Me and Bikram

Bikram Yoga is one of the most intense, punishing physical workouts you will ever experience. Each class is 90 minutes long in which 26 postures are performed in humid 105+ degree heat. The format of every Bikram class is the same no matter where in the world you go.

I joined a Bikram Yoga studio in January 2014 and have quickly progressed from knowing little about Bikram Yoga to being a dedicated six-day-a-week practitioner and completing my teacher training certification in April 2015. If you're ready for a mind-body fitness regimen like no other and are willing to give Bikram Yoga a try, please stop by Bridge Hot Yoga and check out one of my classes. Namaste!

My yoga journey:
Opinions expressed are solely my own. Please consult your physician for medical advice before starting a yoga program.

December 28, 2017, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 701 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats - Three new students in my Beats class. They said they enjoyed my class, but couldn't hear my voice over the music.

December 31, 2017, 10:00am - Core 26

December 31, 2017, 12:00pm - class 702 Budokon Vinyasa with Marisa Lombardo - I was always curious about this class and today I finally had a chance to take it. It is an intriguing mix of Vinyasa Flow sequences in the first third, animal movements in the second third, and floor exercises and meditation in the final third. The flow sequences included Rolling Wave and Dancing Dog. The animal movements reminded me a lot of my children's Aikido classes where they practiced similar animal movements to develop their joint strength. The floor exercises included Camel, Rabbit, and Bridge/Wheel. I liked how the class was structured as an experience rather than a class. Budokon is the brainchild of Cameron Shayne, a martial artisst turned yogi who designed updated versions of classic Hatha Yoga postures. The class was a great challenge for me because it exercised muscles I hadn't used in my previous yoga classes.

January 7, 2018, 4:00pm - class 703 Core 40 - I added the Eagles Series (Eagle, Phoenix, Egyptian Rising), One-Legged Peacock, and three variations of Standing Separate Leg Stretching to today's class. I played some background music, too. The additions seemed to be well-received. I finally did Standing Head to Knee, a pose I haven't done in quite a while, and was coming out of it slowly and steadily, but fell out at the last moment. I used my trace the length of my leg with my eyes technique. I felt a little stiff in Fixed Firm; I need to practice it more.

January 11, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

January 18, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 704 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

January 21, 2018, 10:00am - class 705 Core 26 - I taught my first younger student today, an eleven year old who was the granddaughter or one of my yoga students. She enjoyed the class and said, "I didn't think I would like it, at first, but I did."

January 25, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

January 28, 2018, 9:00am - class 706 with Sandy Robin - The morning after I completed perhaps the most challenging test of my martial arts life - my 3rd kyu Aikido exam - I decided to take a Bikram class in Bikram Yoga Northern Liberties, arguably the hottest, most sweat-inducing yoga studio in the city. I had shaky knees to start, so I was already at a disadvantage. My breathing exercise and the first two poses were pretty good. For Eagle, I decided to go through my Eagles Series. Jackie stood behind and to the left of me and noted that what I did looked very smooth and beautiful. Sandy noted before class that my Eagle is excellent. Unfortunately, the lack of food and sleep over the past few days took its toll on me and the rest of my practice was haphazard. I couldn't even muster enough energy to do a single set of some poses. That was very unlike me. I didn't get my second wind until Rabbit pose. If others were looking to me for inspiration today, I couldn't give it to them. Not today. Sandy admitted that I made her day by being in her class. After class, I was dizzy and lost my hearing for an hour and a half, which was quite frightening. I was a martial artist and weightlifter before I became a yogini. My reputation as one of the strongest female yoginis isn't questioned, but this weekend took me down.

February 1, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats - I just taught my largest Bishnu Beats class in the studio and it felt great. Considering I was in a hospital emergency room on Monday and took two more days to fully recover, I excelled.

February 4, 2018, 2:00pm - class 707 Core 45+ - My first Core 45+ class based on Ida Ripley's Intermediate Series.

February 8, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

February 11, 2018, 2:00pm - class 708 Core 45+

February 15, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

February 18, 2018, 10:00am - Core 26 - One of my largest classes yet. Everyone loved my "calm, soothing voice."

February 22, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

February 25, 2018, 2:00pm - class 709 Core 45+ - I spoke about possibilities. I haven't backbended so deeply in a while. I was drenched with sweat after class ended.

March 1, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

March 5, 2018, 6:00am - class 710 with Justin Riley - My first class at my old studio in a long time. Something happened to me after my trip to the ER. I felt good through the beginning part of class up until I got to Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee and then I felt dizzy and sat down in Child's Pose. I rested for one side and then proceeded to get up, but Justin advised me to stay down. If I stood up again, I probably would've knocked myself out. I skipped Tree, Fixed Firm, Camel, the third part of Deep Stretching, Spinal Twist, and Kapalbhati Breathing. I tried to get up a couple of times again and saw gray spots in front of me and felt my fingers tingling again. After class was over, I did Spinal Twist. It took me a long time to get out of Final Savasana and I found myself squatting from dizziness while taking a shower. It was probably my worst class ever, but, as Bikram says, "It's never too late to start over again." The good news is I had a vegetarian lunch and dinner today. The bad news is the guy who was participating in my yoga bootcamp postponed his training to deal with an impending snowstorm.

March 8, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats - "Listen to your body first and my dialog second, I remember one of my favorite teachers telling me," I said to my class. That quote was from Sandy Robin.

March 11, 2018, 10:00am - Core 26

March 15, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats - I talked about why I always teach people to "step forward with your left or right foot" in the single-leg balancing series in my Core 26 class. I taught Seated Eagle as a bonus posture in my Beats class.

March 18, 2018, 2:00pm - class 711 Core 26 - I had extra time to teach the Abdominal Series and Seated Eagle.

March 22, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

March 29, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats - In my Beats class, I had extra time to teach Dirgha Breathing and Seated Eagle. "I loved Seated Eagle! I had pain in my lower back and it went away after doing Seated Eagle," one of my students said.

April 1, 2018, 10:00am - Core 26 - After class, I taught Seated Eagle. This posture was very well-received.

April 5, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 712 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats - One of my new regulars tells me she loves my voice, saying that it sounds soothing. Hopefully, I'll continue to be on a roll with attendance!

April 7, 2018, 9:00am - class 713 with Joel Pier - I cautiously stepped into the studio today and took a spot in the second row. I didn't want to embarrass myself if I had to lie down again from exhaustion and I didn't want to keep pushing myself and risk another trip to the emergency room. I completed the entire class without any issues. I even did my Eagle to Phoenix transition. Yay! It was nice to see people at the studio who still remember me.

April 8, 2018, 10:00am - Core 26 - After class, I taught Seated Eagle. This posture was very well-received.

