We All Have Bad Classes

Recently, I met someone who had tried Bikram Yoga once (not sure where or how long ago). She explained that her class was awful. Afterwards, she was in the lobby and kept hearing people say how great they felt. She told me:

Everyone kept saying they felt so good after class, but I felt so awful. How can anyone feel good after class?

Well, what I want to say is this: We all have bad classes.

I get how weird we must seem to a newcomer. I get how bad class can feel if you are new to the practice. I still remember my first class. I took it in the morning. Then I went home, ate a truck load of food, and passed out for two hours. Then I didn’t go back for at least a week (and I kinda had to force myself to go back).

Since then, I have had my share of good classes, great classes, and horrible classes. No matter how long you have been practicing this will always be the case. Sometimes, I realize that I am the creator of my own horrible classes. I didn’t hydrate enough, or I went when I was sick, or my eating/sleeping was off. There are any number of things we can do to ourselves that can result in a bad class.

Then, there are just bad classes. These are the classes where you show up (sometimes even thinking you’re going to have an amazing class! you’re just so happy to be there!), you’ve eaten/hydrated/done everything right, but you end up on the floor praying for death.

I have no idea why these classes happen, but they do. And if you are a newcomer, or thinking about trying it out, I hope you feel a bit better just knowing that not only have we all been there, but we will continue to go there. I also hope that doesn’t depress you! It’s easy to think that if you keep coming eventually the bad classes will stop, but to be honest they will always pop up now and then. You never know when, but don’t let that scare you.

Because, you see, the beauty of this practice is that it teaches you acceptance. If you can accept you for you in every sliver of every moment, no matter what that moment looks like, then you have truly had a great class.


One Year Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

That Was a Good Popping Sound, Right?

You might recall I recently hurt my back doing back bends. This is an ongoing saga. It is getting better, but good grief would I like it to end!

A few days after I hurt my back I had a massage. My therapist and I first assumed I had torn something, but that turned out to not be the case. At the end of 90 minutes he wasn’t sure what I had done, but the good news is that the massage helped. Within three days I had almost no pain. And then, five days after the massage, I fell asleep on the couch. I woke up in the middle of the night, decided I was too lazy to walk up the stairs, and went back to sleep.

In the morning the pain was back, and it was worse than before. I wanted to cry. I also headed on in to acupuncture.

Acupuncture was an interesting experience. I had needles mostly in my back and in a few spots on my legs. My acupuncturist reported to me that the skin around one needle (where I had the most pain) immediatly turned pink as soon as he put the needle in. Another needle burned. I have never had a burning experience in acupuncture before.

I don't like the experience, but it's worth it.

I don’t like the experience, but it’s worth it.

I left acupuncture and about six hours later was in yoga. Everyone agreed that moving was good for me. I could do anything that didn’t cause pain. Why not keep going to class? I saw no reason to stop even if some of my postures were extremely limited (and trust me, they are very limited right now in terms of depth, but who cares?).We were in the second set of wind removing posture (final part) when it happened. I had both legs pulled into my chest. It didn’t hurt, but I felt this need to release them. As I did my back made a loud POP! that completely freaked me out. I knew it was either very good or very bad.

Luckily, it was very good.

The relief that came over me was insane. My back felt soooo much better right away and for the rest of the night. The pain was still there, but it was greatly diminished. The next day the pain was still present, but better, and a new level of soreness had crept in making me think I had likely had a pinched nerve. And then things started getting better.

After two days with no class I returned to find my range of motion had improved. Probably no one else would have noticed this, but I did! And the popping came back, but this time in triangle. I didn’t get the same sense of relief this time around. This second pop was just as loud, and just as prevelant, but not as noticeable in terms of pain relief. Probably because the pain was already way down.

That was a normal sound, right?

That was a normal sound, right?

Things are looking up! I can do sit ups again, and I can almost grab my foot in SH2K. The other day I did camel with no pain (camel actually feels very, very good. go figure).I’ll have more to say about this whole practicing with a back injury thing in a future post. But the lesson for now? If you can go to class GO TO CLASS. Go even if you cannot do whatever it is you are used to doing. It is better than sitting at home. It is definitely better than sitting at work. 🙂

Joseph’s Tip #6: Backbends

I think deep down I knew that a backbending tip would be coming our way. But hey, at least it’s reasonable:

Do at least five backbends everyday.

Ok – I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of the backbend. Actually, that’s not true. I am a fan of the idea of backbends. I would love to be able to do wonderfully deep backbends. I imagine it feels fabulous.

I hate backbends because my back is soooo tight. I went to my PT last week, and told him I was seeing my massage therapist on the weekend. These guys are in cohoots. The PT called up my massage guy and told him how tight my back was and to make sure he worked on it. So backbending is one of those things that I need but is incredibly uncomfortable and miserable for me to do.

But backbends are good. I suppose.

Ok. They are. Joseph is right. We all know we should do them. Want to know why they are good for you? I found a great article you can read.

I also found something from Yoga Journal that says:

Chances are very good that if you are miserable in backbends, it’s not that you don’t value the benefits; it’s more likely that you have never truly experienced them.

So very, very true for me. I don’t think I have done them enough to fully enjoy the benefits of any discomfort I experience.

I do hope Joseph will have time to add a bit of commentary about the backbends. I suspect, based on spending all of one day with him, that when he says do five backbends a day what these backbends look like isn’t the issue. It’s doing them.

Of course I’m not saying do sloppy backbends. What I’m saying is I assume Joseph means do five backbends that are appropriately challenging and do them well. For me, that could be camel or bridge pose. I’m not rocking a wheel by any means.  And I am also guessing that they don’t have to be the same type of backbend (like five camels or five wall walks), but I am only guessing. However, it would be great to have Joseph’s thoughts about how those of us who are not currently loving the backbends might start (you know, Joseph, if you’re not doing anything….) 🙂

I like the recommendation for five though. Five is do-able. And yes, I know he said “at least five,” but for now, I’m thinking five.

I used to do backbends regularly everyday. I hated them (for the most part), but I did them. I started to like them a bit more over time. But then I slacked off on them. Why? I think I just got overwhelmed with everyone telling me to do X, Y, and Z so many times a day. But now that I’ve gotten things prioritized, I think I can add these back in.

How do you approach backbending? Are you a fan? What benefits have you noticed from practicing them regularly?