My last few weeks of practise have been sporadic. If I’m honest, virtually non-existent. By yesterday I was over forgiving myself the lapses, I needed a dose. I checked out the holiday timetable: Bikram at 4pm, Yin at 6.30pm.
I’ve been meaning to try Yin since it started at BYB at the beginning of December. And what better excuse to delay my return to the Bikram torture chamber? Decision sorted, I went about my day.
By 3pm I could hear Tammy’s (BYB teacher) voice in my head reminding me that I am my own best teacher, reminding me that I have to try if I want to improve.
So, I walked into the studio for Darren’s 4pm Bikram class knowing I was there to do both classes. For the first time ever I didn’t think ahead. I took each posture as it came, without judgement. I concentrated on my breathing and let it be what it was. I forgot to fidget. By the time the Bikram class was over I could hardly wipe the smile off my face.
Ten minutes of savasana, a quick cold shower, fresh mat and towel, clean gear, ten more minutes of savasana and I was ready for Yin.
Yin was the perfect balance to the intensity of Bikram. Calm music, gentle flowing transitions, deep stretches, and Tammy’s encouraging guidance.
Loved the combination. I’ll be back for more of the same.
So it took me a week and a half to get back after my last class. Yeah, I have excuses: job interview, full day workshop,….
Thing is, if I’d still been on the challenge, I would have been there regardless. It’s what I do. It’s what I’m like. Your all or nothing kind of girl. I find it pretty annoying just not annoying enough to change I guess.
Then there’s this thing that happens when I don’t go to Bikram for a while. In the early stages I’d call it regret, it builds into fear and before I know it abject terror is coursing through my veins. Because sometimes, just sometimes, when I haven’t been for a while my first class back feels like my first class ever.
Yesterday, I swallowed my terror and discovered something pretty cool. I discovered that I’ve learned something. I now know how to make it easier for myself. I now know that if I’m really well hydrated, no matter how long it’s been between classes, I can cope with the heat, even love the heat.
And love the heat I did. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Richard was there to guide us through our practice and meditation. Feeling great, can’t wait for my next class.
So I went back on Monday after what felt like a very long four days off. Thankfully, the break was just what the shoulder needed. Very little modification required to keep it tracking in the right direction.
Strangely my body felt much more tired. I don’t remember the last time I experienced that level of muscle fatigue in class. Still my yardstick: standing bow, felt great. Strong and flexible and I really enjoyed being back in the room.
I’m aiming for every second day now, ideally three to four times a week. Yet here I am on Wednesday and I won’t be going today – uni assignment due. That’s okay, my reward will be Richard’s class tomorrow morning. And sometime soon I’ll be getting together with Nancy Morrison for the end of challenge shots (the ones my shoulder injury prevented us from taking on Day 21).
So I did it. This morning I got up and went to the 6am class and it was so much fun that I drove the deja vu route back to the studio to do it all again at 9.30am.
The shoulder is still not great so I modified a lot of the postures and sat out quite a few. By half way through a very hot dawn class I’d decided that my second class for the day would be all about savasana. Turns out I was wrong. I had more energy than I expected and was probably a bit more flexible even though I’d well and truly cooled down in the hour and a half between.
I was a bit worried about my hydration but obviously had plenty on board – my mat was more like a puddle by 11am. And maybe it’s because I was modifying things, or maybe I was just listening in a new way, but I heard some new tips today. Thanks Melissa (instructor) I know they’re going to help my form.
It will be strange not to go to class tomorrow. Actually, I’m planning on taking four days off, in the hope that it will give my shoulder time to recover. I feel strong and incredibly grateful to the support of everyone who encouraged me along the way. In particular, Nancy Morrison who is not only a wonderful photographer but an all round inspiration.
My early start today began at the chiropractor. I was hoping for some kind of miracle cure that meant I could push my limits in Bikram class today, or at least raise my left arm above my head. Alas, ice and rest were prescribed.
For the first time ever I sat out a lot of the postures, probably a third. Those that I could modify, I did. The rest I spent focussing on breathing and keeping my head in the room.
