Wednesday, April 30, 2014


With my sixtieth class in thirty days officially on the books, you can imagine I am a little excited (and tired), as are my family and friends.  Two of my sisters are in town, along with my two nieces, and they leave early in the morning, so we have spent the evening celebrating and hanging out.  For those reasons, tonight's post is going to be extremely brief.
Jill and me in triangle pose.
I did want to give a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me thus far in this journey, instructors, students, family and friends.  You all made this experience a genuine pleasure, rough times were made easier, and good times were made great.  I really did not expect the outpouring of love and support that I have received this month.  This was something that I started alone, but I was quickly adopted into a caring and supportive community who quickly made me feel welcome, and have ensured that not a day went by this month that I didn't genuinely smile.

I really can not say thank you enough.  Tomorrow I will write more about my journey, but tonight I am going to spend just a little more time with my family before they disperse back across the country tomorrow.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Guest Post: Amy Robertson

My evening was such a whirlwind after this afternoon's class I didn't even realize that if I had just checked my email, I wouldn't have even had to write a blog post tonight at all.  I had asked a few teachers at the studio if they would also like to write guest posts for my blog, and more are forthcoming, but I just saw that Amy had sent hers to me earlier today, and I thought I would do a bonus post tonight to share it with you all.

Preston, I can't believe you are 2 classes away from completing your goal of 60 classes in 30 days! I didn't even know you 30 days ago and now you have become somebody who is regularly on my mind. I wonder how you are doing, what you are feeling and what you might share in your next blog post. When I met you about 26 days or so ago you had just taken my 6am class and I learned about your challenge. I remember thinking, "Whoa, that's pretty aggressive especially considering that this guy doesn't even have a consistent yoga practice. He's a little bit crazy and this might be a bit intense!" I remember telling you to have no expectations and that this goal is a lofty one. I also remember saying something about being kind to yourself and that if you find this to be too much and you stop before 30 days that you will not be considered a failure. I mean, heck, even we teachers take Sundays off at Teacher Training!!

You were not to be denied. You have diligently stuck to your schedule of 6AM and 4:30PM classes to accomplish this amazing goal. You even did a back to back double this weekend without missing a beat. You have become a bit of a celebrity around the studio and you even started this blog (a candid one I might add) due to the request of another student. Before I became a teacher I remember thinking that one of the main reasons why I wanted to become a teacher was to "give" others the gift of Bikram Yoga as other teachers were giving to me. I wanted to give back because the yoga has become such an important part of my life. What I didn't realize was how much our students were going to "give" me upon becoming a teacher. I am so inspired by everyone that first steps into the HOT room. It truly is no small feat. Preston, not only do you inspire in the HOT room but you remind us that we are all human and that each one of us is always just trying to do the best that we can each and every day.

You have said that on day 31 you will do yoga like all of the other days before it but what I hope for you is that you are able to find a balance not just in the yoga room and with your practice but also with the other aspects of your life that will allow you to take time off with the confidence that it's "just a day off" or it's "just a sweet or fattening food that I am going to choose to enjoy" because I can and because I know that I will get back to what makes me feel good at the next meal or the next day in class. In the words of the amazing yogi Emmy Cleaves (Bikram's most senior teacher) "More of anything, even the best thing in the world, is not necessarily more. You need balance."

Thank you for being such a great motivator to others and an inspiration to me. I hope you follow in your sister's footsteps and become a teacher because I think you would have a great story to tell and you, too, would provide a tremendous gift to others. Congratulations on your accomplishment!!


Thank you so much, Amy.  You are a huge part of the atmosphere and community that has made this endeavor the success and honest pleasure that it has been.  I appreciate your words of encouragement, and I look forward to many, many more classes with you in the future.



My awesome older sister, who has been mentioned so often in this blog, surprised me by flying into town today so that she could join me for my last day of the challenge.  Did I mention I have a super awesome older sister?

On the subject of surprises, I had a few good ones today.  Dara, one of my favorite instructors, let me know she wasn't going to be able to teach my last class tomorrow, but that she was teaching the 4 o'clock class in Happy Valley, so I kicked it out there so that I could get in one last class of my sixty with Dara.  When I got there she handed me a stack of chocolate with a card, which I am not supposed to open until tomorrow after my last class.  Did I mention I have really awesome instructors?
Also surprising, was how my afternoon class went today.  After having a pretty killer class this morning, I expected to be a little worn out for the afternoon class, but for the first time in awhile I was able to power through the entire class and make serious attempts at all the postures.  I got deeper into several postures than I had before, and I can safely say that my hypothesis about sleeping on my side has been confirmed, because my elbow is making incredible improvements, and I was able to get really deep into the standing bow pulling posture this afternoon.

I am excited to see what tomorrow brings.  I think it is awesome that my older sister flew up to support me for the last two classes.  If you happen to have the time tomorrow, and want to come join me for either of my last two classes, I will be at Bikram Studio West Linn for both the 6 am and the 4:30 pm classes.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Small Adjustments

Small adjustments might seem like a no brainer.  Small adjustments have helped me get my triangle pose looking fantastic, and I am very proud to say I have an unbroken string of 86 sets of triangle pose without falling out (two on the 7th, and four per day since April 8th).  And, triangle posture isn't the only pose that small adjustments have helped, I have been rocking the balancing stick lately, as well several other postures that have gradually come a long way from where I started at the first of the month.

Today I made a small adjustment outside of class that has had a huge impact on my practice.  If you have been following along, you may remember my mentioning that I was having a little problem with my elbow.  For the last several days I have had to sit out of the standing bow pulling pose and locust pose, and other postures had been effected as well.

The answer seems so obvious now, but I woke up this morning and realized as I lay there on my side that my arm was a little numb.  You know, because I had been laying on it for the last several hours as I slept on my side...  Sleeping on my side had never been an issue before these last couple of weeks, and it is how I have always slept, but apparently when your body is trying to recover from several hours of yoga on a daily basis, it likes to have unrestricted blood flow.

This morning's class went well, though I still sat out the same postures, but when I crashed after class I made it a point to sleep on my back instead of my side.  I don't know if you have ever tried to change the way you sleep, but my body felt awkward, and fought me every step of the way.  I was tired enough that I won out, and successfully slept on my back.

My afternoon class was a huge improvement.  Just those few hours of sleep seemed to do the trick, and with only some residual soreness, I was able to rejoin the postures that I had been sitting out for several days.

Hopefully tonight I will be equally successful in forcing my body to sleep in manner it is not (yet) accustomed to, so that tomorrow I can test my hypothesis again and see if this small adjustment is going to be the fix I needed.

I am otherwise still going strong.  Since finding my base again after the middle portion of this challenge, I have continued to improve.  Just two more days, and I am only getting stronger!


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Let It Go

Having my nieces in town has been highly entertaining.  They are adorable, so full of energy, curious, and smart.

Yesterday I got relationship advice from the five year old, which was entertaining.  She had asked if I was married yet, and I told her that I used to be married, but that I wasn't married anymore.  I should have expected the "why not?" that quickly followed, or the "is she dead?" she added before I could answer.

