Shameless Self-Promotion (and some animals)

When asked what he wanted for his birthday, the yogi replied, “I wish no gifts, only presence.” -website with a lot of yoga puns

This week, I have something a little different for you guys. As you may already know, I’ve been blogging and researching and yoga-ing all summer, all in the name of bettering my writing skills (and the flexibility of my knee ligaments). In addition to the blog posts you may have already read (or not have read, in which case please scroll down and enjoy), I’ve also written an extended piece on my Bikram 30-day challenge. This piece is exclusively available to you readers, all twelve of you, under the tab above labeled A Grand Yoga Adventure. Please peruse the piece at your leisure, and don’t hesitate to let me know what you think!

As promised last week, I’d also like to share some of my more serious Internet research findings. Behold, animals doing yoga:

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elephants

This one is rather irrelephant, wouldn’t you say?

Longleat Safari Park, Britain - Sep 2006

cobracat

Downward facing… cat

tongue

 

Namaste,

Hannah

 

The Post-Vacation Post

Hello my yoga friends!

I have just returned from a family vacation filled with sunny bliss and raunchy movies. (If you have the chance to see We’re the Millers with your family and you’re abnormally comfortable with your parents, I promise it’s a good time.)

And of course we found some yoga along the way.

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My dad also came with my mom and me to this Bikram practice, though he opted to be the photographer rather than the photographed after an especially torturous 90 minutes in the hot room. Maybe it was the studio’s slippery wooden floors, maybe it was the instructor’s strangely shaped beard, or maybe it was the fact that all three of us had eaten enough chocolate to kill a Dementor in our week on the beach, but this practice slapped us all pretty hard across the face. My limbs felt like bricks and my stomach cramped up halfway through the standing series. My mom ran out of water and hadn’t hydrated enough before class. My dad… well, my dad only goes to Bikram once every two months, so every class kind of slaps him across the face. But we survived the practice and dragged ourselves out of that studio with genuine gratitude for the fact that none of us threw up on the floor.

Though our single yoga adventure for the week was a little miserable, the rest of the vacation was just marvelous:

  • I ran 5 miles in 46 minutes and 45 seconds! Despite my body’s pleas I did not stop to walk once, thus reaching another one of my goals for the summer. (And a big thanks to my cousin Kristina for kicking my ass, couldn’t have done it without you.)
  •  We perused little shops that sold signs with all kinds of quotes, many of them yoga inspired.
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    (I do love me some quotes.)
  •  We dabbled in high-fashion modeling.
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  •  We tested the age-old adage, if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?
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    (Yes. Yes we would.)

We had to take a boat and a car to get home yesterday, and nobody killed each other in the process. So I’d call the week a success.

My mom and I went to another Bikram class this afternoon, and I am proud to report that we did not feel like we were going to die. One of our favorite instructors was teaching, we drank enough water before class, and we both wore colorful outfits that showed off our bangin’ vacation tans. We rocked it today, ladies and gentlemen.

And so the pendulum swings. Good days, bad days, sunny days, rainy days. (I actually just wrote that as a serious sentence, then realized that my subconscious is quoting Wyclef Jean. Should I be proud or embarrassed?) It just goes on my friends.

On a somewhat irrelevant note, I’ve been doing a lot of research on animal yoga lately (namely googling “animals doing yoga”) and I’d love to share my findings with you soon. Next week perhaps? Same time, same place.

Namaste,
Hannah

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Ode to Pumpa

When I first told Pumpa, my 88 year old grandfather, about my yoga plans for the summer, his old hazel eyes widened in surprise. “Yoga?” he asked, thick Russian accent adding several additional layers of incredulity, “I can tell you all you need to know about yoga. Just lift a leg and fart.”

Pumpa has never done yoga, he never plans on doing yoga, and he sure as hell doesn’t like the idea of yoga. But as his only granddaughter with a yoga blog, I think it is my duty to share with you all the colorful opinions he has on the topic.

