What is this all about?

I started this blog to keep me accountable in my fitness and clean eating journey. My first post was in March of 2007 and I've been posting ever since. As you will see I've had many highs and lows...but this is all about the journey...not just the destination

Saturday, March 14, 2009

4 hot yoga sessions in 5 days in 4 cities...

So I had to travel to NY and LA for business. Although I arrived in NJ a day early to spend time with family, it was still an incredibly short trip (1 day in each city). I knew that my new favorite sweat session (Bikram Yoga) was located in states all over the country. I decided that I would try and make a hot yoga session in each city. Because Bikram Yoga is a Franchise and as such it is practiced exactly the same all over the world (the same 26 poses done in a heated room with the very same instruction given ), I knew that it would be pretty low risk .

Friday am: The day before my flight to the East coast, I took at 6am Hot Yoga class at my regular studio in Redmond Wa.. Since the studio is relatively new.. it is very fresh and manicured . The room has cedar walls and wood floor. The main room can hold roughly 50 people, but I've never taken a class there with more than 20. In fact my first class was just me and another person. The class was as expected, wonderful. The teacher was awesome as usual. She always has really good coaching and correction. She also takes time to say everyone's name and to acknowledge that you are doing well. There was really good energy in the class. I'm starting to get really strong in some of my poses and after this class, I felt like my practice was definitely getting better.

Saturday travel.

Sunday : Day 1 in NJ. I took a class at the Westfield Bikram studio. This studio is roughly 1 year old and still feels new. The teacher was exactly the same as what I was used to - without the encouragement and acknoledgement. I could tell she was a new instructor. As I looked around the class , I could tell there were a few veterans and several newbies. Generally speaking the newbies are in the back of the room and the veterans (or near veterans) perch themselves in front. I was appropriately positioned in the middle.

There were two women in the back who caught my eye. Two sisters who were dressed in long sleeve tee and heavy sweat pants. I figured they must know what they were doing because why else would someone show up to a hot yoga class with artic wear. The teacher eventually pointed out that it was their first day. I expected them to stop the class at some point, especially given their attire. They stuck out the entire class and even did most of the poses. I felt great after this class and so glad I went. In fact I felt like I could have taken a double class.

Monday NY: So the midtown Bikram studios have been around for 10 years and are very well established. I decided to attend the first class (6:45) on Monday ..before my 10 meeting. The class fee included towels and a mat- which was a nice touch. The lobby is large and filled with products to buy and member contest information.
When I walked into the yoga studio, I almost choked from the smell. It smelled like 10 years of sweat had built up in the carpet - which is probably not far from the truth. I felt good in the class.. strong in my poses and focused on proper technique. There were obviously people in the class who were veterans.. probably teachers.. but I was unfettered - i just did the very best that I could. I felt great afterward - especially happy to be in fresh air.

Tuesday LA:
So LA is the home of Bikram World Headquarters. It is where it all began..in fact Bikram himself, still teaches a class once a week.
So I arrive after a 20 minute ride in a cab- that should have been 10.( Driver didn't know La Cienega S from N). This delay put me dangerously close to being late. In most Bikram classes, the doors are locked at the exact start time. There was lots of drama around my arrival. I had to run across La Cienega dodging in between cars. only then to try to get in to the front door ...which was really the back door and was locked. I then ran around the corner to the back (which was really the front). I ran in .. asking if I could still take the class - even though I was about 3 minutes late. Once I got the ok, I quickly put my stuff away and walked in.

The room was cavernous. I think perhaps 350 people could fit, possibly more. I found a spot in the middle of the room. The room was so big, that I really couldn't see my eyes in the mirror. Seeing my eyes in the mirror is my way of staying focused and allowing myself to be truly in the moment. This made me a little distracted. The real reason I was distracted, was that there were so many beautiful bodies in the class...with perfect form. It was hard not to look and say "oh that is how it is supposed to look." Being distracted during hot yoga makes me wobble and struggle to nail the poses. So this is what happened the entire class. You would think it was my first class. I was so focused in NY and NJ, but for some reason I just couldn't get it together in LA. In any event I was super happy that I went. I even picked up a bit of shwag..(hat and bag):)

3 comments:

urban:masala said...

