Tag Archives: hot yoga

May Challenge: Yoga Every Day.

Some Saturdays I go to a magic yoga class. It is yin yoga in a warm room. The first time I went was right after the national tragedy in December. The instructor had us sit in a circle and concentrate on the flame of a candle. By the ending Savasana, I felt like I was floating through the universe, connected to all the bright stars in a sea of darkness.

If you have never experienced anything like this, I know it probably sounds out there. However, over the course of the last year, I have had a lot of out-there experiences. I now believe in the power of our bodies and minds. My visits to an incredible woman who does body work have cemented this belief. Magic is real, or if nothing else, we are powerful beyond comprehension.

Today as I lay in the dark, warm room, I was overwhelmed by gratitude for the woman who teaches the class. Each time I attend, she offers a little piece of herself, words of wisdom set to music I love. Half her playlist is on my computer. I don’t know her and she knows even less of me, but her words always seem to fit whatever my week has brought me.

This week, she talked about the healing power of yoga and how a regular practice makes this power available to us when we really need it. She talked about her own journey with MS and how yoga has been there for her– she is young and my heart goes out to her. A wonderful woman I used to work with, who also faithfully reads my blog, has battled MS for years. It is some serious stuff, but so is yoga.

As I held poses this afternoon, I let her words sink in. Lately, I have done yoga only once a week. I am good at doing yoga regularly when I have breaks from school, but I lose my momentum when life gets stressful, which is exactly when I need it most. Today my body felt weak as I moved through the poses. I hate feeling weak.

The resounding message that kept moving through my thoughts– I need to do yoga every day.

So, for the month of May, I have a goal. At least 30 minutes of yoga daily. I will go to studios, practice at home, stream classes, use books, practice in silence and with music. I will mix it up and be consistent because I realize I have no choice. I want to feel strong and healthy. Yoga is my secret. Will you join me?

If you do yoga, I really encourage you to try a daily practice with me in May. I did not think it would make a huge difference until I actually made it a whole month in December.

We may not have the beach behind us, but at least a bit of team encouragement might help!

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The Accidental Vegetarian?

I am reluctant to give myself the label vegetarian. I feel like doing so will only set me up for hypocrisy. However, it’s looking more and more like vegetarianism is in my future. It began this summer, when in my hot yoga frenzy I decided to cut back my meat consumption and eat more cleanly. Inspired by films like Forks Over KnivesFat Sick and Nearly Dead, and Food Inc., I knew something in my diet was off, so Alex and I agreed we would eat less meat and make sure all the meat we ate was sourced, (grass-fed, free-range, etc.).

What I did not expect is that it would not be so easy to alternate between eating meat and not eating meat. While the beginning of summer was virtually meat-free, my weeks of travel were not, leaving me sick when I returned to my first hot yoga class, (yes, I know there may have been other factors at play, but I feel diet was a big piece of it). After feeling run over in my post-vacation meat-eating hangover, I decided to return to limited meat consumption.

To my surprise, I found myself not even wanting to buy meat at the grocery store, even when tempted by high-quality choices at Whole Foods or the Farmer’s Market. Instead, just the thought of it was suddenly repulsive. I did not begin this whole experiment feeling the least bit disgusted by meat. It was more about health and the way eating meat makes me physically feel. However, the final straw was this weekend, when Alex and I ate at the Rutherford Grill in Wine Country and I could not even eat a quarter of his sourced cheeseburger. It lost all appeal.

So, here I am, a former meat-eater standing at a crossroads. I still don’t want to call myself a vegetarian because I think it’s possible I’ll still eat meat sometimes. However, the thought of eating any mammal now grosses me out and I’m finding it relatively easy to choose food that is satisfying without meat. Just strange, because I never set out to be a vegetarian, I just set out to eat less meat. For now, I guess I’ll leave myself without labels, but we’ll see where I end up.

If you’ve stopped eating meat, what was your motivation? Do you feel healthier? Happier?

I’m discovering vegetarian options to be surprisingly delicious and more energizing than meat alternatives, (Sol Food Puerto Rican in San Rafael).

