Category Archives: Health

Team in training – 4 weeks to go

4 weeks to go and I still need to raise another 700. I guess i should concentrate on the fundraising part more than the running at this point.

My donation page: http://pages.teamintraining.org/los/rnr09/tgongsakdi

It’s been a while since my last update. Some of you may have heard about my sprained ankle a month back. Thanks for all your well wishes. I did take a break to properly heal and even tried some aqua jogging which is supposed to be very low impact. Its my 3rd week back and the truth is that I am definitely feeling the 2-3 weeks of not training. Every week I ask myself if running a full marathon is realistic at this point considering that I only have 41 days left to train. When I run and every step hurts I wonder if that is in my mind or in my body? Everyone seems to hurt at this point of the season…I just wonder if they hurt as much as I do ๐Ÿ™‚

I did 13.5 miles today and the hardest part was actually NOT running those 1.5 miles that everyone else ran. All in all it was a great day to be out running along the Santa Monica beach. It took me a little over 3 hours.

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Bikram in Los Angeles

I moved out to Los Angeles a year ago almost to the day. I was disappointed to discover that Bikram was not as popular here as it is in NY where you can pretty much find a studio either near you work or you home. Even in bangkok, there was a studio near my house! Being car-less for the first 8 months, I resigned myself to the LA Fitness that was within walking distance.

A year and 10 lbs later, I now have a job and a car. And guess what…there are two Bikram studios between work and home. I chose the studio in Redondo to start up my return to Bikram based on the comments on yelp.

Cleanliness in a Bikram studio is very important to me. Especially so when you have a roomful of extremely sweaty people. Next on my consideration list would be changing rooms. In New York, big changing rooms are a luxury but once again it boils down to having enough cubbies, hooks, lockers. Generally most changing rooms have 2-3 showers. But most in NY will provide you with free soap and baggies (for your veeery wet clothes) I didn’t see any bags at redondo though. The most important consideration for me is the vibe of the place. How friendly and helpful are the staff? The instructors, the fellow practitioners. In this aspect…I found the studio at the Lower East Side in NY to be the absolute best in all categories.

The one in Redondo? Well its very clean and cute. The staff is great and every welcoming. The instructors use a microphone which I find a little disturbing since the room is not very big. The 7pm class is quite empty…which is a huge change from the crowded rooms of Williamsburg and the lower east side. I have so much room I can actually spread my arms without touching anyone!

The biggest change for me is the heat. I have always been slow to cool down. I look forward to the blasts of cold air when the door is opened. Well, not in LA. It seems that the temperature in the hall is pretty much the same as in the room. I am sitting in the hall gasping for air….trying to find a corner where the temperature is a tad cooler. In the end, i throw on enough clothes to be decent and stand outside in the breeze.

Oh yes, for those considering classes there, they have a 30$ beginner’s special forย  10 days.

Stress

Exactly one week away from the launch of a major online project and the Annual Benefit gala (where the project is being showcased), an email from the executive director came into my mailbox. The subject was “Stress no more…please open” I read the email and took a breath.

I am what I call an adrenaline junkie. A chronic dot-commer addicted to the highs of being in crisis mode. Somewhere along the way, I burnt out. I still get stressed but its at a controlled pace and every once in a while I catch myself falling back into the old patterns of behaviour. People say that I am calm in crisis, that’s what they think…still waters run deep my friends.

stress.jpg

Taken from Alexander Kjerulf’s Chief Happiness Officer – Top 5 myths about workplace stress

At least i have gotten good at recognizing the danger signals. I know i am reaching my stress limit when….

1) I have trouble sleeping. My mind works overtime going over all the problems, running in circles.

2) Due to lack of sleep, my eye twitches (this is stress phase 2)

3) When i do sleep, I dream that I am back in college one day before my thesis is due…and yes you guessed it, nothing is done. Even in my dreams, I am thinking…”How did I let myself get into this mess”)

4) I grind my teeth (In my sleep)

5) If its really bad….my bowels misbehave (but we don’t need to go into further details)

When I recognize that I am stressed, here’s what I do.

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Yoga teachers

Yesterday was my first time doing bikram two days in a row. Since the beginning of this year I have been on a good track and doing yoga quite frequently. (Not that its getting any easier) I generally go to the LES or Williamsburg studios. After a while, you tend to make up a list of teachers that you like and ones that you prefer to avoid.

In general, I like teachers who remember my name and give good pose corrections. Generally in additional to the usual things that all teachers say…they have special details or a new way of trying things that can make you realize something new. They tend to push you the hardest but also know when to let up and let you rest without feeling guilty. At LES, I like Nick. He is very attentive and gives great feedback. Trish is know for having the hottest room in all of NY. She remembers EVRYONE’s names, gives a lot of great encouragement and overall good vibes. Shannon is also great (her room is not so hot…but she has a very calming effect) She won this year’s tri-state yoga competition. She was awesome…very inspiring.

Christian teaches at Williamsburg and so far he is one of my favorites there except that recently he has been known to break out into song during the savasana. Thats a little distracting to me…but hey its w.burg, what can you do? Its a shame that the good teachers are at LES isn’t as convenient as the willaimsburg studio, the quality of the studio and the teachers there are really awesome.

