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War wounds!

Day TWENTY TWO

After months of looking, The Husband and I saw a house with our realtor that showed real promise.  I don’t want to talk about it for fear of jinxing things but it was one of those things where we walked into the house and The Husband and I looked at each other and said, “Hmmm…I can see us living here.”  One of my co-workers told me that this house hunting experience was going to be similar to shopping for a wedding dress:  you just get a feeling that this is the one.  I guess the only difference is that many women can buy and wear the same wedding dress but only one owner can buy that one house.  :-/

10am with Caroline.  It was a good class and it was generally uneventful — didn’t feel awesome, rock-my-world nor did I feel terrible, awful, etc.  It was just okay.  I found myself slipping in triangle again…and in this studio, we step to the left side of our mat and we do the poses on the carpet.  Hmmm…maybe yesterday wasn’t about my slippery mat but about not keeping everything engaged and super tight.  When we got to the first set, right side head to knee with stretching pose, Caroline exclaimed, “ActionJoJo, what are you doing?!”  She corrected me big time when we went to the left.  In an effort to try to get my forehead to my knee and bending my leg as much as I can, she said that I was going into the pose in the reverse.  I have been bending my leg, tucking in my chin, getting forehead to knee, and then reaching around my foot to get into the bikram grip.  Well, I’m to reach down, grab my foot, bend forward and then inf my forhead to my knee doesn’t touch, then bend it.  She told me later in the locker room, “All you’re doing is tucking your chin in!  You’re spine is changing day by day if you get into the posture right.” Thanks Caroline for always being immensely helpful!  Namaste!

Even if You’re Covered In Lotion

 
Me in my colorful Incan hat!  
Too bad you can’t see the little balls attached on a string to the bottom of the ear flaps.
I had no idea the camera timer would take 3 consecutive pictures 
so this is the 2nd one of me talking to The Husband after I thought the camera was done.
DAY TWENTY-ONE
The frigid chill has returned to NYC.  It is 16 degrees outside; with the wind chill, it feels like 1.  That’s cold yo!  It was one of those days where thermal underwear is your friend.  And I am especially grateful for Bikram!
5:30 with Kara.  Every time Kara said “lift your chest”, I imagined myself with a harness strapped around my torso as George said.  Kara said it in pranayama as we exhaled and I lifted my chest and brought my elbows to touch, I heard her say, “Beautiful ActionJoJo.”  It felt so natural and easy and fluid.  Today felt like the deepest backward bend I ever did in half moon.  I lifted my chest and managed to pull my arms further back along the wall and down towards the carpet as I pushed my hips forward.  And in camel.  Yeah, it was a fantastic two sets of camel with my chest lifted.
I found myself slipping in triangle.  At my studio, we go to the top of our mats and then make a quarter turn to the right when we’re done with the balancing series.  We do this because there is just no room for all of us to step to the left side of our mats.  If we did that, we would be on another person’s mat.  We practice inches apart from each other here at my regular studio.  Anyway, the towel on my mat had shrunken and when I stepped out there I was on my slippery mat.  Good times.  I’ve heard some of my teachers say that I should be able to do bikram even if I’m covered in lotion…so slippery mat, no problem! In toe stand right side, I am starting to be able to get myself upright with my left foot in the crease of my hip, firmly placed there.
My bikram stigmatas were killing me today.  I noticed them especially in camel as I knelt down.  The ones on the tops of my feet are especially painful in fixed firm.  Finally, I took the care to swivel carefully on my behind because I do not want any more butt burn!

Uplifted

“I Do Love You” by Jander Lacerda, my friend.
J – The Husband and I are honored to have this painting hanging in our bedroom.
Day TWENTY
It’s official. As described by the Missus and like many of you, I have bikram war wounds too.  There they are on both my knees, the top of my right foot and even the top of my right toes.  Interestingly, nothing on my left foot or toes…hmm…it makes me wonder if I am not pressing down hard enough on my left.  I also have something that I have yet to hear others say they have:  I have butt burn.  Yes.  Butt burn.  Due to the constant swiveling around on a wet towel after each pose to quickly get into savasana, I have rug…errr…towel burn in the fleshy part where the lower glute muscles meet the top of my hamstrings.  It is the part of skin that is just exposed after my shakti shorts ends.  I just put lotion on all these dry parts and owie!  The butt burn stings!!!

