Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 21 = 9 Days Left!

Day 21 Blog accompanied by Photography Adventure Group's daily theme of Peace.

I'd like to start today's blog by sending my prayers out to the people affected by the tragic shooting in Colorado.  Sometimes my mind is baffled by the unexplainable actions of certain individuals.  That makes the daily photo theme of 'Peace' even more special. 

Now on to less important things like my 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge!  Okay, look, I am loving Bikram.  I love what it has done for my mind (more aware and thoughtful), and for my body (down to 133 today!).  I love how this challenge has pushed me beyond what I thought I could do.  I love the instructors (most days!).  I love the people I've met.  I love the sweat.  I LOVE THE SWEAT! 

BUT...I am tired.

I am so, very, tired.  My 40 year old body is not used to 90 minutes of hard core workouts every single day.  And getting home at 8:30 every night during the week leaves me with 9:00 dinners and no time to run errands or clean the house (you feel me ladies??).  And then the 5:30am class on Friday's...well...let's just say that by the time I get home at 6pm I'm too tired to do anything but sink into my comfy chair.  I've never been a morning person!

And then there are the new aches and pains.  The worst has been my hip flexors.  I have been in such pain in this area that at work I groan each time I get up or sit down.  My friend, Kelli, turned me on to the foam roller which has eased the pain some.  The other "sports injury" I have experienced is rug burn.  Or, more precisely, towel burn.  My chin and my knees are quite chaffed...and that's not really a sexy look! 

So, to sum up my bellyaching blog, I'm tired, I'm sore, I'm beat up, but I love Bikram!  I am completely looking forward to completing the challenge (NINE MORE DAYS!!), taking a few days off, and then going at my leisure...probably a few times a week.  I hope that I have found a workout in Bikram that I will maintain for a lifetime.

Now, my next challenge (which will NOT be for 30 straight days), is to try something that my friend, Heather, is teaching in Indianapolis called SUP Yoga.  I just need to find a place in Phoenix that is teaching if anyone out there knows of a place...please let me know! 

In closing, please wish me luck on finishing my final 9 days.  I know I will do it (I'll get 'er done), but I want to finish with grace and dignity and with a complete feeling of success and accomplishment.  And I want to lose 7 more pounds!  LOL!


REAL Peace is always unshakable... 'Bliss is unchanged by gain or loss'
Yogi Bhajan

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 15 - The Halfway Mark!

Wind Removing Pose
Day 15 of 30.  I have done 90 minutes of hot Yoga for 15 straight days in a row.  I feel good about it!  At the same time, I'm thinking...I have as many days to get through as I've already finished!  Whew!  And then I think of my friend, Kelli, who did a 60 day challenge a few years ago!  Wow!

I decided to take a few photos of myself in some poses and share them with the world.  Thus, combining my love of photography, water (as I was by the pool), and yoga.  This first photo is of Wind Removing Pose or Pavanamuktasana.  It is the first pose in the back series.  And each day I'm ever more grateful for the back series, which follows the standing/balancing series, which kicks my ass!  This particular pose compresses and massages the ascending, transverse, and descending colon.  It is said to cure and prevent flatulence.  I like to think it's for the boys in the girls do not fart.  ;0)

At this point in the challenge I have non-stop pain in my hip-flexors all day every day.  This is actually one of the moves that creates that pain.  It's one of those "good" pains, though, I think.  I hope that it eases as the days go on.  That's really the only sore body part...other than my red chafed knees from camel pose and rabbit pose.

Hands to Feet Pose

This next (very flattering) photo is of Hands to Feet Pose or Pada Hastasana.  This is performed in beginning standing/balancing series.  This is the pose where we repetitively hear "Lock your knees.  Lock your knees.  Last chance...lock..your..knees."  As you can see I haven't quite mastered locking my knees.  This pose is said to eliminate excess fat (Yay!!), influence sex organs, and help prevent flatulence (I see a theme forming).

Just a side-note here...I had 10 seconds to get into this pose before the camera timer completed...AND I was doing it while balancing on a diving board.  Thank you...thank you. 

Full Locust Pose


The third and final photo I'm sharing today is part of the spine strengthening series and is called Full Locust Pose or Poorna-Salabhasana.  It is part of the Cobra series, which I happen to love.  This posture is good for strengthening the middle and lower spine and for expanding the rib cage and lungs.  It is said to aid in digestion, strengthen the immune system, and revitalize the thyroid.

