I’ve Moved!

Come join me at my new site. It needs a bit of fancing up, but all the necessary components are there. See you in a few!

The End & The Beginning

Well, as you all know, my Bikram yoga practice has come to an end for the time being. Not too long ago, I said that it didn’t make sense for me to continue on with MBYL if I wasn’t going to maintain a regular Bikram yoga practice. So it’s time for this blog to come to an end.

But that doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye.

I’m launching a new blog that will continue on with the journey. Some things will be familiar, and some things will be new. But I will still have a spot in the world where we can come together and talk about our yoga practice. The only thing that’s really changed is that my practice has shifted into something different. No big deal.

I have loved having this space to write about and think through my Bikram practice, and you all have been amazing, and kind, and wonderful. I hope you were able to get something out of this blog that was meaningful and helpful to your practice or your personal growth.

I’m constructing a new space. It’s mostly ready to go, but I’m not at 100% yet. I expect it to go live on 11/19. I’ll come back here and make an official announcement and give you the link. I hope you will join me in my new spot. It would be lonely without you.

Finding My Flow

As you all know, my Bikram yoga studio recently closed. And while I could have gone to a different Bikram studio I (surprisingly!) chose not to. I thought I would view my studio closing as an opportunity to try something else. If I didn’t like it, I could always go to the other Bikram studio.

The day after my studio closed, I found myself at a hot flow yoga studio. All I could figure out about the temperature was that it would be at least 98 degrees, and there would be humidity. There would also be music.

Ugh. Music? Really? More on that later.

I showed up to a gorgeous studio with only one minor flaw (besides that whole music thing): no shower. Seriously, this place has no showers. I asked why, and got an answer about how the studio owner didn’t think yoga studios should have locker rooms or that people should have to wait around for showers.

I’ve waited around for a shower. It’s really not a big deal. This no shower thing kinda kinks up the works as it means that there will be days when I cannot practice because there is no shower. Given that the studio is directly centered between my house and my office, there is no zero chance of me grabbing a morning class before going in to work.

But I’ll get over myself. Maybe.

Anyways, first day there I went in and took the class. I was aware of what to generally expect, but I was not prepared for the true butt-kicking that ensued. The studio offers 60 and 90-minute hot flow classes. Since I was new, I thought I would start with the 60-minute. I assumed it wouldn’t be much of a challenge. I was terribly wrong.

The class was a blur of me trying to keep up and doing about one million downward facing dogs. The class was also hot – like really hot. Truthfully, I have been there for three weeks now, and I have zero complaints about the heat and humidity.

By the time I got home from class, 15 minutes later, I was already sore and starving (and it was about 10:30 am). I pondered skipping class the next day, but then I remembered that going to class while sore, at least with Bikram, tended to be a good thing. Yes, the class might suck, but I would feel better afterwards.

Nope.

All the second class (still 60 minutes) did was kick my butt again and add new places where I was sore.

During the first two weeks, I would periodically have to take a day off from being sore/so damn worn out, and that was just from doing mostly 60 minute classes.

On the weekends, I decided to try the 90 minute classes. Let’s just say, I am starting to get better at them but initially they felt like they were 1000 hours long and full of never ending push-ups leading me back into downward dog.

Now, three weeks in, I can say that I am getting the hang of it. I am starting to figure out what I don’t know and need help with. Things are less confusing. I also know that this yoga is killing my calves and my arms. A recent trip for a massage resulted in him spending 25 minutes trying to undo the mess that was in my right calf and learning my arms were filled with lactic acid (“Do you hear that?” he asked me. “Your arms are filled with lactic acid!”). I blame the down dog.

It’s challenging. It’s different. I’m loving it.

But the music. I am not sure I will ever understand why we need music in yoga class. Here are my pet peeves with it:

  • it seems like a distraction. if I want to, I can tune in to the music and checkout from everything else. I think the music helps create a disconnect between the mind and the body.
  • i cannot hear!!!!! or, should I say, all i can hear is music! some instructors are difficult to hear over the music. this is not bikram. there is no dialogue. the class is different every time even if taught by the same instructor. it is important that i be able to hear. some instructors just don’t amplify their voices enough.

So that’s it. My beef with music in yoga class.

