Thursday, July 29, 2010

Auditioned for Oprah's open casting call

To be the next TV host for OWN!  Check out my audition reel here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Guest Blogger at Bikram101 Blog

Day 79

Hi everyone!
I wrote a post for the Bikram 101 blog, which you can find here. Stop by, look around.  Enjoy.

My life is insane but my daily practice has kept me grounded.  I am so grateful.  I miss you all and I promise, when things aren't crazy, I'll be back to blogging...but probably after this challenge is over.

I'm proud of all of us as we get closer to the finish line!  I'm happy we did this all together.  Namaste!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What I've Learned So Far


Well friends, so much can happen in 9 days that it amazes me to think how much can and will happen in the remaining 51 days of this challenge.  Let's see where to begin...

Comments on my practice:
My right knee no longer feels pain.  Once in a while, my left knee feels like I applied icy hot to it after some classes.  I feel strength in my quadriceps in a way I've never felt before.  All parts of awkward are strong and I'm even managing to kick my heels up even higher in the 2nd part.  The right knee feels strong.  I am so happy.

I always seem to lose the 10-fingered bikram grip especially in standing forehead to knee.  Otto called me out and instructed me to keep the heels of my hands together.  It worked for the second set in standing forehead to knee, I nailed it with a firm grip.  Three days later, he saw me losing my grip again and called me out again by saying, "Same thing as the other day my're losing your grip.  You gotta break that bad habit."  I haven't taken a class with Otto in months and this week, I've taken three.  He has greatly improved as a teacher and for that I am grateful.

Out of nowhere, an emotional release occurred after the first set of camel in Corrine's class.  I sobbed and my chest heaved.  My neighbors could see I was bawling but I didn't care.  For second set, I stayed in savasana while others did the sit up but during the set up, I heard Corinne prod me in her firm but gentle way, "ActionJoJo, second set.  You'll feel better, yeah?"  When a teacher...especially of Corrine's caliber, asks you to do something, you do it.  I did it because I trusted her even when I couldn't find the strength in me to trust and believe in myself.  In the second set, all I could do was kneel and put my hands to the back of my hips and push forward.  I was still bawling.  It was a powerful moment for me as I reaffirmed the important fact that I need to allow others to help me.  I can't do everything on my own, as I tend to like to do thanks to  my superwoman-complex (more on that later).

I feel more acutely and can physically see in the mirror, the imbalance between the right and left side of my body.  My right is tighter and therefore, shorter in the mirror.  I see it prominently when I sit Japanese style to set up for locust and rabbit, and in final breathing.  The amount of skin between the bottom of my shakti top and the top of my shakti bottom is less on the right than on the left.  Crazy!  I hope these next 50 days will help in balancing me out. 

My spine is changing and I can feel it.  My spine cracks when I straighten up in half moon, both sides.  My lower back cracks and then slowly releases as I set up for the first set of standing forehead to knee.  I am entering a new phase in the spine strengthening series.  In rabbit, when I start to pull on my heels, I can feel my spine cracking and realigning itself.  I now am beginning to fully grasp why Bikram says, "You don't have to chase the chiropractor, chiropractor will come to you!"  When I look in the mirror these days, I don't recognize my back.  My thoracic spine has become more prominent and I see a slight curvature in my upper back whereas it was quite flat in the past. 

Update on Life:
We signed a contract on the house and this last week has been spent negotiating with banks to find the best deal on a mortgage and the lowest closing fees.  We admittedly lost sight of the fact that we needed to plunk down another $20,000 on closing costs in addition to the money we set aside for the downpayment.  It definitely freaked The Husband out, which led him to asking what else have we've forgotten to budget for.  Thankfully, The Husband is focusing on this part of the process:  finding the mortgage, dealing with the lawyers, and reading the fine print.  I dealt with the front end of this process by contacting the realtors so I feel we have divided the task of home buying that plays up to our strengths.  In fact, he negotiated so well that today, we got a bank to agree to lock in an interest rate of 4.75%!  Woot!!!!  Now we go through the application process and sometime in the next 4-6 weeks, we close.  That means we move, which means we pack!  Acccccccccck!

I am up to my ears with work.  I come in to the office and there are piles on my desk.  I leave and there are old piles and new piles on my desk.  I am grateful to have a temp helping me who is smart, quick, and self-sufficient.  I am planning for our upcoming board meeting and planning for my own three week business trip to South Africa in mid-April through early May.  Regardless of when we move, April is going to be mad mad crazy. 

The Olympic athletes have inspired me to re-visit the bigger question of what it is that I want to do in my life, a life full of passion and fulfillment.  There's something stirring in my heart...yearning to accomplish what I dream about in my career:  one that involves travel and being in front of the TV.  But how am I to fulfill this dream now that I have a mortgage?!  Am I stuck now that I have such adult responsibilities?  When is this career shift going to happen?  We need to renovate the house:  where are we going to find the time?  the money?  How about expanding our family -- when will we start?  HOW AM I GOING TO GET ALL THIS DONE?  HOW?!  HOW?!  HOW?!

Without this challenge, I think my mind would have been spinning its wheels worrying about how to accomplish all the goals in my life during this huge period of transition.  But these last 50 days have shown me that like my body, my life will open up and unfold at precisely the right time.  Everything will fall into place and when they do, I will be ready to embrace them.  All I can do and all that I can be responsible for is today.  Yes, I can dream of the future but I can only focus on the task at hand.  Like our challenge, if we focus on accomplishing 101 days of straight yoga, it could paralyze us.  But we take it one day at a time and the challenge becomes manageable and less daunting.  Similarly, my body was not ready to have my forehead touch my knee on day #1 but with patience, surrender, and hard work, I am starting to do it on day #50.

So what I'm saying is that despite the craziness, the unknowns, the doubt, and yes, the fear, I have hung on to my faith.  I am teaching myself patience and surrender despite my Aries tendencies of craving instant gratification. I can happily say that I feel peace and contentment and believe in my core that all will work out:  a beautiful marriage, an expanded family, a renovated home, a fulfilling career, and a passion-filled life.  All the pieces will fall into place and I really don't need to know how.  I just need to work one day at a time, trying to fulfill my dream in the best way I know how. 

