My Bikram Yoga Journy at 2.5 years of practice

Doing a Bikram Yoga class for me after two and a half years of steady practice, is not any easier than the very first day. Different things are now harder, that first day it was just dealing with the heat in the room. That first month I was just trying to figure out how to move my body. Now there is a whole pantheon of minor details not to mention riding the edge of a panic attack through the entire class.

When I started I was on heavy beta blockers to control my stress level, blood pressure and the panic attacks it caused or that caused it… hard to say. Things seemed under control at that time. I could be a rock star in yoga class, I could laugh at it, and myself without trying. In the last year, I have been coming off of the meds, now I only take them when absolutely necessary. My blood pressure is down to a reasonable level and I have only had a two uncontrollable episodes of sheer terror that is a panic attack within the last year.

Class has helped me learn to control them believe it or not. I feel as if 75% of the time I am 30 seconds away from a full blown panic attack while I am in class, the other 25% it is looming less than 10 seconds away. I have learned what to do during that upper 25%, I stop and breath first and foremost. If I need to, I kneel down. I have a textured mat, that helps a lot, i put my fingers into the holes of the mat and focus on the feelings under their tips. Once I have traced my fingers over the pattern a few times it calms me down and I can get back into the class. I have learned to look only at my mat during these times, as looking at the irregular bricks in the wall, the crumpled towels of those next to me, or the rack of disheveled extra mats makes my OCD crazy and that just compiles into the pending panic as I can not run over there and straighten the mats.

Injuries have also plagued me this last 6 months. I knew as I got more in shape, and my body shifted with the loss of weight the body would go through some ‘reorganization’ as Bikram calls it. Even though I never weighed over 230, and am now down to about 160 I still see a 300 pound woman in the mirror looking back at me. I know that it is not true but in my minds eye it sadly is and I beat myself up for it. This year so far there have been three broken toes, and elbow strain and a spinal twist with a bulging disc that have taken me back a step or two in strength and flexibility. Rehabbing injuries in Bikram is tough as you want to keep up with the class, you have the demanding dialog in your head and one’s own personal ego doesn’t help at all. All of this contributes to that 25% of the class being less then 10 seconds from a panic attack.

I have no idea why, but something in me keeps propelling me forward. I get up, I go to class. I hate it – I love it. It is the only thing that has ever worked for me. On days that I can be nice to me, I notice that there is a start to definition in my arms. I feel Ab muscles in my tummy when I lay on the floor and feel hip bones. I might even think I see ribs from time to time. Keeping up my self loathing of my body has now had to take another step. I now wear just a jogging bra type top and shorts so i can more readily see my fat self in the mirror. I even went to longer shorts/pants to not be able to see the lack of rolls in my thighs as they are disappearing. Maybe I do these things to keep myself motivated to keep going, or maybe I am just a sick fuck, I can not tell.

To class I go, I do my yoga. What I can on that day. I block out the instructor when necessary, (sorry N &J) I breath, I cry, I fight my way through each class. Right now, 2.5 years into it – it sucks. I know it is worth it, I know I am getting healthier both mentally and physically. I know as I strengthen class will get better again and I will feel more of a desire to go then a need to go.

