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

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

A Meditation Challenge

Last Sunday, I got a great email from Lodro Rinzler. He was sharing the start of a weekly meditation challenge. I was intrigued. I have had starts and stops in my meditation practice, and I was hopeful that joining in a weekly challenge might give me a bit of a push and some needed focus. Plus, I apparently have a thing for anything that is framed as a challenge. Not sure what that means…just saying it’s there is all.

This first challenge has a focus on gentleness. If you view the video linked above, you will see a seven minute video where Lodro outlines the challenge and the meditation approach for the week.

just breatheIn the video, Lodro points out that it is common for people to think that they should always be good with meditation which means being good with following our breath. When this doesn’t happen, we may default to beating ourselves up and putting ourselves down – potentially without even realizing we are doing so. But rather than be so hard on ourselves, we can just redirect ourselves back to our breath and go on from there.

Consider how this can apply to your yoga practice and just your daily interactions. For example are you hard on yourself when you:

  • have a difficult class?
  • find yourself needing to sit out one, two, five postures?
  • not doing a posture as well as you think you should?

Lodro suggests that when we are hard on ourselves like this to simply recognize that this is ok. If you meditate, and you lose your breath/focus, it’s ok. It’s a normal thing to happen. The three things I listed above, it’s OK! It happens. Rather than talk negatively to ourselves, let’s focus on being kind to ourselves and developing compassion, understanding, and gentleness with ourselves.

On the day that I read about Lodro’s meditation challenge, I noticed that the following was posted on MBYL as the retro throwback, Be Kind to Yourself. It’s very interesting how these things align isn’t it?

I hope you will join me in the weekly challenges with Lodro, and the community he has created around it. I look forward to sharing with you what I have learned from each of them.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

 

Trying a Different Class

Recently, my Yoga Buddy, Swamp Girl, decided to try out a different yoga studio. This was still hot yoga, but not Bikram. Actually, the place offers both hot and room temperature yoga, but Swamp Girl only takes the hot yoga classes.

swampfireSwamp Girl’s departure was due to the fact that she wanted to try something new, but she also didn’t want to give up the heat. She really likes it hot! She bought herself some Bikram classes, and once in awhile she still attends, but her primary home is at this other studio now.

This other place offers a variety of classes. When I looked at the schedule it was pretty overwhelming to me. If you take a class on Monday at 10:00 for example, you may not be able to take that same type of class until the next Monday rolls around. Some classes are offered more than once during the week, but to me it looked tricky to try to attend the same type of class more than once. But she was liking it.

I promised Swamp Girl that I would try out a class with her when my schedule allowed for it, and the other day it did. First, I had to take a morning Bikram class (because of my 100-Day challenge). Then I joined Swamp Girl that evening for a Hot Detox Vinyasa class. I had picked this over a class the next evening called Gentle Hot, but Swamp Girl told me Gentle Hot was actually the more difficult of the two classes. Anyways, I got down there, got myself signed up and set up, and was all ready to check it out.

Taking the Class

Before class started, I asked Swamp Girl what the rules were. When could I drink my water? She said there were no rules. If I wanted to drink my water, I should just drink my water. Whenever, Wherever. Ok. Got it.

The teacher entered the room and greeted everyone. Like a well trained Bikram-Yogi, I popped off my mat into standing position. Everyone else remained seated. I waited a moment and took this in and then sat my butt back down. In this class, we started with a seated breathing exercise and then moved into the postures.

The postures of course were varied. Some were new to me and some I hadn’t done in years. There was a lot of down-dog. I remember doing some planks and pigeon and really a variety of stuff I can’t even remember. We worked our core a lot. At some point I realized I would be sore the next day.

What I Learned

Taking a different yoga class was a great experience. It was just plain fun. But I also realized that having practiced mindfulnessyoga for four years now had left me with some interesting skills. I don’t think these skills are exclusive to Bikram yoga but are ones that can be developed through any mindful yoga practice:

  • I’m OK with discomfort. There were plenty of times during the class where I was confused and wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I was ok with that. I was patient with myself in figuring things out. There were moments when I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and again, I was ok with that.