April 12, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

April 19, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

April 21, 2018 - Namas Day Philly 2018 - The Opening Meditation with Jason Bleu was nice. I was grateful there was still space in the packed room. I learned how to "fly" in Eric Mamuzich's "Magic of Flight: AcroYoga" class. There I met four amazing yogis - MP, Katie, Jenny, and Robin - who guided me into poses I never thought I could do. I learned about legal matters in Aysha Ames' "Yoga Law Basics" class. Aysha was able to answer all of my questions about opening a yoga studio, waivers, insurance, and more. I learned some basic exercises for pain relief in Theresa Convoy's "Yoga Therapy for Pain Relief" class. Lastly, I learned a very nice chakra-based yoga sequence in Corina Benner's "Yin Yoga and the Chakras" class. Corina led us through an awakening of the different chakras - those spinning vortices of energy that exist along the spine in the energetic body - describing the purpose of each chakra in detail while we listened to Thomas Flanagan's amazing sitar playing. My lower back has been hurting all week. Today in Corina's class, I heard crack-crack-CRACK! I think my spine is finally on the mend. I purchased a kitchari kit from one of the vendors, Inner Flame Kitchen, after tasting an absolutely delicious sample of coconut curry and butternut squash kitchari.

April 22, 2018, 10:00am - Core 26 - I spoke about what the mirrors are for.

April 26, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats - I spoke about alignment.

April 29, 2018, 10:00am - Core 26 - Full class!

May 3, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats - I talked about the Bandhas and how Half-Tortoise introduces them to students. I kept checking the thermostat to make sure the temperature didn't exceed 95. I had to bring it all the way down to 89 at one point. My students were working very hard and generating a lot of body heat!

May 4 to 6, 2018 - Ghosh Yoga Workshops with Ida Jo and Scott Lamps - classes 714, 715, 716 - My studio, bluedeer yoga, hosted Ida Jo and Scott Lamps, authors of a number of fantastic Ghosh Yoga books that are used in hot yoga studios all over the world. The Building Balance workshop focused on the feet and how we stand as the foundation for our practice. We practiced some foot exercises as well as a Core 26-like class. The Back Pain and Stress Reduction workshop was more about back pain than stress reduction. Scott showed us how to backbend more effectively. We practiced the foot exercises again as well as a different Core 26-like class that focused more on floor exercises. I was able to do Eagle on both sides at the end of class. My back is getting better. Each of the two and a half hour classes had one hour of lecture followed by one and a half hours of yoga class. The Ghosh Lineage and History class presented us with an in-depth history of our yoga lineage (hatha yoga) from its beginnings in the 1700s to its present day state at the Ghosh College of India. "We ended up being accidental historians of this knowledge," Scott admitted. The final Advancing Your Practice class was a three-hour intermediate sequence that included three breathing exercises, Surya Namaskar x 2, Half Moon x 3, Revolving Triangle x 2, Bose and Bikram Triangles x 2, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee x 2, three variants of Standing Head to Knee, Standing Bow x 2, Balancing Stick x 2, Standing Separate Leg Stretching x 2, Guillotine x 2, Tree, Toe, Spider (Beach), Short Man, Crow, Side Crow, Crane, Side Crane, Palmstand, Savasana, Wind Removing, Sit-Up, Cobra, Sphinx Peacock grip warmup, Pigeon, Sleeping Pigeon, Full Cobra, Head to Knee with Deep Stretching, Separate Leg Stretching, Frog, Upward Stretching, and Kapalbhati Breathing. I was able to do Standing Bow at the end of class. My back was feeling pretty good after this class!

May 10, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

May 17, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

May 24, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 714 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats - The Memorial Day weekend made class attendance rather light.

May 31, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 715 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats - Back to normal class attendance numbers!

My new yoga book is my most ambitious work to date. I've self-published eight full-length books and three tutorial guides on beauty and makeup, but none of them have reached 230 pages with over 86,000 words and I'm still not done! Every time I think I'm almost done, there's more information to add. Sometimes writing is so exhausting I have to put my head in my hands, shut out the world, and try to calm myself. I hope my book will be as good as I believe it is.

June 2, 2018, 9:00am - class 716 with Joel Pier - I stood in the first row today, but I rested for one set of Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee and I did a lackluster Camel. I felt the effects of dehydration again so I didn't push myself as hard as I normally do. More people recognized me this time than last. "One day I will be that girl up on the wall again," I said to a fellow student, pointing at an old picture of me. "You will," he said with conviction.

June 7, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

June 14, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 717 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

June 16, 2018, 8:00am, 10:00am - class 718 Core 26 and Core 40 - In the Core 40, I added Beach Pose and omitted the Abdominal Series.

June 17, 2018, 10:00am - Core 26

June 21, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 719 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats - My first teaching classes after my lipoma surgery. The only time my back hurt was during spine twist. I must've done a great job with Core 40 last week because I was pencilled in to teach it again this week. Unfortunately, I won't be able to as the Core 40 demands a lot from my body. I opted to teach Sunday's Core 26 instead.

June 24, 2018, 10:00am - Core 26

June 28, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

July 5, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

July 8, 2018, 10:00am - Core 26 - There were two new students in my class today. I managed to sync my teaching of Fish with Supta Vajrasana with no hiccups. It's tough teaching modifications alongside the postures. After class, I felt strong enough to do Palmstand. My son took lots of pictures of me for my new book.

July 12, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - classes 720 and 721 Core 26 Express+ and Core 40 - The class was divided on their opinions of the new Core 26 Express+ class format, a 90 minute class done in 75 minutes.

July 19, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 722 Core 26 and Yin 60

July 21, 2018, 8:00am - Core 26

July 26, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 723 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

July 28, 2018, 9:00am - class 724 with Joel Pier - I cautiously moved through the entire 26+2 as it was ungodly hot in the fourth floor studio. Interestingly, they took down the curtains. Fate has a magical way of bringing people back together again. I found Katelynn standing next to me in class. After many years of watching her, she still has a great practice, the kind that inspires you to push yourself further. I told her I miss her and that was the truth. I miss her voice. She still has one of the very best voices out there for a yoga class. Smooth, silky, and - dare I say - sultry. She tells you to do something and you feel compelled to do it. I miss her Ayurvedic wisdom. She's the one who turned me on to kitcharee. At the end of class, I just felt blessed to be there. I skipped two postures due to a sore ankle, but I did them later on.

August 9, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 725 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats - I practiced with my one student in Bishnu Beats. I did so very carefully as I was revovering from a left ankle injury, right pinky toe injury, and upper back surgery. My one-legged poses were very shaky.