I'm surprisingly okay with that.

For the purposes of my own record keeping, day:

  • #41 Thurs, Feb 18 - 7 am w/ Danielle - class was uneventful
  • #42 Fri, Feb 19 - 5:30 pm w/ Corinne - bawled during camel - great release
  • #43 Sat, Feb 20 - 10 am w/ Caroline - "In this yoga, you should struggle, not suffer." - Felt light afterward
  • #44 Sun, Feb 21 - 4:30 pm w/ Mark - first time taking his class...I enjoy the cadence of his dialogue and his NY Italian-American accent.  He sounds like he is singing!
  • #45 Mon, Feb 22 - 6:30 pm w/ Mark - super juicy - if I wasn't in the front row, I would've taken a knee - but pushed myself...I think I was acting too proud in front of my fellow yogis.  Half a$$ed some sets in the spine strengthening series. 
  • #46 Tues, Feb 23 - 6:00 pm w/ Otto - strong forehead to knee thanks to a correction in order to  maintai the classic bikram grip; "Vera Wang, Vera Wang!" Otto yelled during tree pose.  He later explained, "Act as if you are wearing a Vera Wang gown, all $10,000 of it.  Proud.  Chest up, stomach in!"  LOL -- I'll never look at tree pose the same way again.
  • #47 Wed, Feb 24 - 5:30 pm w/ Otto - mind was like jelly today & had to sit out one set of separate leg stretching and balancing stick.  It also probably didn't help that I had a pastrami sandwich & french fries (which I never eat) for lunch; they sat like a stone in my stomach
  • #48 Thurs, Feb 25 - 6 pm w/ Becca - strong class and felt light afterwards
  • #49 Fri, Feb 26 - 5:30 pm w/ Otto - another strong class although there was a moment in pranayama when the women next to me where holding back giggles from something Otto said and I was getting affected.  Found myself inhaling and giggling and exhaling and giggling at the same time. LOLOL
  • #50 Sat, Feb 27 - 4:30pm w/ Alina - drenched by pranayama but stayed strong

Wednesday, February 17, 2010



Have people been watching the Olympics?  I have been so inspired by all the athletes but in particular, I marvel at Shaun White and the kind of pioneering moves he demonstrates on the halfpipe.  My mouth just hangs open as I watch his height and the speed of his rotations.

The ice skaters are another group I simply have a new appreciation for now that I'm doing bikram yoga.  I see lots of beautiful backbends in many standing spins and tons of foreheads to knees in sitting spins.  Gosh.  The struggle I have doing these backbends and foreheads to knees just standing still much less balancing and doing this while spinning on ice?

And last but not least, I have a newfound respect for Apolo Ohno and his zen attitude on the ice during competition.  When he first came on the scene 8 years ago, I thought he was such a cocky kid but 8 years have made him grow and gain maturity and experience.  He seems more confident now and just so at ease whenever he races.  When the gun goes off, he starts but holds himself in the back off the pack and then watches and observes serenely.  When you think he's not going to make his move, he jumps and gracefully glides by his competitors, passing them as if it was no big deal.  It is so beautiful to watch him because he makes it look just so easy and natural.  I kinda think I have a crush on him now!  LOL

What these athletes do to push their bodies and train for these games is just incredible.  Some are healthy and some are injured like poor Lindsay Vonn who manages to still win gold despite the severe shin injury.  As someone who is injured, I wonder where it is you draw the line between pushing your body and taking care of it?  I am happy that this yoga is teaching me where that line is.

#38, Alicia

Off for President's Day but The Husband and I decided to still go to 7am yoga and then off for a breakfast date to reward ourselves.  We are happy we did.  We were done with yoga, grocery shopping, and our breakfast by 11am and home by 12noon.  Lots of chores on my list such as laundry and cooking for the week.  We decided to indulge instead and took naps and ditched all the shores.  What luxury -- all this time!

Class was solid although it wasn't as hot as it could've been.  On days like today when the heat isn't up and in the morning, I focus on alignment and use more strength since I lack the flexibility of evening, juicy classes.  The knee continues to bother me but somehow it feels better.  I don't know...the tightness in the knee especially when sitting in Japanese style doesn't bother me anymore.  I suppose it is less painful but maybe it's because I've learned that my knee sorts itself out eventually and the tightness goes away.  Maybe I'm just becoming more accepting of my pain as part of myself, and coming to love it as part of me, rather than being disappointed and frustrated everytime it shows up.  I don't know...

#39, Danielle

I had to drag my a$$ to class because the thought of doing another 61 days of bikram just was a little depressing.  I am feeling a bit of lack of motivation...perhaps because the long weekend made it hard to get back into gear.  What got me through a relatively uninspiring pranayama was thinking about those Olypmic athletes and the determination they must've had to training every day.  Apparently, Apolo Ohno trained 12 hours a day for these Olympics!  Insanity.  Their hard work motivated me to stay focused and if these classes were preparing me for the yoga championships or even an Olympic yoga competition!  It was a neat way to find new motivation.   My legs felt like lead in heavy but I tried to stick with it and managed to do the best I could today.

Despite the blase start, I was thrilled to discover that I can get my forehead to my knee in standing separate leg head to knee pose on both sides especially my tighter right side!!!  I can't do it in the morning, but these evening classes, I can.  Hooray!  My front leg is totally bent but I don't care...I can finally get the forehead to my knee.  And in head to knee pose, I can do it too.  I am noticing that I can flex my toes even further back in this pose, in standing forhead to knee, and all the sit ups.  I have also noticed that my spine/back cracks as if it is realigning itself in the first set of rabbit.  When it does this, I feel such a great release that I actually look forward to rabbit these days rather than the dread I used to feel.

I also notice that the hair clip at the top of my head, although small and flat, managed to get in the way of some poses so I've started to take it off, beginning at fixed firm.  In rabbit, this small adjustment has allowed the pinching sensation at the top of my head to go away and I can really focus on keeping the weight on my legs and keeping the tops of my feet down and my heels together.  Isn't it amazing how the removal of even a small barrier, in this case a hair clip, that we create can make a world of difference?!  Huh...who would've thunk.  

