Getting ready for Bikram Yoga

As I keep writing about it, and it is giving me strength, I thought this morning I ought to devote a post to Bikram Yoga.

It was one of those God-winks, where you keep seeing references to the same thing over and over.  Like suddenly seeing pregnant women when one of your circle tells you they are pregnant.  It was in 2 magazines in a week, it popped up on an Internet search, then was on TV for good measure.  Imagine my surprise, and joy, when I found there was a studio 5 minutes from home?

After doing some reading, I realised I would have to buy some new kit, I needed something small, as you get hot and the people that tend to struggle are those who come to class in long leggings and t-shirts.  So I brought myself a triathlon cossie from speedo, wearing swimming costumes for most of my life it doesn’t bother me, but I know most women would gulp at the thought.  You also need a yoga mat, a thin one as you stand on it class and need to balance safely.  You also need towels.  Plural.  One to lie on, one for the shower.  I actually use 2 in class, as I sweat like, um, someone who sweats a lot.  By the time we’ve finished the first breathing exercise, I am dribbling, by the time we have our only official water break 3 poses in, I am soaked.

You also need to ensure your body is prepared too, there is a fine line of being hydrated and not needing a wee half way through, you need to make sure you have eaten, but your are not full so you don’t feel queasy with your head on your knees. 

There are 26 poses in total, and every day I get better and some and have to practice harder at others.  My balancing and general posture are improving, but some days I can do balancing stick, other days I can’t, I struggle with camel at the moment, because when I fell over, putting pressure on that part of the knee hurts, so I do the set up to the posture, but not all of it.  My standing head to knee pose is getting better, my spine strengthening series is getting easier and I am noticing the results all over my body.  I come out the class feeling lifted, awakened, clean on the inside and stronger through all my muscles.

Although I was looking for yoga, Bikram Yoga found me, it is at once the hardest thing I do daily, but also the best thing I do daily.  You can’t be vain in the hot room – I see myself in the mirror getting pinker, my hair being pushed into all angles around my head, dripping with sweat, but the relief and joy at the end when you finish the final breathing, and I sink gratefully into Child’s Pose to say thank you for getting me through the class, it makes all the hardship at the moment worthwhile.

It gives me 90 minutes of me time; 90 minutes where I have to concentrate on my breathing, every single breath, otherwise I could keel over; 90 minutes where my mind is free, only counting seconds as I hold the postures, or screaming in intensity as I push myself a bit further than I did yesterday.  I love that my body is getting stronger, I feel calmer, my bum is lifting, I am losing weight gently and slowly and I love comparing notes with the other ladies in the class on how we were doing, how we are doing and so on.

It isn’t easy finding 2 hours out of a day to go to class, but when you are in class you make a commitment to yourself, the other students and the teacher that you will stay in the room for the full 90 minutes, you show up with nothing to declare but your ‘self’, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde.  No one can do this for you, the teacher talks you through the poses, occasionally will demonstrate them, will help correct a hand hold, but ultimately you are teaching your body by listening and following instructions.  You have to concentrate, bringing your own strength, balance, flexibility, mind and how hard you *want* to work to class.  By pushing myself this hard for 90 minutes daily, it reminds me that I can do anything.

I love it.

My stars this week

Some citizens can’t be totally trusted this year – must be a Tiger thing. If this week’s ambivalent influences feel like every move you make, every breath you, someone is on your case and in your face, then find the person, point of view or thing of beauty that restores your joie de vivre – and avoid the other sort.

Don’t you just love it when art imitates life?

A new day

Apologies to those of you who don’t like Celine Dion but please play this link at some point either before, after or during reading this.  While the video is unintentionally hilarious, (I watched Spicks and Specks this week laughing at the fist in the air, being drawn down, saying they wondered if they have an ultra sound of her doing it in the womb?),  the song popped into my head as soon as I typed the title, as soon as I opened the webpage to write to you today.

But check out these (abbreviated) lyrics:

I was waiting for so long
For a miracle to come
Everyone told me to be strong
Hold on and don’t shed a tear

Through the darkness and good times
I knew I’d make it through

I see a light in the sky
Oh, it’s almost blinding me
I can’t believe
I’ve been touched by an angel with love
Let the rain come down and wash away my tears
Let it fill my soul and drown my fears
Let it shatter the walls for a new sun
A new day has…come

Where it was dark now there’s light
Where there was pain now there’s joy
Where there was weakness, I found my strength
All in the eyes of a boy

I took a sleeping tablet last night, after taking one on Thursday night I didn’t want to 2 nights on the trot (I am under strict instructions for only 3 a week), but I had to.  I knew that after the events of the late afternoon, I would be unable to sleep otherwise.  I woke up, no alarm, at 8:08am.  I missed a skype with my Darling Wiz (we had a phone call a bit later planned instead), but I felt like a new woman.  I looked at my face in the mirror, and it looked like it had been ironed out overnight.  My eyes were clear, I was standing up straight, I felt refreshed.

