Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The "Aha!" Moment During the Master Cleanse

I glazed over the fact that I was fasting for the past week in my last post, but I feel like I should dive deeper into the subject because of my "Aha!" moment.

I guess the real reason I started the "master cleanse" 9 days ago was because i wanted to feel what it was going to do to my body. I also thought i might have some sort of epiphany or something. Only drinking a mixture of water, maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper for 10 days aught to make you feel something, right?

I have to admit that this has been the absolute hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Going on all day only drinking this "lemonade" mixture whenever I feel hungry is such a hard thing to do when all you really wanna scarf is some Doritos. Or even some fried tofu with green beans and garlic sauce. Or a Boston Creme Donut. Here I go again.

Halfway through the fast, when it started becoming increasingly hard, a friend reminded me that when the body doesn't have to use its energy digesting food, it can use its energy to help other areas of your body that may be otherwise neglected. This thought helped a lot...and it was the beginning of me internalizing what was going on.

A few hours ago while I was feeling a little bummed that tomorrow would be my last day on the fast and I had yet to experience an "aha!" moment, it came to me. Much like digestion, my feelings toward my "American" eating habits were also being changed by the cleanse. The past 9 days, I have only drank when I was hungry. And though I was only taking in about 650 calories a day, I felt more alive than I have ever been. I for once was allowing myself to stop thinking about food all the time and was then able t focus on other things in my life that I had been neglecting.

I tried to begin listing "for instances," but none came to me :) But I do feel an indescribable difference. A difference large enough to convince myself that though this cleanse has been the hardest thing I have ever done, I need to do it every year. If only as a reminder of this indescribable feeling I have.

When I can eat regular food on Sunday (there is a "weaning off" process that last a few days after the 10 day of the cleanse), I will admit I am going to have some guacamole...some Mexican food! But hopefully I will carry on a bit of the habits I started with the cleanse.

Some weird things that happened during the cleanse:
-Lactic acid built up faster in my legs when I was at rehearsal
-I felt more focused when I drove my car
-Oddly, I felt more energetic, and more flexible than normal
-I lost almost 15 pounds...in 9 days
-I craved Doritos like you wouldn't believe...and I also craved meat, which is weird because I have been a vegetarian for 15 years

All in all, I know that I said earlier that I wouldn't recommend this cleanse to anyone, but after tonight, I think it is necessary to recharge your body and mind at least once a year.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Wow, it has been over a month since my last post. Where did the time go? Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to completely dive into those three Yoga videos I wrote about in my last post. They will just have to wait until I am done with the zillions of projects I have going on both with my job and extra curricular dancing as well.

Speaking of projects, we added a cool new shirt to YogaDirect.com It says "I'll Be OHM for the Holidays." It comes in men's and ladies' sizes. They make great gifts!

I'll Be OHM for the Holidays T-Shirts

Busy busy busy! There's also been some photo shoots going on! My good friend Amy who will be a Certified Yoga Instructor in January came by to do a photo shoot with some of our new items, like the Dome Yoga Balls, our new Printed Alignment Yoga Mats, the new sizes and weights for our Weighted Pilates Balls, and our new Zafus. Here's a sample of some one of the great shots we got of her using Resistance Bands.

Amy posing with Resistance Bands

I also had a photo shoot with a photographer trying to build his portfolio with dance and dancer photos. Here's a funny photo of myself posing with a Yoga Ball I got from YogaDirect.com

YogaMaendy and Yoga Ball

I have also been on the "Master Cleanse" this past week. I am currently on day 8 of the 10 day fast, and I am actually feeling great. (Although working in an office full of food has made it a little more rough than expected). I did a fruit and vegetable fast in the spring, and after experiencing this one, I feel that it is a good idea to continue this spring and fall fasts every year...kind of like spring cleaning for my body.

