Each year the Bikram studio holds a 2 hour class with music on Thanksgiving morning. I have been doing this for many years and it really just starts my day off right. I am no longer a member at that studio but I knew I wanted to be part of the Bikram festivities again this year. The class is a donation class so all the money went to the food pantry which is very fitting for a Thanksgiving practice. Here is how the day went and what a day it was. In Maine we got a foot of snow Wed night into Thursday morning which meant that Matthew and I had to get up around 4:30 and start snow blowing and shoveling ourselves out. At 6:30am he started the turkey. Our 26 lbs. bird was beautiful and we know well loved. As a thank you to the bird we used the whole thing but more on that later. As my handsome husband donned his favorite apron and got started in the kitchen I made my way out into the snow winter wonderland first for an exercise and weight training session followed by my 2 hour Bikram class. I had not been in a Bikram studio since June of this year and I did not know what to expect. I figured I would just treat this class like I did all my other classes in the past so I wore my long pants, long shirt and small jacket to make sure I was warm. I found a great spot near the heat up at the mirror. 2 things struck me immediately, the first is that the room is so bright and second is that mirror is there to show every flaw and mis-step. At one time I enjoyed the mirror and being able to see myself but for some reason I didn’t like it this time. Maybe after spending so much time on my mat just feeling, I didn’t really want to see. There was music playing so that was a nice change since there is usually no music in a standard Bikram class. This was a fusion class with the 26 postures mixed in, but we also did vinyassa work which was really challenging in the heat.
I love the heat, always have and probably always will but going from head up to the head down was really hard and made me a little bit dizzy. Nothing that I couldn’t control but I did wonder if there were any new people in the class and how they were fairing. We hit all the major 26 postures and took the entire 2 hours to complete our moving meditation. I was so hot, tired, and totally spent but also felt so incredibly good. I forgot how absolutely wonderful being that hot and sweat can actually feel. After it was all said and done I was ready to join my husband back at home to finish our thanksgiving preparations.
He had it all finished and off to my parent’s house we went, 26 lbs. turkey in hand with pies, and cranberry sauce. Once we got there everyone was so pleased with how the bird looked and especially how it tasted. We sliced up the organ meat and put that out as well and everyone devoured it. We didn’t want our little bird to go to waste so we ate the entire thing. He was so delicious and I think we have made our mark on the family that getting our meats from the nearby farm where they are truly loved, well taken care of and especially well fed naturally is the best for the animals and us. My husband did a marvelous job with that bird and has been crowned the chef to do it each and every year from here on out but I don’t know that he really wants that responsibility. The day was stress-free, so enjoyable and I ate guilt free since I had just put in my time at the gym and Bikram mere hours before.
In the US we are only days away from a holiday in which it is perfectly acceptable to feast and eat for the entire day without guilt or thought of repercussion. We have turned a day like Thanksgiving into a day of gluttony with rewards of stuffing, mash potatoes, breads, sweet vegetables and pies. I too enjoy this holiday very much but the question has already come to light as to what am I and my husband going to eat on Thanksgiving Day? This question doesn’t come from family as they already know we will eat what we want and they do not have worry about it or even think about it. The question comes from people in my life that know that I choose a certain diet with very little gluten and processed foods. What I find interesting is that people worry about what I am going to eat when Thanksgiving as it is designed is an incredibly Paleolithic feast. The main course is turkey. A scrumptious, tender, free range bird will delight our table cooked in the essence of fruits such as apples and oranges along with nice herbs like rosemary and onion, celery and sea salt. My husband and I love sweet potatoes and eat them regularly but sugar is never an added ingredient in our sweet potatoes so whether they are baked, sliced, mashed, or grated the purity of the sweet potato is what we eat and enjoy. The sweet potato actually carries the word sweet for a reason and since they are so sweet there is no need in mind to make them sweeter. Will a white potato be one of my choices as I make my way down the line? I can say probably not but I know without doubt it will be a choice for my husband and he has thought long and hard about those potatoes and how much gravy will be needed to prepare the perfect bit of turkey, potato and gravy. Does our gravy have flour in it? Yes it will because consistency is everything and although I would never add flour this meal is for everyone to enjoy not just me so I prefer to add the flour and let others enjoy it while I eat my bird plain. Vegetables are a big part of Thanksgiving and our daily diet so there will be a large arrangement of root vegetables, green vegetables and salads. I will be honest and tell you that our table holds the classic green bean casserole but for the other participants to enjoy. We have made green beans and almonds in the past but learned very quickly that only we ate them so we had a lot of leftovers. Now we just make for a few and let everyone enjoy their green bean casserole. This holiday is more about tradition then taste if you ask me. I understand that for hours and hours everyone is commenting on how wonderful the food is with “yums” and groans leaving the mouths of all but we are all remembering special times in our lives which usually include the people sitting at your table, sharing your food, throwing you a yum every few moments and laughing.
