where you are supposed to be locking the knees on the lifted leg.  I do OK on the right, but my left knee doesn't want to lock when it lifts.  Coincidence?  I think not.  So here's another one where I have to focus hard on doing the thing that hurts just a little more.

Yanzi was still jet lagged, and I couldn't get her up to come to class.  The good news is that it is no longer a question of whether she will try Bikram, but when.  Maybe later this week.

Monday, October 13, 2008

108/117 Day Off

No yoga today, and I feel great.  There's a small danger here.  I have to remind myself that the reason I feel so great is mostly because of the yoga, and not because I'm taking the day off.  Else, I might slip into taking too many days off and not feeling so good again. 

But then its probably not that big a danger.  I'm already looking forward to getting back into the sweat chamber.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

108/116 Hard for Newbies

2:30 pm with Miranda

Today was the day for first timers.  There were maybe 25 people in class, and 12 of them were in their very first Bikram class.  And I think almost 5 more were veterans with a single class under their belt (so attending for the "free" second class).  I can't imagine how hard this is for a teacher, but Miranda pulled it off beautifully.  No-one left the room.  And she didn't coddle the class at all, it was hot and humid especially during the standing series.

I don't typically look at other people that much during class, but today I pretty much could not resist.  Before class, there was a very fit guy who came in with a really, really nice woven rug.  I asked him how he was going to dry it, and he just said that it would dry eventually.  Someone then told me that he was a Yoga instructor from another discipline (I don't know which) who was visiting town from New Mexico.

When I came into the room, he was warming up in the back, doing some amazing bendy things.  He then did a really great lotus posture, a handstand, and some other very impressive warm-ups.  So I'm thinking to myself that here is a newbie who is really going to nail this yoga from the start

Wrong.  The first thing I notice is what I mentioned before.  First thing you hear in Pranayama is "feet together nicely, heels and toes touching".  I look back at him in the mirror and his feet are about 4-6 inches apart, and never get any closer, even in the later poses.  This doesn't make him any different than any of the other beginners, including me, but it does show that people are somehow incapable of actually listening to instructions and taking them seriously.  By the way, the guy had truly amazing yogis feet, his toes all spread apart perfectly, and his feet looked really strong and flexible.

Then, in first set of Awkward pose, I see that he can't go down into the chair.  By the second part he's suffering as much as anyone, and in the third part he can't keep his knees together as he's going down.  By the middle of the second part of awkward pose, he is down for the count.  And through the rest of the standing series, he managed maybe 1/3 of the postures.

No matter how strong or accomplished you think someone is going to be, the first exposure to a Bikram class is just as likely to knock them on their ass and kick the crap out of them.  It's really an amazing thing to see.  There was another guy about 20 years old who looked like he was in great shape, but a bit muscle bound like lots of the atheletes who come through.  He didn't go down until Standing Head to Knee.   

And here's the other surprise:  a slightly overweight woman who looked to be pretty out of shape was next to the two of them.  It was also her first class, and she didn't go down until Triangle, and missed only one set of it.  So you never do no.  By Triangle the carnage was pretty intense, I think almost 2/3 of the class was down for the count at that point.  Miranda managed to rally most of them for the end of the standing series, and nobody left, so like I said before she did a great job keeping them together.

Two things occurred to me during all of this.  Watching the advanced yogi struggle, it became clear how different what we are learning must be from what is included in other yoga schools.  So, while it was clear that he had areas of weakness where a typical Bikram yogi would be strong, that got me to wondering where I am weak and could be stronger if I were doing something else.  

The thing that was even clearer is that the hot room develops a kind of toughness and focus that probably does not come any other way.  We've had professional athletes, yoga teachers, fitness instructors and personal trainers come through.  In some ways it seems like the more fit and more confident a person is going into the room, the more badly beaten up they are in the first classes (and the less likely it is that they will return).  The ones who come back, it seems to me, go in either expecting to get beaten up or not expecting much at all one way or the other.  They don't pretend to know anything from the outset, and as a result are more willing to listen, and because they are is such bad shape (as I was), the benefits are almost immediately apparent.

