Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Bikram. Days 26-30 and beyond.

Day 26.
Day 27.
Tonight was marginally better than last night (I only sat out three or four sets), but it seemed like no matter what I did my heart would not stop racing. After class ended I lay on the floor for a long time. I didn’t want to get up.
This weekend the hot room was quite crowded; I think there were at least 15 people in both classes. The room didn’t necessarily feel hotter than usual to me, but definitely the usual energy was not there. Walking out of the room during a class is never an option for me but man, I couldn’t wait to finish.
Day 28.
Today was the last official day of the spring challenge. Because I missed the first day, originally I had planned to do one more double. However, Ball told me it was okay for me to complete my challenge the following day. After that, there was the question of whether or not I would do the double just to get it over with.
Going into class tonight I really had no idea what to expect. Honestly the last couple of classes were awful. Earlier today I sat outside in the gorgeous spring weather, thinking about how much I didn’t want to go to Bikram class tonight. I still debated whether or not to attempt a double and just be done with the 30-day thing.
Lisa was leading class (always a plus for me) and 10 minutes in, I knew I was going to have a good class. But I also knew at this point that I was not going to attempt a double. This determination actually freed me up to genuinely enjoy the class and to push myself on almost every posture. For me, doing Bikram has almost been more about consistency than an event per se. A few folks had encouraged me to do the double and I do want to do a double again soon, but for tonight I needed to listen to my body and not overdo it. It felt great to enjoy my class and not feel pressured to do something I wasn’t ready for, especially after such a difficult weekend.
Afterward I went by the 운동장 for some stretching. Unexpectedly, I performed the deepest backbend I’ve ever done. Also practiced a supported standing bow posture while chatting with a couple of ajummas. Later that night, my good friend R.W. crashed at my place. I demonstrated a couple of Bikram postures. It was humorous to watch him attempt half tortoise.
Day 29 (30).
My final day. The class was quite small; it seemed as if everyone took off after finishing the challenge. However, it was a very low-key class with no outstanding difficulties. A great way to finish.
Random thoughts.


The 30-day was the most I’ve ever exercised at any one time in my life. After finishing it, I found myself experiencing a couple of unexpected things. The first was that I was actually tired of Bikram yoga in general, and I needed to take some time off. I deliberately stayed away for at least one week, instead cycling outdoors as much as I could. And also beginning to catch up on a backlog of work. The second is that after resuming cycling, I noticed that I was hardly breaking a sweat. I would ride my bike at the Han River for three or four hours and not sweat nearly as much as I did in the hot room. It was disorienting. It almost felt as if I hadn’t exercised at all. It didn’t take long for me to start missing the hot room.

Returning to Bikram class after that week off, I didn’t know what to expect. Normally if I miss three or more straight days of Bikram, I find myself struggling to get back into the groove. It ended up being one of the best classes I’ve ever had. I felt strong on nearly every pose, especially locust and spinal twist (of all things). I didn’t hit anything or anybody. By the end I wasn’t even that tired. But just as significant was the fact that I didn’t feel any pressure. There was no sense of “OK, day 7, day 19, day 24, gotta maintain the momentum, gotta push myself to the end, etc.” It was a very normal Bikram class.


I’m extremely nearsighted, but the hot room gets so sweaty I always have to take off my glasses. As a result, I can never see myself clearly in the mirror; even when I’m in the front row, my vision of myself is still blurry. I’m used to it, and sometimes I’d rather not see myself so clearly anyway. It also forces me to listen more carefully to the instructor.

A few people have asked me about my goals. I’ve talked about being consistent and trying to keep myself in good shape. Recently several people have commented that I’ve lost weight and all of my pants definitely feel looser, but I haven’t weighed myself for the last two months. I rarely weigh myself; it’s not something I think about a lot. I didn’t set any goal for losing a certain amount of kilos or pounds. I tried to approach the 30-day very practically. Like, “I pay a ton of money for my membership, doing a class every day will help me get my money’s worth, I should finish what I started, I should try to get beyond the usual struggles with postures, the weather is still cold outside, etc.” The instructor says “namaste,” I think “dinner.” There’s nothing mystical about my practice of Bikram.