Now before I continue, let me supply a little bit of background on the man himself. Pumpa is an avid tennis player, a seasoned skier, and a proud mediocre singer of dirty Russian songs. (What he lacks in musical talent he makes up for in enthusiasm.) A few weeks ago, he bought a bike because he hasn’t ridden one in a few decades and was really starting to miss the feeling.

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Did I mention he’s 88?

When he was just fourteen, Pumpa began fighting Nazis with a guerilla Russian army in the forests of Eastern Europe. He slept in snow banks. He beheaded unlucky German officers on motorcycles with piano strings. He built bombs to blow up trains carrying precious cargo to Nazi soldiers. To say the least, Pumpa is a certified badass.

He and my Nana live only five minutes away from our house, so my sister and I go over to their condo for dinner at least once a week. Over the course of the summer, these dinner dates have sparked some rather unorthodox yoga-related conversation.

At the very beginning of this project, I found myself trying to explain the concept of my blog to a very skeptical Pumpa. (Being a retired mechanical engineer, he has difficulty accepting terms like creative research or English major.) “I’ll write something new every week, about how the yoga’s going or how I’m feeling and stuff like that. I even thought of a title today!”

“What’s the title?” Nana asked politely. (She’s one of the most patient, honest, and admirable people I know. She’ll get her own ode soon enough.)

“Your Forehead Should Touch Your Toes, and other yoga adventures,” I announced.

Pumpa chuckled and took a large swig of his drink. “You know, I think my forehead will touch my toes just before I’m cremated.” He then proceeded to ask if I had found myself a boyfriend yet, and that was the end of that.

Most days, our conversation would follow a pattern that looked something like this.
Pumpa: How’s all the yoga going, sweetheart?
Me: Pretty well! Really sweaty, but really fun.
Pumpa: Good. Glad to see you haven’t gained any weight, honey.

But then last week, Pumpa had an especially interesting story for us. A woman had approached him at the health club that he and Nana exercise at every morning, with the intention of recruiting him for a senior health class. Pumpa was furious. “That really turns me off, you know, I don’t like to be called a senior. Old fart I don’t mind, but senior just pisses me off. Elderly too.” As he spoke, I noticed the large sign that hung behind him on their dining room wall, proudly baring three letters: EEB. I’d been his granddaughter long enough to know that this stood for Eastern European Bastard, a nickname he would gladly tell you about if you asked. But remember, those E’s do not stand for Elderly.

And as if to add insult to injury, he went on to explain that the class the woman was trying to recruit him for was actually a yoga practice. A yoga class for the elderly. As you may have guessed, Pumpa declined the offer.

After Nana and I cleared the dishes, Pumpa clasped his hands atop the wooden dining table and looked at me. “You know, Hannah,” he began, “I saw your… blog.” (He said the word blog the way some people might say income tax or irritable bowel syndrome.) “I think your English is good, but the rest I don’t really give a shit about.”

“Oh, why thank you!” I laughed, but the gratitude was genuine. It’s not often that Pumpa will tell you your English is good.

As I slipped on my shoes to leave their condo a little while later, Pumpa patted my shoulder. “You look good, honey.” I kissed him on the cheek.

“Thanks, Pumpa.”

He may not always agree with what I do, but he always finds a way to support me; for that, I am grateful. Maybe someday I’ll be able to drag him to a yoga class. I have to imagine lifting a leg and farting could become his new specialty.

Namaste,
Hannah

(Love you, Pumps.)

The Colors of the Wind (Road Trip Part II)

Yes, I did manage to haul my ass out of bed at 5:45 this morning and back to Bristol Yoga Studio for a second Kripalu class. I left a few minutes later than planned and walked into the studio at 6:32 AM, after class had already started. There was a friendly-looking young woman at the front of the serene room with the wooden floors, and only three other students in the room. I discreetly joined them (or as discreetly as one can join a quiet room when she accidentally drops her water bottle upon entry) and jumped right into my practice.