Now for a couple of words on the class itself.  I felt great.  I did really well in the balancing series.  I only fell out of Standing Head to Knee and Bow once each.  Balancing stick clicked for the first time in weeks, partially because my hip is totally better now, and my knee was feeling better as well.  The floor series was solid throughout, except I cramped up in the right foot in first set of Camel, so skipped it.  I made up for it with a really strong second set.  

My knee was better today than yesterday, and it seems to be improving by the hour.  I haven't felt any pain in it at all tonight.  Fixed Firm was slightly better today than yesterday, but it's going to be slow going.  But Japanese Sitting position was almost back to normal, just a slight hitch to the right still, but its getting to be barely noticeable.

Even better, the whole staying still routine is becoming second nature and its really helping with everything else.  It's amazing how much energy you lose by trying to do little things that you falsely believe will conserve energy.  The obvious ones are wiping sweat, leaning forward to suck air, shifting feet, etc...  The more I try it, the clearer it is that the best way to approach the class is that you are either doing the postures as best you can, or you are doing nothing at all.  Everything else just detracts from progress.  The nice thing about this approach is that its simultaneously so simple and so hard, and that's how I think this yoga should be, very simple and really hard.

Friday, October 10, 2008


4:30 pm with Miranda

I started out very distracted.  For the first 30-40 minutes I found it very hard to focus, and my mind wandered quite a bit.  Then I managed to let go and just listen to Miranda and follow along, and everything came into place.  The floor series was one of the best I've had in a while.  It's amazing how much a wandering mind interferes.  The trouble is finding a reliable cure for it.  It's pretty easy right now for me to force my body to be still during postures.  It's much, much harder to get the same kind of control over my mind.  And it's too bad, because when my mind is quiet and I'm focusing just on what's there, everything goes wonderfully.

My knee was much improved over yesterday.  It felt stronger and looser during the day, and that stayed with me during class.   I got down a little further in Fixed Firm.  A few more days with the same progress and my butt would be on the floor again.  Japanese sitting position was much closer to straight up than its been.  And I didn't feel any limitations from my knee in the final stretch.  So things are looking up.

I read an interesting passage on fixing the knees in a Hatha Yoga Anatomy book.  It recommended standing with your feet spread as far as possible while still parallel.  From this position, you will do a forward bend and a backward arch.  Then twist to the left as much as you can while keeping your feet in place, and do the bend and arch again.  Then twist to the right.  It then describes eight hand positions to try while doing this.  This makes 48 poses in all:  3 trunk positions, forward and backward bend, eight hand/arm positions.   In all positions, of course, you need to lock the knees (engage quads and hamstrings while lifting kneecap).  The book says that this exercise will work all of the knees supporting muscles, and ultimately should cure any minor knee ailment.

I've tried them a bit.  The book recommends starting with 5 minutes a day, and working up to maybe 15 minutes if the knee is pretty bad.  It's astonishing how directly the forward bend goes to the sore point in my knee when I twist to the left.  Even more amazing is how much better the knee started to feel almost instantly on having done this.  I will definitely be adding these little stretches to my arsenal, a few times a day.  I'm also going to look a bit more closely at the book.  If it has much more practical information like this, then its definitely worth it.

Yanzi is talking about trying Bikram, maybe Monday morning.  It's only taken six months, but I think my physical results may finally have persuaded her that its worth a try.  In some ways, this may be a good thing.  Back in February we went to a gym yoga class together, and she did not like how loud I was, breathing, gasping, some groaning, etc...  Back then I was a mess.  Now, I don't make nearly as much noise (I don't think I make any at all, really, except maybe after a bad Locust), and I think she might actually enjoy going to class with me -- if she can stand the heat and the relative slowness (she likes Latin dancing, and this is a far cry from that).  Here's hoping...


Thursday 4:30 pm with Amy

I had my annual check-up today.  All my blood work was normal.  And everything else was fine, too.  So it was OK to take myself off the medications, and I am now completely med-free.   Blood pressure is still a tiny bit on the high side, and that means I'll probably have to lose some more weight, which isn't that big a deal.  But my total cholesterol was only 161, with an HDL of 51, which is pretty amazing.  And my triglycerides were only 125, down from almost 400.  I owe all of these changes to Bikram Yoga.

