The Bikram Diaries

Searching for bliss through 105° of heat

day 26 & 27: balance May 14, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 2:55 pm

My balance has been shot the last few classes. I think I’m doing something wrong (well obvi), but I don’t really know what it is because I am but a newbie yogi. When I do the balancing series, my supporting foot just feels SO taxed and it’s near impossible to hold a position for 30 seconds. I haven’t felt that way since I was literally on my first week of yoga … is it because I’m not locking my leg enough and thus the pressure sinks to my feet? Would be grateful for some input.

And in an effort to bring balance to my life, I am taking a much needed vacation! I had the kind of week where I couldn’t stand hearing my own name anymore. THAT’S how many people seemed to be pulling me in different directions. I am leaving with some unresolved issues (um, like what apartment to move into in June, for one) but nothing that can’t wait a week or so. I’m just so grateful that I’m getting the chance to get away. I’ll be away from the practice which will suck because I hate starting over, but I’m sure some boozing and fine dining in Vegas and Napa, and some quality time with my family in Seattle who I haven’t seen in over a year will be very very good for me. Au revoir and chat with you in a couple of weeks!


day 25: front row, center May 6, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 11:35 pm

After an 8-day hiatus to spare fellow yogis from catching my germs, I finally ventured back into the Bikram studio. I was pretty scared to go, thinking I would be weak and in terrible shape after taking over a week off. To add to my fears, I got to the studio a little late and by the time I walked in, the only open spot was on the front row, right smack in the center of class. I thought, well if I faint, at least the teacher will notice right away …

But guess what … I had the best class of my LIFE! How in the world that happened, I don’t know. I was pretty distracted during my last few sessions. My mind was always wandering, constant chatter filled my head. Like seriously, if you could hear my thoughts it would be something like this:

Okay take a wide step for trikasana. Bend the knee low, turn palms … hmm this girl in front of me has a really nice manicure. Really makes such a difference. I haven’t had a manicure in awhile. I should get one. And a pedicure too … hmm I wonder if those Steve Madden sandals are already on sale? Oh shoot, look up, spine twist … hold it … what day is it today? A Thursday? Oooh I wonder if I can make it home in time for Gray’s Anatomy. We should really get Tivo when we move. Oh, I’d better remember to call that broker …

Oh my god. My brain just refused to cooperate for so many sessions. But today, I came back from my break and it was utterly quiet. The only thing I thought about was what the instructor was saying. My first breakthrough of the day was the standing head to knee pose. I’ve been able to kick out my leg for awhile now but never felt stable enough to bring my elbows down to my calves … but today I did it! And did it so easily that I wondered in amazement, why had I never tried to do that before? I thought it would all be downhill from there but it wasn’t! I held my standing bow, the balancing stick pose was a breeze, and I held my balance in toe stand for both sides! My jaw would’ve dropped if I was allowed to breathe through my mouth.

I just think it’s funny how my body and mind seemed to conspire to get me back into the swing of things. I was dreading class today because I thought it would be horrible, and lo and behold I have the best class ever! Bikram just keeps throwing me for a loop … and because of that, it keeps me coming back.


day 23 & 24: someone’s been a bad yogi May 1, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 4:12 pm

white-wine-pour-225Guilty as charged.

I’ve been a very, very bad yogi. So many days passed between day 23 and 24 that I was quite afraid to go to class. It doesn’t help that I was not on my best behavior during said break. There were birthdays, friends visiting from out of town, and the first 80° weekend of the year so I put Bikram on the backburner and went back to my old ways of boozing, scarfing down fatty food at all hours of the night, and being plain old lazy, lying in the sun in Central Park all Saturday and Sunday afternoon rather than getting some exercise.

On Monday, feeling all repentant, I shoved myself into Bikram and allowed my butt to thoroughly get kicked. But then I got home and instead of resting, I stayed up til 3AM reading New Moon (yes, I have a vampire infatuation like a silly 14-year-old). I woke up on Tuesday with a terribly sore throat and body pains. Shit. I was sick.

The moment I felt my body all weak and aching, I felt thoroughly annoyed with myself. I don’t know if it was just my imagination, but since starting Bikram I’d been feeling healthy as a horse. When I was doing it religiously, I could sit by a draft in the office, get caught in hot/cold tempts constantly, and be around ill people without catching anything. I felt so healthy, so invincible. But I “fell off the wagon” so to speak, and next thing I knew, I was ill, ill, ill. Arrrrrgh.

I’ve been resting for the past few days (I don’t want to push my immune system, what with everyone in NY scared sh*tless over the swine flu—myself included) but am hoping I can make it to Bikram tomorrow and just get healthy again. Does anyone know if it’s okay to go to Bikram when just recovering from being sick, or is that pushing it? Would love to hear from the experienced yogis out there 🙂


Day 22: There’s always a party pooper April 20, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 10:20 am

Class today was a BIG improvement over my terrible class last Saturday. I was a lot more focused and thankfully did not feel overwhelmed with the heat.

