Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Advanced Class - Ouch City

This is a first.  A first of many firsts to come, I'm quickly realizing.  This is my first blog, my first post, and the first day I have ever practiced the Advanced Bikram Yoga Series!  Well, perhaps "practiced" is a somewhat glorified description of what I looked like flopping around on the mat attempting to balance only on one toe, an elbow, and my fingertips.  And occasionally my head.  I will freely admit that it wasn't pretty, graceful, or even amusing enough to be considered comical by the other practitioners, but even the attempt felt amazing.  My back has definitely never bent like that before, and I've been blessed with a fairly bendy back.

Let me back up a moment.  I'm assuming that anyone reading this blog will have at least a passing familiarity with the Bikram Yoga Beginner's practice of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises in a heated room (approx 105 degrees, 40% humidity).  This series is meant to be practiced by anyone and everyone, always a challenge no matter how often or how many times you've done it. 

But gaining access to the Advanced Series has always been elusive, the holy grail of yoga practices for Bikram students, open only to teachers or students training for competition.  Today I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time (not to mention so close to TT that I can feel the heat from the "torture chamber" billowing down the back of my neck) to be personally invited to practice the 84 Asana Advanced Series.

I won't blab on about this experience too much, except to say that I feel newly humbled by this practice and am excited in a completely new way about the potential for change in my own body.  The Advanced series allowed opening in my hamstrings that I've never been able to achieve and it also, magically, addressed a stubborn issue I've been struggling with in my leg/hamstring for months.  To watch the experienced teachers execute these postures was profound and inspirational.  Thanks so much Diane!!

Oh, did I neglect to mention that I hurt all over and that I think I suffered a mild allergic reaction to either the carpet in the hot room or my sweaty x 2 towel and yoga clothes after class(es) were finally done?  No so important, but just don't want anyone to think I'm SuperYogini just breezing through both Beginner's and Advanced Series with no repercussions.  The real pain will be felt upon waking in the morning.  Good times.

Another first along this weird, sweaty journey towards teacher certification occurred yesterday: My first double!  I had never before seen the benefit to two classes in one day so had not given the matter much consideration.  But with TT just around the corner, it seemed like a good idea to get myself a taste of what I was in for.  I tried to approach it without expectations but, as everyone knows, that's nearly impossible.  The morning class was fine, uneventful, fairly strong.  Come 3:30pm, the time I needed to leave for the studio, the fatigue was overwhelming.  Since there was no choice involved (so nice to not think) I just left the house and went to the studio where I practiced dialogue with the mic (another first!) until it was time to set up for class.

As it turned out, I had the same wonderful teacher for both morning and afternoon class so was able to have a very balanced perspective on what was same/different between the two experiences. Much love to Jennifer for this one.  What I noticed most was a distinct lack of personal drama in class #2.  Bend all the way back?  Ok, no problem.  Touch forehead directly on the knee?  Sure, I can do that.  It was as if my body had been wound up and was just puttering along while my mind observed its progress and form.  Sooooooooooo strange and freakishly cool.  Now how to make every day of doubles during training just as enjoyable... Nope.  Probably not going to happen, but a sweet and optimistic thought nonetheless.  I have a feeling that those types of warm-and-fuzzy intentions might go the way of the dodo in the coming days so best give them life now to inspire my future self.

Hear that, future self?  You like doubles.  You looooooooovvvvvvvvvvveeeeeee them.  Now repeat that to yourself 45 times and you'll be done in no time.