Back to Yoga

I took a 1 month and 1 week break from the States to head over to Taiwan in December 2014 plus a quick stop in South Korea for a couple of days for old time’s sake. To prepare for this rather big event (it’s for the wedding reception for hubby’s side of the family), I took a three-month break from hot yoga.

In truth, I have a love-hate relationship with it, and yet I still kept going back – even with the relatively high cost to both my wallet and time of keeping up with it. So, after having had a pretty long break from it and coming back for about a month now, I had come to my conclusion in regards to this form of exercise.

The following is my take on hot yoga thus far. Take it as a weak attempt of a half-organized case study of some random female who took hot yoga for almost a year. Continue reading

Hot Yoga: The Verdict

It’s been two weeks since my first hot yoga class and within that two weeks, I made it to ten classes. It’s been a pretty interesting journey and though I have a long way to go, ten sessions is a good mid-way point to get my thoughts on hot yoga across.

First thing, they weren’t joking when they say you have your good days and your bad days. I’ve had days where I walked in and was completely gung ho about it only to have a class where I just couldn’t balance very well or I couldn’t get through a pose (like that camel post? My body seems to have a vendetta against it because it’s. Then there were days like today, where I have a sore throat and am perhaps on the verge of getting a cold but I do better than the past three classes. It makes no sense, but like one of the instructors likes to say: tune in to your body that day. There will be days where you will be more tired and days where you’re made for hot yoga. Either way, as long as you keep on trying, you’ll still reap the benefits.

Secondly: yoga is for people of all shapes and fitness levels. I like that. All it takes is practice. Half of the people I see in class are married and a good amount of them are middle aged or even grandparent aged, but they have these awesomely lean bodies, despite the fact that the lack of collagen due to aging gives way to wrinkly/droopy skin. There are some who are normal, though. Same with the younger people in class. Last weekend, there was a new person in class: she was tall, French, and had an amazing body despite the fact that she looked like she was in her mid to late-40’s. It was the first time someone had to leave the room before the 90-minute class was over. It made me feel better about myself; even though my first day was far from the best, at least I stayed. However, it seems like the people who do this regularly have the means to do it (there are some normal cars like Hondas and Toyotas, but there are your fair share of luxury cars as well).

Third, weight loss is still a steady work-in-progress. Since I began, I have lost about 5 to 6 pounds. I still eat (especially on the weekends) and I drink around 60 ounces of water a day, but the practice helps me a lot with keeping the weight down once I get to the weekday. It’s not a drastic change, but it’s a gradual one.. and gradual weight loss is a good thing. A part of me still wishes there was a more intense component, but this hot yoga thing is always challenging so I like it even though I’m not sure what it does to build muscle mass. Plus, it’s not cheap so I will go as many times as I can.

I’ve been getting more and more flexible! I love it. 🙂 After class, my legs always feel a little unsteady and the next day, a group or two of muscles are a little sore (and sometimes it feels like I pulled something from stretching too far) but I feel more flexible. I can’t do the splits yet, but perhaps I can with time. I can say that compared to the beginning where almost every muscle felt sore to some extent, now, it’s just a little here and there. I hope my body isn’t getting used to the constant stretching and pulling and sweating.

Speaking of sweat, at the beginning, I didn’t sweat as much. Now, my shirt (and shorts) are quite literally soaked once class is finished. I think it’s because I can push myself further and I can do more of the poses with shorter breaks. Also, starting from the second class, the sweat I sweat doesn’t taste like sweat – it tastes like water. I’m serious: I have my butt in the air and my face is almost touching the floor and I wonder why it seems like something liquid is running across my vision. It’s my sweat and it doesn’t sting. It quite literally feels the same as if you have water running into your eyes. It might as well had been my tears. It’s a little baffling but cool at the same time. According to my friend who did hot yoga before, the sweating is supposed to take out all the toxins in your body. Essentially, this means that I’m [almost] toxin-free!

