Week 7 Recap: Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Thailand

Week 7 was the breaking point for me and many of my fellow yogis.  It dragged on so long as many nights and days were filed with never-ending  posture clinic sessions.  The staff was on a mission to finish posture clinic as soon as possible to leave enough time in the final weeks for Bikram (Boss) to lecture to us about becoming teachers.  This meant us yogis sacrificed sleep, meals, and every minute of free time to memorize and practice posture dialogue.  Some people presented as many as 5 postures in a single day! Talk about stressful nerve-wracking times! There was a real threat of losing our sanity; some people wanted to call it quits, pack their bags,  hop on a plane,  and leave teacher training immediately.  Thankfully they were talked off the ledge and found the willpower to continue on.

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Memorizing the dialogue. Good ole dialogue.

Outside of week 1,  week 7 has been my hardest week. I’m so thankful it is now over and is behind me. 76 hot yoga classes completed in 7 short weeks. My limbs, joints, muscles and bones – whole body- is crying mercy!

I will say,  week 7 had its highlights.  A Communications expert from India lectured to us about the power of voice, presentation and talking style. He creatively illustrated these points to us via interactive exercises where we sang aloud as a class, watched videos of greatness such as Martin Luther King “I Have A Dream” speech and used the audience to effectively teach the class. I learned that to become a great yoga teacher,  I need to showcase confidence,  commitment and courage.  It is vital to remove fears,  inhibitions,  and self criticism as those are surefire viruses that will hinder any success. One thing I took away from his lecture is to share my voice more with people.  I am comfortable talking to only those who require my attention and otherwise can be perfectly cool minding my own business in silence.  Staying quiet can be looked at as an injustice to others who may stand to gain from me sharing my wisdom and knowledge about the things I love and enjoy including yoga, food, healthy living,  cooking,  taxes & accounting, and wellness.  Going forward I will share more and speak more to spread love & community and to inspire change and health.

“Your voice is your calling card.”

Week 7 is a wrap, now on to week 8! Then we conclude teacher training week 9…November 15 to be exact. Let the countdown begin.

Namaste.

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Goodbye week 7

Week 6 Recap : Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Thailand

My bad for the uber late post! !! Week 6 ended over 10 days ago and I am just now finding the time to write this blog. Week 6 was quite the challenge with Monday dismassal time of 4am, it set the course for a week of long nights, little sleep, and stressful bouts of dialogue memorization at posture clinics. It boggled my mind wondering how I would get through the week after waking up physically sore and mentally drained on Tuesday morning after just 4 hours of sleep. 

So much was thrown at us each day and we simply had to go along with the program despite the weariness and grumpiness oozing from our bodies, minds and souls. We are a very strong group of 333 yogis I must admit. Because even when we wanted to sleep in, we stayed the course,  arrived at each yoga session,  posture clinic,  and lecture on time and put our best foot forward.

I realize just how remarkably true the statement “mind over matter”. It’s so easy to sit and complain about things that are unfair in life. But all that negative talk eats away at your energy and good spirits.  I have learned the power of taking action and making things happen sans the negative thoughts.  It has made a world of a difference as I have discovered just how mentally strong I am, taking chances and trusting the process of life without judgement or fear. It has been a real eye-opener for me and I cannot wait until I get back to my regular life to apply these life lessons learned. 

So much to write about but so little time errrr!! More to come soon, promise, but for now,  enjoy a few photos of beautiful Thailand and things. We yogis are so lucky to be here enjoying the friendly hospitality and scenic location of the resort here.  I have zero complaints 😉

Namaste.

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Beach is on the resort

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Group of us yogis on the way back from Khaolak Market

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Coconuts on the beach! !

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Breakfast -my favorite meal!

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The infamous beach dog

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View from my 5th floor balcony

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Buying my weekly bananas. She even friended me on FB!!

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Me and my roommate

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Finally, a selfie

Week 4 Video Recap: Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Thailand

Beach Flow (I'm in the back)

Beach Flow (I’m in the back)

From inconsistent weather to inconsistent teaching styles, week 4 was a roller coaster of emotional learning experiences.  The rain does a fantastic  job at sucking dry my happy positive spirits. Early in the week we experienced severe showers and thunderstorms. It was the worst rain I’ve seen in my life. Despite the wet gloomy weather, Bikram yoga teacher training continued without interruption.

I’ve put another video together where I recap on a few highlights of week 4.

Remember in week 3 how I struggled with nervousness while presenting yoga dialogue during Posture Clinic?  Check out the story of my week 4 break-thru!!

Also I’ve been playing around with the idea of adding weight-bearing workouts to my twice-a-day yoga routine for various reasons specific to my body type. I finally gave it a go at the start of week 4.  Was it a disaster or success?  Check out the video to find out!

Enjoy, and I look forward to next week’s update as I tell you about the one and only Rajashree , beautiful, knowledgeable, compassionate wife of Boss Bikram Choudury . She’s teaching us about the connection of body,  health,  and mind to yoga– the stuff I geek out on!! Week 5 shall be a week to remember.