I have to say that since beginning Bikram, my allergies have not been bothering me at all and I feel better overall.  Although, I find that I'm much more tired than usual once evening arrives.  I seem to have more energy during the day, but am exhausted at night.  Which makes for great sleeping so I can't really complain! 

So, last night I broke my run for the non-alcoholic portion of this challenge.  This was a self-imposed rule that even my Yoga instructors were impressed with (and curious about).  I went 20 days without a drink and I'm very proud of that.  However, I was finding (as I'm sure was Eric) that I was getting quite bitchy!  And sitting at home on a Saturday night last night, Eric enjoying a few beers and me drinking MORE water, I decided that 20 days was good enough and I went to Target and bought a bottle of Kim Crawford and darn near finished it.  And it tasted great and I have no regrets!  Besides that...I have not lost one pound according the scales...have gained 2 pounds in fact.  So...why not have a cocktail?!

Cheers to the final 15 days of this awesome challenge!  And I challenge you all to give this a shot!  You can still sign up for the challenge at a Bikram studio near can start any day in the month of July.  Bikram Yoga 30 Day Challenge  is a good link to get started.  Although this particular site is based in NYC, it has great information and links.  Challenge yourself!

I was in yoga the other day. I was in full lotus position. My chakras were all aligned. My mind is cleared of all clatter and I'm looking out of my third eye and everything that I'm supposed to be doing. It's amazing what comes up, when you sit in that silence. "Mama keeps whites bright like the sunlight, Mama's got the magic of Clorox 2."
Ellen DeGeneres

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 10 - Double Digits / Beautiful Brittany

Day 10 Blog accompanied by Bee Photography photos based on Photography Adventure Club daily theme of 'Celebration'

Celebration of Life
Well, today was day 10 of my Bikram yoga 30 day challenge!  I'm into the double digits now!  Yay for me!  10 down...20 to go!  And once again I'm writing about my 'tough' instructor, who taught tonight's class.  You may remember that this time last week I felt picked on by her and brought to tears by the end of class.  I was dreading her class this evening.  She is a by-the-book Bikram instructor.  She takes every word of Bikram Choudhury to heart.  She can do every pose perfectly and seems to expect the same of her class.  She will call you out if you're not doing it correctly and toss the rare compliment if you happen to do it perfectly.  That's why I'm on cloud 9 tonight...I received FOUR...count them...1- 2- 3- 4... "Beautiful, Brittany!" comments from her tonight!

Wedding Celebration
It turns out that she is also a school teacher.  And just as I have been from kindergarten on, I am that student who wants to do her best and please the teacher.  So, as tough as she is, her approval has become important to me.  I want her to be proud of my poses.  And tonight was the best class I've had so far!

It's a nice turnaround from a tough weekend.  I strained my neck on Friday during rabbit pose and had to set out a couple poses for 2 days.  But tonight I came back like a true yogi!  :0)  I currently have delusions of grandeur that I can become a Bikram instructor!  I finally have most of the rules down (or so I seems new ones pop up every few days depending on the instructor):
Indy 500 Celebration

1.  Breath through the nose; close your mouth.
2.  Heels together toes fall to the side.
3.  Arch your back, way back!
4.  Lock your knees!  Lock your knees!  Lock. Your. Knees!
5.  Keep your eyes open during Savasana.
6.  Try not to use your towel to wipe off sweat.
7.  Don't drink water between poses.
8.  Touch your chin to your chest.
9.  Get into Savasana as quickly as possible!
10.  Touch your forehead to your knees.
11.  Toes together heels fall open.
12.  Look at yourself in the mirror...don't even blink.
13.  Breath through your nose!
14.  Lock your knees, lock your knees, final chance...LOCK YOUR KNEES!

Okay, okay, there's much more to being a great instructor I realize.  And I suppose I should first become a great student!  I'm just on a Bikram high at the moment.  Another great class of connecting with my body, mind, and soul.  I can promise you there will be a night soon enough where I can't touch my forehead to my knee and will be scolded...if not by the instructor than by my own self.  But until that night I'm going to float on the high of "Beautiful, Brittany" for just a bit longer.

