Coming from My Core: Intimate Revelations On Nine Months of Sweat, Blood (not really), and Tears

This Wednesday will mark the nine month anniversary of the day I started Bikram. Nine months usually signifies the birth of a some thing. In my case, in this case it’s the realization that I’m capable of making the choice, of taking action to create change and work toward the body I want to have.

I sat down last night to write in my journal thoughts I have about my body in this moment, in this now. I’m tired of feeling my stomach resting on my thighs when I sit down. Mind you it used to be worse when I was heavier, but still…..it’s a feeling I don’t like. I’ve written a bit lately on my facebook page about taking action to change that, but I woke up this morning with the idea that I’d detail my efforts.

By actively and consciously thinking about the movements and efforts I’m undergoing to activate my core and shrink my abdomen, I can track my progress, and that’s one of the best ways of feeling better about myself—seeing ALL KINDS of progress.

I’m focusing here on some of the poses of the standing series in the Bikram sequence. Some day when time allows I’ll do an entry on all the poses. I’ve included pics, but please bear in mind that I’ve used my camera with a 10 second timer so the poses aren’t my full expression. I have attempted in each pic to be consciously activating my core.

Everything comes from the breath.

Pose 1: Standing Deep Breathing

Here I’m making an effort to keep my core activated when I inhale AND exhale. This is something I’ve had to work toward. I didn’t always have the abdominal strength to keep my core activated while exhaling. I know when I first tried it I would hold my breath when I exhaled. Now I BREATHE while keeping my core tightened!

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Pose 2: Half-Moon

It’s one thing to bend sideward. It’s another to activate my core and bend from there. When I first started doing the yoga I’m not sure I fully grasped how to move from my core, but, as hard as it is, I feel stronger for moving from my core.

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Pose 3: Awkward

Oy. It’s my nemesis, this one, BUT when I pull in my core while I squat I can FEEL my abdomen lift off my thighs and that’s a pretty cool feeling!

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Pose 4: Eagle

When I pull in my core here I can bend my standing leg deeper, and I FEEL a greater sense of balance. The more balance I feel on the mat, the more I feel it OFF the mat!

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Pose 5: Standing Forehead to Knee

Another nemesis! Here I’ve discovered a trick: when I activate my core AND lift my abdomen with my hands I can lift my leg higher, which strengthens my leg and trains my abdomen that it’s NOT the boss of THIS BODY!!!

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Pose 6: Standing Bow Pulling Pose

No pic here! And this one I’m having lots of trouble with. I don’t feel like I’m coming from my core. I feel like I’m just doing all I can to stay upright.

Pose 7: Standing Separate Leg Stretch

When I don’t go down with my core here, I’ve noticed I feel it in my lower back and NOT in a good way! I’m finding I do feel like my torso is longer when I go down in this one.  It’s not about how far I go—it’s about moving my body in a healthy manner so it can reach further than where it’s been.

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Pose 8: Triangle

Here’s the thing with triangle. Here’s the thing with my real desire to focus on my core, my alignment. I don’t want to waddle! It’s true! When I was not in shape, when I was not active I WADDLED.  I didn’t like it. It’s one of the main reasons I LOVE yoga so much. The deeper my practice goes, the less I waddle, the more my body is in alignment. When I take pictures these days, for the most part my feet are aligned, instead of torqued!  When I hike, my feet point straight ahead. So when I do triangle, I look to feel that I have engaged my core and that my back is in alignment. I can go deeper into triangle when I’m not in alignment but that defeats the purpose.

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Pose 9: Standing Separate Leg Head-to-knee pose

Same as above basically. It’s easy to bend over. It’s work to move with the breath, but I’m worth IT!!!

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Pose 10: Toe-Stand

I can now work on an adapted version of this pose! This helps me see my progress!  And that’s pretty cool!

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I want a better life. I don’t mean for that to sound sad. It’s not. I feel so so very grateful for all the wonderful people, places, things that are in my life. I’m very lucky in that regard, and I know it. Working out is hard work. Yoga is hard work. I can sit here and whine and bemoan that I don’t like parts of my body, including my abdomen, or I can celebrate where I am and all the hard work I did to get here, because if I can get here, imagine where I’ll be in a few months!

