Thursday, March 6, 2014

Day Sixty of the Bikram Yoga Sixty Day Challenge.

Me and some of my family goofing around with yoga postures.

When my eyes clicked open this morning, the first thought that came to mind was, “Today is day sixty!”  I felt a surge of happiness engulf my body.  I threw the covers aside, ran into the kitchen and began my best impression of Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music”  At the top of my lungs, one more time from the top:  The hills are alive!... with the sound of music!... I trilled.

My husband looked up from his cup of coffee and his iPhone and demanded to know what I was so happy about.

I started the first of the year with the best of New Years intentions: I’m going to fit into those jeans I haven’t been able to button up, I’m going to eat mostly vegan, I’m not going to eat any sugar, I’m going to pass on the red wine with dinner, I’m going to finish the Bikram Yoga 60 day challenge, I’m going to...

On day 40, as I sat at dinner at a local open air bistro, a glass of fine red wine in my hand, perusing the dessert menu while unbuttoning my jeans so I could take a deep breath, I said to my husband, “I feel like quitting.”  He placed a warm hand over mine, looked me in the eye, oh, who am I kidding?  He slapped the dessert menu out of my hand and told me, “Jennifer, you’re not a quitter.”

The reason I felt like quitting is because it was hard.  I felt dehydrated, sore, fatigued.  Dammit, I wanted to collapse on the sofa with a family size bag of Lay’s potato chips and watch some really bad TV.  Something on the Lifetime channel preferably, where relationships never work out and poisoning your yoga teacher is the order of the day.  Then Melissa Winn, Bikram teacher extraordinaire, recommended I drink fresh celery juice (natural salts) and purchase a product called Vitamineral Green.  I’m usually leery of supplements but I have to tell you that stuff saved my life.

Bikram Yoga is a grueling 90 minute workout performed in 105 degree heat and humidity.  If you’re planning on spending 5,400 minutes (60 x 90 minutes) in that environment, you’d better have something to replace all the minerals and salts you sweat out.

So, I made it!  When we got to the very last posture of the 60th class this morning, I felt tears prick my eyes.  I’m going to miss being in Birkram Yoga Laguna Beach every day.  Tomorrow, my Surfer Boy husband and I leave for Costa Rica.  Guess what we’re doing?  A yoga retreat!  Oh, and surfing.  But tonight, we will be celebrating!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Day Twenty-Six

“Stumbling, Staggering, On They Go! Who will be the next to be carried off the floor?”

I think I've talked myself into doing the 60 day Bikram Yoga Challenge.  There are only four days left before I hit the thirty-classes-in-one-month mark and the owner of the studio announced that she'll be extending the challenge to 60 days for all those interested.  

I had been having a little hissy fit with yoga-every-damn-day because gosh darn it, it's hard.  After class yesterday, I came home and felt so sore that I called my Surfer Boy husband who was out and about running errands and asked him if he could stop by Gelson's market on the way home and pick up a bottle of fine red wine to go with dinner.  The clever way that I phrase this, "fine red wine" makes me feel better about what could be a slippery slope into fine-red-wine-every-night.  I seem to enjoy vacillating between excess and moderation.  In yoga class yesterday, I found myself thinking about--of all things--medical marijuana.  I don't like the way pot makes me feel, don't like having any substance that has control over me, and am not eager to go out of my way to meet with a doctor and obtain a medical marijuana card.  But...a good friend of mine who's in a wheelchair was showing me his marijuana infused chocolate bars the other day.  "This one," he said while handing me a box of chocolate which looked more like something I could buy at Whole Foods, than in a back alley, "this one will get you high and this other type won't.  It just takes the pain away.  In fact," he continued, "much as I resist taking drugs, I have to say, this stuff's a miracle."

Working out for ninety minutes in a room that's heated to 105 degrees is challenging.  So why do I do it every day?  I was questioning that myself when I woke up this morning and rolled over to my right shoulder that was in pain.  

