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Posts Tagged ‘Bikram Yoga’

Hard day in Bikram

Oh, the irony. After my smug healthy travels post, I almost keeled over heat-stroke style in an especially hot Bikram class yesterday. I couldn’t fall asleep last night for the soreness. Today I can’t sit still without trying to stretch out my muscles. Every. Muscle. Aches.

It all started innocently enough — yoga sounded like a smart way to clear my mind and detoxify my body after our travels. I even took the bus to to my new studio. New to me, that is. The place is straight out of the seventies (least favorite decade in design/fashion; sorry I’m not sorry), musty, and a bit “yogic” for my taste. I go there because it’s much closer to our flat than my old studio, and I like bikram enough to make aesthetic sacrifices like this. Point is, the fact I, Kristen, braved the bus to attend aforementioned creepy studio says something about my level of commitment to yoga yesterday. But before you make too many positive assumptions — I took the bus because our car was parked five blocks and many hills away. Oh, the joys of street parking in San Francisco.

I felt great through standing bow pose, which is where I probably pushed myself too far, goaded on by our instructor who noticed my pretty pose: “Beautiful, Kristen! Push more!” Obedient little yogi that I am, I push. I begin to feel dizzy. I can’t see straight. I lie down for a short break and eventually come to. I’m able to finish class, but only because it’s mostly on the floor. My least favorite Bikramism comes after the hour-long standing series: “The warmup is complete. Now, the real yoga begins.” I love my hot yoga, but spare me. Warmups don’t make people faint. That was not a warmup, Mr. Choudhury.

I spent last night tossing and turning in muscular pain. So, why did this happen? A number of people had to sit out during class and commented afterwards that it an especially hot one. I tend to agree. And after the bus fiasco (it’s always a fiasco…), I was dehydrated and probably pushed myself too hard. I guess sore muscles are to be expected without Bikram-ing for two weeks?

Come to think of it, I forgot to add spinach or kale to my smoothie yesterday. Aha! That must be culprit. Along with {too many} dark chocolate squares and {not enough} water, my meals from yesterday were:


Who says yoga isn’t a tough workout? It’s nice to be back in the hot room again, but I could do without the near-blackout experience next time. Here I am during a happier yoga experience in Mexico last August. I’m probably meditating on the whereabouts of my next piña colada. 

Have you ever had a near-blackout experience in the middle of a workout? 

Do you like taking the bus, or do you prefer driving?

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I went to my first Bikram Yoga class about a week after I finished the California bar exam last spring. After I graduated from law school, we moved to California for Velvet Husband’s job, I got us settled in our new city, worked at a law school, and took the bar exam in February 2010. Between the cross-country move, getting us settled in San Francisco, taking the bar exam, and waiting for the bar results to come out in May (I passed!), yoga seemed like a bright idea. But what kind of yoga? After catching up on reality television and facials, I decided to give Bikram a shot. Here’s what I wrote on my previous blog a little over a year ago after ninety minutes in a very hot room:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

“Should you desire tranquility, prepare to sweat white beads.”

Hakuin

I’ve been meaning to try Bikram for awhile, but I’ve stood by my garden variety excuses: too expensive, too busy. No time for excuses now, because I got a pass to a cute little studio called Fluid Yoga located in the Inner Sunset–30 consecutive days for $30. And “too busy” left the building when I walked out of the Oakland Convention center on the last day of the bar exam. So with no viable excuses and a fab 30 for 30 deal, how could I resist?

Just like Houston seems to have a Starbucks on every corner, San Francisco has a yoga studio to suit every personality and preference. After researching yoga studios, I woke up this morning from a blissfully dreamless sleep craving a new, more enjoyable challenge. Thankfully, the bar exam dreams nightmares that have plagued me lately complete with failure, missed test days, and broken alarm clocks have subsided. For now. Water bottle, towel, and mat in tow, I hopped on the 43 bus to the studio.

The Fluid Yoga studio is small, bright, clean, and spa-like. Perfect for a novice like me, especially given my preference for clean lines and light airy spaces as opposed to stuffy and overdecorated spaces. Large windows usher in just enough sunlight to make me feel connected to the world around me, but I never felt distracted by any noise outside either. It’s especially clean and fresh for a place where people are dripping with sweat — unexpected and much appreciated! {Note: I currently attend Bikram at a different studio because of its proximity to our flat. I still heart Fluid Yoga!}

The class was intense, sweaty, spandex-filled, and quiet except for the encouraging female instructor who calmly led the class and made gentle posture corrections. By the end of class my face was beet red, I was sweating from head to toe, and I wished I was scantily clad and spandexed like everyone else.

I’ve only attended one class, but I already feel rejuvenated. And as much as it helped me relax, it also required focus, athleticism, and balance. There was no time to worry about the bar exam while I struggled through triangle pose. I loved the entire experience. I gazed into my eyes in the mirror and believed in my myself. I believed that I could hold new poses, remain focused, and achieve a sense of harmony and balance in the yoga studio and in my life.

Did I feel relaxed? Sure, in an intense sort of athletic way, which is exactly what I was looking for. In a way, it reminds me of how I felt during the first part of a 6000 meter regatta. The beginning stretch of a 6k race and the bikram yoga class both demand your attention and focus in a steady and measured way.

Today I sweat out my worries about the bar exam and my career. I let my worries melt away and drip onto my yoga mat. That’s what yoga was for me today: an intense sloughing away of worries. I left the studio feeling joyful and centered.

Let’s just say the bus ride back home was more enjoyable and calm than the ride there. On the way to class I was worried about being on time. On the bus ride home I didn’t think twice about my appearance. I’ll do it again.

