Photo by The Hamster Factor
I took my first Bikram yoga class yesterday after purchasing a LivingSocial coupon for 10 classes for $20 a few weeks ago. Most yoga classes around here seem to run around $15 per class – unless you’re willing to commit to more – so $2/class was a crazy good deal and a good opportunity to try something new.
The first thing you should know about Bikram is that it is done in a hot room. Like, really hot. Like, the sort of hot that is unthinkable when the mercury’s barely nudged above 30 for months on end. 105 degrees, to be precise. At 105 degrees, you start sweating just lying flat on the ground. In this extremely hot room, you’re led through a series of 26 postures – asanas – that build strength and increase circulation, in theory invigorating every part of your body in the process. And you sweat. And then you sweat some more. And then, when you don’t think you possibly can sweat any more at all ever, you produce more sweat. I finished my class around noon, and was still drenched in sweat an hour later.
I have primarily taken vinyasa classes, so there were some aspects of Bikram that I found odd or difficult. There was less emphasis on becoming grounded in a pose as a means of providing balance – something I have really appreciated about both vinyasa and hatha classes previously. I felt like the class and the postures were more focused on flexibility than building strength, but that may have been because I’m used to moving between poses, rather than getting into a pose, then immediately flipping around and taking a break. I certainly experienced a deeper flexibility than I recalled from previous classes, possibly as a result of the heat, possibly because of all of the other exercise I’ve been doing in the last month.
I have 9 classes left on my card, and 3 months to use them, so I’ll definitely report back on my future experiences. Oh, and one other thing: don’t eat bacon before Bikram. I felt like I was sweating out bacon aromas which, while not unpleasant, was pretty weird.
So far this weekend:
– I took a two hour nap.
– SB and I met Keem for dinner at Farren’s, which has redeemed itself in my estimation after a few lackluster visits. I had tacos.
– SB and I went to Borders for a while. I bought a book and a magazine, and grudgingly decided to subscribe to Blueprint, the latest in the Martha Stewart suite of lifestyle magazines. It’s really fabulous, guys.
– Trip to the farmers’ market yields lodi apples (for grandma’s applesauce), rhubarb (for a crumble and/or jam), and tiny radishes. Add in a Mexican brioche and a little pastry snack from Mirabelle, and it makes for a lovely shopping trip.
– Yoga with SB. The class was slower than I really enjoy, but it was stretchy, tough in parts, and relaxing.
– Leftover spring rolls from the 4th = mmmmm.
– Right now, possibly as I type this, Sonya and Jason are gettin’ hitched!
Lying in savasana, my hands weighed down by bags of sand, my eyes covered by a lavender pillow, I remembered vividly an afternoon in Poitiers with O. After kebab sandwiches, we walked to a little park on the grounds of what used to be a manor or a castle. We stood at an overlook point, the wind whipping about us, watching trains leave the station and snake through the valley below. We talked about S, and I remember a deep longing for N at a time when things were the definition of uncertain as he pursued his Camino a few hundred miles across the mountains.
Tonight as we stirred from savasana, Mary told us to breathe in pure oxygen, exhaling anything that didn’t come from love or grace. I don’t know where that memory came from – love or grace or longing or deep sadness – but when the weight was removed from my wrists, I felt that memory lift from my body as well, leaving me at peace.
I’m cranky and crampy and just want to go home and play in the yard. I’m supposed to go to yoga tonight, but I’m still sore from Saturday’s class, so I don’t know if I will. Wah.
Also, I think I dreamt that we had a square foot garden, which I’m sure was prompted by my conversation with Sasha yesterday about garden plans.
Also, my laptop is wicked hot, and I’m not sure what to do about it, except that it hurts my hands and my legs (when on my lap).
Also, our new TV is supposed to arrive today!
Also, I need to start saving for a laptop, as I’ll lose the one I have when I leave this job.
I haven’t been writing here much, and for no good reason, so for that I apologize. The last few weeks have been busy while not being especially productive. I need to remedy that.
I had a good meeting with my adviser two weeks ago in which I told her that I’m planning to leave the PhD program. She was quite kind and receptive, and said that she agrees that this is the best decision for me right now – and not for lack of skill or intellectual ability, just because I’m driven in a different direction right now. I need to get my stuff together for a CAS application this week.
I weighed myself yesterday after yoga and apparently I’ve lost 5 pounds? I’m not sure how, as I’ve been delinquent on both the gym front and the eating better front, but apparently what I’ve done is making a difference. I went to yoga yesterday for the first time in a while, and it was good and challenging, and I was able to do things I haven’t done before. That’s the case almost every time I go, which leads me to believe I should just go more often. Now that it’s nice enough to ride yellowbike, I’m hoping to get there (and the gym) more often.
