Author Archives: blithekitten

Target met!

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# of Bikram sessions completed this week – 3

I met my target of 3 Bikram classes this week! Funnily enough, it was only in the first 2 weeks of starting bikram that I managed to clock in that number. In fact, if I recall correctly, I started off trying to go for about 5 sessions a week. If you’ve read my previous posts, you will see that I’ve been sorely lacking ever since.

I did the first 2 classes of the week on my own because Warren was down with the common cold. I find that it’s very different when he’s there and when he’s not there. For some reason, I find it harder to challenge myself when he’s absent. When he’s in class with me, we silently encourage each other to persevere through forced smiles in the toughest of poses and occasional thumbs up signals to let each other know we’re still alive. You can’t imagine how important this is when one of us is making queer sounds as if being strangulated. ^^

So as I was saying, class was a little tougher earlier this week because I was alone. There were many occasions where I honestly wanted to give up and sit down. In the first class I took this Tuesday, I ended up sitting out the second set for some postures. I was worried Thursday’s class would see a repeat of this low energy, but I was pleasantly proven wrong. The teacher, you see, was one I had never encountered before, and boy, was she a bitch. Don’t get me wrong. I mean this in as nice a way as possible. She pointed out areas for improvement brutally. It’s nice to be given some pointers on how to improve, but I wonder how she has managed to survive so long being so downright authoritarian. Her class was, however, my best class of the week in that I managed to do all of the postures. /gasp

Warren felt up to bikram today so we went for the morning class together. It owned our asses. We thoroughly underestimated the importance of breakfast and we were floored after the first few postures. The moment I had to bend down, the blood rushed to my head and I started seeing double. Lesson learn. Protein shakes do not a breakfast make. We need something more, like a tomato and cheese omelette. Mmm. Till next time!

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Progress!

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# of Bikram sessions done last week – 2

The boy and I managed to get in two good Bikram sessions last Wednesday and Thursday. In fact, last Thursday, a friend of ours joined us for class and we had a good post-workout meal at MOS Burger. Not entirely healthy, but there wasn’t much else to choose from at ten pm in town. I had a great class on Wednesday, but it was tough getting through Thursday’s class because I was feeling so tired. We took a break on Friday.

On Saturday, I went for a session with my personal trainer. He focused on getting me to train my core with the TRX. I love the TRX, but I usually need a lot of motivation to get through functional training. It’s just not as mentally stimulating to me as Bikram is. This time, however, was different! Perhaps because I’ve been religiously Bikram-ing for two to three straight weeks, I found that my endurance had improved leaps and bounds. For instance, when my trainer last got me to do knee to chest crunches on the TRX, I had only been able to do five at a go before having to rest. This time, I could do 15! It was amazing! He weighed me after class and we found that I’d managed to lose an entire kilogram of fat over three weeks and gain 800 grams of muscle! I was, as you might imagine, positively gleeful!

I was still high from that euphoria when I dragged the boy to Bikram on Sunday morning. I headed up to the gym to check us in first while he parked the car. As he got off the escalator outside the gym, I noticed him hopping on one foot. Assuming he’d simply stepped in something undesirable, I didn’t expect to see rivers of blood flowing down his shin. The dear boy had somehow managed to puncture his shin with the grooves of the escalator edge.

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As you can imagine, we didn’t manage to do class in the end. Instead, we spent the rest of our Sunday searching for a doctor so he could get glued up and jabbed for tetanus. We haven’t been for Bikram since, though I am absolutely dying to go for class. Tomorrow’s our first session of this week.

Staying on Track

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# of Bikram sessions done last week – 2

Straying off track is really easy. When the boy, my yoga partner, fell ill early last Tuesday, we made the decision to take a break from Bikram till Friday. As it turned out, we didn’t find our way back to class till Sunday. Over the four days of inactivity, we got lost in the comfort of good food, long naps and lazing around. Although we had largely recovered by Friday, it was easy to allocate another day to our convalescence.

