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.

Bikram Yoga day30 images

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

Bikram Yoga 30 Day Challenge: Days 11 – 17

yoga quote finishing

We are getting closer to goal!  My Bikram yoga 30 Day challenge has been nothing short of motivating in both the physical and mental sense.  You all are cheering me on and keeping tabs on my progress and I appreciate all the love.  Because of you and the overwhelming support, I have gotten through 17 of 30 days — over halfway done!

If you haven’t already done so, you can read my days 1 – 10 journey here and here.

Then read below for days 11 – 17.

Day 11 – Monday 7/8/2013

My thighs are getting stronger and shapelier each day.  I credit it mostly to standing head to knee pose (check photo below).  In this pose, I am balancing on one leg with knee locked to start.  If the knee is not locked, the posture has not yet begun.  With the standing knee locked, I then bend forward by the hip with fingers of both hands interlocked together and hanging down in front by the knees.  I pick up the other leg at a 90 degree angle and sit that leg in my hands.

With standing knee locked, this is the beginning of the pose.

Part 2: Once balanced there, one can then extend the leg up and out at a 90 degree angle.

Part 3: If both legs are completely locked, then one can lower their head until the head is touching the knee like the dude in the photo below.

This pose is the ultimate thigh toner.  My thighs have strengthened so much; they have developed the vertical line running down the outer center length similar to track runners and sprinters.  I can barely extend the leg to a 90 degree angle (it’s more like 45 degrees) but by keeping the standing leg locked, my thighs are reaping the benefits of standing head to knee pose quite nicely.

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Other activity done for the day:  15 minute walk

Day 12 – Tuesday 7/9/2013

Don’t know how I was able to make it to the 6am class but I’m glad I did.  The instructor shared a few words regarding body image.  I’ll paraphrase what she said.

If you practice Bikram Yoga wearing a t-shirt and pants, you are wearing too much clothing.  Often times we want to hide our flaws because of embarrassment.  But you need to remove the layers and come to class ready to face yourself in that mirror and look at your body as you are doing each pose. This will not only help you to improve each pose faster, but your commitment to yoga will grow stronger as you begin seeing improvements in your shape.

What she said was golden.  It’s true we all have reservations about our body: we don’t want our rolls or cellulite to be on display for the whole class.  Nor do we want to see it ourselves.  But in Bikram Yoga, no one is there to judge.  We are all there to practice, grow, build, and strengthen our bodies and minds.  Shed the layers of clothing so that you can start to see and appreciate the transformation as it occurs in the yoga room.

Other activity done for the day:  25 minute run

Day 13 – Wednesday 7/10/13

Nothing can interrupt a Yogi from their practice.  Check out this story:

I walked into the Bikram Yoga studio and found the teacher and a few students discussing a recent car robbery that culminated in front of the yoga studio a couple days ago.  Two teenage boys stole a Mercedes sports car in nearby posh Piedmont then proceeded to speed away but not before crashing and flipping the car on its side which caused it to burst into flames right outside the yoga studio while class was in session.  Everything could be seen and heard from the 3rd story studio.  When the instructor excitedly asked the class if they wanted to stop and watch, the class unanimously replied, “no, keep going.”

Goes to show nothing can interrupt a Yogi from practicing their craft.

Other activity done for the day:  30 minute walk

Day 14 – Thursday 7/11/13

Best thing you can do for a friend?  Take her (or him) to a Bikram yoga class!!!  I brought my friend to the 6am class where she commenced to drop bucket loads of sweat onto her mat and towel.  She was super impressive, attempting each pose and following through to the end despite being unfamiliar with the heat and intensity.  After class the teacher expressed how much she was impressed by my friend’s effort.

Loved that I could introduce her to yoga which will no doubt help her manage stress and add clarity to her busy life.

Other activity done for the day:  15 minute walk

Day 15 – Friday 7/12/13

Woohoo!! I am at the mountaintop and from this point onward, its all downhill from here!!  I am at the halfway mark.  I can’t say that it’s been easy but I am ecstatic that I have gotten to this point.

