Triangle Trauma


It’s the pinnacle pose in Bikram’s series, designed to use every muscle in the body: trikonasana, or triangle pose. It comes about 45 minutes into the sequence, right after I’ve built up a sweat and am breathing hard. In my first few weeks of yoga, the instructors corrected my leg positioning (open them up wider!), but then after that first month or so, I just…haven’t done the posture.

Sure, I try, every once in awhile. But to be honest, with my legs spread that far apart, trying to sink down into my pelvis, it feels like I’m going to break in half. The sweat pools make my feet slip, and I fear losing control. So, with the justification of being tired from a long workout so far, and not wanting to hurt myself, I’ve sat out of this pose. For the last 7 months or so. Only trying it sporadically, and then giving up, because really I don’t even want to do that pose.

But a week or so ago, I went to a posture clinic at my studio, and something profound happened when he was explaining to focus more on the arms in the posture, specifically the top arm reaching it up, and when I tried it I was able to sink down into the pose for one set on each side. I felt super proud of myself! And when I told the owner, Gina, about my breakthrough, she was really excited, and said something profound: sometimes trauma is held in the hips.


I had told her that when I sat down in the pose, it felt like my pelvis was going to shatter, and the feeling was EXACTLY like how I felt right before Potamus was birthed out my tiny little vag-hole. The whole concept that this pose could be bringing up birth trauma felt SO REAL, and it actually helped me to even verbalize that…yes…two and a half years later I can say…my birth experience was traumatizing. Was it amazing in the result? Yes. Was the whole thing taking only 4 hours and feeling completely batshit out of my mind traumatizing? Yes. Was having my water break and him come crowning out in one fell swoop amazing in retrospect? Yes, who wants to do hours and hours of pushing? But was it fucking scary in the moment? YES!

And in triangle I’ve been feeling that. Hot. Sweaty. Tired. Completely overwhelmed and knowing the rest of the class stretches out ahead of me. Sinking into my hips and feeling just like I’m going to give birth again. Totally trauma held in my hips.

I have no idea what this information will do to change my pose. Maybe I’ll try it more and be easier on myself. But knowledge is power, and I hope to use it to my advantage!

Yogavangelist: Introducing Friends to Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga with friends!

Growing up as a fundamentalist Christian, I am no stranger to the ‘evangelist’ idea. I was taught about how to ‘witness’ to my friends, and the importance of ‘preaching the gospel’ so that people I knew could be ‘saved’ and ‘go to heaven.’ I wonder if I just never believed any of the hype, because as an anxious person I never felt comfortable blabbing about Christian doctrine with friends, let alone with strangers. Sure I’d have discussions, but never in an evangelist sort of way.

I wonder if I was just never a good enough Christian, that I must never have really believed in all of it, because my evangelist-anxiety has not extended to things like Bikram yoga. Yesterday my bestie The Anxious Hippie drove up to visit me for the long weekend, and we headed on out to coffee and a FREE bikram yoga class thanks to the Valentine’s Day special my studio was having.

This makes the 6th friend/family member that I’ve convinced to try a Bikram class, and I’ve invited at least as many more that have politely declined (or outright said HELL NO to the heat!). But she freaking KILLED IT YA’LL. I mean, totally. The heat didn’t seem to bother her one bit, and she had a great balance of working hard, but not pushing herself past her comfort point. It was so great to have her in class!

So there you go. I’m the crazy yogavangelist, and I might come knocking on your door with pamphlets and fliers about the benefits of Bikram yoga! Because Lord knows it’s certainly changing my life (did I mention I weigh less than I did at my wedding 5 years ago? WAHOO!).

How do you share your love of yoga with others?

How Drinking Beer Leads to Yoga Poses


Sometimes you just need a girl’s day, that turns into a girl’s night. And with little ones roaming around, this spontaneous day was actually very well planned…down to the last minute, even.

We started off with a leisurely drive up north to a Korean women’s spa. WHOA, what an experience. It felt somewhere between radically amazing and downright uncomfortable. While lying on a wet massage table, getting scrubbed by a Korean woman named “Tina,” next to at least 10 other women getting the same body scrub, I couldn’t help but feel that this was about 1/2 a step away from a Korean red light district. But at the end of the day I felt so relaxed and rejuvenated that wandering around in our hospital dressing gowns with shower caps like psych patients that I would certainly go back.

And we headed on down to the U district for a shampoo and blow out, before we went out to dinner. And then, finally, the fun part of our day…drinking at Gordon Biersch brewery. YUM! On our way back to the hotel, after 1 (or 5) beers, we just had to bust out some yoga moves. We don’t do yoga 4 times a week together to not want to do them while a bit tipsy!

Toe Stand

despite the beer, her balance is amazing!

nothing like a heart opener to end the night!

nothing like a heart opener to end the night!

24 hours of pure girl’s day bliss. We woke up to croissants and mimosas in bed, and I felt so relaxed it was unbelievable!

Form over Depth


I’m persuaded by beauty.

