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.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Day Eight

I thought I was doing great on day two of the Six Day Fruit Fast until I pulled into the parking lot of the yoga studio tonight and saw a sweet little old man walking towards his car from the supermarket. He had purchased an extra large bag of Kettle brand potato chips.  I almost tackled him to the ground and fought like it was his life or mine for those chips.

This morning I woke up full of energy and couldn’t resist going on a (short) trail hike because it was such a gorgeous day.  It’s January in Laguna Beach and the temperatures were in the 80’s, the sky was cerulean blue and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  I hiked up a hill called “I think I can” in El Moro state park and was rewarded with a majestic ocean view with a clear outline of Catalina Island in the distance.  Hiking by myself has always been my favorite meditation.

I felt light and free all day, not weighed down with heavy food since the fast only includes six days of fruit.  “I think this is the way to get rid of food cravings,” I told my husband, “because I’m not starving anymore like I was yesterday.”

Then I saw that nice little old man in the parking lot.  But I didn’t tackle him.  Instead, I unrolled my purple yoga mat and did 90 minutes of hot yoga with Melissa, yoga teacher extraordinaire who entertained us with a story about a woman who has a social network hash tag called #yogaeverydamnday.  I’ll have to check it out.

One more gold star and another good nights sleep is in order.

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Day Seven

Today was not only day seven of the Bikram Yoga 30 day challenge, it was day one of the 6-day Cleanse that my lovely sister, Monica in Florida talked me into doing.  Starting the new year, I knew I wanted to do something to make those jeans of mine fit better.  Who am I kidding?  I don’t even own a pair of jeans anymore because last years new years resolution was to clean out my overflowing closet, which I finally did in December.  After all, why do in January what I could put off for eleven months?

“We’ll do it together,” said my fit, attractive, glowing skin, yoga teacher sister who lives all the way on the East Coast where she can’t really check up on me.  “I did this fast a few years back and felt fantastic!”

I agreed and was up this morning, skipping coffee and making my distilled water, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and Aloe Vera juice cocktail.  Starbucks ain’t got nothing on this cocktail.  The first thing I learned is that I’m addicted to caffeine. As my husband sat on the sofa with me as the sun was rising drinking his coffee while I drank my health cocktail, I wanted to tell him, “Stop talking so much!”  Such is the power of caffeine on most of us.

Morning yoga class was delightful, not too crowded and I feel like I’m getting a rhythm going.  I felt energized after class, drank my next health cocktail in the parking lot of the yoga studio, went home and spent the whole day eating vast quantities of fruit, since this is part of the cleanse.  Dinner was two avocados which I savored.  I never knew how great avocados, lemon juice and sea salt could taste.

It’s good to give the body a rest from time to time.  But not from yoga!  I’ll be back in class tomorrow for my next gold star.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Day Six

It was hot!

Saturday class in January is bound to be overcrowded.  Everyone has got their new year resolutions of diet and exercise.  I got to Marna’s 8am class with only five minutes to spare which meant that instead of my usual secret spot next to the back door with the ocean view, the coolest spot in the room, I ended up in the warmest part of the room.  All those hot bodies made it extra warm, but then again, that’s why we go to hot yoga.  The workout was great and I left happy.  Happy to get home and hop in the shower.

One more gold star on the board.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Day Five

There are a couple of students in our 30 day challenge who are in a frenzy to see who can be the first to finish the 30 classes, that is, before 30 days are up.  As we were in triangle pose, I found myself wondering what I would have to do to catch up.  Maybe I can wait until they’re close to 30 classes, then do four classes in one day and beat them.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been involved in competition for monetary purposes as I used to be when I was in sales.  Then, I was a fierce competitor and enjoyed the financial rewards and friendly competition amongst the sales reps.  But in the yoga studio?  Yes, I suppose I’m still having these kinds of competitive thoughts.  I’m trying to decide if these thoughts are good, bad or indifferent.

As I thought about what I wanted to report for day number five, I logged into Facebook and one of my friends had posted this.  I think I’ll go to bed now and ponder these words:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Day Four

I pulled into the parking lot for nine-o’clock class just as Dave was getting out of his car.

“Man, is it really only day four?” he asked.  “I don’t remember it being this hard last year.  Did you think it was extra hot in class yesterday?”

Dave completed the 30 day challenge in about 20-some days last year by doubling up on classes to get the thing done early.  Trish was right behind him and the two were treating this challenge like a competition.  In fact, when Trish found out that I’d done three classes on the first day of the challenge, she was extra interested in how many classes I would be doing on day two.  “Only one,” I said.

Pacing is important.  Unless you have absolutely no life (which I’ve been accused of) and are able to spend the entire day in the yoga studio, it’s probably a good idea to stop and smell the roses and make the most out of 30 days of yoga, which is a pretty awesome accomplishment.  I personally felt like I’d overdone it yesterday with my eight mile hike and then the 90 minute hot yoga class.  And I’ve never overdone it before.  Yeah, right.

So, I decided that I’m going to enjoy this challenge and with that thought in mind, as I left the studio today, the owner said, “Hey Jen, for those interested, we’re extending the challenge to 60 days.”

No rest for the weary.