"No, she isn't dead," I told her.  "We just aren't together anymore."

"Why not?"

"Well...," I started, not expecting to be having a conversation with my five year old niece about my divorce from before she was born.  What do you even tell a kid whose world is princesses and happily ever afters about divorce?  I kept it simple by saying, "we had problems."

"Oh, well if you have problems you should talk to your parents," she started.  Not bad advice at all, really.  I found out later from her mother, my sister, that this was what she was told if she ever had problems with her little sister, rather than screaming and fighting.

"And you should go to her house and say you're sorry," she added.  "And bring her flowers.  Red ones.  You should bring her red roses, and go to her house, and say that you're sorry."

It sounds so easy when you put it that way...  So, if you have any problems, my five year old niece gives some pretty sage advice, though, fair warning, she will likely refer you to your parents.
A sketch of my nieces and nephew as faerie children.

The two year old inadvertently gives some pretty good advice too.  It is the same advice that I hear from almost all of the instructors at the yoga studio: "Let it go."

Of course, when the two year old says it, she's belting it out repeatedly and with surprising volume.

It took me a bit to figure out what she was saying, as I hadn't yet seen the recently released Frozen, which is apparently very popular with the two to five year old girl demographic.  She isn't so much singing it, as much is she is shouting it repeatedly and with enthusiasm, adorable and full of energy.

"Let it go" has helped me a lot with my practice recently.  Not carrying my day into the class.  Not carrying how I did in one posture into the next.  Taking anything that bubbles to the surface during camel pose and just letting it go.  "Let it go" is right up there with "just focus on your breathing" and "don't panic."

I have just three more days of this challenge, and I am feeling strong.  My classes are going well, and I was able to take the back to back double yesterday in stride.  More and more lately I have had people mention to me how much different I look, both in my body composition and in my postures.  It is something that is gradual, so I don't really think about it until I take a step back, but the benefits of this challenge have been bountiful.

I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has followed along on my journey.  I really do appreciate the support, the encouragement, and the kind words.  I really love this community.  You are all wonderful.  Thank you.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Three and a Half Hours

This morning went exceptionally well, all things considered.  I started my first class at 7 AM and walked out of my second class 10:30 AM, three and a half hours later.  I really was expecting the second of the back to back classes this morning to be excruciatingly difficult.  Conversely, I somehow felt energized after the second class.

Writer's block: That's a thing.


Friday, April 25, 2014


This blog post is going to be short and sweet, because it is 11:37 PM, which gives me 22 minutes to get a post up for the blog today.

While Fridays are typically when I go dancing, if you have been keeping track, tonight I had a lovely date instead.   We had a fantastic dinner at Dick's Kitchen, which I would highly reccomend, then on to Vie de Boheme to listen to the Ken DeRouchie Band perform, which is always a treat.  Even though I didn't go dancing, I feel like I had the energy to dance if I had gone, which still astounds me after more than three weeks into three hours a day of yoga.

This afternoon was my fiftieth class, and it feels like a milestone.  I felt really good in both classes, and I don't expect that I could be any more ready and prepared for tomorrow's back to back double in the morning.  That doesn't mean that I think that this back to back is going to be easy.  In fact, I expect it will be somewhat grueling, but I didn't start this endeavor because I wanted to try something easy.
As well as my morning class went, I was still exhausted afterward.  After breakfast I tried to take a quick nap with my hat down over my eyes, but my littlest niece decided it was time to steal my hat and take selfies instead.

Tomorrow I should have pictures from the coast, assuming I can still move my body to drive there after the back to back classes in the morning.  Wish me luck.


Thursday, April 24, 2014


There are many reasons to wear masks.  Masquerade balls come to mind, and of course Halloween, both of which I have made and worn masks for in recent years.  For those occasions we wear physical masks, allowing ourselves for a time to be something we are not, conceal ourselves behind some other outward persona, often much different than ourselves.

I have come to quite enjoy making masks.  Depicted here is my most recent mask, which I made for Halloween this last year.  The mask is essentially paper mache over a wire form with dreaded burlap for hair and a real pumpkin stalk for the horn.
My first mask in recent years is the Legend inspired troll mask pictured in the lower right corner.  It was another Halloween piece, the pattern being that both masks were made for parties I was invited to, likely a subconscious reflection of my introverted nature.  The other three masks pictured were all for masquerade balls over the last couple of years.
Mask making is an art form that I quite enjoy, especially for the reactions that others have in both viewing and interacting with them.

My nieces are highly entertained by the masks (after getting past their initial terror), and I distinctly remember when my oldest niece first overcame her fear of the troll mask and tried it on.  She made a terrible roar, then laughed and laughed.  Even at such a young age she instinctively understood the concept of becoming something else while wearing the mask.  My oldest niece and her little sister are visiting currently (as seen in the pictures from our trip to the park this morning), and when I showed them my new scarecrow mask the younger sister eagerly tried it on.
Then there are the other masks...

Someone asks you how you are doing, you smile and say you are doing well with practiced ease that makes you almost believe it yourself.  You write about what food you shouldn't have had instead of how you are having a difficult time reading or responding to texts and emails.  You sleep during the day, and you honestly can't tell if it is more to benefit your physical well being or your emotional need to escape and withdraw, and it is certainly measures of both.

Part of the reason I started this crazy journey was because of the depression I felt coming on.  Yoga has not stopped the depression.  It has, however, provided something to focus on in the last month aside from my depression.  More than a distraction, my practice has become a lens through which I have been able to examine myself.

In yoga class it is often repeated that we have to acknowledge and accept where we are.

I'm depressed, and that is okay.  This is not about being perfect.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Poor Food Choices

Thanks to my sister I got a short reprieve yesterday from writing for my blog, and the day before wasn't exactly taxing, but without another guest post, I guess I'll have to go ahead and write a real entry tonight.

I have seven days left of my initial challenge.  I have avoided counting down to when I am 'done' because I really do not intend to be done at the end of April.  The other day I had someone ask my what I was going to do on day 31, and I replied, "yoga."

I meant to write on Easter that I had some junk candy.  It was that extra sugary cheap stuff that has become synonymous with the holiday, which I really had no intention of eating, but old habits dye hard.  The consequences were nearly immediate, and dramatic, as, after nearly three weeks of only the lightest twinges of cramps, the sugar (twice) locked up several major muscles to painful effect.

After I first had some candy, I was driving to afternoon yoga and my abs cramped up something fierce while I was driving (and changing into my yoga clothes, which I don't recommend doing while you drive, especially if you're going to cramp up).  I had to laugh through it, as there wasn't much else I could really do while I was driving.

Later that night after dinner my mom handed me a couple pieces of Easter candy.  Not having learned my lesson the first time (or rather, not having made the association in my head between sugary treats and the surprising pain of muscle cramps), it wasn't long before both of my thighs were locking up and I was writhing on the ground next to the couch trying to stand so that I could walk it off.

Lesson learned.  Right?