I didn’t think it was possible, but this class was even slower and more meditative than the practice we did last night. The postures weren’t designed to challenge our muscles, but rather to stretch and relax them. Our instructor’s voice was soft and gentle, telling us to let go of our thoughts, to allow ourselves to release any tension or preoccupation we may have held coming into class. There was no right way to perform this yoga; she emphasized over and over again that this was our practice, offering several different modifications for each posture that we should choose depending on what felt best for our bodies.

A different experience from Bikram, to say the least.

The instructor told me after class that the word Kripalu actually means “compassion,” which would explain the gentle nature of the practice. But the practice in meditation is just as hard, if not harder, than the physical challenges that Bikram hurled at my sweaty body for thirty days. I feel like I’m reaching a little further into my zone with every class.

After practice, I drove back to Sarah and Brian’s house blasting music louder than most neighborhoods probably wanted to hear before 8AM on a Wednesday, but I was on a yoga high. Relaxed muscles, clear mind, positive energy- and the day had just begun.

After a quick breakfast, we headed to the beach for the morning.

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From the beach, we stopped back at the house for a lunch even quicker than breakfast, and then headed off to the day’s main event: sailing with Sarah and Brian.

Sailing itself would’ve been exciting enough, as I’d never been on a sailboat before, but this was no ordinary sailing experience. Sarah, an OT professor at Tufts University, badass ski instructor at Loon Mountain, and one of my favorite human beings on the planet, also happens to be paralyzed from the waist down. She was hit by a car when she was twenty three years old, and has been taking the world by storm on wheels ever since.

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In her free time, Sarah sails. And by sails, I mean she skillfully races sailboats and wins international competitions. She’ll be traveling to Ireland in a few weeks with Brian and Ellie to compete. (But keep in mind, this is just a hobby.)

As we set sail on the beautiful blue water of Narraganset Bay, I was given the responsibility of manning the rope connected to the main sail, the technical name of which I’ve already forgotten. Within about three minutes I proved my inability to do anything that would benefit the boat at large (i.e. pulled when I should’ve eased up, admired the arms of a handsome man on a nearby boat instead of actively following Sarah’s directions) and my mom politely took over main sail duties. She pulled that rope with more muscle and confidence than Johnny Depp in a Captain Jack Sparrow costume, and I have to admit, I was impressed. She’s just so beautiful and strong, you know?

(After she read yesterday’s wedgie comment, my mom told me that she thought any readers who don’t know her personally will probably think she’s some sort of unsophisticated lunatic. To which I responded, “but what about the ones who do know you personally?”)

(Just kidding, I totally didn’t say that, that would’ve been rude. She is, at the very least, an incredibly sophisticated lunatic. The world’s most kindhearted, most giving, most sophisticated lunatic. And I meant what I said about those sailing skills. She gave that boat the business.)

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Once we found our rhythm, the five of us had quite a lovely afternoon on the water. After about an hour or two of smooth sailing (puns!), Sarah made a happy observation.

“We always say you don’t have time to come out and sail, but you just have to make time. It’s so peaceful out here, and quiet, away from everything that’s happening on land.” She looked over at me. “Hannah, this is definitely some kind of yoga.”

“Oh totally, it’s meditation,” my mom agreed. “Hann, that can be your post for tonight! Active meditation!”

And so, here we are. After a few hours out on the sailboat, watching the blue water pass beneath us and enjoying the wind’s salty spray, I could easily see a connection between sailing and yoga. A calm place, a tranquil escape, a focus on something outside of yourself. Or maybe a focus on something inside of yourself. Even in the intense atmosphere of a race, Sarah has to remain calm and clear-headed to make decisions and lead her crew. She must stay in the present moment and avoid panic. She has to let go and see where the wind takes her.

And isn’t that all we strive for in yoga? The ability to let go and follow the wind?

Well, that’s what I’m striving for anyways. To let go, to calm my mind, to be the best that I can. And hey, if I learn to paint with all the colors of the wind, that’s just an added bonus. So Sarah and Brian, if you get around to reading this, thank you so much for an incredible two days. I’m sure we’ll be back for more adventures.