That's all for now. Hopefully I will be able to get in a few more posts before the end of the year...just in time for new year's resolutions! I know what is going to be #1 on my list: MORE YOGA!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Yoga DVD's and Home Practice

I have been sooooooo very busy lately. Between rehearsals for Soma Dance Company, working at YogaDirect.com, and rehearsing for the Jazz Nutcracker (it's just like the regular Nutcracker...but jazzy), I haven't had much time to go to any Yoga classes lately. I have, however, been keeping up with stretching at least a little bit every day. It is so important to keep your spine nice and flexible because it is probably the most important set of bones in your body. And I can't tell you just how good it feels to do a nice spinal twist, especially if you sit at a desk all day at work like I do. Keeping your spine healthy and supple is key to being healthier as you grow older.

Well, because I haven't been to a Yoga class in a while, I decided to pick up some new Yoga videos. Like I have stated before, we have a GREAT selection of Yoga DVD's at YogaDirect.com (you can find them by clicking here). One of the pieces of choreography we are working on in Soma Dance Company requires me to lift another dancer for pretty much the entire dance. And since my upper body is slightly weaker than my lower body (as most dancers are), I picked up these three DVD's:

My new Yoga DVDs

I chose these three because I thought they'd help me build muscles, and also stretch them out. Yoga doesn't really build bulky muscles, but I already have overly muscular thighs from years of doing ballet (improperly) that I have been trying to stretch out. Also, because my quads are over-developed, my hamstrings are tight, and I am hoping these videos may help balance me out more. I also want to be able to developpe (or extend) my leg up a bit higher than I already can. Just so I can have bragging rights, of course. This is how high I can get my leg up now:
My developpe
I'd also like to be able to do that without lifting my hip up, as shown in the photo (and without the funny-looking face too!). So I am going to be doing those DVD's at my home and I will report back about the DVD's and if they can help me increase my strength and flexibility by doing Yoga in my own home!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hyperextended Joints and Yoga

Lately, I've been addicted to practicing Yoga in my livingroom using DVD's from YogaDirect.com (of course!). However, I have been noticing that some of the demonstrators in the videos have hyper extended elbows and knees and don't really pay attention to correctly aligning their joints while they practice. Not only does it look gross to see a backward bending knee or elbow, but it is very dangerous to put pressure on an overly extended joint.

Caught Dancing with Hyper Extended Elbows
Caught dancing with hyper extended elbows

I have hyper extended elbows and knees myself, and as a dancer, I've had to train myself to become more aware of correct placement so I don't get injured (or look disgusting on stage...I have had a few photos shot of myself during performances with my arms looking backwards...see above!). So I did a little research about hyper extension and how to deal with it in Yoga class.

My Hyper Extended Elbows
My gross hyper extended elbows

Hyper extended joints, or joint hyper mobility, is hereditary and is mainly caused by loose ligaments around the joint. If you stand with hyper extended knees, your body weight is no longer evenly distributed in your feet, and the weight of your body becomes held up by your heels. Over time, this pressure in your heels will cause flat feet, or even pronation (when your feet roll in). Plus, once your legs get used to the hyper extended stance, your vastus medialis obliques (the muscles toward the inside of your thighs) become weak and the quads take over. Hyper extension of the knee also causes hip problems. Remember, once one part of your body is misaligned, other muscles will try to compensate, leaving you with more to correct later on than just your overly flexible knees. Over extended elbows are also problematic in postures that require you to put weight on them such as plank pose.

Your joints are connected by delicate tissues and over time, if you continuously over extend, the tissues get worn away. Once the tissue is gone, you may get arthritis, or another painful joint injury. Also, when you hyper extend your knees in a standing posture, you are actually slightly cutting off the flow of blood to your feet, which is the opposite of what Yoga is trying to do in your body.

If you know that you have hyper extended joints, you should wear something to Yoga class that will expose those parts, like shorts or tight-fitted pants, so you can keep a close eye on your knees and elbows while you are in class. Make a conscious effort to keep your knees and elbows slightly bent in postures. It will feel weird at first, but relying on muscles for alignment is much better than relying on some connective tissue to keep you on your feet!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Yoga Balls = Party Chairs

I threw a Calzone Party at my apartment the other night. I invited over some of my closest friends and we all enjoyed some drinks and made calzones. However, I did not have enough chairs for everyone who showed up, so I got the bright idea to use Yoga Balls! Since I had about 5 of them laying around my apartment, I brought them all out & they instantly became a hit!

