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Monthly Archives: February 2010

Talk to me, please

I just have to mention first: My dog. My adorable dog, Pablo. My child. My friend. He makes me smile every day. He will be 2 April 25, and still is SO much a puppy. Tonight, he stood outside the shower while I showered. He then sat down right in front of me while I dried my hair. He sat there just looking at me. I really wish he could talk. Was he protecting me? Was he waiting for me to finish so we could play? Was he just enjoying my company? I guess I will never know, but I sure did like having him there. I felt safe and loved. Thanks, Pablo. 🙂

Yoga tonight was a challenge. The most challenging yet. I was dripping with sweat halfway through the first set of the first breathing exercise. It usually takes me at least until the second set to break a sweat. Not tonight, however. I was DRIPPING nearly immediately. I had to lie down after just 15 minutes. I felt yucky. I was light headed and my mouth was dry. My mind started going elsewhere trying to figure out why: Am I getting sick? I did sleep a lot last night, and when I am fighting something off, I tend to sleep more. Am I worn out from climbing last night on top of a run? Am I emotionally drained? Did I not drink enough water? Did I eat too close to class? Did I not eat enough? Is my stress taking a toll physically? What was going on!!?? WHY did I feel so horrible? I was near pass out several times, and had to lie down several times and drink water, too. As I was trying to figure out what was wrong, I started thinking about work, next week, and life in general. I didn’t like it at all. What I like best about yoga, is that I don’t HAVE to think about life. I focus for 90 minutes on ME and the poses. The more I thought about what was wrong and about life, the worse I felt and the more I thought I really wasn’t going to make it through class…that’s how bad I felt.

I then noticed a couple other people who looked uncomfortable: rapid breathing, lying down, bending forward to rest, etc. Then the instructor opened the doors, and a rush of cool air flooded the room. I INSTANTLY felt better! It wasn’t ME! The room was extremely hot tonight! Phew! I am okay. I just wasn’t used to this extreme heat. My body had become accustomed to a certain heat, and after the initial shock (first couple classes), I learned how to manage the heat. But the heat tonight was a shock to my body. Man, if only my body could talk to me, too! It could have said, “Julie, I am sensing an abnormal heat level tonight. Do not be alarmed. YOU are okay.” As soon as I figured out the cause of my struggle tonight, I enjoyed the rest of class, and was able to focus on ME and the poses.

Even though the extreme heat caused some set back tonight, I actually noticed some improvement on a few poses.

In Standing Separate Leg Stretching, , the goal is to get your forehead on the floor. Every time I do it, I think it’s impossible. Since my legs are so long, I have realized I need to space my feet further apart to make this seemingly impossible task possible. So, today, I inched my feet out a little further, and while I didn’t put the head on the floor, I came pretty darn close. So, I guess it is possible, even for us long-legged yoga-goers.

In Wind Removing Pose, , the goal is to touch your knee to your shoulder. A feat which seemed, yet again, impossible when I first started. Tonight, I touched my left knee to my shoulder! I did it! I still have a way to go on my right side, but at least I know it is not impossible. 🙂

Also, with Fixed Firm Pose, , I still am unable to go all the way back, but I have managed to get my butt on the floor, while still touching my heels. I can sit there without too much discomfort. I really want to be able to go all the way back to feel the way the pose is supposed to feel. I feel like I am missing out on something. 😦

Although I wish my body could talk to me just as I wish Pablo could, maybe it’s okay that they both don’t. Maybe I am supposed to figure things out on my own, especially with my own body. And with Pablo? He is a dog, and I have learned that as long as he is played with, walked, fed, talked to, and pet, he will forever be my friend, and with a friend like him, no words ever need to be spoken.

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Posted by on February 26, 2010 in Pablo, Yoga

 

Fremont visit

I went to the Fremont studio today. I wanted a mid-day class, and there wasn’t one in West Seattle. The Fremont studio is much bigger. Wait, the studio itself isn’t bigger, but the building is bigger: larger dressing rooms, SHOWERS, and bigger bathrooms.