Check out my week 1, 2 and 3 recaps if you haven’t yet done so.  Let me know what you think about my experience thus far in the comments below. And if you have questions,  I have answers …reach out to me, I’m nice.

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Week 4 Video Recap Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Thailand

Week 2 Recap: Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Thailand

Week two was probably both the fastest and shortest week of my life. It zoomed by in a jiffy  compared to week one but four days of lecture ending around 12:30am and even one long early morning 3:30am dismissal tried my patience and good spirits time and time again. In my regular life I usually like to lay my head down to rest around 10 or 11 at night. So with no choice but to stay up extremely beyond my normal bedtime to listen to lecture and watch Bollywood videos (The Boss’s favorites!) and still wake up 7:30am for morning yoga class every day of the week,  left me irritated, confused, frustrated and  itchy (attack of the mosquitoes…again !). Wednesday’s insanely long 3:30am ending was my breaking point. 

But of course this is Bikram Yoga Teacher Training taught by The Boss himself,  Bikram Choudhary,  so there’s a method to his madness,  a lesson in every action, an A-ha moment waiting to be unveiled. Week 2 of Bikram Yoga Teacher Training broke me down mentally and rebuilt  my mind using Terminator strength. 

Please Dont Take Away My Precious Sleep Boss

Wednesday night, week 2: After 3 hours of lecture on the topic of humanity and spirituality,  the time was 1am. Most of the 333 of us fellow yoga trainees were struggling to keep our eyes open. So when The Boss announced a ten minute break and then resume to watching a Bollywood love story film at 1am, our jaws must have dropped 5 feet below the ground in total shock and disbelief. But we had “no choice” – a phrase Boss and staff uses so often,  you’d think it was going  out of style.

So we complied, we snacked on late night munchies like ice cream,  cookies,  chips,  candy and drank coffee all in an attempt to stay alert during the movie. All that sugar and caffeine in my body only made me tired and bloated. I watched the first 3 quartets of the movie then my eyes gave up and shut themselves in peace until after the movie was over. Damn I missed the ending. 

Despite not knowing how the movie wrapped,  I was elated to get to my room in record time to lay my head on my snuggly soft pillow.  Before dozing off, negative thoughts boiled in my mind such as:

. Wow I can’t believe he took away my sleep just to watch a dumb movie. Soooo not right!

. Is this how the rest of the 7 weeks will go?? I don’t know if I’m cut out for this

.  He’s torturing us keeping us up so late.  How evil and inconsiderate.

. Eating all that crap just to stay up failed miserably.  If I gain weight at the end of this 9 weeks it will sorely put a damper on my spirits. 

Then I closed my eyes, slept a few hours, woke up zombie like, put on my sports bra and yoga shorts and headed to the hot room around 8am Thursday morning.  Class began 30 minutes later and as I sweated through each posture stretching and flexing and deep breathing, the most amazing thing began to happen: I slowly gained energy at the completion of each posture. 26 postures later I felt like a brand new woman: recharged, rejuevenated,  reenergized, rebuilt.  This renewed, vibrate person painted my persona for the whole day which didn’t end until after midnight. 

I was amazed at what my body was able to do off such little sleep.  The Boss brags to us how he stays up until 5am watching Bollywood movies with his staff.  He generally gets 2 to 3 hours of sleep each night and teaches us five days a week boosting the amount of energy it takes to  light the Staples Center.  Looking back at the negative thoughts that satiated my mind 3:45am Wed morning I learned many life lessons:

1. Sometimes in life, we have “no choice”. In such moments, instead of pouting and stressing over it, it’s best to use positive energy,  and go with the flow. In such moments when we let go and just allow things to take its natural course is when we learn valuable lessons. 

2.  You are as strong as what you allow your mind to believe.  Because I believed I wouldn’t be able to stay up for the movie,  I allowed myself to overload my body with sugar and processed foods which only failed me and proved what I was thinking in the first place: I can’t stay up.  Lesson: whether you succeed or fail is the doing of the mind.

3. Sometimes we have to be broken down in order to be built up. Bikram took away our sleep to get us out of our comfortable place and learn to adjust to what is not normal for us. After the 3:30am experience,  I now feel like I can handle any obstacle that comes my way. 

The Boss has a way of doing things.  He gives us “no choice” and tells us to “trust the process” time and time again.  Usually I just follow along because it’s what all 333 of us yoga teacher trainees are expected to do.  But after Wednesday night I realize why he tells us these things.  So much doubt,  fear, and limitations we put on ourselves when we have a choice to say no or not follow thru with the hard tasks in life. But by trusting the process we are trusting in ourselves to tackle life successfully.  Each and everytime.

Bikram Choudhary is a genius!  Week two was a much needed mental workout for me and fellow yogis. I am so grateful for my experience thus far. Looking forward to week 3. Follow along with me as I continue to blog my experience at Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in beautiful Khaolak Thailand. 

Namaste.

Week One Recap: Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Thailand

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Aaahh beautiful Thailand.  Week one of Bikram Yoga Teacher has taught me more about me than what  a year of regular living ever could. The week has had its challenges and successes, both small and large. A few things that stood out includes:

1. “THE BOSS” Calling Me Out In Front of Yoga Class.