How dedicated you must be to seek out yoga classes during a business trip -- and in four cities no less. Good for you! Sounds like you had an interesting time and a bit of fun, as well.

I'm just beginning to move in the direction of resuming my yoga sessions. It's been a long time and many pounds since I practiced, but I'm hoping to start again this Saturday. I generally prefer classic yoga, but this Bikram style sounds interesting, albeit totally out of my league at the moment.

alondaray said...

Did you ever do Bikram?

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About Me

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West Coast, United States
I am a christian woman, wife, mom to 2 great kids, a member of Delta Sigma Theta, A Jack and Jill mom, sister, daughter . I am also incredibly fit but wasn't always. I am a recovering fat girl - who takes it one day at a time.

Alonda the Triathlete!

Alonda the Triathlete!

The backstory-----How did I become a triathlete...

In February 2006, I went on a ski trip with my new colleagues from work. On the way back, I sat next to a girl named Wendy - a really friendly woman who talked about her experience as a newcomer to Seattle. She told me how her main source of making friends was through her workout buddies. She also mentioned that many of her friends participate in triathlons and that (get this) I should consider doing one too. I thought she might have been delirious from all of the skiing. I assured her that I was not the one. She obviously had mistaken me for someone else. Perhap my heavy coat prevented her from seeing what was underneath (50 lbs of extra weight and lots of evidence of no exercise). She continued with this crazy talk, speaking of how fun it is and how supportive the Danskin Triathlon is. I wanted to be sure that she and I were thinking of the same thing... Triathlon (swim bike run -some huge number of miles -all on the same day right after each other). Yup this was it. I chuckled and told her to have fun.
A few weeks later at the office, she mentioned it again. Now at this time, I had been contemplating joining my company sponsored health club (PROCLUB) and in particular the weight loss program called 20/20. After all, I had really packed on the pounds. I arrived in WA 50lbs overweight and pretty unhappy with myself. I actually started to think that completing triathlon would be a good goal...impossible but a good goal. I decided to go for it. At the same time I also decided to join the weight loss program. My first meeting with my trainer ..Anthony Parker was on 3/14/06. I told him ..in all of my fatness, that I wanted to do a triathlon. He looked at me and said hmmm, ok.
I began this really intense workout and nutrition program and began building my endurance. My first meetings with Anthony consisted of walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes and then doing stairclimber or eliptical for 15 minutes. Followed by a bit of strength training. I did this 3x a week (between 6am and 7:30) and then worked out on my own 2 other days. I had absolutely no endurance and could not run for more than 1 minute. Over the months, my endurance grew ..slowly at first then more rapidly. I also figured that I needed to improve my swimming skills if I was going to swim for 1/2 a mile. I took a Total Immersion Class.. which teaches swimming efficiency. Let's set the record straight here... I could swim well enough to save myself if I was thrown off of a boat. I was a decent (not great) swimmer. At the start of the class, I could do 1 (that's right ONE) lap and then I started breathing heavy. At that point I new the triathlon was totally out of reach. After all 1/2 mile was equal to 20 laps. I left the 1st day of class feeling scared and dismayed that I was too aggressive. Maybe I should have set my goal for 2007.
The next week's class, I asked the teacher what I needed to do to build my endurance. He said just keep at it, it will come. You know what, it did. Each week I got better and better. 4 weeks later I was able to swim 9 laps. I then started swimming before my workouts with my trainer (a little crazy but hey). My trainer was pretty impressed. I also started biking on the weekends. In fact in May I did a 30 mile bike ride as a part of the Tour De Cure for Diabetes. I really love biking...:)