14 months of Bikram yoga

Depending on the scale I was around 220lbs (give or take 5) when I started on June 12, 2010. I was looking for a way to lose weight and find myself.  I was pushing a size 18, my jeans were a 48 inch waist and I was really overflowing them. Muffin topping at both sides of the waist band which we all must agree is not really a pretty sight. My blood pressure was moderately controlled by 3 drugs and still hitting 170/98 on a regular basis. My blood pressure had always been below normal, you know, the kind of numbers that the nurse laughs and says your must be dead, or I wish mine was that low.  
I could blame it on the stress of my job which at the time was way too much for any normal person to take on. The stress of my personal life as things had not been all rosy and happy for years. I could have even blamed it on the color of the living room wall but really – it is only my fault, I let those stresses get to me. In fact I let all the stressors of the world, stress me out and I hid in food and sloth. 
Even worse: I teach others not to do this, but yet I couldn’t stop myself from becoming overwhelmed. After beating myself up as a failure I did what I would advise any one of my clients to do as if I was sitting in the chair in my office. It was past time to take control of the situation and get off my ass and do something before it was too late.
Taking into account of everything I know about the body, and suggestions from many people I started to think that the gym and the martial arts classes that I had used in the past were not going to work this time. I needed something new, something different, something that I could do while shutting off my mind of all distractions. This something needed to be very difficult and challenging so I would not get board or feel like I had completed it. Yet, it had to be yielding and a lifelong goal with just the right amount of encouragement that could keep me going. I knew now that I was over 40 I needed about one hour a day of exercise a day to lose weight and that it was only safe to take off about 1 to 2 pounds a week to keep from rebounding and having to deal with skin that would become too loose.  
I call Bikram yoga class an hour and a half of ‘things I just can’t do’….yet.  I love it, I hate it. In the beginning I had to rename all of the poses/asanas in my head just to get through the class. I had a whole non-approved “dialog” running in my head as the instructor spouted off the official dialog. The names were rude and the dialog was as sarcastic as I could make it, but it worked to keep me going through the tough times in class when I just wanted to quit. I have laughed and cried my way through classes and yeah, I am still scared at times, but it is good.
Within 8 weeks I started to notice changes in my body, some feelings of muscles, some shifting of weight.  It was also about that point when the pain and exhaustion of physically working out turned into more energy and joy. At that point Bikram started to become addictive to me, I needed my class. I was traveling a lot during this year, and I made sure to get to studios wherever I went. During the first 19 weeks missed only 6 days. I still have managed to keep up an average of about 5 classes a week.  
My mantra during the first year was 50 lbs and a cup size. By the six month mark I had let go of 25 of those pounds and lost that cup size. I was able to remove one of my blood pressure meds and cut way back on the other two. Within the following six months I have weaned myself off of all blood pressure medication. My average BP is now lives in the neighborhood of 118/82 and that is just fine with me.
As for my goal of 50lbs in the first year, well my life has changed so drastically that I have no idea if I have made that goal or not, as I no longer own a scale. However, I have learned that neither that machine, nor the number it gives is really is important. My clothes tell me everything I need to know and I feel better.  I am wearing loose 12s now.  I have gone from that 48 inch waist to 37 inches.  Perhaps by the end of year two I will get back my old 28 inch waist, how I gained 20 inches in 6 years is beyond me. Lack of control I guess, with no one to help me with that and no real ability to do that myself until I was ready.
Within the last two months more shifts have been happening. My final two ‘spare tires’ are merging into one just fat tummy. There is actually a hint of an hourglass when I look straight on into the mirror. There is space developing between my calves and lately even between my thighs, I can see light through them when bending over for hands to feet.  My arms are shaping up, they are no longer ‘loose and hanging’ but starting to have defined cuts. All over the musculature is starting to peak out from under the fat. My spider veins are lessening. I can even feel the bones of my pelvic girdle and ribs as I lay on the floor.
One of the hardest things now is that people are starting to notice and comment, complementing me on my weight loss and even calling me skinny. I am not yet able to take that in or digest it as there are still some mental hurdles to deal with. I think this is the hardest part as many of us put on pounds to protect ourselves from something, or to keep others away, even if we are not sure why. It is like a shield or a coat of armor and it takes a lot of work to remove all those layers of protection and still feel safe without them.
I teach that safety is an illusion at best, yet I am reminded at this time how much fear that brings up and how tough you have to be to succeed. To look at it in another way where else can we really be safe but in our own bodies?!?  Maybe they/we were not safe in them during younger year in our life’s, but now, older and in control, they are our temples; our refuge; our sanctuaries. Overriding that fear is part of the letting go. The body is there to hold me and protect me and truth is it can protect me better if it is fit and ready for the challenges of fight of flight.
I will keep these thoughts in my head as I move forward through this second year of Bikram yoga and maybe just maybe, I will learn to conquer the monsters in my head or at least control them over this issue of body image.