The doctor confirmed that my knee problem is just mild tendonitis.  He gave me a referral, which I might use if it does not continue to improve, and he recommended rest, ice, and aspirin or another anti-inflammatory painkiller.

Class was fine.  The biggest problem was that I had a chicken quesadilla for lunch.  I knew it was going to be a problem even in half moon pose, but tried to put it out of my mind.  That worked until Locust.  In the first set of Locust I tried to tough my way through the first set, which may not have been such a great idea.   The end result:  a piece of chicken that I clearly should have chewed more came up through my left nostril.  That was a first for me, and not pleasant at all.  It burned.  I had to pull it out with my fingers - yuk, and then deposit it at the corner of my towel.  At that point I had a choice, and I decided that it really couldn't get much worse.  So I did a strong second set, and luckily had no repeats.  

In the future, if I feel the need to spit up, I'll either just let it happen or ease up on the effort enough to stop it.

Besides that little episode, class was really good.  Cisco was taking class today.  In Eagle, I noticed that he didn't have his foot wrapped around his calf.  This really drove home the idea that everyone's bodies are different and that that is just fine.  Sometimes I get a little frustrated because I'm not making the really quick progress I made at the start, and I don't have breakthroughs every week.  Getting my foot around in Eagle is one of those things where I sometimes think I should be progressing faster than I am.  But seeing Cisco still trying to wrap his foot allowed me to forgive myself and  to temper my expectations.

On the poses themselves:  balancing series was below average, mostly on the left side, because I'm trying to get a bit more weight onto the inside of the foot and activate the big toe.  Triangle was strong again, as was Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee.  I'm starting to straighten out my left leg in that pose again.  Wind Relieving was good:  I can almost imagine my knee touching my shoulder at some point.  I checked today, and its only about 2.5-3 inches away.  And Full Locust was amazing today.  My chest really comes up now, and my back arches very nicely.  I need to start thinking about how to get the feet up some more as well.  This is the pose I've seen the most progress on in the last few weeks.

After class my knee felt much better, and it continues to feel better, throughout the rest of the day and especially now after a good night's sleep.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


8:30 am with Lenette

It's been some time since I've had a morning class.  I'm stiffer in the morning, so the class can be a bit tougher than the later classes.  But the day following a morning class is so great that I'm not sure why I've been going to the later ones.  Doing this yoga early just makes everything fresher and more alive for the rest of the day.

Class was strong.  I was in my usual spot, but the fan that blows on me wasn't working, so the usual spot was quite hot.  The heat made the end of the standing series challenging, and I got up a really good sweat.  But I didn't ever feel like I might drop anything, and I managed to keep fairly still.  I only caught myself once bending forward to put hands on my knees.

The poses that have been strong recently were strong again today:  Half Moon, First Two Parts of Awkward, Triangle, Locust, Full Locust, Camel, Rabbit.  Fixed Firm was about the same as its been.  Half Tortoise suffered a bit because of my knee.  And the final stretches were also held back some.  The good news is that I'm really feeling where the limit is for my knee and not pushing too far, and I felt much better after class, and even better now after a day walking (and a little running at the dog park).  Actually, sitting is the activity (or non-activity) that seems to stiffen the knee up the most.

I talked to Lenette about it before class.  She had me balance on my left leg and lock the knee.  She watched for a while and said that its tending to point to the outside, and not in the line that it should.  That's because I'm balancing too much on the outside of my left foot, and that's creating a misalignment in the leg.  And that's because of my stupid bunion.  Even with the bunion, she thinks I need to work on getting my big toe solidly onto the floor and bearing some weight.  She was absolutely right about what to do to get rid of my sciatic problem, so I'm definitely going to try this advice.

