Yoga Challenge: Day 6 & 7

Apparently I forgot to post day 6 and 7 of my Yoga Challenge. Oops! Sorry! Guess life kinda got in the way. Day 6 and 7 did happen, I loved them intensely, and now I’m considering selling a kidney to finance a monthly membership to CorePower. I guess bliss comes at a high price.

The best part of this Yoga Challenge has been the confidence I’ve gained in just seven days. I put myself in some very uncomfortable situations in those classes, but I stuck it out. And to tell you the truth, I actually felt like a “normal” person while in those studios. Like I belonged. I felt comfortable in this new environment and comfortable with my body.

Huge change, guys. Huge.

Case in point: over the holiday weekend, my family went camping as we typically do. In addition to bringing my bicycle and running shoes, I brought my yoga mat. There’s no other form of exercise I’ve found that makes me feel like I do after a few minutes on that pink piece of rubber. Even on a rustic, dirt-covered cabin porch, with my father making fun of me and my brother dropping spare change down the back of my pants while in downward dog, I felt completely blissed in. My body feels loose and light—like I’m not carrying hundreds of extra pounds around all day every day. My mind is clear and happy. And the best part? Those feelings stick around long after my practice has ended.

The Yoga Challenge achieved exactly what I wanted it to: it pushed me out of my comfort zone in a number of ways, it gave me an extra boost of confidence, I discovered a new way of moving my body, I fell desperately in love with yoga, and I made my little life a bit bigger.

Yoga Challenge: Day 5

Yesterday was Day 5 of the challenge, and…

Worst. Class. Ever.

I went alone to an intermediate class that felt like the most basic of beginner’s classes. It was all stretching and meditative, no balance poses. The instructor used phrasing and words that I’ve never heard used in a class. And! While simply sitting on her mat, never once participating in the class, the instructor wore her horrible hipster glasses. Like these:

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But she wore them seriously! To yoga!

And then about 20 minutes into class, Loud Laura plops down her mat about a foot behind me. While we were all set up vertically  facing the front of the room, she plunked her mat down horizontally. I don’t know how she got in late or what her deal was but she was the loudest person in the entire world. She wore bangle bracelets. Her clunky rings made a noise each time her hand hit the floor. She dropped her legs and arms instead of gracefully lowering them. And her breathing! Good lord. At one point I could have sworn she was snoring!

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Needless to say, all that nonsense did not make for a peaceful and positive day 5 experience. Note the fake smile on my face above. I literally have nothing positive to say about the class, which is such a bummer after how amazing the past few days have been.

Tomorrow: day 6 is postponed until Monday due to scheduling conflicts…aka it’s really effing hot outside and the thought of 105° hot yoga makes both my friend and I want to die. Bring on the AC!!

Yoga Challenge: Day 4

Today was just one of those off days. Boring, long, full of a certain fun set of hormonal emotions and nasty cravings. All this even though I was up at 5am for some cardio (treadmill speed intervals and the stair master, thank you). Blergh! I was counting down the minutes to yoga class all damn day.
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My challenge cohort wasn’t feeling well, so I ended up heading to class alone. Today was an interactive and hot beginner level class. The instructor was super friendly and explained that this class was meant to walk you through the basic mechanics of the poses practiced in future classes.

There were only seven of us in the class, so we got plenty of individual attention. It also meant that I couldn’t hide in the back row, as I typically do. I had to face myself in the mirror. And boy, that was incredibly uncomfortable. I think the self-awareness threw me a bit, so it’s definitely something I need to continue to work on!

I loved learning the details of these poses I’ve now been practicing for a few months. I moved deeper and more confidently into them…I even practiced the challenging (to me, anyway) crow pose!

I have always had a strong aversion to being touched (um, body image issues, hello), but this teacher was very hands on with everyone. Not so much correcting poses, but rubbing, pressing,massaging. I got a head and neck massage at one point, she laid on my feet to keep them down during one pose, and pressed on my lower back for a solid minute (Ah! Fat rolls! Sweat!)…and I didn’t freak out. Victory!
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I’ve said it before, but I’m really loving yoga right now. I cannot get enough. Case in point: I’ve got back-to-back classes scheduled tomorrow!

Tomorrow: Intermediate Hot Power Yoga

Yoga Challenge: Day 3

The best part of today’s Yoga Challenge class (other than being completely blissed out as I left)? The hottie instructor, Gavin. Oh, yeah…

Shirtless eye candy Gavin taught us Yoga Sculpt today: a faster paced heated class that heavily incorporates hand weights. You do a bunch of squats, lunges, arm curls…then downward dog! You do tree pose while doing overhead presses. Other than the yoga aspects, the class totally reminded me of a similar weights-based class I take at my gym.

And oh man did I sweat! That’s been the best part of these classes: I leave just completely drenched in sweat. That would have embarrassed old Manda Kay to death. But now, I embrace it, I love it, I relish it. And then I shower, of course. I’m not gross.
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But back to Gavin…

Here are four reasons why I love my future husband, Gavin:

  1. He had great taste in music. Both Ke$ha and Lorde were played.
  2. He kept saying how much he loved all of us. How he couldn’t get enough of us. We were all so, so amazing and great and beautiful. No, Gavin, you are.
  3. He stood thisclose to me and we did lunges together. I didn’t even fall over or anything.
  4. His abs? Girl, please. If yoga can give me the girl version of what he has? Yes, please!

By the way, this was my first group fitness class with a man. Weird, right? But probably a good thing if the above is any sort of indicator!

