Thursday, March 31, 2011

After work...

Work has been pretty crazy lately, so my boss decided to take us out for drinks... sweeeeet! We had a good time, even though we did talk about work mostly. Great team-building and project management event though. (I'm not even kidding!)

PS.: See how I put my first yoga-free evening to good use? ;)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bikram Yoga Challenge: 30 days -> done!

Yep, I made it through 30 Bikram Yoga classes in 30 days. Yay!

This is the wall in my yoga studio where the challengers mark down their progress. See the yellow stickers? Those are for 60 day challengers! I'm still debating on putting one of those up for myself ;)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Still here...

My yogi tea shared this with me today: "Happiness comes when you overcome the most impossible challenge."

Wow! I think the yogi tea must know me personally! It is day 29 of my challenge and I only have 2 more Bikram yoga classes to take to finish it. When I think about being "almost done", I feel mostly three things: happiness, pride, and anxiety. Yep, you read that right, anxiety... I feel slightly anxious when I think about NOT going to the yoga studio after work. But... the good thing is, of course I am still free to go every day :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bikram Yoga Challenge: 20 day recap

The 20 day recap is a over-due, but I haven't really seen any major changes compared to when I did the 10 day recap. I will still do a quick recap and I will use the same categories as before.

Food cravings:
  • Water is really all I drink throughout the day, so I have stopped drinking filtered water and only drink specific brands of spring water now. I crave it and I truly believe that it means, it's what's best for me. No matter how expensive. I prefer Dasani and S. Pellegrino. I have also tried electrolyte water (smartwater), but I don't think there is a difference to Dasani (which also has added electrolytes).
  • I don't crave salt as much anymore. It might be because I've switched to good water though.
  • Generally, I think my body has gotten used to this new activity level, so I am not as crazy for protein anymore. (Am I not building as much muscle anymore?)

Energy and Sleep:
I'm not as exhausted anymore, but I doubt that it has anything to do with improvement due the yoga. I am working a little less, so I am less stressed and I have made it a point to get to bed earlier. Many people report needing less sleep with this yoga. I have experienced it when I was practicing 4 times a week, but with my 7 times... no such luck. It really is quite a challenge to work full-time and do a Bikram yoga challenge.

  • still super-soft skin
  • almost no sore muscles, did have sore muscles after my double last Sunday though :)
  • generally stronger! And I definitely see more definition, too! Helloooo, abs :)
  • no more knee pain, lower back pain is getting better, too.
no changes... I do feel more calm and relaxed, but it is probably due to less work (read: travel time) rather than the yoga. To clarify: I do feel waaaay more calm now as opposed to when I wasn't practicing Bikram yoga at all. There just hasn't been that much of a difference between 4x compared to 7x a week.

  • my balance is getting better, yeah!!! So those postures, where I balance on one leg for a minute at a time while doing funky stuff with the other leg, are getting MUCH better! (Standing Head to Knee Standing Bow)
  • Getting even stronger, so Balancing Stick is more manageable (but still a toughie for me!)
  • Also because I am getting stronger, I can concentrate more on better alignment, for example putting the same amount of pressure on both legs in Awkward pose.
Still considering doing a 60 day challenge, but I have pretty much decided that I will go with my own rules... as I have mentioned about a month ago (when I didn't even know about the official challenge at my studio). My rule will be that I get one or two days off per week (haven't decided yet if one or two). My reason is that I don't really see much of a difference between practicing 6 as opposed to 7 days a week. It does put me under a lot of pressure though and I would welcome a day off so that I can catch up on sleep and the piles of yoga laundry. I think 6 days per week is still challenging, but it might mean much less stress for me, so I think it's the right thing to do. It is supposed to challenge me after all and not destroy me. I do have to work on the side, you know ;)

Namaste :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

PostSecret Event

Yesterday I went to the PostSecret Event in Toledo, Ohio. PostSecret is a group art project started by Frank Warren (who spoke yesterday at the event).

Frank Warren describes himself as a "collector of secrets". And he has collected a lot of them... He told us yesterday that these are about half of the postcards he has received since he started this project.