Several of my friends have said to me, “You must be good at yoga because you’re flexible.” A few other friends have joked about me sticking my foot behind my head. (Which I can’t do, by the way.) Strangely enough, since I’ve done Bikram regularly I’ve found myself caring less about my flexibility. Which is not to say that I don’t care about it all or that I shouldn’t improve it, but in the middle of a class I’m not thinking about how I’d like to be doing splits or other advanced poses. I’m sure the increased flexibility will come eventually, but I’m more worried about getting to the end of the 90 minutes without passing out or guzzling all of my water.

I realized that I am a control freak when it comes to certain poses. Sometimes in class I notice other students become visibly exasperated when they’re unable to perform a pose correctly. Some people groan out loud. I try to avoid showing anything outwardly (I’m already the tallest person in the room, I don’t need to draw any more attention to myself), but I discovered that with certain poses I don’t push myself because I’m afraid of falling over. Everyone falls over. Even experienced students fall over. But for me falling over is something I just try to avoid as much as possible. It’s not so much that it’s embarrassing or inelegant. It’s more about trying to maintain a sense of control over the posture. As soon as I lose my balance, I feel like I’m losing control. It’s easier to just not go all the way. This may not be big news to anyone besides myself, but honestly I’ve had this tendency for months and I didn’t become aware of it until two or three weeks ago. I haven’t completely overcome it, but slowly I’m learning to let myself go, especially with poses like standing head to knee. Toe stand will be the final frontier for me.

I saw a comment on the Facebook page about doing a mini challenge, like 10 days in a row. Which actually sounds like a good idea. Doing 30 days in a row has been really inconvenient for me, but practicing regularly (more than three times a week) does have some benefits. I don’t want to see my jeans become tight again.

Favorite poses: Full locust, standing separate leg, standing bow, wind removing, rabbit.
Most disliked poses: Locust, spinal twist, bow, standing separate leg head to knee (mainly because it comes right after triangle).
Most unpredictable poses: Fixed firm, camel, standing head to knee, half moon.
Most embarrassing pose in front of the mirror: Spinal twist.
Poses I practice at home or the outdoor exercise area: Half moon (mainly backward and forward), standing bow, wind removing.
Poses with which I’ve seen the most improvement: Half moon, awkward, standing bow.
Pose I’ve never performed completely: Toe stand.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bikram. Days 17-25.

Day 17.

The classes are beginning to blur together. Bluuuuuur.