It’s halfway through my first month and I already wonder if I should continue with the second month. I miss cooking and eating hot meals regularly, but I also admit that adding hot yoga into my routine isn’t a bad thing either. Other than the fact that my time at home has been cut quite a bit on the weekdays so I have less time to tend to the household aspect of things and when I do, I’m on a time constraint. The main thing here is if I can afford to continue it. There is a discount if you renew before the end of your first month, but it’s still not a small amount. Perhaps I will see how I fare the closer it gets to the end of the month and I’ll make a spontaneous decision… like I usually do.

 

Hot Yoga Through the Eyes of a Newbie

I did it. I finally did it.

I joined a neighborhood hot yoga (or Bikram yoga) class because my steady weight increase was getting to the point of no return, if it wasn’t already. Now let me tell you a little bit about myself and why me beginning hot yoga is somewhat of a surprise.

Background.

  1. I don’t mind outdoor activities, sweating, or trying new things. However, I tend to like them more on an intense, high-intensity level. Rock climbing? Insanity? Taekwondo? Count me in! Yoga? …That’s a different story. I never did real yoga before other than some yoga-influenced moves during exercise routines and one failed attempt to follow along with a yoga DVD (let’s not go there again) and when I did toe that line into “Yoga Territory”, it was usually short-lived and I got bored rather quickly.
  2. I hate the heat. I can’t stay in a sauna for more than a minute or two without feeling like I was suffocating… and I would only be sitting down. What would happen if I were actually moving? I’m also the person you call up to go to the beach in the Winter and not the Summer. My friends all know this by now.
  3. My lungs have never been good. I suffered from childhood asthma which occasionally comes back when I get a serious cough or when I do long stretches of cardio. This is probably why I don’t really run; I start feeling like a vice and tightening its grip around my throat and lungs after only a short period of time. I can walk forever and jog for a little longer than I can run, but I can’t run. If there was a zombie apocalypse with those crazy-fast, smarter-than-your-usual zombie, I would die. Period. Why does this matter? It gets worse in the heat and humidity.
  4. I have [had] decent flexibility. It was a lot better when I practiced taekwondo regularly, but as it was, I can do things okay. However, yoga takes it to a whole new level from the little I had seen and heard from others. I was fairly certain that compared to a yogi (that is what hardcore yoga practitioners are called, right?), I was as stiff as a three-day-old cadaver.

The Reason.
I’m still not sure why I ultimately clicked the “pay” button online that night, but it could have been because of any number of things or a unique amalgamation of it all. Perhaps I wanted to get control over my weight (I hope it’s not too late). Perhaps I needed to step out of this routine, albeit married, life and I needed to take that step and do something new to spice things up again. Then maybe it was just the right time and I was in that kind of mood and everything was a big coincidence.  Continue reading

Fat: It Keeps Comin’ Back

I’m sure other people have this problem. You finally take off a decent amount of fat, only to find that it’s returned out of nowhere – slowly but surely – somewhat reminiscent of a horror film and a nightmare combined into one.

I was always someone who always had a bit of squish to me of various amounts. I finally noticed in 6th grade but I didn’t really care until university. Then, I discovered the gym while in college and I would go on-and-off. Of course, the problem then was a lack of something called motivation.

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Wheatgrass: Bring on the Green!

The first time I heard of it, a bunch of question marks popped up in my head. Wheat… grass? I decided that it must be one of those new-fangled foods that’s been proven in studies to be beneficial for one’s health. I also decided it didn’t sound remotely appealing.

In truth, it really does resemble the grass in my front lawn, though perhaps more on the delicate side. Then one day, the enthusiastic health nut that my mom is, she decided to order a shot of wheatgrass at Jamba Juice. She made the most disgusted face (at the taste) ever, which was interesting, because she’s one of those people who will eat anything that is good for one’s health – no complaints. Well, her facial expression said enough, I thought. Thereon after, I didn’t hear much about this plant until my mom somehow wanted to buy a box of fresh wheatgrass because she saw them at our local Central Market (the more up-scale version of HEB) – about 8 bucks for a good amount of those little, organic green sprigs.

