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Entries in hot yoga (17)


Don't you have Yoga to do?

That is a question that my wife and kids ask me these days, especially when my responses to their questions are 

- questions 

- have nothing to do with the question

- general answers in a raised voice that don't add any value

I do occasionally answer their questions when there is a lot on my mind, but most of the time my mind is simply not tuned to what is being asked.

This year has been particularly off to a bad start with us getting hit with unplanned spends almost every week.. a broken washer to start off on New Years eve, a rat/squirrel deciding to nest inside the Prius hood, India trips, locked up knees and jaw which came out of nowhere, water main leak bills that hit us months later, a change in deduction rules from IRS which makes us cut checks to them.. the list keeps going.. 

This year has also been tough on the mind with my father taking a fall and the constant worry that he might fall again and the impact this has on my mom, Jr. having to go to college shortly and me being at odds with the wife and kids on the value of a college education vs. real skill development.. 

Let's just say that I am at war with the world.. 

So it is no wonder that my wife and kids would rather see me pack off and go do Yoga, because at least for a few hours I am calm and not belligerent after coming back. The yoga literally knocks the wind out of me and in trying to get my bearings back, I tend to look forward instead of in the rear view mirror. I am able to do that at work but not at home. At work, can always tell myself and folks "let's focus on what has to be done next". There comes a point in your life where your willingness to solve some issues is simply not there because you don't see the value in solving those issues. I maybe at that point now!

This year I signed up for a 60 day challenge with the goal of getting some sanity. It was the one word I put in as the reason for signing up. Having signed up 8 times before and finishing 7/8 times, was not really going for the physical benefit this time. Just wanted to lower my rage. 

There was going to be travel during the challenge and that meant doing some doubles, but that was a known thing and by now it is nothing new for me or the family. However, I stopped drinking water during class last March 21st. Wanted to make that the new normal. So that made some of the doubles incredibly hard, but I did it. Drank a packet of vitamins 15 minutes after class and walked right back into the hot room and did everything.. gave it my 100%. Most of the times, I went on will power alone. Literally willed my body to stand up and do the asanas. 

The main goal of not drinking water was to be able to fidget less in class, what with having less distraction from the water bottle and also to be able to suck my tummy in during forward compressions.  The no water practice definitely helped with the tummy "tuckability" in a significant way.  However, in the 222 classes since no water, the number of times I have NOT fidgeted or tried to unintentionally wipe sweat off my forehead or nose, try to unwrinkle my towel, etc. is ZERO!  Have managed to stay absolutely still for the standing series most of the times but that is only two thirds of the class.

It becomes especially hard when we are lying down on the floor trying to relax. It is one thing to let the body relax.. it is another thing to let the mind wander while the body is trying to relax.. that is when you fidget and by the time you realize it, it is too late.. fidgeting already done.. mission failure! 

At first it used to depress me that I had no control over my own body parts. How could my hand go to my forehead the second I take my mind off of the "no fidget no fidget" mantra? We call it "sub-conscious" for a reason! The trick is to be conscious of every thing for 90 minutes. It is NOT easy. In that challenge I failed miserably.  

One has to take the positives when you get them. From that perspective, I did manage to do Yoga 60 times in 60 days, thanks to all the encouragement from family, friends and most importantly my teachers. That is the big positive. For all the seething internal negativity and rage, there are people out there who care about me, realize that most of my screw ups are well intentioned and calm me down. We have a healthy support group and a great community at BYSJ. We don't talk about our individual problems, work etc.. we do talk about attitudes, approach to things.. be it in the hot room or how to translate that to the outside world and that helps. We talk to each other and get inspired. 

Folks with fused spines, amputees, folks who see their patients die on a regular basis, folks who have to inject themselves every day to just be able to function, folks with PTSD... a long list of people who come and do the yoga to keep them moving and functioning..

Compared to them, my flying across the pacific every three weeks and going over jetlag or fighting joint locking up issues seems lame. 

The usual graphs and charts that I post to remind myself that every year is different but I can still go after finishing 10 challenges..

My average weight has gone from 149 to 152 this year.. but it ahs been going up from 139 steadily over last 6 years at 2 lbs/ year. Guess that is on the trend line. This is the weight graph ever since I started tracking it.  


Made new friends this year. Most of the times I went for the last class of the day. We managed to encourage and push each other to finish!

The best part was the party where we got to share our stories and have family and friends present to get our T-shirts. It is a shirt that I wear with pride everywhere, not just because of the soft fabric, but because it was earned with a lot of hard work!

There is a warmth in that hot room (no pun intended) that makes me feel like I am inside my mothers womb (guess at least that is what it would feel like). It is a place of safety where I am at peace. The teachers voices are always a calming influence, even when they are imploring us to push ourselves in their loudest voices! My mind reacts "that is so soothing",  kind of like how after almost 20 years my wife looks cute even when she is yelling at me. Thank you BYSJ for keeping me healthy inspite of my repeated attempts to screw up my body and more importantly for keeping me sane!

The challenge is done but San and the kids keep encouraging me to do Yoga. All credit for anything I do, goes to them... but the T-shirt goes to me! 


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.