Over the past year, I’ve found that practicing Bikram Yoga 1-3 times per week has improved my strength, flexibility, skin, and mood. I don’t think that these benefits are exclusive to Bikram’s style of yoga, but since I enjoy the heat and predictability of Bikram, I’ve been able to stick with it and reap the rewards of a regular yoga practice. Now I go to the hot room for a workout, a moving meditation, a quiet place to pray, and some much-needed perspective. With the comforting heat and calm atmosphere in the hot room, sometimes I feel like I’m back on our anniversary trip in Riviera Maya…

Doesn’t it look like a little slice of Heaven? And lest you think I’ve neglected my oat and smoothie cravings, here were yesterday’s decadent breakfast and lunchtime creations. YUM!

Dinner hasn’t been photo-worthy lately. This needs to change!

If you have tried Bikram yoga, what motivates you to keep going back?

Do you practice yoga?

What benefits do you notice from a regular yoga practice?

Do you have any dinner recipes I should try? 🙂

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Hi, friends! Velvet Husband and I are about to head to Lake Tahoe for his birthday weekend, so I better keep this short! And before I address zee controversy, let’s cover yesterday’s meal picks, shall we?

Breakfast was a bowl of oats with unsweetened cocoa powder, strawberries, bananas, raspberries, and of course a scoop of crunchy peanut butter. Berry good.

Kale, berries, half a banana, chocolate whey protein powder, glutamine, and two dollops of peanut butter made two delicious lunchtime smoothie bowls. Lucky for my taste buds, the chocolate whey powder and berries disguised the kale taste. The crunchy peanut butter ‘egg’ didn’t hurt either. Look, quick sand! Tasty quick sand.

And just because it’s cute, check out my mug of Get Gorgeous tea from yesterday. This was part of my Valentine’s Day present to Velvet Husband. Subtle message, huh? I snacked on a peanut butter Larabar before heading to Bikram for an 8:15 pm class — late, eek! I prefer morning workouts, but sometimes they just don’t happen. I’ve learned not to force it or be hard on myself if I miss a scheduled workout. There’s always tomorrow, and activities like yoga and strength training should be energy-producing, not energy-sapping. Velvet Husband has taught me so much about a wonderful little thing called flexibility! Have you become more flexible with yourself over time? Has someone in your life helped this process?

After Bikram, I made use of that pretty little pepper + hummus for a late dinner. Just as yummy as it was the one I had a few days ago. You can find my recipe for Snazzy Stuffed Bell Peppers here. Try it, you won’t be disappointed!

Now, for zee controversy. After dinner last night, I read a disturbing article that painted the healthy living blogger community in an unflattering light. I found this tabloid-style article inaccurate and painfully one-sided. If anything, reading healthy living blogs and recently starting my own have helped me express myself, live a more balanced lifestyle, and exchange recipes as well as encouragement with people who inspire me. Blogging about my day and the food I eat allows me to appreciate my blessings, and it encourages me to try new things in the kitchen and with my camera. I may not continue to take pictures of everything I eat, but for now, it’s fun to experiment with my camera settings and document my life one bite at a time. Most of you have probably read the Marie Claire article I’m referring to, but I just came across it last night. Do you think taking pictures of daily food selections and blogging about a healthy, balanced lifestyle is a healthy creative outlet, or not? Perhaps there’s a fine line between appreciating our blessings through food and obsessing over it. But seriously, Marie Claire, do you think your weight-obsessed magazine/website is doing women any favors? I’m happy with where I stand. Grateful. Empowered. Joyful. Beautiful. 🙂

Have you all have a wonderful weekend! Stay tuned for pretty pictures from Lake Tahoe. 🙂

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Nothing says Saturday like a little Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Johnny Cash, and of course Willie. Oh, and chocolate peanut butter oats with raspberries and banana slices. It was a berry lovely morning. 🙂

After drinking plenty of water, I headed off to a morning bikram class at Bikram Yoga Seacliff. The hot room was extra humid today, but our teacher had a great energy about her, so she made the class enjoyable and upbeat. She directed a few compliments my way, which felt great. I’m used to getting compliments on my standing bow pose, but today I got a “Beautiful!” on my rabbit pose. Beautiful isn’t the first word I’d use to describe the oddity that is rabbit pose, but I’ll take the compliment! I felt really strong, alert, and happy throughout class today. However, I still struggle with focusing my thoughts and staring into my eyes for the full 90 minutes. I find it most difficult to clear my mind of non-yoga thoughts for the duration of class. The mental aspect is just as important as the physical practice, so I look forward to making progress on my ability to focus on my efforts. What goes through your mind during yoga class?

On my drive home, I made a wrong turn and drove through the Presidio. Getting lost in this part of San Francisco isn’t necessarily a bad thing, huh?

Given how often I’m having smoothies for lunch, I guess y’all can call me the Smoothie Queen! I can’t help myself–they make such a satisfying lunch, especially post-workout. Today’s creation was inspired by The Grass Skirt’s Strawberry Shortcake smoothie. Thank you so much for the inspiration, Erin! Be sure to check out The Grass Skirt! I modified her recipe in the following ways to meet my needs: I used Newman’s Own Cinnamon Graham Alphabet cookies, vanilla bean whey protein powder, ground flaxseeds, frozen raspberries (in addition to strawberries of course), and I used water and ice instead of milk. It was fabulous! Of course I couldn’t help myself by adding two scoops of peanut butter to the end result. I think the food speaks for itself today. 🙂

Velvet Husband should be home in about an hour! We’re going to a steakhouse for dinner to celebrate his homecoming and the end of the trial. Woohoo! I am so excited to see him and spend a romantic evening together. I’ll be sure to report back with all the dinner details! I’m off to make myself and our apartment presentable. 🙂

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