The people and the moments are what we truly love and live for, the food is amazing and although it seems like the centerpiece of the day, the joy and laughter along with stories is what makes the day very special for me. I will find plenty to eat and have my own desires of gluttony as well as everyone, it just may be that when gluttony is more about the gluten free options ideally feeling up on the people not the food. I am also staring my day with a 2 hours Bikram session which has been tradition for me for several years so although I have not been in a Bikram studio since June I am going with towel and mat in hand to prepare my body and mind for this day. There can be some stress around the day as preparations need to be made so I am trying to set myself up for the best possible day I can. If my vinyassa flow class were happening on Thanksgiving I would probably choose vinyassa flow but it will be so good to be in the warmth of Bikram again if only for a couple of hours. This is also making me think about when I teach my own classes and inviting students to enjoy the thanksgiving morning with me as I teach a class in the coming years. The day is about sharing so why not share the gift the yoga.
I am five weeks into my yoga teacher training and learning so much not only about my own practice but how the body works and how the yoga postures work. The more time I spend on my own mat the more I’m building my sequences and working through what works for me and what doesn’t. Not that everything that works for me will work for others but it gives me a good sense of what someone might be feeling. I also really use the experiences of the other women in my training. For instance we were talking about Warrior I and how when she does this pose and adds a slight back bend in it, her back really doesn’t feel very well. I don’t have back pain, have never struggled with back pain, and unless I’m in flare I really don’t give much notice to my back so I had to get on my mat and try to imagine at what point one of my students might notice some discomfort in their back. It is so amazing to really start analyzing the body, the moves, the postures, the good and the bad and come up with something that might work for most people.
I spend a lot of time noticing people modifying in weight training, Insanity classes, and yoga classes. I do modifications in my classes as well so it is important to show different modifications as well as what the final posture should look like and let others use their bodies the best way they can to do the postures without compromise. With each posture there are several ways to modify and some might feel really easy, some might need to start in modification postures and move slowly into full postures, some may never reach the final posture and that is ok too. I think of Insanity and doing high knees for me. That high intensity trying to get my knee hip level doesn’t work for me and so I modify that move by bringing one knee up and then the other but not in a fast, intense movement but a controlled movement. My range of motion is much better, my posture is much better, and my body isn’t exerting unnecessary energy doing something that could potential hurt me if done wrong. Same can be said about yoga postures.
There seems to be more focus on people getting hurt during yoga classes and if we think about what is happening we can see how this could be true. We are trying to combine kickboxing with yoga, or we are trying to power through our yoga flows and classes to the deepest, intensity we can muster. As I spend time on my mat I am really starting to see the benefit in slow moving through my postures and really feeling what my body is doing. Sometimes I think I can go farther and in yoga millimeters can be enough progression. I will move slowly into deeper postures and then back out to a more comfortable posture. My body is working hard, my mind is working hard, and my breath is the power to help me reach deeper. Yoga is about reaching new places on the mat and seeing where your body is tight, where it can relax, where does it need to push a little, where do you need to pull back, where are you holding tension, where can you let go, what feels good, what is discomfort and making adjustments.
Take this philosophy off the mat and we constantly need to evaluate where we are in life, where we are in this moment and do we need to adjust. Many times throughout my day I need to step back, adjust, start again and even try a new focus. In life I need millimeters of change not grand changes to make really changes.
Technically this is day 2 of a new month but new challenges can start any time. I found a group of people I know also people I didn’t know until now who all have some form of a fitbit. We have hooked up via the fitbit website and now we do weekend warrior challenges as well as, work week hustle challenges. It is a fun, friendly way to stay on track with our steps. Especially since now I’m spending so much time on my yoga mat and trying to work and keep a house-hold it is hard to get as many steps as I was before. Being invited to these type of challenges is really fun. We started our weekend warriors challenge Saturday at midnight and it will run until tonight at midnight. We then have a work week hustle which will start midnight Monday morning and run until midnight Friday night. No, I am not walking at midnight and won’t start my steps until 4am but because my night ends before many other people they are still up getting their steps in after I have gone to bed so I try to get as many steps in as I can while I am up and about.
During our golf season it was easy to rake in the steps without much effort at all. Today in Maine it is actually snowing for the first time this season and it keeps us inside. I am making sure to keep active but I also had 3 hours on my mat so while I’m doing my yoga I am not adding up any steps. Good thing I’m not that competitive and this is all just friendly competition. The goal is to try and stay in the 15k per day in order to keep up with the group so my mind is just keeping focused on my yoga and staying active as much as possible when I’m not on my mat. As I type this I’m on my feet moving around. I don’t know if I will win the weekend warriors challenge but I’m giving it my best shot.