Before class a woman actually spoke to me! Everyone is always so in their own world (myself included) that there isn’t much chit chat going on, especially among strangers. Anyway, a woman and I were waiting to use the bathroom, and she turned to me and said, “Great idea wearing a tennis skirt! I can’t believe no one else has thought of that.” I said, with a smile, “Yes, it works well.” And she said, “I bet!” Awwww…instant friend. 🙂 I bought a little white tennis skirt last summer that has built in short shorts. It has proved to be great yoga gear. Hmmm… 😉

Class was good. My lower back has been a little sore this week. I am partly to blame (I am addicted to sleeping on my stomach). I made sure I took it easy today, especially with Head to Knee with Stretching Pose:

I have noticed the past few classes that I can go pretty deep in these poses. I am very warmed up, and am quite flexible. I think it aggravates my lower back (it’s a forward bending pose). So, I didn’t push myself all the way. We’ll see how my back feels tomorrow.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2010 in Yoga

 

Pain

I had some pain this week…some pretty bad pain. I found the solution for one of the pains, the pain in my lower back. The other pain, however, is more complicated. It is a pain that doesn’t have an easy, quick fix. It will be more difficult to fix, and I am trying to figure out how to make it stop.

Wednesday was the first yoga class I went to since last Saturday. My lower back was hurting…a LOT! I thought I might have injured myself. Each day it was painful to bend over, to sleep, to sit, to stand. It hurt all the time. I thought it would be best to take a few days off from yoga, so I didn’t go again until Wednesday. I took it easy, and made sure I concentrated very hard on sucking in my stomach. As the class progressed, my back began to feel better. I left the class with almost no pain. 🙂

When I got home I did some research on lower back pain and Bikram Yoga, and came across this site: http://www.bikramyoga.com/testimonials/HerniatedDiscs.htm

Herniated disc sounds so, well, painful and serious, but it is pretty common, and I self diagnosed myself as having a herniated disc: “Once a herniation, always a herniation. Intervertebral discs function to cushion the spine and absorb shock. A herniated disc is essentially a disc with a hole in it. In a herniation, the annulus fibrosis (the tough outer membrane of the disc) is breached, and the softer, inner membrane (the nucleus pulposis) extrudes. Pain occurs when the extrusion comes into contact with a nerve. A traumatic accident or years of accumulated abuse and degeneration of the tough outer walls most commonly cause herniated discs. Recent studies report that by the age of 20, nearly all Americans have some degeneration of the lumbar discs, but not all people experience pain. Most people with painful, herniated discs have either tight hamstrings (creating downward pressure on the pelvis) and/or weak abdominal muscles. Both cause a state of nearly constant forward bending in the low spine.”

I have always known that the abdominals, hamstrings, and lower back were interrelated, I didn’t know, however, the best way to relieve pain in the lower back. When your lower back hurts, what is the first thing you want to do? Bend forward to stretch both your hamstrings and lower back, right? Well, this actually is the worst thing you can do: “The spinal nerves are located on the back side of the spine. When a person bends forward, the front of the vertebrae move closer together. This forces the disc toward the back of the spine, and the spinal nerves. Persistent, unsupported forward bending will cause or aggravate back pain from herniated discs. It is essential, especially in the beginning of healing for the student to be very cautious with forward bending. Remember that bad posture, driving, working on the computer, slumping on the couch, gardening, etc, are all forward bends.”

The best thing to do is actually a back bend: “It will sound counterintuitive to most people to backward bend when they are sore, but it is essential to make that philosophy shift. Instead of leaning forward, a back pain-sufferer should try a supported standing backbend (like the set up for camel with the hands on the low spine) throughout the day as needed. It will be hard and sometimes painful in the beginning because of the trauma-like tension in the muscles and inflammation.”

I was discussing this with my wise friend, Dawn, and she said, “It makes sense. Think of lumbar support…it pushes your pelvis forward just as a backbend does.” Duh!