August 12, 2018, 9:00am - class 726 with Sean Kenny - My ankle got worse over the last week from Aikido Summer Camp, but that didn't stop me from doing Aikido and yoga this week. I mentioned my sprained ankle to Sean at the beginning of class. I told him he could "push me" anyway. This was my first class with him and I'm quite impressed by him. He was energetic and dynamic. His words flew rapid fire out of his mouth like an auctioneer. All of his instructions were super detailed. He moved around the room like a panther offering words of encouragement to push certain people while offering corrections to others to help them achieve their best poses. He reminded me of Justin, but he was a little softer like Cate. He knew some of Cate's dialog in Savasana. At the end of class, he came up to me to find out if I was okay. That was actually mind-blowing to me because nobody ever gave a damn like that before.

August 16, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 727 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

August 17, 2018, 9:00am - class 728 with Chris Fluck - I felt a little stronger today than last Saturday. The pace was faster. Chris finished the class at 85 minutes and maintained the intensity with minimal dialog and lots of coax words like "push!" In fact, the Pranayama Breathing in the beginning had the most detail and then Chris just went into autopilot and let us do our thing.

August 19, 2018, 10:00am - Core 26

August 23, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 729 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

August 26, 2018, 10:00am - Core 26

August 30, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 730 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

September 1, 2018, 8:00am, 10:00am - classes 731 and 732 Core 26 and Core 40

September 6, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 733 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

September 13, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 734 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

September 17, 2018, 6:00am - class 735 with Justin Riley - I exerted even, consistent energy throughout today's class. At times, I could've pushed myself harder, but then I'd probably conk out in the middle of class again.

September 18, 2018, 6:00am - class 736 with Cate Reese - "Slow it down... slow it down..." I repeated to myself, feeling my energy depleting at several points during class. I remembered a tip Justin gave us in yesterday's class during Triangle that I applied today. It was about maintaining the triangle shape inside the torso, thigh, and arm. Many people fold over to make the shape a square. "Good, Clare!" Cate remarked, as I applied Justin's tip. Thanks Justin! I learned something new today about how Cobra and the Deep Stretch relate to one another.

September 19, 2018, 6:00am - class 737 with Maria Spano - I had plenty of energy today, but had to leave the room due to a bout with diarrhea. I've only ever left the room a small handful of times, twice with diarrhea and twice with heat stroke. Not my greatest moments, but sometimes it's better to deal with the problem than deal with its consequences. It was a good class, too, with three teachers in attendance, including the owner who was standing right behind me. I had never seen a 6am class packed to capacity with a third row needed.

September 20, 2018, 6:00am - class 738 with Colleen Hoplamazian - Colleen's class has really matured since I last took her class two years ago. There are a lot more details in the progression of each posture and her dialog now sounds experiential rather than memorized, no doubt due to her exposure to teaching at many different studios. She doesn't hold certain postures as long as other teachers, which is good because then I don't feel like I'm going to pass out. My left ankle was feeling a bit wonky this morning so I didn't dip as low as I normally do in Eagle.

September 20, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - class 739 and 740 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

September 21, 2018, 6:00am - class 741 with Justin Riley - This is my fifth consecutive day of yoga and I successfully did so without drinking water in class. After Eagle, I would uncap my water and bring the mouth of my water bottle to my lips. It's enough of a psychological edge to tell my mind that I got to drink water. In recent times, I've been drinking lots of water in class and sometimes it helps cool me down, but othertimes it greatly disturbs my belly. I started at a rotund 140.7 pounds on Saturday and in just five consecutive days of walking, yoga, and Aikido classes, I got down to a sleeker 134.2 on Wednesday. Sadly, I'm hovering around this weight since Wednesday and my upcoming vacation isn't going to help because my friends and I like to eat.

September 22, 2018, 10:00am - class 742 Core 40

September 23, 2018, 10:00am - Core 26

September 24, 2018, 8:30am, 9:30am - class 743 and 744 with Rebecca Sirman - I signed up for an intro week at YogaVibez in Ocean City, Maryland since I was here on vacation. The first class, Athletic Circuit, was only 45 minutes, but you had to perform 12 little exercises in sequence for 45 seconds each for three sets. Medicine ball twists, lunges with weights, pushups with foot slides, burpees, shoulder lat pulls, medicine ball side kicks, kettlebels, pop squats, biceps curls with knees bent while standing on IndoFlo cushions, hamstring stretch on yoga ball, triceps curls on a balancing board, and jump roping. This was preceded by warm-up exercises and followed by post-workout exercises as well. It was crazy! The second class, AllVibez, was a more familiar Vinyasa Flow class combining asana, breathwork, and meditation. It was supposedly heated, but I didn't really notice as I was sweating my brains out from the first class. Except for the head and handstands, the class was mostly easy and good for beginners. The orange scented oil during Savasana was a nice touch.

September 25, 2018, 9:00am, 10:30am - classes 745 and 746 with Jessica Wineland and Andrea Hoopes - The first class, GoodVibez, was a light flow class focusing on basic yoga elements and alignment. Everyone was in pretty good shape and seemed to know the sequence. The class was geared towards beginners, except for perhaps the transition to Wild Thing, which I didn't want to do since I didn't have a good grip on my mat. We started with Surya Namaskar and moved to various Warrior poses, Standing Separate Leg Stretching, and Frog. The orange scented oil during Savasana, just like in Rebecca's class, was a nice touch. The second class, Beginner Yoga, was a nice cool down to the first class. We practiced a basic Surya Namaskar, Warrior, and Chair and moved to three Yin poses: Spine Twist, Eagle, and Savasana all with bolsters shaped like a T. Andrea asked me to demonstrate Surya Namasakar to the class since I was a visiting yoga teacher.

September 26, 2018, 9:30am, 10:45am - classes 747 and 748 with Carrie Andersen and Travis Lancaster - The first class, AllVibez, promised lots of stretching. I thought it was going to be light and easy, a cool-down to the Athletic Circuit class, but it was anything but that! The first half totally kicked my butt with all of its lunges. We started in Crocodile, which was like Frog but we were resting our foreheads on our forearms. We moved into a bunch of Vinyasas, Warriors, Wild Thing, Balancing Stick (called Airplane), and more. At least Malasana was easy. The second half of class included a leg stretch and a shoulder opener. The second class, 26+2 Vibez, was a Bikram-style class where half the postures were done one set and the other half two. The Cobra series of four postures were done as a flow twice. I was the only student in the second class, so it was nice to have one-on-one interaction. I showed Travis the Tony Sanchez method of balancing on a single leg in the single leg postures.

September 30, 2018, 6:00pm, 8:00pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

My new yoga book, 1 2 3 4Yoga, is finally completed and is available through Barnes & Noble Press and select yoga studios. Over 96,000 words on 250 pages. I pared down the original manuscript by removing sections that can be used for a second book.

