Sunday 19 April 2015

The Bikram Diaries: 2

Good news! I achieved all my goals for this week. I went to Bikram three times, swam, did aquafit, saw my PT and played squash with Tutt. And today I have had more motivation and energy to Get Things Done than I can remember having in a number of months. It would be crazy to think these two things are not connected.

My particular success of the week was Thursday's class. I only had to sit out a couple of repeats of postures, and I felt amazing when I was done. I managed my best ever standing bow pose on the left side. It helped to sit out the first go on the right side, then do left and right in succession. The instructor tried to help me grab both feet in lying-on-the-floor bow pose (to give it its official name) which was hilarious: I did get to the point where my right hand was touching my right toe, but at that point my left hand wetly slithered off my left foot, so it was all for naught.

Afterwards he recommended I drink more juices. He very enthusiastically tried to explain the benefits of drinking in class which seemed to involve replacing lost nutrients sweated out of the body while the body is at its most amenable to replacements. Hmm. I don't really believe this, but they are tasty, so I went and got a juice from the juice bar after Saturday's class, and it was so nice that I bought some veg and made use of the juicer I bought Mr Z for Christmas. It was beetroot, apple, carrot and watercress - I put in two of each plus a bag of watercress, and it made far too much juice. Mr Z and I had about a pint each and it has had that unfortunate beetroot effect of transferring dye all the way through my digestive system and out the other side. Never fails to make me momentarily panic, does beetroot.

Saturday morning's class was less successful, since I went on an empty stomach, but since I wasn't planning to go and was actually quite surprised to find myself lying on the mat, I still chalk it up as a big win. It felt very hot: at one point the instructor opened the door wide during a posture and I nearly got up and hugged her. A couple of people had to be excused during the class. I couldn't even grab my left foot to do bow pose, which was slightly demoralising after Thursday, but I'm not holding it against myself. I've been strength training now for nearly five years so it is not overly surprising that I'm not very bendy.

This is definitely becoming a habit and I am a bit glum at not being able to wedge many classes in this week. I think it could easily be quite addictive, because it's such a massive sense of achievement every time.

This week's goals:
Attendance: Tuesday, Thursday
Postures: Get my head to touch my knee, at some point, in some posture. That's quite a big ask. I'll give it a go. 
Other exercise: Swimming x 2 (including today), PT session, walking endlessly around Wonderwool with an elevated heart rate from looking at all the gorgeous yarn.

Sunday 12 April 2015

The Bikram Diaries: 1

I decided I would chart my progress at Bikram here. I fear this chart may end up being one post long, as I move into silly season at work, but the intent is there, in any case.

I have now completed 10 Bikram classes. It's been interesting to see my progress. I said to the instructor at the end of class number 10 that I felt I'd only been able to do a quarter of the class to begin with, but now felt I could do about half. I might be being a little generous, but there is certainly a lot less kneeling down, particularly when I have remembered to drink well for 24 hours in advance. That makes an enormous difference.

The heat is still oppressive but weird things happen now. At certain points in the class, particularly in the floor poses, I actually feel a bit cooler. It's almost like the sweat is doing its job! Also, I am no longer constantly fighting the urge to run screaming from the room and stick my head under the cold tap. Not gonna lie though - that moment at the end of class when someone opens the door and a breath of cool air floats over me is still the best bit of the class (this is like when I say taking my ski boots off at the end of the day is the best bit of skiing).

As for the postures, well. My aim is to attempt each posture at least once on each side, and to not just stop practice when my heart rate goes up, unless I am really labouring for breath. Some of the postures are just too difficult, while I find others a lot easier. But I think that is probably the same for everyone.

An interesting thing happened today. I went swimming, and at the end, I decided I would try and do a couple of the postures I find most challenging in the shallow end, to see if it was a bit easier. I have a theory that my excessive bulk physically blocks me from getting into certain positions and I wanted to prove to myself that this wasn't just an excuse. Unfortunately, it would appear that it is just that.

Take the standing head to knee pose, for example. I can stand on one leg, holding the other foot with both hands with my leg straight out. BUT, I can't grab my foot by bending my knee, which is the posture set up, so I end up standing, like a gently sweating lemon, bent over and reaching. This is immensely frustrating. Yet, in the pool, I can grab my foot. Likewise, I can grab my ankle from the inside to do the standing bow pose. Presumably this works because I am not afraid of falling over. It was quite motivating to find that these things are not beyond my reach.

This week's goals:
Attendance: Monday, Thursday, Saturday
Postures: Standing bow pose once on each side. Grab my heels in camel - I managed this when I was practising yesterday
Other exercise: Swimming x 2 (including today), PT session, maybe school gym induction

Thursday 9 April 2015

Easter WIP: Feathernest

I cast this on in the second week of March so I am pleased to see I have managed to make considerable progress, in spite of Mad March and skiing and the fact that this is, essentially, a ribbed jumper.

The pattern is the Feathernest Raglan from Interweave Winter 2014, aka the issue from which I intend to knit everything (the first thing being Swivel last year). It looks very small off the needles but it is hella stretchy. It's five moons Luna dk - deliciously soft. I carried on knitting the body until I finished the third skein, as I am attempting not to have any left over when it's done (what a waste otherwise...I mean, we all know I would intend to knit something else with it but that it would languish in stash until I eventually put it in swaps and somebody took it off my hands).