We’re off to Boston for spring break in a few days, which will be great. I don’t know what all we’ll be doing other than hanging out with Sonya and Jason and kicking around, but I’m excited about visiting a new city with SB.
Just had brunch at Escobar’s, newly open in the ever-expanding downtown Champaign area. Let me tell you – if SB and I had taken the apartment affectionately referred to as “Basil Does Chicago”, we would’ve been here all the time. The food was fantastic without being overly heavy or grossly filling, which is something I really appreciate in a brunch. I’ve heard it’s quite loud in the evenings, but it was quiet and lovely for brunch with friends.
Right now I’m at Cafe Paradiso, ostensibly working on my syllabus for Leigh’s class, which has turned out to be every bit as great as I’d hoped. The class – not my syllabus. For this assignment, Leigh wants us basically to put together a syllabus for a class we’d want to teach. I really feel like I don’t know enough about anything to actually teach a whole course, so I’m reusing/rethinking classes I’ve taken and worked with. It’s an interesting challenge.
I am so freaking frustrated at the moment. Both of my jobs are getting to me in “insulting my intelligence and competence” sort of ways, but this really isn’t the place to blow off steam.
On the bright side, my apartment hunt is looking up. Still no word from the lofts, but I’m looking at a couple of promising places next week. Today I looked at a place conveniently located 10 minutes from my office – unfortunately that was mainly the only thing it had going for it other than that it is owned by my hot-ass landlord. Note to self: don’t rent an apartment just because the landlord’s hot.
On another bright side, I feel fantastic. I’m still not entirely sold on my gym, but I have been noticing – and loving – the changes in my body and my energy levels. I feel way comfortable in skirts and sandals and dresses and all my springy clothes. Swimsuit season is coming soon, though, so I’ve got to keep working. I really kind of want to go workout crazy this summer – the gym, swimming, yoga. I’m not body obsessed by any means, but it feels so good to be active – and if ‘active’ can mean being in the sun, even better!
It’s gorgeous here again after a dreary mid-week. I want to have a house full of people all weekend, but I have to work – and when I’m not at work, I have to be studying and writing and reading. Hopefully I can do some of that on the porch. I told my landlord today that had he asked me if I wanted to keep my apartment on a day like today, I would’ve been hard pressed to say no. I’m hoping to have a party in a month or so – cocktails and such on the porch on an early summer evening – I wish you all could be here.
Coursework is set for the summer and fall – just one class over the summer, and four in the fall term. I’m quickly realizing that I’m in the wrong department, so now it becomes a torture weighing game – great career-minded job while in a department doing the wrong coursework vs no job in a department doing career-minded coursework. Oh, I don’t know.
What I do know, though, is that in half an hour I’m off to have falafel and hummus with my friends. I’m hoping that’ll make my cares go away, if only briefly. I feel so silly and superficial saying this, but things like hummus and balancing in stilettos make it easier to deal sometimes.
Tonight I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find the rhythm of my breath. I couldn’t find my body’s center. Sara talked about practitioners believing that they have a lake in their mind, and that the energy of yoga purifies that lake at the core of us. Tonight it was like that core of me was just. profoundly. sad. I would get close to the rhythm, and then this wave of emotion would overwhelm me. I felt like I had to choose between good practice and getting lost in emotion, or half-assed practice and keeping things in check. I chose the latter. I might have to go to class on Saturday to make up for this. My body’s not happy with me, nor I with it. I suppose at least the feeling is mutual?
One of the things I love most about starting a new job or being in a new place is the awareness of my body orienting itself to a new space. I love that at the coffeeshop I know what is within arm’s reach of the espresso machine, and that I always reach for the large lids even though I know I can’t get them. I love that the small fridge is just about the length of my leg, and that I can hold it open with my up-turned toes or my inner thigh. I love learning the places where I can stretch – the racks above the door at just the right height for my shoulders, bracing my feet on the sink supports and leaning waaaay back to stretch out my lower back. I love knowing which doors will close with the bump of my hip, and which will take a kick (as the middle drawer of the black cabinets did).
It’s so cliche to say that doing yoga is a centering exercise – that it allows you to concentrate on your body, on the movement of your muscles, and on your breathing at the exclusion of everything else – but it’s so true. For a long time my awareness of my body has been defined by the way my body intertwined with my lover’s – but moving through the poses, feeling the pull in the back of my thighs, feeling the ache in my arms – I am learning my body again, on its own, divorced from the act of love, or these other defining spaces. It’s pretty incredible.