I guess this makes sense why Camel Pose is my favorite…I need it the most!

So, I took this newfound knowledge with me to yoga yesterday, and was extremely careful in the forward bends, and focused on the backbends, and bent as far as I could go! It felt incredible. Before, when my lower back was sore, I thought the backbends would exacerbate the pain, but it actually does the complete opposite! Who would’ve thought?

Now, if my lower back is sore in the middle of the day, instead of standing up and bending forward to stretch out my back, I will do a backbend. You try it, too!

Spine twists are also good for lower back pain, and this I did know. Along with forward bends, I also would try spine twists to alleviate the pain. Hey, at least I knew that! 😉

I learned that yoga can heal pain, I am a work in progress. I know it’s not healed, but my new discovery has led me in the right direction. Yoga helps with my other pain as well, but only for 90 minutes.  After class, my back pain is better, but the other pain…the more complicated pain is still there, and boy does it hurt. 😦

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2010 in Yoga

 

Magic number 13

“It is accepted that it takes about 13 sessions for your body to start enjoying maximum benefits from Bikram yoga; three classes to understand and get used to the posture, then ten classes to work optimally with poses.”

Today was class number 14. Yesterday was 13. I woke up this morning from class 13 feeling sore, especially my lower back. I woke up grumpy, sore, stiff, and needing another class. I was supposed to run today, but since I can’t do both in the same day…yet, I opted to go to yoga instead. My body (and mind) needed it very much.

New instructor. I was ready. Class seemed to go by really, really fast. I thought maybe this new instructor was just speedy, but I checked the clock, and nope, she was right on schedule. The first part of class went by very smoothly: no dizziness, no parched mouth. I felt great! Well, except for my lower back, it was sore. I did discover a lot in this class, however:

1. If I sucked my stomach in on all the poses, especially on the forward bending poses, my lower back didn’t hurt: Standing Head to Knee Pose, Balancing Stick Pose, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose, and Half Tortoise Pose. I think my extra sore lower back was caused by pushing myself a little hard in yesterday’s class, and not sucking my stomach in on the poses.

2. In Triangle Pose (my least favorite), if I pushed my knee back with my elbow, it distributed my weight to my bent leg, taking the weight off my other leg so I wasn’t slipping. I actually managed to stay in the pose and partially enjoy it!

3. In Fixed Firm Pose, I have been unable to go back to lie on the floor because I thought my knees wouldn’t allow it. It’s actually my ankles, specifically my left ankle, which are not allowing me. I have sprained my left ankle twice, and my right ankle once…all very bad sprains, and I can feel the old injuries in this pose. So, I focused more on slowly, and gently stretching out my ankle…hopefully this pose will help heal the injury. I can also feel the injury in tree pose.

4. If I don’t have good, solid, deep breaths in Standing Deep Breathing…if I don’t prepare my breaths for the entire class, I won’t have a good class. I noticed that if I can’t breathe deeply in the poses, specifically the forward bending poses, and Spine Twisting Pose, then I have a difficult time sucking in my stomach, it makes the poses more difficult, resulting in a really sore back the next day. So what did I learn??? BREATHE!!! DEEP! I have had “breathing problems” for quite some time. When I am over tired, and over stressed, it affects my ability to take deep breaths. It is very important for me to focus on my breathing and allow myself deep breaths. Yoga should help with this. Yay.

So, since this was the 14th class, I am supposed to start enjoying maximum benefits now. I believe that to be true, since I learned a lot more in this class. I realized how important it is for me to breathe and to suck in my stomach. It took me 13 classes for me to fully understand the importance of doing the postures correctly. It took me 13 classes to realize that if I don’t breathe deeply, class will be difficult. It took me 13 classes to understand my lower back pain is caused by my not sucking in my stomach. 13 classes…It is amazing how much I am craving yoga, both my body and my mind. Those 90 minutes are so precious to me these days, and I am lucky to have the ability to go to a class whenever I want. I can’t wait to go again!

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2010 in Yoga

 

My imperfect calling.