This makes my third blue jumper of the year so far. Not that I'm a creature of habit or anything. However, almost since casting this on, I've been fantasising about using the blue five moons angora I bought at Wonderwool 2013 to knit a henley from the same Interweave issue. Mmmmmmm, bunny snug! I really should work on some WIPs and some other projects when this is finished buuuuut....yknow.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Ancient FO: Cloud/surf V neck

Pattern: Wendy Bernard's Pink, as knitted before (in roughly the same colours)
Yarn: Madelinetosh DK, in Cloud/Surf, which appears to be a limited edition colourway. 4 and a half skeins.
Needle: 4.5mm and 4mm. I used my Chiaogoos but also the Knitpicks for the sleeves, which I did two at a time on a long magic loop; must remember to pick up a long cable for the Chiaogoos at Wonderwool.
Mods: Slightly longer thinking it should have been even longer as I seem to be pulling it down a lot. Maybe I have just been wearing it with the wrong things. I can always rip back and add more....she says, knowing she won't.
I knitted all the ribbing with a little twist and I did the sleeves full length, without realising the sleeves in the pattern were three-quarter length, and therefore with no additional shaping. I think I got away with it.

I finished this way back at the start of March, meaning it took just under a month to complete - not too shabby. It was addictive, with the colour stripe. There is the big blue flash on one sleeve but actually, I quite like it.

The colours are so lovely. I am going to try and pick up a nice dark blue this summer, and knit some kind of striping two-colour shawl with it. Zephyr Cove has been suggested by Kat at knitting group as a particularly apt choice, and I'm inclined to agree.

I need to do a WIP post soon, really, because jumper number three of 2015 is almost ready to have its sleeves added. Clearly after all those hats I have been in the mood for bigger things.

Life Update

I'm sure I could quite quickly find out, but I can't remember the last time I went more than a month without blogging. But, there it is - March is always busy and this one was even more so.

However, I don't like it when I miss out on blogging for a goodly amount of time because it's like there's a gap in my memory when I look back over the year (and obviously, this blog is mainly for me to remember what I've been doing), so here's what's been occurring -

1. Half term
I went to London. I had a meeting with the publisher about new projects, I went to see the wedding dress exhibition at the V&A (amazing), I booked a facial at Bliss which they had to cancel, I stayed at the Russell and ate at Yo Sushi three times in as many days, and I did the final two days of my exam board course. They were even more interesting than the first two, incredibly, and I ended up sitting opposite someone who works in the same town as me. Small world.
Upon returning to the west country I went for Chinese at Tutt's. At the end of half term I went and had lots of gin in Bath with both Louises. Good times. I wore heels and curled my hair and everything.

2. Early March
It felt quite breezy, early March. I didn't have much on. I had to go back to London for another publisher's meeting and from there, ventured into Essex to see Tutt. I said I would never do it but the lure of the beach was too strong, and anyway, the train ticket was expensed so it wasn't too much of a financial commitment. We planned our holiday to NZ next summer.
People offered me various additional jobs, writing and the like. Some difficult decisions have had to be made. The exam board recruited me for yet another training program. More trips to London are in my future.

3. Mid March
The ski company told me they were shortening our trip by a day. Much back-and-forthing ensued. It was exhausting, and felt impossible to deal with. I sort of buried my head in the sand. Tutt came to visit. Honestly, it's almost like she's not moved sometimes.

4. Late March
They rolled out the red carpet for me. First time for everything!

The crazy really ramped up. I travelled from Wiltshire to Manchester to Herts to London to Bristol in 5 days, which REALLY messed with my sense of time (like I'd missed a weekend) and then at the end of that week, I got on the bus to go skiing. Mental. I was presenting at student conferences in Manchester and London (as pictured above), which was fun as always, and attended a really excellent teaching conference in Herts, and on the Sunday I met Tutt and we went to Trailfinders to get hypothetical pricing for the big NZ trip. I went to dinner with my fellow presenters in our usual Cartwright Gardens tapas spot and found, to my horror, that my old halls of residence were now merely a dusty hole in the ground.
I also squeezed in a return visit to Bliss for that facial I'd tried to have in February, which they generously gave me at a 25% discount to make up for the inconvenience of previously cancelling. WINNER.

Then there's been skiing, but I've got some pictures so I'll share that another time.

And other than that, the only thing that has been taking up my time is Bikram Yoga. Long-time readers may be astonished to hear this, given my previous unequivocal stance on the matter, but, having learned to love yoga in a room of a regular temperature, I decided to power through and have found myself becoming just a little bit addicted to it. It makes me feel amazing (afterwards) and I notice improvements every time I go. I still can't do all the postures but I don't care too much. It's a huge time suck as the class is 90 minutes and takes place in central Bristol, so the entire endeavour requires three hours, including showering. My sleep quality is improved, though, and my skin feels much softer, and it has made me feel a bit calmer, especially during Mental March.

Phew. I'm glad that's over. I knew when I got the student conference dates last summer that it would be a total mission, so close to skiing, but I didn't expect it to be quite so relentless. I dread to think of the marking pile I've got waiting for me at school, which has been strenuously ignored for a good number of weeks now.

Spring is definitely here now, at least, and I feel re-energised. The tortoise is out of the loft, sun spotting in the garden. I've has several days of sitting around and Zoe came to visit yesterday for a catch up. I almost feel ready to go back to work (but don't tell anybody).