Day 18.
Another walkout in class tonight. It was a surprise because I’ve seen that person here several times. Later, the poor young lady next to me is exhausted. She sits outs several sets, and skips a couple of poses altogether. I’m tempted to join her.
Nice stretch later at the neighborhood 운동장. The Korean guy at the other end of the parallel bars looks like he’s trying to compete with me. Doing the same stretch as me while pretending not to notice me looking at him. This happens to me occasionally. Ha ha.
Day 19.
Standing separate leg, triangle, full locust, head to knee/stretching and camel were all strong. Especially triangle. I became slightly emotional coming out of the second set. Although on blowing in firm pose, it was all I can do not to gasp out loud for air.
Something interesting is happening with half moon. Despite being a consistently difficult posture, I did always find the back and front bends easier than the side bends; perhaps because I practice back and front bends pretty regularly. However, unexpectedly the side bends have become progressively easier and the back bend is actually becoming more challenging. The front bend is more or less the same, although with that I’m trying to learn to put more weight on the balls of my feet than the heels. Tonight I almost fell forward trying to do that. Yikes.
Day 20.
It’s Saturday and I tentatively planned to do a double today, but I was just so tired this morning. The rainy weather didn’t help. But class was okay and I didn’t sit out anything. Although during standing series I was really hungry and I kept thinking about food. I could see hamburgers floating around my head.
Visible progress on standing bow; feeling freer to extend my upper body further and “kick” a little higher. Also, keeping my knees further apart seems to make fixed firm more bearable.
Day 21.
Day 22.
Possibly the best class so far. The only real bump (other than continuing to substitute tree for toe stand) was fixed firm. Also after the first set of locust, in my head I said to myself, “I’m going to sit out second set. I am so tired. I need a break.” Ball clapped his hands for the sit-up and I found myself doing the second set. It was a painfully long 15 seconds. Full locust was strong however, which made me feel better.
Day 23.
Decent class tonight (the second set of half moon actually felt good), although the last 20 minutes I ran out of steam. Part of this may have been because I didn’t sleep very well last night. Although I had a good day at work, after the first half of Bikram class in the evening my tiredness seemed to kick in. I sat out a few sets, including the second set of rabbit pose (which I rarely sit out, but after two sets of camel I was back to the exploding head syndrome).I didn’t even want to deal with spinal twist. I was also distracted because I was thinking about my plans to meet a friend for dinner near Olympic Park. After class my friend cancelled, to my annoyance. Although with the nicer weather I was able to take a slow walk on the way home. Later I returned to the 운동장 for some extended stretching. I’ve been relatively stiff the last few days (especially in my right leg), and I just wanted to take some time to work out some kinks.
Planning my first double tomorrow night. Honestly I’m not very excited about it, but I just need to get it over with.
I’ve tried to maintain a very practical approach to this entire 30-day thing. As tired as I've been, I’ve never once thought about quitting. And even in my worst classes, walking out of the room has never been an option for me.
Day 24.
The double (5 and 7 p.m.) went much better than I expected. Not to say that it was easy. I went light during the first, although by standing bow I was ready to go all-out. I ended up going strong on my easier poses and lighter on the more difficult stuff. Interestingly, going lighter than normal actually helped me to focus more on performing the poses correctly. Lisa gave me some helpful feedback on several points. I put them into practice immediately on the second class, partially because I wanted to do them well but partially because I was so tired. The first 30 minutes my arms felt like jelly, and I barely got through balancing stick. My towel was soaked from the first class and my foot slipped on the set-up for standing separate leg, almost turning that pose into a split. It was difficult for me not to laugh out loud. After that I felt more or less normal, although while I conserved my water in the first class, this time I guzzled it. By the end I thought I would be wiped out and in a way I was, but not in an exhausted way. By the time I got to the restaurant with Lukas afterward, I actually didn’t feel tired anymore.

Day 25.

Still feeling the momentum from last night. I may start doing doubles more often. The tall guy was back, and we were next to each other in the front. Sometimes it kind of annoys me to have to make major adjustments in my posture to avoid hitting another person (especially with full locust), but this time around I was glad to defer to him.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bikram. Days 10-16.

Day 10.
I arrived a little later than usual and ended up taking a spot away from the center. Right after the start of class, I looked up to discover I was directly beneath the low-hanging light fixture. Gaaaaah.

Tight legs on half moon pose. I’m amazed at the difference. I really used to dread this pose, particularly the right and left bend. Much more manageable now.

After class, Lisa asked me if I was breathing through my throat (instead of my throat) on my savasanas. My immediate answer was no, because I was taking long breaths and my mouth was closed. But she thought that I might be breathing through my throat. Afterward in the locker room I took a few deep breaths and surprise, I was breathing through my throat. That explains why I would make such a loud hissing sound. I honestly had no idea; usually after doing the standing and spine strengthening poses I’m desperate to take a gasp of air. Since we’re supposed to keep our mouths closed, the throat was apparently my way to compensate.

Breathing issues aside, tonight was an unexpectedly good class. Balancing stick in particular felt much more balanced and my extended leg felt much lighter. Balancing stick is normally my best balancing posture in the standing series, but for the last few days my extended leg has felt a little heavy. Not tonight. This may have been because out of the corner of my eye I noticed a couple of ladies watching us from outside.

Although I like the room really hot during class, I’ve noticed that the heat actually drains me if I arrive too early and spend, say, 40 minutes stretching beforehand. So I’ve relegated the majority of my stretching to home and, with the weather being a little nicer, the local exercise area.

Day 11.
The new breathing (all nose, no throat) was a little bit of an adjustment, but it made a huge amount of difference. Throughout the class I was not nearly as tired as I usually am. I didn’t sit out anything, and I actually didn’t want to sit out anything. Before this, I used to breathe and breathe on savasana and still be tired with my heart racing. Now I know why.