After only a couple of cheat meals from eating paleo this month, which I mention earlier in my blog, I had been relatively good the rest of the month up until Monday night when I got home from yoga to the suggestion that we go out for (really good) tacos.  Two taquitos, a hard taco, a soft fajita taco, and a good share of nachos, all laden with delicious melty cheese and sour cream later, I had pretty much sealed my fate for how hellish my next morning's yoga session was going to be.

It was like I could feel all the inflammation in my body that the corn, dairy, and bad fats had caused, and it made the next morning's yoga session tantamount to torture.  All I had to say on Facebook after class was: "Another lesson in food choices."

If we are being honest, and I have strived for that more than anything in this blog, then I have to say it is a lesson I will likely repeat again, but at least I can say that I am now making many more good choices about how I treat my body than poor ones.  Winning the war despite a few lost battles.

After eating right that morning and afternoon, I was able to go back for afternoon yoga turned 180 degrees in the opposite direction, feeling good, though the fact that my sister had just arrived to town with two of my nieces may have had something to do with my energy going into that class as well.

The nieces are staying for several days while my pregnant sister enjoys some time with her husband down in Las Vegas before the baby comes due.  I'm loving having them around.  They are so bright and sweet.  My parents are taking them to the coast this weekend, which is going to be awesome fun.  I love going to the coast in Oregon.

In order to join them at the coast on Saturday, I am going to be attempting my first back to back double Saturday morning, during the second of which Ahmad (the teacher for both classes) will likely witness my complete breakdown.

Seriously though, Saturday is going to be a challenge in and of itself.  There has only been one class in these last three weeks where I have come out feeling like I could go back in for another round, and it wasn't recently.  So... wish me luck!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Force to be Reckoned With

I had asked several people if they would like to do a guest post for my blog.  This first is from my older sister, whom I had mentioned frequently in my early blog entries.

Yesterday after Preston’s forty-second class, he posted on Facebook: “42. The meaning of life, the universe, and everything.” For a moment I thought Preston had a profound spiritual experience in class, and then realized it was a reference to the comic science fiction classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy wherein the supercomputer Deep Thought is tasked with determining the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything, and the Answer is 42.

I got the “42” reference, but confess I’m no Hitchhiker’s buff, so I had to do a little internet research when Preston’s blog post yesterday said “Don’t panic. Bring a towel.”  (Both in the top ten pieces of advice I give to new students, but what did that have to do with 42?)

Turns out, just as for a Bikram yoga student, for a galactic hitchhiker having a towel is a big deal: “Somebody who can stay in control of virtually any situation is somebody who is said to know where his or her towel is.” See:
On the significance of towels from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost." What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

See quotation at (emphasis added).

With this description in mind I couldn’t help but think of the hitchhiker’s towel as a symbol analogous to the practice of yoga. It is about the most massively useful thing we can have as we navigate our lives: useful both for its practical physical/health benefits and also for its significant psychological/mental/emotional benefits. Yoga practice cultivates the ability to breathe and even smile through the length and breadth of the challenges that life brings—whether that is through triangle pose, an inconsiderate encounter, or something much more serious. No matter what comes, yoga is always there; even as you consider your Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything. If you can bring your yoga with you wherever you are in life, you are a force to be reckoned with; there is tremendous strength in the ability to stop, take a deep breath, and then move forward to act consciously rather than simply react.

I’m grateful to travel life as your sister. I love and admire you, Preston, for your loving and caring nature, your willingness to walk to the beat of your own drum, your creativity and artistic talent, and your vulnerability in going after bold goals and sharing those goals and the ups and downs you experience along the way. You are a force to be reckoned with. I hope you always travel with this experience and your yoga towel as a source of strength. I love you.

I love you too, Jill.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Forty Classes

It is hard to believe that I am two-thirds of the way finished already with my thirty day challenge.  That is twenty days, forty classes, and sixty hours of yoga so far this month, with just another ten days to go.

Since I conquered triangle pose with a smile, I have successfully held every set of every class since, and I'm continuing to see progress in the posture.

I am getting daily feedback and encouragement from teachers and other practitioners at the studio, which is great.  I have also started to get the "oh you're the guy doing two a day" from people at the studio, which I find entertaining.  It is nice to have the support and community, especially through the middle third of my challenge when I was struggling a little more.

I really feel like I am building again, which is great.  No phenomenal breakthroughs like early in my practice, but gradual improvement and continued growth since finding my base again.

There have been just a few hiccups.  My right elbow has been persistently sore for several days now, more so than my other joints, which are seeing similar stress.  I am keeping a very careful watch on my joints and making sure I don't push through anything painful, even if it means stepping out of standing bow pulling posture a lot recently.

Also, this afternoon in the first set of awkward pose, I fell out of the third part backwards with surprising result.  Falling backward is not unusual, it seems like I have fallen backward out of the posture at least once a day for the last three weeks.  This afternoon however, when I rolled back, my vertebra cracked all the way up my spine like a zipper.  It was the strangest sensation, like getting an adjustment at the chiropractor, although with more falling and that edge of panic before you determine that everything is fine.  I was a little tentative through the next few postures, but everything seems to be normal, so now I can laugh about giving myself an adjustment during my fortieth yoga class this month.

It looks as though my body is going to let me go the full thirty days, which is a huge relief.  I had had my doubts through this middle third of the challenge, but now I can see the finish line, and this body is going to get me there just fine.

Thank you so much for following along with me on my journey.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Letters from Hong Kong

A little over a year ago I got an unexpected letter from Hong Kong.
Gwynneth is my niece, daughter of my youngest sister, who transcribed the letter.  I loved that my young niece had drawn a picture to send to me, though I'm not sure entirely what it was a drawing of.  That may be a mystery that is lost to the ages.

Then, just today I received another letter, for which a little less transcription was required, complete with a ballet fairy and a fancy chicken.
I love having a little developing artist in the family, and developing has been a theme for me today.

I really paid the piper this morning after going dancing last night, but in this afternoon's class I could really begin to see how I am beginning to develop again.  Struggling the last few days, I finally felt today like I found a new base to start working from.  Where I felt like I had lost a lot of strength and stability, I am again starting to make gains.

The gains are small, and I don't expect that anyone else would really notice.  Certainly I am still a novice and beginner when it comes to Bikram Yoga, but who knows where I will be in a little over a year.  Perhaps the random squiggles that are my current attempts at the postures will develop into half moons, bows, tortoises, camels, and fancy chickens.

On the subject of letters, I'm excited to say that several people have agreed to do guest blog posts for Yoga, Crazy & Me.  I am hugely thankful for those that have agreed to share their thoughts, and I am excited to see what they have to say.  I will be posting them as I receive them, so expect them sporadically over the next week and a half as I approach the conclusion of this endeavor.


Friday, April 18, 2014


Tonight a short post, I think.

If you have been following along, you know that the last several days have been a little rough.  I am finding that my stabilizer muscles and joints are getting sore and starting to fatigue.  I have been listening extra closely to my body as I move forward with doubles, and in the last couple of days have found that I have needed to sit out a set or two (or three).

Initially I was stressing out about my new limitations.  It seemed like most of what I had experienced so far was growth, and this really was the first time I felt a bit like I was taking steps backwards.

