Week six and already there is significant improvement in terms of core strength and a quieter mind
One of the things about yoga, is that it is a very, very, slow process. It demands time, energy, determination... and tons of patience. It is therefore very encouraging when you begin to see signs of progress, no matter how small. I'm sharing what I've noticed in Bikram yoga so far so that you can be inspired too!
In honor and acknowledgement to all those brave souls who are doing the 'real thing' in a Bikram studio at 105º my home version is way 'cooler' at 97ºf.
Today is the first day of week six, so what am I noticing? Well first let me say I haven't practiced every single day. Last week was particularly tough in terms of feeling weak and drained. Every day seemed like a struggle and eventually I took a break. I had three days (not consecutive) where I just went back to doing Lu Jong in a room with normal temperature and (because I'm heating the room in which I also sleep) it means I also got a more refreshing quality of sleep.
Week Six Progress
Sometimes progress happens so gradually that we don't notice it, and it's on reflection when we look back that we can really see the difference. Here are some of the significant landmark changes for me, that I've noticed comparing week one to now:
- In each pose I'm able to hold and count to 20 rather than barely managing 10!
- The whole practice is a continuous flow - no more sitting down between poses!
- I'm noticing my core strength has improved considerably. I'm still shaky in some of the standing poses, but this increased strength now allows me to relax my anxious mind and feel the stretch rather than worrying about being able to 'get through' the next 10 seconds!
- While I'm nowhere near able to do all the poses 100% correct, I can still see progress. For example in pose number 5 (standing head to knee pose) I can almost reach my foot - up until now I'd only been standing on one leg, holding the other below the knee* (which is the only place I could reach to grab). I have no doubt within a few weeks I'll be able to grab my foot and THEN I can begin working on straightening the leg! (I have high hopes for this one)!
- My mind is quieter. Between poses I'm able to relax deeply very fast - and in just three breaths or so I can feel life (prana) flowing into my body. This isn't consistent - some days the mind is very busy and I go through the practice in a very unconscious manner, but it's getting much better. The silent periods are getting longer, and the 'monkey mind' periods are getting shorter.
When I'm able to really pay attention and notice the life flowing into my body, those are the days that I seem to get the most benefit from yoga. It's as though the more we notice it, the better it gets!
Note to self - keep going - don't quit!
Over the past six weeks there have been many days when I have wanted to give up. Let's face it, this is probably one of the most challenging things most of us will ever do in our lives (professional athletes, gymnasts and mountain climbers accepted of course)!
The key is to be gentle on yourself and just keep going. No matter what, just keep going. It does get better. If you can see this much progress in only six weeks, imagine what it will be like in six months. Or even six years, but there I go getting ahead of myself again. Let's just get through week six first and aim for those feet! 🙂
Enjoy your week and whatever you do, keep being kind to your body and mind!
with best wishes,
*Do not grab the knee to modify the pose it is wrong” Bikram Choudhury
[note from Ruth "Oops!" - seriously though, I wondered why my hips were aching! Read more at "Posture Clinic: Standing Head To Knee Pose"]
"For those who are overweight, have arthritis or other conditions and challenges, round the spine and grab wherever you can below the knee." Rajishree Choudhury