It could have been the perfect opportunity to watch my classmates, enjoy the beauty of a class in action but that didn’t feel right, didn’t feel respectful. So I tried not to fidget, kept my gaze on myself or the floor and hoped that my back row non-performance wasn’t too distracting for others.
It felt pretty strange being in the room and not working to my peak. The postures that I was able to do were much harder than normal – there’s a reason why they run in the order that they do.
If there’s one thing I learned today it’s that when the Princess in my head yesterday suggested that I should back off and take it easy, I really should have listened to her. It turns out she knows a thing or two. Who’d have thought?
I woke up this morning with a sore shoulder and lay in bed reading and wishing I could stay there. But with three kids to get off to school chance would be a fine thing. So I dragged myself out of bed. As I shrugged my way into my yoga top I realised that I was going to have to take it easy; exercise some self restraint.
I went into the room early and lay on the mat soaking up the warmth and contemplating whether I could drag my things to the back and spend the whole hour and a half in savasana. Then the internal dialogue began. It went something like this:
‘I might just take it easy.’
‘You can’t be serious. What’s the point in being here?’
‘I know but I’m tired and sore and it’s just the one day.’
‘Suck it up Princess.’
Not sure if this internal exchange makes me a bit crazy or a lot normal. Either way, I decided not to push my shoulder to pain but to otherwise do all that I could.
Standing bow was great. In fact all round the postures felt good and I pushed pretty hard. Thanks Eleisha for a gorgeous calm class. Left the room feeling amazing.
Bounced out of bed for the 7.30am class despite a less than great night’s sleep. Unyogily (yep, that’s my new word) I brought low expectations with me. My body was tired, sore shoulder. After yesterday’s class, I wasn’t sure what I had left. And then there was Richard and I knew if nothing else I was in for a blissful meditation at the end of the postures. I should have known that there’d be more than that. That the beautiful flow of Richard’s voice and his encouragements would be just what I needed to push me to see what my body had to give.
It was a great class. I used the heat, put aside temptations to fidget, to adjust my hair, to wipe the sweat out of my eyes, and got on with doing what I could. I took each posture for itself, held onto Richard’s gentle reminder to enjoy every moment – you never know how many you’ve got.
So, how am I feeling now, 18 days in? Great. Tired. Ready for a break. Strong. Flexible. Open and powerful.
Will I do this again? Absolutely, but I am looking forward to backing off for a bit, giving myself weekends off, practising 3 or 4 times a week. And yet here I am, already thinking about tomorrow’s 9.30am class.
It felt strange not to do a morning class today. By the time 4pm rolled around I was more than ready for my daily fix.
It was a busy class, three rows. I loved the heat, felt somehow empowered by it, by the absence of the need to wipe and fidget. I was grateful for my cooling sweat.
Darren led a great class. I pushed hard and felt really strong and full of energy. I think my standing bow may have been my best ever.
Okay, so now I’m going to admit something, which shows just how far I am from letting go of the ego: I have this thing where I measure my class by standing bow. I know I shouldn’t and I know it doesn’t really matter how it goes, that it’s a day to day thing. But if I nail standing bow, I’m happy. If I nail standing bow, I feel as though I’ve done well regardless of what comes next.
Really loved practice today. Thanks Darren.
I woke up at 5.13 this morning with a shot of nervous energy. Tammy’s 6am class is never easy; always rewarding.
As ever Tammy started us off as she meant us to continue: with strength and a commitment to trying every posture the right way. Tough as it is at 6am, I recognise this as a gift – the kind I probably wouldn’t have the commitment to give myself at that time of day.
There’s something to be said for group determination and energy. It’s infectious. It carries me forward and lifts me to a new level, a level, which I couldn’t achieve alone. It fills the air in the studio and pushes everyone to try, really try.
Thanks to Tammy’s reminders I pulled back in some postures, tried for the right form every step of the way before moving on to the next. So I didn’t touch my head to the floor in separate leg but my legs were straight and the posture felt great.
Tammy is an enthusiasm and energy generator. What a brilliant way to start the day!
Hands to feet
Thanks Nancy for your generosity in shooting and sharing these images.
More great pics from Nancy shortly.