Arriving for class, I set up my mat next to one of the students whose litany of complaints sounded like mine: It's tough fitting this into my day.  It wipes me out for the rest of the day if I've gotten behind and have to do double workouts.  I woke up this morning and my back hurt from stretching so much.  I stood in the center of my mat, took several deep breaths and the yoga started to work its magic.  I felt loose and happy.  When we did the separate leg stretching posture that had me hanging upside down like a kid hanging from monkey bars, my spine lengthened and I think I even grew an inch.  Our teacher, Melissa, inspired us with funny stories about her brother's crazy penchant for high priced yoga shorts: Burberry yoga shorts.  I didn't even know Burberry made yoga shorts.  I started to relax with her instructions: Inhale, one, two, three, four.  Exhale, one, two, three, four.

When class was over, my yoga buddy who's also trying to decide if she should extend the challenge to 60 days, gave me a thumbs up and mouthed: I'm going to do it!

So what if it's hard?  If things were easy, everyone would be doing them.  I love a good endurance event because I love the feeling of outlasting everyone.  I probably would've done good in some of those "Last couple standing" dance marathons that were popular in the 20s and 30s.  Pin a number on me, give me a good looking Surfer Boy dance partner and a lead role in They Shoot Horses Don't They?  and I could make millions.

I drank the red wine last night but am happier without that as a big part of my life.  And the medical marijuana?  They Shoot Yogi's Don't They?  All the same, I think Ill have to pass.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Day Twenty-Four

For me, a day that starts with thirty bad boys standing single file wearing orange jumpsuits that say "Inmate" has got to be a good day.

I met my favorite training partner, Rico, this morning at 8AM at El Moro for our Wednesday morning hike.  He was five minutes late, which in the old days meant he owed me five bucks, but I didn't press the issue.  I just gave him a hug and told him how happy I was that we didn't need to get up at zero-dark-thirty anymore to meet before work, on account of the fact that neither one of us work full time anymore.

"I have to get up at five-thirty in the morning on Tuesdays to meet Natasha for our runs," Rico advised.  "That gets old," he said while affixing his homemade suspender contraption complete with sleigh bells, just like Santa Claus puts on his reindeer's, this meant for scaring off wild animals or more likely, for annoying me.  We hiked five delightful miles which started out immediately uphill--up a steep hill called BFI which stands for "Big Friggin Incline."  We witnessed some spectacular ocean views through the heavy fog that was hovering over Laguna Beach this morning.  We made it back to the parking lot just in time to see the government issue high security Orange County Fire truck pull into the parking lot.  This was the second time that I'd seen this truck and I was quite excited because I knew what was held within the truck.  A bunch of bad boy inmates that were just dying to see me.  Let's just say that they're dying to see any woman, even one who's covered in sunscreen, no makeup, sweaty, hair askew and has as her companion a wiry Puerto Rican ultra-marathon runner who wears a homemade suspender contraption complete with sleigh bells and did I mention he also carries a knife?

The inmates were lined up single file by the time we got to our cars which were parked about fifty yards away.  Just as I was hoping, not one, not two, not three, but all thirty of them were quite excited to see me.  This I know, because they couldn't take their eyes off of me, especially the tall one who looked like Grizzly Adams, and the short one who looked like Uncle Fester.  But, when you're the center of attention (only because you're the only female around) to thirty bad boys, the effects are intoxicating.

After the hike, I drove straight to the Bikram Yoga studio for ninety minutes of sweating it out with all the other women (and two men) for what would be day twenty-four of my thirty day yoga challenge.  Honestly, I've been feeling a bit burnt out with yoga-every-damn-day as I'm itching to get some other workouts in like surfing with my husband or more hiking.  But when I laid my mat out and started talking to a couple of the students, I became inspired again and a bit ashamed of my lax attitude.  One of the students had back surgery about a year ago.  The thought of anyone fooling around with a sharp knife on my spine gives me the heebie-jeebies.  But she is excited about the improvements she's feeling in her body due to the yoga.  "I can feel my hips opening up."  Another student looks like she has about thirty pounds to lose.  "I'm starting to look forward to the workout and my whole day revolves around my yoga now," she said while unrolling her mat next to mine.  "I'm going for the sixty day challenge when the thirty is done."  Another student, a tall male person, told me that he quit smoking in June and also stopped taking the pain medication he was starting to get addicted to after an accident he'd been in.  "All my pain is gone since I started the yoga."