A photographer gets people to pose for him. A yoga instructor gets people to pose for themselves.
T. Guillemets

Celebrating Halloween in the Big Apple

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 7 - Introspective

Merriam-Webster defines introspective as "to engage in an examination of one's thought process and sensory experience."  For those of you who have done any form of yoga you probably know that it can be a very introspective experience.  My instructors call our 90 minute long, 26 poses a 'moving meditation'.  We breath only through our nose in a very controlled manner.  This way of breathing in itself is a powerful method to bring our attention inward.  
Southern Arizona Skies

We are also encouraged to maintain eye contact with ourselves in the mirror.  This has only become easier for me in the past day or two.  I HATE looking in the mirror at myself.  Just as I hate being on the other side of a camera.  Probably like a lot of women out there, I focus on the negative...the fat rolls, the disappearing eyes, the one leg that is longer than the other, etc.  And being in a room heated anywhere from 105 to 110 degrees does not a pretty girl make!  My face becomes a frightening shade of crimson, I can see sweat literally dripping from my nose and elbows, my hair...well, my hair is a bird's nest of crooked, sweaty bobby pins.  Not exactly a time I want to be gazing upon my reflection!  However, at the insistence of my instructors, I am learning to focus solely on myself; to stop glancing around the room; to stop worrying about what people are thinking about me; to shut out what is going on around me, and to come into my own body, mind, and soul.  

Cattedrale di Santa Maria - Siena, Italy

Thus, over the course of these past 7 days I have become introspective not only during Bikram, but also in my everyday life. 
Butterfly on Dais
It just so happens that during this time of examining my thoughts and feelings, I come upon the 5 year anniversary of my dad's death.  7/7/07.  Lost to COPD brought on by smoking.  Lost after a double lung transplant.  Take those words and think on them for a moment:  Double.  Lung.  Transplant.  He was so afraid to have that surgery.  Refused to at the start.  But as his breathing worsened, and he got that phone call, he knew it was his only option.  He never left the hospital.  I meditate on that as I'm sweating through my 90 minute introspective yoga class.  I meditate on the good times we had.  I examine my feelings of guilt for moving across the country against his wishes as he struggled with this life/death decision.  

St. Frances - Assisi, Italy
I am grateful for these past 7 days.  Do I LOVE Bikram yoga?  Not like I love a good bottle of Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay (3 more weeks, Kim!).  But I do love the feeling of accomplishment; the self-awareness; the alone time with me and my thoughts; the feeling after class of having sweat out not only toxins, but also negativity; the feeling of oneness with my body.  I feel more a part of my own body than I ever have.  Does that make sense to anyone besides me?  I feel the changes; I feel new muscles; I feel old muscles coming alive, stretching, awakening.  And it's only been 7 days!  As difficult as this challenge is, I'm still looking forward to what the next 3 weeks may bring!  Thank you for sharing my journey.  I miss you Dad.  XoXoXo

 Yoga is the perfect vehicle for change of yourself. First by creating a strong and powerful body and mind. It is a starting point from which you can begin to realize your human spirit.
— Bikram Choudhury

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 3 - First Fart and First Lesson

Day 3 Blog accompanied by Photography Adventure Group's daily theme of Independence.
New York Stock Exchange

Yes, the first Bikram fart came tonight.  Although I'm happy to say it did not come from my tush (yet), it did, unfortunately, come from the person directly in front of me.  <sigh>

So, I wasn't going to blog about tonight's class.  I don't intend to bore you all with the details of all 30 classes by any means.  However, tonight I feel like I kind of got my first 'lesson' and thought it significant enough to share.

Tonight's instructor was actually the woman I mentioned in my first blog who's kickass body inspired me to get through that first class.  When I learned she was teaching tonight I told her as much and she was very sweet and gracious about it.  We talked about the student teacher who taught on Sunday and she assured me that her teaching style would be more informative and that she would help to ensure I was doing the moves correctly.  I told her I would very much appreciate that.

Washington Monument and American Flag

Maybe that's where my mistake was.  The class included a man there for his very first time, a girl who was there for her 2nd time, and me for my 3rd time.  The other people were, I assume, not newbies.  From the very first breathing posture she started critiquing me aloud.  That's fine.  I am QUITE OBVIOUSLY still learning and appreciate the help.  And of course I want to know what I'm not doing right.  The 2nd posture she critiques me again.  The 4th posture, again.  After about the 8th or 9th time I was kind of over it.  The only other names she called out were 'Jennifer' and 'Christina' and that was to praise them.  It felt as if I were the only person in the room doing the postures incorrectly.

Freedom Trail in Boston, MA
So, as the temperatures rose, as my body got weaker 60 minutes into class, my appreciation for her constructive criticism evaporated like my fellow yogi's fart in the heat.  I found myself fuming.  I found myself shooting daggers at her each time she called my name.  Honestly, the anger energized me enough to finish the class with good form in my final poses.  Was I praised like 'Jennifer' or 'Christina' for my Sasangasana  or my Janushirasana ?  No.  But I wasn't criticized for them either.