Ok so I still had not tackled the most difficult part, the running. Not only could I not run but I absolutely hated it. I started adding running to my treadmill work. Anthony suggested intervals. We started with 2min run 2 min walk . I did this for weeks extending the time and the speed. I was up to running at 5.5 and walking at 4.0. Then Anthony said ..let's see if you can run a mile. I thought he was kidding. I did not think I was ready for that. This was May 5th (a day after my birthday). Guess what I did it. And I didn't feel like I was going to die. I was on top of the world. All day I had a little extra spring in my step. I just kept replaying in my head the "goal attained" message on the treadmill. I just could not believe it.
I kept it up, continued working out 5x a week. I took another swim class "Triathlon Swim Training" to help even more. This class was filled with drills and specific swim workouts. I really saw progress. By the end of the class, I was able to swim 28 laps. Now the challenge was to swim in Open Water. That's right. The triathlon was going to be in Lake Washington.
I finally felt like I could really do it. I didn't have a specific time goal , my goal was to finish. The week before the race I was sooo nervous. I was doing mini triathlons with a few really good girls. I kept up with them during the swim but one bike ride was particularly hilly and....they left me in the dust. I felt so bad and really began to rethink whether or not I should do the race. I spoke to one of the girsl about my bike performance , and she said that my bike was holding me back. That day, I decided to retire my 35lb mountain bike for a 19 lb feather light road bike. Boy what a differnce. This was a risky thing to do so close to the race but it worked for me.
The other thing to mention is that I met up with a wonderful group of women called the Soul Sistas. They are a group of African American Women of all ages who participate in triathlons and bike races. They are so awesome.We (the soul sistas) took pictures the day before the race... I'll post when available.
So the day of the race..... Everybody in the house is excited and up. My kids and my nieces - who were visiting from NJ are all up and ready to root me on. I left early so that I could get ready.The goal was to meet me by the swim finish. This was alll pretty tricky because there were 40 waves of swimmers starting every 3 minutes. All I can say about the swim is that it felt much longer than 1/2 a mile. I kept focused and didn't get nervous. I focused on keeping my breathing relaxed. It worked ...and by the way I wasn't the last swimmer in my group YEAHHH. I don't know how it all worked out but as soon as I finished my swim, I saw them. Byron , Tyler, Paris, Ahlia and Ivy were all waiting there for me with the most beautiful handmade signs saying GO MOMMY, Go AUNTIE, I love you. It was so terrific. Once I saw them I was energized.... Now on to the bike.
The bike was the best part of the entire race. I love my bike and I love to fly down the road. The entire 14 miles of the race was closed to traffic. Our longest stretch was on the express lane of one of the largest highways. Imagine flying down a highway with nothing in your way (but other riders on your right). It was so amazing. I was going pretty fast but could have gone faster - but wanted to save my legs for the run.
Now the run... I hate running and I am really bad at it. I am slow and not terribly efficient. After biking hard for 40 minutes, your legs are really worked up. During the after bike run, your legs turn into "bricks". They are heavy and hard to move. If you push through , you can get over the feeling and get into a stride. Well I also felt pains in my knee. So instead of running the entire 3.2 miles I decided to walk run. In the end it was actually fine - but while doing it I was a little disappointed. Danskin is great because there are so many supporters on the way. Cheerleaders who are yelling "go for it" from their back porch. It was just what I needed. In fact I heard Destiny's Child Im a survivor , on my way and that was what I used in my head to keep me going.
So when I realize I am about 1/2 mile from the end, I start getting super excited and very emotional. It is all coming together now -- all the training, the visualization of actually crossing the finish line and my waiting family. I got on my cell phone to cal my husband, just to make sure he was at the finisth line. He cracked up that I called:)
When you come close to the finsih line, there are all these spectators lined up waiting for you. It is so great! I ran through a narrow entry to the wide finish line area. And there they were.. my family (My hubby, kids and neices) - with signs and smiles. When I crossed the finish line, my name was announced and the official put a medal around my neck. Well I just lost it and started crying. I could not believe that I had just completed a triathlon. I was officially a triathlete.

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