This morning was the first time in a couple of days that I just let it go, realized I could only do what my body was going to let me, and that anything that I was able to do was good enough.

I was surprised to find that I was able to dance tonight with relative ease.

I didn't know what to expect after such a rough week of yoga, but I was able to dance for three hours tonight at Friday Night Fusion.  I had a fantastic time learning to dance to the blues, and I would have stayed until midnight if I didn't have to write a blog post and get up first thing in the morning for yoga.


Thursday, April 17, 2014


As I can recall, I have only ever blacked out once.

We were hiking 50 miles through the high desert mountains at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.  Coming from relatively close to sea level, just being at the elevation of base camp was tiring, and all the trails seemed to lead up from there.  Last thing I remember I was hiking up the trail in line behind Alex Burciaga on a hot day, the sun directly overhead, and then next thing I know I'm lying under a tree surrounded by very concerned faces of people trying to ask me questions while giving me sips of water.
I am the kid second from the left, seated in the front row, inexplicably flexing.
I went on three different 50 milers back in my scouting days, and the one thread through all of them is that I only remember the good parts.  I have an easy time forgetting the toil and the strain, while the feelings of accomplishment and the vistas from mountain tops stay clear in my mind.

After my first class this morning I felt nauseous.  A combination of feeling light headed and at the same time drinking too much water.

As a quick aside, when I was first stationed at Ft. Polk it was a particularly hot summer.  We were required to have with us our 2 quart cantines at all times.  I was just out of basic training, and an NCO's word was law.  I was in a driver's training course when, for what infraction I'm not sure, I was forced to drink the full two quart cantine, fill it, and drink it again.  I'll mention that the tap water there tasted particularly awful, as I recall.  While trying to drink the second cantine my body decided to purge all the water I'd gorged back up and out.  It was a particularly uncomfortable experience, as you can imagine, as I was also made to clean it up afterward.

The next day it was announced post wide that soldiers could no longer be forced to drink water, as apparently this had not been an isolated incident.

This afternoon I was light headed all through class, having to sit out half of the postures, laying in savasana instead.  Every time I got up to try and attempt another posture I would get more light headed, my vision would tunnel, and I would lay back down before passing out.

It is often repeated that our hardest classes are the ones that we get the most out of.  I'm still counting every class I show up and stay in the room as a victory, no matter what 100% looks like that class, and I remind myself that when I look back I will likely only remember the accomplishments and victories.

34 victories and counting.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

At the Precipice

I have a very vivid memory of my Uncle Pete taking me to Smith Rock when I was a kid.  We hiked up the back side via trails, then across the flat top.  I had been scared to jump a small crevasse which split the rock as we made our way to the face, but that fear was nothing compared to what I felt as we reached the precipice, and I was near petrified as my uncle had me sit with my legs out over the edge.  I managed to suppress the fear in order to take in the majesty of the view, but I think it is the fear that I had to overcome that etched the memory so vividly in my young mind.

I have been at that ledge today in more ways than one.  I have been at the edge of tears, both on this side of the ledge, and just on the other.  I silently wept through part of my afternoon class today.  I didn't even realize I was so close to tears until the instructor took a moment between postures to recognize my continued achievement and how it has inspired other students of hers to attempt doubles.

I didn't feel inspiring just then.  I felt fatigued.  This afternoon's class was the first class since very early on that I had to sit out any sets of postures, and I was just trying to hold on to the fact that I was even there, still giving what little I had.
The other ledge, the one I am more fearful of, is my waxing depression.

The emotional roller coaster that these last couple of weeks have been have left me without many defenses.  Right now I am this close to going out and getting myself a chocolate bar, and I know exactly which one (a Ghirardelli Sea Salt Soiree).  When I say "this close" you might imagine me holding my thumb and forefinger so that they are barely apart, only a sliver of light between them to indicate that I'm not actually going to drive to the store and get one.  Instead, you should imagine me with keys in hand, jacket on, and sliding on my shoes as I try and remember the reasons I shouldn't go get another chocolate bar.  I say another because I have had three in the last few days, and not because I was hungry.

I am not going to go get chocolate tonight.

I am going to finish this blog post, and then go to sleep.

I slept most of the day today again.  Some strange alchemy of physical exhaustion and the gradual onset of depression has me sleeping a good portion of the day without effecting my sleep at night.  Sleeping this much is some bizarre middle path where I believe it is physically necessary for recovery doing doubles every day, and at the same time perhaps not so awesome for my emotional well being.

Still the vivid dreams, which, as I mentioned before, are completely out of the ordinary for me.  Today's dreams bordered on nightmares.

I guess today is all about being at the precipice.

The fear I feel is tempered by experience in a way that my younger self couldn't have understood.  I know that this precipice is a place to reflect, to focus on the majesty and not the fall.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Halfway There!

This afternoon's class was number thirty.  That is thirty classes in fifteen days, and halfway to my goal of sixty in thirty.  I feel accomplished for having made it this far, and it hasn't been easy.

The journey thus far has been emotionally, physically, and mentally turbulent.  I've been everything from devastated to elated, from decimated to bursting with energy, and from dazed to having peace and clarity of mind.

The days that I have been devastated, decimated, and dazed have been few, and I recognize that these are the days when my being is struggling to most to grow, expand, and come into focus.

The persistent heated core that I experienced early in my practice is gone, as is my voracious appetite.  In fact, my appetite is all but gone, though I'm still eating small portions of meals when I know I should in order to keep my energy up.

As an experiment, I forwent my early morning breakfast this morning, and I still had consistent energy all the way through class.  After class I had just two eggs (instead of my usual three) and a very small side and it still felt like too much.  My lunch was equally minimal, just some grapes, chicken heart and liver, and a couple of mushrooms.  For dinner, after my afternoon yoga, I had a little bit more of an appetite, but still didn't have any desire to eat what I would have previously considered to be normal portions for me.

As someone who had been fat my entire life, I can tell you that I've never experienced a decreased appetite like this without being ill.  I can't recall reaching satiety during a meal without also being just stuffed full.  This is a very strange and unexpected adjustment to have to make, though I am doing my best to continue to listen to my body and fully commit to these adjustments.

I will be weighing myself in the morning, same time as my initial weigh in, so that I can get the most accurate measurement possible for my halfway point.  I can tell you I haven't once stepped on a scale this week and have it read over 280 pounds, no much water I had drank to rehydrate.  I'm excited to see what the number is, but I already know that the change in my physique has been severe.

I was going to post progress pictures, but... that isn't going to happen.

Instead, I will leave you with a picture of my nieces who will be visiting next week:


Monday, April 14, 2014

A Fortnight

Today marks a fortnight that I've been doing doubles.  Tomorrow will mark 30 classes and my halfway point.  I want to be able to say that I felt fantastic today, but today was really rough.

Today I had the energy of a panther, I posted with my afternoon check in, nap time.  ...after a big meal.

This morning I got up, had breakfast, then slept another hour.  I went to morning yoga, then slept another three hours.  I got up, had lunch, then slept until I had to get up and go to afternoon yoga.  Apparently, my huge gains yesterday came at heavy cost in my energy today, and I really felt it in both classes.

