The Bikram Diaries

Searching for bliss through 105° of heat

day 14: those ZZZs make a difference March 31, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 8:59 am
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sleep

Amazing image via cmrowell’s photostream

I used to say things like, “You can sleep when you’re dead.” In my early 20s, I always chose fun drunken nights over a full 8-10 hours. Ok, who am I kidding, until now I still do. But the thing is, I was never really convinced that my body heals and is restored to good health while asleep. I thought that was all mumbo jumbo conjured up by mommies until yesterday.

Over the weekend I felt fantastic everyday. No aches and pains from the Bikram classes; quite a contrast to how I felt on the weekdays. I concluded that I felt better because those were the 4th and 5th consecutive days I’d done Bikram and my body was getting used to it.

WRONG.

Monday morning I had about 5 hours of sleep and I woke up with those familiar twinges of pain. My practice was a little less stellar. I felt tired. I concluded that I needed a break from Bikram perhaps.

WRONG AGAIN.

Today, after a good 7-8 hours of sleep, I woke up feeling like a million bucks. No major aches. I don’t know that I’ll have the most fantastic Bikram class ever, but I do feel good enough that I’d rather take class than laze at home.

Sleep does make a difference after all.

 

bye bye moisturizer March 30, 2009

Filed under: pretty yogini — Celine @ 4:14 pm
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This body butter by Cozy Moments looks good enough to eat but I don’t need it! Since I started religiously doing Bikram, my skin has been in excellent form. My cheeks are soft and supple, and I have no dry patches on my face or my body. It must be the combination of constantly sweating out toxins and gulping down tons and tons of water. I find myself every now and then balking at the cost of taking Bikram yoga, but if I think about the cosmetics it cuts out of my life, I guess it’s a price worth paying!body-butter

 

Enlighten Up

Filed under: yogi entertainment — Celine @ 9:54 am
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I am dying to see this film. Enlighten Up! follows Nick Rosen, a 29-year-old New Yorker and journalist, on a journey to find a form of yoga that “transforms him.” As a newbie yoga seeking transformation myself, I feel I can totally relate to this guy. Screenings start at IFC in New York on April 1, 2009. Visit the website for more information.

enlighten-up

 

day 13: moment of ick March 29, 2009

Filed under: moment of weakness,my bikram diary — Celine @ 11:27 pm
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The question people ask me the most when I tell them I’ve been doing Bikram Yoga is, “Is it smelly?” They can’t believe it when I say it’s actually not. For the most part I find that being in a Bikram studio smells like being in a steam room. On the rare occasion, I’ve caught the odd body odor smell but it never in an overwhelming manner.

That said, today I had a huge ICK moment in class. At the beginning of class, I remember being surprised that the part of my towel that I was standing on started getting damp. I hadn’t even started sweating heavily yet, and my feet aren’t normally sweaty. As we were doing the half moon pose, I realized that the carpet must be wet and the wetness was soaking through my mat and the towel! When I did the forward bend and grabbed my heels with my fingers, I caught a whiff of a scent and my worst fears were confirmed. The carpet was soaked in sweat and it was coming up through to by towel! I know what my sweat smells like and this wasn’t mine. It smelled like a man’s sweat! Eeeeew. I was disgusted beyond belief.

“Don’t think of it as sweat babe, it’s just water,” my man attempted to console me. Somehow I managed to get through the class and do quite well despite the yucky distraction. Next time I am totally checking my spot for wetness, and I’m gonna get a move on ordering my own mat.

 

day 11 & 12: bikram pour deux

two

Last Thursday, I convinced my significant other to do the one week Bikram Yoga trial. It didn’t take a lot of convincing really since he is a health buff, likes the idea of yoga, and is Finnish (which means he enjoys hanging out in saunas and other super hot places).

I was a little apprehensive at first that having him by my side would adversely affect my Bikram practice. I was afraid I would either: a) be obsessed with how he’s holding up, or b) showing off. Hey, I was a trained ballet dancer for 12 years, so it’s hard to kick that performing for an audience bug.

But I have to say, Bikram has its ways of making sure you do neither. On Day 11 we came in a tad later than I usually come for class so we were relegated to the hottest part of the room: back row, smack in the center, where all the heaters seem to blow the warm air. Since I’ve been kinda cheating for last week and staying near the window where a hint of a draft keeps the air a tad cooler, this was new territory for me. One third of the way into class, sweat was streaming out of my pores and I was starting to feel a bit lightheaded from the hot air swirling incessantly around me. It took all my effort to keep from falling apart, so while I did occasionally feel sorry for my assuredly dizzy man, I had to focus on myself.

