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Entries in hot yoga (16)


Double Double

Over the last many 60 day challenges, have done many doubles. Usually it is a class in the morning and another one in the evening over the weekend to make up for classes missed during travel.

A few times have done doubles with back to back classes.. but it is usually rare and the classes were taught by different teachers. 

One exception was back to back classes taught by Ashley.. gave it my 110% in both classes. 

also got an idea to take a picture after each class and merge them.

Double class, teacher, student..

Actually feel pretty good after doing back to back classes!

the trick is to trust your teacher to watch out for you. They always do!

The challenge continues.. 


Water bottles....

I spent 30 mintues yesterday trying to find my first Yoga waterbottle. It was a "get well soon" gift from Camino Medical group after my surgery. When I started doing yoga and was searching for a water bottle, it was the only bottle I had. That bottle was kept as a memorabilia of sorts and survived many spring clean up efforts from wife and the kids. Alas, it was not to be found yesterday. Not sure if it was thrown out when I was not looking.. Once I left it at BYSJ and got it back in lost and found. That actually made my day!

Initially, I would sip. Then my MIL started putting ice in her bottle and inspired by her, I started using ice cubes. Soon it was mostly ice cubes with a little water. We eagerly looked forward to Eagle pose and the end of it so we could rush to ice water. Water never tasted that good! Those were early days.. first few classes.

Then went from sipping to guzzling. Yes, I was a guzzler once! I was the Hummer among Yogis! The little bendy straw on that bottle was not enough. Started removing the cap and drinking from the bottle. Soon, one bottle wasn't enough the way things were going. At the end of a year of yoga, the pores had opened up nicely, sweat was flowing freely, I had moved to be a front row student and would start sweating even before class began because of the heat in that part of the room. So one bottle became a bottle and a Cup (which Jr. won in a raffle at BYSJ! ) 

The bottle was for water

the cup was for ice

by the time we hit the floor

it was a sight for sore eyes.. 

I am getting carried away here. Then another year goes by and the cup is replaced with a full size bottle. We are now at 2 Liters of water during a class. The rate at which water consumption was increasing, would have had to join or start Waterholics Anonymous. Then came the fancy hydroflasks. These thinks kept the water cold even in a hot room, even if you were a little careless in closing the bottle. So the plastic ones were ditched and replaced with one flask. Had colors to chose from! 

Then I met Mary Jarvis... It has been two months to the day I gave up drinking water during class. For the record, I still drink water till about 30 minutes before class. Go to class without any water bottle. After class I wait for almost 10-15 minutes till I am at the first Stop sign or light and then take a sip. The bottle is there in the car. Now I place water bottles everywhere.. at work, in my bedroom table, in the living room.. kind of reminds me of that Signs movie where Mel Gibson's kid leaves water everywhere. 

For me to pull off a yoga class without water, I have to constantly hydrate out of class. Now there are four bottles being used regularly instead of one! Not over compensating or anything. Still drink the same amount of water, but make it a point to remember to drink an hour before class. 

Now that it has been two months without water in class, I can stop counting and go do this going forwards. Kid crawls.. then kid takes first steps, then walks.. you take a picture or a video of the first steps but after that the kids walking is taken for granted. Every year or two when there is a chance, one goes back to look at those photos and videos of the baby's first steps.. this post is going to be like that for me. Look back fondly and reminisce about guzzling days..

Never thought that I could do this first.

Then thought I could not do this for more than a week.

Now got used to it.

If only locking that knee consistantly could be pulled off with the same enthusiasm!!!!! That would make my day, or week or months! 


The end game..

A yoga post that was long coming.

2018 started with getting over the Flu. I was drinking Delsym at a minute before midnight on New Years eve. The last time I came back from Beijing, two days before X-mas, some bugs hitched a ride back with me or so I thought. So it took me till the 6th of January to go try Yoga again. Even on the 6th I was pretty weak and my plan was to go to anything but the front row and pace myself. There was a new teacher who keyed me in on the 6th and she had no idea it was my "come back class".