And now, for me, the question is what to do with this blog? If I’m not going back to Bikram yoga anytime soon, then I can’t really have a blog called My Bikram Yoga Life. It’s not that I would never take a Bikram class again or go back to the practice at some point. It’s just that this is where my life has lead me and, for now, I am happy with where I have landed.

I’ve had a good six weeks to think about this. Rest assured that I have some thoughts, and I’m starting to move in the direction of making some decisions and feeling good about them. I’ll have some announcements soon.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

Memories From the Hot Room

Yesterday was the last day my studio was open. Today, I am headed off to a new studio to give something different a try. It’s still hot yoga, but it’s hot flow (and I have no idea how hot it will be because the website doesn’t say).

Although I had known about my studio closing for a month, it didn’t really hit me until Thursday night. When I went to the 4:30 class on Friday, I was super sad. I spent a lot of time during class thinking about all the things I had experience and gained from coming to this studio.

It’s helpful to keep in mind that this blog has been running for 3.5 years. While I’ve practiced longer than that, I’ve been going to class nearly everyday since starting this blog. So suddenly not having the studio around is a significant change for me.

Anyways, here are some of the things I realized I experienced/learned about myself in the hot room:

  • discomfort: I experienced a lot of discomfort, and early on there were numerous times I wanted to quit. yoga was hard. the heat was hard. it was all so very hard.
  • a divorce: I went through a divorce and having class to show up to was a lifesaver – especially because at that point in my life I was using the hot room to nap in before class.
  • my head on my knee: this studio was the place where I first got my head on my knee in SH2K. a big accomplishment.
  • advanced class and competition: this is where I took my first advanced class and trained for two yoga competitions. after my first advanced class I had a giant bruise on my foot.
  • met my yoga boyfriend: I met and hung out with my yoga boyfriend at this studio
  • this hysterical double
  • I split my knees open trying to learn how to do mountain. sometimes they would crack open during a regular Bikram class, and I would bleed on my mat. didn’t care.
  • going to class with cracked ribs and bruises after falling off a horse
  • yoga buddies
  • learning how to breathe
  • learning self-acceptance
  • learning to not have expectations
  • learning patience with myself and others
  • minimizing distractions or at least acknowledging them and then letting them go
  • class is over – let it go
  • that posture is over – let it go
  • i have developed greater focus and a clearer mind (relative to me!)

This list could continue on,  but I think you get the point. As I lay in a savassana, I realized that this yoga had given so much to me and asked only one thing in return: That I show up.

That’s it folks. All this yoga does is ask that you keep showing up. You don’t have to do all the postures, and when you do them you just do them the best that you can that moment without judgement.

The problem is that I have become emotionally attached to this studio and that room – and I know better. I know it is time to let it go and to let my practice evolve however it is going to evolve. I have no choice, but that doesn’t make it easy.

I will always miss this hot room.

The Universe Tests My Patience

I’m convinced that my practice has helped me become more patient (in general) and more accepting of what I can and cannot change. Upon attempting to return home about a week ago from a work trip, the Universe decided to have me run a small gauntlet.

It didn’t start out that way though. At first, the trip started out perfect.

I had called a cab the day before and scheduled a pick up time. The cab showed up exactly at the arranged time. We got to the airport with no problem. There was really no line to speak of in security. I got through relatively quickly (they had to search my backpack, but it turned out it was all the fudge I was trying to take home that raised alarms). I found a restaurant for breakfast, was seated, and was served immediately.

My plane was already there when I rolled up to the gate. I got on with no problem. We pulled in to the Detroit airport about three gates down from my connecting flight (which was also already at the gate!). This was going so well.

I had upgraded my seats for the trip home so I had more leg room. As I boarded the plane in Detroit, I discovered that I had my little row all to myself. We all got on, the doors were shut, and we were ready to push back.

And then we weren’t.

Turns out there was an issue with an air traffic control computer in Virginia. What it meant was flights along the east coast had been shut down. There was no flying in and out of Raleigh – period – until the issue was resolved. At first, I chose to stay on the plane because our pilot suspected we had an hour at best until we left. I stretched out across the seats and read. But eventually it became clear we had no idea when we would leave and so he kicked us all off.

However, we were told not to stray too far because we would likely be boarding again soon.