This experiment was interesting, but I think it has gone on long enough...
...I shaved off my goatee!

I've been getting a lot of people commenting on my weight loss, especially in my face.  I couldn't really say that I saw it until I shaved off my goatee, and then it really hit me.

The shift in appetite has been jarring.  I had a smaller than usually breakfast at my normal time and still felt overly full all the way through class.  Again with lunch, where my portions were small.  I tried going even smaller for dinner, but I've felt over full for hours now.  Tomorrow I'm going to try and listen to my body even closer and really dial back.  I can't say I really understand what is going on, so I'm just going to have to trust the signals I'm getting from my body and continue to hope for the best.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Like a Gazelle!

Tonight was the first time I walked out of class thinking I could walk back in and go another round.  I felt amazing!  Like a gazelle!

Even my morning class went relatively well, and I posted in my Facebook check in:

This was a triumph! Making a note here: Huge success!

For those who don't get the reference, this is a line from the song Still Alive written by Jonathan Coulton for the game Portal.  It fairly well summed up how I felt, in that I had made it through another class, and I was still alive.  As I have said, I always find morning classes to be tougher than my afternoon class.

I wasn't at all expecting to come back this afternoon and just knock it out of the park.  I felt ready, motivated, confidant, loose, strong, and all I could think of was this tapestry that hung on my wall as a kid that depicted panthers hiding in the shadows waiting to pounce out and try and catch some gazelles grazing in a sunny field.  I felt like a gazelle.

I don't have a picture of a gazelle, so instead here is a wicked awesome spider.
I guess in that metaphor the panthers are... I got nothing.  I am just hanging out here in my sunny field, feeling awesome, strong and confident!

I honestly felt like I made 20% gains in half of my postures this afternoon.  I came out feeling energized and excited, and I know that feeling is not going to be my experience in every class from here forward, but it is good to know that I can come out of class feeling like I'm on top on the world.  This is truly an awesome experience.


Saturday, April 12, 2014


A week ago today I started this blog to journal my experiences as I practice Bikram Yoga twice daily for a month.  The positive support of my journey has been phenomenal, and I truly hope you understand how much it means to me that you take the time to read about my experience.

Blogger tracks some interesting statistics about exactly how many people are coming to visit the blog, which I thought I would share:
I've been averaging just about 100 pageviews a day, with readers from ten different countries.  137 people have viewed my first entry, My First Thought, and my second most read entry is Ten with 76 views.

This being day twelve, I have settled into a pretty standard routine, though it is slowly changing as my body continues to adapt to the rigors of twice daily yoga.  I'm still waking up a couple of hours before the morning class to eat breakfast, but I have noticed that my appetite has recently decreased significantly.  This was something completely unexpected, but I am starting to quickly feel satiated, and I'm adjusting my proportions accordingly.  Even as I write this I haven't yet had dinner because I just don't feel hungry.  Instead, I've continued to hydrate, supplementing electrolytes with Elete and with and my usual coconut water.

I didn't even have much of a lunch at all.  After my morning class I was completely exhausted, but I quickly recovered without having to crash for another four hours, and went out to a flower arranging class with Chelsea from Frolic!

I cooked a few slices of bacon and had an apple before I got there, and then showed immense willpower in skipping the delicious cheeses, jam and bread, and opted to have some lovely radishes instead.  I forgot how deliciously crunchy radishes are, and they were treat enough.  Add those to the scrambled eggs and sweet potato hash that I had for breakfast and you have my entire dietary consumption for the day: 3 eggs, 1/4 sweet potato, 1/4 onion, 1 stick of celery, 2 T ghee, 5 slices of bacon, 1 apple, 4 radishes, and 33.3 fl oz of coconut water.

Because there was going to be a camera at the class, I went through my (limited) wardrobe to try and look my best, and found that many of my shirts are starting to fit too loose.  I'll say that again, just to be clear, the shirts that I regularly wear, the ones that I bought when I was at my lowest weight running, are now getting to be a little too loose on me.  The new jeans I bought myself at the end of February when I'd lost another 14 pounds are now getting a little too loose as well.  It looks like my reward at the end of the thirty days might be an investiture into some new wardrobe items.  A common phrase around my family, "there are worse problems to have."

In my routine, I find morning classes to feel markedly more difficult than the afternoon classes, and locker room chatter seems to align with my thoughts on the matter.  While I still give 100% in every class, afternoon classes just seem to be a little easier, I'm a little more loose, I stay in postures a little better, and my energy is more consistent through the end of the class.

I continue to improve in my postures.  Since that first day I defeated triangle pose, I have yet to fall out of the posture even once.  Every class, every day I conquer triangle pose again and again.  My new nemesis is standing bow pose, but I'm slowly building the balance and grip strength that it is going to take to conquer it as well.

After class I had a moment to speak with the instructor, and I really can't say enough how much I love the teachers at Bikram Yoga West Linn.  We talked about goals, targets, and where I'm going after I am done with these first thirty days.  I'm going to finish these first thirty days before I commit to anything too crazy, but I am excited for what the future has in store!


Friday, April 11, 2014


Today was a long wide swing.

The chasm I crossed from where I was last night to where I am tonight is staggering.  Last night I was really struggling, and that carried over into my yoga class this morning.  I had no energy, and I felt like my only victory was just showing up and doing it.  Mind you, I still count that as a victory, but I struggled through the entire class just the same.

After class I came home and slept another four hours.  Again, I had vivid dreams, which seems to be a pattern when I crash for several hours after a morning class of yoga.

After I woke up I had a huge lunch, only having had a very light breakfast.  It turns out I wouldn't have dinner either, but I'll get to that.

From waking up at noon until my class at 4:30, I could feel my energy building.  Afternoon yoga went really well.  I still had my focus on my core, and in just these few short days my back pain is almost entirely gone.  After I got out of yoga I felt great, drove to Tigard, and proceeded to dance for the next two and a half hours.

You might recall from my first post in this blog last Saturday, My First Thought, that I'd gone out dancing the night before.  Friday Night Fusion is something I try to go to every week.  It is an amazingly good time hosted by Robert Evans and Julia Box at The Ballroom Dance Company in Tigard, every Friday night from 7 to midnight.  They have a fundamentals lesson from 7 to 7:30, then an hour dance lesson from 7:30 to 8:30, and then open dancing until midnight, all for just $5, which includes a spread of snacks every week as well.  I don't know anywhere else you can get a lesson, 5 hours of dancing, and food for just five dollars.
Robert in the hat and striped socks, Julia in the blue dress.
Robert and Julia really are wonderful, they make everyone feel welcome, and they make learning to dance a lot of fun.  I get plenty of hugs and smiles every time I go.  I could have danced until midnight, if I wasn't trying to be responsible and get my blog post done and get some sleep before yoga in the morning, I felt that good.

Tonight was a lesson in East Coast Swing, triple steps and all.  Each week the lesson is in a different form of dance, and the concept of the group is to fuze different styles together, which is beautiful fun.