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Liquid Happiness

When I was a baby and through my younger years, my parents had to force me to eat. Much later, I got into the habit of finishing everything on my plate, but I still have a soft spot for drinks. Sure, food is amazing and I constantly think about it, even following an eat-a-thon at a buffet (though the amount of times that I’ve been to one have dwindled within the past years), but there are just some things that food can’t do and that’s when these guys step in (in no particular order)…

Milk. My favorite drink since birth (literally, hah) – I prefer the skim milk variety. It’s so versatile in that it’s great alone, ingested with other things (cookies and milk anyone?), flavored (walnut and breakfast milks in China and banana milk in Korea completely rock my socks, in addition to the classic chocolate milk and bedtime milk that’s steeped with fresh ginger and spices), and used in food. It also helps because though my tolerance for spicy food has considerably risen after my year in Korea, it’s still not all that great. That’s when Milk comes to the Rescue!

There are a ton of healthy drinks out there. My favorite, by far, is Odwalla’s Superfood Fruit Juice. It is amazing. The only thing stopping me from buying it as much as I’d like is that it’s a bit pricey, usually going for around 8 USD per 64 fluid ounces (2 quarts), or around 3 USD per personal-sized bottle. It’s a green concoction that’s a bit thick – good thing I love green drinks, as my usual breakfast consists of a green smoothie – but the smell’s unique.. smelling fruity but more mellow. The texture is smooth and the taste is an amalgamation of exactly what, I couldn’t tell you, but with the amount of purees in there, I won’t try to think too much of it. And it’s full of vitamins! Continue reading

Skincare: I Need All Those Things??

Up until college, my skincare routine consisted of the washing of the face in the morning when I woke up and before I went to bed. After a brief period where my skin broke out completely around three years ago, I started to add an acne cream to that. Starting around a couple of months before my stint in Korea, I began to apply a light layer of foundation. Once in Korea, I discovered and became attached to BB cream and have since become a fan. It was only a mere month before I left Korea that I even began thinking about touching upon what seemed to be a pretty intense skin regimen that Korean women followed, but what I had thought it encompassed wasn’t even close. According to what two of my friends said (one the manager of a branch of The Face Shop, a Korean cosmetic and skincare store, in California, and the other a Korean-American friend), there are several things you should apply to your face to keep it young and healthy:

  1. Cleansing: consists of two steps with the pre-cleanse (usually an oil or cream-based product that’s used to deep clean and remove make-up, sunblock, sebum, and dirt) followed by a mild foam cleanser of some sort.
  2. Toner: the toner helps balance the skin’s pH, clean up any remaining debris from skin’s surface, soften the skin as well as acting as a humectant (attracting the atmosphere’s water molecules to the skin’s surface to maintain skin’s hydration) and is also great for firming up the pores.
  3. Serum (aka Essence): a lighter moisturizer with small molecules meant to penetrate the skin and giving moisture and hydration to the lower skin layers, which will keep your skin healthy and youthful.
  4. Daily Moisturizer (aka Emulsion): this lotion is used to seal in hydration and moisture to the skin and lasts throughout the day.
  5. Sunblock: this helps to protect skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays which can cause aging, hyperpigmentation and other skin diseases in the future. Ninety percent of aging and hyperpigmentation are caused by the sun, so to maintain healthy and youthful skin, the cheapest anti-aging product happens to be sunblock! However, do not be fooled by sunblocks that have super high SPF (because in order to achieve high SPF means that they used high levels of chemicals and harmful ingredients). In addition, skin can only absorb up to 30 SPF, so you are wasting money on products that claim to HIGHLY protect you from the sun.
  6. Night Cream: night cream is 30-50% more richer than emulsion, because thirty percent of cell renewal happens at night while you sleep.

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