October 6, 2018, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

October 13, 2018, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

October 20, 2018, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu BeatsU

October 27, 2018, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - class 749 and 750 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

November 1, 2018, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - class 751 and 752 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

November 4, 2018, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26

November 8, 2018, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

November 15, 2018, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

November 25, 2018, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26

December 6, 2018, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

December 13, 2018, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

December 20, 2018, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

December 27, 2018, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

December 31, 2018, 10:00am - class 753 with Chris Fluck - I walked into class feeling like a chubby cow at 141.9. That is the highest I've weighed since December 2016. I was disappointed with myself and, sadly, I didn't have enough energy to last the entire class. I did a stellar Eagle, forced my way through Standing Head to Knee and Standing Bow, and then felt sick during Balancing Stick. I took three breaks during class - during Standing Separate Leg Stretching, Triangle, and Tree. Tree! Nobody takes a break during Tree! I sat or laid down because my heart felt like it was pounding out of my chest. I suppose this is what happens when you have high blood pressure and you don't take your meds in the morning. I made up the postures after class, showered, and ran out of the yoga studio with my tail between my legs. That was rough. My friends told me to stop doing yoga because "You're not getting any younger!" I hate hearing that. I will never let others dictate what I can and cannot do. Just because they experience things a certain way does not give them any license to say what my abilities are. I rested and ate more sensible foods today than I did in the past few weeks.

January 1, 2019, 10:00am - class 754 with Chris Fluck - I was a girl on a mission today. "Set your intention for today," I said to myself. My intention was to survive class. In order to do that, I knew I had to not go all out in any of the beginning postures. "Let's go 80% to 90%," I agreed. It worked. I added Tony Sanchez's Anatomical Breathing breaths in between postures whenever I felt my energy dropping. I refused to drop again. Chris held Eagle longer today than yesterday. I blurred my focus and remained calm while frozen in my pose. In Standing Head to Knee, I stepped off my mat and proceeded to do the posture to my maximum edge. I was back! I did not fall out in Standing Bow or Balancing Stick. I progressed through the entire class without any issues. The difference between today and yesterday was like night and day.

January 3, 2019, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

January 10, 2019, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats - Class was full today! It felt like working downtown. My best class in a long time. Everyone fed off of everyone else's energy.

January 12, 2019, 9:00am - class 755 with Joel Pier - It's been a while since my last practice, so I decided to try my previous energy exertion principle again and it worked. I didn't need to sit or lie down during class. When I felt a loss of energy, I simply stopped to breathe. Anatomical Breathing a la Tony Sanchez. I was able to go deep in all the postures in the second set, save for perhaps Awkward 2. Joel caught my heels sinking too low, so he recommended I stay higher than usual. I had not seen Joel in a while. We caught up before class like old friends. In class, Joel smiled and asked me if he would approve of my new boyfriend. "I hope so," I replied, smiling back. Only a guru could ask that and Joel knows I made him one of my gurus. There were a few moments in which I was able to blur my vision, let go, and feel as if I could stay in my pose forever. "You're the best," Joel said to me after class with a smile. "Thank you," I replied, smiling back. You know it's a great class when a teacher makes you feel like a superstar.

January 17, 2019, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

January 24, 2019, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

January 31, 2019, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - class 756 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

February 7, 2019, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - class 757 Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

February 8, 2019, 9:00am - class 758 with Chris Fluck - Somehow I lost six pounds since Wednesday. 137.4. Nice! I helped a girl next to me with Fixed Firm. Her glutes weren't touching the mat, so I suggested she try a folded hand towel under her butt for better support. She thanked me. I mentioned to Chris that I'd like to teach at the studio again if they'd have me. He was fine with it, but "it's all up to Katelynn," he said.

February 9, 2019, 9:00am - class 759 with Joel Pier - Same weight as yesterday even though I ate a big meal for my birthday dinner. I sweated my butt off. It felt hotter in there than usual, perhaps one of the top ten most intense hot yoga experiences ever. I kept doing Anatomical Breathing in between postures to help me stay calm. Joel didn't seem like his usual self today. He didn't remember my name. After class, it was wonderful to meet the many classmates who remember me, including ones from our Bikram retreat in 2014.

February 11, 2019, 6:00am - class 760 with Justin Riley - Somehow I gained weight again. Back up to 141.5. After class on Saturday, I ate a plate of papri chaat for lunch and a big sashimi platter for another birthday dinner. Yesterday was a big food day. I had a mushroom and cheese omelet for breakfast, a London Broil sandwich for lunch, popcorn during the movies with my son, Taiwanese milk drink afterwards, and a banh mi sandwich for dinner. I'm older now, so it's probably going to be an uphill battle to keep weight off, but I'm hopeful. I almost didn't go to class this morning because of the snow, but a weird dream I had where I kept missing my bus ride or flight felt like a sign that I should just get up and go. Just do it! There were lots of new faces in the row behind me. I wonder how my teacher colleagues deal with weight gain as they get older.

February 12, 2019, 6:00am - class 761 with Cate Reese - 140.6 today. I did a nice Camel today, pushing my hips and stomach forward. One day at a time. Big barbecue meal last night at Sweet Lucy's with a new guy I met at the archery range. We originally were going to meet for drinks, but I told him that I'd rather he see me as a real person and not just a girl at a bar. I teach a yoga class at my workplace every week. I actually demo the postures to my students. I think that did me in. I felt faint not long afterwards.

February 13, 2019, 6:00am - class 762 with Maria Spano - 140.2 today. My diet is the same as before. Strange. I guess old age makes it harder to lose weight! It could also be the fact that I'm not drinking enough water every day or that I haven't been taking my multivitamins for a few weeks. My Standing Separate Leg Stretch has been feeling a little wonky all week. I used to be able to touch my forehead to the floor with no problems. Maria combined Camel and Rabbit together for two sets. Cool.

February 14, 2019, 6:00am - class 763 with Colleen Hoplamazian - 139.9 today. I did a nice Standing Bow today. I drank a lot of water yesterday. During class, my belly was upset and I had to flee to the restroom and miss three postures. I noticed something this entire week... I'm sweating a lot less than I used to. My blood pressure was only 117/74 at the doctor's office, which is far lower than usual. Perhaps my blood pressure medicine has something to do with it and perhaps there is some link between that and my ability to lose weight as quickly as I used to. It's interesting to see the people around me imitating what I do in class. If I can inspire someone, that's great. I'm inspired by my classmates every day. Colleen taught an amazing class today. She walked around and helped the newbies get into their best postures for today.