#40, Kara

Super juicy class and I managed to set my mat up directly underneath a fan blowing hot air on me.  In the mirror, I could see my hair blowing in the wind.  I panicked and said to myself, "Sh*t.  Is hot air going to blow all over me in class?"  And then I laughed it off and enouraged myself to think that I was in the middle of the Sahara but more humid with a constant wind.

The Olympic athletes continue to motivate me so I had strong determination and focus in class today.  By the end I was losing steam but managed to push myself and got my forehead to my toes in the third part of head to knee pose.  I managed to get a compliment from Kara as a result.  Another fantabulous day of touching my forehead to knee and both parts of awkward were okay.  No pain.  Hallelujiah!

It is Ash Wednesday today and it is my favorite time of the Roman Catholic liturgical year.  These next forty days are a period of reflection and introspection, of giving more of ourselves to others, of fasting, in order to culminate in the joyous celebration of Easter.  There are so many commonalities between my Catholic faith and my practice of bikram yoga...perhaps one future post will be about this.  For now, all I will say is that the season of Lent and Easter remind me that every day we start anew, that we have an opportunity for rebirth.  We die and are reborn metaphorically each day.  With each new day is a clean slate, to be a better person, to live life passionately and peacefully, to forgive ourselves for past shortcomings, and to do the best we can.  It is all we can ask of ourselves.  I learn these lessons in the yoga room and they are further reinforced by my faith.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Everything Is Happening So Fast!


First, Gung Hei Fat Choi!!!!  Happy Chinese New Year!!!  Welcome to the Year of the Tiger.  All these holidays have come together so nicely that the color red works for both the Chinese New Year and V-Day.  

So much is happening with our house purchasing process...negotiations happen quickly and lawyers want things now, now, now.  Our realtor works for us and moves quickly.  We have signed the contract and paid 50% of our downpayment.  Now the seller has to sign the contract.  It's time to find a mortgage!!  We are hoping to close and move to the new house by March 31.  March 31!  The reason why we want to do this is because my job is sending me to South Africa at the end of April for two weeks -- hooray!  But whoa, hello.  Lots to deal with in the next several weeks.  

I haven't had much time to blog and I'm trying to be good to myself and only do the best I can every day.  If I don't get to blog, then it's okay!  I do want to say that I miss you all.  I haven't had a chance to read everyone's blogs and if I do, I don't have time to leave a comment.  But I just want to let you know that I'm sending you all my positive energy for your practices and I know that I am receiving yours.  Doing this challenge at this very hectic time has made it easier knowing that an entire community is doing this with me.

#35, Friday 5:30pm with Corinne

A second straight day with Corinne, which is awesome!  Knee was clunky and it feels funny every time I go from bending it to straightening it.  I had planned to a double today -- one in the morning and one in the evening but it didn't happen.  I contemplated doing a back to back double in the evening but I just didn't feel like it.  My legs and my knees felt totally off and I just didn't feel like going for a second class even though I could've mustered the strength to do it.  Despite the instruction from Corinne yesterday, she said I still went too low today in triangle.  She also took the time to explain and demonstrate standing separate leg head to knee because apparently half the class's hips were out of alignment.  I know I have this I found it helpful to hear her say that it was important, as we came down that halfway down, the hip of the back leg has a tendency to want to open up.  We have to really make a concerted effort to keep that back hip forward by keeping the back leg engaged and locked, weight on the front foot.  Even though teachers are not supposed to demonstrate, I always find it helpful when some take a minute from class to do so.  I get so much out of it!

#36, Saturday, 10am with Caroline

"I like your ice."

"Excuse me?" I say.

"Your ice.  The ice in your water bottle.  I was staring at it longingly in class."

One of two very sweet guys at my neighborhood studio said this to me.  He just completed a thirty day challenge and decided to keep going!  His name is Anthony and it's been great fun seeing him every weekend.

First set of awkward was suprisingly okay and Caroline teasingly told me that I was such a faker.  I had told her before class about my knee pain that I've been experiencing this last week.  She was encouraging and said that as I go deeper in the poses in a challenge, I am starting to open up old injuries.  I told her how discouraged and unhealthy I felt and she told me that I was healthy.  It was nice to hear.  Well, by second set of awkward, my knee decided to scream.  It was awful.  Caroline told me to back off after she saw me grimace in pain.  She had a wonderful nugget of wisdom today.  She said, "In class, you should struggle in these poses but you shouldn't suffer."  I thought the distinction was important to remember especially as I deal with knee pain.

The soreness in my left knee continued and I really tried to figure out which poses may aggravate it.  I think triangle does and after paying attention today, I felt it after balancing stick!!  I must focus on keeping my left leg locked in this pose.   

In camel, in these last few classes, I feel like I am inches from seeing my feet.  I can see the middle of my mat.  So cool.  Every time I go into this posture, I'm excited to see how far back I can see. 

This morning before class, I woke up crying.  I had dreamt of my paternal grandfather.  He died when I was a child but he did visit us when I was very young.  It was so good to talk to him in my dream and find out more about his life.  And in my dream, my parents were talking to each other and good terms with each other.  I woke up sad that my dream wasn't real, that I didn't have a chance to get to know my grandfather, and that my parents have a very icy relationship.  I felt a big sense of loss and an appreciation for not taking life for granted.

#37, Sunday, 4:30 with Alina

Today at church is Worlwide Marriage Encounter so the couples at the 10am Mass got to renew their wedding vows.  The Husband and I decided to attend this Mass and when we renewed our vows, I was a mess.  I always get so emotional and The Husband lovingly calls me "a softie".  We don't celebrate Valentine's Day but it was wonderful to take a moment to re-commit ourselves to each other and to our marriage, recognizing God's presence in our relationship.

 New teacher Alina led a small class today.  There must've been 6 of us in class, I think.  Awkward was difficult today abut no pain!  I could do both sets.  Yay!!!  It did briefly spasm after eagle and it still felt tight at the beginning of half tortoise but straightened itself out.