I just ran 4.2 miles in the rain. Man, it was a struggle getting out the door, even though I had already ventured out in the rain with my dog, Pablo.  I tried to talk myself out of it, but I just couldn’t do it. I am glad I went. Heck, after we do something we know is good for us, but is not on our list of things we necessarily WANT to do, we’re always glad we did it, right? Have you ever had a really good workout and told yourself after, “Damn! WHY did I work out! I feel like crap now. I wish I wouldn’t have done that. What a waste of my time. UGH!” If you have, please share, because you are crazy.

I am going climbing later, and I am looking forward to that. My lower body feels like it’s been blasted the past few days, so my upper body would like some attention, too.

And yoga? None today, thank you. I need a day off from it, but I will be back strong tomorrow since I won’t run tomorrow.

I was doing some research yesterday on the benefits of Bikram Yoga, and I came across this site:  http://bikramyoga.com/Testimonials.htm It speaks of the five aspects of mind: Faith, Self Control, Determination, Concentration, and Patience. Each of these develop while practicing Bikram Yoga (I can attest to that, for SURE). I recommend visiting the site, and scrolling to the bottom to read, in detail, the five aspects of mind. There is a quote, however, that I would like to share, which I can totally relate to right now:

“It is better to follow your own calling imperfectly than follow another’s perfectly. If death should come while following your own path, this is surely better than living with the fear and anguish of following a false path. When we’re forced to do something that is against our own nature, our soul is unhappy, there is no peace. When the soul is unhappy, pain begins to trouble the body as well. Rather than change your ways to conform with the world, you must eventually find a way to express your truth from your heart regardless of the world.”

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2010 in Climbing, Running, Skiing

 

Crazy talk

Tired…oh, so tired. I ran 4 miles, then went to yoga an hour after. I was even planning on going climbing after that! I was having crazy talk in my head. I was pooped halfway through yoga. There was a new instructor (to me) today, so I am glad I experienced her different style. She was a cute, petite woman with a heavy accent. I am glad it wasn’t my first class, as I couldn’t understand her very well!

So, class was difficult. I felt dehydrated (from my run, and not enough water), gassy, full (I had a smoothie after my run), and just lethargic. I thought it would be great to go to yoga after running, so I could stretch. I seem to have forgotten that Bikram Yoga is a workout in itself. An INTENSE workout. But, I made it through without passing out, farting, throwing up, or dying. Yay. For now, I think I should plan on going to Yoga on days when I am NOT running. I would eventually like to do them on the same day, but for now, one thing at a time…

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2010 in Running, Yoga

 

New challenge

So, I haven’t written in a while. I didn’t want this blog to be my writing about my daily activities. “Today I woke up at 6AM. I took a shower, and DAMN…I was out of conditioner. This led to a day filled with bad luck. I burned my neck while flat ironing my hair. My dog threw up in my brand new Prada bag. I left the top down on my car overnight and a bird $hit ALL over the interior. I got a ticket on the way to work, and when I got to work I got fired.” (NONE of the previous is true, BTW). I am sure you don’t care about my boring every day life, so I only want to write about, what I think, and hopefully you do, too, is exciting stuff worth reading. ANYWAY…

Yesterday, I went to yoga for the first time since I finished my 14 day challenge. It felt amazing. I signed up for a 6 month unlimited package. For it to be worth it, I have to go at least 3x/week. That is a challenge in itself. On top of that, I have decided to run the Rock and Roll Half Marathon, Seattle, June 26.  http://seattle.competitor.com/

I will start my intense 12 week training program March 29. I am starting pre-training now. All that means, is I am going to run more consistently, and increase my mileage somewhat, so when March 29 rolls around, I can jump into the long(er) miles and beat my time from the Seattle Half Marathon I ran in November: 1:51.01

I will be mixing it up with yoga, running, and climbing (when will I fit that in???)!  My life will be hectic, but good hectic. Gotta keep my sanity in check, and exercise is the way to do it. 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2010 in Running, Yoga