Tight legs, not only on half moon, but also sit ups. What a difference; no longer feeling like I'm carrying all 100-plus kilos of myself.

Final breathing: First time I didn’t collapse headfirst onto the mat. I wanted to pump my fists in the air. Can you pump your fists in a Bikram class?

Day 12.
Not quite as strong as last night, but still a very good class. Half moon is the make-or-break pose for me. How well I get through this determines the rest of the class for me. Slightly more strained, but kept my legs tight and survived it.

Holy cow. Three people walked out of the class tonight, one of them within the first 20 minutes.

Overall, quite hot tonight but not very tiring. It felt great not to walk out of the room exhausted.The most significant thing is that I didn’t dread any poses. At this point, the only pose I seem unable to perform is toe stand. I usually substitute tree pose. Toe stand may take some time, and I’m not in a rush to make it happen; I think it will come in its own time.

Day 13.
Jessica led the class tonight and it felt like a marathon. Jessica may have become my new favorite instructor.

Day 14.
The gym was closed today for maintenance and I really, really enjoyed the day off. After church I went to Olympic Park, one of my favorite hangouts. Later Heesung and I ate dinner at Outback and took a nice walk around the park. As we sat outside and looked at the night sky, I was genuinely glad not to be in the hot room. I’m torn between enjoying the 30-day challenge and wanting to have more time to myself.

I generally don’t exercise for the purpose of losing weight. However, since starting this challenge a few friends have told me that I look different. Although I never deliberately diet, my eating habits have changed somewhat; I don’t eat as much as I normally do because it just doesn’t seem necessary. My cravings for junk food and fried stuff haven’t completely disappeared, but they seem to have dimished significantly. While obviously I care about maintaining my health, exercising for the sake of enjoyment is more very important to me. Last year while cycling with a friend at the Han River, I made a passing comment about how overweight I was. She warned me not to fall into the trap of holding myself to Korean standards of body shape, and I’ve never forgotten her advice. I find that obsessing over my weight or my body shape leads to stress and exercising loses its enjoyment; it becomes work. While I do draw inspiration from certain people with regard to body shape, endurance and flexibility, I try to avoid comparing myself too much with others. I’ve been a big, heavy guy for most of my life and I’m actually okay with that. I’m also not a 20-something dude. I like to push my limits, but I also have to be realistic.

Day 15.
I felt a little thrown off after missing a day. The class was so-so for me, although I don’t blame Suah, who was excellent. Suah gave use a very helpful tip with balancing stick; look at your knee if the mirror. Although balancing stick tends to be my best balancing pose, I always look straight ahead at my face in the mirror; for some reason I feel like I’ll fall over if I look down. However, lately my extended leg has felt heavier than usual, and looking at my knee in the mirror (combined with extending my upper body more, something I’ve previously avoided because of my height) seems to have stabilized that pose for me.

I wasn’t overwhelmingly tired tonight, although the last 20 minutes I got really dizzy and seemed to lose track of exactly which posture and which set we were on. I just felt a little bit blah. After leaving the gym I went to the convenience and reached for a Blue bolt Gatorade. When I went to the counter to pay, I looked down and realized I was holding a Nestea. Later that night, I did some stretching at home for the first time in a few days. (I haven't felt like doing any stretching lately.) My body reminded me constantly of the fact that I hadn't done this in a while, and it made me feel like an old man.

Day 16.
Tonight’s class was a surprise. I wasn’t very tired. This was unexpected because I was tired all day. I went into class thinking to myself, “I’ll just go light tonight.” But I actually didn’t need to go so light. Half moon didn’t feel very tiring, and I didn’t have to tighten my legs quite as much as I have been the last few days. Of course I went into half moon very slowly as I always do, but my body just seemed to bend sideways without the usual amount of discomfort. I still substituted toe stand with tree pose, but even that wasn’t very tiring. Normally I’m very tired by the time we get to toe stand, and it’s very hard for me not to sit that pose out. Tonight that was not an issue. Also I got through both sets of camel pose without the usual drama. By the end of class my water bottle was only half empty.