A teacher once said in one of our classes that it’s very important not to talk in a Bikram class. When you start looking at your fellow yogis and start empathizing with each other about how tough this is, you start to break down. You start to wallow in how tired you are, how friggin hot the room is. Nothing good comes of it. I learned the truth in this during this class.

The only way we could both stay strong was to focus on ourselves. I was dying, but I did the best sustained standing bow pull of my life in this class! I did well enough to warrant a “You have a very good practice, Celine” from my teacher. I was giddy with joy!

My man also did extremely well for his first class in two years (really the second class of his life). He only sat out one posture, and powered through as much as he could despite the terrible dizziness and nausea first-timers always feel. He’s a determined man, after all—he’s done the Dublin marathon and is just a madman at working out.

The next day, no question about it, we were both ready to do another class. This time he was stronger and had a better understanding of the postures. I think there’s going to be a second Bikram addict in the household!

On my 12th day, I learned that the no-eating-2-hours-before-class is a solid rule. I scarfed down a bowl of ramen at 5:20 when I had a 7PM class, and felt completely out of sorts for the first 20 minutes of Bikram. Tis way better to practice with an empty stomach, for sure.

My posture breakthrough for the day was a higher than usual cobra. I managed to stay in a position where only my belly button touched the floor, and maintained it comfortably for the allotted time. So happy to feel my back opening up finally!

But back to doing Bikram as a couple. The best part, I think, is that it puts us on the same page lifestyle-wise. My guy is a nightowl who can stay up drinking til 5AM on a daily basis. I used to be able to match up with him until Bikram entered my life. Since I started, I’ve been drinking less and wanting to sleep earlier, which is no fun if you’re on the lifestyle we previously enjoyed. But these past few days, we’ve been completely in sync, which is a wonderful way to be. No need to argue about going home too early or wanting to just chill and watch a movie on the couch, rather than going out to party. That kind of peace is just as wonderful as inner peace, I have to say.

 

day 10: don’t let anything take away your peace March 27, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 9:15 am
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peace
Our teacher Danielle ended with those words and I felt myself tingling with inspiration at the thought afterwards.

I came into the studio quite harried today. I usually come to the studio half an hour early because I get out of work at 5:30 but usually take either the 7:30 or 8PM class. I don’t like to rush. But today, I was sitting on a barstool watching my boyfriend play pool and debating whether or not I should still take the 8PM class because it would end so late. At approximately 7:39, he tells me to just go and take it because it looked like the matches would take some time. I booked it to Bikram Yoga Union Square and signed up 10 minutes before the class, but since I had to get dressed, hydrate with some Zico, use the restroom, blah, blah, I didn’t have a moment to lie and be still before class actually started.

But Bikram worked its usual magic, and by the time I was in final savasana, I was utterly at peace. Danielle has this amazing way of winding down the class through her dialogue, telling us to “relax your eyes, relax your eyebrows, relax your nose, relax your cheeks … ” (you get the drift) in her lovely, soothing voice. You are in an absolute state of calm by the time she says, “This is your reward. Don’t let anything take away your peace. Namaste.”

Later that night, I was having dinner with my boyfriend and some of our male friends. Boys will be boys, and at some point my boyfriend made a comment that upset me. On the cab ride home, I talked to him about things that were upsetting me but I was surprised at how I was able to say it without collapsing into tears or getting extremely emotional, like I sometimes do. I spoke my piece, he said his, and afterwards we had a hug and a kiss, and we were at peace.

Maybe I give yoga too much credit, but I feel I wouldn’t have handled it that well had I not had that class earlier. It’s just so much easier to accept an emotion, face it, and let it go these days. I’m simply deciding not to let anything take away my peace.

 

day 9: what a relief March 26, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 8:25 am
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The last 5 days that I went without Bikram yoga showed me how much the practice has stilled and settled my mind and emotions. When I had to go without, all these little irritating thoughts that I never thought of when engaged in practice started coming back, nagging at my mind. Little insecurities that are laughable when I’m practicing fight their way to the surface.

“Your thoughts mean nothing,” Bikram teachers like to say. I think that when they say that, they’re talking about the thoughts that try to break down your  practice. The thoughts that tell you, “It’s just too hot here. This is impossible.” Or, “I’m feeling light-headed, I have to stop.”

With my persistence in practicing for the last few weeks, I’ve managed to quiet those thoughts down. So when the teacher tells me my thoughts mean nothing, I relate it to those nagging thoughts and insecurities that plague me in daily life, and the anxiety they cause needlessly. There are too many little things that we allow to bog us down and cause us stress. Just let them go. Your thoughts mean nothing.