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(I promise I’m far less competent than these pictures might lead you to believe.)

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Sarah, in her happy place.

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The whole gang!

My eyelids are starting to droop, so I should probably head to sleep. More yoga, beaching, and exploring to be done tomorrow! Look out Cape Cod, here we come.

Namaste,
Hannah

Pick Your Wedgies With Pride (Road Trip Part I)

My apologies for the late post, we’re just getting in from our first day of yoga adventuring. It started with several hours in the car as we dropped my marvelous sister off at a 4-day scholar athlete leadership camp, and we hit some heinous traffic on a Massachusetts highway (totally unheard of, right?). My mom swore far more than necessary and received several middle fingers through closed car windows as we swerved into Panera for lunch, but other than that, our journey to Rhode Island went relatively smoothly.

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Tonight we practiced at Bristol Yoga Studio, an adorable hole-in-the-wall kind of place on a cozy street corner in the town of Bristol, RI. The studio had wooden floors, offered a modest view of neighboring street shops outside its front windows, and smelled faintly of incense; the atmosphere was more serene than any studio I’ve visited thus far. We quickly introduced ourselves to Tracy, the studio owner, and explained that this was our first stop on a most heroic yoga quest. Obviously, she was impressed.

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(My mom should’ve taken a photography class in high school, but Tracy rocks!)

The class we were attending was simply labeled “All Levels Yoga,” so my mom and I had no idea what kind of practice we were walking into. I figured there would quite a few dogs involved (at least upward and downward facing), and probably a couple warriors (namely, one and two). When I asked, Tracy told me that her yoga teachings had been heavily influenced by the Kripalu and Anusara practices. I nodded like I knew what that meant and followed my mom into the studio to set up our mats.

First and foremost, this yoga was not sweaty. The studio was a mere 78 degrees (I snuck a peek at the thermostat on our way in) which seemed downright chilly in comparison to the oppressively hot air outside. I barely broke a sweat once throughout the practice, which was equal parts refreshing and off-putting. It was similar to Bikram in the sense that we held difficult positions for long amounts of time, but also similar to Vinyasa in the sense that we flowed through series of movements. Very, very slowly.

“This practice isn’t about what you think, it’s about what you feel. Stop thinking, and just feel where your body is, what it needs, right now.” Tracy’s voice was gentle and encouraging. Maybe it was her insightful dialogue, or maybe it was the ultra-soothing shade of blue they had chosen to paint the walls, but the whole thing had a meditative quality that I’d never before experienced in a yoga practice. The sun was setting outside and casting fire-orange shadows across the studio floor. My breath sounded like the ocean waves that I knew were crashing just a few blocks from where we stood. Feel, don’t think; feel, don’t think. My muscles felt strong as we settled into Warrior Two. I am inhaling, I am exhaling. I am inhaling, I am ex-

I snuck a glance to the left at my mom just in time to see her covertly pick a wedgie. She might kill me for posting this, which would kind of put a damper on our whole little trip here, but seeing that wedgie-adjustment was an integral part of my practice. An integral part of my growth as a human being, really. A perfect juxtaposition of the poetic and the priceless. I mean, everybody’s gotta adjust their underwear every now and again, especially in the middle of a challenging yoga position that requires extended lunging. But it felt like the divine yoga gods were sending me a message: even in your most spectacular, beautiful, lyrical moments, you must never forget that somewhere, someone is picking their wedgie.

Life is mysterious, life is silly. All you can do is try to take it all in.

And so we finished practice, feeling refreshed and balanced and inspired and hungry. Our friends who are so graciously providing us with shelter on this fine night, Sarah, Brian, and their daughter Ellie, met us for dinner at a spectacular seaside grill.

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Ellie and I hammin’ it up on the restaurant pier

We finished the night with a trip to the ice cream stand, and all seems right in the world. For now, anyways. I told myself I’m going back to Bristol Yoga (a 20 minute drive away) for 6:30AM tomorrow, and things may not feel so sparkly and wonderful when my alarm goes off at 5:45. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Approximately six hours from now.

