NotSoZen YogaJen

Posts Tagged ‘Bikram yoga

When I hurt my foot in early December, I was told that I shouldn’t go to yoga for two weeks.  But after two weeks my foot still hurt, and then two weeks turned into over a month without yoga.  Last week I hit the five week mark, and although my foot still hurt a little, I couldn’t take the yoga detox anymore.  Since my foot was feeling better enough, I decided that it was time to venture back to yoga class, and just proceed with caution.

First I went to a couple of Vinyasa classes and tried to modify poses that involved crunching my foot.  But in Vinyasa, there are many poses that do this – plank, chaturanga, upward to downward dog transitions, and jumping back and jumping forward, which all come up a lot during the flow sequence.  Also, my hamstring still likes to seize up in triangle pose, and stay seized for the rest of class.

Regardless, it felt so good to be reunited with my beloved yoga after the long hiatus.  As soon as I stepped in the studio I was soothed, and when I unrolled my mat and sat cross-legged on a blanket in the moments before class began, I already felt that familiar “Ahhhhh” sensation settle into my body and mind.  Yoga is such a huge and integral part of my life, and helps me deal with stress and anxiety and low energy and depression that without it, I didn’t totally feel like myself.  Plus I was stressed, anxious, lethargic, and depressed.

Since I had several muscle injuries in the fall and I’m trying to avoid foot-crunching poses (and since it’s freezing), I thought that Bikram might be better for me to practice right now.  So I went to a Bikram class yesterday.  And I struggled through it, fighting, as I usually do, waves of nausea and the feeling that I might pass out.  But it didn’t hurt my foot, because there are only three poses that require being on tip-toes in Bikram, and I could make adjustments and modifications for all of them.  And my hamstring didn’t seize up or even bother me at all.

After the brutal class is when the bliss always kicks in.  My racing thoughts had been quieted.  I felt peaceful and calm, yet energized and alert.  My face was bright red for hours after class, but my skin looked dewy and glowy.  And I slept really, really well.  Bikram is also great at combating brain fog, and today I feel clear-headed and focused.

Since I started practicing yoga over 12 years ago, I have been a devout Vinyasa yogini.  But as I am having to negotiate some injuries, my practice has to change to accommodate that.  While I don’t see giving up Vinyasa, I want to add more Bikram classes to my yoga mix, and see how it goes.  And hopefully the waves of nausea and verge of passing out-ness will decrease as I get more acclimated to the intense heat.

Whether I go to Bikram or Vinyasa classes, it feels so good to be back at yoga.  When I practice regularly, I am so much more calm and energized.  My body feels active, awake, and that good kind of sore.  My mind is tranquil.  And best of all, I feel like myself again.

For someone as addicted to yoga as I am, who craves it and goes into withdrawal when I don’t get it, I’ve encountered a lot of obstacles to making it to yoga class this fall.

First there was my pain the neck, which felt better only to then feel worse, plus a hamstring thing thrown into the tweaked-out mix.  But then I was starting to get back my regular Vinyasa yoga practice.  And last week I had a welcome dose of Bikram bliss.  With the cold weather and some difficult  issues to grapple with, I was feining for my next Bikram fix and couldn’t wait to hit that heated studio hard.  I envisioned going to several Bikram classes this week, and vaguely entertained a fantasy of working my way up to the Bikram 30 Day Challenge.  I imagined the bliss, balance, and much-needed tranquility that  it would bring to me and my life.

Then last Saturday, what I hit hard was my toe.  I wish I could stub my toe in delicate ways that involved temporary minor discomfort and hopping around for five minutes tops, and did not involve my foot swelling up and turning blue, but unfortunately this was not the case.  I knew that bruising was usually a sign of breakage, but I also knew that there’s really not much you can do for a broken toe.  However, I was still in pain and hobbling around on Monday, so I called my podiatrist just in case.  I described my foot to the receptionist and asked if I should come into the office, thinking that she would say it was no big deal and would heal on its own.  But she put me on hold to ask the doctor, and when she got back on the phone she said, “The doctor said to come in an hour!”  Yikes.

It turns out that my toe isn’t broken, but the soft tissue is injured.  It turns out that I can’t do yoga for at least two weeks.  And it turns out that I need better peripheral vision.

So two weeks without yoga.  (I’m already halfway through, but honestly, the detox isn’t going so well.  And anyway, it’s supposed to take 21 days to break a habit.  Not that I want to break my yoga habit altogether…)  Plus I am dealing with issues, anxiety, and self-diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Which means that until December 26th when my yoga ban is lifted, I will have to find other ways to cope.  In my forced detox from yoga, I will have to go to yoga addict rehab.  And I don’t think Dr. Drew handles that, so I’m on my own.