In yoga I look all around and am mesmerized by the incredible postures. I know what the post ‘should look like,’ and want my body to  BE THERE ALREADY!, but that’s not how it works. Because wrenching my body into a pose only ends up simulating beauty. So, instead, I focus on form, knowing that depth of posture will end up in beauty in the long run.

It’s hard for me, though, to stand in a posture and see myself in my mind’s eye doing the full posture. My leg extended nicely, my hand reaching forward, my abs tight, body strong. But when I look in the mirror I’m only standing there, with a semi straight leg. My imagination doesn’t match up with reality. And yet, when I’ve focused on good form, wherever I am currently in my posture journey, I begin to notice the subtlety over time…how I am able to now wrap my arms around my leg, or that I can feel my shoulders extending. These are things that 6 months ago I didn’t know I would ever be able to do, and the progress has been a snail’s pace slow, but beauty is coming.

Beautiful Lines

I was still distracted halfway through the warm-up series. Typically after the pranayama breathing exercise my mind quiets down, but not today. I kept looking at myself in the mirror. I even reached down and poked myself in the ribs. I won’t have many more opportunities to do so on that bare piece of ribby flesh. My mind was analyzing, whirring, imagining. Where will the best placement be for that tattoo I schedule for a few weeks from now? Should it be forward more? Back more. How much will I want showing when I sport my yoga bra or a bikini. How will Boof react when I tell him what I’ve decided to do? Oh right, move into ardha chandrasana, backbend, forward bend.

Soon my outside-the-class distraction of how my virgin skin will look with a permanent picture gave way to severe wobbliness. Sweat in my ear canal caused balance issues…which of course was highlighted during the balancing series. Try standing on your leg, breathing through your nose, with sloshing in the ear happening on every in-breath. I felt out of sorts, frustrated that my really good practice had so easily been derailed by something that hasn’t even happened yet (tattoo), and something so minor as a drop of sweat in my ear.

But I persevered with the body I had, because that’s what the teacher tells us to do. Your body is different each time you come into the room. Work with it. And so I did.

And after class, the lovely instructor/owner (who looks suspiciously like an elvish pixie, and I’m always thinking if I catch her in the right moment I’ll see wings) said, “your practice is really improving.”

Whoa. I told her I had felt distracted and she said, “wow, I would never have known you were distracted, your lines were beautiful.”

That compliment, coming from a master teacher, was SO INSPIRING to me. Especially on a day where I felt off, distracted, not doing my best  practice. Though maybe that’s where I had allowed myself to fall into a practice, my body moving, without my mind over-thinking the postures. I’ve been practicing now for five months and feel stronger than ever. I may not go deep into each posture, I may still not have the inner thigh strength to do triangle remotely well at all, and maybe can’t quite get my balance in balancing stick, but I have beautiful lines. And that will keep me going…until the next yoga session.

How yoga is improving my life

This week is midterm break for my students, and so my schedule is much more relaxed. We meet with each student individually, but these meetings only take 15 minutes or so, which means I’m done by 2:00 pm at the latest…and am off on Thursday. This relaxed schedule is freeing up time to practice yoga earlier, and so when I dropped Potamus off at grandma’s house, I decided to amble on down to their bathroom to weigh myself. While I rarely jump on the scale, seeing the numbers are merely one portion of overall health, I was SHOCKED to find that I am now at 214 lbs, which is only 5 lbs away from my postpartum weight (okay, really it’s only 2lbs away from my postpartum weight, since I LIED to my midwife about weighing less at the start than I really did. For shame…)

Somehow I have managed, in the past 2.5 months, to lose close to 15 lbs. I really think that the 3-4.5 hours of yoga in a sweaty hot room has really contributed to this overall weight loss. But beyond numbers on the scale (of which I am excited, not going to lie), I have also noticed other things. Like how shitty I felt after eating Jack N the Box for lunch today. And not shitty because I was beating myself up about it, but shitty because let’s be honest, Jack N the Box tastes like garbage.

Additionally, I cried on the way to work today. Not full on ugly cry, but I definitely felt emotion and it expressed through tears. I can’t solely contribute that to yoga, because it’s something I’m working on in therapy, but having all those hours a week where I have to focus on the mind/body connection is certainly helping me tap into the emotions and express them…and express them in a non judgy way.

You know how I bragged the other night about making dinner? Um, yeah, I did it again. Same recipe…ish…which means I’m sorta getting the hang of it, and feeling confident. It was lemon pepper papardelle noodles, and some chicken, and mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic and shallots all boiled together in the veggie stock and water. Topped with grated parmesan chese. While it won’t ever take the place of my love for marinara, it was pretty darn delicious and felt amazing that I stepped AGAIN outside my comfort zone and cooked, rather than simply heated things up. Also, I wasn’t too worried about the outcome, and that relaxed approach is much more mindful and like how I approach the difficult yoga poses that I do each week.

My weight has dropped, but I overall feel stronger and more flexible. I’ve been throwing Potamus around during our wrestling sessions in the living room. My clothes fit different and my mama belly pooch is firmer, though sweetly still dappled with the stretch marks. Overall I feel confident, like I can face a lot of things. And maybe that’s the antidepressants talking, but I’m gonna attribute a lot of that to my new yoga practice.