So mom, when you read this, I’m sorry for the wedgie comment, but you really led me to a little epiphany there. You’re the best, I love you a lot, and I promise I’ll come to bed in like ten minutes.

To all my other readers, I’ll talk to you tomorrow night. Pick your wedgies with pride, my friends.

Namaste,
Hannah

The Moderately Warm Room

Vinyasa yoga was supposed to be easy. The room is only heated to 85 degrees and the class is a mere 75 minutes, as compared to the 105 degree, 90 minute Bikram practice that I’ve become accustomed to. I wore tiny little Bikram clothes even though I was fully aware that in the Vinyasa world it’s more customary to don a capri legging or a yoga pant. (As a post 30-day challenge yoga aficionado, I’ve decided that I should give those around me ample opportunity to admire my spectacular yoga physique.) I brought a towel, but only as a formality really. I figured the Vinyasa practice would be a leisurely walk in the park, a light jog in comparison to the miles of sprints I’d been doing for the past month. And so I entered the hot room (or as I referred to it in my head, the moderately warm room) with far more confidence than I deserved to have.

You see, before this whole project, I dabbled in the art of Vinyasa yoga. More than dabbled, actually, I bought a 3-month membership at the yoga studio just down the street from my dorm ($25 a month for students, hello steal). I went 3-4 times a week for the better part of those three months, and by the end, I felt pretty confident in my yoga skills. (If I had known the term “yogini” then, I definitely would have worked it into casual conversation with new people I met at parties.) But then of course I took a month off, ran a lot so that my hips tightened up like nobody’s business, and threw myself into a Bikram hot room for thirty days in a row.

Bikram is completely different from Vinyasa, in everything from temperature to dialogue to the direction you’re supposed to face when you lay in shavasana. Vinyasa wasn’t anything like the practice that I had just devoted myself to for the better part of a month. But that didn’t stop me from feeling like I was still going to be effing terrific at it.

As you may have already guessed, that feeling wasn’t exactly spot-on.

You know how six year old girls perform in ballet recitals? A lot of them have the moves down for the most part, but there’s always that one in the back who’s completely clueless. Every now and then she kicks her leg out to the side (in the opposite direction as everyone else is kicking) or spastically shoots an arm up in the air (while everyone else is reaching gracefully towards the audience), and she spends the whole damn dance whipping her head around so that she can look at her friends and see what she’s supposed to be doing.

That was me in the Vinyasa studio.

The movements felt so fast in comparison to the slow, calculated postures of Bikram. My quads screamed in protest with each warrior pose and my arms shook by the third half push-up (the wonderfully named chattaronga). And another thing- I was sweaty.

Not light-jog sweaty. I was Bikram, distance-sprints, lacrosse-game-in-July-with-no-subs sweaty. It dripped from my arms, ran down my legs, stung my eyes and found its way up my nose. This also surprised me, as the room was a solid 20 degrees cooler than the sauna I usually practice in. But as I looked around, I noticed something even more surprising- not everyone was sweating like I was. In fact, it didn’t seem like anybody was sweating like I was. Even my darling friend Annabelle, who has a summer membership at the Vinyasa yoga studio and attended class with me twice this week, told me she had noticed that the tops of my feet had been sweating while hers had not. It appeared I had become something of a sweat anomaly.

This fascinated me. I went home and told my family, called a few friends, and considered sending out a tweet about how very, very sweaty I had gotten at my first post-Bikram yoga class. I googled something along the lines of does Bikram make you sweat a lot in other activities? and discovered a few possible explanations for my overzealous sweat glands:

  • I have a condition called Hyperhidrosis. (Nothing like a good look at WebMD to make you remember that death is imminent.)
  • I was born with more sweat glands than the average woman.
  • I am morbidly obese.
  • I am in good shape.

I chose to ignore the first three explanations and skip straight to the fourth. I’m in good shape! Those who are physically fit usually sweat more! All that Bikram and supplementary cardio have finally begun to pay off!