I noticed something about my practice though. I noticed that the poses that I do well (and not-so-well) seem to keep changing. I used to do the standing head-to-knee pose terribly and today I held my balance. I thought that I meant I was improving, but then I get to standing bow pulling pose and I’m all over the place. I am usually am pretty good at that pose so I was so confused why I couldn’t hold it today. Same thing with the awkward pose; hadn’t had problems with it since my first Bikram class (which was a disaster) but today it seemed near impossible to sit in the chair with my heels up. But fast forward to toe stand and huh? I’m balancing, just like that? What is this?

Logically, it would seem that once I got a pose down, I should always get it right, yeah? It should be that my muscle memory finally got it, that I’d strengthened the muscles needed to nail it. But I guess there’s a lot more to the practice than that. Much to learn newbie yogi, much to learn …


day 21: a rough patch April 19, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 10:54 pm

I had a rough weekend for no real reason other than the strange things going on in my own mind. I’ve been feeling a little … unsettled. Maybe it’s because my boyfriend’s been away … maybe it’s because my 28th birthday is drawing near … maybe because I’m starting to feel really, really at home in New York and it scares me because I hate finality.

Or maybe it’s because of the ridiculous obsession I’ve developed with the movie Twilight. I got the normal side effect (falling in love with Edward Cullen). But it also got me thinking about my own mortality. In Bella’s words, “I’m dying, already. Every second I get closer, older.” I know I’m far from ancient, but it’s getting to be that point in my life when I’m feeling my youth slipping away … and for some reason I couldn’t get it out of my head this weekend.

I swear to god it was stuck in my mind as I did Bikram yesterday. As I watched myself perform the postures, I was thinking about how strong and limber I was when I was younger. I was just completely down on myself, and it really messed up my practice. I was so impatient with myself and gave up on so many poses. My focus was totally shot.

You know what’s strange though? I think I had the best final savasanah that night since I began my practice. I guess I was so exhausted by then that I couldn’t find the energy to think and overthink all these things that ultimately are just in my head. I just completely let go and floated away for that moment.

But then I woke up and started overthinking again. I hope I can fight this craziness off because there’s really nopoint to it. Aging is inevitable. The time I take out to obsess about it is ultimately time taken away from living this life.


the ego trip April 17, 2009

Filed under: my mind on yoga — Celine @ 5:09 pm

I started writing this as a response to a comment left by Lolly on my post, Day 19: The More the Merrier but it started getting so long that I thought I might as well post it!

Lolly’s comment read:

“I have to say, reading this is a bit disheartening…every person you’ve brought to Bikram you mention how they handle class, how “well” they did for their fist time, not even sitting out, or only sitting out once — what does it matter?  Bikram Yoga is a 90 minute open-eyed, moving meditation.  Your eyes should only be looking at your own eyes in the mirror, not looking at other bodies to “judge” and “compare” yourself to.  That is an activity for the ego.  Please don’t use Bikram as a tool to feed the ego.”

So first off, I just want to say I’m sorry if I upset anyone with my post. I didn’t word it right but when I say a friend did well on their first class, it’s really because I’m comparing them to how I did on MY first class, which was really, really, really terrible. It makes me happy to see friends having a good class because it means that they’ll be attending more classes with me and won’t think I dragged them out to be tortured.

In any case though, there’s truth to what Lolly said that I’m still using Bikram to feed my ego. It’s true, and I haven’t quite overcome it since I’m really only on my 20th class! I know that Bikram is supposed to be a meditation and not an ego trip. But just as I know what a locust pose is really supposed to look like, it doesn’t mean I’m quite there yet. We all know that we’re supposed to be free of judgement and have unbreakable focus but unfortunately, we’re human and the mind and body don’t always cooperate. I hope you’ll accept that I’m still just starting on my journey and I won’t be the perfect yogi for a long, long time. I promise to try though! And if you’re willing to keep reading, I’ll keep writing honestly about how my burgeoning love affair with Bikram yoga is going—the good AND the bad.


day 20: move as one April 15, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 11:53 pm

Maybe it’s cos I’m a suffering student and not a teacher of Bikram, but I always thought, “Yeah right” when teachers say things like, “Thank you, this was an amazing class” at the end of the 90-minute torturefest. But today I actually felt what they mean by “an amazing class.” The class today had very good energy. Everyone seemed extremely focused and determined to do their best. Our teacher seemed extra attentive and I picked up so many instructions that I’d never heard before (though they could have been said over and over again, it doesn’t mean that I actually picked it up!).  I felt a push to kick harder, fall way back, and bend more when I sensed the yogis around me pushing themselves to their limits. I was once the yogi who could barely get through 4 poses, and it never occurred to me that what I was feeling could actually affect those around me. When I see a yogi who’s overcome with exhaustion and is sitting still, waiting for it to pass, I’m not badly affected. But those who express their suffering out loud or worse, step out of the class, have a stronger effect on me. Commiserating can be the end of your practice. It’s important for the entire group’s practice to give out good energy, rather than suck it out.

Good lord, I can’t believe I wrote all that above. Bikram is turning me into a crunchy granola hippie, if not in action, then definitely in mind!granola