"A leopard cannot change its spots", or some such thing... Once I go through those double doors, I am like a new born that has been temporarily put back in the womb and I start kicking in my happy place. Put the mat in the last row and a second later move it to the third and after looking around the room and seeing there is a spot in the front row, moved it up to the mirror. My thoughts during those 90 or 100 seconds of mat moving cannot be summarized in this post. That could be a book in itself. You guys read this blog and you know I am good for it!

Came back the next day and my friend and teacher Jessica gave me a big hug and said "welcome back". She knew I was sick last two weeks but did not ask me anything more. That was probably her way of saying "you know what to do in the room, so I am not biasing you". At the end of the class, Jessica asks "60 day challenge?" like she was asking me if I would like some Gulab Jamun after a meal, and without giving it much thought, wrote my name on the sign up sheet. After that we didn't talk about it. I just came every day as usual, went to China as usual and did doubles on every weekend as usual, heard the sighs from wife and kids when they realized I was doing the challenge, as usual, and finished the Challenge.. and hopefully that becomes "as usual".

(there are better pics on BYSJ's Facebook page)

There was a Challenge party and we had some testimonials from folks who finished 60 classes in 60 days and they were all inspiring. We had to leave the party after an hour as the kids had to be taken to dinner.. as usual but this year we got to watch the other folks tell us about their journey on Facebook Live! I was telling the kids what Multiple Sclerosis was and after an inspiring story Jr. said she will come join me for classes again. Okay, she said "a class", but I am hoping it is going to be plural.

This year I am kicking out regularly in the standing head to knee pose and it is my new favorite pose.

There are alwasys graphs and charts for a 60 day challenge post..

There was a possibility of an earlier China trip, so I finished the challenge in 58 days and eventually did 61/60 when the trip was not pre-poned. If you think going to do Yoga more than 3 times a week is difficult think again. Coming back from a flu, going to Asia and back for a week in the middle of this, those were easy because I had done those before. One of the days, I had to drive past Sacramento area startign at 6AM, attend a meeting, come back at 5PM, chaired a meetign from 6 to 8 PM and still did yoga from 8:30PM-10PM just to keep challenge going. It is all doable. There are people who have debilitating issues who do the challenge and mine are nothing compared to those. Even if you don't do the challenge, it is okay. Come to the party to hear some really inspiring real life stories! 

Still tracking weight.. 

The excel file was started almost a year after starting Yoga and so far it has close to 2000 data points... (some of them blank)

Here is weight since 2012..

 If you notice the excel file there is a total class tracker. Have crossed 1500 classes and the best part is:

- Still suck at this

- Have not given up on it

- Even though my self assesment and self esteem take a beating in that mirror, the end result is positive because every day is usually better than the previous day

- this yoga keeps me grounded. Every now and then I get reminded that sooner or later gravity will win and I will be ashes, but till that day, going to fight gravity every day, every set.

- my teachers and fellow students seem to believe in me and root for me. they see more in me than I see myself and that is a blessing

- learn something new every day, be it class 1, 100, 1000 or 1506..always something new which brings me to class 1500

Have already posted about this special class with Yoga Professor Emeritus, Mary Jarvis. One class can sometimes change your view and attitude to things. This one definitely did for me.

It took me 4 classes after her talk, to give up water during Yoga class. The last one week have left the water bottle in the car. Sometimes I drink a sip or two on the way home. Mostly now I drink water a good 40 minutes after class is over. It is interesting.There is a sudden cool over my face and body and even on the insides while driving back after class. Kind of like what you feel when you drink regular water after chewing mint gum but it feels like ice water. Same thing except all over the body and this is new. Most likely has to do with the "no water during class".

Have also stopped fidgeting during class. No more subconscious wiping of sweat. No moving around mat with the bullshit excuse of trying to make it easy for people behind me who are also moving around, etc.

Currently trying to keep tummy sucked in from beginning of class till the first pose, and failing at it miserably. Confident that sooner or later that will change and can then go to other things that were taught.  

One funny thing Mary Jarvis mentioned during the special class which is replaying in my head?!

"the whole goal of doing this yoga is so you can sit in lotus pose without moving and meditate for long periods of time. This pose is almost a half lotus and this will eventually help you get to lotus!". She was telling the entire class that and I was thinking "What?! I can already sit in Lotus pose for long periods of time! Why am I doing this Yoga then? Shouldn't I do that instead?"