Doing the Work

This is a phrase that is often bantered around by those who do energetic work on the level where they are helping other humans move forward in/on their personal paths of destiny (in Chinese: Ming). I can put all the pieces out on the table for them to pick up. Sometimes I can even place a piece for them, but it is up to that individual to stand up organize and use that gift, information, puzzle piece…whatever. That is the work that they must do.
Enlightenment is real, it just usually happens in steps, not like the Buddha under a tree or Christ in the desert. Most of us have to work to pay the rent, living in a world that does not let us have time to do deep meditation for years at a time. We move along the path with great effort in what can only be seen as an expression of the ‘bunny hop’ dance we learned as children. Life is full of three leaps forward and one or two leaps back. Imbalance happens when we are taking more steps backwards than forwards or get too frightened to take any step.
When I set someone on their Ming and give them a little kick on the butt to get them going I tend to have an idea of where they are headed but there is no real way for me to know what their path will look like. I know when they are going to have to go through a tough time of it and I will have to handhold and be encouraging. Other times it is going be a great opening up and they will reveal in the high… until reality hits them hard upside the head and I have to explain with a smile that yep, we still have to figure out how to survive on this dimension too.
People are often seen by others that they have shared life thus far with them as ‘different’ when they make big steps forward and breakthroughs within their past energetic ties. How you move through that and move forward will set your new path. It is not always easy. Old friends are often seen as ‘falling away’ from you or not ‘knowing how to relate’ to you anymore. This is normal as the energetically patterns you once shared with them may no longer mesh in the way that was comfortable to them, and the old way of meshing is no longer comfortable to you. As we move and grow through our lives physically, energetically, emotionally and spiritually those who no longer resonate with us fall to the wayside. Mourning that loss is healthy and fine, and the fear of moving forward and finding those who now resonate with you is also normal, yet neither should paralyze you from your forward movement. It is just the new “is”. Have you ever heard someone going through a relationship break up that says, “You know; I still love jim/jill but we have just grown apart” and that is exactly what it is. Feel the sadness, move through it, but it is just a growing apart and you will continue to grow and just may grow together with someone who now mirrors your path more successfully (for now…) it IS what IS now, and that is just perfect.
Now just in case you think that this only works one way; that these things only work as we like to think of it, as ascending the spiral stair case of enlightenment – think again! The other way is much more common and fair easier. We all know someone who has taken the spiral path downward, toward a hard crashing bottom. IF per se you were getting into a heavy drug habit, you would also loose certain people around you and you would gain new ‘friends’ who do drugs and resonate with that lifestyle. We are all beings that resonate and like attracts like. The law of attraction: one of those basic laws of physics that you must obey.
How then do you know if you are just sick of your friends, or if you are really making a step forward?
Have you turned inward and become more reflective on life? This is a normal reaction to have calm after the removal or letting go of any big that overshadowed your life. It can take some time for the body and mind to incorporate what has happened and learn from it. It is natural to take a retreat to reset.
What is your passion? Is it blossoming? Are you making a breakthrough in your art? Are you experience a new flow in your life? Do you see things more vividly? Are you noticing things that you never paid attention to and wondering what they mean? Everything is shifting on multiple levels and all levels by nature must stay in balance with each other. If we move forward on say the psychic level why would we remain stagnate on the physical or any other level?
You may start seeing things a funny now… instead of being bitchy and annoyed by the guy who should know better. Or become bemused by the lack of acceptance of life in yourself or others. Anger transforms into joy easier and sorrow is kept in better check. These are signs of advanced sight or understanding of the mundane world: The humans are funny. They are here for our amusement! Enjoy life!

Getting Started

Getting started here.
I believe there comes a time when we all must reinvent ourselves. I have been in that process over the last year. This blog will be attached to my new web site and be an outlet and hopefully something that can at least amuse a few people if not give them some valuable information from time to time.

I have over 20 years of experience in the fields of massage and bodywork therapy. My specialty is in Asian Bodywork Therapy form of TuiNa. I have served on state and national boards over my time, taught and treated hundreds of people.

In Chinese Medicine we are taught to treat from pre-conception to post-mortem and everything in between.   I hope to help many through their path in life.