Many of the students in class are aware that I am on this 30 day journey and they have been super supportive, cheering me on along the way.  It feels good when everyone knows your name.

Other activity done for the day:  Cardio kickboxing class

Day 16 – Saturday 7/13/13

OMG I missed a day!  Today was jam-packed with commitments beginning from bright n early in the morning until way past my bedtime.  In fact I left the house at 8am and didn’t lay my head to rest until 3am that night.  It was a super fun day spent with colleagues and friends so well worth the skip.  But I knew Sunday had a double in-store for me which I wasn’t too thrilled about, not in the slightest.

Other activity done for the day:  Dancing to reggae music

Day 17 – Sunday 7/14/13

A miss on Saturday meant a double today to make up for that miss.  By taking two classes in one day, I’d make up for the miss so that I remain on par with my 30 day challenge goals.  It was no easy feat.

I attended the 11am and the 2pm class.

I felt super dehydrated and half awake during the first class.  My body was stiff and stomach looked bloated (due to last night’s spirited festivities).  I didn’t enjoy staring at myself during the 90 minutes.  My eyes could only focus on my core abdominal area and the thoughts that were accumulating in my head were not positive ones.  It wasn’t pretty or effortless but I miraculously got through the first class.

Immediately following the first class, I carried my tired, sweaty, half asleep butt home to hydrate for round 2 which was only 90 minutes away from starting.  Gathering a few things from my refrigerator, I concocted this super hydrating smoothie.  After drinking, I felt like a whole new person with a new mindset and revived energy.  I blended coconut water, banana, coconut milk, and maca root powder with ice.  As I quickly downed it, it literally felt like my muscles and body were finally waking up.

I went into Round 2 thinking that I was fatigued because that is how I thought I was supposed to feel.  However, when I noticed the extra flexibility in my limbs and the absence of soreness, I immediately washed my mind of any weak thoughts.  Staring in the mirror, I noticed how strong my core and thighs looked.  I don’t know if it was my imagination or what, but it seemed the bloated look from the first session disappeared and I was back to having my normal, superwoman mentality. I felt good.

Accomplishing a double is a big deal.  Imagine all the sweating, straining, and emotions spinning around.  Then multiply that by two.  I thought the second class would be much harder than the first but was content to realize it was the other way around.  That hydrating coconut smoothie really came through in a major way.

I’d rather not have to do anymore doubles during this 30 day challenge, but we’ll see what life and reality brings to the table.

Other activity done for the day:  are you kidding me??!  n/a

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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 4 – 10

Going to class at the same time each day has made this challenge easier; it’s like a regularly scheduled routine in my day.  I’ve been going to the 9am morning sessions which allows me to complete class before the summer heat wave kicks in for the day.

If you haven’t done so already, read about my 30 Day Challenge: Days 1 – 3.  Then continue reading below!

Day 4 – Monday 7/1/13

Today in class I accomplished the toe stand pose for the first time ever (only with the right leg up, not yet with the left leg).  I felt like a 5 year old on Christmas and the big grin on my face after expressed my pure delight.  For those who may not be familiar with the 26 poses, toe stand pose is an extension of the tree pose.  This is how each looks:

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Tree Pose (Tadasana)

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Toe Stand Pose (Padangustasana)

To get from tree to toe stand, one has to have exceptional balance as you lean forward from the hips looking about four feet on the floor in front of you with arms and hands extended out as you attempt to touch the floor.

Once your extended hands are touching the floor, you bend at the knee then place hands in prayer position until you look like the picture above.  It’s nothing short of miraculous to go from tree to toe pose.

In fact, prior to today, I’ve spent many classes (while in tree pose) watching people fluidly go from tree to toe pose; it is such a beautiful movement.  Then when I emulate the same movement, I confusingly get stuck in the position where my butt is in the air as I’m bended at the hips with my hands (more like fingers) touching the floor trying to prop me up so that I don’t go falling face forward onto my mat.  Yea it can be embarrassing.