Last week, which I touched on only very briefly, was a lesson in zipper dancing, which I had never even heard of.  It is a form of co-lead dancing, and honestly made me feel like a kid.  It was wonderful.

I had my lunch a little after noon, which was the last time I really ate today.  I went straight from class to dancing, skipping dinner.  At dance I had a few big chunks of pineapple and a handful of strawberries, and I had plenty of energy.  I'm sure it is a combination of the paleo diet and the yoga, but ordinarily I would have crashed hard without having an evening meal.

One of the things that I have loved about doing this challenge is that I still have the energy to be excited about, and do things.  The rate at which I recover day in and day out is phenomenal.  I'm thankful to have made it this far in my challenge, and that my body is continuing to adapt to the rigor I have been subjecting it to.  The human body is an amazing thing.


Thursday, April 10, 2014


Ten days in, a third of the way through.

There is a tally board at the studio for students doing thirty day challenges.
Even just these first ten days have been a journey.

Physically, I think my body is scrambling to keep up, repairing and building at its capacity while I feed it, hydrate it, and rest it as best as I am able.  I feel physically warm, like a slight fever, though I'm fairly certain that it is just my metabolism in overdrive.

I want to say that I am bursting with energy and excitement, and to some extent I am, but I'm also feeling somewhat overwhelmed.  The emotional highs and lows over the last week and a half have been extreme, and they take their own sort of toll.

Both classes went very well today.  As mentioned, I've switched over to focusing on my core and my back is thanking me for it already.  I have been driving myself hard, and more than a few times have felt like I was about to pass out.  That's what I meant to write the other day in the post appropriately titled Driving and Passing Out.  Honesty can be its own form of deflection, and sometimes it is hard for me to even catch myself doing it.

Teachers and other students ask me how I'm doing and I tell them that I feel great physically, that I'm recovering quickly and really seeing improvement.  That's all true.

How am I doing?  I'm struggling.

I have a very hard time admitting when I'm struggling.  I'm very practiced at putting on a face, smiling, and saying everything is okay, even when it clearly isn't.

I am loving doing yoga.

The constant encouragement from family, friends, teachers and other students has been vital to the gains that I have made in just this ten days.  I can't express enough how much I really appreciate it.

Another student mentioned in the locker room that even in just the couple of weeks that he has seen a change in how I look.  It is always nice when other people start to notice your physique change.  I've been feeling the change in physique in the way my clothes fit and the way I carry myself.

Dara, the instructor of both of my classes today, has been amazingly supportive.  It was Dara that first approached be about journaling my experience.  Yesterday she remarked in class that my triangle pose looked amazing, and then today, at the end of my twentieth class, she acknowledged the achievement in front of the whole room.  It was totally unexpected and wonderful.  I really love the instructors at Bikram Yoga West Linn.

Jill, my older sister who I have written so much about, called me tonight to congratulate me on the milestone.  I'm glad that this experience continues to draw us closer.  The things I've written in this blog aren't things that I have really previously shared with her.

In fact, when I write these I don't really think much about the fact that people are reading them, though with only five posts in five days I have over four-hundred page views in eight countries.

This may be my most rambling post yet.  It is a little all over the place.  Thank you for reading.

Another class tomorrow at 6 am, and I should just post this and get some sleep, so I will leave you with another little something from the tally board at the studio.  Something which I am going to seek to embody more as I move forward:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I don't have a lot of energy to write tonight, but I'm committed to trying to blog my experience here daily.

My back was exceptionally sore when I woke up this morning.  Painfully so.  If I had just been casually going to yoga instead of being committed to this crazy venture of mine, I likely would have skipped out and gone back to sleep.  I am glad I didn't skip out, because I was able to ease off the gas and coast through the class, getting my back warmed up and loosened up while still making honest attempts at every set of all the postures.

I've said a little about my older sister, and since that first post she has been even more supportive and helpful.  In addition to the general kind words and excitement she has sent my way, when she read about my back hurting this morning, she sent me a link to a blog post: Bikram Yoga and Back Pain.  It is a great read if you have back pain and you're currently practicing Bikram Yoga, or thinking about it.

I read the blog between my morning and afternoon class, and the biggest thing I took from it was to focus on my core, so I will be focusing on really strengthening my core for the time being.  I'm taking everything one class at a time and really listening to what my body is telling me, instead of being bullheaded about powering through like I am sometimes prone to do.

I have really awesome sisters, as I think I've mentioned.

When I turned 30, my sisters orchestrated something truly spectacular, getting people who had known me throughout my life to write something about me, then they pasted them to the backs of pictures of me over the years and strung them across the room at my birthday party.  The only thing better than that was my young niece for months afterward constantly saying "Happy Birthday, Preston."  My nieces and nephew are an absolute joy in my life, and just another wonderful and awesome thing about my sisters.
Me and my three sisters
If I really think about it, it really is no surprise that I am doing Bikram Yoga.

Drawing and writing are two of my great loves in life, and I can trace my early excitement for both back to my older sister.  I remember when I was just learning to draw she taught me how to draw a really simple room in perspective by drawing a box, and then lines from the four corners of the box to the corners of the sheet of paper.  I probably drew different variations of that room hundreds of times as a child, fascinated with the idea of giving depth to a flat piece of paper.

I've been writing creatively for nearly as long as I can remember.  Floating around somewhere at my parents house is a story I wrote when I was very young titled, the Garden in the Bathroom about a little boy who goes into a bathroom and is transported to another world of sorts.  Very much after inspirations such as the Phantom Tollbooth and classic episodes of Doctor Who that I don't remember watching.

I can still remember how I felt listening to my mother and older sister as she was working on a creative writing project for school.  I can't even remember any details other than the fact that I wanted to write like she did.

She ran track in high school.  I did field in high school.

Once she went through teacher training, my eventual foray into Bikram Yoga became inevitable.

I wish I could say that my sister and I have always been close.  We haven't been.  I can say I am glad we still love each other after all these years, and that she still tries to be a helpful and loving older sister.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ideal Composition

My instructor said something which stuck in my head this morning, but not for the reasons that you might expect.  She was talking about being in the moment, and taking the postures "breath by breath."

The instruction was exactly what I needed in order to get focused on my breathing, which was great, but it wasn't why it got stuck in my head.  Much to my amusement, in my head I heard it to the tune of the opening theme song of the old sitcom, Step by Step.

Breath by breath, day by day
A fresh start over, a different hand to play

The actual lyrics go "step by step," obviously, but you get the picture.  The other song that popped into my head this morning was One Week by the Barenaked Ladies.

It's been one week since you looked at me
Threw your arms in the air and said, "you're crazy"

This morning's class marked one week since I started this crazy journey, and I can only imagine what went through the studio owner's head when I first told her I was going to go right into doubles for thirty days.  She may not have said that I was crazy like in the lyrics, but I certainly felt a little crazy to be even thinking about attempting this.

I didn't tell anybody that my Facebook check in was a song virus.

A song virus, if you're not familiar, is when a song, or part of a song, gets stuck in your head.  Often they are catchy, and can be passed to other people if you hum, whistle, or sing them aloud without even thinking about it, like in the move About a Boy when the child protagonist starts singing aloud in the middle of class without realizing.