It takes a lot to calm me down at the moment, and it took Dan the best part of an hour to do it last night.  My boy, his blue eyes holding onto mine, talking me down from a meltdown, slowly talking to me, telling me that I can do this, I can get through this, he will help me, he will support me, I just need to relax.  I hate being told to relax, it usually has the complete opposite reaction, I normally explode, but last night I took my tablet, lay on my tummy (face plant, ready for sleep) and he slowly stroked and rubbed my back until I drifted off into my chemically induced slumber.  The poor boy was then awake until 2:30am, it was both horribly hot and sticky last night, and his mind was also now churning, but he said waking up to my relaxed and smiling face was worth it.  

One thing I struggle with is telling people how I feel, about what I want and need, because when I did open up to people in my formative years, I was told not to be silly, why would you need that?  So I learnt to keep schtum, and also learnt that my feelings didn’t matter.  You can imagine the knock-on effect that has had through my whole life, and is why I am in such a wibble at the moment.  Last night, I confessed that I wanted my old life back, I wanted a job I could go to, and leave at work, I wanted to be able to exercise, I wanted to spend time with him in the evenings and at weekends and just get some semblance of normality in our lives back.  Now the hilarious thing about this is, what I want is what I had when I was working at the Sovereign Centre, when I knew what shifts I would be working, I knew I would be having a laugh on poolside, I knew I was valued as a swimming teacher, and I could make up hours (and money) as I wanted and needed to by picking up overtime or covering classes.

That was over 10 years ago!  How sad to feel a yearning for something resembling the normality I long for is 10 years in the past.

This morning, and indeed all day, I have the day to myself.  Matt is down from NSW, he has taken Dan off in his new car to Chadstone, poor DG needs some boy-time, not hysterical banshee so he can regroup.  Andrew has an epic hangover, so he’s retreated into his bedroom with Star Wars DVDs to recover, but we all had breakfast together that Dan and I shared the cooking of.  I have nothing on my agenda until 4pm when I need to go to yoga.  I need to buy the papers, get some veggies and cook dinner, but that is later on.  Now, I am sat in my ‘office’ for the day, which is our bedroom.  I have the door open, cool fresh air is blowing in gently, I have 4 gurus with me for solace and reflection:  Dr Wayne W. Dyer ‘Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life’, Louise L. Hay ‘You Can Heal Your Life’, Richard Carlson ‘Stop Thinking, Start Living’ and Eckhart Tolle ‘A New Earth’.  (are you noticing a pattern here?)

When life is ticking over, I find it very easy to be pragmatic and can control my thoughts easily.  When you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, it isn’t as easy.  I need to practice, I need to find that nugget inside me that will grow and rebuild me from the inside out, but I know that when I finally come through this and out the other side, I will be a better and stronger because of it.  I also know that by reading Dr Jill Bolte-Taylor’s ‘My Stroke Of Insight’ the voice that is creating all this havoc in my brain, is a little area only about the size of a bean.  It provides my story, enables us to link thoughts together, but also won’t shut the hell up unless you think about other things.  It is the area that rabbits at you on and on while you try and meditate, and needs to be trained to shut up.  It is also the area that prompted Eckhart’s whole journey when he thought ‘I can’t live with myself’, and realised that he is not his thoughts. 

So here I sit with notebook, pen, books, highlighter, looking for strength in the printed word that will help guide me through this journey, turning to people that I already trust and value, and I hope that this new day is better than all that have gone before it this week.

Breathing

I have been concentrating on my breathing, more than usual over the past week or so. Growing up I swum nearly every day, so got in the habit of breathing in and out through my mouth. It’s kinda difficult to breathe in through your nose when you are doing butterfly and there is water everywhere.
The breathing through my mouth at yoga is the first exercise, and even then it is only ‘out’, after that you have to breathe through your nose. No matter what position you are in, head squashed onto knee, thighs or whatever, you breathe slowly and calmly, preferably with a smile on your face too. Then at the end of the class we sit on our knees, spine straight, hands on our knees and breathe out. Hard, forcefully, pushing our tummies in and out, the in-breath happens automatically while we concentrate on expelling air out through our mouths.
When I am out walking, I am on my own, so again I am concentrating on calmly breathing through my nose. When I lie in bed and my mind is rattling nineteen to the dozen, I concentrate on my breath, it helps calm me down, it helps remind me that I am in bed, now is the time for sleep. Not stress.
Whatever else is happening to the external me, no matter how hard my mind is working to convince my ego that I am struggling. When I breathe free, I am free. When I close my eyes and relax, breathing comes naturally, when I am stressed it is ragged, hard work. My very body is fighting against me as I try and live here, now. Not in the egoic thoughts that tell me I am crap. I am all I ever need to be, right here, right now, this breath. Not the last one, not the next one, this breath.

A party for one

Last night I had a glass of wine with the boys over dinner.  Then I went to the cupboard under the stairs, I’d like to call it a wine cellar, but I would have to admit to delusions of grandeur there, and got another one out.  Over the course of the evening, it slowly disappeared inside me, and me alone.