Bikram Choudhary, The Boss, guru and founder of the rightly named Bikram Yoga phenomenon is a very hard man to please. He is not afraid to curse you out, call you ugly, and  insult your mother all while wearing a smug smile on his face. So in the hot yoga room, I’ve struggled with getting my hips to touch the floor in Fixed Firm pose. On day three in the evening class taught by Bikram, he noticed me struggling to follow his instructions to sit my butt down on the floor. In front of 332 fellow yogi trainees, he called me out, barking orders for me to spread my knees apart, tuck my feet in, and go down. Embarrased, I instantly followed his orders and miraculously accomplished the posture. It only took 18 months of practicing yoga and a stern push by Bikram himself for me to achieve such feat. I’m thankful that he called me out.

2.  Scary Cramping In My Fingers and Toes.

I have never in my life experienced such agressive cramping in which I experienced on day two. I like to nickname it “the claw” because my fingers uncontrollably took on the shape of a claw mencanically moving in and out beyond my control.  The pain would last for what seemed like eternity but was merely a few seconds at a time. This stopped and started again and again a good 24 hrs during yoga class and after. Why did this happen? Apparently all the vitamins and minerals my body needs to function is lost thru the excessive sweating during yoga class. Not to mention class number one lasted 2.5 hours!! Bikram was on a mission to break us down physically and mentally.  Thankfully, with ample dosage of magnesium,  potassium and sea salt, the cramping has long ceased.

3. Pesky Itchy Mosquito Bite

Dumb mosquito flew into my room in the middle of night two and bit me on the inside of my left ring finger making it impossible for me to hold a nice tight grip during many of the standing poses. Not to mention it itched like crazy for 3-4 days after. Long week nights lasting past 12 midnight in lecture felt like torture. Since the bite occurred,  I’ve been spraying on my DEET daily to keep the mosquitoes away. Lesson learned the hard way!

4. “THE BOSS” Grading My Delivery of Half Moon Pose Favorably.

In his words: “You didn’t just say the dialogue, you became a teacher. “

When he said those words to me right after I delivered Half Moon Pose on stage in front of 332 of my fellow yogi trainees,  in that moment I knew this is  where I am supposed to be. All doubts and fears  removed.

5. Soaking in the Beauty of Thailand

After 5 days straight of a grueling 8am to midnight schedule filled with lectures and ten sessions of Bikram yoga clases totaling a whopping 20 hours in the hot yoga room heated to 105 degrees + 96% humidity which easily makes it feel like hell on earth,  Our. Bodies. Deserved. A.Break. ….Beaches, pools, massage, shopping. All much appreciated.

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Now that we are rejuevenated, bring on week two! I’m ready to conquer all fears and “trust the process” as Bikram likes to say. 

Namaste.

There You Go Again: A New Year, A New Weight Loss Goal

burn all the fat meme

There is something magically delicious about the new year that makes people want to change their bad habits and drop fat once and for all with the mindset that “this time it’s different; this time I will succeed.”  (Not) sadly, I am here to bust your bubble.  You see, setting lofty goals without really having a plan or without synchronizing your goals with your mental mindset is a formula for failure.  *bubble busted*

And when we set goals or resolutions beginning the 1st of Jan, it may be due to pressure from celebrities, friends, co-workers, family, or that super annoying infomercial for an at-home workout video that flaunted ridiculously hott models in your face for 30 minutes straight while you nursed a Haagen-Dazs cookie dough ice cream pint at midnight on a Friday night.  mmhmmm.

And during new year season, the pressure to look your best is fierce!  We think, “everyone else has a weight loss goal…let me jump on the bandwagon too since I can stand to drop a few (dozen) pounds.”

From my personal experience, peer pressure to perform never lasts and gets old fast. You end up right where you began in this never-ending cycle to get fit.   Since you want to meet your health goals not just for 2014, but more importantly, for the rest of your precious life, then the best time to start your weight loss efforts is when you are ready both mentally AND physically.  

With that said, I have for you 7 tips that will help you you achieve your weight loss goals.  For optimal success, tackle one tip per week.  Once you master one tip, then move on to the next.  By the end of 7 weeks, these tips will be ingrained in your daily habits + you’ll have a slimmer waistline and leaner thighs.  Watch out now, you may earn a new nickname: “hott n’ sexy”.

1. Refrain from drinking calories.

Sodas and juices are full of sugar that makes it difficult for the body to release fat. The biggest antagonist to burning fat is sugar consumption because it stimulates the secretion of insulin — a fat-promoting hormone. Diet drinks are not the smart alternative to caloric drinks.  Although diet drinks have zero calories, they cause addiction and contain chemicals that can do more harm than good to your body.  Stick to water which is refreshing, energizing and flushes out waste and toxins from the body which can contribute to fatigue and fat storage.  Herbal and green tea are also great options.