I'm prone to song virus myself, which can be equally entertaining or annoying.  Lately I've had the chorus to Breakfast at Tiffany's by Deep Blue Something in my head a lot.  I sometimes sing the chorus over and over again to myself while I'm driving.  Just the chorus, mind you.

I composed a song once.  It was a bad idea, but I was trying to retain the affection of a crush who I almost dated.  The circumstances of which seem beyond fiction.  I'm sure the lyrics still exist somewhere, along with all of the other poetry I wrote her, but I am not about to go digging in that emotional minefield.

It seems that composition is a thread through many areas of my life.  In addition to the single musical composition, I focus a lot on artistic composition and photography.  Whatever your personal opinion of Instagram might be, I quite enjoy composing quick and easy shots on my phone, like this one from earlier today.
In high school I took a photography class in which I learned about foreground, middle ground, background, and also the rule of thirds, contrast, and other miscellaneous aspects of composition that could be used to shape a good photograph.

Yoga postures are similarly nuanced, and just looking at someone in a posture you might not think about the elements of composition they are considering.  Instructors regularly fire off corrections, instructions, and little helpful tidbits, like taking the postures breath by breath, which help us build our understanding of the composition of a posture.

As I begin to be able to do more and more of each posture, I find myself intently listening to the instructions, trying to bring my own composition in alignment with the ideal.  The ideal is doing your best with every posture, and my physical best is something I've been excited to redefine daily this past week.

In my afternoon class today the instructor had a great cadence to his voice and intensity to his words that really helped me bring momentum through all the postures.  It was my best class so far in terms of consistently pushing myself into and maintaining postures.  I don't think I sat out for a second during the class, pushing the entire time with his rapid fire instruction.

Mind you, that is not the sort of instruction that I need every time.  I appreciate the differences between all of the teachers I have had at the studio.  They are all wonderful.  But, tonight that instruction was exactly what I needed to do my best and achieve my ideal.

I weighed in this morning when I first woke up, and I was half a pound down.

Let me tell you why I'm ecstatic about that half of a pound.

This experience is not about losing weight.  Losing weight is just a byproduct of me becoming healthier and happier.  No, the reason that half a pound is exciting is body composition.

Not only do I feel lighter, but my clothes are fitting better, a clear indication that I am losing body fat.  The fact that I am maintaining weight means that I am also staying well hydrated, which has been a major focus, and additionally it means that I'm gaining and repairing muscle, which is just fantastic.

Best of all, body and mind, I feel great, and that is my ideal composition.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Driving and Passing Out

I noticed a few changes brought about by my yoga training while I was driving the other day.

Now I've loved driving for as long as I can remember.  A lot of that love comes from growing up taking long car rides to visit family with long conversations about everything under the heavens, or just listening to patriarchal relatives recount the stories of their lives and the lives of others since past.  In that way, and by reading me books like the Swiss Family Robinson and the Hobbit, my father cultivated in me a joy of listening which has been a boon to me in my life.  I even have fond memories tied to a multi-generational family road trip through Canada in a filled to capacity fifteen passenger van when my maternal grandparents were still alive and active.
My father, grandfather, and my Uncle Pete.
Though I had a singular driving experience behind the wheel when I was much younger thanks to my Uncle Pete in his old Bronco on some back roads in Redmond, Oregon, I learned to drive relatively late in my youth, and not until I absolutely had to.  My parents were leaving out of town, my older sister was already off at college, and the vehicle I was being left with was an old silver Acrua Integra with a manual transmission named the Silver Bullet.  The learning curve was steep and quick, and I was thrown to the wolves after only a couple of lessons from my father, but I soon developed a deep love for driving, often too fast.

The Silver Bullet met its demise with my youngest sister at the wheel (thankfully she was fine), and I have had many vehicles since.  In the Army I drove all manner of military vehicles, from Strikers and Bradley Fighting Vehicles to two and a half-ton trucks and Humvees.  I was a driver for most of my time in the military, and only briefly a gunner before the Army and I parted ways.  I bought a zippy little Kia Rio with my wife that was repossessed after our divorce.  Also memorable was a Frankenstein-ian car that belonged to a girlfriend spray painted dark metallic with a wrought iron fencing grill, a wooden roof rack we built, and more than half its parts replaced from a local U-Pull.

Recently I've been doing some amateur chauffeuring.  First for my cousin when I lived with her for several months while we were helping each other out, and now for my dad, who finds it easier to conduct business in the passenger seat as we drive all around the Greater Portland Metro Area and talk about anything and everything.  Both have been a really positive experiences, and ones which I am thankful for.

I will drive to the Oregon coast at the drop of a hat, or out to Idaho to visit my paternal grandfather, a man whom I could listen to for hours, and who recently has opened up more and more about the experiences he had in his lifetime, growing up during the great depression, moving to California to work in the ship yards during WWII, and the whole lifetime of adventure that followed.  I'll pause here to say that I love my grandfather dearly, I admire him, the man he is and was, and the legacy that lives on in his name.
My paternal grandparents
I simply love driving.

Just a few days into this thirty day challenge, and the last couple of days especially, I noticed a few changes while I was driving.  First, I started to find that it was more comfortable to sit with my hips pushed all the way back in my seat.  This wasn't my normal posture before I started this crazy journey, but it feels good.  Also, turning to check my blind spot used to involve me wrenching my neck around and glancing out of the corner of my eye, though I recently turned to discover I was easily looking all the way out the rear window.

It was a strange feeling turning so far around so easily, and every time I turn now I easily look back and around.  That just wasn't my experience before.  It is such a small thing, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

In the military during our train up for deployment we had to do a 72 hour op, which entailed three days of operations without sleeping, and I was still the driver.  On the third day people were passing out standing up, their knees buckling.  There is a wall you hit when you're that sleep deprived, and I think that everyone reacts to it a little differently, though commonly many start to get a little delirious after so little sleep.

I hit another wall today.  On Facebook I wrote that my first class was a mixed bag.  In all honesty it was exceptionally tough.  I was falling out of more postures, and even though I was still able to make an attempt at every set of every posture, some of my attempts were fairly pitiful.

I showered when I got home. Then I passed out.

I was dead asleep for four hours, not waking up until noon.  I had vivid dreams of falling down roofs and climbing wooden steps that were falling apart at my feet, though always unharmed.  Dreaming was particularly unusual, as I don't typically dream or often remember dreams after waking.

I can still remember vivid details of nightmares from when I was a child, in time fighting and defeating the monsters that haunted me, but that was when I was a child.  As an adult I have only rarely dreamt, usually when I have been sick, or briefly when I was taking melatonin.

I didn't know what to think when I woke up.

Was that my wall?  Am I out in just a week?

I immediately ate lunch, continued to hydrate, and mulled over my dreams in my head.  I have felt nearly feverish for days.  I am warm to the touch for hours after I leave the heated room.  I have been giving everything I have in every class, and it has been taking its toll.

I didn't know what to expect walking into my final class of my first week.  I just held onto a hope that I would be able to continue, but I had no gauge on what my body had in store for me.