The cravings continue.  Last night, I stopped and bought a New York slice of cheese pizza.  I haven’t eaten pizza in years!  Today for lunch, I craved Eggs Benedict and looked for a place that made it near my job.  Thankfully, a local diner served it and I inhaled the stuff with such glee that I thought, “Is this what it is like for pregnant women to have cravings?”  I’m not pregnant so I still chalk it up to the yoga.

It snowed during 7am class with George.  The Husband and I love George.  There’s something about the way he teaches that makes us more honest about our practice.  It’s too bad that he doesn’t regularly teach morning classes.  I’m trying to convince to teach at least one weekday class in the morning but I don’t know how successful I’ll be.  Perhaps I need to get a group of us from the morning to write comments to the studio owner and ask for George.

The Husband joined me again today, after just attending yoga yesterday.  I also managed to convince him to practice in the second row.  I moved back, he moved up.  We compromised our usual spots and we literally met in the middle.  It was a physical reflection of our relationship.  :)

George teased The Husband just before we started and said, “Now that you are in the second row, we are going to make you work harder!”  The Husband jokingly acted as if to retreat to the back row but I know for George, he works harder.  Isn’t it amazing how some teachers inspire you to work harder?  When I fell out of standing forehead to knee, he looked at The Husband and said, “Now that ActionJoJo fell out, you are going to have to make up for that.”  Ha!

Today was a strong class and no signs of nausea from last class.  George adjusted me slightly when we were in the left side of triangle.  I have a tendency to bring my right upstretched arm towards 11 o’clock when it should really be pointing straight up, at midnight.  He fixed that and rotated my head so that my chin closer to my shoulder.  George also watched me like a hawk in standing separate forehead to knee.  I realized today that I am able to get my locked arms behind my ears, which helps me to tuck my chin to my chest and keep it down as I round myself down (like an angry halloween cat or as if there was a bar or a beach ball underneath me…as my teachers like to say).  He advised me to keep rounding my back and as I reach my lowest point, to keep rounding it even more by sucking the stomach in.  If only then, if my forehead still doesn’t touch my knee, he said to bend my knee but not too soon or else I’ll never teach my back to round itself as much as possible.  I also realize when I bend my knee in this pose, my hips go out of alignment and I’ve had corrections from several teachers to stick the hip of my bent leg back up but when I do that, I lose the contact between my forehead/bridge of my hose to knee.

Before the balancing series, Alicia always explains the goal of keeping the knee locked and advises not to progress until we’ve achieved that goal.  “Never build a house on rocky foundation,” she would say.  And it seems that I have built a rocky foundation when it comes to forehead to knee.  I’ve never really forced myself to round my back, making it stretch and open properly.  I realized this especially during separate leg stretching, when I started to kick my right heel out an inch and then another inch while keeping the bikram grip and my forehead to my knee!!  I’m so glad I “started over” in this pose because the progress has been so quick in just a few days.

For camel, George told us to keep lifting our chest up as we inhale and not just let the spine collapse backward.  He asked us to envision a harness attached to our torso and that we were being lifted up into the air.  When I imagined it, I envisioned myself flying with angel wings attached to my back and arms outstretched surrendering to the flight.  It made me smile and lift my chest.  Maybe this is why camel wasn’t so bad today.

Spoke Too Soon

At the office.  I spend all day sitting down in front of a computer.

Day NINETEEN

Did I say that 7am classes weren’t that hot?  Did I say that I didn’t crave meat and was reaching for grains and beans instead?  Well I take it all back because yesterday and today just made a liar out of me.

Yesterday, I craved a juicy cheeseburger for lunch.  It was out of the ordinary but I remembered what many of you said/wrote.  If your body craves it, just eat it.  Usually, I don’t order a bun for the burger but yesterday, I wanted the works.  Bring on the bun!  Bring on the mayo, the ketchup, the everything!  It was the best burger I had and if I wasn’t in the office, I would’ve licked my fingers after I was done.  Yummmmm.  Today, I was craving chicken tikki masala so after yoga this morning, I went to Whole Foods and bought some in the prepared food section.