My workout regimes have always come to naught in the past because I’ve never been one to stay on track. I find that when I’ve created a habit of working out, it’s easy to get myself to the gym or to class. However, once I allow myself a day or two of rest, it quickly morphs into longer breaks of three, four days or even weeks. I suppose this has to be common because I ran a search and surfaced countless articles about staying motivated. Motivation: How to Get it and How to Keep It by Dee Greenberg on Elephant Journal (my new favourite resource) lists some ideas to help gain and maintain motivation. They are:

Let go of black and white thinking. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout, skip yoga or cheat on your diet. Acknowledge the mistake, forgive yourself and then get right back on the horse.
Find a mentor. Having a mentor or idol (someone you look up to) is probably the single best thing you can do for inspiration. Always keep this person in the forefront of your mind. In those moments when you find your motivation waning and you feel you are about to jump ship – – ask yourself how this person would deal with these same thoughts you are having? What is it that separates the “winners” from the “quitters?” Often the main difference is mindset. Embody the same winning mindset that you see modeled by your mentor.
Dedicate your practice or your discipline to your mentor. If you jump ship, let it feel like you are letting that person down. This mentality of wanting to shine in someone’s eyes will go a long way towards keeping you on track. If this mentor has encouraged you in the past, know that you will be letting them down if you quit.
Remind yourself why you are practicing your discipline –– create a mantra and repeat the mantra silently in your head every chance you get. This will program your mind for success.
Write the mantra on an index card and hang it on your bathroom mirror, on your refrigerator and on your computer monitor.
Find inspirational photos of your mentor. You can also use any objects or symbols that will remind you of your mission and keep you inspired. In yoga there are many statues and symbolic artwork that serve this purpose. Keep such objects close at hand at all times
Do some creative problem solving and create some personal tools that will keep you inspired and motivated on your path.
If you are trying to create a new habit –– cut yourself some slack. Remember the goal is progress not perfection.

I think there are many things I can learn from the points made in the article. For starters, I need to let go of my black and white thinking. I really have to stop being so harsh on myself. Every time I wander from my regime, I beat myself up internally for it, whether it be for missing Bikram or eating a little too much carb. I carry that lousiness with me and it puts me in a depressed state. At those points, I often feel like I can only be redeemed after a certain number of back-to-back classes, which really is no solution at all!

Also, I need to remember the purpose of my regime. While the most tangible benefit is a positive change to the way I look, I have to remember that what’s more important is I stay healthy. After all, there are plenty of methods to lose weight, but not all of them stem from the correct mindset. Warren and I intend to remain childless for life (don’t give me flak for this, please) and thus, we’ve started planning for our old age together. Apart from being financially secure, we really need to ensure that we are healthy. This will guarantee a better quality of life in our golden years.

The point about doing some creative problem solving is rather interesting because I’ve actually already done that through starting this blog! In a way, forcing myself to blog about my fitness journey ensures that I continue on the journey. It’s also something I can return to on days when I feel less motivated.

I especially like the last point about how creating a new habit should not be a quest for perfection, but progress. For starters, I’m going to cut myself some slack today and take a break. I’ve been nursing a headache all weekend, and while I really want to drag myself to Bikram today, I think the biggest mistake I make is to jump head-on into too-strict regimes and burn out way too early. For instance, we probably wouldn’t have fallen ill in the first place had we not gone from no exercise to daily Bikram classes. 😛

I’m going to take it slow and start off the week with some Vinyasa tomorrow evening. That ought to increase the chances of me ending off the week with a bang.

Slow and steady does it.

Gratefulness

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# of Bikram sessions done this week – Still just 1

It’s been a slow week for yoga. It started with Warren and I feeling a little out of sorts on Tuesday morning. He complained of a sore throat, I just felt seriously lethargic. I got us out of our schedule Vinyasa yoga class, and that turned out to be a blessing because the poor boy was running a temperature by evening. We’ve been to see a doctor today and we’ve decided to stay away from Bikram till Friday at the very earliest. I could probably go on my own, but I feel like I might have caught a little something from him and it might be better to nip it in the bud with lots of water and sleep. 