Yoga Ball Calzone Party

Two of the friends I invited over were dancers, but the rest were unfamiliar with what the Yoga Balls were used for, and as the night went on, we all did a little ab work, fell off the balls occasionally, and generally had a great time on our new chairs! I recommend using Yoga Balls for chairs at any party!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yoga Ball = Computer Chair

This week I decided to switch out my regular computer chair with my Yoga Ball. I decided to do this mostly because my body is incredibly sore from dance rehearsals this week and slouching in a regular chair proved to be more uncomfortable than relaxing. The Yoga Ball I am using is a silver 75cm ball from YogaDirect.com (of course!).

YogaMaendy on her Yoga Ball

At first I thought I'd get tired of sitting on the thing, but that never happened. I feel like I have been sitting with perfect posture the whole time I am working, and it is even great to take a little break now and again to do some Pilates on the Ball while I am working, because well, why not! I also enjoyed being able to bounce whenever I feel like it, and that is always fun to break up the big tedious projects I have going on.

Since I work at YogaDirect.com, I don't have any co-workers really giving me weird looks because of the ball, but one of the newer employees asked me all sorts of questions about it. He wanted to know if it was weird to be sitting on something that could "oscillate" all over the place. Yes, he used the word oscillate! So I told him the ball is supposed to move around, and when it moves, your abs have to work extra hard so you can stay balanced on the ball. He then asked if he could try sitting on it, and as soon as he did, he fell right into me! Guess it takes a little practice to sit on a ball.

If you'd like to sit at a ball at your own desk, I suggest getting a size or two up from the ball you'd normally get to work out with. I think any ball within the 75cm-85cm range will work best. We have a pretty good selection of Yoga Balls at YogaDirect.com, of course, so go get one for yourself and start sitting with perfect posture at your desk every day!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jumping Off Rocks

I have been planning on going to Enders Waterfall in Granby, Connecticut with friends for about three weeks now, but something has always come up. This weekend, however, I finally ended up going! My friends had been there before and had told me all sorts of exciting stories about sliding down the waterfalls and jumping off cliffs into the water and I was dying to try it myself.

We got off to a late start, but we hiked down to the falls by about 2:30pm, and it was definitely still hot out, even when we were shielded by the woods. However, because there hadn't been any substantial rainfall the past week, it wasn't safe enough for us to slide down because the water level was so low. We hiked to a different spot where there were 3 different level cliffs where we could jump off into the water.

First level Cliff
This was the shortest cliff...the first one I jumped off of.

Jumping off cliffs into water always sounds like a fun thing to do...until you are actually standing at the edge of the cliff. The lowest rock ledge you could jump off was about 10 feet from the water, so of course I tried that one first. My friend Amy (also a newby) shook at the edge with me for about 10 minutes before we got up enough courage to actually jump off. It's so strange how even though you know you will be perfectly safe jumping because you will be landing in a nice, deep pool of water, it still takes a while for your brain to shut off and just let your body act. I mean, other people were doing flips off this ledge, so why can't I just step off? And of course before i jumped off that first one I had to calm my breathing, and before I knew it I had landed in the cool water!

After feeling like I could do ANYTHING because I had jumped that first ledge, I decided to try the second, higher level. This one was about 15-20 feet high, and there was a bush in the way of the jump. This one made me the most nervous because you had to make sure you jumped in a certain spot or you'd land on some rocks below. Yes I know, very safe! But after a little chickening out, I jumped, and landed on the water with my backside. It created a large red mark on me for a bit, but it was fun!

View from the Second Highest Cliff
This is the view from the second highest cliff.

After that second jump, it was time to climb to the highest cliff. This one was definitely the scariest because it was so high (about 25-30 feet from the water below) and my friends were saying that when you are falling, you have some hang time in the air before you hit the water. In other words, while you are falling, you have time to realize that you are a crazy person! Needless to say it took me 10 minutes of chickening out before I stopped shaking enough to jump. Looking down the edge of the cliff 8,000 times before I attempted didn't really help much. It's such a crazy feeling to jump off of something that high. And it is a little mind blowing as well because while you know that it is perfectly safe, you brain knows that jumping off cliffs is not something it is used to. Your body almost goes into panic mode! I had to take a few steps backwards to give myself a running start because if I kept looking down to the water below, I never would have taken the jump. And let me tell you, you do get a bit of time falling through the air before you hit the water. It was completely exhilarating!