But I’m living proof that with practice, patience, and poise, the body will open up and allow you to get into any pose.

Other activity done for the day:  30 minute run; 1 minute plank

Day 5 – Tuesday 7/2/13

It’s weird.  Sometimes in class all I can think is “Can it please be over!? How much longer? I need this to be over NOW.”  And then when class is indeed over, I think “dang, it’s over already?!”  Today was one of those days.

Other activity done for the day:  15 minute walk; 1 minute plank

Day 6 – Wednesday 7/3/13

Received a “beautiful job Chika” from the teacher during Standing Deep Breathing (SDB) – the first pose in the 26 posture series.   That made class a little brighter to start.  You see, SDB is a seemingly easy pose (see photo below).  However, you really have to stretch ALL your muscles in your legs, thighs, spine, shoulders, arms, neck, head, everywhere… with the stomach sucked in.  While you are extending each limb, you are deeply breathing in and out using 100% of your lungs.  Most people use only a small percentage of their lung capacity, never allowing the lungs to reach maximum expansion that nature intended.  SDB expands the lungs and increases circulation, elevating your core temperature and preparing the muscles for exercise.

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Standing Deep Breathing (Pranayama Series)

Other activity done for the day:  TRX Suspension class (1 hour);  15 minute walk

Day 7 – Thursday 7/4/13

Class was packed on today, Independence Day.  Makes sense that people want to get in a good sweat prior to BBQ festivities.  I positioned myself in the hottest area of the room and commenced to sweat buckets for 90 minutes straight.  Felt accomplished.

Other activity done for the day:  15 minute walk

Day 8 – Friday 7/5/13

On days that I run, I usually run before my yoga session.  Sometimes it’s brutal because I do not leave enough time to recharge between running and yoga.  Sometimes I finish a run and then 30 minutes later I’m in yoga class getting my pose on.  It can be intense.  But my green energy smoothie recharges me like no other.  I drink it immediately after my run so that it can refuel my muscles instantly.  It’s a blended mix of coconut water, banana, lemon, raw spinach, and maca root powder.  Perfect for pre- or post- endurance workouts. Just blend everything together and sip.  I’ll post the recipe soon.

Chika's Green Energy Smoothie

Chika’s Green Energy Smoothie

Other activity done for the day:  40 minute run; 15 minute walk

Day 9 – Saturday 7/6/13

As I obediently followed the teacher’s instructions, attempting each pose with face forward in the mirror, my mind wandered.  With sweat dripping from every pore of my body, I wondered what exactly is happening  in my body during Bikram Yoga?  With all the twists, compressions, full-body extensions, sweating, and holding the stomach in tight, the body must be going through a dramatic change.  Turns out it is.  Here are some of the things going on:

–          Muscles are contracted and stretched at a cellular, biochemical level.

–          Lipids (fats) and proteins reorganize optimally in such stretching, allowing for better circulation.

–          Joint mobility and range of motion is increased, and strength is built by the use of gravity.

–          Muscles and joints are balanced.

–          Blood and calcium are brought to the bones.

–          The organs of the immune system within the bones are boosted.

–          Lymph nodes are massaged, lymph is pumped throughout the body, and white blood cells are distributed throughout the body as the lymphatic system works more efficiently.

–          Compression and extension to the thymus, spleen, appendix, and intestines; lungs are stretched and flushed out by increased blood circulation.

–          Endocrine glands are encouraged to secrete appropriate hormones, and the communication between hormones and various glands and systems of the body is perfected.

–          Toxins and waste are eliminated through the organs of elimination.

It’s like a full-body premium deluxe car wash & detail for your body.

Other activity done for the day:  43 minute run; 15 minute walk

Day 10 – Sunday 7/7/2013

Class was packed today and the only spots left when I entered the room was in the hottest corner.  I laid down on my mat for a few minutes before the teacher walked in and class commenced.  As sweat dripped down from my pits when I got up to start the first stretching pose, I knew it would be a long 90 minutes.