It’s not that I spend every moment of every class consciously thinking about activating my core or thinking that I wish my abdomen was smaller. I don’t. But I do concentrate on getting into a pose to maximize the benefits and once I’m in the pose I allow my self, my body to be, to explore the depths it’s reaching.

But it’s not just my body, it’s my mind. My ability to express my self here is a direct reflection of my mental growth, a direct reflection that I feel less shame about my body than I used to. I accept my self, this body more. And when I look in the mirror, in class or out of class I have different level of appreciation. I’m not saying my thoughts are always positive, but I’m in such a better place than I was last week, last month, last year.

I may not know where I’m going these days, but I know when I get there I’ll stand tall, with my feet, my back, and my heart in alignment with the universe!

As I inserted these pics into this post, I could feel my body go into shock. I can’t explain it. It’s one thing to do yoga. It’s one thing to take pics, but to look at the pics is something else. It’s very difficult for me to be this vulnerable. It cuts to my core (no pun intended), but honesty is and has been a corner stone of this journey I’m on.

There’s nothing wrong with this body. But I can work on making it better in body, mind and soul. That’s what I want. That’s what I deserve. That’s what I’m working toward.

(And when time allows I’m going to take much better pics–with a smile and a tiara!)

Follow more of my journey on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaYogaPrincess

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147 thoughts on “Coming from My Core: Intimate Revelations On Nine Months of Sweat, Blood (not really), and Tears

  1. Thank you so very much for the willingness to be vulnerable and post the amazing progress you are making with yoga! I’m on a similar journey and you have inspired me to continue. I’ve added your blog to my reader – so nice to meet you!

  2. Your spirit and body are beautiful, and I was so inspired by your words. Yoga is an amazing experience that has empowered you to be the master of your health, and as a fellow Bikram practitioner, I am grateful to share this connection with you.

    It really is amazing the difference that time makes. This time last year, I couldn’t kick out in standing head-to-knee, touch my forehead to my knee (standing or seated), or stay upright in many of the balancing postures. The micro-movements, the tiny incremental improvements just keep coming. It isn’t always consistent, as I’m sure you know, but it’s just incredible to feel yourself change. I even feel taller some days after practice because of all of the new length in my spine.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey and allowing me the space to respond.

    Keep using your “bulldog determination and Bengal tiger strength” (as Bikram says)!

    Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu (May the entire universe be filled with peace, joy, love, and light)

    Namaste!

    • Thank you for the kind words! I can so relate. These days I feel myself walk taller and straighter! It’s an amazing feeling! And my “bulldog determination and Bengal Tiger Strength” keep me going!

      Namaste!

  3. You are fantastic and inspiring! Something I’ve recently realized after 7 years of Bikram is that it is truly a practice, you practice- you get better. In every way- so keep up the good work!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! My friend, a Bikram teacher, posted this on Facebook, and I just cried as I read your descriptions of the poses. So beautiful. So insightful for just 9 months! Maybe one day you too will be a yoga teacher. Maybe you already are. 😉

  5. Thank you for this beautiful and inspiring post. Your vulnerability, especially with yourself, is only going to help your progress on the road to becoming the best, strongest, most fabulous you, inside and out. You are a super-hero, and bikram yoga is going to make it that much more fun to be with yourself. Keep it up, looking, loving, caring, working, sweating, growing, and being awesome!

  6. Thank you for sharing your Bikram journey! I’ve been practicing for 2 years and it’s really true what the teachers say – every day, every class is different. Bikram has changed my life and fellow yogis like you keep inspiring me every day! Wishing you peace and love.

  7. Such wonderful work!!! keep it up and when you’re ready, experiment with some other yoga classes. i think Bikram does an excellent job at getting you committed to a practice… and I also think a fun way to learn about your body is by doing different types of yoga, too. congrats and keep shining!!