Solid class and I focused on my locked out leg in balancing stick and triangle.  Wouldn't you know.  I focused on keeping the leg fully engaged and locked and I feel no soreness in the left knee

These last several classes, I've refrained from water in class.  I drink only after I set up to leave the room.  So awesome to find stillness throughout the entire class.  Not moving actually helps me calm my breathing faster rather than reaching for the water.  The progress I've been feeling in this challenge has been incredible.  My body is opening and releasing in wonderful ways.  It has definitely been a struggle these last few days.  Even though scheduling this challenge is getting harder, I know for certain that if it was not for this challenge, I would be far more stressed and high strung about this house buying process.  I am happy that these 90 minutes gives me a chance of to decompress and to take things one breath at a time. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010



Omigosh!  An awesome, unexpected surprise awaited me when I arrived at the studio for 7am class.  Corinne was teaching because Danielle got stuck in the blizzard in Atlantic City!  Loveee Corinne!!  How funny that all the students who walked in the door had the same reaction as me.  She definitely one of the favorites here at our studio.  :)

I explained to Corinne about my knee pain and how I think it may be emotionally induced.  She also said that if if there was a lot going on in my mind, I may not be always present in my practice and without presence, there is a lack of engagement in our bodies.  I thanked her for her last week's correction on my triangle, which helped ease the pressure off my knees (she told me I was coming down too low).  She then came around the desk and showed me how to set up for triangle properly.  In order to ensure that the weight is on both legs, she told me to imagine a finger is pushing at the hip of my extended leg forward, forcing me to to bend my knee and come down.  This way, my extended leg remains contracted, knee locked, butt tight, foot flat on the floor.  Instead, I was bending my knee to get my hips down, putting most of the pressure on the bent leg and my knee.  Setting up for triangle in class definitely helped take the pressure off...and I discovered that doing it this way, keeping that straight leg locked and engaged.  Whoa!  Totally different posture.  My weight was evenly distributed and hello hips!  You are opening! 

My right knee today was okay.  It is definitely getting better.  I managed all parts of awkward, both sets.  In the third part especially as I came down with my knees pressed together, I breathed and my mind said repeatedly, "RELAX, RELAX, RELAX."  It did briefly spasm after second set of half tortoise and during the forward bends in half moon, the back of my knee wanted to lock out in pain.  After class, both knees, felt like I applied icy hot or tiger balm to them!  There was a hot ringing coming out of them.  Was that a good thing?  I don't know.  The feeling went away after 30 minutes.

This is my second class where I didn't drink any water except at the end after final breathing.  I think I will try to refrain from drinking until I leave the room next time.  In final breathing, Corinne threw out what kept her going during teacher training.  She said that final breathing was so long during teacher training (similar to how long we do it in our studio) and by that time she wanted to die.  So during each exhale, she would chant in her head, "I. am. strong.  I. am. strong.  I. am. strong." to the beat.  I decided I would follow-her lead and instead chant, "I. am. heal-thy.  I am. heal-thy."  In these last few days, I am finding these mantra, tied to my breath, have really been my saving grace especially in parts of my practice when I feel discouraged, frustrated, or afraid.  These mantras leave no room to focus on the negative thought patterns or any thought patterns for that matter.  There is only room for affirmation and breath.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Moving Meditation


Greetings from blizzard stricken NYC!  Well, at least this isn't the second blizzard we are experiencing within a week unlike the cities of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC.  My office closed at 12noon but I decided to stay since the place was empty and I got tons of work done uninterrupted! 

5:30 class with Kara.  She looked sad and when I asked her about it, she confirmed that there was stuff going on in her life but didn't go into great detail.  She said that she was looking forward to teaching the back-to-back evening classes because once she gets herself teaching in the hot room, she manages to take a break from the reality around her.  Isn't it amazing how both teachers and students have that shared experience in the room of being present?  What I love about Kara are the little nuggets of wisdom or encouragement she occasionally throws out during class.  At the end of one exhalation in pranayama, she said, "keep exhaling...keep exhaling...push everything out that doesn't serve you."  With what I've been working through emotionally these last few days, her words were just what I needed to hear.

If this is the mental part of the challenge, then today my mind really was out to test me.  I was going along just fine in class, strong and solid.  And today is the first time I ever managed not to drink any water during class!!  I did gulp down water just after final breathing although I'm sure I didn't need to do so.

I even managed to do all parts in the first set of awkward even though I couldn't sit too far down in the second part.  In second set, my knee was screaming in the second part and I kept with it.  By third part, it was in such pain that I couldn't even drop down and put my hands on the floor so I stood there with my arms up and tight.  My standing forehead to knee was rock solid both sets (!!!!) and it totally made up for a tough awkward pose.

By the floor series, my mind started to crap out on me.  I admittedly half a$$ed wind removing pose and started to half a$$ cobra but tried to fight it off.  By half tortoise, my mind said, "QUIT QUIT QUIT.  YOU ARE TIRED."  I really was about to give up and it took all my mental determination to force myself to stick with it.  What was bizarre was that the desire to quit left as quickly as it came.  When my mind wants to quit, I find that it helps a lot to have a mantra.  I did this last night.  On the inhale, I thought, "Just."  On the exhale, I thought, "Breathe."  Repeat.  Sometimes, I simply count.  Inhale, "One, one, one."  Exhale, "Two, two, two."  The latter technique is something that Ben taught us.

In final savasana, somehow I started imagining myself on a beach and on the shore was a boat.  There were a lot of heavy boxes surrounding the boat, labeled "anger", "resentment", "rage", "inflexibility", "impatience", "exasperation", and "hostility".  I started to pick up these boxes and load them, one by one, on the boat.  When I finished, I shoved the boat into the sea.  And then I imagined myself like Father Wind.  With every inhale, I sucked in the air and the boat came close back to shore.  But every exhale was more powerful than the inhale and the boat got pushed further out than where it started.  I kept doing that for several breaths until the boat slowly got smaller and smaller.  It eventually became a dot on the horizon and with another breath, it disappeared.  This meditation, which combined the mind, the emotions, and the body, was so powerful.  I really felt like I was on that beach...wind and sunburnt after doing all that heavy work.  I felt so light as I watched the boat disappear.  Tonight, my knee felt so much better, so much happier.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010



A teacher with a good sense of humor really makes a difference!  6pm with Ben was a class where things just flowed.  He has a way of teaching that makes everything flow.  The way he delivers dialogue, the way we transition from one posture to the next or between sets.  It's really nice.  He often doesn't say "change" so taking Ben's class means you really have to listen.

