New Rule

I wrote this a few days ago; today was actually day 13.

Today was Day 8 of 100. I completed my 30 day challenge on 6th June, and proclaiming with the fervour of the recent convert that the first rule of a 30 day challenge is that you go to class on Day 31, I went to class on 7th June.

I had to juggle slightly financially to get it done, which meant waiting a few days, but I bought an upfront 12 month bundle to continue and commit to my practice. This has raised a few eyebrows but it’s been a long, long time since I made a decision so unquestioningly. And this kind of brings me to my first point. People are so amazed and impressed by the 30 day challenge and I have to say I’m so, so grateful for all the support and kind words from all kinds of people – many who barely know me – I’m pretty positive I wouldn’t have lasted without them. But I’m revising my First Rule. From this vantage I think the first rule of any challenge is: you have to want it. You have to want it. It’s that simple. Not easy, but simple. Why over complicate it? If you decide this is what you want then everything else kind of falls into place behind that.

For such a long time now – years – I’ve been telling people I am working towards daily practice. “Daily practice is my ultimate aspiration” I would tell my friends and count the seconds til their eyes started to glaze over. And a few would ask “Why?” And I would grapple for an answer “I know it sounds extreme but it’s really good for you, and I’ll lose weight, and eventually I could train to become a teacher, and you pick up a lot about anatomy, it’s actually really fascinating/spritual/challenging/fun/whatever”. And what I’ve realised just over the last couple of days is that that is all bull – it’s simply that I want it. You know what else is simple? Screw you if you can’t get behind that.

Anyway, now I more or less am doing it – I more or less have a daily practice and that is what blows me away. This is the realisation that floors me: If you want it, it’s really not all that challenging. If I wanted and managed 30, why not 100? Why not 365?

Now, as I say, this is an expression of this vantage point. A somewhat philosophical expression which may not last through to Day 20. But knowing myself as I do, I will say this: if I stop it will be because I no longer want it, not because it beat me.

I love you, be well, see you in 12 days.

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Thanks to Marina’s open handed friendship and enquiring heart, I’ve another place to drone on and bore people about Bikram yoga. Lucky!

Love.Life.Yoga.

Nothing beats practicing alongside fellow Bikram yogis; there’s such a strong and unified energy in the room when everybody is moving together through the posture series. During a 30 day challenge, the group energy is even tighter knit. I remember the first time I tackled such a month of consecutive Bikram classes; a bunch of us would see one another in class near daily, so we were never alone in going through the highs and lows of the challenge.  Reflecting back on it, the experience was nothing short of uplifting, and being supported by those fellow yogis spoke volumes.

Off the mat, connecting with Bikram yogis and studios over social media, mainly Twitter, has been fascinating. Outside the yoga room, the conversation and information received via a tweet-feed has added another dimension to the world of yoga – well, for me anyway. Being able to discuss the trials and tribulations…

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There’s nothing wrong with you.

A thought struck me on the way home tonight; that since I moved to London in late 1999 the most constant and consistent relationship I’ve had has been with my acupuncturist. He’s also an osteopath and I’ve recently started calling him my osteo or (Sexy Osteo on twitter) ‘cos it’s easier to say and doesn’t invite lots of questions about needles, but when I first went to him 13 years ago – when he was a young man and I was little more than a child – it was because he was an acupuncturist and I wasn’t even aware that he practiced osteopathy also. My point is, he knows me as well as anybody and a lot better than some. He gets paid to know me but I choose to believe that this doesn’t cheapen the bond we share. Also, he’s quite sexy so there’s that.

Anyway, I saw him last week and he suggested that my lower back pain has been partially down to over compensation for immobility in my thoracic spine. Which is totally news to me, which was a little annoying but I went with it. And I started thinking about it a lot and it seemed to me that the couple postures I have real trouble with could be to do with the thoracic spine rather than the lower spine, especially as I have hardly any pain any more. So I went through my big white Bikram book and bookmarked those postures (and a few others) to show him and when I saw him today I said
“I have brought a visual aid”
‘I’m trying to think what that means”
“A book”
“Yes, a book, but you’ve never needed a book before. Why can’t you just show me?”
“I guess I wanted to be absolutely clear so that you can help me understand how to adjust my focus in class”
“OK. Show me the book”

He didn’t roll his eyes ‘cos profoundly gifted healers don’t do that. But I felt it.

Turns out not being able to get your finger tips below your nose in eagle is not to do with your thoracic spice so much as your shoulders. “Also your voluptuosity could be a hindrance.” I must’ve looked at him a certain way because he said “your breasts”. Thanks, I got it.