To help me last the 90 minutes, I paid special attention to my breathing making sure I was breathing in and out through my nose which is more efficient and beneficial to the body than breathing through the mouth.  Deep breathing through the nose calls on the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for stimulation of “rest-and-digest” or “feed and breed”.  In opposition, the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” mechanism that turns on during times of emergency where quick response actions are required.

It’s nothing short of miraculous how quickly my body relaxes and rejuvenates after intense, cardio-intensive poses such as triangle pose by simply and calmly breathing in and out deeply through the nose.  Sometimes when I forget and breathe through my mouth instead, it feels as if energy is just leaving my body in mass droves.

Learn to engage the parasympathetic nervous system by simply breathing through your nose.  You will soon notice a positive difference in your energy, stress levels, and mental clarity…and you will last longer during intense exercise.

Triangle Pose (Trikanasana)

Triangle Pose (Trikanasana)

Other activity done for the day:  TRX Suspension class (1 hour)

Feels good to be ten days into the challenge.  I’m a third of the way closer to completion.  Stay tuned for my next 30 Day Challenge blog post coming next Monday.  Subscribe to receive all updates straight into your email inbox.

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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 1 – 3

By quote

Standing Bow Pulling Pose (Dandayamana – Dhanuraiana)

Yoga.  They say its good for the body, mind and spirit.  And I believe it.  But why did it take me so long to finally embrace yoga and all of its wonderful health benefits?  A few reasons:

1.  I am NOT flexible.

It is a challenge for me to even touch my toes.  Growing up as a child I used to watch in awe at the little girls who could do the splits so effortlessly when I could barely open my legs wide enough for a half split. Jealous!  Being born without flexibility is something I learned to accept.  My natural stiffness kept me far away from activities such as gymnastics, pilates, and yoga.  I gravitated towards running, weight lifting and tennis instead.

2.  Yoga is SO SLOW.

To sit, flex and stretch the body in contorted positions for 60 – 90 minutes at a time with no music and absent of any big movement is boring.  Combined with reason #1, yoga was torture for me.  Although I know the health benefits of stretching the limbs and strengthening the core using yoga-type moves, I had it set in my mind that I hated it and therefore I avoided it for years.

3.  I don’t look or act like a YOGI.

For the longest time, I thought the typical yogi was a thin, lean, hippy, vegan or vegetarian, who eats raw foods exclusively and loves the idea of saving animals more than feeding the hungry.  This belief kept me away from the world of Yogis because I thought they were weird. 

But then it all changed…

Thank goodness for Groupon!!  Groupon is amazing because it provides people the opportunity to try new experiences for 50 – 90% off the regular price.  With groupon, I tried bikram yoga with a few friends a couple of years ago.  Although it was tough and I didn’t keep with it after the deal ended, I knew that I would return to bikram yoga someday.    In March 2013, I did.

Since March, I have been a regular yogi (a person who practices yoga).  Yes I still think it is slower than most activities I am used to, but the benefits of practicing yoga are too vast for me to put up a fuss about the slowness.  In fact, the slowness allows for one to get in touch with their emotional and mental well-being – it’s quite therapeutic!

So there you have it:  I have decided to face my yoga fears and instead embrace it and all the benefits it has bestowed upon me since March 2013.  On June 28th I decided to challenge myself and partake in a 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge.   Every day for the next 30 days I will complete a 90 minute intense Bikram yoga session.  I’ll be blogging weekly and tweeting daily so follow along with me on my journey! I can use the support.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

–Helen Keller

What I hope to accomplish during this 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge

Bikram yoga is a set of 26 postures completed within 90 minutes in room heated to 105 degrees.  The official Bikram Yoga website states: “It has been proved and experienced by millions that these 26 postures systematically work every part of the body, to give all the internal organs, all the veins, all the ligaments, and all the muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function.  Each component takes care of something different in the body, and yet they all work together synergistically, contributing to the success of every other one, and extending its benefits.”