Honestly, I feel rather lousy. While dragging my ass to Bikram was always really tough because I knew I was setting myself up for a HOT and trying 90 minutes, there’s never been one session where I’ve left the mat feeling worse off. I always feel better after yoga, no doubt about it. Two days away from the mat and I’m feeling creaky, bloated and meh. I’m really looking forward to Friday and I’m uber hopeful that the boy will be well enough to join me for class.

On another note, I chanced upon this video on my facebook feed today.

 

 

It’s probably old news for most since it’s been making its rounds on the various social media sites. It really set me to thinking about my own self image. How would I have described myself if I had been one of the women in the video? Squarish jaw, nose too large for my face, thin lips? It’s become so natural for us to focus on the things that we want to change about ourselves, rather than appreciate the things we should be grateful for, like being alive, educated, employed, and in love. 

I decided to show the video to my class of 40 eleven-year-old girls. I thought it quite sad to see the message reverberate with most of them. I wondered what had become of their childish innocence. What had caused them to be acquainted with self-doubt so early in their years? They were not unfamiliar with the concept of having low self-esteem and agreed wholeheartedly with me when I told them about the importance of being grateful for what they already had.

I feel like yoga has gone a long way in helping me love myself more. I love myself for bringing myself to the mat and trusting in my practice to renew and refresh me. I love sharing in the energy of the room and using that to fuel my own practice. I love the calm it brings me when I have to focus and eradicate my mind of all distractions to balance and deepen the poses. I love how it makes all the other challenges in my life seem so small and trivial in comparison to finding my inner happiness.

What the heck is a Japanese ham sandwich?

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# of Bikram sessions done this week – 1

During Bikram today, I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself at some of the metaphors sprinkled throughout the discourse. In some of the reading I’ve done about Bikram yoga, I’ve learnt that Bikram teachers have to memorise a 40-page script before being allowed to graduate from Bikram Yoga Teaching Training. This is meant to ensure that Bikram students the world over receive the teaching as though it were from Bikram himself. I suppose there’s lots to debate over this particular methodology, but it’s highly amusing because Bikram is clearly not a native English Language speaker, yet teachers, whether native or otherwise, have to repeat his dialogue verbatim.

In one of the poses for Ardha-Chandrasana, or half-moon pose, I’m told to bend forward and grab my heels from behind, then to tuck my elbows behind my knees and glue my upper body to my thighs. There aren’t supposed to be any gaps in the posture and my body is supposed to resemble a Japanese ham sandwich. Wait… what? What the heck is a Japanese ham sandwich???

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This.

I really am not too sure I see any similarity, and I always find myself muffling a laugh while I do my best to touch my face to my sweaty shin.

Kitty does Yoga

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In the last ten days, I’ve worked through seven Bikram yoga classes, one vinyasa class and one personal training session. I’ve exercised more in the past ten days than I have in the first three months of 2013.

Why the sudden change?

I’m tying the knot in July and I need to start looking a little less like this –

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and start looking a little more like this –

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My journey into yoga started just slightly more than a decade ago. Sadly, I never kept at it regularly enough to enjoy visible changes to my flexibility and strength. Instead, I would explore it in spurts and wonder why I never managed to get far in my practice.

2012 saw me explore a plethora of other fitness options, including Muay Thai, weights and the TRX. I gave up Muay Thai because I kept scuffing my knee up and it hurt to strike injured knee against punching bag week after week after week. My affair with weight lifting was a sporadic one because I never really pushed myself hard enough when it was just me and the free weights. I have a TRX hanging by a door anchor in my bedroom, but the only time I use one is when I have sessions with my personal trainer in the gym. And those sessions happen only once a week. Hardly enough to go from fat to phat.

Enter Bikram. I don’t really know why I decided to return to Bikram. The last time I entered a hot room and completed the 26 signature asanas must have been more than five years ago. At that time, I had probably done about ten classes and then got done in by the heat. I suppose it might have been desperation and the pressure to have slimmer arms and a smaller waistline by July. Three months isn’t a lot of time and I need something that works. Bikram claims to melt away the calories and that sounds exactly like what I need.

So here I am. Back to the mat. Hopefully for good this time.

Namaste.