I went in the heated room, lay down on my mat, relaxed in savasana, and after a few moments I discovered that I felt great.

In the first breathing exercise I began to feel refreshed and energized.

One posture after another I gave everything I had, and found much more than I expected to find.

There was no wall.  It was gone, invisible in the distance behind me.

Then I reached my nemesis pose during the standing series: triangle pose.

I had fallen out of nearly every attempt at triangle pose of every set of every class since I had started, but this afternoon was different.  I got down in the posture and, driving with everything I had, I pushed myself.  Then, when I couldn't push, I smiled.  I focused on smiling instead of the burning desire to collapse.  I smiled all the way through the end of each iteration of the posture, and as the instructor said "change" at the end of triangle pose I was still standing.  I stood up out of the posture, inhaled and brought my hands above my head as I stepped over the mat, then arms down to my sides as I exhaled, still smiling.

After class I posted my Facebook check in: "Defeated my nemesis with a smile! You're mine now, triangle pose!"

I was smiling at the end of class.  Laying in savasana with a beaming smile, tears started to stream out of the corners of my eyes.  They were tears of cathartic joy.

Today, at the end of a week of twenty one hours of yoga, I felt joyful.

I am blessed for the confluence of events that has led me to this experience.  I am grateful for all of you following along, for your continued support and encouragement.  I would love it if you would leave a comment below to tell me about something that you noticed change when you first started yoga.  It doesn't have to be anything profound or enthralling, just something that changed in your life that you didn't expect.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Basic Physiology, Etiquette and Culture

In case you missed my Facebook post after this morning's class, or if you're not a Facebook friend or follower, I wanted to reiterate my words of gratitude, posting: "Thank you everyone for the hugely positive response to my new blog. I came out of yoga to some very supportive comments. Namaste."

I was, and still am, feeling very thankful for all the wonderful support and encouragement that my friends and family have offered as I have begun this endeavor, and I just wanted everyone to know how much the outpouring has meant to me.  Thank you.

Waking up the first morning at 3 am may have been a fluke, but I have learned rising early is going to be vitally important for my month of daily double yoga.

The breakdown is pretty simple:  Food is energy.  Yoga requires energy.  No yoga on a full stomach.

Good food is fuel for the body, and eating right can lower inflammation in the body and help the body recover and repair itself faster than if you were eating poorly.  The yoga class is an hour and a half of intense effort, sweating from the first breathing exercise to the last savasana.  And, eating just before you twist and contort your body every which way in 105 degree heat is ill advised.

That leaves me with the option of either eating two hours before the 6 am class, or skip eating and just go straight to class on an empty stomach.  The second option might be fine if you're not attempting to do doubles of yoga every day for thirty days, but I found out yesterday the hard way that not eating is not going to be an option.  Yesterday morning when I skipped breakfast was when I could barely stay in the room the full ninety minutes.

What do I eat at 4 am?  In trying to stick with the outline in the book "It Starts with Food" I've been trying to have an appropriate portion of protein, good fats, and then filling the rest of my plate with vegetables, like so:
This is my breakfast from this morning, straight from my instagram: "Starting the day off right. #nofilter Yam, onion, banana, chia seeds, ghee and three eggs scrambled. Yum! :)"

Remember yesterday how I said I love good food?  Paleo food is good food, and about half of my instagram posts in recent months have been of the food I've been cooking.  For example:
This is Nom Nom Paleo's Cracklin' Chicken.  It is one of the easiest, most delicious chicken recipes I have ever had, and it almost feels like cheating every time I have it.  The recipe can be found here: Cracklin Chicken.

The topic of cheating actually brings me back to where I was meaning to go with this.  In addition to finding out the hard way that I really need to eat before my morning classes, I also decided to twice put to the test the effect of cheating on my new eating lifestyle while doing a month of daily double yoga.

I don't regret either meal, and for the first one I was actually trying to be good.  I went out to Halibut's in Portland on Friday night after dancing for a couple of hours, glanced at the menu and ordered the Alaskan salmon with sweet potato fries.  I didn't happen to notice I was ordering fish and chips, which should have been obvious in retrospect, but a lot of things seem obvious in retrospect, so who knows?  The food was fantastic, as was the live music.

Then, today for lunch I was over to the west side in Beaverton and stopped by one of my favorite places to eat, Roxy's Island Grill, where I had my usual, orange chicken with two scoops of mac and a scoop of rice.  I'll add that I have never liked macaroni salad, and Roxy's mac salad is the singular exception to that rule.

Both meals were fantastic, and I don't regret the cheating, but I felt a difference in the classes after each meal.  In both subsequent classes I found that I had a more difficult time just staying in the room.  I'm not going to say I won't cheat again this month, because I might, but I'll certainly think twice, and then a third time before I do.

Even after the poor decision and effects of the lunch I chose, I still managed a "first" this afternoon, writing in check in: "I was able to attempt every set of every pose in both classes today."  I came out of class feeling confident that I was making improvements, and that this thirty days might not be so crazy as it had first seemed.  This is a thing I'm doing.

Eating right is just one half of the intake equation.  The other half is hydration.

I've always been prone to cramping, and that was knowledge I took very seriously when thinking about the basic physiology of this endeavor.  I was going to have to get ahead and stay ahead of replacing electrolytes in my body.  To this end I started using Elete, a liquid supplement my parents have been using, and I have also been drinking plenty of coconut water everyday.  The coconut water is delicious, but the supplement in my water took a little getting used to.

The cramps I have had have only been minor twinges for the most part, unavoidable and to be expected.  I would quantify my hydration efforts as a glowing success, though there was one day that my abs cramped up in class, when I couldn't even manage to lay in savasana at the end, and then struck again that night when I was trying to go to bed.

Lastly, I knew this morning that I would touch briefly on etiquette when I sat down to write my blog post today.  I knew it the moment class began and I stood up from laying in savasana on my mat to find that someone in the front row had put down their mat directly in front of me.  The minor annoyance caused me to have to move so that I was lined up at a break in the mirror on the front wall, which I find distracting, and distractions are the enemy to a ninety minute class of intense yoga.  It also caused me to start thinking about the etiquette and culture of Bikram yoga that I have experienced.

I had a very poor experience when I first attempted to start doing yoga a couple of years ago at a different local studio.  I won't go into that here, because I want to keep this blog generally positive, and it was a very un-positive experience.  However, it was an important experience, as most poor experiences are, in this case because it gives me a huge appreciation for the etiquette and culture cultivated at the West Linn studio where I practice.

The morning's one minor annoyance was easily forgiven, an oversight by a lovely woman who I chatted with after class.  Teachers at the studio have made it a point to learn my name, which has had an immeasurable effect on the feeling of community at the studio.  In addition, other students have taken interest in what I'm attempting, and have been encouraging me in my efforts, congratulating me on my successes, and commiserating in those first few moments right after class when I feel completely exhausted.

The exhaustion quickly fades, I've found, where the efforts and successes are lasting.  I am enthused, I am excited, and I feel like I can not wait for the rest of this awesome journey!