I unrolled my mat, stood in the center of the mat, looked in the mirror, took a deep breath, and felt lucky to be there.  It could be a lot worse.  I could be on weed whacking duty with the inmates in orange jumpsuits at El Moro.  Hey!  What am I waiting for?

If I had my way, this would be the new prison workout.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Days 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19

Where did this week go?  I had such great intentions of posting an entry into my blog every day chronicling the 30 day Bikram Yoga challenge.  It's Friday, and my last update was on Sunday.

Monday dawned bright and early with a cup of coffee and ten milligrams of Valium.  Why, you might ask?  Well, I had a little trip to the dentist planned.  I’m getting better, I really am.  It used to be that I would cry when the chair-side dental assistant put that big heavy lead drape over my body to keep me from becoming radioactive during the dental X-ray.  Now, I can actually sit down in the chair, lean back and relax--with the benefit of ten milligrams of Valium.  I’m not a huge fan of drugs these days but when you need them, I’m glad they’re there.  So, what does all of this have to do with yoga?  Nothing other than the fact that I feel like I practically lost a week of lucidity, so unaccustomed to being drugged am I.

Monday was the only day of yoga I missed but that was okay because I was already two classes ahead of my goal.  It’s half-way through the thirty days and it seems like that’s when some of the classes have felt like all I’m doing is going through the motions.  But the yoga always works its magic.  As I lie in savasana pose at the end of class, I always feel energy surging through my body and I’m glad I went.  Always.

Dave was the first to finish his thirty classes on Wednesday, having done double and even triple classes on some days.  I have a feeling we won’t be seeing him at least for a few days.  “I’ll be on the golf course and drinking beer,” is what he told me.

I’ve been spending most of the week with my butt glued to my writing chair going through the final changes on my book, “Grand Theft Auto and Other Misdemeanors” which will be available on within (hopefully) the next month or two.  Since I’m the writer, creative designer and PROOFREADER, I get to sit here and go through line by line by line over and over again until my eyes cross and my low back is screaming for yoga.

Thank God for the stress-reducing and spine stretching of yoga.  I’ve been inspired by some of the students in the class who are relatively new or even brand new to this yoga and struggling through the  postures.  At least one such student told me today that she’s planning on participating in the sixty-day challenge.  Do you think she needs my company?  I’m considering it.

See you all when I see you!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Days Twelve, Thirteen and Fourteen

This is not the girl in the story but I like the shorts.

I completed the six day fruit fast on Friday and man, am I happy to be eating again.  I’m really glad I did it though, because I feel light, happy and like I lost about five pounds all in my stomach.

Today, Kerry, Rico, Andrea, Ruzel, Anthony and I went to Shady Canyon where we rode bicycles on the trail, then hiked.  I wish I had a video of Rico riding his bike because he reminds me of that comedian on Laugh-In who would ride this tiny tricycle and steer it into walls.  Andrea got a recording of Rico in all his Laugh-In glory but said that it somehow got messed up, otherwise I would be able to share it with you now.

I went to Chris’s four-thirty class tonight.  I came in feeling stiff and sore from biking and hiking, but left feeling loosey goosey.  Such is the power of Bikram yoga.

Earlier today there was a LaLa Land yoga clothing sale in the yoga studio which I missed because I was on the trail.  But there were still some of the clothes available for sale and one of the students was trying a pair of too-small-for-her shorts on in the girls locker room.  She had long, dark, wild black hair that cascaded down her back, covering whatever large tattoo that graced her back.  She wore the tie-dyed shorts that were too tight for her, a black Lycra top and had her iPhone in hand, attempting various poses for her “selfie.”  I promptly got out my notebook and started recording everything she was doing which is one of my favorite things to do.  Way I look at it, the universe is just a vast repository of material which falls like rain out of the sky and then gets recorded in my notebook for sharing with all of you.  So far no one has caught on to what I’m doing.

“Those shorts look great on you,” I lied.  "Sometimes it’s good to take a picture of yourself just so you can see what they look like better.”  She looked up at me all large brown eyes and pouty lips and smiled.  “Just so long as you don’t take pictures in the locker room of us girls naked and post it to Facebook,” I cautioned.