I was hungry, but I was also wary of wandering off in search of food. So I accepted that the only thing within sight distance of my gate was a Popeye’s Chicken. I got myself some chicken and took it back to the gate. Let’s just say that didn’t pan out well with my stomach.

Eventually, around 4:30, we were able to leave Detroit. I had spent 5 1/2 hours there. So now we’re off. The flight itself was fine. And then we went in for a landing.

It was obvious we were going down and about to land, but then we suddenly pulled back up and started heading in the wrong direction. Turns out, the pilot hadn’t come down enough to land and needed to circle back around and do it again. This added maybe 10 minutes on to the flight. It’s not a big deal EXCEPT when you’ve been stuck in an airport for 5 1/2 hours and just want to get home after being gone an entire week.

We landed. I had my bags with me, and I headed to my car.

I got in the elevator to take me to the 4th floor of the parking deck. A family of three got in with me. Right as we pulled up to the fourth floor the elevator stopped just a tad shy of being even with the floor and able to open.

It. Just. Stopped.

We all looked at each other. I said, “I’m sorry. This is about me. This is the kind of day that I’m having.”

The elevator inched up a bit. Then stopped. Then inched up a bit. Then stopped. Then, it finally got itself even with the floor. It stopped completely and did nothing.

I had been so freaking patient all day long, and now this. Now I couldn’t get out of the elevator.

“I’m going to hit this [the open door] button,” I said out loud to the Universe, “and you are going to open this door. I have been very patient all day. Enough.”

I am sure I sounded like a crazy person to the people in the elevator with me. But the door opened. I thanked The Universe in my head and moved on with my life.

Back in my car.

Back  home.

Back to yoga.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

Own Your Distractions

Last week, I was in Wisconsin at a workshop made up of educators. One of the things that came up was having laptop policies in the classroom. An argument for telling students (particularly college students) that they cannot have laptops/devices going during class is because they cause distractions – particularly for others. The line of thinking goes that as a student, I might be distracted from my learning because the person next to me has something cool opened up on their device and that is what I am paying attention to.

Now, there are a whole host of things we could discuss related to devices in the classroom, but this isn’t the place for it. What stood out to me was someone said, “Take ownership of your distractions.” I immediately thought about yoga.

You shouldn't be looking at all.

You shouldn’t be looking at all.

Recently, I wrote about taking a silent Bikram class but how I was in opposition to having music played during that class. I don’t know that I communicated this well, but music is a way to distract me from my distractions – and I wanted to engage with my distractions. I wanted to work on finding them and working through them and having them not be distractions anymore (or lessen it). In that space, music was a distraction but in a weird way. It allowed me to hide from the other distractions so I didn’t want it.

On a daily basis, we might experience any number of distractions in our practice such as:

  • someone entering/leaving the room
  • someone drinking water during a posture
  • our own mind telling us all kinds of junk
  • the need to scratch an itch!

I could make this list go on forever. I don’t know what to do beyond acknowledging and owning a distraction. I think that’s the first step. For me, I have a huge problem during the entire warm-up series. I don’t know why, but I think I come up with ways to create distractions for myself. I always feel insanely itchy and justify the need to scratch something somewhere on me! I’ve recognized this months ago, but I don’t seem to have moved on past it.

But here’s what I do know, if I am distracted it is not someone else’s fault. What distracts me may not distract you. It is important to recognize what distracts us and to own it as in I find X to be distracting. Simply acknowledging the distraction might be all we can do for now, but I am confident that one day we will push pass the distraction and it will no longer serve as such (and probably five new ones will pop up).

This is a larger part of what our practice is for, right? It’s about learning how to be present with ourselves and to not be pulled out of the moment by distractions.

So do it. Own your distractions.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

One Week: No Bikram

As you read this I am in another state in a city with no Bikram yoga. I’m not even sure what yoga they have where I am, and I’m not sure if I’ll have time to get to it or if I can get it (I’m without car this time). What I do know for certain is that for exactly seven days I will not be taking class.

Normally I just roll with this because I like to travel. I’m ok with not practicing at all or practicing very little when I’m traveling. This time, the travel is for work so it would be difficult to sneak out to class, plus I kinda wanna be here doing what I’m doing anyways.

