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Archive for April, 2015

One more class.   I have to say the very best part of this is the many nice people who asked me how I was doing and congratulated me every day. You all are great yogis. I have loved practicing with people I haven’t practiced with for a long time and the new practitioners. It has also been great practicing with those in the Hot yoga training. I know what you guys are doing is a lot tougher than this.  I am so there for all of you.  The teachers I LOVE.  The Inner Fire Yoga Hot Yoga Teachers are amazing.

My thoughts beyond that at this point beyond being ready to have a day off soon is as follows:

It has been great getting some aspects of this practice back.  I have developed more strength and stamina.  My back bending is so much better. I am a little tired in general, but I also have spurts of energy and generally feel good period.  I would say daily things improve right now. I do need a day off.  If I do more hot challenges it will be like seven in a row, to not lose what I lost.  Also my knee is doing very well. It is definitely better and I am walking with little or no limp.

My final thoughts on this and my thoughts throughout the month continue to be why. I think the fact that anyone, including myself, questions it reflects the answer.  Really any discussion of it reflects that.  Why is there even discussion.  Throughout the month I had many thoughts and opinions and feelings about it and spent a lot of MENTAL energy, or what I call monkey committee thoughts, on the process.  But once you get on your mat every single day, the monkeys go away. I am not really thinking about it much any more. It is a PATTERN now and I am not engaging in a lot of DISCUSSION.  Doing a challenge like this is only effective when you get to the point of not discussing and just doing.  THEN it becomes what it is supposed to be. A meditation.  That means not even thinking of it continually in any way, such as “I can’t WAIT to get on my mat.”  You just do it.  If you think otherwise, once the challenge is done, you probably won’t continue because you see an ending point.  Committing to 30 days or whatever you do, is a commitment to being committed to discipline which allows your boundaries to expand, not get smaller.

Right now I am planning on another 30 challenge, doing something else, for May. I want to cultivate more discipline, more health, and more strength.  A lot changes in 30 days in your life, but having consistent practice allows you to be true to yourself and to not be distracted by trivia or a whole lotta bullshit.

 

On Friday, I am going to a day long Iyengar workshop.  I haven’t done a headstand or shoulderstand  all month. I think my next 30 day challenge will be to do full primary to the Sharath tape, which is a shitstorm for me, but I won’t be blogging about it. I am also adding another layer to that mix.  Like I said, I won’t be blogging about it.  IT is the discipline I enjoy.  I will still do some Hot yoga as a supplemental strengthening practice. I gained a LOT of STRENGTH and STAMINA.

 

I will blog about the workshops I am going to Friday.  One more to go with this challenge, consider it DONE.

 

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One of the benefits of a regular Hot Yoga 26 pose practice for me is that my back bending has become stronger and deeper in my 22 days.  Yesterday I had a student tell me one of the things they experience in the early opening poses is that their particular body is not warmed up for the opening spine sequence.

backbend

 

According to Hot yoga 26 pose theory the beginning pranayama is the prep.  That is if you REALLY push the breathing.  The deep breathing oxygenates the body and since the room is so warm the muscles get softer and more open.  For me this pose feels very good and strong after the deep side bending for a minute on each side.  It reinforces the use of strong legs in back bending.  The arms over the head forces the core muscles to work hard too.  If you don’t have the support of leg and trunk strength you just won’t go very far even if you are very mobile in the spine. I love the forward bend afterwards.  I love this sequence of the series.

 

The next back bends are grouped in a series of four back strengthening poses that end with a full range back bend.

The first in the series is Bhujangasana, the cobra pose.  This pose is articulated with the focus on building back strength to lift and bend mostly the thoracic spine, using the hands as a last resort.  The great thing about this pose it is safe and helpful for almost any level of student.  It also encourages the action of bringing the shoulders back and down and pushing the shoulder blades forward. If you are a vinyasa practitioner these actions will help you in chaturanga. I often wish even more advanced vinyasa practitioners would take this pose over a poorly aligned up dog, but they don’t listen to me.

backbend 1

 

The next pose is salabhasana where the leg is lifted independently and with both together.  This forces lower back strength. I hadn’t done this pose in a long time before I started the challenge.  During my first class I engaged the proper action to lift both legs.  Literally nothing lifted.  Not even a toe. This is so counter intuitive for the brain and it was like I FORGOT how to do it.  The second class, I lifted a little.  The shoulder and arm positions are problematic for many students. This is good action however for a series that doesn’t cultivate a lot of upper body strength with the shoulders supporting anything at all. That is why vinyasa practitioners resist.  Hot yoga practitioners who take vinyasa struggle with upper body strength, however, they usually have nice open shoulders with a lot of range of movement.

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Poorna Salabhasana uses full back body strength to lift.  This pose also feels good.

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Next is bow pulling pose.   The prior poses warm up nicely to prepare for this pose. It is a little more advanced and many people can’t reach their feet.  Knee alignment is important. The knees should not be visible in the mirror. I am guilty of this too.