The View Down
This is the view down standing on the tallest cliff.

So while this post is not about Yoga, I thought the experience in itself was much like going through a very strenuous Yoga class. Sometimes for your body to grow you just need to shut off your mind and go for it. Once you step off the edge of that cliff, you can do anything!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What Size Mat Should I Get?

My entire body is completely sore from dance rehearsal this week. The company director has been giving us Horton technique in our warmups this week, and it is one of the most strenuous sets of exercises ever! My Sun Salutation this morning felt extra great because I got to stretch out all my aching muscles. I love Yoga!

Working at YogaDirect.com, we get a lot of questions from customers looking to purchase certain items we sell on our site. One of the most popular questions asked is regarding what size mat is best for Yoga class. Choosing a Yoga mat, in my opinion, is a very personal decision. Because a Yoga mat acts as a barrier (and personal space) between yourself and the ground, it needs to provide you with enough cushioning, traction, and protection for your own body to safely and efficiently practice Yoga. When choosing a Yoga mat, you should consider its length, thickness, and width.

Your Yoga mat should be proportional to the size of your body. Standard sized Yoga mats work for Yogis under 6ft tall. If you are taller than 6ft, you should consider purchasing an extra long Yoga mat (see one here at YogaDirect.com). There is nothing worse than going to relax in Savasana, only to find that your head or feet are hanging off the end of your mat.

As far as thickness of the mat goes, I always say that it depends on the floor you practice on, as well as the type of Yoga you do. For instance, Bikram Yoga studio floors tend to be carpeted (yucko for mildew), so you may prefer purchasing a 1/8" thick mat (see one here at YogaDirect.com) because you won't need the extra cushioning. However, if your class is held on bare floor, you might want a thicker 1/4" mat (see one here at YogaDirect.com). Also, if you have knee or back problems, having an extra thick mat will be ideal, because it will provide you with extra support in kneeling or laying postures.

Finally, when it comes to the width of the mat, that all depends on how much personal space you are looking for. If you go to a crowded studio, it is always nice to have a wider mat (see one here at YogaDirect.com) on hand if you don't like smooshing up really close to the Yogi next to you. Color is also something to think about when choosing a new Yoga mat. If it is your first time in class and you are a bit modest, it's probably best to stick with a neutral or darker colored mat. For myself, however, I prefer brighter mats because they energize me. The one is use at the moment in my Bikram Yoga class is the 1/4" thick Zen Green Yoga Mat from YogaDirect.com. You can get one by clicking here.

All in all, choosing a Yoga mat is a very personal decision and is totally left up to you. You are, after all, the ruler of your own personal space!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Yoga in Sin City

I just got back from being in Las Vegas for the ASD/AMD Trade Show. It was a general merchandise trade show, and our YogaDirect.com booth was sandwiched in between a fleece blanket vendor and a tobacco pipe vendor (not very zen :) We were there to mostly get people introduced to our company, and to hopefully educate new and existing businesses about the benefits of Yoga and its impact in the health and fitness world.

My colleage Kristen and I were very successful at getting people to at least look at our booth, which is the hardest task at a trade show. We did so by replacing the chairs the show provided us at our booth with Yoga balls. We bounced on those things for 8 hours straight for four days, and not only was it fun, we worked our abs as well! Many people stopped by and we talked to them about Yoga, Pilates, and all the equipment and props we sell. Most people told us we had the most fun booth in the whole show! We handed out tons of brochures and met a lot of really great people. All in all I think the trade show was a success...and Las Vegas was pretty fun too!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Watching Excerise TV

Last night at rehearsal, we started off doing some Horton technique for warm up (Horton is the technique the Alvin Ailey Dance Company uses). Before we started, myself and the other dancers vowed to make a more conscious effort to breathe through the movements, rather than accidentally holding our breath. This time around, it was a bit easier for me, and I did discover that when I was doing incredibly strenuous things like lateral side bends and flat back extensions, I didn't squeal and moan during them because I was so focused on matching my breath up with what my body was doing. I caught it, and everything seemed easier! I am going to keep this breathing up from now on in rehearsal.