See you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Day Three

When am I going to learn to not trust Rico?  Rico is my favorite training partner and we like to meet every Wednesday morning for a trail hike.  What I thought would be a nice easy hour and a half hike turned into a grueling three hours of steep uphill climbing followed by some pretty spectacular ocean views and steep downhill.  Would I ever complain to Rico?  No, I wait until I get home and then blog about it to the world.

After the hike, I rubbed my sore feet, then headed off to my fifth 90 minute hot yoga class in three days.  The room felt delightfully warm and soothing on more sore back and muscles even though had it not been for the challenge I probably would’ve been home relaxing.

When I came home, Surfer Boy had prepared a mouth watering salad made from local organic vegetables and grass-fed ground sirloin which he says we need to improve our hemoglobin or some such technicality.  I don't care what it does, I devoured every tasty morsel.

I think I’ll head off to bed now and dream of luscious hot fudge sundaes, something that is not on my 30 day yoga challenge diet.

See you tomorrow!

Authors Note:  The hike was pretty damn awesome.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Day Two

I woke up full of energy after my three Bikram yoga classes yesterday.  There’s nothing like wearing yourself out to the point of exhaustion to get a good nights sleep.  I walked my Min Pin Rusty before the sun came up, paused to drink in the ocean air, then downed a strong cup of coffee before heading off to morning yoga class.  I think I may have to go back to work as a top salesperson because I’ve talked several people into signing up for the 30 day challenge.  I wasn’t really trying to accomplish this feat but several students advised me this morning that they were there because I had told them to “just put your name on the 30 day challenge list.”

I would’ve loved (maybe too strong a word) to stay at the studio doing yoga all day like I did yesterday, but alas, I’m a famous author and my audience is waiting for my next book.  Then when I’m done writing the book, I’m going to see what swamp property I can sell all those rubes at the yoga studio.

Anyone out there interested?  Your purchase will include a free yoga mat.  And while you’re at it, “just put your name on the 30 day challenge list.”

See you tomorrow!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Day One

So, I did four-and-a-half hours of hot yoga today.

Today was the first day of the Laguna Beach Bikram Yoga 30 day challenge.  Last year I performed this 30 day challenge which is held the beginning of the year to kick off the new year.  It was tough, but worth it.  Not only did my practice improve, but I felt a huge burst of energy, especially at the end of the challenge.

For those of you who don’t know, Bikram Yoga is a ninety minute yoga workout in which the same twenty-six postures are performed in the same order every time, in a room heated to 105 degrees,  I’ve been practicing for about eight years now.  Back then, I dragged my husband Kerry to the classes and when he found out how much it helped his surfing, he decided he was there to stay. I love yoga.  I started practicing when I was a teenager way back before there even was such a thing as yoga studios.  Back then, my life was a series of contradictions--yoga and bong hits, health food and Dairy Queen.  But I loved the way yoga made me feel, that deep relaxation and peace that came without having to meet someone in a dark alley for any kind of substance to get high.

I woke up this morning with great excitement, drank a cup of coffee with Kerry, then set about making my fresh juices which I planned on drinking in between classes.  I plugged in my heavy-duty Omega juicer and juiced all manner of organic vegetables to rehydrate and nourish.  These I put into Thermos’s which I had put into the freezer and toted them off to class.

Class One: 9am with Michelle.  My mind would not stop its chatter.  Am I really going to spend the whole day doing yoga?  What if I feel dizzy or nauseous?  Should I have listened to my daughter Jessica (who is more of a parent than I am) when she told me last night “Mom, that doesn’t sound safe.”  I peered out the window at a perfect seventy-three degree Laguna Beach day.  Maybe I should just go to the beach.

Class Two:  11:30 with Melissa.  I felt a little sick to my stomach because I insisted on drinking most of my homemade V8 juice after the first class.  Maybe this would be a good day for a water fast.  But Melissa entertained us with her usual upbeat personality and stories about her brother Jason who founded the Laguna Beach studio over ten years ago.   Not a class goes by that Melissa doesn’t have a fun story to tell about Jason, the poor guy who was the only brother amongst six sisters.

After the second class, I sat in my car and drank more of my homemade juice and thought about how hungry I was.  The thing about hot yoga is that you can’t eat much before classes unless you want to feel really uncomfortable.  I looked down at my belly where all that Christmas pie and cheesecake had settled.  I wanted to go home and eat.  Haven’t I worked out enough for the day?  I ran a couple of errands and started to feel better.  It was such a gorgeous day that I drove the two blocks to the beach to take a walk before the 4:30 class.  Parking was at a minimum but there was exactly one parking space available which I pulled into.  I looked up and saw that I had parked directly in front of Dominique’s old apartment by Heisler Park.  Dominique was my step-daughter, one of the true loves of my life.  I smiled as I felt her spirit and could hear her laugh.

As I walked through the park, I had to stop several times because I was overwhelmed with how beautiful everything was.  I thought about the people in other parts of the country, some who can’t even leave their houses, so high is the snow piled in front of their doors and driveways.

Photos taken today at Heisler Park courtesy of the lovely Melissa B.

It really was that gorgeous today.  As I walked, I felt light, happy and grateful.

Class Three:  4:30 with Melissa.  I couldn’t believe it, but the third class was the best.  My muscles felt loose and gumby-like.  At the end of class as we lay in Savasana (dead body pose) I felt blissed out.  I’m glad I stuck it out.

See you all tomorrow!