Have you started any new healthy way of life lately? How has it rippled into other areas of your life?

Bikram Bootcamp?

I have gotten into quite a little routine over at my Bikram yoga studio. I’ve shared parts of my life with certain teachers, and have gotten used to their style of leading the classes. While much of the class is scripted, the words sound different when different people’s energies say things like “bend beyond your flexibility,” or “struggle harder, don’t give up.” Two of my favorite instructors (one who happens to own the studio) have this subtle sense of humor that they infuse into the sessions, and I enjoy when they point out both things we’re doing well and things we can improve on while we’re doing our asanas.

So, much to my surprise, I showed up at my most recent class and there was a teacher I hadn’t yet met. Somewhat disappointed, I made her acquaintance, and headed on in to the studio. I figured, that just like all the other instructors I had experienced, that this class would be pleasantly challenging with a twist of humor.

But I was wrong. Sure I got used to it by the end of class, but her method of delivery was rapid-fire fast and more like a bootcamp drill seargent than a mild mannered yoga instructor. I had heard about bikram’s bent toward a more Crossfit/bootcamp/competition bent, but had yet to experience that in this studio. I’d always felt challenged, but not stupid. And while the instructor never called me out (either good or bad), it was the subtle comments like “party’s over” when we were supposed to be done with the first water break, or actually saying “no water now Amy,” to a woman who was taking a sip right before camel. Good intentions, and a warning I’ve heard before (because it can induce vomiting), but the delivery style felt grating and harsh and shaming.

I didn’t like it.

It’s not enough to keep me from going, though I’m praying that she won’t be scheduled as the regular Thursday Night instructor. While I’m sure I would learn something about myself, my body, perseverance, determination, etc., I’d prefer to do it in a room with a little more humor.


Bikram Yoga

ignore my poor bow form :)

ignore my poor bow form 🙂

My 10 classes for $10 special ran out this week and so I took the leap of faith and switched to the yoga studio 7 minutes from my house. Initially I had been skeptical about hot yoga and bikram yoga (mostly because people who do it seem to be in a sort of cult…much like my crossfitting friends 🙂 ). But I loved hot yoga, and really had to convince myself that the switch would be worth it…closer studio…same price…longer workouts that would actually work with my schedule, hope for having a community, etc.

But making the switch was nerve wracking. Because…if it didn’t work out, it didn’t leave me many other options (unless I was willing to drive, which is good in theory but bad in actual practice). So this week I took my first class and….whoa…I can see why people feel cultish about it!

I had loved the other studio until I joined this closer one. Whereas I had gotten used to giant space heaters hanging down from the ceiling making me feel like I was standing in front of a hair dryer, this studio has the heaters all recessed into the ceiling, so the room just feels warm. I’m not a huge fan of the flourescent lighting, but quickly got over that because of the COMMUNITY feel of the class. Holy moley. The instructor chatted me up before class, introduced me to the class as we started, gave verbal instructions to everyone BY NAME and was super encouraging. Wow. I walked away feeling validated, positive about my own practice, and like I had been noticed and welcomed. Something that didn’t happen at the other studio, it always felt like it was just about getting me to sign up and be a regular paying customer.

The workout was somewhat strange at first, starting with their pranayama breathing, but fortunately the Hot Yoga class I had been going to followed a loose version of Bikram’s 26 postures. While I’m still not sure how I feel about Bikram, the man behind the series, much preferring the ideology of Ashtanga or Anusara yoga, I am really digging the workout and the community vibe that I’m getting over here…and looking forward to my next class! I am hoping to make this a part of my regular weekly schedule!

Have you ever been anxious about a particular type of workout and then tried it and loved it? Anybody else experience hot yoga or bikram yoga? Thoughts?

Sun Salutations: Motherhood Series

Spring in Seattle 2008. Well before I became a mother...

Spring in Seattle 2008. Well before I became a mother…

My daily sun salutation poses are a little non traditional. There’s the:

  • Roll Over and See What time it is Pose
  • Baby on Boob before he screams Pose
  • Putter to bathroom with toddler on hip Pose
  • Cheerio pour and high-chair monitor Pose
  • Wipe snot/spit/mushed up food stain on clothes Pose

And for the balancing pose sequence, there is the:

  • Hold everything in one arm while closing the door and beating back the crazy dog with the foot Pose, which is known for maximizing the glutes, thighs, abs and arms, with the mantra “is it really Monday?”

Sure, my yoga looks a little different than yours, but it’s about strength and flexibility and maintaining mindfulness in these moments that is helping me cope with motherhood as a backslidden yogini. Because, a traditional practice gets interupted…like last night when I was 8 minutes into a 15 minute sequence and Potamus refused to go to sleep to music/back rub with daddio. He wanted mama snuggles and that was that. And so there, in the middle of Warrior 1, I became Mama Warrior #1 and vinyasayed my booty into the back bedroom and did a little shavasana with the little man.

Today I feel stronger and more present than I have in a long-time.