 

  • I’m good with working within my limits. I had zero idea what we would be doing in that class, and sometimes I had zero idea what I was capable of doing with a given posture. I’m ok playing around within what I can do. I am pretty good at exploring where I should go with a posture – pushing on it just enough to get a sense of what I can do and where I should stop.

Since this wasn’t a Bikram class, I also discovered some other things about myself:

  • I completely forgot about water. There was simply no emphasis on it. There was no party-time. No one even said a word about it. At one point the instructor said we should pause for a sip of water and I realized I hadn’t been thinking about water at all! I took my sip and then forgot about it until class was over.

 

  • I lost track of time. The class was 60-minutes (which seemed very short to me). However, there was no clock in the room and no agenda for the class. Bikram has an agenda. We do the same postures. You come a few times and you got it memorized. There wasn’t anything to memorize here. The class is different every single time. I didn’t have anything to think about except whatever posture I was doing at the moment. I couldn’t think about an upcoming posture because I didn’t know what was coming next! It was very freeing. I was more in the moment.

Will I go again? Maybe. It was good for me. We did a lot of hip openers which I need. But I would probably benefit just as much if I started going to advance again once a week. Going to advanced helped me too. I definitely won’t be going back while I’m on my 100-Day challenge. That’s just to much.

I am curious about how I can apply the mindfulness I experienced in my Bikram classes. The problem, I realized, is that I get too caught up with whatever posture is coming down the line and I often have opinions about postures when we get to them that run through my head. I need to work on quieting my mind more during class and accepting what the posture brings. And that realization along was worth it.

Three Years Ago on MBYL

Two Years Ago on MBYL

One Year Ago on MBYL

Set Your Intentions

Set your intentions. How many times have you heard the instructor say that before class started? If you haven’t, pay attention and see if they are saying it and you just haven’t been hearing it (hey…happens to me ALL the time).

One day I actually noticed this statement…this set your intentions thing. It wasn’t new to me. It was just something that I think had always gone in one ear and out the other. I had heard it but never listened (or is it listened but never heard? I always get that mixed-up). And I began thinking, how often do I just wander about my day mindlessly without any real intention? How often do I approach class without any intention?

On the one hand, there is the importance to being open and in the moment. I’m not talking about setting intentions like Today, I will get my head on my knee in SH2K. That’s a bit too specific and doesn’t account for how I will feel when we get to SH2K (for example, I felt like vomiting in today’s class when we got to that posture, yet up until that point I had felt fabulous), how tight my hamstrings are, how well I will balance, and any other host of things that are simply going to be the way they are going to be.

This is about the right amount that I envision.

This is about the right amount that I envision.

A better intention might be Today, I will be present while doing SH2K. I can be in the moment with the posture. Well, maybe. I can also start thinking about spaghetti when I am in the posture. For some reason, I think about eating spaghetti a lot when I am in class. It just sounds delicious. However, since I have set my intention to stay present in SH2K, I can bring myself back from my spaghetti eating dreams and refocus. I don’t need to be perfect. Just having the intention gives me something to frame my class around and to push myself just a bit more. It’s an intention – it’s what I intend to do. How well I do it (or not) is gonna be whatever it’s gonna be. I can always return to the same intention tomorrow.

I do think intentions can be posture specific, but I also think one intention per class is enough. At least it is for me. I don’t need a list of intentions to keep track of. Of course they can be much bigger than a posture. I could imagine having an intention to focus on my breath or work to keep my mind focused on the posture (again, not thinking about eating spaghetti).

Of course we can take this concept and apply it back into our lives outside the hot room. You can set your intention for the day, for a time of day (morning/afternoon/evening), or for an event within the day (like a fun meeting you have to attend).

I have to admit, while I started thinking about this a month ago I’ve been pretty poor at applying it. But I would love to start thinking about this idea of setting intentions and how it might help me be more mindful about my day. What do you think? Do you see this as helpful?

Head on over to the MBYL FB page and look for the thread on sharing your intentions. Feel free to share your intention(s) for the day or for your yoga class. Read what others have posted to get some inspiration for future ways to set your intentions. Let’s see how this works!

Just Go With It

The other day I had, well, I had a day. Need I say more? It started off simple enough. I took the dog to the vet for a rabies shot, and then I dropped her off at daycare to get a bath and have a fun play day while I went in to the office for meetings. Initially I had considered attending the 6:30 class that evening. I wasn’t sure what I thought about that, but I held it in the back of my mind as an option.