My knee was still expressing itself and the last two parts of awkward was just not happening for me today.  Tightness abounded still and in final breathing, the tightness finally released as I sat Japanese style.  The one improvement was toe stand, right side.  I was able to get myself upright in this pose whereas these last two days, I couldn't even get myself to fully bend my knee and lift my heel off the floor. 

Despite the creaky painful knee, class today was energizing and smooth and strong.  Pranayama felt so great, I could've gone on doing it forever.  I nailed it on both sides of standing forehead to knee both freakin' sets!  I couldn't believe it!!!  I've never done that before.  ThedancingJ's post on creating a cramp in the kicking leg really helped improve this posture for me.  I heard it in the dialogue, for sure, but I think I kinda ignored it because it sounded counter-intuitive.  But after reading J's explanation, which reminded me of the fact that this entire yoga is counter-intuitive, it made a whole lot of sense.  Thank you again J for your tremendous insight!  I cannot wait till I take a class you are teaching.  :)

Before class, I hugged my right leg close to my chest and kissed my right knee a few times.  I talked to it, asked it for forgiveness, and promised I wouldn't judge it no matter what it decided to do in class today.  I was going to be compassionate towards myself especially as major life changes loom imminently on the horizon.  

I'm going to own my first house.  My mother is going to live directly above us in the upper apartment while we live in the lower apartment.  I'm going to have to pack up and move out of this apartment I've lived in for 8 years.  I'm going to commute longer to work and longer to yoga which means waking up earlier which in turn means sleeping earlier which ultimately means having less time.  I'm going to move to a more suburban neighborhood that is quieter and does not have the conveniences compared to my neighborhood now.  Our household budget will change thanks to a mortgage and the likelihood of purchasing a car.  Belts need to be tightened.  Dinners out, theater tickets, and shopping for clothes will all be a luxury.  Wait a minute?  I asked for this?!  I signed up to mow the lawn and rake the leaves and repair myself all the things that break in the house????

I was never one who feared changed.  In fact, I used to revel in it in my much so that I think I was running away from something back then.  In my 30s, I settled down.  I became more comfortable in my own skin.  And I actually began to want to put down some roots. Change is still not scary to me.  Although I'll admit, I'm beginning to find it inconvenient.  It's amazing how living in the same place for 8 years can really cause serious inertia.  As thedancingJ wrote:

Change is always uncomfortable, and often painful.  It's so much easier to stay the way we are.  Stay in the same posture.  Stay in the same job, the same relationship, the same apartment, the same city.  It's easier that way.  But in yoga, we practice moving into discomfort, and we find out that it's not such a scary place after all.  (You thought it was going to hurt, but instead it made your body feel better.)

In other words, we learn courage.

As I type, I acknowledge the silence before the storm of change arrives.  I will bring what I have learned in the sweat box to my life and remember those instances when camel brought forth nausea.  With breath, compassion, and determination, I will be fine amidst the chaos and the discomfort.  I will weather through this change step by step...or as thedancingJ put it, "One Standing-Head-toKnee at a time."

Monday, February 08, 2010



Wah wah wah!!! Reading my last two posts, you would think I was the biggest whiner on the planet!! Gad!!! Thanks for letting me vent folks.  I really needed to get all of it on my chest.

7am with Alicia was similar to last night's class. My right knee still felt tightness and incredible pressure from within. Yesterday's poses that gave difficulty gave me difficulty again today. One thing I decided to do differently was to sit through the tightness for both sets of final breathing. By the time I lay in final savasana, the back of my knee spasmed. Ugh!! It's been spazzing out all day just like yesterday.

As I reflected on my recent knee pain and after re-reading my last two posts, I came upon an affirmation that The Healer once told me. My knee pain is not due to anything amiss physically/structurally/mechanically. In fact, it was emotional. My knees, he told me, were indicators of my emotional state of being. They are where I hold my stress and they express themselves, or whine, as a signal to me to pay attention to something that is wrong.

If The Healer would've told me this years earlier, I would've thought that he was out of his mind.  How can my emotions cause my pain? With his help, my own healing journey has made me believe that our bodies are like maps. They hold the histories of our life experiences in all forms: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. When we suppress negative mental states of being or emotions, they get trapped within our bodies causing pain and chronic disease. One time, The Healer was dealing with my chronic back pain issues and he used tui na to treat it. Taking his elbow, he plowed into the grain of my back from below the shoulder blade all the way down to my glute and down my hamstring all the way down to the back of my knee (our body is one muscle), the areas that were injured and causing me great pain. When he first did this, I was howling in pain. He marveled at my reaction because he said, “I’m barely applying any pressure. What the heck did you do to your back? The stuff that is stuck in here is old…5 years old. What was going on in your life 5 years ago?” I recalled back to 5 years earlier: it was indeed an awful time in my life. I felt like I was living a lie, living a double life by suppressing the truest part of myself and showing what others wanted to see from me. The treatment continued for at least 15 minutes and while I screamed in pain at first, the screaming eventually turned to crying, and then full out gut-wrenching sobbing. It was like a dam within me broke and the river of tears flowed freely. When The Healer was done, I said to him, "I felt like I should’ve cried those tears five years ago." He simply nodded in agreement. After two more treatments of tui na on my back, I’ve never experienced back pain again.

Similarly, The Healer told me that pain in my knees may be caused by emotional states of lacking flexibility and compassion especially towards others but more importantly, towards myself. I’ve been feeling this way for a long time and it is no wonder, he said, that my knee injury started 19 years ago when I was just a teenager. A locked out knee means it is inflexible…it is solid, concrete, unbroken, like a lamppost, right? Well, the emotional equivalent of inflexibility can be expressed physically in a knee that has trouble bending.

It is hard to deny the strong connection between my recent knee trouble and the incident with my mother and all the emotions it stirred within me. It was further reaffirmed after reading lynxofsilver’s comment about the connection between emotional and physical pain. Like The Healer, Louise Hay has written a wonderful book called “You Can Heal Your Life” and she writes that every physical ailment in the body is attributable to some emotional or mental state of being. Read a review about it here.