7am with Alicia was hot hot hot!  I went back to my usual spot in the room, front row towards the wall, where it is warmer.  I encouraged The Husband to practice behind me since he usually practices closer to the window where it is cooler.  By half moon, I was drenched.  Whoa!  The Husband went down during the floor series.  As he lay in savasana while we did the poses, I looked over at him and saw that his entire face was beet red. 

It was a mental struggle by triangle but I managed to convince myself to stay strong by saying, “Your mind will quit before your body.  Just do it.” And I did.  After triangle, some of my teachers say, “Let’s bring the heart rate down,” and we go straight in standing separate forehead to knee.  Because I need to be different  (note sarcasm), my heart rate jacks up!  By tree, I’m breathless and I have to really focus on getting my breath under control.  The mental struggle continued through the floor series and at locust, I was really trying to stay strong even though mind said, “Quit, quit, quit!”  My left knee in fixed firm felt a dull stretching pain more so than my right knee, which never happens!  And by the time we were done with the first set of camel, a wave of nausea hit me.  I panicked and no matter how much I tried to calm my mind, it won in the end and I laid out for the second set.  Today, I just couldn’t push past the wall of nausea.  Just before head to knee stretching pose, I gulped down my water.  And I did it again before spine twist.  Yes, I must’ve pushed down whatever was coming up.  A part of me dreads days 30-60 if these are the days that pertain to emotional healing.  I wish I had BYC’s resolve.  ::sigh::  I did the best I could today.  No judgments.  No attachments.  Tomorrow is another day.

Brush the Ceiling

Day EIGHTEEN

6pm with Ben, who I’ve only had once before today.  Lots of students like him and he definitely has an energy about him different from any other teacher I’ve had.  Today, was a PACKED class.  And I mean PACKED TO THE GILLS.  There must’ve been 70 people in the studio; it was at maximum capacity.  When we didn’t think we could fit any more, a few more stragglers came in and everyone had to readjust their mats.  Ben said, “Is there a sale today that I don’t know about?!  Why is everyone here?!”  The podium in the front of the room was removed to accommodate two more students.  When it was removed, Ben said, “This means I don’t have any place to sit during class!  Ok, I know.  I don’t get anyone’s sympathy.”  People laughed.  There must’ve been only an inch between mats.  Towels overlapped with other towels to the point that the carpet was covered.  I couldn’t see the dark blue line.  In crowded classes like this, it is hard stand on the dark blue line.  We often hafe to stagger ourselves to not be on top of each other.  Despite the crowd, people were surprisingly upbeat and friendly and accommodating.  In fact, the energy in the room was great!  During pranayama, it was sooooo awesome to hear H-A “ha” sounds being exhaled from 70 mouths.  If 70 mouths and bodies create awesome energy, I can only imagine what 300 must feel like moving together!  I was drenched already after pranayama.  We all were.  It was going to be a juicy class!

I had a strong class:  I was focused, my mind was empty, and I moved fluidly.  And Ben really kept us going.  At half moon pose, before raising our arms up, he said, “Imagine you have paint brushes at the tip of your middle finger.  Reach down and raise your arms as if your brushing the side walls and now up to the ceiling….as you bend your body right and left to warm up, reach up and paint the ceiling and flow from one side to the left.”  It was a beautiful image.  By full locust, he instructed us to extend our arms put our hands in inappropriate places.  That got a laugh out of the class.  As we were in the first set, I heard him say to a male student, “Boss.  Keep you hand up there.  Yeah, in her mouth.  That’s okay, she likes it.”  In savasana, we busted out laughing. 