2. Eat real food — only!

As much as you want to believe otherwise, processed low-calorie frozen meals, skinny lattes, 100 calorie packs, and detox drinks will NOT help you keep the weight off.  You may see a little bit of results but trust me, these results will not last.  To lose fat and keep it off, you must feed your body nutrient-dense real foods — not chemical loaded, man-made Frankenstein food.  Real foods include wild fish; leafy greens; eggs; beef; chicken; and red, purple, and other colorful fruits and vegetables.  To ensure you are truly eating a whole foods rich diet, shop the perimeter of your supermarket, or better yet, do most, if not all, of your grocery shopping at the Farmer’s Market.  For optimal nutrition and to reduce toxic load, choose organic, pastured, and grass-fed options whenever possible.

3. Drink green tea to boost metabolism.

Research demonstrates that one can experience an increase in metabolism by regularly consuming green tea.  Green tea leaves are not fermented and contain more catechins than other teas. These important polyphenols, coupled with the natural caffeine present in green tea, is likely the reason that regular green tea consumption can boost metabolism, increase fat burning and promote weight loss. Drink green tea as a regular part of your day morning, noon and evening.

4. Eat protein at every meal.

Want to stay fuller longer in-between meals?  Eat protein.  Research shows higher-protein diets help people better control their appetites and daily calorie intake. Therefore make sure to eat protein with every meal and snack.  A protein-rich diet coupled with a low to low-moderate carbohydrate intake should melt away fat in record time while boosting energy and clearing away brain fog. Protein causes the brain to receive lower levels of appetite-stimulating hormones such as insulin. Fewer insulin spikes lead to less fluctuation of sugar cravings – and therefore fewer cravings.  For dinner, try this lemon pepper crusted salmon for an excellent source of protein and fat-loss promoting omega-3 fats.

5. Fat is your weight loss friend.

Contrary to the hype, in order to lose fat, you must eat fat.  I’m talking good fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, real butter, ghee, fish and animal fats rich in healthy saturated and monounsaturated fats.  Nix the bad fats:  polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as soybean oil, margarine, corn oil, canola oil, and safflower oil — these fats are composed mostly of inflammatory omega-6 properties.  What makes a fat “bad” or “good” is its ability to stay in its natural chemical structure when heated and/or exposed to light.  Polyunsaturated vegetable fats have a very weak chemical structure which can easily cause rancidity and oxidation; to avoid damaging the structure  you definitely should not cook with these fats.  When rancid fats are consumed, it can promote health ailments such as heart disease, fat accumulation, digestive unrest, thyroid hormone imbalance, sluggish energy, and low libido, among other issues.   Good quality saturated fats keep their structure when heated therefore promotes balanced hormones, brain health, increased metabolism and optimal cell function.  Bottom line: quality good fats come from pastured, organic, and grass-fed sources.

6. Get adequate, quality sleep.

More and more studies are linking weight gain to inadequate, low quality sleep. Indeed, fat loss factors on more than the simple mantra of “eat less, move more”.   Lack of sleep increases the stimulus to consume more food and increases appetite-regulating hormones.  Lack of sleep reduces willpower to eat healthy.  When is the last time you chose a vegetable-protein option as opposed to a sugar-filled processed carbohydrate loaded treat after 10pm at night?  At night, the brain’s serotonin levels are at their lowest.  Serotonin is a feel-good neurotransmitter which contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.  When the brain’s serotonin levels are low, the body compensates by increasing cravings for carbohydrates.  Now you see why staying up late is the craftiest way to grow your gut in no time flat.  Get to bed by 10pm and aim for 7-9 hours of restful, quality sleep in a pitch-black, temperature cool bedroom.

7. Work with a Nutrition Coach.

Hiring a certified nutrition coach will help you achieve your weight loss goals faster by taking the guess work and stress (due to lack of success) out of the equation. A Nutrition coach will customize a food & lifestyle plan specific to your needs therefore exponentially increasing your adherence thus producing faster results.  Not to mention, accountability plays a huge part in you staying dedicated and plowing through stressful times.  Contact me today for your free 15 minute consultation.

 

For an awesome, fantastic, funny, incredible, sexy, easy, too-good-to-be-true 2014 subscribe to my email list by clicking the image below.  I am gearing up to launch my fresh new website soon. You don’t wanna miss this.  Subscribe to my email list right this minute.  

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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: My 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge Recap (with before & after photos)

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Practicing yoga everyday for 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees for 30 straight days is no easy feat.  It takes strong commitment and drive to make it into that yoga studio each day ready to sweat buckets.  There were days that I wanted to call it quits; days where I’d rather sleep another hour than to roll into a 6am class; days where I felt like my body had betrayed me and left me in pain in awkward places (when is the last time you worked out so hard you felt it in… your… upper spine?).

Now that I have wrapped up the challenge I want to recap some of the changes that have occurred on account of 30 days of Bikram yoga.  I am happy to answer any questions you may have.  Just write me in the comments below.

BODY IMAGE

Earlier during the challenge, I talked about how genetically, my abdominal area is where extra weight tends to hide out. Specifically, my lower abdomen and obliques. It’s the unwanted gift my father passed down to me; a gift that I have finally learned to accept.  However, I thought this Bikram yoga challenge would be a great experiment to see if all the sweating and stretching would help shrink my waistline.

