Monday, April 25, 2011

Double your Pleasure or Double Trouble?

Since yesterday was Easter, I decided to take the day off of my 30 day Bikram challenge and spend the day with family and friends and enjoying a very yummy Easter dinner.  The consequence of the decision is this..... I have to do a double Bikram today.  What does that mean?  Two classes in one day.  180 minutes of the torture chamber.  :) (I think...)

There are a couple of ways to accomplish this..  Back to back classes (stick a fork in me now, cause I would be DONE), or the way I am doing it.   I attended a morning class, got all sweaty, stretched and survived, and at 8pm tonight, I will go back and repeat.   The approach I'm taking allows me to rehydrate, refuel and rest between classes.  It's a nice benefit at my Bikram studio that they have so many classes thru out the day to allow the options.

I am nearing the end of my 30 day challenge, just 5 more days left.  I can't believe it, in a good way.

Well, I'm off to get more fuel in my system.
Melissa

Thursday, April 21, 2011

An open letter to Mother Nature...

Hello Mother Nature,

I don't know if you've looked at your calendar lately, but it's April, more specifically, the end of April.  Easter is coming up on Sunday and I would love some nice spring weather.

The problem, weather forecasters around here are saying we are going to have more storms and possibly even snow at my house tonight.  SNOW!!!  IN APRIL!!!!  I realize that the water we are receiving is the water I drink in July, but it's a little much right now.  April Showers may bring May Flowers, but my May Flowers are drowning.

I love sunshine, I think, it's been a while since I've seen it on a regular basis, but if it's what I remember, it is that big yellow glowing thing in the sky.  It gives me warm fuzzy feelings.  I would love to have that feeling again.

Also, my friends and family in the Southeast are dealing with bad spring weather in a different way.  Tornadoes are everywhere.  I believe they are happy in the areas they live in and do not want to move to Oz.  Enough is enough.

Just a reminder, we have four seasons:  Fall, Winter, SPRING and Summer.  Let's not make anyone feel bad and leave them out.

Thank you and please bring on the warmer weather.
I am not a duck,
Melissa

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO, oh my....

I feel like my 30 day challenge has taken over my life and blog, so today, I am changing the subject.  No sweat or stretching today.  :)

Today is all about my adventures in photography or misadventures......
I had been drooling over a Nikon DSLR camera for about a year, when I decided to get serious and start saving for it, and then for Christmas, I got some Christmas cash, which is always the best, and finally had the full amount for the camera.  WAHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

My education in what I did not know began, and let me tell you it was a lot.  Aperture, and its correct spelling, has been the one I wanted to get down the fastest,  because I love the effects you can achieve with it.  A quick lesson:  aperture deals with depth of field..  If you're like me, I went "huh?" and was even more confused, so let me explain it this way.... Do you want to focus on one item and let the rest of the frame be blurry or do you want, like a panoramic shot, everything in focus?  That's aperture... Everything in complete crisp focus ranging to one specific thing clear and the rest blurry.  Whew. It took me forever to grasp that, especially the way it's set up on cameras.

Shutter speed and ISO (or film speed, when there was actually film) came much easier to me, not always used correctly when taking photographs, but I at least I knew how to correct them.

I've been taking classes, reading books and oh yeah, taking a photograph a day.  I'm doing a 365 project for photography, and while most days I am conscious of the photo I take, every once in a while,  I have a "It's 10pm and I haven't taken a photo today moment...."  The results have been fun, and I thought I would share with you my favorites to date.


                                             The inside of one of my red tulips in bloom....
               My Basset Hounds, Humphrey (r.) and Bacall (l.) attempting to share a stick.

     My cat, Meeko, looking regal in the back yard.  Quick, name the movie, her name came from.
One of my late night, oops I haven't taken a photo today, photos.  It's a picture of my calendar.  Sierra Club does the most amazing calendar, if you're looking for nature photos.


There will be more to come on my photography adventures and questions for you.... are you a Straight out of the Camera fan or are you obsessed with Photoshop?  Think about it and let me know....

Melissa

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What's it really like?

Lately, people have been asking me what Bikram is really like.  They know it's practiced in a hot room, but other than that, little is known.  So, today, I thought I would take you a typical class for me.

I arrive at the studio about 15-20 minutes before class starts.  I need time to sign in, fill up my water bottle, find a spot in the room, and just veg before class begins.  Ten minutes before class, I go into the room, and my first thought is, "I can't do this in the heat."  It hits you immediately.  If you live in the South, it's like August when you go outside and immediately you feel sticky and uncomfortable.  It's not a pleasant feeling.  The other thing, I guess I better tell you about, is the smell.  Sweaty people kind of stink and it permeates the room.  After a while, you don't really notice it when you come in, but first timers always kind of stop at the door and crinkle up their noses for a moment.  I go to my yoga mat, which is covered by a towel and lay down.  Letting go of the day and quieting my mind are the major purposes of this, but it also lets me know if there is anything that is sore, tight or just needs attention before class.  If there is, I'll do a couple of specific stretches for that area. 

The lights seem to come on right after I do this, and the instructor enters the room.  They use a wireless microphone to instruct the next 90 minutes.  Instructors do not demonstrate the poses but give a very detailed description of what you are supposed to do.  After the instruction, they will call your name if there is something you need to change or if they want to praise you for your effort.  I don't know how it is at other Bikram studios, but at mine, the instructors have a knack of learning your name really fast.  It's uncanny.