The only genuinely difficult pose tonight was fixed firm. When the second set went a few seconds longer than usual, I was ready to scream. Fixed firm has become a very unpredictable posture for me as of late. Some days it’s been relatively easy, and other days I just want to groan as I go down. It just seems so random, and it doesn’t seem to depend on whether or not I’m having a good day or a good class. Fortunately I’ve gotten to a point where I never sit it out and I always cross my arms above my head, although depending on the day I may be breathing my way a lot more heavily through it.

At home, stretching felt a little better than last night. I think consistency is the thing. I’m going to have to do a double soon, and possibly this weekend by the latest. I feel like it might not be so much fun if I put it off until the very end.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bikram. Days 5-9.

Day 5.
I always enjoy a Bikram class more when it's with people that I know. Lisa, back after being out sick a few days, led tonight. She was spot-on with her detailed corrections and explanations of poses. Also Kat, whom I haven't seen in months, and Lukas were there and we all practiced in a row. A few random observations:

I noticed a new guy at the end of the room who appeared to be my height. He was in the back row (where I rarely sit, because the ceiling is lower) and I was a little concerned for him. With some of the standing postures I noticed him having to maneuver his arms the same way that I sometimes do. We chatted in the locker room afterward, and the dude is only a couple of inches shorter than me. So happy to meet another tall person. If I see him again I'll be sure to save him a spot next to me near the center.

The room felt hotter than usual. This doesn't bother me. If I'm not sweating by the second set of standing separate leg stretching pose, I begin to worry. No slipping on the towel at all tonight, which is always a good sign. Triangle pose felt lighter.

I went to a later class than usual because of my Friday work schedule, which resulted in me having much less time for stretching. But to my surprise, my body was unusually flexible. My joints almost felt like rubber with the butterfly stretch (which rarely happens), and there was signifcantly less resistance with the straddle stretch. Part of the surprise was because yesterday I was quite stiff. There's a definite ebb and flow. Just have to roll with it.

The class was crowded tonight, and Kat and Lucas and I all ended up in a row. Which was nice, except in the back of my head I was concerned about the moment when we would all spread our arms for full locust pose. Thankfully, none of us collided (Lukas graciously spread his arm at an angle), although I had to bring my body about 10 inches above the towel to make room for my arms. As I lay my head on the warm floor, I began having flashbacks of an electric blanket my family owned when I was a child. I remember it had three settings, with these brightly colored buttons...and all of a sudden I was homesick. Hahaha.

The class was a good mix of new and old students. Overall one of the best classes I've ever had. I pulled off two sets of everything, which doesn't happen often. My head felt like it was going to explode by the second set of camel pose, but I stuck it out and didn't go too deep. Very energetic tonight. I'm kind of waiting for everything to suddenly fall apart. Ha ha.

Day 6.
Ughh. Tired. Not as flexible or energetic as last night. Before class, straddle stretch (normally one of my favorites) was just a drag. Fortunately, the room was quite hot and Suah was leading. This was only my second or third time with Suah, but I've noticed that she takes more time than the other instructors between postures, maybe 10 seconds more. I was grateful for the recovery time tonight. I went way too deep on the second set of half moon, which did me in for the rest of the class. Less than 10 minutes in, I was already thinking about sleeping. My brand new blue water bottle was suddenly so slippery I couldn't open it during party time.

After 15 or 20 minutes, a bright spot finally: The first set of standing separate leg stretching pose, my towel was wet enough that I didn't slip at all, freeing me to focus on the posture and go deep. But I was still anxious to finish the class as soon as possible. I was in a slight panic about the water bottle, but I finally got it open while sitting out toe stand. Spine strengthening series was not so bad. Arms much more comfortable on locust pose, almost flat. But by the end of class I was wiped out. 15 minutes on the final savasana and I was still exhausted. The cleaning ajossi kicked me and another young lady out of the room. I came pretty close to telling him off in Korean. I briefly considered going downstairs and complaining to Mike before finally deciding it wasn't worth it.

The Facebook pics of this morning's class look fun. And CROWDED. Lisa said it was good that I wasn't there, and I agree. I definitely would have been knocking some people over during standing series.

Tomorrow will be better.