Yes, Bikram Yoga shrinked my waistline.  I lost about an inch on my waist.  I gained muscle in my abs and thighs.  In the photos below, check out the definition in my abs on day 30 in comparison to day 1.

No, I did not lose any weight during the 30 day challenge.  To be perfectly honest, I did lose a whopping 0.2 pounds according to the scale.  But if we really want to talk about fat loss versus muscle gain, I think it is clear from the photos that I gained muscle (abdominals, thighs, arms) and shed a similar amount of fat.  If I could have done it differently I would have measured  body fat percentage on day 1 and again on day 30.  But even without BF%, the photos vividly illustrate the body transformation that took place in a mere 30 days.

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DAY 30 of 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge

For those of you who are addicted to the scale and are more concerned with overall weight instead of how you look and how your clothes fit, I am telling you now, get your priorities straight.  You will save yourself much anxiety by ditching the scale and using the mirror, photos, tape measurements, and how clothes are fitting to dictate your progress.  If you must weigh-in, then wait at least 2 weeks between each weigh-in to avoid scale addiction. 

DAY 1 of  30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge

DAY 1 of 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge

MENTAL SHIFT

Type A personalities listen up.  There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, rigidly organized, sensitive, too caring, truthful and honest, impatient, helpful, take on more than can handle, want others to get your point by any means necessary, workaholics, hate delays and always being unsure about things….

Shoot who am I kidding, being described as the description above can make life tough as we tend to worry about the future instead of enjoying the present.  As a Type A personality I can attest to the above.  Bikram yoga came to my rescue.

Looking at yourself in a mirror for 90 minutes in 105 degree room forces you to get outside of your head and just be still — let go of all the emotions and thoughts.  All you have is yourself, your body, and the difficult postures; the focus becomes the postures.  No longer are you thinking about personality or body image imperfections.  90 minutes of yoga allowed me freedom from my anti-productive, self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings.  And that freedom carried out into real life in such an amazing, deeply necessary way.

My mentality is a bit more relaxed as I now care more about enjoying each day and each moment instead of wondering about “what if” for something that hasn’t even occurred yet.  Too much focus on the unknown can be detrimental to a happy life.  Yoga has helped me to wash away the structured, robotic ways of the Type A personality that I once proudly identified as.

WHAT IS NEXT?

The physical and mental transformation I have experienced in just a short 30 days is enough to have gotten me hooked on Bikram yoga.  It is phenomenal how you can walk into the studio unsure about an important decision you must make then 90 minutes later have worked out a strategy in your head leaving you with a solid solution.  Yes,  Bikram teachers advocate letting go of all feelings and focusing on yourself in the mirror and engaging yourself in each pose, but shoot, there are times when all you can do is think about life decisions.  I have had many AHA! moments in yoga class that has helped me to move forward with tough life realizations in a positive and constructive manner.

So does that mean I will keep the consecutive streak going?

The Bikram Yoga Oakland Studio Director enticed me with an awesome deal:  complete 100 classes in a row and receive 1 month free.  As much as I like challenges and saving money, I had to kindly decline.

I am registered for a half marathon run that is only about 9 weeks away which I have barely started training for just yesterday.  I’m a little behind since I usually like to allow 12 weeks to train.  Therefore I will shift gears from yoga so that I can focus on running.  Don’t get me wrong, I will still attend yoga classes.  In fact, my training schedule makes it mandatory that I attend Bikram yoga 3 times per week minimum.  Yoga will help with flexibility, agility and will strengthen my lungs for enhanced breathing technique while running. 

“If you want to get better in Bikram yoga, practice Bikram yoga.  If you want to get better in everything else, practice Bikram yoga.”

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Chika Obih is a certified holistic nutrition consultant; blogger; and founder of Chika Obih Wellness based in Oakland, CA and offers services virtually, in-person or by phone.  Chika is passionate about empowering people to take charge of their own health utilizing the power of wholesome, clean foods and fun holistic lifestyle solutions.  Contact Chika today to set up your free consultation.

Follow Chika on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Bikram Yoga 30 Day Challenge: Days 25 -30

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Ladies and gentlemen it’s a wrap.  My 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge has come to its completion.  I have successfully practiced Bikram yoga 30 consecutive days – that’s 90 minutes, 105 degree temperature, 26 postures, for 30 days straight.

accomplishment

You may think I’m crazy but boy I feel so good!  Mentally, physically, I feel like I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.  It’s the best feeling.  Check out my journal for days 25 – 30 below.  And if you haven’t yet done so, start with days 1 – 24 by going here, here, here, and here.

Today’s post is my journal for days 25 – 30.  But for the grand finale and summary on my experience, the good, the bad, the ugly, pictures of me from day 30 compared to day 1, weight and body transformation, and my future with Bikram yoga and more…then click here for where I recap everything — with selfies! (pics of myself).  And please please please post your comments below.  I want to hear from you!

Day 25 – Monday 7/22/13

“Health can be instantly improved simply by changing your mood .”

The teacher said this in class today and it instantly made me adjust the stank expression I had imprinted on my face.  Sometimes when we put the body in new, challenging positions, the face can express the discomfort and apprehension we may feel in our thoughts.