February 14, 2019, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats. One of my former regular students introduced me to her daughter and told her I was a great teacher. She admitted she no longer does the hot classes because her body can no longer cope with the heat.

February 15, 2019, 6:00am - class 764 with Justin Riley - 138.0 today. Justin taught us about how our bodies tend to spiral when we are not in alignment. I remember connecting something from today's class to Monday's class about energy movement.

February 16, 2019, 9:00am - class 765 with Joel Pier - 136.5 today. I touched my forehead to the floor today with no problems in Standing Separate Leg Stretching. The first set was easy. I felt tight in the second set and did not touch the floor. I didn't have enough energy for Camel. The fourth floor studio classes are always super hot and humid. A young man introduced himself to me after class. He said that he found my blog online and enjoyed reading it. He and his girlfriend were very nice.

February 18, 2019, 6:00am - class 766 with Justin Riley - Back up to 140.7. My son and I ate a lot of good food this weekend. The good news is I adhered to my philosophy of not overeating at every meal. Today was a small, fast-paced class that ended in 70 minutes. During Triangle, something activated inside me and Justin noticed it. I remember watching Bikram Choudhury's great Triangle pose and how he kept continually stretching his arms apart, like that 70's toy, Stretch Armstrong. That's what I did today. "Good Clare! Good Clare! Good Clare!!!" Justin encouraged as I stretched up and down more. For that brief moment, I became fully alive.

February 19, 2019, 6:00am - class 767 with Cate Reese - 139.4 today. The guy standing next to me today reminded me of my friend Bill W who used to huff and puff and groan and moan his way through class. Several times, I wanted to tell him to just take it easy. He was wrenching all of his body parts way too hard and was sure to injure himself someday.

February 20, 2019, 6:00am - class 768 with Maria Spano - 137.9 today. Maria combined Half-Tortoise, Camel, and Rabbit together for two "supersets" due to time constraints.

February 21, 2019, 6:00am - class 769 with Cate Reese - 137.1 today. I miss Cate's body scan relaxation method that she used to do at the end of her classes. It made her classes feel a lot more meditative than other teachers' classes.

February 21, 2019, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

February 22, 2019, 6:00am - class 770 with Justin Riley - 136.6 today. Just like Monday, something activated inside me and Justin noticed it. I engaged my quad muscles and locked my legs in place as I thought about a 360 degree pull in Deep Stretching, lifting my chest up, keeping my shoulders back and down, and lengthening my spine. "Good Clare! Good Clare! Good Clare!!!" Justin encouraged as I stretched forward more. I'm a little more than a month away from a surgery that will prevent me from doing any heavy physical activity for up to 12 weeks. There will be a cut along my abdomen so I won't be able to do Spinal Twist, one of my strongest poses, for a while. I am hopeful recovery will be shorter, but the last time I rushed recovery, I did more damage than good.

February 23, 2019, 9:00am - class 771 with Joel Pier - 134.3 today. Something inside me told me to raise my arms up in Toe Stand for a more challenging pose. I sweated a lot more today than in the past two weeks. We stayed longer in our postures today because Joel was helping the new students along. Sarah, Leo's wife, commented that it felt like we were doing five minute postures today. I lost balance and fell out a couple of times and just laughed. I remember various teachers telling me you can't take yourself too seriously in yoga. Most people who look at what I do in class know I have a gaze that can burn a hole through the mirror. Joel invited me to teach at his studio in Reading.

February 24, 2019, 9:00am - class 772 with Colleen Hoplamazian - 135.8 today. I had a big protein-packed lunch from The Poké Spot yesterday. "Whenever you're ready to come out of Standing Bow, Clare. It's a good one," Colleen said, as I reached my maximum edge in Standing Bow. I hope more people see how I approach Standing Bow. I do a Quadricep Stretch in the first set to prepare for Standing Bow in the second set. I couldn't raise my arms up in Toe Stand. It just wasn't happening today. It's good to see my belly flatter nowadays.

February 25, 2019, 6:00am - class 773 with Justin Riley - 139.0 today. I indulged a bit too much in Lacroix's brunch buffet yesterday, but it was so good. How can you resist tender roasted lamb and beef brisket, scallop sausage, sablefish in red curry, foie gras paté, shrimp cakes, raw oysters with caviar, and more? My younger self could've eaten another plate, but I stopped myself at three. It was breakfast, lunch, and dinner all rolled into one meal and my weight paid the price for it. Tina, a fellow student who will be attending Bikram teacher training, taught the first set of Half Moon. She reminded me of how I probably felt when Noelle let me teach Half Moon in her class. "Good Clare! Good Clare!!!" Justin encouraged as I stretched forward and back more in Balancing Stick. Justin liked my Triangle today. I wish the person who "borrowed" a twenty from my wallet at the studio would return it to me.

February 26, 2019, 6:00am - class 774 with Cate Reese - 138.8 today. I informed Cate about the theft. The studio needs to be aware about it. I just hope it's not who I think it is. Still, I can't let the thought of this consume me. My archery practice last night left me with a forearm bruise. Did you ever feel like you could stay in Standing Bow forever? That's how I felt today.

February 27, 2019, 6:00am - class 775 with Maria Spano - 139.2 today. Maria combined Camel and Rabbit together and Head to Knee with Stretching and Spine Twist for supersets due to time constraints.

February 28, 2019, 6:00am - class 776 with Colleen Hoplamazian - 138.7 today. I lost balance in Eagle, but I laughed. After doing Eagle a couple of thousand times correctly, you just have to laugh when you fall out of it. I held steady in Toe Stand and raised my arms over my head again. Yay!

February 28, 2019, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

March 5, 2019, 6:00am - class 777 with Cate Reese - "Good, Clare!" Cate commented of my Floor Bow. I'm not sure what I activated today, but it looked like my toes were up higher than usual. I missed a few classes due to the weather. My body felt a little stiff today.

March 7, 2019, 6:00pm, 7:45pm - Core 26 and Bishnu Beats

March 9, 2019, 9:00am - class 778 with Joel Pier - 134.5 today. Joel straightened my Half Moon. Oddly, I found myself in a deep state of mental focus afterwards as I performed my postures, blurred my vision in the mirror, focused inward, and detached myself from any pain or discomfort from holding each posture for extended lengths of time. Joel made us hold everything super-long today since he was busy correcting people around the room. One newbie, who stood behind me, gave up and left class early. She told her friend she was never coming back again. Others saw Joel as a savior. "I love how he cracks people's backs," a student said.

March 11, 2019, 6:00am - class 779 with Kaitlin McCoale - 135.5 today. A nice, challenging class. Kaitlin held the postures longer than Justin. Taking a cue from a video I saw of Esak Garcia in the 2012-2013 Yoga Asana National Championship, I lowered myself down in Toe Stand by bending my knee from standing rather than reaching my fingers forward and down first. My eventual goal is to do this posture without touching my fingers to the ground.