We looked through the photos:
“So what do you mean you can’t do the posture?”
“I can’t get my head to my knee”
“So what do you do?”
“Well, everything else but I can’t get my head on my knee so the posture hasn’t started yet”
“But you have this leg straight, and this leg straight, and your hands here on the floor”
“Just in front of my foot”
“But your head not on your knee”
“So I bend the front leg up to meet my forehead but it never meets”
“And does everyone else have their head on their knee?”
“I wouldn’t know, I don’t look around, I’m too busy trying to get my head on my knee”
[Pause]
“Do you know how hard this is to do”
“I’m telling you I can’t do it, so, yes”
“No, I mean, really, do you realise how hard this is? I think you think there is something wrong with you because you can’t get your head on your knee”
“A little, perhaps”
“You mustn’t think that, this is really hard to do. And this one – this is even harder, don’t worry if you can’t do this one. This is the last posture?”
“Yes”
“Because it’s really hard, you have to be very free here and here and here. Don’t worry. There is nothing wrong with you”
“Ok”
“Say it”
“Ok”
“No. Say it. There is nothing wrong with you”
“There is nothing wrong with me”
“Ok then. Take your top off”

Day 31 of 30 Day Challenge

On my way to class this evening I overheard (eavesdropped) these two girls on the tube. One was talking about her blog and said “I am always sincere; I always had the intention that the blog should be sincere” and went on to say that she has attempted to write humour but she had to assume a particular attitude and keep in the front of her thinking that she was being humourous. (I think the fact she said humourous and not funny actually tells us how funny her humourous blogs turned out.) And then she said that it felt really weird to write from a humourous place because she was used to writing from a sincere place. Now, remembering that I have no idea what she writes about or who she is or where she was going and not even pretending that if I bumped into her again I would know her from a can of paint, just this snippet of conversation absolutely fascinated me. Do we have to give up one to have the other? If we take her “sincere” to mean true, then to me very few things are funny unless they have at least a little truth in them. Sincerity without a little humour is just a bad Oscar speech. Without a little humour the weight of the truth would kill me dead. Most people, I think. Fascinating, and I was still thinking about it when I got to the studio.

I got a high five from my excellent friend on reception for completing my 30 days, and I also got my mystery shopper cover blown – he has used dark database arts to figure out it’s me that writes this blog – bumped into my new friend who struck up a conversation with me two nights ago (she’s now on her day 11, way to go Regina!) and also caught up with Cousin Alice as planned.

It was odd to be in class through choice and not because I was in a challenge, and it made for a very strong standing series but once more the heat was fairly overwhelming. I am going to have to adjust to this being the norm rather than a surprise every time. And I’m going to have to adjust sooner rather than later as I have set myself three intentions for the remainder of 2012:

  1. keep earning, and earn a little more if humanly possible
  2. spend Christmas and New Year with my boys and my family, and
  3. keep the high focus on daily practice

So, I’ve asked my parents if they can help me with a little money towards buying a 12 month bundle up front which is by far the cheapest way to practice daily and I’m keeping going. When I asked for the loan my Mum said “have you lost any weight in the last 30 days?” [thanks, Mum. None taken.] And I told her that I couldn’t vouch for weight but I’ve lost inches. And she said you can’t lose inches without losing weight. [And again, thanks for listening.] Hopefully that’s good enough for her! See, if it weren’t just a little funny, it would be a little heartbreaking.

Don’t feel sorry for me, though. Cousin Alice brought me an after class treat of Naked juice Green Machine – my FAVOURITE; I would take it intravenously if that didn’t mean bypassing my tastebuds – so that made it all ok again.

How did Caesar build Rome? Brick by brick.

Well, there we go. In an almost bewilderingly typical twist of fate, I left critical responsibilities to the last minute and had to do 4 classes in the final 48 hours to complete 30 classes in 30 days. What idiot does that?  Oh, hi; have we met?

But, like everything else today, that doesn’t matter because I completed my 30 day challenge. The best bit was that my two cousins surprised me with a card and a beautiful bouquet after class. It’s so moving to share an achievement like this with family who have known you your whole life and only want good things for you. I heartily recommend it. Plus fresh flowers: never a bad idea.

It was hard to concentrate at work today, I was so nervous. That part I didn’t expect, I thought I was being quite mellow about the whole thing. But it turns out – no! I was a bag of nerves, chattering away about Robbie Williams at the Jubilee concert at the weekend and goodness knows what else. Oh, I know what else. Brad Pitt turned up at my colleague’s husband’s motorcycle repair garage in Ruislip. So, there’s that.

Anyway, I haven’t got much else to say except I am exceptionally grateful to and for all the amazing teachers and other staff at Hot Bikram Yoga London Bridge and Fulham. The gifted and compassionate teachers who have folded their personalities into their classes without losing one iota of the dignity, integrity and passion of bikram yoga.