I held my own wake for the death of a relationship that I have struggled to maintain for years.  It is always sad when these things happen, but I was sick and tired of trying, and failing, to make any head way, any inroads, to get any response when I tried to help.  Enough is enough, over the Christmas break I wrote a letter to say that I wanted to improve the relationship, that I loved the person concerned and would they please get help so they could stop being angry and blaming the world for everything.

I am the bad guy, because I sought solace and advice from friends on how to approach this.

I am the bad guy, because I dared to voice my fears that if they didn’t get help, that I was worried about them, how much they were drinking and slowly smothering themselves in ‘stuff’ they wouldn’t be able to see a way out.

I am the bad guy, because I loved and cared about them enough to try and fix what was dangling by a thread.

I am the bad guy, because I offered up books and suggestions to help.

I am the bad guy, because I tried, and it upset them.  No matter that I was trying to fix it, and we had to start somewhere.

Yesterday afternoon, in the midst of the maelstrom of my life at the moment, I kissed a huge relationship goodbye, because it was toxic.  It was draining me, it was no longer a relationship that enhanced my life.  I released myself from the expectation it would get any better.  I released myself from the life-long guilt that has followed me around, that I will not ever, be quite good enough at whatever I do.  Because my best has never, ever been good enough.

Living so far away from my family and friends was never going to be easy.  Trying to fix the biggest relationship of my life was one of the goals I set myself this year.  Unfortunately, again, I am the bad guy, because I dared to voice my feelings.

There comes a time in your life when a line is drawn, I reached that line years ago.  I tried to rebuild, fix and maintain, admitted I had made mistakes, apologised for mistakes, tried to include them in everything I have done over the past 10 – 15 years, despite people telling me to call time on the relationship years ago as a lost cause, I still kept trying.  I am the bad guy, for saying ‘Enough.  Get help, or I can’t do this anymore.’

Yesterday afternoon I admitted defeat, walked away, knowing I did the best I could.  Gave up hoping and praying it would ever change, that for once other people’s feelings might matter above theirs.

I was having a good day…

…and then I got the post.

I am not going into the inns and outs of it on here, I am not going to waste my time and effort on it any more.  Needless to say, what I received was the last thing I needed at the moment.  I am going to enumerate some things in my life that I am just damn tired of, and I warned people they wouldn’t like it.  But apparently I am the bad guy because of not wanting to accept shitty behaviour towards me and people I care about any more.

Well, build a bridge and get over it.

So here I sit in front of the IPL, (I know I like cricket but this week I seem to have watched an awful lot of it and it is only Wednesday), I am on my third glass of red wine, holding my own personal wake for the death of a relationship.  This morning I talked myself out of bed, pulled on my exercise kit, crammed a cap on my bed head and walked in figure 8s around two football ovals, listening to an audio book with Dr Wayne Dyer in conversation with a radio station.  I then went to yoga and subjected 20 odd people to bed head/hat hair as I puffed and pulled myself around.  I couldn’t do Camel today, where I fell over my knee couldn’t take the pressure on it, but other than that I worked solidly throughout the class.  I am still learning to balance, never my strong point anyway, but more than that I am learning that when I am open and present, I flow much better through the class. 

I know I need to switch my brain off, I know I need to relax, but when you mind is going 19 to the dozen, it is easier said than done.  Work in progress folks, work in progress.  Tomorrow I will do it all over again.  But now it is back to my vino.  Cheers.

For those who missed it…

I am signed off work at the moment, I put a post on here yesterday, but took it down as although I felt better for writing it, having it on the interweb probably wasn’t a good idea.  However, if you want me to email it to you – then please let me know and I will do. 

I have been having so many conversations with one guy at work, people are going to start thinking we’re having an affair.  However, we are not, we just miss each other terribly.  Sad isn’t it, not being able to toddle down to see each other in the office when I deliver the mail or whatever, or when he comes up to the front of the office to get a drink, we are pining for each other.  I’ve talked about my buddy at work on here before, but it is only now that I am out the office we have truly discovered the depths of our friendship.

One of the reasons I am struggling is that my support network, or at least the majority of them, are in the UK.  Some of them are also going through shit at the moment, and I am conscious of that so don’t want to add to their burden.  So when you find someone you feel comfortable in your skin with, as I do with him, you tend to gravitate towards them.  It doesn’t help that we make each other laugh, so hard we can be crying with the giggles, and when you are struggling with work, laughing keeps you going.

I’ve also been told that I need to get out and walk for a minimum of an hour, every day, every morning.  This is in addition to the yoga.  Which as I fell over and wrecked my knee I have been missing, and missing sorely; mind, body and soul.  Tomorrow I am back for the 9:30 class and I can’t wait.  While I haven’t had a breakdown, I am clinically depressed, she is optimistic I will soon be back to normal, as long as I am given the space and room to get my head back together.  So if you are waiting for an email from me, I apologise.  I am working on catching up with my correspondence this week.  But don’t nag me, I am liable to tell you where to put it at the moment.