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Wordless Wednesday: Shenandoah National Park

Friends at Big Devils Stairs Overlook

A pause to take in the view and refuel

Waterfall along White Oak Canyon

Another lovely view, only slightly hazy

What kind of snake is it? All our nature nerds were left guessing.

An old stone wall, built by hand

Five Days of Bikram Yoga (in.a.row.)

Why?  I bought a 10-class pass. It expires in 10 days, with 6 classes remaining. I’m not willing to forfeit that money. Yes, I had three months to use it so I am teaching myself a lesson in the process.
So?  I feel like I’m a good beginner case study, because up until this week, I’d done exactly six Bikram classes, over a four month period.
Day 1
I was slightly worried about my five-in-a-row plan. Would I hurt myself? Would I be able to get through them all? How likely was I to be hospitalized with heat exhaustion or dehydration?
But I felt good in the heat, and strong.  I had some real breakthroughs this session. Something clicks and my body is one step closer in several poses I've not been able to do at all thus far.
Asana #8. Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana (Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose). I finally grabbed my heels!
Asana #14. Pavanamuktasana (Wind Removing Pose). HUGE! ACTUALLY GRABBED BOTH ELBOWS. For the record, no wind has been removed from me so far.
Asana #20. Supta Vajrasana (Fixed Firm Pose). Got legs flat and butt on floor, leaned back further than ever.
Asana #21. Ardha-Kurmasana (Half Tortoise Pose). I was able to get much more flat on the floor.
Asana #22. Ustrasana (Camel Pose). This one always makes me feel faint. Got further back than ever before.
Asana #23. Sanangasana (Rabbit Pose). Figured out that hips stay down on feet, mostly stayed in pose.
Asana #24b. Paschimotthanasana (Head to Knee Pose). Got my head and knee to touch with leg almost on floor!
Every day after class there is a fresh, cut up pineapple or other fruit. It’s insanely good and refreshing. I desperately need it after climbing the two flights of stairs from the yoga room to the changing room.
Day 2
I was one of the last to arrive at class this evening. I slunk to the only space left, near the back windows where there are no mirrors. The towel I brought was too small, making it nearly impossible to perform the poses where my legs are four feet apart. Also, I‘m well hydrated and positively pouring sweat, so the towel is sopping wet halfway through class.
It was so hot & humid in Bikram tonight, halfway through the instructor OPENED A WINDOW. This is unheard of! And guess who was right next to the window? Honestly, I thought I was having a heat-induced hallucination.
Also, I nearly drowned in this class when we did a pose where we bent over and all the sweat ran right into my nostrils. Note to self: find headband!
My back is sore, but in a good way. And I'm not nearly as exhausted as I feared I'd be at this point. However, I’d recommend you not get between me and food after I come out of class. Hubz almost got his head bitten off.

Day 3
It was a little tough getting out of bed, having left class just 10 hours before.
But I love Wednesday morning Bikram class because Lukas teaches. He's so helpful, explaining every little thing you need to do with each body part and focus on for each pose. It really makes me work harder. And, he sings. What a voice!
I sing the body electric
I celebrate the me yet to come
I toast to my own reunion
When I become one with the sun

And I'll look back on Venus
I'll look back on Mars
And I'll burn with the fire of ten million stars
And in time
And in time
We will all be stars
As class ended, I was momentarily sad that this week seems to be going so quickly.
I almost forgot to get coffee when I got to work. What is happening to me?

Day 4
I’ve gotten my first Bikram injury. I have serious towel burn on my right elbow.
I did the next step in Vrksasana (Toe Stand pose) today. And my Dandayamana-Dhanurasana (Standing Bow pose) was pretty good. Padangustasana (Camel pose) still makes me nearly faint, even when I’m only doing the first part of it, and I can’t get my hand on my knee in Ardha-Matsyendrasana (Spinal Twist). My favorite pose, I think, is Garurasana (Eagle Pose).
There was no fresh fruit cut up for us today. That’s a first.
Also, I’ve drunk so much coconut water I’m gonna start sprouting palm leaves out of my arms. My solid, concrete, one piece, lamppost, unbroken arms. Wait, that’s dialogue about the leg. Whatever.
I got up from my desk, headed for the kitchen at least twice, but I got sidetracked and never got coffee.  I’m not looking to quit caffeine; it just seems superfluous these last couple of days.
My back is no longer sore. In fact, it’s noticeably stronger. When I open massive doors, shovel mulch into a wheelbarrow and hop astride my bicycle, I no longer sense that weakness. Also, the ever-present slight tightness in my right glute/piriformis – that’s right my constant troublesome spot, injury waiting to happen, Gone!
Dare I put it in words? Bikram yoga is beginning to seem miraculous.

Day 5
The office closed early, so I went to the 4:00 class. The yoga room is definitely hotter, humid as a jungle, and more crowded.
I picked a spot by the west-facing window. I became aware of my mistake when we relaxed, face down after cobra pose and I found that the sun had made the floor quite hot!
What a great session. My body seems to be better at this yoga business later in the day.
I got my hands almost on the floor in Toe Stand. Improved at Cobra and Locust, and my arms are finally getting used to doing this and not feeling like they have been run over by a truck afterward.
I went deeper in many poses. But the grandest accomplishment of all was that I TOUCHED MY HEAD TO MY KNEE in the second to last pose while my leg was flat on the floor. ME! The inflexible girl!
I hit the showers, proud of myself. Wait, why are the tops of my feet stinging? Ah, they have chafing in Bikram yoga, too. That or I burned them on the sun-baked floor.

Bikram is sweaty, uncomfortable, challenging, arduous and laundry-producing. Carrying my yoga mat and towels is a chore. Ninety minutes of class plus changing and showering takes up a lot of time.
I’m not in love with Bikram yoga. But you better believe I’ll be in class on a regular basis. After only eleven sessions, there have been tangible benefits. That’s a pretty impressive return on investment.