He started the project in 2005 when he invited strangers to write a secret on one side of a postcard and mail it to him. Since then, he has been posting 10-20 secrets on his PostSecret blog every Sunday. The secrets range from funny to sad, shocking, unbelievable, (thought-)provoking, and everything in-between. For me, reading PostSecret is so much more than entertainment; it is proof that you cannot see the what's going on in a person's head. If you follow PostSecret for a while, you are bound to read YOUR secret at one point... it is ian amazing feeling to suddenly realize... you are not alone with your secret. You might find that it doesn't separate you from the world, it CONNECTS you to other people.

During the years of working on this project, Frank started working more and more in suicide prevention. He even got trained in suicide prevention counseling and worked/works on the Hopeline suicide prevention hotline! At the event yesterday, Frank gave the audience the chance to share their secret live over the microphone. I was shocked to see that most of the secrets shared were about suicide thoughts and suicide attempts. If statistics don't impress you (around 90 suicides per day, only in the USA), this event might have (yes, you too know a person who has suicide thoughts).

Anyway, I think PostSecret is not just about suicide, but generally about connecting people. I want to thank Frank for connecting millions of people with this project. I believe he is giving so many people hope... every day... So, thank you!

Lastly I want to say, if you ever get a chance to see Frank Warren speak, Go Go Go! This is Frank yesterday, talking about and showing us a postcard he received:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bikram Yoga 30 Day Challenge: 20 down, 40 to go?

Yesterday I took classes 19 and 20 of my 30 Day Challenge. Doing a so called "double" (two Bikram Yoga classes) in one day was awesome, even though I was a little scared and intimidated by the idea at first. Bikram Yoga is practiced in a room that is heated up to 105-115 degF (40.5-46 degC). There is humidity, too. At least 40 percent. The yoga postures are very challenging, not what you would call "relaxing" at all!

Why would one do such a thing? Well, it trains the body and the mind. The body, because the postures are HARD, so you build muscles. The mind, because the postures are HARD and it is so hot, and you just wanna get away, so it trains your determination, your self-control, your ability to get through a rough situation by concentrating on what's important without freaking out... it's great body-and-mind training!

Anyway, because it is so hot in the room, and each class is 90 mins long, the body loses a lot of water and electrolytes through sweat. So doing a double can be quite tough on the body. But it worked out great! I hydrated well, ate a tiny bit in the 30 min break  between classes, and gave my body some electrolytes. My body was happy-happy and super stretchy in the second class :) It felt super-short, too!

BTW, I am thinking about extending my 30 Day Challenge to a 60 Day Challenge. I'm not sure yet, because work has been quite stressful (not the actual work, but the long commute to our customer) and I'm not sure if I want to put more pressure on myself for additional 30 days. I might do 5 classes per week instead of 7, but it all depends on this work project.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Whoa! It's WARM!

Can you see that? 68 degF means 20 degC!!!

The ducks are happy, too! There is water to swim in again :)

Pretty sunset after my yoga class this week.

Urgent UPDATE, urgent UPDATE!

My colleagues and I just had lunch OUTSIDE!

OUTSIDE, people!!! I don't believe it! (It's supposed to snow again this weekend though...)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011




Aaaah, much better already :)

Oh yeah, and I forgot to show you guys... I am not eating from paper plates anymore, hurray!

Monday, March 14, 2011

I really need to...

... find some time to pick out some more furniture!

my dining table / office

 my living room end table

my nightstand

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Night on the Town

Greektown (in downtown Detroit) at night

Sax player in the streets of Motown...

Hmmmm heaven on plates

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bikram Yoga Challenge: 10 day recap

The following is a list of changes I've noticed in the past 10 days. (Actually, I had been practicing 'almost every day' in the 10 days before the challenge.)

Food cravings:
  • water!!! (not filtered, but actual spring water including yummy minerals)
  • more food in general (seems like my body is busy busy keeping up with the yoga!)
  • protein (thus the salmon and hummus... seems like my body is also busy building muscle!)
  • salt/minerals
  • fruit/vitamins (low-dose multivitamin, fruit, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and pomegranate juice to fulfill my body's requests)

Energy and Sleep:
After day 5 of the challenge, I started being sooooo tired! It might also have to do with the busy schedule I have right now. I leave the house at 7/8 am, work, take yoga class, and get home at 9/10 pm. When I get home, I haven't eaten yet (can't eat before yoga class), so yeah, there is not much time left for sleeping.
Another thing I've noticed: I think my sleep is deeper than usual.