Day 7.
Tonight was significantly better than last night, but still tired. Although there was some noticeable progress on a few poses. A slight posture adjustment made standing bow a little more comfortable and a little less shaky. Several students seem unusually tired. By tree pose I really, really wanted to sit down. However, by this point a couple of ladies had actually left the room, with one of them taking her towel and not returning. I decided if I sat down, it might create a chain reaction with the rest of the students.

Halfway into class I finally sat out a couple of sets, but only because I was so dizzy. Fortunately I could open the water bottle this time around. (Apparently last time I closed it too tightly before I really started sweating.) Although I ended up drinking a lot more than usual, and suddenly it was almost empty with 20 minutes to go. I noticed another young lady run out of water completely and hand her bottle to Juwon, who stepped outside for a moment to refill it for her. I considered handing her my bottle as well, before deciding to stick it out. At the end of class, I cut my final savasana (usually 10 minutes) short to go refill the bottle and guzzle it.

Day 8.
I was in the room early, but I didn't feel like stretching. At all. Juwon leading again. There were only four people practicing, including myself and Ball next to me. I tend to dislike really small classes, but an advantage is that they seem to force me to focus a little more. (Although having Ball--or any of the instructors--next to me also makes me focus more.) I also appreciated not having to worry about hitting anyone directly behind me. Surprisingly, I didn't sit out any poses. I also saw some unexpected development with spinal twist; I didn't need to grab the edge of the mat while twisting.

Later in the evening, after taking a long walk around my neighborhood, I hit a local 운동장 (exercise area) for 30 or 40 minutes of stretching. The weather was beautiful, and several people were out. Very relaxing evening, and I ended up chatting in Korean with a couple of folks, including a guy about my age who was also stretching and appeared to be really flexible. (Of course we ended up talking about tae kwon do and yoga. He didn't do either.) Afterward, no longer dreading tomorrow's class.

Day 9.
Unexectedly good class tonight. Small class again, but this time around I didn't care. I was worried in the beginning because the first set of half moon was just tiring. I could barely hold it together, and wondered if the rest of the class. After the first set, Ball told us to tighten our legs. I'm sure I've heard this several times before, but somehow it clicked tonight, like I was hearing it for the first time. Or maybe it was because I was freaking out over having to do a second set of this pose. I tightened my legs more than I ever had before and holy cow, the difference was like night and day. I had momentum for the rest of the class after that.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Bikram. Days 1-4.

This blog has been out of commission for a couple of years now. I've toyed around with several ideas of exactly what to do with it. I've removed some older (and slightly embarrassing or irrelevant) posts. This week, I've decided to reboot it with an ongoing journal of my experience doing a 30-day Bikram yoga challenge, which I started this week.

Day 0. About 20 are participating in the "spring challenge," and I missed the first official day. I don't usually go to the health club on on Sundays, and I didn't double-check the schedule. Ironically, after church in the afternoon I waited around Kangnam for a couple of hours before heading it. Walked upstairs and Ball and the class were already into standing deep breathing. Aargh. I'll have to a double later to compensate.

Day 1. My first official day of the challenge. Juwon leading. I'm feeling unusually energetic, maybe from the anticipation of finally doing a 30-day. Actually it feels like one of my best classes.

Day 2. I've decided to start arriving earlier to stretch and work on my splits (partly to improve standing bow pose) and forward bends. I've always tended to have a little more leg flexibility than most guys, and especially guys my age and height. However, the tradeoff is that it also tends to take me a while to warm up into certain stretches...sometimes 5 to 10 minutes. I've been doing splits for a while, but most of the time it involves a lot of warming up and still some difficulty. I want to eventually get to a point where it feels a little more natural and less forced. At my age (almost 40) there's no telling how long that may take. I don't have any kind of timetable and I'm not trying to outdo anyone else, I just intend to be more consistent than I have in the past. I've also been doing more regular stretching at home and in the office (when no one is around). As a result I've felt more flexible overall. Even bending over to pick up stuff at home feels different. And it seems to take me less time to warm up into certain stretches. Locust pose actually felt good tonight. I think for the first time ever.