I think I was a little dehydrated because I cramped up a little at awkward, eagle, and standing forehead to knee.  And since it is winter, I put lotion on my hands and in every evening class, I can’t maintain a 10-fingered grip in standing forehead to knee and standing bow.  Something odd is going on in my left (healthy) knee:  it’s been feeling sore for the last two days.  It has a dull sensation of having been stretched out.  One time, a few months into my practice, I thought I had pulled something above my left knee.  It hurt to walk and put pressure on it.  I stopped going to bikram and it hung around for a week.  And as quickly as it came, it disappeared after that week.  It’s the same area of the left knee where I feel this soreness now and it is the same pain but on a lesser scale.  I think it is working itself out, whatever it is.  After three days of maintaining my integrity and truly getting my forehead to my knee on my right side, I already feel the difference and my body opening in oh so tiny, itsy bitsy increments.  It’s not as difficult as it was three days ago to get my forhead to my knee even though my leg is totally bent!  Even in standing separate forhead to knee, it was still an insane struggle but it was a teensy weensy bit easier.

Ben suggested a way to open up our cervical spines:  lay against a stability ball with an 85cm diameter, put our arms above our heads, and hold a light weight (he said he used a pineapple one day and bottle of wine another), and take 100 breathes.  I think I’ll try that.  Btw, Ben is the founder of LuxYoga, which does bikram retreats in the South of France with senior teacher Craig Villani.  I hear it is beautiful and decadent and awesome.  There is a chef that cooks your meals, you stay at this beautiful villa overlooking the French Riviera, you do bikram every day with lots of personal attention and posture clinics, and you take day trips to local places.  Who doesn’t love that?  If anyone is interested, check out the website.  I think there are several retreats scheduled for this summer.  There are two teachers from my studio who attended a past retreat.  They raved about it.

Subtle Changes

Day SEVENTEEN

I did not expect 15 people to be in Alicia’s 7am class today.  Usually we have no more than 10 so 15 people is 50% more than what we usually have.  I love morning classes but one thing that I do miss from evening classes is the energy of a room full of people…and the heat.  It doesn’t get that hot at 7am class, I guess because it’s the first class of the day with less people.  There you go.

Today, it poured and it was 60 degrees.  The Husband worried that he would have a miserable class due to the warm weather.  Apparently, he had a great class.  I reminded him not to have any attachments to past classes.  Yes, easier said than done.

I decided it was time to say good-bye to The Husband and I set myself up in the second row off to his left side.  It was a solid class:  I was strong and I worked hard to push myself a little more.  I am finding my forehead to the floor in separate leg stretching these days for these last 11 days.  It’s really amazing.  For months, I couldn’t get my forehead to the floor.  The stretching sensation behind the backs of my knees was too painful to bear.  And then boom.  One day.  There’s my forehead.  On the floor.  How did that happen?  Now that I can do it, my selective memory kicks in and my brain has forgotten how I couldn’t do this for months.  Why do our brains work like that?

Before class, I told Alicia about my commitment to integrity in forehead to knee poses.  She said it was totally normal to have an imbalance on one side, for whatever reason.  Just accept it and work through it.  Maybe one day my forehead to knee will touch and then my selective memory will kick in and I’ll wonder how I could never do it before.

What I love about bikram is that the shifts and changes happen so incremental that often you don’t notice them.  It’s only when you look back that you realize you’ve progressed from point A to point B and didn’t even realize it was happening as it was happening.  This happens in our lives too:  when we work on our relationships, our professional development, our personal growth — we don’t realize we make daily choices that lend to subtle changes until we look back and realize how much we’ve grown.

Subtle Changes

Day SEVENTEEN

I did not expect 15 people to be in Alicia’s 7am class today.  Usually we have no more than 10 so 15 people is 50% more than what we usually have.  I love morning classes but one thing that I do miss from evening classes is the energy of a room full of people…and the heat.  It doesn’t get that hot at 7am class, I guess because it’s the first class of the day with less people.  There you go.

Today, it poured and it was 60 degrees.  The Husband worried that he would have a miserable class due to the warm weather.  Apparently, he had a great class.  I reminded him not to have any attachments to past classes.  Yes, easier said than done.