  8. You are such a authentic inspiration–seeing the pictures and reading your descriptions reminds me of how far each of us comes in Bikram (and other yoga practices). By showing up, doing the poses as honestly as we can (doing each instruction correctly, not going to the next until, for me, that “standing leg is locked”), accepting where we are, and that every day is different. I started Bikram when I was 60, with osteopenia, sciatica, arthritis, etc–after 5 years, I can honestly say all of that is gone–I have never felt better, and I thank my teachers, the carefully designed poses, my yoga community, and now add you to that list! Thank you so much

  9. Namaste!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I agree with everyone on here. You are an amazing and remarkable woman with a ton of Bikram’s “bulldog determination!” You go girl! Thank you so much for sharing your journey!

  10. Yay!! Thank you for sharing Beautiful Hawaiian Princess!! I so hope you are teaching. Good luck on your journey. And yes, please add a Tiara and a Smile with you next series of pics!!! 🙂

  11. Thank you for posting this and I’m grateful that you shared your journey. My last stab at Bikram was a disaster….mostly because of a lot of body centered self-loathing. I felt awful, was embarrassed because of my big boobs and chunky thighs, and barely could stay in the room. I took Bikram in NYC a few years ago and know what it can do…what it can make you push yourself to do. I’m inspired. Thank you. Namaste 🙂

  12. I love you! This is incredible inspiration for anyone wanting to get healthier. Your positive attitude and willingness to share how you are doing on your journey is a big deal.

    You have lots of support from your fellow Bikram yogis around the world.

    Namaste

    xx

  13. Awesome! Keep at it:))). I just started yoga a year ago and still have frustrations with poses. I keep practicing!!! Not sure if I will ever perfect, my body seems lopsided….

    XOXO. Love Yourself!!!!

    • At every stage of the process, every pose that you do is perfect. That’s the difference between yoga and every other activity you can do (apart from art maybe). You have to unlearn the idea that what you are doing isn’t in and of itself perfect. Then you have to discover that whatever you do with intention is your perfect pose. Your body is not lopsided. It is unique, as is every single body which has ever existed. Our bodies are an expression of our genes, and experiences.

  14. Love Love, I can totally relate to each pose and your discription of each… I may relate each pose to a different body part that needs to activate with the core… I have seen the changes in my postures as the months go by… as you do to xoxoxo

  15. Love this – thank you SO MUCH for sharing, and I hope you will share again. You rock the poses. The awkward is my nemesis too, and yours is beautiful! I struggled with standing bow for so long, and then my teacher made a very slight change in how I was placing my hand, and it fell into place. Best to you!

    • 🙂 I can’t help but think of all my friends that won’t do hot yoga with me because it scares them…you are incredible and brave! Keep up the journey and enjoy everyday of your progress! Xo

  16. Thanks for sharing I’ve just learnt I’m prob not in alignment when I’m wobbling. And I’m going to use these positions further with my core…. Right I’m ready to get back to it!

  17. Your charisma shines so brightly, that it leaves a trail of motivation and inspiration.
    Thank you for sharing!

  18. wow! well done, what a journey this is. Youve got great flexibility, I especially like your alignment in Pose 9: Standing Separate Leg Head-to-knee pose, your practice is inspiring, thank you for sharing. Namaste

  19. So impressed – I have just begun journey back to body reconnection through yoga after long term illness and 30kg weight gain. I nearly cry in class it hurts so much and I desperately want to run around telling each person how good a yogi I used to be before RA, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue came along. But it’s my body as it is now that I need to love, accept and work with and I thank you for your inspiration by doing this blog and sharing the same x

  20. the bikram studio in boston shared your blog post and i’m so glad they did! your strength, determination, and courage will inspire me when i’m feeling like moving from the couch into the studio is just one step too many. keep on the journey!

  21. Thought you should know, your blog posts are making the rounds from various people that aren’t even related. They’re all singing your praise and saying you’ve inspired them (and me) to keep at it. Thank you and good luck with your journey.

  22. Pingback: moving | {be still}

  23. You are AMAZING! An inspiration to all! I can’t wait to share this!!! Such Strength, Courage, and Devotion! My new Hero!!!!

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