Until I get out of yoga rehab, when I feel these uncomfortable or sad or anxious feelings, I can’t run to yoga class to make them go away.  I have to sit with them.  Yikes.  And find other ways to work through them.   Other practices that will bring me some form of bliss, balance, and much-needed tranquility.

I’m working on this.  But I have big dreams of going to a Bikram yoga class on New Year’s Eve and sweating into the new year.  I really hope my toe heals by then.

How do you feel when you can’t get to yoga class for whatever reason?  What are your other ways of coping with stress and cultivating calm?

I had a bad week last week.  Like, it was bad.  I was going through stuff.  And on top of that, I was getting hit with alternating waves of depression and anxiety.  All I wanted to do was have a nurturing, peaceful, quiet couple of days so I could deal with my stuff and heal.  I wanted to rest, relax, veg out watching DVDs, and be alone in the soothing sanctuary of my home.  But then, my plumbing started to fall apart.

Let me just say, that even when I have no stuff to deal with and I am calm and centered and at my very best, plumbing issues make me very anxious.  I find it extremely unsettling when foundational elements of life like plumbing aren’t functioning.  And then there’s my Post Traumatic Plumbing Stress Disorder.  Because this happened to my bathtub a few years ago, and the following year this happened to my toilet, and now every time there is the smallest sign of drain blockage or the first drip of a leak, I get flashbacks involving days of cleaning up black sludge, and am instantly filled with dread.

Last week I was not calm, centered, or at my very best when my bathroom sink clogged.  The plumber fixed it.  I cleaned up the black sludge that was left behind.  I felt drained, but also, some sense of relief.  Like, OK, this week is bad, my sink clogged, but I dealt with it and it’s over.

That night, I turned on my kitchen sink, and it was now clogged.  So the plumber came back.  I cleaned.  I felt stretched too thin, having stuff and clogged plumbing and black sludge to contend with all in the same week, but it was Friday.  This week really sucked, but it was behind me.  The weekend was here.  I could finally rest and relax, and get back to my regular routine on Monday.

On Sunday I went to a wonderful brunch with a good friend.  I came home feeling even more relieved.  Every thing was fixed.  No more clogs.  No more messes.  No more scheduling plumbers to fix pipes, and days lost to work being done in my apartment and cleaning up.  Ahhh….

And then I heard a loud hissing sound coming from my bathroom.  I went in to investigate the noise and saw that the heating pipe was leaking water and shooting out steam.

This.  Was too much to deal with in one week.  And like my plumbing, I fell apart.

On Monday I didn’t get back to my regular routine.  Plumbers were back at my apartment again, and they fixed the pipe.  Then I trudged to the grocery store for the third time to buy more cleaning supplies, feeling like I was trapped in a time warp of never-ending plumbing malfunctions and bathroom cleaning (and let me just say, that I don’t enjoy cleaning my bathroom even when I am calm, centered, and at my very best).  It was cold and dark and gray out, and I made my annual self-diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Things could not continue like this.  It was time for drastic measures.  It was time for yoga.  It was time for Bikram.

I’m a Vinyasa girl, but Bikram yoga got me through a hard time earlier this year and the way things felt like they were piling up on me, I was craving it again.  So on Tuesday night, I walked through the cold Brooklyn streets to the Bikram studio in my neighborhood.  I stepped into the hot, dark room.  I sweat, a lot, and I had a few moments of nausea.  But there’s something about Bikram that kicks my butt so hard it literally knocks all the thoughts out of my head.  Which is helpful, when the thoughts are of the everything-sucks-and-it-will-never-get-better-downward-spiral variety.

After class my face was bright red and my skin was glowing.  My mind was empty(ish) and clear.  I felt like my body was being flooded with waves of energy, hope, and optimism.  I sipped Vita Coco, and reveled in my Bikram bliss.  I slept better than I had all week, and the next morning I woke up feeling rested at last, and already craving my next Bikram fix.

I’m not ready to abandon Vinyasa, but I think I might become a seasonal Bikram yogini.  Because there’s nothing like Bikram to get me through a hard time, a bad week, fucked-up plumbing, and the long, cold, dark New York winter…

Check out my guest blog on Crazy Sexy Life (love this site, so excited!) to find out!



Follow me on Twitter