March 12, 2019, 6:00am - class 780 with Cate Reese - 134.7 today. "Good, Clare!" Cate commented of my Full Locust. She reminds me so much of Noelle, a teacher I loved very much.

March 13, 2019, 6:00am - class 781 with Maria Spano - 134.8 today. I felt a wobble in my second set of Standing Head to Knee. I held myself strong and, with intense energy, mouthed the words, "You are going to FUCKING hold this SHIT up and stay up and FUCKING keep kicking out strong, you FRICKIN's..." I held my leg up... yay! I know many people who take Bikram classes who don't get as much out of them as they should because they don't push themselves hard enough. Maria again combined Camel and Rabbit together and Head to Knee with Stretching and Spine Twist for supersets due to time constraints. I really feel these last postures are very important and deserve Savasanas in between them. It's better to not hold the Standing Series postures for so long so there will be more time for the Floor Series.

March 14, 2019, 6:00am - class 782 with Colleen Hoplamazian - 134.3 today. I Esak'ed my way down to the floor in Toe Stand (watch this video to see what I'm talking about). About 80% of the way, I started to lose my balance. I float my way down by bending my knee from the start. Esak actually folds forward before bending his knee. Although some people might say that what I do can be damaging to my knee, I contend that my knee, calf, and ankle muscles are exceptionally well-conditioned. I know enough to stop and not proceed if I feel my knee buckling. "Good, nice, Clare!" Colleen commented on my Full Locust as I stretched out in all directions. Before class, one of my yoga friends formally introduced me to someone I was curious about for a while, a very handsome man who turned out to be an equally handsome and attractive woman.

March 14, 2019, 6:00pm - Core 26 - "I only trust you and Colleen," one of my students said, "because you two have known me the longest." We talked about how students develop a rapport with certain teachers.

March 15, 2019, 6:00am - class 783 with Justin Riley - 133.7 today. Justin talked about how our practice is really a practice and a way to explore new things. "Sometimes I don't even kick out in the first set," he admitted in Standing Head to Knee. I usually don't and he noticed it today, so he pushed me with words of encouragement as I held onto the ball of my left foot, admittedly my weaker side. He's been doing this more frequently than in the past and I appreciate it. I find that "less is more" in the first set enables you to refine the little things that could make your second set really strong. I also do the same in Standing Bow. In my first set, I kick and stretch without tilting down because I want to get a good quadricep and lumbar stretch to prepare for my pose in the second set. I again tried Esaking my way down in Toe Stand by bending myself over this time, but it seemed more challenging to maintain my balance.

March 18, 2019, 6:00am - class 784 with Justin Riley - 135.8 today. I wrecked my right arm on Saturday. It's likely a rotator cuff injury. Four hours of archery is probably too much at one time. I kept shooting and shooting, trying to obtain three perfect scores. My arm felt better after today's class and, hopefully, it will be healed after a few more yoga classes. People wonder why I do yoga and it's because I'm well aware that yoga is great for fixing problems like sprains and bruises. More Esaking in Toe Stand today. I'm getting there. I'd be happy if this is something I could do right before my big surgery just two weeks away.

March 19, 2019, 6:00am - class 785 with Cate Reese - 134.5 today. I'm continuing to rehab my arm with yoga. Last night, it felt achy again. This morning in the hot room, it felt great. Toe Stand didn't feel so good today as I was shaking a little in my single leg poses.

March 21, 2019, 6:00am - class 786 with Cate Reese - 135.2 today. My arm continues to be rehabbed. If all goes well, I should be ready for archery on Saturday. Cate noticed what I was doing in Toe Stand. "Bending the knee first is a very advanced form of Toe Stand," she commented to the class. Most people in the class, even the exceptionally fit ones, would agree and try to avoid doing what I do. I do it because I know I can.

March 21, 2019, 6:00pm - Core 26

March 23, 2019, 9:00am - class 787 with Joel Pier - 134.3 today. I gave Joel a big hug today before class. I told him about my temporary break from Aikido so I could focus on archery. My bruised rotator cuff affected my stance in Pranayama. To combat the feeling of fatigue, I practiced a new type of breathing, the forceful exhalation of air alternating with Tony Sanchez' Anatomical Breathing. I call my new mode of breathng Force Fire Exhalation. I Esak'ed my way down almost all the way in Toe Stand... incredible! Right after Cobra, Joel came over and pushed against my thoracic spine. Crack-crack-CRACK!!! I heard and felt the gas release between my joints. A warm, pleasurable feeling spread over my upper body. I ate as much as a hungry bear could the past couple of nights, but still ended up a respectable weight.

March 24, 2019, 9:00am - class 788 with Robyn King - I Esak'ed my way down all the way in Toe Stand... and lost my balance for just a moment requiring a fingertip to regain my balance. Yay! "Clare, that was a really awesome Toe Stand," Robyn commented. "Really nice alignment with the feet!" she also said in Half-Tortoise. Robyn attended Esak's Jedi Fight Club, which I hope to attend someday. The amazing thing is I completed the entire class even with nausea and vomiting the night before from food poisoning! I had lunch with a friend after class so I couldn't do my daily weigh-in.

March 25, 2019, 6:00am - class 789 with Justin Riley - 136.6 today. I Esak'ed my way down all the way in Toe Stand again on both sides, losing my balance on my left leg only when I got all the way down. I held strong on my right side with no need for a fingertip to balance! Justin warned about the dangers of bending the leg all the way down, but I feel I have enough strength to stay safe. Chris Fluck was in the class and explained how we should all be working towards full range of motion.

March 26, 2019, 6:00am - class 790 with Cate Reese - 136.6 today. "Good, Clare!" Cate said during my backbend in the first set of Awkward. "Don't go down by bending the knee," Cate warned others while I Esak'ed my way down all the way in Toe Stand on both sides. I was stronger yesterday. It's funny to see how doing Toe Stand differently exhibits such an emotional response from everyone.

I was a bodybuilder when I was younger and used to press 750 pounds on a Universal Leg Press machine. Before I was a bodybuilder, I was a Kung-Fu student. We did horse stance for sometimes 30 minutes at a time. I can even do a very advanced posture called Short Man, so lowering my 136 pound self on one leg should be well within my capability. Everyone has good and bad postures. Toe Stand happens to be one that I can potentially take as far as Thayne Dibble's Standing Bow or Adam Keilbaugh's Scorpion... or Esak Garcia's Toe Stand. All my life I've listened to people who told me I couldn't do this or that because I wasn't strong enough, skilled enough, or tough enough. Even my best friends tell me I'm too old to be doing what I'm doing. I ignore them and quietly do all the things they cannot do. I strive to be the best at everything I do. I've become the very best version of me that I can be.