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Ustrasana is pretty much dhanurasana only on the shins.  This comes after supta virasana where you get a change to elongate the quads, another important element in back bending. The hips have to move forward and you need quad strength and stretch.  This pose is harder for me in the hot room. Some days it is easier than others, but in a normal environment this pose has always been available to me.  So I don’t know if it is the heat or just being tired later in the sequence.  This is the pose that allows you to open to kapotasana so again, leg strength is crucial.

 

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Day 22 was good practice, but I am tired today. I get to practice earlier today.  Last night was too late. Late does not work for me on work nights.

I am looking forward to it being over just because I am tired and would like a day off. I don’t want to have to do two in a day. No way. I taught a class on Tuesday and then tried to take the class afterwards.  It was a disaster and I barely made it through.

I am also anxious to get back and play with more backbends and to use props and my Iyengar chair after my challenge, now that my back has opened up quite a bit.
The Master of Back Bending:

backbend6

 

That’s how I like it, with walls and straps and blankets and bolsters!

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Yesterday I completed Day 20 of 30.  Last week there was a melt down day and I am slowly recovering from that.  Here are the positives of it so far:

  • Daily studio practice with community is enjoyable.
  • The Inner Fire Yoga hot yoga teachers are amazing and gifted.
  • My body is getting stronger
  • My knee is doing better, however the chair poses are a struggle.
  • I am getting a deeper back bend.  This is a great sequence for cultivating deep back bending and strengthening.
  • My skin is soft.
  • I eat and sleep better
  • I have periods of high energy

Here are the negatives:

  • My facial skin is broke out and red.
  • My hair is a disaster.
  • I have deep energy lulls some days.
  • There are some body imbalances that would not allow ME personally to continue this as my main practice (that is only for ME, I am not making that as a judgement call for any one else.) This was never in the plan anyways.
  • I miss my Ashtanga and Iyengar practices.

Ongoing, my plan is to continue this practice one to three times a week.  The logistics of it are kind of a nightmare for me on a daily basis.  Sometimes I have to wait until too late at night to go. I am NOT a night practitioner.  There is a lot of driving involved to practice daily.  Also a LOT of laundry to do.  I am really looking forward to getting back to Iyengar and Ashtanga practice. I have some workshops in both coming up at the beginning of May.  My teacher Richard Freeman is in Chicago in September too.  I will enjoy taking a few Hot yoga classes weekly to be around the nice students and teachers.  It is also a nice practice for focus.  There is frequently loud music booming in the next room. I enjoy that this practice allows space for mental focus and calmness.  I have a lot of MENTAL struggle with getting to class.  Yesterday I spent the whole day pretty much thinking about how much I did NOT want to take the 5:45 class.  About ten minutes into class I was glad I was there and I felt really good afterwards.

 

Over the next few days I am going to have some posts about my thoughts on some of the key poses of Hot yoga, their alignment, benefits, and how to improve them.

 

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Feel awful, tired and don’t know why I thought this was a good idea. Don’t know why I did it period.  Have a ton of anxiety.  That is it.

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To briefly outline the first twelve days of Hot Yoga challenge, it would look like this:

Days 1 to 5:  Not much going on the yoga poses, even the ones I can normally do.  The main issue is nausea and dizziness after almost every pose in the standing series.  I used to do the three balance poses fairly well, but they aren’t there at all.  I am focusing on keeping my standing leg straight for the duration of the pose rather than going deeper.  I can not keep the leg straight for 60 seconds at this point.  I can’t stay the duration of most of the first set.  I fidget between poses and have to keep my gaze down due to the dizziness. On the floor I could not lift my legs during salabhasana.  When I try to lift both legs up together engaging all of my back strength literally nothing lifts off the floor. I can’t take my heels in ustrasana, which is normally very available to me.

Days 6-10:  The nausea and dizziness are gone, except the day after I had my phlebotomy lab where they take a great deal of blood to keep the iron levels in my blood in a normal range. I felt good that morning, but almost blacked out at Dandayamana-Dhanurasana.  The standing poses were pretty much done for me after that.  The floor series was fine.  I was dizzy for an hour afterwards.  The sanskrit pronunciations are driving me crazy after the Nicolai Bachman workshops I attended a few months ago.  I have to research the Sanskrit words in this series to check the pronunciation.  Finally I can take my heels in Ustrasana the second set.  I lift my feet three to four inches now in Salabhasana.  The standing balance poses are coming back. It drives me insane that people still kick out in standing head to knee with the standing leg bent. It drove me crazy teaching it.  I actually saw a local studio put out a video of someone demonstrating this pose with a bent standing leg.  NO NO NO NO, that is NOT right.   I finally can kick out with the straight leg standing on a straight leg for a short period of time. I keep the core as engaged as my standing leg to support the low back. The rounded spine forward bends are different for me. I never teach them this way and I know if I don’t support it correctly, low back pain will result.