Last night when I got home, I sat down in front of the TV. I am not much of a television watcher, but I had some time to kill before bedtime and decided to shut off my brain. That was, until I discovered "Exercise TV," a special feature that lets you choose exercise programs to watch whenever you'd like. So I perused through the short list of fitness choices. Among them were a few cardio classes, some short ten minute workouts, and of course 2 Yoga workouts, and a 10 minute Pilates core strengthening class. I chose to do the 10 minute Pilates class, which was labeled a Beginner class.

Unfortunately, I left my mat in my car, so I ended up just laying down on my hardwood floors. Yes, I know it is not the best thing for my back, but I am pretty good at slowly rolling down one vertebrae at a time, and I am a pretty tough cookie, so hard surfaces don't bother me much. I made it through the short class easily, and the Instructor was pretty good at explaining everything (It was pretty much a basic ab series), but I feel that the fast paced nature of the workout might have been a little too much for beginners. Especially for beginners who are completely new to Pilates who are unfamiliar with correct Pilates positions. All in all though, I will be trying to do a new workout every day just because it is so convenient!

Speaking of convenient, YogaDirect.com has a TON of Yoga, Pilates, and Movement DVD's and CD's that allow you to bring your practice into the privacy and comfort of your own home. You can check them out by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Harder Than I Thought!

Before rehearsal started last night I told the other dancers about my breathing experiment, and Meghan decided to participate as well. I was happy for this because we ended up reminding each other to breathe throughout the night. It was harder than I thought! I usually started off breathing fine, then I'd forget and fall back into my old patterns. Meghan had similar problems. I am trying it again tonight because I am convinced that with practice, I will be able to unconsciously breathe deeper when I dance.

The times I did consciously breathe however, I found that the movements I was doing flowed a lot better than they usually do. So far so good!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Taking a Deeper Breath

I have to admit, I really haven't been to a Yoga class in over two weeks, but I haven't stopped stretching, and at least getting one round of Sun Salutation in every day. I have been spending all my free time doing all of the fun outdoor activities you can do in the summer. This past week, for instance, I went hiking and canoeing. Who can turn that down?

I have, however, been keeping up with the breathing experiment i proposed in my last post. I was trying to see if Pranayama breathing and warming up my lungs before dancing would help me perform better during rehearsals. Yesterday was my first time, and I felt that if I tried to do the breathing while I was in the dance studio, the other dancers would be a little freaked out. Instead, I did a set of about 20 good deep breaths in my car on my way to rehearsal.

When I stepped out of my car, I did feel a bit more energized. However, as rehearsal went on, I didn't really notice if I had any sort of change in performance. What I did notice is how often I hold my breath when I dance! This is very bad!

So, tonight in rehearsal I am going to make an effort to pay attention to my breath and how I can use it while I dance. I always talk about breath being linked to movement, but most of the time, I completely forget. I read a while ago that most people are guilty of weak and shallow breathing, and that it's a good idea to try to re-teach yourself how to breathe to get the most out of everything you take in, as well as everything you release. For dance (and Yoga), breathing is very important. I will write a new post tomorrow after I have correctly breathed in rehearsal tonight!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pranayama Breathing for Dancing?

Well, my ankle is feeling much better, and I have decided to take more care into warming it up before rehearsals and Yoga class so I don't injure it like that again.

Speaking of warming up, I have been thinking a lot about the Pranayama breathing that we do in Bikram Yoga class. The teacher always talks about how we use the breathing exercises at the beginning of the class to warm up the inside of our bodies, especially (and obviously) the lungs, and I wonder if I could hurt my lungs the way I hurt my ankle, because I don't warm up my lungs before dance rehearsal.