Riding the subway home, I just focused on being more compassionate towards myself. I tried to forgive and love myself for all that emotions that I have felt these last few days. Why is it that we cannot forgive ourselves as easily as we forgive others? As I tried to go through the process of forgiveness, I started to cry on the subway. I didn’t care. I’ve learned not to care what other people think especially if I will heal from this release. On the walk, home I was bawling. I had a good cry for 10 minutes and afterwards, I made peace with the events of last week and my reaction to them. Wouldn’t you know? Hours after that cleansing cry, my knee feels a million times better than it did these last 48 hours.

Caroline, a teacher at my neighborhood studio once said during class, "Pain is a gift. It increases our self-awareness. It tells us that there is something wrong and that we need to pay attention to it so that we don't hurt ourselves even further. So be grateful for your pain, for your injuries. They protect you from harming yourself further.” She is so right.

So thank you knees for being my emotional and mental barometer. Without you as my safety net, I would spiral downwards. Forgive me. I am learning to listen to you. I am learning to be kind to myself. Bear with me as I learn this hard lesson and I know you'll let me know when I'm going in the wrong direction. And when you do, let me remember to be compassionate towards you and your message.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Resentment...Yep, There It Is


My knee, my knee, my knee.  Throughout this challenge, my right knee seemd to be on the mend.  I did not feel any pain and slowly but surely, I was going deeper into poses that I couldn't even do when I first started this yoga:  all parts of awkward; toe stand; fixed firm, sitting Japanese style in half tortoise, rabbit, final breathing.

Last night in final breathing, I could not sit Japanese style after the first set.  I had to cross my legs.  Today, my knee felt the old tightness and full of pressure from within.  The first set of awkward was painful and served as a litmus test for my knees for this class. As lynxofsilver once described her knees, they whined.  I couldn't put all my weight on toe stand and by the first set of half tortoise, I could feel myself favoring my left side by putting all my weight on it.  Somehow, my knee righted itself in the second set and the rest of class.  After class, it spasm after an hour of sitting.  And walking right now, it feels tight and totally uncomfortable.  GOOD TIMES!!!

Admittedly, it is a depressing to come such a long way with no pain and suddenly, it comes back out of nowhere.  I thought my knee was healing!!!  Argh!!!!!  I am really annoyed.  And of course, my mind goes nuts.  Maybe it's because you skipped a day.  You should've kept going.  Nothing else is different except the one day you didn't go.  It's all your fault that your knees are in pain.  They hurt because you missed.  Isn't the mind an amazing thing?  How did I go from re-experiencing knee pain to it being my fault?

I go back to missing that one day.  I know I shouldn't be so hard on myself but I am.  I know it is stupid of me to think of yoga over my sick mom who needed me more.  And even more so, I feel so embarrassed and guilty that I actually did think this way.  Thanks to 20/20 hindsight, I feel a new emotion:  resentment.  I know my mother well enough to know that her health issue was not major when she called on Thursday night.  She did not need to go to the ER for goodness sakes woman!  All she needed to do was calm down.  Easier said than done for someone who doesn't suffer from anxiety and catastrophic thinking.  I've learned the signs of a panic attack.  I've learned the irrationality of her fears and the inability to assuage them myself.  I could've taken 90 minutes to go to yoga before returning to the hospital.  I wanted to take care of myself first on Friday but instead, I chose to give it all up for someone else.  I wish I did take care of me.  Deep down, I am resentful at her for being so needy and even more so, I am angry at myself for making the decision to completely give into her neediness.  I should've known!  How could I fall for this again?!  Why did I choose to listen to her?!  The resentment is there even though it is just a kernel.  Several years of therapy has helped reduce that resentment to what it is now.  Formerly, it was a massive, pulsing ball of RAGE

Days 30-60 are to be emotional, healing, eh?  What a way to start these next 30 days.  There are still so many emotions and issues buried deep inside me.  The recurring one still exists:  resentment at mom for being who she is -- panicky, anxious, emotional, and irrational.  She is so many other wonderful things:  independent, strong, and accomplished.  She is such a different person when she caves into her irrational fear and I become a different person too in response to her.  I lose all compassion.  That is a tough thing to say when you are talking about your own mother.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Happy to Be Back

Downtown Flushing prepares to celebrate Chinese New Year


We all stood up.  Just before pranayama breathing, Kara said, "Take a moment to be present in the room and look into the eyes of your own best teacher."  I did just that.  And suddenly my eyes welled up with tears.  During pranayama, I let the tears fall.  During the exhales, I could feel the tears sliding down the side of my face, by my ears.  It has been an emotional 48 hours and already, just as the 5pm class started, I was already releasing what needed to be released.

I don't know if I wrote it in my last entry, but on Thursday morning, The Husband and I put an offer on the house that we saw on Saturday.  Within an hour, our agent called us back and said the owner accepted our offer.  What?!  Really?  That fast?  My heart skipped a beat as I thought about this new chapter of our lives starting and closing the old one behind.  Within 6 hours of that news and the implications of all that came with it, I was driving my mother to the emergency room.  We were both so focused on her health, that it was only on Friday that she found out about the offer.

Although I knew I had to get back to the hospital on Friday, I did wake up and wonder when I could fit in my yoga class.  How could I be thinking about yoga at a time like this?  Well, because I was doing so well, going every day, it was my 28th day.  I didn't want to skip a day of yoga.  And then, I shook my head and marveled that I could think of yoga as my mom lay in a hospital bed.  So then I felt guilty for thinking of my yoga before my mother.  I made a deal with myself:  if I could get to yoga after my mother is discharged, I'll go to the latest class offered in this city no matter which studio it was in.  Well, that never happened.  So I went home last night at 9pm feeling happy that my mom was alright and her issue was nothing serious but sad that my streak was broken.  Sure, I could do a double.  But I really wanted to go every day for 101 days straight.  Then I felt angry at myself, "Why are you feeling bad when this was an emergency and there was a good reason for you not going today?!"  Because I wanted to go to yoga today even though my mom was sick.  A little voice inside me said.   