“Oh, no.  I’d never do that!”

“I know you wouldn’t.  I’m just teasing you,” said I as I continued to make notes in my notebook.

She bought the shorts.

Class was entertaining.  When we are in savasana, lying on our stomachs during the spine-strengthening series, we are instructed in between postures to turn out heads first to the right, then to the left.  Turning my head to the right, I got to look at the guy who must be the missing link because of all the hair on his back.  Turning my head to the left, I got to look at the tall hippie photographer who is covered in tattoos.  Each turn to the left and I saw the tattoo of the skeleton on his calf waving at me.  Both his arms are literally covered in tattoos.  I usually enjoy staring at peoples tattoos to figure out what they’ve had inked on their body, but when it comes to his arms, it’s such a jumble that I can’t make heads or tails of it.  I think it’s a rose garden complete with vines and thorns.

Sixteen classes so far in fourteen days and one more gold star on the board tonight.

See you all next time.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Day Eleven

Is it really only day eleven?

9AM class with the Amazing Amy was low energy for me.  You don’t think it has anything to do with this crazy fruit fast that my sister Monica (I love you very much) talked me into do you?  Tomorrow will be the final day of the six day fruit cleanse.  When Kerry popped his toast into the toaster this morning and the mouth watering aroma of bread warming in the toaster hit my nose and psyche, I realized, “I’m hungry.”  But I love a good endurance event and let me tell you boy, this six day cleanse works. If I say anything more about it, you will say TMI (too much information) for sure.  I’m certain, though, that it’s good to give our bodies a break from the constant shoveling in of food.  Being on this minimalistic diet has got me looking at what everyone else is eating and the portions seem way too large.  I know that I, for one, eat out of boredom, so it’s good to take a break and shock my system once in awhile.  After all, I'm the one who's in control, right?  Not some whim or habit like grabbing a box of Cheez-Its and eating the whole box before I even know what happened.  Hey, that does sound pretty good right now.

Back to yoga...It’s all about the yoga and working on my new book.  I got a brainstorm for a story idea while in Camel Pose the other day.  The story opens with a woman who is sitting in a jail cell serving the first month of her Life In Prison sentence for hiring a hit man to murder her husband.  She’s decided to write the story of what really happened in her diary, which will be available on if I have my way.

Sometimes it takes a good murder mystery to take my mind off of Cheez-Its.

See you tomorrow in yoga class!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Day Nine

I woke up today to another stellar Laguna Beach day, a full moon hanging heavy over the ocean and Amy’s nine-o’clock class.

Today is day nine of yoga and day three of the six day fruit fast.  This detox program also includes a colon cleansing formula which has the effect of--let’s just say that as I stood in class for the first four standing postures, I wondered whether I’d have to bolt out of the room and straight to the bathroom.  But I made it through class and was able to post another gold star onto the 30 day challenge board.

One of the students, Dave, is in a race to finish.  When I saw him in class this morning I asked him how it was going and he said, “I’m just eager to get this thing over with.  It takes time away from golf,” which makes me wonder why he’s in the challenge, but I’m sure he has his reasons.

As I stood in class wondering why I was doing this, I had that same feeling that I often have in a workout:  Okay, this part of the workout may be hard but the results are always worth it.

A good example is the six day fast that I’m participating in along with my sister who lives in Florida. I really didn’t think I could eat just fruit for the past few days.  My daughter and her boyfriend called me from a wonderful restaurant right down the street from our house and said, “Join us for dinner.”  I thought, oh great, what am I supposed to eat?  But I packed up my avocado (avocados are considered fruits) with lemon juice and sea salt, my colon cleansing cocktail and Kerry and I walked down the street and had a lovely night out.  I didn’t even salivate over my daughter’s steak dinner.  Now that it’s the end of day three, I’m starting to see what people are talking about when they say they start to feel light and not at all hungry a few days into a fast.  And the energy!  I feel alive, awake and alert.  I think that workouts are like that too.  If we’re willing to get through the uncomfortable parts, the results are always worth it.