A Healthy Transformation

A blog about diet, exercise, and health

My Bikram Progress, Part I September 22, 2010

Filed under: Exercise — fitnessie @ 2:00 am

Two months ago, I embarked on something the Bikram Yoga studio called “the Bikram challenge”.  To me, this meant unlimited Bikram yoga for 2 months for only $160.00.  To them, this meant beginning a challenge that was supposed to involve 5 classes a week for 8 weeks (40 in total).  (If you’re curious about what Bikram yoga is, read this.)

I knew immediately that I would not complete this challenge.  I think variety is key, and to do this I would have to give up a night at the YMCA or a night of climbing.  I didn’t want to compromise my other activities, so I decided I’d do about 4 classes a week.

This is the last week of my challenge, and I’m proud to say that (provided I make it to my classes this week) I met my goal!  In celebration, I’m going to show you my Bikram yoga progress.  After each Bikram class this week, I’ll come home and (pre-shower) photograph my postures in a series of four installments.  This is a great way for me to judge my progress also, since I don’t often get to see what my poses look like from the side.

Toes and heels touching, standing legs locked, eyes front in the mirror, let’s begin!

Pranayama Series (Standing Deep Breathing Pose)

Inhale through the nose…

Exhale through the mouth…

This pose isn’t exactly difficult.  I’ve noticed that my elbows go up higher than most in my class during the inhale, but I’m not sure if that really matters.  I’ve gotten better at taking deeper breathes, and even making noise on my exhale.  I’ve also been trying to get my arms up without a back bend in the exhale position, so I was pleased to see that my back wasn’t bending in this side view.

Ardha-Chandrasana and Pada-Hastasana (Half Moon Pose and hands to Feet)

Start with your legs locked, toes and heels touching, arms glued overhead with your fingers interlocked, stretching up with arms behind the ears…

Take a deep breath and bend to the right…

Then to the left…

Come to center, drop your head back, and your arms should immediately follow, glued to the ears…

And now for the first forward bend of the day…

Ok, so, while this is all technically “one pose”, I have to say that each position in it couldn’t be more different.  And I have very different feelings about each one.  The first posture, for instance, during which I bend to the left and right, I feel GREAT about.  I’ve improved the flexibility of my sides and hips so much, and in that posture, it shows.  The back bend is, by far, the hardest for me to do in the series.  When I started, I felt out of breath and would constantly have to come up to breathe, but now I can stay in it the whole time.  This has allowed me to go much deeper than when I started, but I still feel as though my posture is sort of pitiful.  My back isn’t very flexible, so I’m happy I made even that little progress.  The final part of the posture– the forward bend– was one I always felt good about until this photograph!  I never realized how far I was from my head touching my feet (and my hips being up in the air).  I hurt my left knee, which doesn’t make getting into this posture any easier, but that’s no excuse.

Utkatasana (Awkward Pose)

Separate your feet six inches apart, weight on the heels, and go down…

Come up on your toes and sit in the chair, knees up towards the ceiling…

Now bring your knees together and come up slightly on your toes, and slowly go down…

This is actually one of my favorite postures!  I’m the worst at the first part, have improved the most in the second, and have always felt pretty comfortable in the third.  In the first part, I have trouble trying to arch back without coming up off the “chair”.  In the second posture, I’m pleasantly surprised at how straight my back is– I always feel like I’m leaning forward, but it’s actually pretty slight (the goal is to have a straight back).  I still could work on getting my knees up, though.  In the final posture, what I need to work on is something I can’t photograph– my speed in getting in/out.  Sometimes I’ll have good days where I can go down and come up with perfect controlled slowness– other days I drop down and have to bend forward to come up. 

Garurasana (Eagle Pose)

Cross your arms and twist like ropes…

Try to tuck your foot under the calf muscle…

I SUCK SUCK SUCK at eagle pose.  I hate it.  I can’t get my palms to touch (I still have to grip my fingers) and, while my foot position has improved, I still am nowhere near seeing my toes peek out the other side of my leg.  I’m also much better with my right side than with my left.  What frustrates me the most about this pose is that I don’t know how to get better at it.  I know that after my trip to NJ I got better at the foot position, but I don’t know why.  All I did was NOT do yoga for a month, and the voila– better pose!  So maybe when I go back after my break this time, I’ll be perfect in it.  Who the heck knows.  Anyone have any pointers for me?

So, there it is– me at my sweatiest.  I’m purposely not only going to post pictures of poses that I look good in.  I just suck at some of the poses, and some of the poses just aren’t flattering.  That’s what I wear in the class, that’s how I look in the class, and I just need to get over myself, get more comfortable with myself, and not be afraid to let people see me not looking my best.


3 Responses to “My Bikram Progress, Part I”

  1. xj Says:

    Good job on meeting the challenge! You go girl…I don’t think I can do as much yoga.

  2. Holy moley, impressive poses! I think that 5 classes of yoga a week is a little excessive, but that DOES sound like a great deal!

    Just makes me think that I want some more yoga in my life…

  3. chimezie Says:

    Wow, I’m highly impressed with your progress. keep on keeping on girl, you’re almost there


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