So, as we lie in the dark in our final Savasana at the end of class, our instructor begins to talk to us about the power of our own selves.  She begins to tell us how the power of Bikram can make us physically stronger and mentally stronger.  That each day we have what we need within ourselves to get through whatever life presents to us.  That no one should be able to make us angry or upset; that would be giving our power away.  That we should have the strength to say 'No' so that the power of 'Yes' is more meaningful.  That we should not apologize to anyone for how we feel.  And suddenly, my anger disappeared as a tear rolled down my sweaty cheek.  I got my first Bikram lesson.

Let no one steal your peace.
— Bikram Choudhury

Wishing you all a happy and safe Independence Day!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 2 of Hotter Than Hell Challenge

Day 2 Blog accompanied by Photography Adventure Group's daily theme of Red, White,  & Blue.
So, Day 2 of Bikram Yoga was better.  Not easier, mind you, but better.  The instructor was not a student and therefore was much more informative and helpful.  Still no farting but the guy next to me was burping.  ??  Bikram burping?  I only sat out one pose tonight...again, more from the heat than anything.

What I'm most worried about at this point is how time-consuming this is going to be for a month.  I got off work at 5:00, ran home to change clothes and throw the hair in a ponytail, got to the studio and sweat my ass off for 90 minutes, and by the time I got home tonight it was between 8:15 and 8:30.  That doesn't leave much time for anything!  And it means late dinners...which are supposedly bad (although I've never really bought into that).

Oh well, I'm sure it will all be worth it in the end.  And with such little free leaves no time to even think about alcohol!  I'm actually kind of looking forward to weighing in at the end of the week!  Never thought I'd say that!

I ended the night by jumping into the pool in my birthday suit under a brilliant full moon.  I hope you all got to see it tonight.  As my friend, Kelli Donley wrote, we're all 'Under the Same Moon'.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 1st - Day One of my 30 Day Challenge

Day One - 136 pounds

   And so it begins.  I leave the house in short shorts and a tight workout shirt...hating the view of my muffin-top but knowing that I will be burning about 700 calories...I do what must be done.

The owner puts me in good position to see the instructors who are actually taking the class, as today's class has a student teacher.  Luckily, I'm right beside the thermostat so I can keep my curious eye on the temp for the entire 90 minute class.  We start at 105 degrees with 40% humidity.  Position 1 - Pranayama / Standing Deep Breathing.  Breathing?!  I can do this!  Easy-peasey!  Position 6 - Dandayamana-Janushirasana / Standing Head to Knee Pose.  Um...maybe a picture would explain why this is where I started getting wobbly:
Not to mention by this point the temp was already up to 108 with 42% humidity and I'm sweating out of pores that I'm pretty sure spontaneously popped up today.  700 calories...700 calories...this became my mantra!  And, lucky for me, the instructor who was participating in class had a kickass body and I kept telling myself that by the end of my 30 days I would look like her (shut got me through the class, okay?!).

Position 13 Padangustasana / Toe Stand Pose...half way there!  Shit!  What the hell is this position?  I'm supposed to balance on my toes while squatting in what is now 110 degree heat with 44% humidity?  Really?  Needless to hand remained on the floor at all times for this pose.
Pose 14 gets us to the floor at more balancing acts...unless you count balancing on your neck.  And so it goes, one position after the next, repeated twice; until we come to the end where there are a few more breathing exercises that I did NOT understand how to do.  All in all it wasn't so bad.  The highest temp I saw was 110; I didn't check the clock until 70 minutes into it (those last 20 minutes were pretty brutal); although there was a LOT of sweat dripping I did not smell any farts (something I was warned about).  And I only sat out 2 poses...1 repetition of each so I DID do all 26 poses...I just needed to catch my breath because I started to feel a little faint from the heat.

Things Learned on Day One of Bikram Yoga:
1.  Take more water
2.  It's difficult to do certain yoga poses when you're covered in sweat...must figure this one out
3.  It's freakin' hot
4.  I'm actually quite limber and flexible!
5.  I have no balance!  (okay...I've always known have my friends!)
6.  Take more water
7.  I was starving afterwards
8.  I am completely drained and exhausted now.  No soreness...but wiped out for sure.

So, that's it.  1 day down and 29 to go!  Now I must go take a nap!
(yoga photos courtesy of

Update:  Went to take a nap at 2:00...something I very rarely do...and was just woken from a deep sleep by Cyrus barking at 6:45!  I'm still zapped!