There are thousands of testimonials from people who have healed or managed their health problems using Bikram yoga including arthritis, diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety, cardiovascular issues, sciatica, and more.  The heat acts as a source of detoxification to release toxins and other nasties through the pores.  Therefore it is vital to drink lots of water before, during and after class (all day, everyday) to aid in the release of such toxins.  In 30 days I hope to see improvements in the following areas:

–          Flexibility: I can touch my toes now…barely. But I hope to release the tightness in my hip area that makes it difficult for me to do a proper squat.

–          Mental Clarity:  I tend to be inside my head thinking too hard instead of taking care of tasks.  I would love to be more action-prone instead of thinking about how to take action.  I want to be able to “just do it”. Yoga can help calm the mind.

–          Lean out in my lower abdominal area:  Genetically, I am prone to carry excess weight in my stomach area, specifically my lower abs.  Thanks to my dad.  He’s a rather average/lean guy with a huge belly that is tough to lose even when he is on his best behavior.

For me, as a woman, having a lean, trim waistline seems to be a greater priority because in the eyes of society, flat stomachs are all the rage.  I’ve tried for years to get mine as flat as possible.  As a Nutritionist dealing with this “issue”, I can honestly say that clean eating and an active lifestyle do not (and cannot) always trump genetics. Sure a healthy lifestyle helps tremendously and I don’t advocate treating your body like a garbage can.  But sometimes you have to recognize the reality of your God-given features.   So I am learning to embrace my waist. With all the sweating I’ll be doing for the next 30 days, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll see a smaller waistline.  Check me out on day 1.  I’ll post another picture on day 30 to compare.

30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge - Day 1

Note: I tend to engage in other activities, not just yoga.  If I do other exercises on a certain day, I’ll post it. Yoga alone may help with my waistline but I want to be honest and mention any and all activity that I do for the purposes of the day 1 vs. day 30 photo comparison.

Day 1 – Friday 6/28/13

Class was H O T!!  It didn’t help that I was positioned right underneath the heater.  I’m surprised I didn’t pass out due to dehydration.  My goal was to attempt each pose, which I accomplished.  I didn’t focus on going as deep as possible in each position – just try each pose instead of just sitting on my towel watching the rest of class.  Felt rejuvenated after class.

Other activity for the day:  30 minute run outdoors; 15 minute walk

Day 2 – Saturday 6/29/13

Barely got to class before the teacher came into the room. In a packed class, this meant that I was stuck in the hottest area of the room.  Wheww it was a tremendous effort just battling the heater blasting on full speed right in front of me.  But I tried to ignore the loud, grumpy heater and focus on myself in the mirror as I attempted each posture.  I made it through miraculously.  I even heard the teacher say “good job Chika” during the Eagle pose Garurasana.  I was far from looking anywhere poised and perfect in the posture like the beautiful lady in the picture below but I think he recognized my effort to go into the position as deep as my body would allow.

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Eagle Pose (Garurasana)

Other activity for the day:  30 minute run outdoors; 15 minute walk

Day 3 – Sunday 6/30/13

My mind was wandering every where during class.  I was barely focused on myself in the mirror and found myself staying in positions longer than prescribed or setting up to do the wrong pose simply because I wasn’t paying attention to the teacher’s words.  In yoga, this is normal – sometimes the mind wants to wander and think about random things such as “what will I eat after class… I wonder what my mom is doing, I need to call her…I hope this dude responded to my text…man this guy next to me better not step on my mat, he’s sweating everywhere, yuck.”  Yea random thoughts.  I felt super exhausted after the 90 minute session.  But as soon as I stepped outside to walk back home, I immediately felt grateful and refreshed.  Nice.

Other activity done for the day:  30 minute walk

Days 1 – 3 is a wrap. Stay tuned for more and share your comments below!

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Chika Obih is a certified holistic nutrition consultant; blogger; and founder of Soul-Wholesome Nutrition based in Oakland, CA and also offers services virtually for those who are not local.  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 a free consultation.

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