March 27, 2019, 6:00am - class 791 with Maria Spano - 136.6 today. I wobbled when I got to the bottom of Toe Stand. All I could do was laugh. You can't take yoga too seriously or it will consume you. Still no weight change from Monday, but my bodyfat has decreased by 0.1% every day, from 10.9% to 10.7%. I'm eating a heck of a lot of protein every day. This almost reminds me of my bodybuilding days where I'd load up on protein-rich foods and work out every day. All I need is to get my belly chiseled and I'll be all set. Of course, what I'm really doing is preparing for my upcoming surgery by being as healthy as possible so my recovery will be smooth.

March 28, 2019, 6:00am - class 792 with Colleen Hoplamazian - 135.6 today. "Very nice, Clare!" Colleen said of my Toe Stand. I did not lose balance as I floated down towards the ground. I also arched my back strongly in Awkward 1, eliciting approval from her as well. Colleen has a vast amount of yoga knowledge, including seminars with Mary Jarvis, so I trust her. I was able to grip my fingers in between my legs on both sides of Spine Twist.

March 28, 2019, 6:00pm - Core 26

March 29, 2019, 6:00am - class 793 with Justin Riley - 134.6 today. I fell out of Standing Bow. Usually Standing Bow second set, left side is a good one, but what could I do but just laugh? I'll try again another day. I'm very serious about my postures, but I can't get too bogged down by stupid stuff, such as stuffing my belly full of barbecue meats the night before. That's not really good for me when it comes to yoga. The good news is I Esak'ed my way all the way down in Toe Stand. This time I tried lifting my spine up and leaning back. Baby steps. I'm happy to have gotten this far.

April 1, 2019, 6:00am - class 794 with Justin Riley - 136.1 today. Justin mentioned the importance of not being too friendly with students because it would tarnish the teacher-student relationship. He also emphasized a try-harder rather than be-complacent attitude in our practices. In my final Toe Stand in a while, I was able to Esak my way all the way down without touching the mat. I attempted to come back up the same way, but raised myself about 20% of the way before I lost balance. When I return from my surgery, I hope to be able to continue what I worked so hard to do in the past three weeks. All around my bedroom are yoga and archery items to help motivate me to stay focused for a speedy recovery.

April 2, 2019 - Today I had a big surgery to restore form and function of my insides due to damage from necrosis. There are no guarantees with any surgery, but my surgeon gave me a chance for a better life. Her's was the hand I held as I fell asleep from anesthesia. I stayed overnight at the hospital and met my surgeon the next day who assured me that everything looks great. I don't typically heal very quickly and sometimes require an additional day in a hospital after a major surgery. My friend Chris W had to leave me on Wednesday night for work the next morning. Thursday and Friday were good days. I felt strong and able to move around without any assistance. I spoke to friends over the phone and felt confident that I should be back to work in no time. Saturday was a very bad day; I felt nauseous and threw up all my food. After I threw up, I slept for 14 hours. On Sunday afternoon, my friend Ken stopped by to check up on me. Monday was painfully boring as I watched soap operas and slept most of the day. My catheter felt really uncomfortable all week, much more so than last time. I felt like there was a big egg stuck inside me. Most every medical device that I've used is too big for me. That goes for everything from blood pressure monitor cuffs to Foley catheters. Maybe hospital staff should see that I'm 25% smaller than their typical patient and fill my catheter with 25% less saline.

April 9, 2019 - My friend Sophie drove me to my post-op appointment to see my surgeon. My catheter and surgical drain were removed. My packing, a long cloth strip that looked a mile long, was removed. It was one of my surgeon's signature techniques, one that her other patients often referred to as a "magician's endless silk handkerchief trick." The removal process was extremely painful. Imagine having 100 feet of stacked and stuffed cloth jammed into a cavity in your body, having your insides heal and scab over the cloth with all nerve endings intact, and having this cloth ripped from your body, piece by painful piece. Oddly, my nerve endings should not have adhered themselves to the cloth so quickly. "This is like nothing I've ever seen. Your body healed so quickly this time," my surgeon said. The difference between this surgery and a similar one I had in 2012 is this time I trained my body like an elite athlete. In 2012, I did not and necrosis reared its ugly head and destroyed a chunk of my genital area. Some people believe that once a surgery is over, a comfortable resting period follows. I wish I could say the same about this surgery. The next month will be filled with hellish pain as I follow a recovery plan filled with multiple daily procedures that easily rival dental surgery without Novacaine.

April 16, 2019 - Today is my first day back to work. I took a Lyft to minimize excessive walking. As my friend Chris W discovered last week, I can't walk for more than a block and a half before I feel cramps in my belly and extreme downward pressure. I have a donut pillow that I have to sit on to relieve the downward pressure of sitting on a chair. I have a ten-inch scar across my lower belly, the donor site of a skin graft used in my surgery. Everyone who has seen my scar agrees that I probably won't be able to do any extreme twisting motions for a while. Unfortunately, my surgical site bled towards the end of the day.

April 23, 2019 - I went to see my surgeon last Wednesday after I experienced bleeding. She cauterized the surgical site to reduce the bleeding and recommended I take a few more days off work. Today is my second day back to work after the bleeding issue last week. I know people who have had the same or similar surgery take four to eight weeks to recover, but I figured it would take just two weeks for me. Nope. Slow and steady wins the race, my friends would say. When I walk, there are times when the abdominal and pelvic pain is so intense, I cannot stand upright. Prior to my surgery, I practiced moving at half the speed I normally do, so I could prepare myself for my recovery days. While that was good practice, I presently move at half the speed of that. I feel quite limited having to take Lyft rides everywhere when my pre-surgery self would just walk or take a bus. I have several items around my bedroom to inspire me to be strong again: my yoga books and pictures and my new competition bow and split arrows.

April 30, 2019 - I'm finally able to walk from the bus station to my home, something I haven't been able to do without great pain and effort until recently. I'm also able to sit on soft chairs without the need for my donut pillow. I can't walk long distances yet, but I'm getting there. My surgeon said that everything looks great except for some granulation tissue that needs to be cauterized to promote healing. I have to see her every two weeks to get cauterized again to manage the granulation tissue. The cauterization always leaves me a bloody mess down there, but I learned recently that surgeons do things to make a patient feel worse before they feel better. She asked me to start my scar therapy treatment next week to heal my ten-inch scar. On Thursday, I finally felt strong enough to take the bus to and from work.