Maybe my Lotus sucks.. should make a bumper sticker that says "my lotus sucks" ? Maybe there is a market for it?  As a kid we used to sit in Lotus pose all the time. My kids here struggle because they are not used to sitting on the ground all the time. They have "criss cross applesauce" issues. Everytime we go visit the Livermore temple, I sit there for at least half an hour in silence before walking out. Used to do it at home also and manage to sit for 45 minutes. Two years ago I tried to time myself and made it once to 54 minutes. 

Maybe the key words were "long periods of time"! How long is long?!

After Mary's class, I wanted to try and see how long in lotus pose but with eyes closed and "no fidgeting". No movement "whatsoever".  Turns out it was 44 minutes 11 seconds as caught on timelapse video..

Technology is good. Daughter's iPhone for timelapse, my iPhone for timer, a clock in the background that catches the time "lapsing" and my legs that pretty much went blue after this time. Took me 3 minutes to be able to get up and walk again as the blood returned to my feet!

Doing 1500+ classes of 90 mintue Yoga and cannot even sit in one place without moving for one single hour! If that doesn't put things in perspective for you, don't know what will. There are folks who have stayed in the same place without moving for 1-3 days. I have been fortunate in this lifetime to meet multiple people who have done that and have heard from my grandpa that he has met people who have done the same. Folks who can slow down time... is how he put it.

Going to try doing this to see how long it takes to cross the one hour mark and eventually the 90 minute mark.

Yoga has helped me immensely this year. My stress at work is through the roof and if it were not for the Yoga to supplement the support from my wife and kids, I would not be functioning normally, or even functioning. 

A big heartfelt thanks to all my teachers at BYSJ for keeping me sane. You know who you are.. and if you don't know.. there is a graph for it also.

We have a lot of teachers, some are new, some traveling and teaching us for a month or for just one special class and the regular teaching staff. Every teacher gives it a 100% when it comes to doing the right thing for folks in class and all teachers who knew me, showed me no mercy during the challenge!

Well, it is almost time to go to one more Yoga class or as my wife would say "Kazhudhai ketta kutti suvaru!" ("if he is not home, he will be in Yoga class" is the loose translation).

Writing this post made me cheer up. Hope is you read this and are inspired to try a 60 day challenge!


A new marker on the yoga journey

On Sunday, an experienced and expert Yoga teacher, Mary Jarvis was to visit Bikram Yoga San Jose and teach a class at 10AM followed by a special posture clinic class from Noon to 4 PM... at least that was the plan.

She did come and the regular 90 minute class at 10AM went till 1:15. Almost everyone in the room just stayed the entire time trying to grasp every little detail of what she said. She chose her words carefully and she gave us perspective on the Yoga practice itself. It was a window to what was possible and why. The how of it was secondary. It was personalized depending on the student and the day and time of class, a function of everything else in their mind and life.. but she was not going to judge us as long as we tried. 

We got a 15 minute break and continued. There have been a few special classes over the years as part of practicing Yoga that helped improve the practice and produce light bulb moments. This class was up there on that list.

At this point everything in class looks like "BM" and "AM" .. Before Mary and after Mary, which is why I call it a new marker on the Yoga journey. 

Since Sunday I have been in three classes including tonight and I started thinking of some little things first. 

1. No fidgeting in class. You stay still in the pose and in between poses. Apparently she ate flies that sat on her face just to avoid fidgeting. Her teacher(Bikram) threw her out of class for fidgeting in between poses.

2. No water during the class. If you breathe through the class, you don't need water (her words, not mine). Apparently there were no water bottles allowed in the days she learned yoga and in her studio she asks teachers to lead by example. However she doesn't insist on students giving it up but asks them to try. 

3. 4. 5. ... 655.. the rest can wait. I was going to try 1 and 2 first. 

First class AM, too much fidgeting but at least I was conscious of it. Also avoided water till half way point when we got to the floor series. 