Um, so, anyway…I’m clearly loving yoga. And hoping Gavin doesn’t read this. But mostly just digging on the yoga. It’s only been three days, but these three days have been complete bliss.

I have felt so rested and calm, more confident in my practice, my body, my capabilities, my limitless limits. If this makes sense, I mentally feel physically longer and leaner. And I’ve dropped six pounds during a time of the month when that’s what I normally gain.

I’m in love! Helplessly, hopelessly in love. And not just with a certain long and lean instructor-man…

Tomorrow: Taking it back to basics! Mostly because of busy schedules, we’re doing an interactive intro to heated yoga class. Each posture is broken down into its basic components, so going forward we won’t just be going through the motions, but actually understanding them.

Yoga Challenge: Day 2

Surprisingly peppy and, yes, a bit sore, I popped out of bed at 5:15am this morning to head off to day two of the Yoga Challenge! This morning’s torture of choice? Spin. On stationary bikes that weren’t so stationary and swayed side-to-side. In a heated room that was supposed to be unheated. For a 45-minute ride that was supposed to be 25 minutes with 20 minutes of actual yoga at the end.

My butt got majorly kicked.

I loved this studio much more than the one I tried yesterday. Today’s class was at what would be my home studio if I join CorePower. Not more than two blocks from home! The instructor and her selection of tunes were fantastic, with the perfect amount of energy for an early morning workout. But even with all that, I just couldn’t get into the class.

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Within the first ten or so minutes, I started to feel nauseous and I felt a headache coming on. My body felt incredible big and awkward on the bike, and it took everything in me not to just walk out. I often get migraines while doing cardio in a too-hot environment (happens constantly in the winter at my gym), so I think that is what killed me today.

With a little encouragement from the instructor and my friend struggling next to me, though, dammit if I didn’t stick it out and make it, smiling, through class.
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Afterwards, we talked to the instructor for a few minutes about our experience and she made a great point: it’s one of those insanely difficult things that you hate while you’re doing it, but after it’s over, you’re like, “yeah, I totally could do that again!” For all the mom’s out there, she likened her class to child birth, if that helps you put the difficulty into perspective at all.

Two days in and I can already see the point and recurring theme of this challenge. I’m fighting the mind and body who both want to quit the second things get uncomfortable or challenging. But, friends, I can’t stress it enough: you are infinitely stronger—mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually—than you think. Circumstances be dammed. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want. Just do it.

Tomorrow: Yoga Sculpt–heated yoga with weights!

Yoga Challenge: Day 1

Today began my week long Yoga Challenge! I’ve been a bit anxious but mostly super excited: I’m finally strong enough mentally and physically, to do this thing I’ve been wanting to do for years. Wow.

Today was supposed to be an intermediate level class for me and my yogi partner in crime/friend I conned into participating. Supposed to be. We’ve both been practicing for a bit, so we’re familiar with yoga, but we’re no masters by any means.

Imagine our terror, then, when we discovered that our class was a) a more advanced class with an instructor who told us, “I teach this class at a more advanced level,” and b) heated. To 105°.

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Oh, hello Panic. Nice to see ya.

But, friends, I loved it! I totally expected to puke, pass out, walk out, dissolve into a fit of giggles at how out of place I was, come out with a migraine, and/or die of heat stroke. But…none of that.

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I struggled, yes. And the sweat! I didn’t know you could sweat like that! But my muscles felt so loose, and I just relished every second in that room. Unreal.

Throughout the class, I felt like the instructor was talking directly to me. She spoke about being grateful for the moment and the fact that we were able to even be in that space. She said you are stronger than you think. Love your body as is, don’t worry about expectations: how you’re supposed to move, how you’re supposed to look. You are strong.

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I am strong.

Tomorrow: Spin Yoga!

Crazy Person

This summer has been one of the best of my life. I’ve been conquering fears left and right and, for the first time since I can remember, I’ve actually been able to enjoy all this fleetingly short time of year brings: sleeveless tops and dresses, swimsuits and beach time, running, biking, swimming, moving (and being comfortable doing so) outdoors.
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IMG_2824Now that all this amazingness is slowly coming to a close, I want to go out with a bit of a bang, and bite off something I’ve wanted to do for awhile. There’s a high-end chain boutique-type yoga studio around here called CorePower Yoga that offers a free week of classes to new students. I’ve wanted to try this place for years, especially once they built a studio literally two blocks from my house.
IMG_20130804_160359So since I’ve fallen in love with yoga this summer (see above), and I feel more comfortable exposing my body in that way, I’m finally going to give it a go.

Enter The Yoga Challenge.

I somehow convinced my good friend to attempt this feat with me, so at the very least I’ll have someone to giggle with as we attempt to turn out bodies into pretzels.  Starting next week, we’ll be trying a new class every day. There’s a spin-yoga combo class, sculpting weight-based classes…and for our final class, we’ll be attempting the infamous hot yoga, where studio temps are 105°. Side note: I may very well be crazy. And in case you need further proof of that, I’m also planning to continue my 5K training for my upcoming race on September 7.

Nutso.

As always, I urge you to follow me on Twitter and Instagram for what will inevitably be a good chuckle at my expense (you’re welcome, dear readers). I’m MandaKayMakesIt on both. I will be posting (hopefully daily) on here, but there will undoubtedly be some extra goodies popping up on social media.

I’m really excited to see how I handle this. I’ve really been digging yoga lately, but I feel like this is a whole other ballgame. Should be an interesting week, to say the least…

Hooray for new challenges!