So I decided to read up a little more about Pranayama breathing and all the good things it can do for you. Other than relaxing your mind and keeping you focused during your practice, I learned that Pranayama breathing helps high blood pressure and relieves irritability. In Bikram class, the Pranayama breathing even quadruples lung capacity, helps control breathing problems like asthma, and even detoxifies the body. The elbow lifts done in Bikram during the first breathing exercise also help to lift and separate your rib cage, and dropping the head back to exhale opens the cervical vertebrae, relaxes the shoulders, stretches the nervous system, and even strengthens leg and abdominal muscles. That is doing a whole lot of good for your body - just by breathing in and out!

I also read about the different (wacky) types of Yogic breathing. Alternate Nostril Breathing is a special way of breathing in through one nostril, and breathing out through the other. It is supposed to be very calming, but requires you to alternately physically close off notrils with your finger. I tried this one, but didn't find it very soothing because I was congested in one nostril from allergies. Another way of breathing is a Cooling Breath, and involves breathing in through your nose, but then out of your mouth through a curled tongue. That's right, you curl your tongue and blow the air out that way. Since I am one of those people that can't curl her tongue, this breathing doesn't work for me either.

The Kapalbhati breathing that is done in Firm Pose at the end of Bikram class is a type of breathing that has always intrigued me. The fact that it is possible to only exhale, and allow the inhalations to occur unconsciously is a hard thing to comprehend. However, when it happens naturally, it is pretty amazing. I learned that Kapalbhati breathing not only helps strengthen your abdominal muscle wall, it also helps detoxify your body, normalises your bowels, and brings you mental clarity. I'll bet it helps with mental clarity because in order to do this breathing properly, you really have to not think about what you are doing at all, and just clear your mind. The second set, which is double the speed of the first set of breathing we do in class, is always the hardest for me because I think I go into panic mode too quickly from the short, quick spurts of breath.

In conclusion, after reading more about the different ways you can breathe, I suppose warming up my lungs before rehearsal would be a good idea, but probably isn't as necessary as warming up my ankles. However, I am going to try a few breathing exercises before I dive into my next few rehearsals and report back...just to see if I feel anything different.

I'll keep ya posted!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Importance of Warming Up

As I mentioned earlier, I have problems with my ankles...

Well, I ended up missing Yoga class this week because I didn't warm myself up properly at our last dance rehearsal and messed up my right Achilles tendon. I think I had a partial rupture. It was weird because my ankle didn't hurt me the whole time I was dancing...but then as I was about to take a step out of the studio to leave, I felt a nasty sharp pain in my Achilles and it prevented me from walking for about a minute or so. There was no pop or snap, but there was definitely some intense pain, and I seriously saw my life flash before my eyes when it happened. I am an extremely active person, and not being able to walk is not something I would be able to deal with.

I know eventually after resting my ankle, it will feel better, but I really wish I had warmed myself up properly before rehearsal. Especially since it has been absolutely beautiful outside lately, and not being able to jog is really killing me. And I hate missing Yoga class as well.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Zen and Surfing

I went to Bikram Yoga again on Saturday morning. Since the class starts at 9am, I woke at 7am and ate breakfast then (you aren't supposed to eat anything right before class). The class was very refreshing, although I felt again like I was nauseous during Half Tortoise pose. If it happens again when I go to class this Thursday, I am going to ask the teacher what is up, because this has never happened before.

I went surfing for the first time yesterday. It was such a beautiful day, and my friends and I woke up early and drove to a beach in Rhode Island. When I was young, I got stung by a jellyfish while wading in the ocean water, and I really hadn't gotten back in the water since because the experience just turned me off. However, I have always wanted to surf, and learning to surf means getting back into the ocean. So I sucked it up and got over my fear. I screamed a lot when the waves came crashing on me, but after a while I found the waves to be so zen and calming. I didn't want to get out of the water!