Even though this challenge has been tough at parts, exhilarating at parts, boring at parts, it has been the one consistent thing that I have done for myself this last month and the benefits have been incredible.  As my life starts to change with the prospect of home ownership and this sudden need to take my mother to the hospital, this yoga has been one of the very few things that I can hold on to while my life changes and events happen that demand more of my time.  The yoga room is where I decompress, where I still my mind, where I focus, where I take the deepest breaths of my day.  And on a day when my mom was sick and I was worried, sleepless, and stressed, I looked to my practice for calm, for a release, for peace.

After having practiced for 27 days straight, one day of missing yoga definitely felt strange and my body missed it.  Looked for it.  Yearned for it.  So today, back in the sweat box, I cried at pranayama.  Partly because I asked myself to be compassionate to me.  It is OKAY to miss a day.  Be easy on yourself.  It was an emergency.  All that mattered was that I came back ready to work, to sweat, and to let go.

Friday, February 05, 2010




5:30pm with Corinne on Thursday, day #27.  I think Corinne is my favorite teacher and I've missed her since she hasn't taught at my studio since the new year.  Today she was back and awesome as usual.  Class was super juicy and I was sweating by pranayama and drenched by half moon.  It was also the first day of my period (sorry guys if this is TMI) and by the floor series, I got my usual back pain associated with the first day.  During the poses, I was fine because I was active.  It was in the savasanas where I was could feel the pain getting worse.  By the end of class, I had to run to my locker and take two Advil.  Since practicing bikram 11 months ago, my pain has decreased.  The pain in my lower back used to be so overwhelming that I would be paralyzed.  I would have hot flashes and then cold sweats within minutes, and the pain would radiate down my the front of my legs.  It would take 12 Advil, yes 12 Advil, over the course of 8 hours to make the pain go away.  With bikram, I am down to 2 Advil or 4 at most during the course of 8 is a vast improvement.  And all the PMS symptoms I used to feel are now gone.  Without a doubt, this bikram has been healing.

Class was good overall.  Nice and juicy and Corinne was her usual energetic self.  She told me that I was going too low in triangle and that I shouldn't be bending my knee as much as I am.  She encouraged me to go deeper in my halfmoon backbend and complimented me on half tortoise.

I got home at 9pm and within an hour, I got a call from my mother.  She had a 102 degree fever and the left side of her face was so swollen, she said she looked like she had the mumps.  She started to panic and she desperately wanted to go the emergency room to find out why her face was getting swollen.  She also compained of chest pain.  I know my mother...her chest pain is a symptom of her anxiety and her panic attack not her heart.  Nevertheless, I also know when she has a panic attack nothing but the advice of a doctor will ease her mind.  So at 11:30, I picked her up and drove her to the emergency room.  Mind you, I had to rent a ZipCar because I know a trip to the ER would take hours and I wasn't taking the subway at 11pm or going home in the wee hours of the morning via public transport.

After tons of tests, the doctors told me to go home at 4:30am and to come back tomorrow.  I got home at 5am, slept for a few hours and then got back to the hospital at 12noon.  It was determined that her heart was fine and the swelling was due to a saliva duct getting blocked and infected.  The doctor told her she needed to drink at least 2 liters of water daily to flush things out.  She's on antibiotics and at 6pm, she was finally discharged after she was given a clean bill of health especially by the cardiologist.  By the time we got home and I went to the pharmacy to pick up her medication, it was 7:30pm and there was no way I was getting bikram in today, day #28.  So I'll just have to do a double.

Spending a night in the hospital is no fun.  As I looked around at all the sick people, I suddenly became grateful for my bikram practice.  This practice is insurance for a healthy body today and tomorrow.  I have so many issues about the way our country views health and addresses healing, which gets reflected in our current health care system.  Even though I missed bikram on day #28, I am grateful for so many things:  my mom's issue was not serious and she is currently resting at home.  I am also very grateful for my practice that has provided me incredible healing of mind, body, and spirit.  I want to live to a ripe old age doing the things that I love with a healthy body that has been cared for and maintained.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Letting Go


7am today with Alicia was like night and day from last night's class with Danielle.  I was stiff, stiff, stiff as a board.  First backward bend was painful.  Lacked balance in second part of awkward.  Fell out of eagle.  Couldn't get my forehead to the floor in standing separate leg stretching.  My knees were sore.  The back of my right knee was feeling a dull pain.  My body from yesterday felt like a well-tuned, well-oiled car and today, it was traded in for a jalopy.  The difference was so stark that it was startling especially within just 11 hours.  I never cease to marvel at how this practice teaches us to just go with the flow and take it day by day.  I am happy to say that even though I was so stiff today I practiced with no judgment and didn't berate myself for not doing this or not doing that.  It felt no natural to just accept and do the best I could.  I feel like I've grown so much since I first began this practice 11 months ago when I would've been so easily frustrated and berated myself.  This kind of letting go has been one of the joyous benefits of doing this yoga.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Cycle Continues

My new Le Crueset 5-quart braiser!!!!  Sooo excited to use it!


We arrived home at midnight last night and we didn't get to bed until 1am.  My intention was to go to 7am again today but there was no way it was happening since I took the 7am yesterday and only slept 4 hours.  I made previous plans with friends, one of whom was coming from out of town, but because of this challenge and how things worked out, I could only spend 30 minutes with my friends and then get to 8pm yoga.  Well, my out-of-town friend was more than 45 minutes late and I had to leave the group without even seeing her.  My friends were trying to convince me to stay, have another drink, and do a double tomorrow.  I really was tempted but the thought of skipping a class by choice after now having gone 24 days straight did not appeal to me now that I've come this far and gained all this momentum.  

I didn't like the idea of practicing so late during the week but 8pm with Danielle was a surprise.  My muscles felt like cottage cheese during the warm up and all the way through standing bow.  I just felt like they were jello and I had no strength but boy, did I have flexibility.  I went quite deep in half moon and all my forehead to knee poses were the best they've ever been.  By the time we we got to the floor series, I seemed to get a second wind.  I got a nice compliment and adjustment in full bow.  The increased flexibility was a whole new experience and I am in awe that my body was so open tonight.

By the time class was done and I left the studio it was 10pm.  I didn't get home until 11pm.  Ugh!  I walked in the door and it was time to go to bed.  It was a weird feeling but I was so giddy from class that The Husband remarked how much energy I had.  It's too bad I had to go to bed right away for 7am tomorrow.  I feel like all I do these days is work, eat, sleep, and yoga.  Repeat.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Can I Just Close My Eyes?