Day 3. I once read an article in the New York Times about the narcissism of yoga and how some people always grab certain spots in the yoga room. It was a humorous read. I always go for a certain spot, but that's due mainly to my height. I actually don't like being too close to the mirror and sometimes I worry about blocking other people's view of themselves. However, I need to be in a spot where my hands won't hit a heater or light fixture during standing series, which has happened several times (including today, while coming out of standing bow pose), usually to humorous effect. Ball once said that he felt like the hobbit when standing next to me.

Some progress with standing head to knee pose. I've spent the last few months focusing on locking my knee and grabbing my foot as slowly as possible, however I've always stopped short of extending my leg out because I just always seem to lose control. However, today I decided to step out of my comfort zone and I actually performed the leg extension, albeit for 10 seconds. Now that I know I can actually do it, I have a little more motivation. Also, half-moon felt much tighter; eliminating the gap between my arms and ears just kills me every time, but lately it's felt a little more manageable. Going easy on the first set and going deep on the second set seems to help. I remember how much I used to struggle with half moon in the beginning, and it feels good to have made some tangible progress. And triangle pose didn't feel as tiring as it usually does. That's a breakthrough for me.

After class I was really hungry, but lately I've started to lose my appetite for fried foods, which I tend to eat a lot. I didn't feel like going to the restaurants I usually go to; actually I started to crave fruit. Which rarely happens. I've read a few different blog accounts of people doing 30-day challenges, and a common description among most of them seems to be hitting a wall about a third of the way into it. My first three days have felt great, and I wonder if at some point it's just going to get tiring. And at some point I'm going to have to have to do a double, which honestly I'm not really looking forward to. But one day at a time.

Day 4. I've always been a big and heavy dude with flat feet, so balancing has never come very naturally to me. But this week my balancing has been a lot better. In the locker room, when putting on my socks I can do it slowly, with my knee raised up, and without falling over or having to sit down. My standing leg literally feels like a "lamppost." Pretty cool.

Arrived early again for stretching today. My body was a little bit stiffer. I was also physically tired. Between that and the stiffness, I was a little worried about class, but class was better than expected. Although once we started pranayama breathing I realized I was standing directly underneath a low-hanging light fixture. Throughout the standing series I had do a little maneuvering to avoid hitting it and causing it to swing back and forth. Despite this I still ended up hitting it a couple of times, but not hard, and no one seemed to notice this time. I still sat out toe stand and the first set of camel (every time I do camel pose I feel like I'm going to implode), as I often do...probably too much. That goes back to the comfort zone thing. Although other poses have unexpectedly become easier, particularly fixed firm (not as painful as a few months ago) and locust pose. Generally, locust pose always wins for my most disliked posture, but tonight it almost felt a little bit comfortable, or less tortuous. I didn't even mind having to do two sets. Am I going crazy?

Back at home eating tuna kimbap (the nice kind, from Sinsegae's food court) and oat clusters for dinner. I wanted to laugh as I just typed the previous sentence.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Recent photos. May 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Strange to see

I gave a quiz to some Korean students asking about their impressions of foreigners. Here are some of their responses:

So big!

Big eyes
When I saw a foreigner, first I had a horror as I looked the ghost.
Foreigner is very nice. Because they are kind and smart. Specially, American is Christian!
When I was meet the foreigner I think 신기하게 (new, amazing)
I scared, help me
Foreigner is very good, they are no different
두려움 (fear)
Big and long and nice smile
I think good. Because speak English very well
Very big. Good face
When I see the foreigner, I'm envy foreigner, I think they are all "handsome," "beauty"
I saw a foreigner is very very scare, and surprised
Strange, get near hard
Good handsome very very zzang (짱, stylish)!
I think and see foreigner novelty
Pretty and handsome. Big eye
wonderfulness, surprise
I'm scare. because I don't know about their language
Wow...big eyes and handsome and we are friend not special
Very handsome, beautiful...very...tall!! Wow--but now so so... :)
I have some foreigner friend so I feel exciting when I see the foreigner
Something strange for us
Foreigner is very handsome and tall and small face
Just men and where are foreigner from?
I'm want talking with foreigner. Because interesting
Scared cause strange to see
My sister's husband is foreigner. His name Daniel. Daniel's first impression is very handsome. But I think "Don't talk to me!"
I thought that foreigners are scared (scary) people first time, but now I think they are very good people because they respect the will of the individual