The Bikram Diaries

Searching for bliss through 105° of heat

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 …

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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
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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
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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

 

day 19: the more the merrier! April 13, 2009

I always wonder how my friend Kathryn and I are friends. We’re soooo different. She’s super athletic and does things I can’t even imagine doing, like ice-climbing and football. Me, I can’t be bribed into playing a contact sport. I hate getting roughed up and up until recently, was not really into the idea of sweating. But we all know that’s changed.

Well today, Kathryn decided to add one item on to the three things we have in common (we like clothes, we like to eat and we love to get our drink on) by joining me in Monday Bikram class. I always get a little scared when some of my friends come to class because I think they’ll blame me if they hate it (which is highly possible since I tried it and hated it three times before I finally liked it). Well thank goodness, she liked it! Kathryn handled the class better than any first timer I’ve seen. She did all the poses and never stopped to rest.

I was exceptionally focused today and I’m not really sure why! I stayed in the back row so I could be beside Kathryn, and the class was so packed I could only see the top of my head. But maybe that’s why it was easier to focus. I couldn’t be distracted by stuff like the little flab rolls I see when I do the half moon pose, or how much further the people around me seem to be able to bend forward on their standing head to knee pose. I just felt my own body and pushed it as far as it would go, not trying to compete with the yogis around me and not berating myself for having that second piece of chocolate (and thus not helping the flab roll reduction cause). For the first time, I found myself okay with the fact that the class was packed wall-to-wall. The more the merrier!

 

day 18: to the beat of the drum April 10, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 12:32 am
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drums
Image via Diafragma66’s photostream

Today’s class was unlike any other Bikram class I’ve ever taken. To celebrate Bikram Yoga Union Square owner Otto Cedeño’s class, the studio held its annual drum class. It’s basically Bikram Yoga done to the beat of Afro-Cuban drums. It was a unique experience, to say the least. First of all, there’s no script during the class. The teacher, Otto, only says “begin” or “change” and he does the poses with the class. So definitely not a class for beginners because you will get no instruction whatsoever.

During the breathing exercise and the first few postures, I felt a little out of sync with the drums. But when we got to the balancing series, I began to enjoy it. Aside from the drums, they also used the shekere, a percussion instrument made out of a hollowed gourd and strung with beads, during the series. Its strong, rushing rhythm propelled me through the postures and gave me a bit more energy, I felt, to hold my asanas. For the rest of the class, however, I still missed the dialogue. Being quite the newbie, I still need those reminders, I still get motivation from the script. I guess the drum class is best done by more experience Bikram practicioners.

That said, it’s always great to experience something new and different. I would never trade traditional yoga for the drum class variety, but I would definitely take the class again next year!

 

day 17: random acts of kindness April 8, 2009

I remember talking to my sweetie once about how people in Bikram class seem to be SO NICE. The locker rooms can get horribly crowded but everyone seems to be polite and patient amidst the chaos.

Today I wasn’t one of those terribly nice and patient people. I’m PMS-ing so I’m just not the nicest person to be around, period (no pun intended). My crankiness extended into class because I had skipped four days and felt like I’d regained flab and lost flexibility. I was cranky up until my head hit the towel for final savasana. I trudged out of the room and lined up to take a shower with a cloud of gloom over my head.

Then suddenly the girl in front of me turns and asks, “Do you need a bag?” I was so surprised by the question that it took me a few seconds to answer yes. When she went to grab a plastic bag for her wet clothes, she took an extra one and handed it to me. Such a simple gesture but it lifted my mood considerably. Why hasn’t it ever occurred to me to do that? Definitely have to start.

In other acts of kindness news, I paid up for the special one-year offer at Bikram Yoga Union Square which cuts down the price of unlimited yoga with towels and free mat storage to less than $80 a month (normally approximately $133). My entire year of Bikram is courtesy of my sweetheart/Sugar Daddy. So sweet! In related Sugar Daddy news, Monkey was also gifted with one year of Bikram by her darling Buddha. Gotta love these guys! Hey, I think it’s a win-win situation. They cough up the moolah and they get a girlfriend who’s hot, perpetually happy from the endorphins, and grateful all year long. If I had the money (and um, if I were a guy?) I’d pony up the cash too!