407: I'm bringing flexy back

melissa averinos

July 8, 2010

Today will be my 26th Bikram yoga class in the last 27 days. I still need to make up one class, but I'm almost all of the way through the 30-day challenge!

I am the least disciplined person I know, so I kinda can't believe I'm really doing this! Yay!

Do you know about Bikram yoga? It is a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises done in a heated room. Like, a hot room. Like 105 degrees hot. Which, I have to say, I actually love. You know how I hate to be cold.

I found this video on the youtube that is from a Bikram yoga studio in London. Check it out.

Yes, you really do sweat that much.

Beyond the heat even, the postures are  challenging. Even so, it is a yoga that is for beginners as well as experienced practitioners. Not because it's easy, mind you, but because you work where you're at. You don't have to be "flexible" or "in shape" to go. You get flexible and in shape by going. Right?

You just have to give it your honest effort each time. That's all. And over time you build the strength, the balance, flexibility, patience, humility, determination.

One of the things I love about Bikram yoga in particular, is that it is so challenging that I have to concentrate only on exactly what I am doing the whole time. And that, my friend, is meditation! I am super-focused in class and that has been carrying over into other areas. I have been getting much more done at the shop. I just feel more... well... focused is the only way I can say it. Oh, wait, here it is: More productive.

Also? Tired.

Daily 90 minute sessions of challenging yoga in a room heated to 105 degrees? Um, yeah. I'm tired. But it's a good tired.

So, Bikram yoga = really hot, really sweaty, really challenging yoga. Awesome Yoga! It is definitely not for everyone, but it is for me.

Bikram site.

When I started up a few weeks ago, I  just wanted to get back into a yoga practice. (You can read about my yoga history here.) I thought it would be fun to blog my experience, including any changes I feel as I go through the weeks. Megan, who owns Bikram Yoga Cape Cod where I practice, took my measurements and weighed me. You know, just in case there are some pleasing changes to note.

I'm not doing this to lose weight though, rather to be healthier and let the yoga work through me. I didn't want to start a big regime and change my eating and be all diet-y about it. I just want to get back to yoga and let the yoga change the way I eat. Because I know that it does and it already has.

I was not in tip-top form going in, that's for sure. I never drink enough water, I usually eat too much and I could stand to lose about 20 pounds. I hadn't practiced any yoga in a while, or even been working out.

Bikram Yoga. Book available on the Bikram site.

The first two weeks I was just trying to get to class every day. Like, ok, am I really going to follow through on this? I wasn't hydrating and I wasn't eating any healthier or more moderately.

The first class back was a killer.  I had to sit out some postures because I was dizzy. Going into it I was already at a disadvantage, being dehydrated---me with my not-drinking-water-camel-like-ways. But boy, did I start guzzling my water between postures! If you are well hydrated before class, you really don't get thirsty or need any during, but I was a hurtin' puppy gulping from my pink container as quickly as I could. It seems like it would cool you off, but it just gives you a stomach ache and makes the postures more difficult, which you don't think is even possible.

This is what I wear to class:

It's actually black. A danskin one piece. I only wear this for Bikram classes because I don't want to be fidgeting with my tops, always pulling them down over my hips. It's not flattering, but it is the only thing I can imagine wearing in that heat and working that hard!

So after about two weeks of struggling through class pounding my one bottle of water a day, I decided to try harder to hydrate before class to see if it made a difference.

Dude, it totally made a difference! I hardly even needed a sip during class, and I swear to you, the postures were about 25% less difficult. I won't say easier because there is nothing easy about it, but I honestly did them with much less difficulty. So much so, that I am currently a water drinkin' fiend! I think of it as Yoga E-Z juice now.

So at about the two week mark, the water thing changed and so did the food. I just am eating lighter without even trying. Not that I don't sometimes mindlessly snack or eat more than I'm hungry for, but mostly I just want to eat fruit and yogurt and cheese and salads and only when I am hungry.So that's what I'm doing. I know, weird! But what I love about it is that I'm not trying to do it. I just want to.

The other night, there was a guest instructor at my studio, so my teacher Megan was taking pictures of the class. I don't think I've ever been photographed during my practice before! Makes those balancing postures even more challenging when someone is right in front of you with a camera!

I am almost at the point of bringing my forehead to my knee in this posture, which is actually called Standing Head-to-Knee, or dandayamana janushirasana in sankrit. The teacher is firing instructions out like an auctioneer: "Standing knee locked like a lampost , unbroken, like you have no knee! Thigh muscles contracted! Lock the knee! Lock the Knee! Tack the big toe down on the standing foot! Two hips in one line! Lock the lifted leg! Flex the toes, all five toes toward back your face! Kick the heel toward the mirror, keep kicking, keep kicking! Both legs locked, solid, unbroken! "

This is what happens when I just let the yoga work on me. I want to eat better to fuel my yoga practice. I want to drink water so I'm well hydrated for class. I want to get more sleep so I .... you get the idea.

Additionally, I can definitely see improvements in my postures. I m ean, how could I not after all these classes! I am naturally pretty flexible to begin with (don't stab me!) but it's been a long time since I was at my most flexy and I am approaching that again. My strength is building over time, as is my balance.

But you know what might be the most awesome?

The self-respect I feel for sticking with it.

I might be tired, but I feel like a badass. 

xo, melissa

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