When I went to get my little pug-girl, I was informed that she had some issues going on. Apparently she had been partying hard with some other doggies and had gotten out of breath. She was breathing hard and having a hard time catching her breath. They had crated her in a room by herself and had someone sit with her to try to get her to calm down, but they had considered rushing her off to the vet. Whatever happened really freaked them out – but apparently she did calm down somewhat.

Ain't no party like a pug party.

Ain’t no party like a pug party.

I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I stayed calm. My mind didn’t spin out of control with a 1000 scenarios of what might be the problem. They brought puggers out to me, and she immediately got excited and started having some breathing issues. So back to the vet we went.

Pugs have breathing issues to begin with because their little faces are smashed in. This can make it challenging to figure out what is going on. I knew something was up, but the vet was having a hard time figuring it out. So they took my little girl off to get a chest x-ray.

I remained surprisingly calm. Again, my mind didn’t spin out into a 1000 horrible scenarios. It tried. I had a thought enter my head about a tumor or cancer or something horrible, but I literally flicked it right out of my head. There was no need to go down that path. The only path I needed to be on was the hanging out and waiting path.

The chest x-ray was fine. The conclusion was that it was likely her vocal chords had gotten swollen. They offered a mild sedative to calm her down (I took it) and gave her a shot for the swelling. Little girl was going to be just fine.

By the end of the second visit, I had spent about 300.00 on the dog, was starving, and knew I was not going to yoga. I was going home, taking a shower, eating, and crashing in front of the tv.

And I was ok with that. I was ok with ALL of that. I didn’t freak out over spending 300.00 on the dog in a single day (I normally would have a mild panic attack), and I was good with addressing my own personal needs (tired, hungry, smelly) and skipping class.

And while I didn’t go to yoga on this day, I credit my ability to remain calm and in the moment to my yoga practice. This is a huge part of what yoga teaches us, right? Stay in the moment. Be present with ourselves and those around us. Sure, random thoughts did spin into my head, but I let them keep on spinning right out. I didn’t invite them to stay. And for once, staying in the moment was not terribly difficult.

So go to class. Set up your mat. Look at yourself in the mirror. Be present. Repeat as often as you can. Eventually it starts to trickle out into everyday life.

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Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

Food & Drink & Judgment

Do any of y’all spend your time in class thinking about what you will eat after class is over? I have noticed that this seems to consume my thoughts. If I’m eating at the Mediterranean place next door, I’ll spend at least part of class (at the very least every single savassanah) imagining what I will order. Sometimes I spend a great deal of time hoping they have spaghetti – which is a special now and then – and thinking about what it will taste like. They have very good spaghetti. Sometimes I consider not IF I want dessert but what KIND of dessert I will be purchasing.  And sometimes I evaluate how much wine I have and think through if I need to get some more on the way home. I have no problems going into your store post yoga/pre-shower.

Other times I imagine what I will eat when I get home. This has resulted in me working out a meal plan for my entire day while I am in a morning class and even coming up with a dish based on random spaghettiingredients sitting around in my fridge. I often fantasize about carbs. Spaghetti really does seem to be a thing here.

Recently I went to a 4:30 class after having a fairly large lunch earlier in the day. Since I knew I wasn’t going to be interested in dinner, I spent time in class plotting what I would have for lunch the next day. I knew I would be at my office and started considering various restaurants within walking distance. Where had I not been in awhile? What did I feel like eating? We’re doing what pose now? Ha ha. So not in the moment! 

I also use food and drink to provide a very valuable service to my home studio – very valuable. I have no problem sitting on the bench in the lobby before class eating a piece of baklava (bought next door) and drinking a diet coke (also bought from next door). What am I doing? I am teaching non-judgmental practices! What would you think if you saw someone eating baklava and drinking a diet coke in a yoga studio lobby? You shouldn’t be thinking anything except perhaps how you too can get some food and drink and join me on the bench. 🙂 I also have zero problems sitting on the bench after class and drinking a diet coke while people walk in for the next class. Sometimes a coke just tastes good after class.

No judging! 🙂

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