We may grind our teeth, hold our breath, scrunch up the face, or just mean-mug.  These negative expressions affect the body’s ability to perform the pose as efficiently and as deeply as you can possibly go in the posture.

By simply smiling and breathing through the nose, it allows the body to flow through the poses and you end up performing much better and enjoying the experience.  The quote is deep, I believe it.

Other activity done for the day:  n/a

 

Day 26 – Tuesday 7/23/13

6am class, bright and early, barely made class in time but super glad I did.  The teacher shared with the class her wonderful weekend experience working with a Bikram Yoga expert teacher who has been practicing yoga for over 30 years.  My teacher incorporated some tips during our class and wow, it added quite a change to my practice.

Two of the biggest takeaways learned:

1. Hold in the stomach – always.  It is important to keep the core engaged for support, posture and to help build the core muscles.  I definitely felt and saw the definition in my stomach the next day.  Powerful.

2. Tuck in the butt/hips to keep the spine straight.  As a woman with extra junk in the truck, the lower spine is left bent where the lower back meets the crack of the butt. Often referred to as “duck butt”.   This can prevent one from fully stretching the length of the spine and reaping the full benefits of each pose.

The solution is to tuck in the butt/hips which then rolls in the lower stomach so that the spine is as straight as possible from top to bottom.  Not to mention, this helps to tone and shape the butt and lower abdomen. I try to tuck in my hips and engage my core muscles as often as I remember throughout the entire day, not just in yoga class.

Being aware of these two changes have changed my practice in a promising way.  My core area is a bit sore after each class which is a sign that extra toning is going on there.  Plus it makes me feel good to know that I am practicing each pose the correct way.  It is always smart to learn new perspectives and implement them to improve your practice.

My teacher has been practicing for over 10 years and it blew her mind that weekend to learn new tips that will potentially take her Bikram yoga practice to a whole new level.

Other activity done for the day:  30 minute at home cardio workout

Day 27 – Wednesday 7/24/13

Look at this photo:

Deep back-bending

Can you believe the spine can bend so deeply?  Who knew how flexible the spine really is.  I’m sure it took years for the girl in the photo to be able to go into such a deep backward bend in which her pointed fingers are merely inches away from touching the ground below her.  Quite amazing.  I wonder how bendy I’ll be after practicing consistently for a couple years?  Trips me out just thinking about it.

Click on the photo above to read about the benefits back-bending has on the spine and the wonders it can do for back pain.

Other activity done for the day:  30 minute park workout: running, jumping jacks, lunges, mountain climbers

Day 28 – Thursday 7/25/13

As I have increased my commitment to Bikram Yoga because of this challenge and have seen the wonderful benefits it has bestowed upon me physically and mentally, I couldn’t help but wonder about the celebrities who practice Bikram Yoga.  Celebrities tend to stay on top of the latest health and fitness craze and Bikram yoga is no exception.

Here is a short list of celebrities who love Bikram Yoga!

Jennifer Aniston –  (helped her heal over the Brad Pitt divorce)

George Clooney –  (practices whenever he is near a Bikram studio, even while traveling)

Madonna – (credits Bikram Yoga as a powerful and positive force in her life)

Lady Gaga

 “Yoga makes me feel like I can do anything…yoga heals me…” – Lady Gaga

David Beckham (arguably has one of the best soccer bodies in the game)

Beyonce (my birthday twin!) she was quoted as saying:

“Every time I do yoga, I want to cry. … By the end of the class your body can do things it couldn’t do in the beginning so you feel accomplished and emotional. It’s therapeutic.” – Beyonce

Ashton Kutcher (probably how he always seems to have lots of energy)

Demi Moore (says the heat helps her body detoxify)

Jenny McCarthy (lost 65 lbs post-baby by practicing 3 times per week)

Matthew McConaughey (my celebrity crush)

Carmen Electra (yoga is how she keeps her hot shape)

Carmen Electra - Standing Bow Pose

Carmen Electra – Standing Bow Pose

Other activity done for the day:  20 minute at-home workout: situps, pushups, planks

Day 29 – Friday 7/26/13

I realized in class today that I have a half marathon coming up in about 9 weeks and I have not yet started training.

I’m kind of behind as I usually like to allow 12 weeks to train.  But it’s all good, I’ll finish out this 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge then focus on my running schedule.  Out of guilt, I ran for about a half hour today.  Felt good.

Other activity done for the day:  33 minute run

Day 30 – Saturday 7/27/13

Last day of the challenge!!! I walked into the yoga studio with a huge grin on my face knowing that in 90 minutes, I would be done with my challenge.

On day one, 30 days seemed like forever.  But now that I am at the end of my journey, it seems like it breezed by.  Nevertheless, I am excited to have set a goal and accomplish it.

Furthermore, blogging about it on a weekly basis helped me to stay on tracj because of all the questions and cheers I was receiving from you all.  Thank you for the support, it kept me motivated especially on the days I wanted to sleep in instead of sweat.