She also said something that was a tremendous compliment.  She said that in six months I've made progress changing the alignments in my body that most people don't see for several years.  The adjustments, especially when they come this quickly, are bound to cause some temporary problems.  So the first part of the compliment is how fast I'm progressing.  Then she also said that most people would get into a problem like with my knee and take a day off, which would stretch into a week, and then the problem would recur and take a long, long time to solve.  She knows (and I hope its true) that I have the determination to keep coming, and to be mindful about the knee, and I will likely get through the problem in just a small fraction of the time.  So it was a great compliment, and its also inspired me to persevere at a time when I might have thought about slacking off some.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


4:30 with Miranda

Class was crowded today, and the energy level was high.  I felt pretty good throughout, but started to lose some stamina toward the end of the standing series.  I caught myself once putting my hands on my knees and leaning forward, but I snapped out of it.  Overall, concentrating on standing still between postures has been a great help.  It makes everything clearer and more focused.

Balancing series was good again today, especially the second set of Standing Bow.  I held it and am actually beginning to feel the backward bend.  This posture still eludes me from time to time.   Either I move into it very smoothly, and everything is great, or for some reason its just not there. 

My knee felt a bit better during the day.  It gave me less trouble in the standing series than it has.  I got down in the third part of Awkward without too much trouble.  Recently, fully bending the knees here has been bad.  I've decided that I'm not going to push the knee into anything that feels that bad anymore.  One of my problems may be that I'm pretty capable of persevering through what most people would call sharp pain.  So I'm going to tone it back for a while and see if that helps.  As a result, fixed firm was even worse than ever, but so be it.  And I may have to bail out on the right hand side of the final forward stretch.  Bringing my left foot to my thigh so there is a right angle there is putting a little too much stress on the knee right now.  Otherwise, besides Toe Stand, I can pretty much do everything.

It was nice to come back to class after a day off.  I was really looking forward to getting back into the room, and just the sweating was very satisfying.  My only complaint is that every time I take a day off, my sweat starts to get salty again and it stings my eyes.  Other than that, I didn't notice much physical difference, but the day off did a world of good for my attitude.  Now I feel good to go again.  

Monday, October 6, 2008


No class today.  A good night's sleep seemed to help my knee.  I was borderline on deciding whether or not to go.  I decided to have lunch instead.  Lunch on a Sunday felt like such a luxury.  And I think I probably needed the day off.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


2:30 pm with Libby

For the first time in a while, I struggled through some of the class.  I felt like sitting out of the second set of Triangle, and Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee.  I didn't, but it was not easy staying in.  And I caught myself doing more automatic fidgeting than I have recently -- I dropped my arms between sides in Triangle.  I actually lost my balance in the second half of the first set in Triangle, and lost balance again coming up from Separate Leg Head to Knee.

I don't know if it was extra hot today, if it was the poor circulation in the spot I was in, or if it was lack of energy from not eating anything before class.  The 2:30 classes have been harder in the past, but I thought I was over that.

The floor series went much better.  It seemed cooler on the floor.  I did reasonably well in the back strengthening series, and did a decent Camel.

The left knee was not better today.  Fixed Firm was probably a little worse than it has been.  And the Japanese Sitting positions were off, because the right hip goes down so much further than the left.  It didn't feel much better after class either.  I'm going to play it by ear for tomorrow.  If it feels at all worse, I'm probably going to skip class for the day and see what that does.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


4:30 class with Libby.

The humidifier was working again today.  And I was not in my usual spot with the nice breeze.   But the heat was not any obstacle, and it felt good to get a really good sweat on again.

Class was fine.  Balance was a little off.  Second set of Standing Head to Knee I didn't even try to kick out.  I just held the knee up and locked.  Triangle was very strong again.  And my "no fidgeting" rule is starting to be something more like a habit.  Today, I didn't even have to catch myself trying to lower my arms, or bending forward for breath.

My knee bothered me most of the day.  It started to feel better during and then immediately after the yoga class, which is a good sign.  The pose that seems to stretch it nicely, and feels pretty good, is Half Tortoise.  The leaning forward that far eases some of the pressure that I feel in either Japanese Sitting position or Fixed Firm, but it still puts some nice gradual pressure on it, and I think it may be helping.  The funny thing is that I was so focused in Half Tortoise on how good the stretch in my knee felt that Libby called me out for not locking my elbows.