Well, kind of. 75 minutes in the Vinyasa studio and it hurt to lift my arms for three days, but I’m a fighter. The soreness was gone by my third class. By the end of the week I was noticing a lot of other people in the studio who seemed to be sweating as profusely as I was. To my delight, I also found that most of these especially sweaty people looked to be in terrific shape. (I was probably seeking out observational evidence to confirm my own theory, but I really just don’t want to have Hyperhidrosis.)

So all in all, Vinyasa was sweatier than expected and is well on its way to giving me biceps like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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I forced my mom and Annabelle into a post-class photo op. (Very few people can look this good while this sweaty.)

In other news, we have a very special week coming up! Tomorrow morning my mom and I shall be embarking on a yoga road trip. Tuesday through Friday we’ll be driving from Rhode Island to Cape Cod, mooching off of friends, hitting the beach, and of course, practicing a lot of yoga along the way. Personally, I’m most excited for 7 am on Friday morning: paddleboard yoga. We’re going to be yoga-ing on a freaking paddleboard. There’s a good chance it’s just going to turn into a sophisticated swimming lesson, but still.

So feel free to check in tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that, because I’ll be posting every night of the trip. This is going to be a yoga adventure for the books, my friends.

Namaste,
Hannah

The End of the Beginning

The practice itself, done consistently and accurately, is the real teacher. -Tim Miller

As my friend Julie and I walked into the foreign studio for my 30th Bikram class in 30 days, I was surprised by how calm I felt. This was supposed to be a landmark, a momentous occasion, a practice to be forever remembered. I thought my hands would feel jittery as I laid out my mat, at least. But I only felt steady and serene as I told the instructor at the front desk that this was the last day of my 30-day challenge. (Humble anonymity just isn’t really my thing.)

The instructor, a kind-faced woman named Louise, recognized my name as I wrote it down on the sign-in list. I recognized her as well, and she quickly explained that she had taught my mom for years. Louise was one of my mom’s favorite instructors of all time! Even if I wasn’t finishing out my challenge at my home studio, it was comforting to know that I was still in good hands. And as I looked around, I realized that I recognized a fair number of yogis from my home studio in and around the hot room. Suddenly the foreign studio didn’t feel so foreign. This could be a good place to cross the finish line after all.

Julie and I set up our mats and then headed towards the bathroom. Her long auburn hair was in a loose braid down her back; mine was tangled in what could’ve been an abandoned ostrich nest on top of my head. (The last time Julie had come to practice with me, she noted that the whole shebang would’ve been much easier if we were bald. I heartily agreed.) The bathroom line was unusually long, but I have to imagine everyone was thinking the same thing we were: the only thing harder than doing a Bikram yoga class would be doing a Bikram yoga class whilst having to pee.

And then, something miraculous happened.

“Excuse me, are you Hannah?” A woman with dark hair asked from behind us in line. I’d definitely seen her in class before.

“Yes, I’m Hannah,” I answered in surprise.

“Oh, I was just reading your blog!” the woman exclaimed, “I absolutely love it, it is so funny.”

My jaw actually dropped. Could this be? I have a fan? I’m getting recognized now?!

“Thank you!” I answered, sputtering like I’d just been dunked in ice water. “Thank you so much, you have no idea how much that means to me.” My hands were clammy. My heart rate was through the roof. Julie and I just beamed at each other. If it was possible to be starstruck by my own sense of stardom, then I was. But the wonderful woman wasn’t finished yet.

“This is Hannah,” she turned to her friends, “she has a blog about her 30-day challenge. It’s hilarious and smart and insightful; you guys should really check it out.” The women behind her in line smiled at me and nodded, muttering things like oh yes, of course and well that sounds awesome, we’ll have to look it up. It felt like one of those moments I’d talk about on a radio show with Ryan Seacrest ten years from now, when one of my books tops the New York Times Bestseller List. (“Hannah, when did you first know that you had hit it big?” “Well, Ryan, it all began in the bathroom line at a Bikram yoga studio…”)

Was this real life? Had I died and gone to blogger heaven? Julie, a fellow writer and one of my best editors, looked just as excited as I felt. As soon as the women rounded the corner to enter the bathroom, we turned to each other and high-fived with such enthusiasm, we could’ve been third graders on the playground who just won a round of partner tag. We took our turns in the bathroom, smiled some more, and entered the hot room with our heads held high.