I love the people at Bikram Yoga College of India Oakland.  Each day, they check in with me to see what day I am on and their eyes widen with excitement when I tell them about my journey.  In all of my years of working out at gyms and other group settings, I have never felt like I was part of a family until now.  Bikram Yoga Oakland has the most down-to-earth, friendly, interesting people – I feel like I’m at home when I go to class and see familiar smiley faces greeting me. 

Other activity done for the day:  45 minute run, 45 minute walk

Again, click here for my Bikram Yoga 30 Day Challenge recap where I talk about the good, the bad, the ugly, body transformation, and my future practicing Bikram Yoga.  Is there a 100 day challenge in the works?  

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Chika Obih is a certified holistic nutrition consultant; blogger; and founder of Chika Obih Wellness based in Oakland, CA and offers services virtually, in-person or by phone.  Chika is passionate about empowering people to take charge of their own health utilizing the power of wholesome, clean foods and fun holistic lifestyle solutions.  Contact Chika today to set up your free consultation.

Follow Chika on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

22 Reasons to Exercise Regularly

exercise_in the zoneExercise is a key component in any healthy lifestyle.  For me, exercise is not an option.  I am intentionally active at least 4-5 days a week.  On “rest days” I am still pretty active because I take stairs instead of the elevator to the second floor of my apartment building multiple times a day.  I also walk my errands when time allows — including a nice stroll to the local Farmer’s Market each Saturday morning.  For me, a life without exercise and physical activity would debilitate my mind, body and soul.  I’d be less effective and far less successful in my life both professionally and socially.

Exercise offers far more benefits then the 22 listed below.  Use this list as inspiration to prioritize regular exercise and physical activity into your daily schedule.

22 Benefits of Regular Exercise

1.  Burn excess body fat, helping to decrease and control weight.

2.  Improve body’s use of insulin to help manage blood sugar levels.

3.  For Type 2 Diabetics:  with moderate exercise, the muscles take up glucose at almost 20 TIMES the normal rate, lowering blood sugar levels substantially!

4.  Improve muscle strength.

5.  Lowers blood pressure levels

6.  Helps to protect against heart and blood vessel disease by lowering bad LDL cholesterol and increasing healthy HDL cholesterol.

7.  Decreases risk of cardiovascular disease and lowers unhealthy triglycerides.

8.  Can help prevent or manage stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

9.  Improves mood by stimulating various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. 

10.  Helps you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.

11.  Puts the spark back into your sex life! Leaves you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life.

12.  Improves blood circulation and reduces risk of heart disease.

13.  Increases energy level and enhances work capacity.

14.  Reduces stress, promotes relaxation, releases tension and anxiety.

15.  Improves self-confidence.

16.  Delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps cardiovascular system work more efficiently therefore boosting energy.

17.  Reduces depression and anxiety.

18.  Strength training helps people manage diabetes and improves muscle gain, reduces body fat, depression and improves self-esteem.

19.  Exercise 3-4 times per week for 30-60 minutes each.  Ideally, working out everyday is the ultimate goal. 

20.  Exercise is FUN!  Enjoy the outdoors, relax and unwind, or simply engage in activities that make you happy!

21.  Promotes spending time with family or friends in a fun social setting.

22.  Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have health concerns.

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Click here to get juicy food and life notes straight from Chika to your inbox!

Chika Obih is a certified holistic nutrition consultant; blogger; and founder of Soul-Wholesome Nutrition based in Oakland, CA and offers services virtually, in-person or by phone.  Chika is passionate about empowering people to take charge of their own health utilizing the power of wholesome, clean foods and fun holistic lifestyle solutions.  Contact Chika today to set up your free consultation.

Follow Chika on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Bikram Yoga 30 Day Challenge: Days 18 – 24

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Just when I think I’ve got this yoga challenge in the bag, there are days that sneak up on me in which I struggle to make it through each class.  Sometimes my breathing is off or my body is sore therefore preventing me from going deep in each pose.

athlete doing bikram yoga

I simply allow these things to naturally occur and not let it consume my every thought.  Once class is over, I move on and focus on the rest of my day.  I realize that tomorrow is another day and I can try again then.

On another note, I am amazed at how far I have come!  Mentally, I am a more relaxed, care-free person able to enjoy each moment instead of anxiously wondering what’s going to happen in my future regarding career, relationships, finances, etc.  I simply am able to just be.  Being the perfectionist that sometimes labels my every action, being able to let go of worry is the greatest gift my Bikram yoga practice has placed upon me thus far.

If you haven’t read already, check out my recap on my 30 day challenge for days 1 – 17 here, here, and here.  Read about days 18 – 24 below:

Day 18 – Monday 7/15/13

I had no idea of the social following and interest I’d gather with my 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge.  It has been a welcome surprise.  A few of my friends have joined me in Bikram yoga classes – for some, it was their first time ever. I have one friend who is undergoing her own 30 day challenge.

It feels good to give someone the experience of trying a Bikram yoga class. In fact, I encourage everyone to try it out.  Many studios offer discounted introductory packages for new students.  Find your nearest Bikram Yoga Studio and check it out!  Then let me know how it went!