A hot shower later on made it feel really good for a while.  Now there is sort of a dull ache, but it feels better than yesterday.  I'm not sure that that's real progress, but at least there aren't any signs of deterioration, and its still not interfering with any daily activities.  So for now, there's no indication that I have to drastically change anything I'm doing.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

101/107 Humidity

4:30 pm class with Miranda

There was no running water in the studio.  That meant no toilet and no showers, which for me is not that big a deal (at least when I haven't overhydrated).  It also meant no water to pump into the humidifier.  During the standing series, it was around 30% humidity, but by the end of class it had dropped to 23%.  Miranda pumped the heat up to 107, and it still felt cold.  I came out of the room with barely a sweat.

Zeb said that the target is a certain heat index, something like 120 degrees, which is what you get with 105 and 40% humidity.  For a long time I wondered about that.  The heat is supposed to make your muscles and tendons more pliable.  I couldn't figure out why the humidity would matter.  And I'm still not sure, but one person said today that he thinks high humidity helps the heat penetrate into the muscles.  There might be something to that.  It's sort of like doing a speed defrost by sealing the thing in plastic and dropping it in water.  The water sucks the cold out of something frozen much faster than air can.

The upshot of the low humidity is that I pretty much zoomed through class.  It's amazing how much difference the humidity makes.  But then, while if felt like a strong practice while I was doing it, I don't know if I feel as great after as I usually do.  One thing I will say for sure though:  lower humidity makes the back strengthening series much easier to do.  I got height in Full Locust that I never thought I would.  I actually thing its kind of strange to be talking about height in Full Locust to begin with.  That's the one at the beginning where I struggled just to get my chest, arms and legs barely (maybe a couple of centimeters) off the floor. 

The downside of today's class, and the low humidity, is that it seems to have done little or nothing for my knee.  I was aware of the knee all through standing series.  Forward bends definitely hurt the back inside tendon, at least if pushed too hard.  Toe Stand is impossible now.  The only standing pose that stays fully clear of knee soreness is Triangle.

Floor series only has a few poses that suffer.  Fixed Firm is at an all time low, or I should say that my hips in Fixed Firm are at an all time high.  I'm back to the Leaning Tower of Duffy in Japanese Sitting Position.  Sit-ups are OK, done slowly.  

I'm still thinking that I should be able to work through this.  I mean, Bikram famously fixed his knees doing stuff that became this series.  Mine is just a little soreness and tightness, nothing like crushed kneecaps.  But I'm also afraid that focusing on this nagging soreness could take over my entire practice.  One of the bloggers at teacher training had a sore knee, and a staffer told him that its easy to become attached to an injury.  The thing to do is treat it with respect but not to obsess over it.  That would be nice, but right now its sort of like having lost filling in a tooth.  Much as you want to focus attention elsewhere, your tongue just keeps darting and exploring that gaping hole in your tooth.  That's sort of what every pose is like now with my knee.  I should be focusing everywhere else, but then my knee, in my head, is like 10 times bigger than it actually is.

If the situation doesn't improve in a few days, or if it gets any worse, I may have to take a break.  Right now, however hurt I am, its not interfering with anything in my daily life.  But I shouldn't risk it getting to that point.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


4:30 with Miranda.

I got only 3 hours sleep last night.  I rented the first season of the TV series The Shield, got totally hooked on it, and kept watching just one more episode.  Until all of a sudden it was 5am.  Yikes.

So I was afraid that I just wouldn't have it for class today.  I sometimes wonder about claims that Bikram doesn't sleep.  Before class, I was feeling kind of achy and tired.  By the end of Eagle pose, I was good to go.  By the end of class I felt completely energized and still do.   So, I go in dreading class, thinking it will probably be painful, and come out feeling great, as if I had lost no sleep at all.  Go figure.

Now the yoga might recharge all my energy systems.  But ever since I've been in my twenties, I've felt the lack of sleep in my joints, especially my knees.  And today was no different.  This made my left knee worse than usual, and the yoga was no help for that.