May 7, 2019 - My ten-inch scar is healing nicely. Some parts of it look like there's hardly a scar. The remaining stitches holding the skin graft have dissolved, so I'm bloody down there again. I'm walking a lot more every day. I still need my donut pillow while sitting on chairs, especially non-cushioned seats. I visited the archery range over the weekend for the first time in over a month. I wasn't at full strength, but it felt good to get back into it.

May 29, 2019 - My ten-inch scar is now scab-free. I continue to be bloody because of a skin tear that started from a stitch prematurely dissolving or coming loose. My healing process took a step backwards a couple of times, but overall it's progressing well. Note to self: Even though your doctor tells you that you can resume all activities, don't try to move an 80-pound chest freezer up a flight of stairs!

June 5, 2019 - I continue my two steps forward, one step back progress. There's still bleeding on the surgical site, but it's much less than before. I want to go back to yoga soon. I miss the consistency of practicing every day and seeing my body achieve greater things. I don't want to rush myself back too soon, but my body's yearning for the exercise every day. Right now, all I can do is basic yoga at home, a lot of walking, and archery.

June 16, 2019, 6:00am - class 795 with Thayne Dibble - 143.9 today. Life always seems to happen in cycles. After a two and a half month break from yoga, I took my first class with my very first Bikram yoga teacher, Thayne Dibble. Oh my God, Thayne just keeps looking more amazing every time I see her. Her chiseled abs and lean shape inspires her students to see what hard work can accomplish. She teaches from experience rather than rote memorization, something that has always impressed me. "This is my first day back after surgery and recovery," I mentioned to her. Rather than just nod and let me walk away, she tried to figure out how I could benefit from her class more given my current limitations. "During Half Moon, it's important that you stretch up out of your waist first before bending," she said. This tip, along with the constant emphasis to suck my belly in during many of the postures to engage my core, enabled me to practice safely. Although I'm just a shell of my former yoga self, I managed to complete the class with the confidence that I did the best I could today.

June 18, 2019, 6:00am - class 796 with Cate Reese - I felt stronger today than Sunday, so I was able to go a little deeper in all of my postures. I surprised myself in Standing Bow, Locust, and Floor Bow. A lot of the cobwebs have shaken off and I'm beginning to see flexibility again. It might take some time to return to my former self, but it'll happen. I have to be careful because I started seeing little vertical stretch marks forming along the center of my scar after my Sunday class. I surprised a classmate by returning to yoga a week earlier than I had anticipated.

June 20, 2019, 6:00am - class 797 with Colleen Hoplamazian - 138.2 today. Colleen's class was fun, challenging, and thought-provoking as she brings her vast knowledge of different yoga modalities into her classes. Plus, I thoroughly enjoy her use of funny sounds during certain postures. "It doesn't sound like that... but it does!" I would say to myself, trying to stay composed. Somehow, I left my water bottle at home, but I didn't need it. I used a small rolled up ball of paper towels to wipe my face after Eagle. Subconsciously, I was probably influenced by Mary Jarvis, who wrote about how water is not needed during class. At my peak physical shape, which is usually when I hover around 126 to 134 pounds, I never drink water during class; I press the mouth of my water bottle on my forehead after Eagle to let the ice water cool my head.

Many of you probably know what happens when you recover from a major surgery. There is a period of rest - in my case, two and a half months - and then you try to eat as much protein as you can to give your body nutrients. You might not be as active as you were before, so you gain weight. For me, I look soft and lumpy when I'm over 140 pounds. I hit an all-time high of 143.9 this past Sunday. You might say, "143.9 is not bad for a 51 year old woman," but I don't work on a level of "not bad." I work on a level of A+ excellence. That's why I decided to return to my yoga classes a week early. My doctor told me I was cleared for yoga many weeks ago, but her idea of yoga is gentle, easy stretching in a cool, relaxing environment. Bikram Yoga is not that kind of yoga. If you do it, you have to be committed to it and you have to do the 90-minute classes for maximum benefits. You have to be ready to go all out and just do it to the best of your ability... "to kill yourself for 90 minutes," as its inventor says. This is how you go from 143.9 to 138.2, a difference of 5.7 pounds, in just four days.

June 22, 2019, 9:00am - class 798 with Joel Pier - 136.1 today. I continue to consume big meals and lose weight. Now that I weigh 136.1, that means I lost 7.8 pounds in just six days. I state my results online not to show off, but to show everyone that, with hard work, anyone who is willing to go the distance can do what I can do. You cannot lose this much weight and retain this much muscle this quickly with any other form of exercise. Not weightlifting, not running, not martial arts classes, not archery, and not even most forms of yoga. Only hot yoga. I wore a sports bra instead of a tanktop, since my midsection is looking better. After class, Tina and I talked about how humid the yoga room was today. I mentioned to her about how I focus on the sweat on my mat during class. "When I see concentric rings of sweat on my mat that are symmetric on both sides of my feet, I know I'm doing things right," I said. Maria said she heard I was back to teaching in the city again. I nodded. I'm ready to teach. Sometimes it's good to come back to your roots.

June 23, 2019, 9:00am - class 799 with Katelynn Ingersoll - 135.7 today. "What a lineup we have today!" Tina exclaimed as she saw me, Chris Fluck, and some senior students come in at the same time this morning. It's nice to be a part of such esteemed company. I kicked my leg out in Standing Head to Knee for the first time since the day before my surgery. I couldn't extend my leg out all the way as I normally could, but maybe next week I will be able to. Katelynn made some pivotal corrections to my Tree and Head to Knee with Deep Stretching postures. I truly felt like she was taking care of me and teaching me one-on-one in class.

June 25, 2019, 6:00am - class 800 with Cate Reese - I knew this class was going to be special as my first Bikram teacher, Thayne, practiced next to me. She gave me a solid reference point to see where I'm at. Sadly, I had to leave class early due to a violent stomach bug. That's what I get for eating Chick-fil-A the night before. I think the yoga class, with its intense induced sweating, forced the bug right out.

It's befitting that my eight hundredth class is with a teacher who pays homage to one of my favorite teachers, Noelle Burgoyne. Noelle's Thursdays and Stella's Tuesdays provided much-welcome, "softer" Bikram classes to Sandy's "harder" classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. Softer does not imply easier for they were still intense classes, but the style of teaching was more of a gentle walkthrough than the push-harder style that elicits a fight or flight response. Justin's Friday classes were almost a status check as to how well you did that week. He has a propensity to tell it like it is, so if you suck, he will let you know. In recent years, the studio has decided to make the Monday/Wednesday classes less intense by reducing them to 75 minute classes from the standard 90. Of course, the seasoned practitioners can always reminisce of the "good old days" when Sandy taught.

My yoga journey:
Opinions expressed are solely my own. Please consult your physician for medical advice before starting a yoga program.

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