But this time I am sad. Since my studio is closing I feel like I am really missing out on this week. I wish I could cap the whole thing off with a 30-Day challenge. And while I could get up and do Bikram every day in my hotel room, it would be more meaningful to me to do the challenge in the actual studio.

If you’ve never taken time away from class it can be both interesting and refreshing. Sometimes it’s nice to get out of the studio and just do something else completely. Give your body a break. Give your mind a break. But don’t just drop out of your practice. Have a plan for when you expect to go back to class. For example, I know that in this current case I will be returning back to class on Sunday. I knew that before I even left town. So if you take a break – for whatever reason – make sure you have it in your head when you expect to get back in the hot room. Otherwise, you might fall out of the habit of going (I imagine it could be surprisingly easy to do so).

For now, I will enjoy some early morning and evening walks. If I start to feel a bit twitchy I might hunt down a massage or any kind of yoga I can get my hands on. I know when I get back my studio will have just two weeks left.

That is painful to think about.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

A Twist in the Yoga Fairy Tale

I’ve been reading a book, Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered. It’s an easy, fun read that gives lots of great reminders about how and why we should share what we do with the public. One of the chapters is called, “Tell Good Stories.” In the chapter, the author writes:

Your work doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Whether you realize it or not, you’re already telling a story about your work. Every email you send, every text, every conversation, every blog comment, every tweet, every photo, every video – they’re all bits and pieces of a multimedia narrative you’re constantly constructing.

That comment made me think about this blog and how I am telling a story about my practice and sharing that story with y’all. And it made me realize, when you think about plot structure (particularly the rising action/falling action part), we have now entered a rising action/climatic/problematic moment in the story of my yoga practice. And it this is:

My yoga studio is closing on August 30.

End scene.

The opposite of a smiling, happy face.

The opposite of a smiling, happy face.

I don’t even know how to follow that statement up. I don’t even know what to say about it at all. At first, I went into shock, then panic, and then some kind of emailing/texting frenzy with other yoga buddies who were all as equally panicked and upset. A number of things hit me:

  • Where will I practice?
  • The Greek restaurant will no longer be next door to wherever I practice, and I can’t just grab and go on Greek food whenever I want it. What if I need to eat a giant cookie before class? It happens. This sucks.
  • What about half price wine bottle day on Wednesdays at the Greek restaurant? God, this sucks
  • What about my yoga buddies? I know we’re not all gonna land in the same spot. We’re gonna get all disjointed and fragmented and scattered. God, this sucks.

Of course I immediately started googling all the possible options I had and then mapping them out to determine distance. In doing so, I immediately decided a couple of things:

  • there are at least three hot yoga studies within 15-20 minutes of me. only one of these is a Bikram studio. there is, therefore, no need to be driving 30+ minutes to a studio even if it looks totally awesome.
  • you might be wondering why I wouldn’t automatically drift into the other Bikram studio – especially since it is an easy drive. i won’t get into that here. i will just say it has nothing to do with the practice.
  • yes, i am considering hot yoga options that are not Bikram yoga. when I say they are not Bikram, I don’t mean non-affiliated studios. some studies teach Bikram yoga but call themselves something else. for two of the three studios, they do not offer anything that is Bikram (I don’t think).

I am going to see my practice at my studio through until the end (August 30th). Then I will probably try out these two non-Bikram studios in September using their new student specials. Might as well.

But even though I have a Bikram studio I can easily fall into, I am heart broken. I know the owners need to do what’s best for them, but it doesn’t make it easy on me. This yoga, and all my yoga buddies in it, are a critical part of my life. I know nothing stays the same forever, but if I could have one thing stay the same it would have been this.

***Special Thanks are in order to my Yoga Buddy Mark over at Do The Posture Please!! for listening to me and providing me with some perspective. Yoga Buddies are the best.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

It’s Just Class. You Should Probably Go.

Lately, it seems like I have become very accepting of my classes. Just the other day, I decided to do a double. I hadn’t done a double in months. So I went to class #1 and had class. Then I went to class #2 and had class. Each was it’s own thing although afterwards I was starving and very tired.