Days 11-12:  These were the best days so far. I can see progress in the poses and feel a lot of strength and focus coming back.  This is my favorite thing about the series.  I never have to hear the word ‘playlist’ in regards to this practice.  Don’t even use that word with me discussing yoga. I hear this constantly. “I love her/his classes.  He/she has such a great playlist.”  Snore, boring, snoozefest, yawn.  I love a Hot yoga class when everyone is focused on what they are doing and breathing and they remain still between poses.  That recovery period allows for intense practice in the poses.  The quiet time is essential to settle the mind so you can go into the next pose.  Love this.  There is nothing like it.  Ruddy Ruddy at Inner Fire Yoga KNOWS how to hold space like this in his classes.

Here are some other tips for the practice:

Water and Sleep are your number one friends. I take 32 ounces to bed at night and drink it all night and am still thirsty in the morning. If you take a morning class you have to be careful to prehydrate because you get so naturally dehydrated over night.

If water and sleep are your number one friends, alcohol is your arch enemy. I had two margaritas on Saturday very early in the evening. I was fine the next day but won’t habitually do that.

Food management is crucial.  For a morning class you should be hydrated and have light food, a banana or a piece of toast.  That is it.  For an after work class I eat a heavier lunch four hours earlier.

I spend a lot of time in showers, washing hair, and washing clothes.

I want to start adding back some Ashtanga and Iyengar this week.  I am going to another Iyengar workshop all day on the first of May and there is also an Ashtanga workshop in the area I want to attend. I haven’t done a sun salutation in 12 days. I miss it.  After the 30 days the plan it to continue this 4-5 days a week with other yoga for a couple of months. It is great conditioning and such an excellent foundational practice.  I lost so much from stopping it. I love the Hot yoga people at my studio and enjoy seeing them and practicing with them. I also love the Inner Fire Hot yoga teachers.

Here is some Kino love for you today:

 

 

Also some love from two of the three naughty Decorah eaglets.  The baby is sleeping under mom, or actually I think that is dad.  Bonking buddies.

 

DECORAh

 

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On April 1 I started a 30 day Hot Yoga challenge.  Many ask why.  Here are the reasons:

1.  To detox.

2. To get back to a hard daily practice for a while to make my Ashtanga/Iyengar practice stronger.

3. Everyone thinks I won’t make it and will quit.

4.  Hot Yoga is also emotionally cleansing.  Hence the title, I need it obviously. (Also no Facebook backlash on how “unyogic”, whatever that means, I am.   It is my blog and I can write what I want.)

5.  It sure will keep me from drinking alcohol.  After today’s class all I want is a Coke. Nectar of the gods.

6.  It is 90 minutes of the day I am not distracted by other negativity or fundamentalism. (Christian or yoga opinions or otherwise.)

7.  I ALWAYS feel great after class.  ALWAYS.

 

This used to be my main practice and I was rather established in it before I moved on to other styles, such as Forrest, Ashtanga, Iyengar etc.  Well, that is all gone now and I really am not very established at all.  Some of the poses I was relatively open in are not attainable.  During the first few days I am exploring how to get SLOWLY back to these postures.  It is a meditation in that respect.  I am really HOLDING the foot until my standing leg is STRAIGHT (not hyperextended) before I kick out.  I didn’t do that the first time around. I practiced the kick out and worked on straight legs later. I got them, but that was a bad idea.  I always taught it that way and I notice in classes about half the students still do that.

The most troubling aspect is getting used to the heat again. I feel like I am in a head spin when I go into poses. I have to come out, over the 4 days, I have built up to the longer holds. I am still not there.  My head spins and I have to bend over.  I won’t get sick, because I KNOW not to go in with food in my stomach.  Only water.  Pre-hydration is ESSENTIAL.  I still lug in 32 ounces of water but I know it is too late if I am dehydrated at all.  Going in a morning class with any alcohol from the night before even a glass of wine is DEATH.  For me anyways.  It comes out FAST but it feels AWFUL.  Today I just want that COKE.  Today the room was extra hot so it was difficult, but my body is stronger.

 

(Here they are the three Decorah eaglets)  LOVE LOVE LOVE

 

 

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Ashtanga and Iyengar are BOTH strengthening styles of yoga, but here is the thing and I have always experienced it this way.  There is always something you aren’t getting.  My low back and something in my hips is working DIFFERENTLY in these poses. It is probably the balance work for the hips and the variety and amount of backbends.  I can not grab my heels in Ustrasana, although I can at home.  Every time I drop my head back I feel like fainting.

Today the class was enjoyable because the other students were SO FOCUSED.  It makes me focused.  I love the INTENSITY of the FOCUS in Hot yoga.  You are in the room and are not in the room.  I have noticed people doing alternative poses in these classes this week and that is a distraction for me.  No one was doing that today.  Who told these other students that is okay? It isn’t for this style, unless you are modifying for a contraindication, not because “Oh I think I will throw a pigeon pose in here.”  WHAT?  Not in my time of teaching it.  Not happening.

So I am back tomorrow again in the morning.  My hope is that in the next few days I can stop being so dizzy, be able to hold the poses the full length, and see some of my old backbend come back.

I have a great deal of energy right now. I am cleaning, writing posts, moving around, but I also know I will TANK at some point this afternoon.  Sleep has been delightful.

I will post more on progress through out the week along with my specific view on some of the Hot Yoga poses.

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