Second class AM, 3 fidgets and they were pre-meditated. There were many that were subconcsious but didn't know it. Also almost made it without water for 80/90 minutes. Just before we went to the final stretching pose I caved. Went for the water bottle. 

Today was class 3. I did not fidget knowing it. There were 6 instances where subconsciously my hand was going to my forehead to clear sweat and every time my hand went up, brought the other hand up to do a Namaste in front of the mirror.  I am sure the folks around me were thinking "what a narcissistic asshole Namastaying himself after every third pose... but it doesn't matter. What was important is that I was in "eyes wide open" mode the entire 90 minutes. It is amazing to realize that there are points in the class where I had no idea what I was doing.. at least prior to this class, and I have been in Jesssica's class a gazillion times and I think I pay attention to her. Apparently not a 100%. It is not easy to be conscious of every little movement. 

One thing that was sacrified to be that conscious was my face had this intense stare throughout the class and I did not smile. Maybe that is the next step in the evolving process. Stay alert and smile.

As for the water bottle, didn't touch it today. It was there, inviting me all the time, taunting me, tempting me.. but made it through the class and all the way home. Drank water after a shower. Nothing bad happened by skipping water. So far so good..

Sometimes a special teacher can make a world of a difference. Mary Jarvis has made two small dents in my practice within a week. Will see how many of the rest of her words of wisdom sink in and make a difference over time.


The double red line

Everything in my life right now is linked to Yoga. Even this blog post. Not sure if this is true, but Gandhi is said to have mentioned that on a normal day you do your yoga and on a busy day you do it twice, or some such thing. Even if he had not said that, it makes sense!

The last week was a good one, because I did not fall sick. Nothing incubated inside of me after that Asia trip and ravaged me a few days later. The week felt like it had 10 days though. Sometimes you just get into that mode of improving your batting average at work and the more you focus on it, the more balls seem to come your way! It was that kind of week. On Friday, my voice started to crack. That is always an early warning sign for the impending aliens to put me back in bed. One thing leads to another and I am thinking.. "Hmm, I am behind on my yoga attendance and this may be the day to do two classes back to back". 

This is not the first time I am going to a yoga class twice in a day (did 4 over a 24 hour period two years ago with a good nights sleep thrown in) or doing two classes back to back. Usually, I look at the schedule and make sure it is not the "tough love" teachers in both the classes to pace myself and take a breath here and there when we get to the "I am definitely going to die on this mat today" part of class.

The first class was taught by a teacher who is from the "tough love" school. Her default is to kick my ass in class. Just at the exact moment, my head is filled with "best standing bow EVER!" she will go "Sundar, kick harder! you are not kicking hard enough" and I will be screaming inside my head going "that wasn't enough? that is all I got lady! Any more kicking and my head is going to spontaneously combust and you will have to scrape my smoking remains off the mat!". I would get the same feeling from when I was at the toll booth on 680, trying to collect every last quarter, nickel and penny in the car to make the 5$ toll, or risk a 27$ fine only to find that I am 17 cents short!  

All said, made it through the first class! After a quick internal debate with myself on the sanity of going back into the hot room, the side that said "why not? It cannot get any worse!" won. Drank a packet of Vitamins (and the 5g of sugar and electrolytes in it) and went back in. Took a nice 10 minute nap and before I could finish an evening dream of doing a better standing bow, the bell rang and the next class started. 

This time, I did not check the schedule to see who was teaching the two classes. Even if I HAD seen the schedule, it would not have made a difference. The next teacher who showed up, had taught me maybe twice before. Both those classes were overflowing with people and she didn't give me any corrections. This time was different. She knew it was my second class in a row...

If you have watched enough National Geographic videos, you will know that a lioness knows which gazelle is most likely to end up dead at the end of the short video clip, even before she takes the first step towards the watering hole. I was that Gazelle! Okay, that was stretching it a bit far. If you got visions of me gracefully moving through the savanah, let me stop you right there! The comparison is purely for the "dying at the end fo the clip" part. There was no grace, no strength or any sign of a fight left in me, or so I thought. It is one thing for the lioness to know which Gazelle.. but I wonder how the cameraman knows which one. He seems to pick it out with as much accuracy as the lioness.. and if a lioness and a cameraman know..why are the gazelles not able to know as well?!  Where were we? Too much Planet Earth in my head right now. Getting back to the topic...