Other activity done for the day:  n/a

Day 19 – Tuesday 7/16/13

Today, the teacher focused her attention on me during Balancing Stick Pose (Tuladandasana)

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Balancing Stick Pose (Tuladandasana)

I love how this pose exudes strength, confidence, and elongates the body.  It takes concentration and willpower to trust that you can balance yourself on one leg, with knee locked, with body perpendicular and stretched out like a ‘T’ shape and not a broken umbrella.

Sometimes when my concentration is not all the way there, my standing leg wobbles and shakes.  My other leg doesn’t get up as high as it needs to and my pointed fingers points sideways instead of straight forward towards the mirror.  The teacher had my back today and helped me out a bit, thankfully.

Balancing stick pose perfects control and balance, firms the hips, butt, and upper thighs.  It increases circulation and strengthens the cardiovascular system and improves poor posture.  Flexibility, strength, and muscle tone of shoulders, upper arms, spine, and hip joints all improve because of this pose.  With swimsuit season in session, it’s the answer to any girl’s flabby arm problems.

Other activity done for the day:  40 minute run

Day 20 – Wednesday 7/17/13

One day I will master Fixed Firm Pose (Supta-Vajrasana)

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Fixed Firm Pose (Supta – Vajrasana)

From the photo above, fixed firm pose looks like a sexy, flirty present that you just want to unwrap. Am I right?  Lol. Unfortunately for me, the furthest I can go in the posture is opening my feet wide enough to sit my hips down as low as they go until my butt touches the floor.

At this point in my yoga practice, my hips are so tight that my butt remains in the air, about 3 inches from the floor.  Once the hips open up and I’m able to sit my butt all the way down, I can then lower my upper body back and down until it’s on the floor like the photo above.  Then I can say that I am a sexy, flirty present that you just want to unwrap.  Hope that’s not too weird.

Other activity done for the day:  n/a

Day 21 – Thursday 7/18/13

I’m not saying that everyone needs to do Bikram yoga.  But, it is an amazing practice that improves the physical, mental, and spiritual being.  If you can, try it:  give it a month of going at least 3 times per week (ideally 5x) before you decide if it’s for you or not.   Bikram yoga offers crazy huge benefits including:

–          Detoxifies skin and cleans out dirt from the pores resulting in the famous bikram yoga glow

–          Relieves stress

–          Increases blood circulation throughout body (hello improved libido!)

–          Cardiovascular and resistance weight training workout in one

–          Boosts digestive system

–          Reduces cravings for processed food and food in general, stabilizing appetite

–          Speeds up metabolism and normalizes blood sugar levels

–          Reduces flatulence, and eases bowel movements

I can attest to many of the above.  In fact, I received a massage from a Chinese masseuse not too long ago and she almost screamed in shocking amazement when I told her my age.  Seems she was under the impression that I was a teenager.  “Naw,” I said smiling, “it’s just that Bikram yoga glow.”

Other activity done for the day:  Zumba!

Day 22 – Friday 7/19/13

I’ve been really interested in yoga related quotes lately.  Something about them offers inspiration and allows me to relax my mind and know that I’ve got this challenge squared away and will cross the finish line without fail.  Here are a few quotes that I am digging:

Nothing can steal happiness, peace away from you: if anyone does make you angry, you are the loser; if someone can allow you to lose peace, you are the loser. –Bikram Choudhury
On an airplane, you are always told to put on your oxygen mask first. The same way in life, you need to take care of your health first. If you are not happy and healthy, you cannot make anyone else happy and healthy. -Rajashree Choudhury
Breathe and all will be revealed, love and all will be healed. This is yoga. –Seane Corn

Other activity done for the day:  30 minute park workout of sprints, lunges, burpees, jumping jacks

Day 23 – Saturday 7/20/13

I visited a different Bikram Yoga studio in El Cerrito this morning because the timing fit my schedule better than my regular studio in Oakland.  It is true what they say:  the instructions in bikram yoga classes are the same everywhere you go.  Therefore it makes it super easy to visit different yoga studios no matter what city, state, or country that your travels may take you.  I recommend you try out different studios whether locally or while traveling, for a new experience.

My only recommendation is to bring your own mat and towel just out of sheer comfort.  Laundry was still on my to-do list so I had to pay $2 to borrow a baby-sized towel that barely fit 1/3 of my mat.  It was kind of frustrating that during the postures, I had to focus my attention on not slipping on my own sweat.

But hey, you live and you learn.  I’ll be back El Cerrito. 🙂

Other activity done for the day:  n/a

Day 24 – Sunday 7/21/13

Sometimes a Bikram yoga girl can use a breather.  My all-time favorite pose:

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Dead Body Pose (Savasana)

Other activity done for the day:  15 minute walk

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Chika Obih is a certified holistic nutrition consultant; blogger; and founder of Chika Obih Wellness based in Oakland, CA and offers services virtually, in-person or by phone.  Chika is passionate about empowering people to take charge of their own health utilizing the power of wholesome, clean foods and fun holistic lifestyle solutions.  Contact Chika today to set up your free consultation.

Follow Chika on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram