Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bikram Yoga Tips, Pointers, and Confessions

When I wrote my earlier post on Bikram Yoga, I didn't think many people would be interested.  But, it's become one the most read posts on my blog, which leads me to think that there are a lot of people in the world with questions about Bikram Yoga.  My guess is you're either a potential new student, just completed your first class, or wondering what all the hype is about.  I remember before I went to my first class I tried to read everything I could find on the yoga, but I really couldn't find any decent information.  So this is my guide to surviving your first Bikram Yoga class and to starting a Bikram Yoga practice.

Note: I am not in any way affiliated with Bikram Yoga.  I do not teach, an not employed by, nor have any affiliations with Bikram Yoga other than a monthly unlimited membership.  These opinions are mine alone.


The only thing I could find on preparing for a Bikram class was "drink lots of water."  Ok...that's not very helpful.  When?  How much?  

Typically, I try to drink about 3/4 of my daily water consumption before class.  (Daily water amount = your weight / 2, in ounces.)  You'll want to finish drinking your water no later than 1 hour before class. If you're chugging water until the time class starts, you will inevitably need to go to the bathroom.  Cutting off water intake significantly before class will ensure that you're hydrated, but not distracted during class.

Practicing Bikram yoga on a full stomach is a bad idea.  Practicing Bikram yoga on an empty stomach is a bad idea.  I try not to eat at least 2 hours before class, but you must eat the day of class.  The only time I ever left class early and literally almost passed out was the day that I missed lunch before class.  You are burning significant number of calories (approximately 1,000) during class and your body must have some calories to burn.

The room will be hot.  You will be sweaty.  There is nothing you can do to prevent this, but you can try to dress as comfortably as possible.  Most people wear little clothing.  I practice in spandex shorts and a sports bra.  Whatever you wear is up to you, but try to avoid cotton and drapey clothes because they will weigh you down when they're covered in sweat.

Bring a large towel or yoga towel to place on top of your mat.  This will help keep you from sliding on a slippery mat and will soak up some of the sweat.  I also bring a hand towel to wipe my face during class.

During Class

Your first class will be the hardest.  Everyone in the room knows that, because everyone had a first class at one point.  Try your best, and don't get discouraged.  You likely will not be able to do all the poses and you may need to sit a couple out.  I sat out about a 1/4 of the poses my first class.  Your main goal is simply to stay in the room and breathe.  The first class can be a little overwhelming.  Just keep calm and focus on steadying your breath.

You will sweat...buckets.  Bring plenty of water for class.  It's better to have too much water than not enough.  Know that you're not supposed to drink any water until after eagle pose.  Your instructor will say something along the lines of "party time" when you're allowed to drink.  They limit your water intake until this point to enable your body to become fully warmed up.

Bikram yoga teachers do not demonstrate the poses.  They stand on a platform and offer posture advice to the class.  Watch other students to figure out how to do the postures, but listen to the instructors because they will tell you specific instructions for things like hand grips.

Crutches and Distractions

Bikram yoga is both a physical and a mental practice.  You will develop immense mental determination by doing this yoga.  And part of that is simply by convincing yourself to try the postures and stay in the room.  From time to time, you'll hear a nagging voice in your head.
     It's too hot.  I need some fresh air.
     I really have to go to the bathroom.
     I can't do this.
Ignore it.  Sometimes the one thing to defeat us is our own minds.  It's amazing how much better or worse your own thoughts can make you feel.  Try to concentrate on the benefits of yoga instead of on how hard it is.

The sweat.  When I first started Bikram, the sweat drove me crazy.  I couldn't stand the way if felt on my arms, legs, face, stomach.  I was constantly wiping it off.  Unfortunately wiping off sweat makes you hotter and you're wasting energy with extra movements, which will make you more tired.  It's been a year and a half since I've started and I don't really notice the sweat on my body anymore.  So even if it annoys you, try to ignore it.

I can't do that.  Often people have ideas about their own limitations and we allow these ideas to actually cause limitations.  I can't do that because I had knee surgery.  I can't do that because I'm just not that flexible.  I can't do that because I hate that posture...yada yada yada.  And while any of those things may be true, the only thing truly stopping you from trying is you.  So even if you think there is no way you can do a particular posture, try.  Try every time and little by little, your body will start to change.

Recovery and Returning

You may never want to come back after your first class.  Do.  Regardless of how hard or difficult your class was, you did it.  You made it through an entire 90 minute yoga class in a 105 degree room.  And the next one will be easier.  Much easier.  Bikram yoga will never be easy, even the people with perfect postures still struggle.  But it will become manageable.  You will acclimate to the postures and the room, but only after practice.  So go back the next day.  I promise you'll be glad you did.

Chances are you will be very very sore the day after your first class.  I hurt in places I didn't even know existed.  The best way to relieve those sore muscles?  More a hot room.  I can't tell you how many times I've walked into the yoga room with achy sore muscles and left with them completely stretched out and relaxed.

You will need to rehydrate after class, but water alone will not be enough.  You need an electrolyte of some kind to replenish all of the trace minerals you'll have sweat out.  I'm currently using Nuun Hydration Tablet.  They're very portable and do not have any sugar.

Well that's everything I can think of you help get you to and through your first class.  Best of luck and congratulations for starting the journey.  I'm hooked on Bikram yoga and I hope you will be too!  Please let me know if you have any questions!

*Please check out my other posts on Bikram Yoga*

30 Day Challenge

Monday, July 23, 2012

Make Something: Watermelon Carving

My niece's 5th birthday was this weekend.  We celebrated with two full days of fun.  She loves fairies and I wanted to make something special for her birthday so I created this super fun watermelon bowl.

It was actual pretty simple to create.  I found the perfect picture of Tinkerbell online.  I decided to edit out the left wing so that it wouldn't interfere with the shape of her head.  Then I taped the watermelon to a large, hollowed watermelon and "traced" the shape onto the watermelon using a thumbtack to make holes.  This part is very similar to pumpkin carving.  After that I used my swivel knife to cut through the green part of the rind.  This basically scored the rind.  Lastly, I used a small paring knife to actually cut all the way through the rind.  Because I'd already cut through the tough part, cutting the white part was fairly easy.  Trim away excess white part of the rind, but leave enough to stake the wood skewers.  I free handed both the 5 and her name and cut those out in the same way.  

I scooped the watermelon out with a melon baller and reserved those for serving.  The serving watermelon is actually a smaller, ball shaped watermelon.  To assemble, carefully skewer the back of each shape with a wooden down and place into your fruit mound.  That's it!


I also have to brag on the awesome cake that my sister made. 

And here are some other pictures from the party.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Make Something: Dresser Redux

A while back I painted my dresser green.  You may remember it's less than beautiful appearance on a pervious post.  Truth be told, I hated that color almost immediately.  Initially I had planned on paining it chartreuse, but Jason was way slightly freaked out about the color.  So I tried to strike a compromise and go with something a little less in your face...and ended up with the pale celery.  Is that even a color?

I immediately wanted to repaint it, but I didn't know what color.  So, I left it like that...for almost 2 years.  When I finally stumbled on the perfect pillow fabric, I knew the green had to only took almost another year for that to happen.

So Tuesday night, after missing my yoga class due to a  Girls' Trip planning sesh (yay!), I randomly decided it was high time to paint that stupid dresser.  So I lugged it outside in the 100+ degree heat and went to painting it.  Being the lazy person that I am, I only carted the dresser to my outside landing, which is about 4ft x 8ft.  This did not leave me much room for picture taking, so my apologies for the scant in-progress photos.

Here's the pastel celery in all its glory.

First coat of paint.  It would have covered better if I used primer, but I didn't have any on hand.  And I'm lazy.  The trick with painting is to use thin, even strokes.  Don't worry about perfect covering with only one application.  It's probably not going to happen.  You'll be better off doing 2 or 3 coats (this one took 3) than glopping 1 super thick coat on.