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is like infinity and 1 is next to nothing, my strength was a 5 and flexibilty was a 3 during the first class. At the end of that class, my strength was a 2 and flexibility was  5! You become suddenly aware that bending comes easy and holding the bend is incredibly hard. 15 minutes into the second class, we are doing the first back bend and the teacher goes "you are already relaxed Sundar. Go for it.. bend!" and I went back in one smooth motion and didn't stop. Almost fell backwards after I could see the baseboard on the back wall! That is as far back as I have ever "back bended" standing up all these years.

Then I promptly panicked. The realization that there was not enough strength to get that heavy head and upper body back up hit me. Tried to come out of the posture immediately and there was a rush of blood from somewhere to somewhere.. and the next thing I know, was sitting down on the mat. For a few moments, everything was white and the teachers voice could not be heard. She was saying something to me but my ears shut down. There were an uncountable number of Jedi warriors fighting in my forehead with light sabres.. or was it an uncountable number of people using vacuum cleaners?!  Maybe it was Jedi warriers with vacuum cleaners?! It was hard to tell.

For reasons unknown to me or anyone else in the Universe (except probably my wife), I got back up and kept going. At some point the teacher mentioned she was picking on me to make sure I didn't go into "auto pilot" mode. Translation: "Not going to let you make it easy on yourself. It is my job to make sure you push yourself past that point". Went along with it and did my best ever, on a lot of poses in that class. There was some cramping, but came out of that as well and finished it still breathing. To an average Nat Geo cameraman, it might not have been very impressive, but I came out of that class alive and well!

After class we are having a chat and the teacher goes "I was going to pick on my fiance who was in the class. Didn't pick on him enough. Was trying to make sure you don't take it easy on the 2nd class". I told her "you don't have to say anything to him, to pick on him. You just have to look at him!. When my wife looks at me, I know one of two things...

a. I forgot to do something or

b. I did something wrong in a way it was not supposed to be done

a look is enough!"

Everyone had a good laugh and I started driving back home...

Isn't life like Yoga?! In the almost 19 years of married life, there are the same emotions you go through on the mat that get repeated over longer time frames outside the yoga room. Everything from elation to disappointment, but only fleeting because you know it is all good in the end! and there is the red line..

When San gives me that look, I know that the first red line has been crossed! Something has been forgotten or done wrong. Now it is a question of seconds.. the clock is ticking. If the mistake can be identified within those precious few seconds, sanctions can be avoided and wars can be off the table. Problem is when you don't know that you have crossed the red line. 

This could happen when you have screwed up on multiple fronts and are trying to figure out which one got you that look from your wife. You forgot to wash the dishes.. no, you forgot to put the clothes in the dryer..no, she is at her laptop with that look.. you forgot to print and sign that damn thing at work and our printer at home is out of paper or toner or you were supposed to tell your boss something or you forgot to file your reimbursement or .. or.. or .. your head spins as you try to correct any and all mistakes within those few seconds.. kind of like you try to correct that standing bow with the teacher staring at you.. 

What have you done?! not lock that knee? not stretched that hand? not looking at the right place? not kicking hard enough? The teacher is still going "Sundar.. come on?" They won't tell you, what it is that you are not doing for an agonizing second or two!

(had some fun just now with Jr. recording me doing a standing bow that  I used to do almost 7 years ago, almost 3 years ago and close to present day.. right after munching a lot of carbs while watching Superbowl with friends)

That is when you cross the "double red line"!  Be it home or Yoga room.. that is the "don't make me come there and show you!" look which by now elicits a Pavlovian response from me :

1. Hang down head in shame

2. mutter something to myself

3. realize that I was definitely in the wrong, given my track record 

4. find out if there is any chance to undo the damage real fast

At home, chances of undoing damage fast are a hit or miss, but in the hot room... we do everything TWICE! Thank god for small favors. So I do get to show that what is being said has been understood and corrected in "take two"!

As I write this post, have crossed three red lines and one double red line already. But it shall pass. When you are surrounded by folks who have your back, life is good!