This is what I wanted to do all day!


It was a real struggle to get to 7am with Alicia.  Normally, once my head hits the pillow, I'm out.  Last night, my mind was buzzing thinking about the house we saw the day before.  After tossing and turning, I looked at the clock last night and saw that it was 1 am!  Four hours and 45 minutes before I had to wake up.  Great.

This morning, I snoozed a little longer than I wanted.  The Husband was not happy either.  We both didn't want to get up.  But we had to because if we didn't, there would be no yoga today.  Tonight, we are looking at the house again, this time bringing our family.  There we were, a disgruntled pair getting our things together in a more rushed manner since we snoozed longer.  Alicia was her perky self when she saw us walk in and out of politeness, we said hello and smiled.  I did admit to her that we were big grumps as I kicked my shoes off and let them lie on the floor in a haphazard manner and it took all my effort to fix them.  I didn't seem to care.

There were 14 students in class and half of them were boys!  I've never practice where there are equal or more boys in bikram before today.  It was a different dynamic -- not good, bad, just different.   Today in class there was a Guido, Gaston, and a Ryoko in my class.  I felt like I was in the UN.  ;)

Anyway, I was NOT into bikram today.  In pranayama, my mind wandered around telling myself that it didn't want to be there.  In half moon, it said that it was not interested in bending the spine in four directions and that stretching feeling I feel on my side is not fun.  In awkward, it was not happy going through all those poses and by eagle, I was falling out.  I was still feeling uninspired by standing forehead to knee although I stayed in the full expression of the pose on the right side.  In standing bow, I kept falling out and in the second set with right arm up, as I was down and parallel to the floor, I tried to kick up higher and I felt a pinching in my back, just below my right shoulder blade.  I grimaced as I fell out.  Whoa, what's going on there?!?

In triangle left side, I was feeling the wonky stuff I've been feeling in my left knee.  I had to remind myself to use my elbow to push my left knee back to help protect it.  In fixed firm I couldn't go down all the way in the first set because my left knee!  Whoa...the tightness was incredible and the stretching feeling was almost overwhelming but I reminded myself to breathe and relax.  I was able to go down fully in the second set.  Since class, my left knee feels like it has been stretched out like a rubber band that has lost its elasticity.  It doesn't hurt but it feels like something is radiating out of it.  Not pain but something.  I just feel it.  Maybe I should ice it.

My right knee on the other hand is surprisingly fine.  In fact, it is doing so well that I was very happy in toe stand, right side.  I was able to balance on my foot and managed to put both hands up even for a slow, silent clap.  This my friends, is progress.  Wow.  When I first started bikram, I could only get my hands to the floor and barely bend my right knee because of the pain.  Heck, when I started bikram, bending my knee in wind removing pose and head to knee with stretching pose was painful and sitting on my heels Japanese style, fuhhgeddabout it.

And my upper back --- whoa!  Sore sore sore!  Since I lack flexibility in my upper back, I feel soreness in this area every 5-7 days.  I know this is a good since as I hope my upper back continues to open up slowly and surely.

I am really loving camel these days - can you believe it?  Really focusing on keeping my chest lifted has changed the posture for me incrementally but it feels like a whole new posture.  I feel awesome doing it.  I'll have to remember these peaks when one day I'm in a valley.  Besides camel, this was just another meh practice.  I guess there are just some days when I won't be feeling inspired like today and the last few days.  I feel like I'm just slogging through right now.  I know this is just a phase that will pass.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


War wounds!


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!

Friday, January 29, 2010

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.

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 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!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


"I Do Love You" by Jander Lacerda, my friend.
J - The Husband and I are honored to have this painting hanging in our bedroom.


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 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 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.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spoke Too Soon

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


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


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 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.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Subtle Changes


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.

Sunday, January 24, 2010



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.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Forehead to Knee


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!

Friday, January 22, 2010



I always love taking the 5:30pm on Fridays because I feel bikram is a perfect way to segue from the work week to the weekend.  It forces me to leave the office promptly at 5pm on a Friday but sometimes when the subway is running slow due to train traffic, getting to the 5:30 class can be nerve wracking.  Today, I got to the studio with just 4 minutes to throw my stuff in a locker full of women getting out of the earlier class, change, gulp down my ZICO, set my mat and towel down, and run to the bathroom.  I could've asked people to move to make a spot for me but since I was pressed for time, I took the only spot that was wide open, in the hottest part of the room, front room, in a corner.  I still had to run to the bathroom and I thankfully came back in time that Kara allowed me in just as she was about to start pranayama (people already had their hands glued to their chin).

This morning, I had a one hour conversation with my colleague to finish hashing out what we didn't discuss yesterday.  I simply wanted to discuss the facts, clear the air, and be done with it.  That didn't happen.  She is a colleague and a friend and in some ways, I felt like this conversation was akin to a therapy session.  Ugh!  I understood better where she was coming from and I hope to learn to be more aware and sensitive to her next time.  I tried to explain my perspective and tried to reassure her that what I did was not personal and that she was taking it a little to the extreme.  I don't know if I got through.

My little corner was hot hot hot and I was losing focus by the floor series.  The class was packed, at least 50-60 people.  There were 2 inches between my neighbor on my right and on my left, I was directly next to the wall.  I had to move over to the right for half moon bend to the left and for full locust, forget it.  I couldn't stretch my left arm out at all.  I had to skip the first set and move to the left and slide down my mat so I could get some space.  It was totally annoying.  My right knee pain showed up again in both sets of awkward so I had to put my hands to the floor again.  It was painful but thankfully not as painful as Wednesday when it spasmed.  By head to knee pose, close to the end, I just wanted the class to be over.  My hair was all over my face and trying to be still/not push the hair away was driving me bananas.

I got home and for the first time ever in my entire time I've done bikram yoga, I didn't feel rejuvenated or refreshed.  In fact, I was a cranky biatch as if I was PMS-ing (I'm lucky because I don't have PMS so I can only imagine this is what PMS-ing is like?) for a good two hours.  And my lower back is killing me!!!!!!!  It is so incredibly sore, I am walking around bent over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame with my hands on my lower back the whole time.