After the 3rd coat of paint, I used a really dark stain (Minwax walnut) to give the paint some extra depth.  I find that paint by itself is a little boring.  There are no picture of this step because it's super messy (I was literally spotted after I finished) and you have to move pretty quickly before the stain dries.  The key to staining something is to cover a small area, let the stain get somewhat tacky and then buff off whatever you do not want.  If you let the stain dry too long it'll be almost impossible to remove.

After staining and letting it dry for over 6 hours, it was time for the shellac.  The instructions said 24 hours for the shellac that I was using, but I figured sitting in the 100 degree sun for 6 hours should be plenty.  The stain wasn't tacky to the touch either, so I was good to go.  Shellac is the easiest step.  Simply brush it on in an even coat and let it dry.  I use a water based polycrylic, because it dries fast and can be cleaned up with water.

 Much better.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cook Something: Corn Grits and Crab, Snow Pea Saute

I love meals in the summer.  They're so easy they practically cook themselves.  I spotted this recipe in the July edition of Food & Wine Magazine.  Side note: If you like to cook, do yourself a huge favor and subscribe to the F&W.  It's pretty much the most amazing magazine ever.

Sorry for the iPhone pictures again.  I decided to paint a dresser on a whim last night, so dinner was a bit rushed.

The original recipe called for shrimp, but our local market had jumbo lump crabmeat flown in from the coast that morning.  And since crab meat is pretty much my favorite, we decided to do a little reconfiguring of the recipe.  The crab meat and the sweetness of the fresh corn are perfect compliments to each other.

Fresh Corn Grits and Crab Snow Pea Saute
adapted from Food and Wine


  • 5 ears of corn, shucked and grated on a box grater (this step kind of sucks).
  • 1/4 cup milk, plus more if grits over thicken
  • 1/4 tsp each chile powder and smoke paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
Crab Saute
  • 1 lb lump crab meat (or any other seasonal seafood)
  • 1 cup snow peas, ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 ear of corn, kernels removed with a knife
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup lager
  • Add the corn, milk, and spices to a saucepan and cook over moderate heat until thickened.  It should be the consistency of grits.  Set to the side.
  • Melt 4 tbs of butter in a large skillet.  Add the vegetables and cook until they begin to become tender, but remain crisp.
  • Add the crab and cook for approximately one minutes.
  • Add the lager and bring to a  boil.  Cook on high until about half of the liquid evaporates and the shrimp is cook through.  Swirl in the remaining 2 tbs of butter.
  • If your grits are too thick, whisk in a little more milk and heat until warm.  (I didn't need to do this.)  Ladle the grits in a bowl and top with the crab sauté.  Serve with a lemon wedge.
Seriously delicious.  We have extra crab and I'm pretty sure we'll be eating this again later in the week.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Digital Detox and July 4th Photos

 I have been stressed this summer.  Like I feel like a top that's been wound too tight, stressed.  More so than is necessary.  Rationally I have a lot less going on now than I usually do in the semester, but my stress level is the same or higher.  I can't even relax in relaxing situations anymore.  Hashtag: what the hell is wrong with me?  I realized that part of my stress levels stem from the fact that I'm always available.  Have a law review question at 1 am?  Sure I'll answer.  Send me a Facebook message at 3pm?  Yep.  I'm there.  Email?  2 minute response turnaround.  There's a problem with never tuning off.  Since I'm always reachable, I never feel like it's never rest time or me time or relaxation time...

Had to throw some photos in to break up the text.  These are from the 4th.

But that changes now.  Starting this week I've cut off my Facebook access at 5pm and severely limited the amount of times a day I check my email.  It's only been a 2 day change and already I feel like this giant pressure is slowly releasing.  I'm beginning to relax again and beginning to enjoy the times when I do.  And the best part?  Life has continued.  The world hasn't fallen apart because I'm less available.  It'll manage while I'm away, and that is such a liberating feeling.

So if you're feeling overly stressed and anxious, unplug for a while.  Sometimes shutting off the outside world is the best solution.

I knew I should have joined the circus...