The dust is still settling. I feel elated, exhausted, incredulous, impressed, pleased, changed, grateful, light, wide-eyed, bullet proof. I feel like I have a secret; like I’ve earned my stripes. My only worry is now that I have completed the challenge I won’t have the drive to keep it up.

But hopefully I can keep reminding myself that for the last 30 days I have treated myself to concentrated care and attention – TLC – opening myself up to light, peace, stretching, healing and unity. And now maybe I am readier to take those things out into the world. Starting here and now. I love you. Spread love.

Failure has no meaning in #bikram #yoga

When I started this blog I had two intentions: to tell the truth, and to be me. My hope was that in telling the truth I would sound like me; if friends read this they would hear me talking. In the playing out of writing about my yoga experiences I have reminded myself of something someone pointed out to me about 20 years ago, that I have a streak of self parody a mile wide. Often this is exactly how I tell the truth. Whether or not that is healthy is another discussion. I think probably in moderation it’s perfectly healthy but can become downright debilitating if it becomes a default position. Anyway, this is of no obvious significance right now. I just wanted it stated for the record.

Today was Day 20 of my 30 day challenge. I haven’t decided how I am going to finance my practice from here on, my preference would be to buy the next twelve months up front. It’s a lot of money to spend in one go and it’s a big commitment but – following my gut – it’s what I really want.

Anyway, I suspected I was going to have a tough class because I had what we in this country call “a few drinks” yesterday, but I had absolutely no idea. It was horrendous, easily one of the worst classes I have ever done. I more or less gave up after eagle, I was totally overwhelmed. I couldn’t do any of it. And the humidity and sweat – my word. Recently when I am in half moon back bend and I catch a glimpse of my forearms above me all I can think of is Apocalypse Now. Because of the sweat. And the funny part is I was scheduled to do a double. Yay!

So, long story short, I had two pretty hideous classes. But I stayed in the room and focused on my breathing and let the tears come and go and listened to the dialogue. And I refused to think about what my fellow students might be thinking about me and I refused to be too hard on myself. And tried to convince myself that these classes count and as long as I attend class I can say I did class today. I haven’t failed – even if all I can do is the belly down series.

It would be nice to think that Day 30 will be a good bikram day. Hopefully at least I’ll be able to stay in the room whatever happens, and convince myself even a “bad” class counts.

 

What is your yoga offering you today?

I used to love to practice with this particular teacher who had a habit of saying “be available to what your yoga is offering you today”, and another one of his favourites was “see where your head goes”. When he said it during savassana I had to ask myself  “Is it ok that my head goes straight to David Boreanaz?”

Anyway, today was day 25 and in savassana I was surprised to realise that I had no pain. Maybe a little discomfort and maybe my legs aren’t totally straight but no pain. And I recall that last week I did my first sit-up since my hiatus and the remarkable thing about that was that I honestly didn’t realise I was doing sit-ups again until I’d done a couple. So, that is what my yoga offered me that day.

In related news, I had a meeting regarding some new work yesterday and today I got a call saying I got the contract. Which is brilliant news all over and could mean a new direction for my career as a whole (if I’m very clever and work it right), but apart from all that there is part of me that is convinced that the yoga helped me get this contract. Helped me to prepare; to look at all I know about my field and stock-take what I had of relevance to offer; helped me in the interview itself to be poised and articulate, to speak with confidence and totally without embarrassment about my skills, experience, strengths, aspirations; helped me listen and respond intelligently; helped me communicate that I’m someone interested in hard work with a purpose and meaning and someone who is “in control”.

I have no evidence but I am sure of it; convinced. Also, it’s arguably significant that I got the message to call the agency a few minutes before class. The message was “please ring ASAP because we need to talk before the long weekend”. And I could have rung right there which would have made me late for class but I didn’t. I put that on pause and took class as normal, didn’t rush anything, kept my nerves and curiosity in check. And so after class I rang and it was good news. So, that is what my yoga offered me today. I grabbed it with both hands.

More validation (were it needed) of McKinley’s campaign to become a bikram yoga teacher. Please do donate if you possibly can. All the links you need are in the reblogged post below. Namaste.

Just here. Just now.

I had this whole other post ready to go for today and then I heard about this. So, we’ll talk about meditation later…

Did you know that someone can be really kind, generous and supportive to complete strangers via Twitter? No? Then maybe you don’t know McKinley. That’s him, rocking out Standing Head to Knee in that glorious photo above.

(I’ll let you take a moment to stare in awe and appreciation.)

McKinley was a very early supporter of Just here. Just now. He was my first non-family Like on Facebook. He was my welcoming committee to the online yoga community.

McKinley wants to be a Bikram yoga teacher. Everyone wants McKinley to be a Bikram yoga teacher. Bikram should want McKinley to be a yoga teacher.

And he’s ready: he’s practiced everyday for 2 years – without a day off.

(I’ll let you take another moment of…

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