After reaquainting myself with the ocean, I was excited to grab a surf board and try my luck with the waves. I tried two different boards - a short one without a foot leash, and a long thick one that was supposedly easier for beginners. Catching waves is pretty tricky. First you have to wait for the right one, and then when it arrives, you have to belly flop onto the board and start paddling toward the shore as much as you can, and eventually, if the wave lets you, you will be swept forward and taken for a ride. And during that ride, if you are travelling fast enough, you have to magically get your feet up on the board in one foul swoop. That was the hardest part, as I only managed to get my knees up on the board. However, I did get to ride a few waves and it was the best feeling. Surfing really is a zen sport, and makes you feel really connected to the ebb and flow of the ocean. I do wish I had worn a stronger SPF sunscreen, though, because my body is as red as a lobster right now from sunburn. I am going to try surfing again next weekend!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Half Tortoise Made Me Nauseous

After 3 nights of really strenuous rehearsals for Soma Dance Company (the modern dance company I perform with), I was really looking forward to stretching out my aching muscles at my regular Bikram Yoga class (I go to Bikram Yoga Farmington in Connecticut).

For the first half of class I found that I was just having one of those days that I couldn't balance at all! I tried relaxing myself & just breathing instead of thinking about how wobbly I was, but I pretty much fell out of every standing posture that required me to stand on one leg no matter what I tried. All except Balancing Stick pose, which is the one I usually fall out of. But I think the only reason I was able to "stick" that pose (pun intended) was because the teacher was standing right next to me at that point, saying "stretch equally in opposite directions - body down, leg up...BODY DOWN LEG UP!" So i did :) I heard from someone that if you have citrus fruits, it kind of throws of your balance, and I had been drinking a lot of orange juice. So maybe I can use that as an excuse for being wobbly.

During the 2 minute corpse pose I felt REALLY good, which is unusual. I usually lay uncomfortably in that posture because my mind tends to wander everywhere, but I think I was just so exhausted from rehearsals that I really allowed myself to just lay there and breathe. The next few back bending postures went really smoothly, although I started to feel a little nauseous. So I tried to breathe, but nothing was helping. Before Fixed Firm pose, I took a sip of water, which is something I normally do. During the first set of Tortoise Pose, I was feeling extra bendy, so I pushed myself a little farther than I usually do, and then I got a little nauseous again. So I continued breathing. I almost felt like I was going to throw up!

So today, looked up what others have had to say about feeling nauseous during class, but most people have said nausea may be a sign of heat exhaustion, or dehydration. However, I am not sure this is true in my case, as I am a regular in class, and I always drink plenty of water during the day. I looked to see what Half Tortoise Pose does to the body, hoping to find that it does something to your digestive system. I learned that Half Tortoise pose massages your heart, lungs, and coronary arteries, stretches your lower lungs, and cures indigestion, constipation, and flatulence. Bingo. I guess maybe that water I had sipped before Fixed Firm hadn't gone down to my belly all the way & Half Tortoise stirred it up a little bit. Ha! I don't know for sure, but I do know that it wasn't pleasant. I am definitely going to think twice before I take a sip of water during the second half of class again!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Warming up

So I thought I'd start my first post by introducing myself. My name is Maendy and I work at YogaDirect.com, the best place to get really good Yoga props and equipment for very reasonable prices (and I'd say that even if I didn't work there! :)

I am also a Yoga FANATIC! I am an avid BikramYoga student, but I also love Vinyasa Yoga. I am dying to find a good local Ashtanga Yoga class that fits my schedule - anyone know of one? Finally, I am a modern dancer and Pilates student.

Let's see...what else can I tell ya....

My favorite style of Yoga (so far) is Bikram Yoga, because it is so challenging. I know that some people have dissed Bikram Yoga because of its static structure (the same postures are performed in the same order every class) and its teaching style (teachers recite a "script" and tell students to lock their knees and stretch beyond your flexibility throughout class), but I feel that because every class is the same, it allows me to learn something new about my body every time I am in class. The intense heat of the room is especially challenging. I feel a real sense of accomplishment after I have stretched my body in all sorts of ways in a hot as hell room full of sweaty, smelly people for 90 minutes. Makes me feel like I can do anything!

I am also such a big fan of Bikram because I have a lot of built up scar tissue in my left ankle from dancing on pointe shoes too early as a child. Because of this, my ankle was always very stiff and it has prevented me from doing a certain postures in Yoga classes. However, after attending Brikram Yoga class regularly, I have slowly worked through that scar tissue (it took a little over a year, but the heat really helped), and now I have greatly increased the range of motion in that ankle. Now, I am pretty much addicted to Bikram!

Well, that's all for now - Namaste!