The 90 minutes are filled with 2 breathing exercises, one at the beginning and one at the end, and 26 postures, that if you've done yoga, you would recognize most of them, that are done twice.  You start of with the warm up postures, then move on to the more challenging standing postures, and then for the second half of the class, you do poses on the floor.   I won't describe each and every posture, because it would take to long, but I will say this, they are there to balance the flexibilty and strength of your  body.  I'm ok with the strength aspect of things, but my flexibility is a work in progress.  I'm learning as I tackle the 30 day challenge that it's a journey......

Try it, you never know if it's what you've been looking for.

Melissa

Monday, April 4, 2011

Don't Glow.....Sweat

I'm on day 4 of my 30 day Bikram challenge.  I've found my Bikram rhythm again, going through all of the poses without taking any breaks.  :)  It took me 2 days to accomplish this.  I should tell you that for the 2 weeks before I started my challenge, I was down for the count with a flu, as in I didn't leave my bed for 4 days.  It was not fun, and as a result, my endurance and stamina were gone.  Not a great way to start the most physically challenging event of my life, but sometimes, it's just the way it is.

Anyway, back to today's class, it was actually fun, well as much fun as you can in the torture chamber.  Three poses in, I looked in the mirror in the front of the room, and noticed I was not as sweaty as I had been the previous three days.  I was just glowing, not sweating.....  Never fear, Bikram fans, by the time we finished the standing series, I was soaked.  Not sweaty, SOAKED!!  My towel over my yoga mat, my outfit, my hair, everything was wet.  I resembled a drenched rat, and not in a good way.

So, everyone out there in the blogosphere land, don't glow, Sweat.....
Melissa

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bikram....the why, the reason, and the 'Are you CRAZY?"

Before I go into the reasons and explanations of my Bikram 30 day challenge, I thought I better tell the story of why I do Bikram yoga and a little bit about it.

When I tell people that I practice Bikram, I get one of two responses:  Huh?  What's that? and my personal favorite, are you crazy?  They ask me that because they've heard of it and quite frankly think it's crazy and there's no way they would ever do it.  For the 'huh?' group, I explain Bikram and quite often I get the "Are you crazy and you do this for fun?' response too.  That's ok, because not every exercise works for everyone...


A little background now, Bikram yoga was started by Bikram Choudhury.  He was a weightlifter growing up in India until an accident severely damaged his legs.  Bikram sought out a yoga guru and they put together a plan to heal him using yoga.  The result, a ninety minute class in which you do a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, with everything done twice in a heated room.  Why the heated room?  It is to simulate India in the summer where Bikram recovered from his injuries.  They found that the heat and humidity allowed the body to warm up faster and move easier.  It is easy?  NOPE, not even close.  I've been practicing for almost ten years, although not consistently and it still kicks my butt.

There is controversy about Bikram yoga, I do admit.  He franchised his yoga practice, which is very controversial in the yoga community; he is an admitted a millionaire with a Beverly Hills mansion and doesn't want a life of poverty.  My response to that is, it works for me, and by franchising the name Bikram yoga, I know wherever I go in the world if it says Bikram yoga on the door of the yoga studio, the instructors have had the same training as the instructors in my home studio.

How did I get into this sweaty adventure?  I was looking for a yoga studio that I liked.  It was that simple.  I had tried hatha yoga and other types, but they were so different every time I went in,  I never felt like I was making any progress.  The Bikram SLC studio was just opening up when I was in this process and I saw an ad in a local newspaper for an introductory special of 10 classes for $15 in 10 days.  I went in and have never looked back.

This is running a bit long, so I'll tackle other things about Bikram later, but if you want any more information, try these links.

http://www.bikramyogaslc.com/index.htm

http://www.bikramyoga.com/

I'm new to blogging, so I hope the links work, if not just cut and paste.  :)

Until next time,
Namaste

Melissa

Friday, April 1, 2011

Another Lemming into the sea....

Hello,
I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while, but didn't quite know what to write about, so I held off.

Today, however, I decided to give my self 3 months of trying to find my voice on the web...

First, the name.... A Little to the Left. Why that one? First of all, I'm left handed; second, my politics lean 'a little to the left'; and finally, when I'm shooting photos, I find myself moving a little to the left to get the shot I want.

What will you read about here? My Bikram Yoga 30 Day Challenge, Photography (I got my first DSLR camera for Christmas), life as I know it, and whatever else comes to mind.

What won't your read about? Details about family and friends....most of my family and my best friends are not on the web in any form, so I will respect their wishes. If there is a story to tell, I will use nicknames and vague references. If you know them, you'll know who they are, but if you don't you'll just get a funny story about an incident in my life. :)

Also, you won't be reading about politics or religion. I have my beliefs and you have yours and that works for me. For me, on the internet, I have found that when either one of these topics are brought up, the comments left are things people probably wouldn't say if they were right in front of you. It's not respectful or helpful , so don't look to here for political or religious insights. I'll talk to you in person about them, but not on the web.

So, another lemming has jumped into the sea of blogs......
Melissa