The heat that had once felt so oppressive and evil now seemed to greet me with a familiar, sweaty embrace. Since Day 1, my body has been changing. I don’t mind the sweat much anymore; in fact, sometimes it feel like I’m not sweating enough. I can stand on a locked knee for more than just a few seconds. I can latch my fingers onto my big toes when the instructor tells us to bring our foreheads to our feet. I can see my foot start to drift over my head as I kick back into standing bow.

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My butt still isn’t anywhere close to the ground when I sit on my knees. Nearly every instructor I’ve had seems perplexed by this particular inflexibility, Louise included. But rather than be embarrassed by my arrestingly tight ligaments, I’ve come to think of them as a distinguished characteristic. You know, like a wooden cane or a monocle. I’m just that girl with the tight knees. (Not to say that I’m going to stop working at stretching them out. Rome wasn’t built in a day.)

Louise’s enthusiasm during practice was infectious and her cues were fantastic. Focusing would’ve been easier if my mind hadn’t been so busy singing its excitement to the tune of 50 Cent (go Hannah, it’s Day 30, we gonna party like it’s day 30), but I was able to shut her up after the first couple of poses. I drifted in and out of the zone. I breathed through my nose. I let the sweat run freely down my face.

Every practice is exactly the same, but also completely different. I’ve come to love that about Bikram yoga. The heat might be stifling, the practice might seem endless, and the sweat might actually go up your nose, but the dialogue never changes. The only thing that changes is you.

Just before Louise told us to lie down for the final shavasana of the class, another miracle happened.

“Congratulations, Hannah, on completing your 30-day challenge!” she announced. And, as if on cue, the room erupted in claps and cheers. A full, boisterous round of applause. I could only look at Julie in ecstatic awe. All I need now is a picture with the Pope, and all my wildest yoga dreams will have come true.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, my Bikram yoga 30-day challenge has been completed. I feel happy, healthy, and fully qualified in claiming sweat to be a very close friend. It wasn’t always fun, and it was almost never easy. But in the words of Kelly Clarkson, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (because your muscles will adapt to the poses eventually), stand a little taller (because the spine strengthening series really helps with lower back pain), doesn’t mean you’ll smell good when you get home. Or something.

I’ve received buckets upon buckets of fan mail begging me not to stop blogging, and I’ve had to change my phone number due to an overwhelming number of teary calls from readers who knew my 30-day challenge was coming to an end. But please don’t fret, my devoted fan base-

THE BLOGGING WILL CONTINUE!

I repeat, the blogging will continue. My big challenge finish wasn’t the end of my yoga adventure, but rather an extended beginning. I’ve become something of a yoga addict. There’s a very real possibility that if I stopped now, I’d start to look a lot like Christian Bale in The Fighter. Not to mention I’ve had a pretty awesome time describing my sweat in painstaking detail and cracking cheesy jokes for you guys, so I hope you’ll join me in weeks to come for more yoga adventures.

This week I’ll be trying some Vinyasa yoga. Upward facing dog, downward dog, sideways dog, hot dog, you name it- I’ll be all up in that business. Check in next Monday to see how it goes. (I have to imagine my Vinyasa skills can’t be any worse than my Bikram skills, right? Right?!)

Namaste,
Hannah

P.S. I know I promised pictures of the Pope, but for some reason he never responded to my invitation. Feel free to enjoy celebratory sweaty pictures of Julie and me instead.

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“Don’t put this on the Internet.” -Julie

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High School Musical levels of excited

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“Hannahsana”

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(impromptu sweaty dance party)

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Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with.” -Mark Twain

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