One pose at a time – the half moon pose

2lg.jpgAfter spending atleast 4 months doing bikram for 2-3 times a week, I have to admit that I am far from ‘getting it down’ But I guess that that’s the whole point, you never perfect it…it just a continuous never ending improvement process. The one pose I really dread…is the half moon pose. Its the second in the series and it absolutely fills me with fear, pain and and a general lack of anticipation.

My arm ache, I don’t know what I am doing…and it seems to be never ending. I can’t get my arms to stay behind my ears and stay there…and I feel pressure in my back (which I know I should probably not be feeling) So I decided to study it , motivate myself and maybe help some other people out at the same time.

(image courtesy of Bikram Missoula)

Half Moon with Hands to Feet
ARDA CHANDRASANA with PADA-HASTASANA

Benefits:

  • Trims fat all over the body” thighs, hips, waist, arms and abdomen.
  • Improves and strengthens every muscle in the central part of the body, especially the back and abdomen.
  • Increases flexibility of the spine
  • Corrects bad posture
  • Promotes proper kidney function
  • Helps cure enlargement of the liver and the spleen
  • Helps cure dyspepsia, and constipation
  • Helps to eleviate lower back pain, bronchial distress, scoliotic deformities, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder

From what I gather:

  • Your wieght is towards the back of your feet.
  • There should be no space between your palms and wrists (I hear this every class, but I have a lot of trouble)
  • You stretch one side of your body while contracting and strengthening the other, reaching side to side and then to the back.

What you should be feeling as you are doing it:

  • This is a STRETCHING POSE. I’ve heard that you should feel the last four vertebrea in your spine lengthen and open. (I don’t think I’ve ever felt my spine lengthen…but sometimes I do feel a stretching in my waist)

I would love more advice on this pose. So if any of you yogis out there want to chime in….please add your comments.

The NYC Marathon

Marathon runners and crowdFrom the time I woke up on Sunday, I started the process of alternately talking myself into and out of going to yoga. This ongoing internal dialogue is a habitual one that I find myself repeating every weekend. Bikram yoga is a two hour commitment with at least another 2 hours beforehand of not eating. And I am one of those people who wake up starving. So making a commitment to be caffeine and food free all morning is not an easy one.

At the very last minute the good side of me won out (I had already starved myslef this long….) and I started my walk to the studio. Once I had made the turn on to Nassau Avenue, I was met by the sights and sounds of the NYC Marathon. People were starting to line up on the pavement. Bands were playing…stands were being set up for refreshments and there was a general cheer and excitement in the air which was immediately infectious.

As I walked to the studio I chose a path that would allow me to walk along the route of the Marathon. Eventually, I heard shouts of “they’re coming…they’re coming” preceded of course by the drones of helicopters…they must indeed be coming!

I stood by on the side walk as the handicapped cyclists went by amidst the cheers of the crowds. They shouted their names and clapped them on as if rockstars were parading down the roads. Then after a few more moments I saw the first runners. They were indeed prime specimens of the human species.
AfterBy then I had to go to my yoga. When I had finished, I came out and saw what we would call the ‘stragglers’ or perhaps I should say the walkers. They were just doing their thing, walking, jogging, chatting, waving…and amazingly enough, the crowds were still there to cheer them on. These people looked like your everyday folks not any more toned or physically different than the average joe you see every day on the street.

I have to say, I felt ashamed. Ashamed that it took so much effort just to drag my ass 15 minutes to do 90 minutes of yoga when there were 30,000 people running 26 miles! When you need a sight to get your self motivated and inspired…the NYC marathon is one of the best! All those runners were indeed rockstars.

I have decided to mentally put “running the NYC marathon” as an item on the list of things to do in my lifetime!

Bikram Yoga – day two of the return

Afer 2 1/2 weeks of doing absolutely no exercise and pretty much eating anything I wanted. I decided that it was time to get back on track. 2 days in a row of bikram yoga. So why Bikram yoga? I tried yoga afew times before but always felt that I struggled trying to see what the instructor was doing while simultaneously getting my limbs into unatural positions (well unatural for me that is) Its not easy trying to see anything when your head is between your legs, the teacher is moving at lightning speeds and everone else pretty much seem to be made of rubber.

Bikram is slow, repetitive (you do everything twice) and the teacher doesn’t really do anything but speak so there’s not alot to watch. Everytime you go, you know what to expect and thus can spend your time trying to get the positions right. Although after many months…I am still struggling.

 

Oh, did I mention the heat? The recommended temperature is minimum 105F degrees and about 40% humidity.” according to Bikram’s site. It feels good to sweat like crazy. It feels good to be forced to drink a lot of water. I haven’t been doing it long enough to judge the benefits. But perhaps the ache in my back and abs is a sign that those muscles are getting a workout.

 

Here’s a diagram of the poses: (taken from http://www.bikram.com.au/bikram_yoga.htm) My new goal is to concentrate on one pose each time I go.
postures.JPG

Having friends go to the same studio helps. If you can’t commit to yourself sometimes commiting to other people is easier ๐Ÿ™‚