I decided it was time to say good-bye to The Husband and I set myself up in the second row off to his left side.  It was a solid class:  I was strong and I worked hard to push myself a little more.  I am finding my forehead to the floor in separate leg stretching these days for these last 11 days.  It’s really amazing.  For months, I couldn’t get my forehead to the floor.  The stretching sensation behind the backs of my knees was too painful to bear.  And then boom.  One day.  There’s my forehead.  On the floor.  How did that happen?  Now that I can do it, my selective memory kicks in and my brain has forgotten how I couldn’t do this for months.  Why do our brains work like that?

Before class, I told Alicia about my commitment to integrity in forehead to knee poses.  She said it was totally normal to have an imbalance on one side, for whatever reason.  Just accept it and work through it.  Maybe one day my forehead to knee will touch and then my selective memory will kick in and I’ll wonder how I could never do it before.

What I love about bikram is that the shifts and changes happen so incremental that often you don’t notice them.  It’s only when you look back that you realize you’ve progressed from point A to point B and didn’t even realize it was happening as it was happening.  This happens in our lives too:  when we work on our relationships, our professional development, our personal growth — we don’t realize we make daily choices that lend to subtle changes until we look back and realize how much we’ve grown.

Integrity

Day SIXTEEN

I accompanied my mom all day to a wedding of her former colleague and then the reception, which lasted until 11:30pm.  By the time I dropped her off and returned the rental car, I got home at past midnight.  I woke up this morning feeling so tired and kinda crappy because of the food I ate at the reception.  I am pretty specific about what I eat (no wheat, no cow dairy, very little processed sugar from my bygone days of seeing The Healer) and how much I eat so that when I deviate from my routine, my body really feels the difference.

I forced myself to get to 10am yoga at my neighborhood studio.  It was taught by Corina and even in the two or three weeks I had her from the last time, she’s grown in her teaching.  I took a different spot in the room and got in the second room with an unobstructed view of the mirror.  I got corrections today with standing bow pulling pose, the third part of head to knee pose, and standing separate leg stretching and a lovely compliment on triangle.

It was a strong class today, made only stronger by my commitment to really getting my forehead to my knee in standing separate head to knee and especially in head to knee pose, no matter how much I bend my knee.  Again, I see that putting my forehead to knee is far far easier on the left side.  The right side.  It almost doesn’t happen.  In head to knee pose, I again put my heel on the floor almost close to my right glute because my leg was completely bent, flexed my toes back and really tried to put my forhead to my knee with 10 fingers grasped below my toes.  It was such a struggle…I felt stretching in my back and I could barely keep my breathing normal as I try try try to get my forehead to the knee.  It barely touched and I couldn’t hold it.  I couldn’t even keep the bikram grip underneath my feet!  Oh, I felt like a beginner.  This pose will teach me humility indeed!  I showed my dilemma to The Husband when I got home and he observed that I can bend forward to touch my knee to my forhead on the left side but on the right side, he noticed that I don’t bend forward but rather I keep trying to tuck my chin in.  I tried it again and yes, I noticed that I can’t seem to roll forward on the right side.  Oh the painful stretching in my back! 

This is all good stuff.  Patience and surrender and breath is all I need.  I will keep trying.

Integrity

Day SIXTEEN

I accompanied my mom all day to a wedding of her former colleague and then the reception, which lasted until 11:30pm.  By the time I dropped her off and returned the rental car, I got home at past midnight.  I woke up this morning feeling so tired and kinda crappy because of the food I ate at the reception.  I am pretty specific about what I eat (no wheat, no cow dairy, very little processed sugar from my bygone days of seeing The Healer) and how much I eat so that when I deviate from my routine, my body really feels the difference.

I forced myself to get to 10am yoga at my neighborhood studio.  It was taught by Corina and even in the two or three weeks I had her from the last time, she’s grown in her teaching.  I took a different spot in the room and got in the second room with an unobstructed view of the mirror.  I got corrections today with standing bow pulling pose, the third part of head to knee pose, and standing separate leg stretching and a lovely compliment on triangle.

