How many days in a row can I practice yoga?

That’s what I’ve decided to find out. The idea came to me during a yoga class last night. Originally, I was going to set a time period goal, but while studying for the bar today, I realized that that is probably unachievable aspiration. The bar is in approximately 6 weeks and I know that eventually I’m going to go into panicked study mode and feel as if I can’t leave my house. Now I know that I should probably force myself to leave the house on those days and force myself to do yoga as a way to relax, but realistically I know that its just not going to happen. So, the challenge that I’ve imposed is to see how many consecutive days I can practice yoga. I think so far, my personal best is 4. I feel like I can definitely beat that. Stay tuned.

Bikram and me

Today I had my first experience with Bikram yoga. It was completly unintentional and, quite frankly, unwanted. We visited my mother-in-law this weekend and this morning I had a hankering for some yoga. Being at my mother-in-law’s house, there were some technical difficulties in actually doing yoga.  Her house is smallish and cozy. Which is nice. But when there’s more than one person there it’s pretty impossible to find a place to do anything peacefully.

About 11:30, I decided that the only way to have any sort of peace (and space) for yoga was to go outside. So, I put on my trusty yoga shorts (sixteen dollars very well spent), unpacked my mat and blanket, grabbed my laptop, and headed to the backyard. I don’t know about the rest of you, but in my time doing yoga, I have not been that successful with my home practice. We’ll get into this in a later post about my yoga history; for now suffice it to say that I tend to get bored doing the same flows over and over and I’m not all that great with making up new ones. So, the best way for me to keep a continuous practice is to go to classes a few times a week and practice at home in between. Even doing that I sometimes need new insipration for my home practice, which is why I took my laptop outside with me today. When I need something new, I go to my trusty yogadowload.com podcast or to yogatoday.com.

This morning, I obviously needed something new, so I turned on my laptop and, while it booted up, spread out my blanket and mat. I went to yogatoday and looked at the weekly free class. It seemed easy (novice level) and was a full hour-long class (something that’s a little difficult to come by in free internet yoga classes) . Exactly what I needed this morning.

I sat on my mat in a comfortable seated position and focused on my breathing. I was a little distracted by the kids running around next door and a little aware that they were loudly asking their mom what I was doing, but I was more cognizant of the fact that it was a little warm outside for 11:30 in the morning. And a little humid. But I didn’t let that bother me; I was determined that I was going to do that class. Within minutes, I had forgotten that I was the least bit hot or that kids were a little scared by what I was doing. I had gone through, among other things, three full sun salutations, when I went into down dog and noticed that there was sweat dripping down my nose. So much more being present in my body. I was so focused on my breath, the poses, and seeing the backyard from a different perspective that I hadn’t noticed that my entire body was dripping with sweat (despite the yoga shorts), that the temperature had risen about ten degrees in the half-hour that I had been outside, and that the humidity was in full-middle-of-August mode.

Despite this, I kept going. It was exhilerating really.Practicing outside that is. I spend a lot of time outside. Well, a lot more time outside than most people do. I do just about everything that I can outside. I read, write, study, eat, jog, whatever.  And it wasn’t until this morning, that I actually paid close attention to my surroundings. I was in baby cobra the first time I really noticed. My eyes had been closed and when I opened them the first thing I saw was a vast field of grass, tiny wildflowers, bees, grasshoppers, and a little ladybug that was hopping from blade of grass to blade of grass. How amazing! And it was this that kept me going after I noticed how very HOT I was.

Well, it kept me going for a couple of more minutes anyway. When I went from a Down Dog to a Warrior II, I got a little light headed (meaning I almost fell over) and realized that I needed to call it a day yoga wise and cool off. So, I paused my video and went inside for a drink and the AC.

It was only when I got inside that I found out it was almost 90 degrees with 70% humidity while I was practicing. I know that’s not exactly Bikram material, but it’s the closest I’ve ever come, and after this morning, the closest I’ll probbaly ever come. Outside of the AMAZING interaction with nature, it was not really a good time. I was so hot that I was literally nauseated and it took me almost an hour and a cold shower to cool down. Despite this, I have a great respect for those that practice Bikram; the heat and humidity really ups the difficulty level and makes the experience much more intense. I”ll probably never actually do Bikram for real or practice outside in the heat again, but this was a pretty great experience for a Sunday morning.

Storms and Rainbows

Earlier today, when I was thinking about what to blog about today, I had thought that I would write about my new-found vegeterianism or maybe about the evolution of my yoga practice.

Then I went to yoga class. There was nothing really special about the class; I’ve been to that class at least a dozen times before. But I’ve never been to that class in the middle of a thunderstorm before. I’m not sure why this changed things. Maybe its was the circular second-floor window and skylight filled studio. Or maybe it was that I’m a little afraid of storms. Okay, more than a little afraid but getting into that will take us sooo far off-track.

I don’t know why this happened but something about the energy of the storm and tone of the class that made me feel amazingly confident and calm. And believe me, calm during a storm doesn’t really happen for me. Ever. When I went into my first warrior II and heard the thunder rolling as I extended my arms, I felt such an intense feeling of empowerment. Warrior II is probably my favorite pose and I always feel very strong when I practice it, but this was just an almost indescribable feeling. From that point on in the class, I was going farther than normal in my poses, using less props, and trying things I don’t normally try. All in all, it went really well.

Who would have thought a thunderstorm would have that effect on me?

Oh, and on my way out of the studio, I saw a double rainbow. It was as if the world was telling me that at the end of the storm, there’s light and beauty. Not exactly the most insightful reading of a rainbow sign, but I’ve  got a difficult 6 weeks ahead of me and I really am going to need to focus on the light at the end of the terrible storm that is the bar exam.

Summertime Yoga

Yoga is hot in the summer. Really hot.

So, I bought a pair of yoga shorts a couple of days ago. I was initially a little apprehensive about going out in public in them. I put them on and suddenly my thighs looked about 12 inches wider. After I looked in the mirror, I was very tempted to take them off and take them back. But the fact that it was about 90 degrees and 90% humidity made me rethink that decision. Okay. Really I rethought the decision because I broke a sweat standing there. I finally made it out of the house and to class. I spent the first few poses wondering if everyone was staring at me, but then I started relaxing. And before I knew it, it was time for savasna and I wasn’t dripping with sweat.

Bottom line: Yoga shorts are the best idea of all time.