  • no more cold feet
  • super-soft skin, no more lotion needed - except for hands (due to frequent hand washing) and face (sunblock)
  • only slightly sore muscles... nothing too bad :) 
  • stronger legs, core, arms (esp. lower arms!), stronger everything
  • tiny bit of knee and lower back pain, but those are my "troubled areas" and supposedly, before they heal, they will hurt for a short time. I just make sure to keep proper form when in postures (locking the knee to make it easier on the knee, tightening the abs to make it easier on the lower back)

I didn't notice any other huge changes. I do feel like my muscles have gotten stronger, generally... legs, feet, arms, shoulders, core, ... but nothing particular stands out

  • can concentrate better
  • more calm, can handle stress better
  • more positive attitude

  • half moon pose is not (as much) torture anymore, I feel much stronger in this (yay, core strength!)
  • cobra & full locust pose: I can activate a new muscle group in my lower back to rise much higher
  • back bends are getting better
  • much deeper stretching on most days, esp. in hands to feet, sit-up, standing separate leg head to knee and head to knee poses
  • can handle the heat better (I'm really interested to see how I will handle heat outside the studio, ie in the summer)
  • I'm able to contract my stomach muscles throughout the whole class -> better postures, safer for the lower back! (Before the challenge, I would get so tired/weak during the class that I couldn't keep them contracted tightly anymore toward the end)

I am very tired all the time, because I don't get much sleep, but I just go to yoga every day after work without thinking about it. To an extent, it feels like my will was broken. It's a good thing though, because this will of mine is lazy and wants to go and sit on the couch. It's broken though, so now I go every day without (much of) a struggle. And the yoga is and will be so good for me (and anybody, really). A routine has set in and it's just normal to go to the studio every day. One of the super-cool things about that is, that I got to know the fellow yogis at the studio better and we motivate each other, yay! :)

If everything goes according to plan, I will finish the 30 Day Challenge on March 30th.

Namaste :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Yoga tonight

This is what I did today at yoga... errr, yeah... had an issue to resolve at work today, so I couldn't make it to the last class at my yoga studio, so... I seized the day and had a healthy dinner instead ;)

Gonna do a double tomorrow: 7 am class, work, 6:30pm class... sounds like a plan, huh?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bikram Yoga Challenge: Class 7 done!

Today I took the seventh yoga class of my 30 Day Challenge. That means I took a Bikram yoga class every day in the past week. I've never done that before!

Between the long commute I have to work at the moment (on-site at our customer's development center) and well, the yoga classes, I have had very little time at home. I leave my house at 7-8am and don't get back in before 9-10pm after my yoga class. Before I go to bed, I still have to fix myself dinner, pack breakfast and lunch for the next day, pack my yoga bag for the next day, and often wash yoga clothes/towels. So yeah, let's just say, I don't have much time for anything besides work and yoga during the week. As you can see in the pic above, I've started preparing 3-4 yoga bags at a time though to save a little bit of time ever day... Let's see if this system works :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Most important addition to my kitchen, or: Hummus from scratch

 I looove hummus, but of course not the store-bought kind. With all the yoga I've been doing (day 6 of my first Bikram yoga challenge!), I've been craving my famous Simmm-style hummus ;) I finally bought an immersion blender today, so let the hummus-making begin!

Finally! I've missed it in the last couple of months... the store-bought just tastes funny to me. (Arent't those little whole-wheat pitas cute?)

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Had a super-yummy dinner tonight at an Italian restaurant. Sorry I have to show you a half-eaten meal again, but it was SOOOO good I had to start eating right away :P Looove grilled salmon!

And dessert was super-delicious, too!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pretty ice rain

I can't recall having seen pretty ice rain like this before today!

And this is from the inside of my car :)

Call me crazy, but I really prefer this over snow.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Work humor

I worked on a customer's system today to figure out a problem they were experiencing. The "boss" there showed some great humor and - as several engineers from several departments gathered around the troubled system - labeled one of the seats the "HOT seat" :D

PS.: No, I wasn't in the hot seat.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bikram Yoga Challenge: And... Begin!

My 30 Day Challenge has officially begun yesterday! The aim of a Bikram Yoga challenge is to practice the Bikram Yoga series daily for the specified time. If you can't make it on a certain day, you can do two classes on another day to make up for it.

I've started using my beloved SIGG bottle from Lululemon to celebrate my first 30 Day Challenge!