Last weekend, we braved the inclement weather and terrible roads to go to Weber State to watch the Asana Regional Championships. The winners of the competition will go on to Nationals. Yoga and competition rarely go in the same sentence, unless it is an admonishment from the instructor to “let go of competition,” and yet, somehow Bikram pulls it off.
One intention of the Asana Championships is to get yoga recognized as an Olympic event. Participants do five required poses: standing head to knee, standing bow pulling pose, bow pose, rabbit pose, and stretching pose. After that, they do two additional poses of their choice, and that’s where things get really interesting. People start bending and contorting and getting into some really difficult poses.
The event was inspiring. It was great to see the people whom I’ve been practicing next to for the last several months and my teachers competing in the event. I’ll also admit that the event improved my practice. The next day I was challenging myself in ways I haven’t in weeks, maybe months. The experience has helped me make some real improvements in my poses and moved into some new territory in just the last few days.
On that note, the 30-day Bikram Challenge is going really well. Today was my tenth day in a row, and I haven’t missed a day. I wish I knew my previous record for consecutive days of practice, but I’m not sure. I know it is more than ten days and probably less than twenty.
Last Thursday, the teacher Roxanne had us hold camel pose for two-minutes. Like most people, my relationship with camel pose varies based on the day. Lately, I’ve been trying to focus more on building back strength in the pose. The two minute camel was really hard, but worth it. Once I was able to open my chest and really breath in the pose, time in the pose was manageable. For the first minute, I kept my hands on my hips and really worked on using the strength of my spine to stretch. For the last minute, I shifted my hands to my heels. Evidently, I was warmed up enough because the last minute felt good. I mean, it was intense–don’t get me wrong–but good.
Our resolve to complete the 30-day challenge was not really shaken until last Thursday and Friday when a major snowstorm swept through the area, leaving about a foot and a half of snow at my house. The roads were a mess. Even today, several days after the snowstorm, my street appears to be the only one in the city that hasn’t been plowed yet! Needless to say, we made it to our practice, and enjoyed smaller class sizes for two days in a row while I imagine many of our fellow yogis were waiting out the snowstorm from the safety of their homes.
Today, at day ten of the Bikram challenge, I feel great. My muscles are mildly sore. My mood has been good. My energy is up. I am clear minded, and I’m on a great sleep schedule. These are all improvements I can attribute to the yoga practice. Don’t get me wrong, all of my problems have not been solved (maybe that happens at the 30 day mark?), and I still occasionally argue with my boyfriend, but for the most part we are both ridiculously joyful each day in a way that can be directly attributed to the yoga.
We also feel good physically because our diet is quite clean thanks to our commitment to preparing meals at home. I should clarify from my past post that we don’t usually eat fast food. I eat it from time to time and my boyfriend almost never eats the stuff. Our 30-day commitment is to not eat out *at all* unless with we are with friends. Last weekend, after the Asana Championships, we spent time with friends, which meant our first dinner out since we returned from Christmas break! It was Indian food. It was delicious. There was garlic naan, which is probably all you really need to know.