For the most part, I've been pretty good about taking care of the knee while practicing, and I've seen gradual improvement.  Today, it was a couple of steps backward.  For example, my situps have been getting better.  As a result, I have become a little more abrupt and sloppy with them.  In one of them today, I threw myself a bit too far forward and felt the dreaded sharp pain in my kneecap.  Thankfully, nothing serious came of it, but I need to let it be a warning.  We've been told again and again that Bikram says:  "You can mess with the gods, but don't mess with your knees.  Because the gods might forgive you..."

Anyway, my difficulties showed.  After class, Miranda gave one of her patented Final Savasana massages, and then she showed me a couple of stretches that she says will help with my knee, and one that will help with my hips.  She thinks the knee problem is probably related to a lack of flexibility in the hips as well (and she could well be right).

I've had some hesitation about the idea of warming up before a Bikram class.  The class is supposed to be complete, and thus shouldn't require any warm-up.  But there's no point in being stubborn about this idea without first trying her recommendation.  
One of the things I love about yoga in general is that it is a very practical approach to things physical, mental, and spiritual.  If something works, that's usually enough.   The why of it may be interesting, but its also kind of beside the point.  So Miranda has offered a possible practical solution, and I have a theory that says it shouldn't be necessary.  Thus, I'll be trying her suggestions.

The other thing I noticed today is that recently my weak poses have become rather strong:  Standing Bow, Triangle, Locust and Full Locust.  And then quite obviously some of the poses I thought I was making great progress in now suffer:  Fixed Firm, Third Part of Awkward, Final Stretch.  Lenette has said that we will work through our bodies several times, and that as a result, progress is a spiral.  I guess that means I can look forward to a time in the future when my Triangle sucks again.  It also means that when I look in the right direction, I am always somehow shuffling forward, even if the march ahead looks more like something from the Ministry of Silly Walks.  But that's part of what keeps it fun.

99/105 Effort and Satisfaction

4:30 with Miranda

Have I mentioned that I'm on a roll?  Classes just seem to get better and better.  Today, at least for standing series, the room was a bit hot and really humid.  It pushed me almost to my limit, but I made it through Triangle and Standing Separate Head to Knee with strong postures, and kept myself still and focused between poses.  It was hard, and I could have let myself suffer through it.  But instead, I felt a kind of deep satisfaction at sticking with it even when it started feeling tough.  

That's one of the things I really like about this yoga:  trying really hard gives a feeling of tremendous satisfaction.  And that is something that can be completely in my control.  There's always an opportunity to push to the edge, and to get that feeling of peace that can come from knowing that I've given it my best.

Today's highlights were the back strengthening series, and then Camel.  Miranda held us in Cobra for what seemed like a long time.  Ever since the class with Tu, Cobra has taken on new dimensions for me.  I now feel it all the way up to my shoulder blades, not just in the lower back.  And my hips and belly button are more solidly on the floor.   

Surprisingly, I think the big difference that this has made has come in Full Locust, not Cobra itself.  Full Locust has come a long long way in the last few weeks.  I'm starting to feel like I'm really getting a good arch in my back and chest in this pose.  And I can feel myself working in the middle spine.  The big thing with this pose, I think, lies in pure effort.  It's so easy not to push this as hard as possible, and its so pointless to do that to.  I used to feel so sorry for myself after Locust that I would always kind of dog it in this pose.  Now I'm seeing how much the extra effort here pays off.

A few weeks ago, I had a breakthrough in Camel and saw the floor for the first time.  I remember writing about it, but I haven't gone back to look at how long ago it was.  Since then, I have never gotten that deep again.  That's just the way progress goes.  But today, I saw the floor again, and went even a little deeper.  Even better, I was already basically that deep into the pose before I reached back to grab my heels.  I was doing that deep a bend just with my back and hips.  So I count that as another breakthrough (or the recurrence of a big breakthrough).  Now let's see whether this time it sticks.

After class, I got a big thumbs up from Miranda.  She said that I was really working hard, and that maybe she hadn't been paying that much attention to how I was doing the last few classes, because there was a really big improvement.  Very cool, and like I said at the beginning, I am on a very nice roll these days.