The next day, I went in to take class at 9:00 am. I was still tired and feeling a bit sore. I set myself up in my retreat spot – a corner in the back near a door. For whatever reason, I always feel a sense of solitude back there. It doesn’t matter how many people surround me, I just feel like that is my own tiny bubble of a space. I eased in and out of postures. I might have sat one or two out. I came out of postures early because my body wanted to (I think…that mind of mine can be very tricky!). By the end of class I was still sleep but a lot less sore.

I bounced in the next day also for the 9:00 class feeling pretty groovy. I got myself all set up and started to have a great class. I was feeling amazing. My postures were pretty good. And then….it all went downhill.

I made it to tree pose before I decided to sit out. Then, halfway through spine strengthening I was done. I had gone down fast. I rolled over on my back for the last two spine strengthening postures. Didn’t even try to do them, and laying on my stomach felt far too strenuous. I was basically done at that point.

I crawled out of the room when it was all over and propped myself up against a wall. Hadn’t had a class like that in awhile. Didn’t think anything of it except to acknowledge that I hadn’t had a class like that in awhile.

Again, the next day I found myself at the 9:00 class. This time, class was pretty good. I started to die out around camel and kinda sputtered through to the end.

However, it was after all of these classes had happened that I realized something. I was showing up and taking class. When I was feeling great, I was able to recognize that I was feeling great. When I was feeling bad, I was able to recognize that I was feeling bad. And when class was over, class was over. The only thing I thought about in subsequent classes was how my body felt in relation to whatever posture I was in.

Showing up and taking class has been a difficult thing for me to do. I want to imagine what class will be like based on how I feel at the moment or how my most recent classes have gone. I’m sure it’s never 100% like this, but I cannot recall when I have just gone to class and accepted class for what it was so many times in a row.

I know I say (and you hear) all the time that we should just be going to class. And showing up is important, but there’s also something to be said for going to class and accepting what class brings you that day without judgement or comparison.  And I think the way to get to that is….by going to class.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

 

Enjoy the Silence

Recently, I was in attendance at a very small class. There were four or five of us plus the instructor. All of us were experienced, and so we asked the instructor if she wanted to practice with us and do a silent class. She agreed and ran out for a second to put some different clothes on.

While we waited, someone asked if everyone would be ok with playing music. Two people agreed playing music while we practices was fine, but I said no. I explained that I had once taken a class at another studio – about four months ago – and they played music there (not a Bikram place). I had not enjoyed it at all. The two students who wanted the music asked me some questions and said they understood what I was talking about, but this would be different. They said it would be more new agey music with no lyrics and nothing contemporary (for the record, in the class I took with music we listened to a range of styles including U2).

music notesI still said no. I said I didn’t like the music, and I didn’t want the music. And even though one person told me I was passing judgement when I hadn’t experienced music in a Bikram class (and also that I was being very rigid in my thinking). I still said no.

Hey, you asked me if I wanted music. I answered honestly.

But here’s my overall thinking on this whole let’s listen to music in Bikram when class is going to be silent:

(a) first, by silent class I mean that the instructor practices with us and calls the postures. there is no dialogue.

(b) Bikram doesn’t have music. That’s not how it’s intended. Of course, it’s also intended to have dialogue, but we all agreed to the no dialogue thing for that class. So if we had all agreed to the music thing then fine, but we didn’t. I didn’t come to class to listen to music.

(c) for me, a huge appeal of a silent class is silence. I know, crazy, right? I want to be in the silence with myself. Silence can be unsettling. I am not saying that is why people wanted music. I just recognize that silence forces me to engage more with myself. If music is on, I can use the music as a distraction. If I am uncomfortable in a posture then the music can be something for me to focus on. I don’t have to engage with any type of discomfort if I don’t want to. This can happen in any class, but I think the music adds a layer of distraction that is not normally present. I don’t need additional layers of distraction added.

That’s really the reason why I didn’t want music. Of course, I could not articulate that at the time. I figured it out once we got into class. All I could articulate was that I didn’t like it. But I used the silence to reflect on why I didn’t like music, and what I wrote above is what I figured out. So it’s not about being rigid or judgey. It’s about my right to come to class and engage with my practice without a layer of distraction on top. And I think that’s what the music would bring.

What are your thoughts on music in class?

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

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One Year Ago Today on MBYL

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