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Hot Yoga Saved the Day

Here’s the funny thing about teaching, or at least about teaching for me.  It’s incredibly inconsistent.  Last week rocked, today sucked.  I don’t know if it is the million degree heat, (my car said 107 degrees when I left work), or that the kids are tired, but today was rough.  I had to contact six families after school because of behavior challenges.  It felt impossible to stay positive when all I wanted to do was pull my hair out.  I felt like I tried everything and nothing worked.  Relax.  Relax, damn it!

Enter hot yoga.  60 minutes of pure, power hour bliss.  It’s so funny that the very activity that scared me so much a couple months ago is now the secret to my after work sanity.  I walk in stressed, I walk out calm, happy, a million miles removed from the rest of my day.  I even like it so much that I’m recruiting teachers at work to join me.  If you have hot yoga near you– you should try it too!

One of my favorite hot yoga rituals is to pick something to concentrate on for the length of the class.  Sometimes it’s my strained neck or my weak knee, other times its a little mantra.  Today was stay positive.  After what felt like such a negative day, I needed this.  Hopefully, it will transfer over to a more positive tomorrow as well!  Let’s hope so…




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Bikram: A Trip to Mars

Hot yoga is a trip to Mars.

You board the small little ship with mirrored walls.

The instructor walks around and makes sure everyone is properly prepared for the journey, (towel on mat, water bottle in top right corner, check, check).  She is a direct captain, but easy to follow, admirable in her stance, enviable in her sixty years that look more like forty.

Then you take off on this strange journey to a world with 37% humidity, 106 degree heat, and glowing orange light.

You move like you’re wearing a space suit, everything feels slow.  You concentrate to convince your body to cooperate.

You hate it, but you love it.

Then, 90 minutes later, the doors to the spaceship open back up, sun filters through the doorway, and cool air rushes in.  You’re done.  Swimming in sweat.  Oddly fascinated.  Invigorated.  Ready to go drink wheatgrass shots, or better yet, Kombucha.  Good thing Whole Foods is in the same parking lot.  If only you weren’t so sweaty…

Day two of Bikram down.  Determined to use all forty classes before my pass expires.  Possible addiction forming.  Must buy better gear.  Yogi transformation in progress.

Next time I’ll be better prepared for the monsoons…

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Hot Yoga: A Lesson in Anxiety

Today I overcame my fear of suffocating heat.  I went to hot yoga.  It was 105 degrees and I had to be talked into it, by three people.  Before I left my house, I almost bailed.  I was having real anxiety about not being able to breathe in a hot, crowded room.

One of my first real anxiety attacks occurred in a small, hot space.  I was on a mini-bus in Madrid.  Poor planning left the interior of the bus heated to over 100 degrees when we boarded.  Silly girl that I was, I sat in the last row, where the air strained to reach me.  It was my first real taste of claustrophobia.  I thought I was going to pass out.  I almost asked the bus driver to pull over so that I could get off.  I survived by closing my eyes and breathing.

Anxiety is a funny thing.  I remember going to the doctor in my late teens and describing some of my phantom symptoms:  random dizziness, upset stomach, shortness of breath.  The doctor asked if I had anxiety.  I said no.  I really did not think that I did.  By the time I reached 25, I figured it out.  I had anxiety, he was right all along, I just could not believe that something in my head could have so much control over my body.  I refused to medicate.  I was determined to overcome it by myself.

Flash forward a few years and most of the time I do overcome it.  I read a lot of books and realized that I need to face my fears.  This may seem simple, but real anxiety can be debilitating.  There were days that it was easier to hide from everything, to avoid life.  I had a week-long anxiety attack when I quit my job and started my teaching program, but I just kept trucking.  If I ever get a tattoo, it will say “Be brave.”

So, yesterday, when I felt anxiety’s nasty little symptoms creeping in, I knew what I was dealing with.  That’s half the battle, knowing your enemy.  The other half is facing it.  No matter how much my stomach hurt or I could not sleep thinking about it, I had to go to hot yoga.  And, yes, there were moments when I felt like I was going to pass out, when I sat on the floor and closed my eyes and breathed while everyone else kept moving.  But, I also caught myself smiling as I fought through it.  Anxiety wins if it stops me from doing something new, I win when I do it anyway.  Today, I’m happy to report I kicked anxiety’s ass.

I survived hot yoga, drenched in sweat, but smiling.

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