It was a strong class today, made only stronger by my commitment to really getting my forehead to my knee in standing separate head to knee and especially in head to knee pose, no matter how much I bend my knee.  Again, I see that putting my forehead to knee is far far easier on the left side.  The right side.  It almost doesn’t happen.  In head to knee pose, I again put my heel on the floor almost close to my right glute because my leg was completely bent, flexed my toes back and really tried to put my forhead to my knee with 10 fingers grasped below my toes.  It was such a struggle…I felt stretching in my back and I could barely keep my breathing normal as I try try try to get my forehead to the knee.  It barely touched and I couldn’t hold it.  I couldn’t even keep the bikram grip underneath my feet!  Oh, I felt like a beginner.  This pose will teach me humility indeed!  I showed my dilemma to The Husband when I got home and he observed that I can bend forward to touch my knee to my forhead on the left side but on the right side, he noticed that I don’t bend forward but rather I keep trying to tuck my chin in.  I tried it again and yes, I noticed that I can’t seem to roll forward on the right side.  Oh the painful stretching in my back! 

This is all good stuff.  Patience and surrender and breath is all I need.  I will keep trying.

Forehead to Knee

Day FIFTEEN

10am with Caroline had only four other people and me in class.  We got lots of personal attention from her today!  I love attention…must be the only child in me.  I love getting corrections so that I can improve my yoga.  Except when it comes to getting my forehead to my knee.  Don’t look at me because I can’t do it!

Oh, the corrections I got today!  So many, it was awesome!

“Sit back, sit back Johanna,” she instructed during first part of awkward.  I stumbled backward.  She said, “Yes, good!”  I guess I learned my edge.

And then the next correction came at my favorite pose, standing seperate leg head to knee.  In the same way that The Missus feels she has not progressed at all in half tortoise in all the time she’s been practicing, I feel the same exact way about this pose.  No matter how much I bend my knee, I cannot frakkin’ get my forehead to it especially on my right side.  It.  Drives.  Me.  Bananas.  I don’t have normal breathing in this pose no matter how hard I try to calm it down.  I feel the heat exploding in my body and the flood gates of sweat open the most in this pose.  And then here comes Caroline’s correction, “Bend your knee as much as you have to.  No eskimo kiss, no forehead to shin.  Touch your knee.”  Oh honey!  If you only knew how many teachers have told me this.

I got a little correction on toe stand:  put my foot up higher on my thigh to open up my pelvis.

No correction from her today on cobra.  I have been practicing on really stretching my heart up and forward after I come up and my lower back kills in the posture!  I really must’ve just been hanging out in cobra this whole time.  It’s a whole new posture for me now thanks to Caroline’s help.  She said today, “Over time, you will distinguish the pain you get from stretching and the pain you get that tells you to back off.”

In half tortoise, she told me to stretch my arms more towards the mirror.  When I did, she said, “Good!  Now you are working!”

By rabbit, she told me not to move my forehead as I move my legs up to close the gap between foread and knee.  I don’t intend to move my head but I can’t seem to keep it still!

I was a bit frustrated with my inability to get my forehead to my knee today that in head to knee pose, I decided I was finally going to scrap all I’ve done in the past and start from scratch.  I committed to having integrity in this pose no matter how high my knee had to bend.  I bent my right knee so far up that it looked like an upside down V and I focused on getting my forehead to it.  I struggled so much to keep my chin tucked in, stomach sucked in, breathing normal, and holding it there.  THIS ONLY HAPPENS ON MY RIGHT SIDE.  Left side, my knee is practically straight so I’ve deduced that simple anatomy is not my sole issue.  All the injuries I’ve had pre-Bikram have been on my right side:  knee, shoulder, wrist, ankle, back, glute.  When Jim Kallet taught a class, he observed I had a tight right side during triangle after he asked me to keep twisting my head so that the right-side profile of my face was to the mirror.  Could this be another factor?  Whatever it is, I’m going to commit to having integrity in this particular forehead to knee pose since there is no balancing involved. I hope with integrity, hard work, and determination I will progress in this posture.  If not in this 101 day challenge, I trust someday, one day, I will get my forehead to my knee.

Btw, happy belated birthday Caroline!!!  Thank you for all your help today!  You are a great teacher!