Part 1: Standing Series: After 1 year and a 30 day challenge this is where I'm at.

Standing Deep Breathing -Pranayama - In this posture, my back and shoulders resist my first attempts at movement. When breathing out my elbows struggle against lifting toward the ceiling while keeping my chest lifted. Breathing in, I enjoy the way my stomach and chest stretch both in the mirror and within. I either find myself smiling by the end of it, or I breeze through the the posture. Some days my legs feel strong and capable like a centaur, but when I look in the mirror they don't match the feeling. There is no in between for me with this one. I either enjoy it or don't, it was never just ok.

Half Moon Pose- Ardha-Chandrasana with Pada- Hasthasana- My expression of this posture (side to side) is powerful and strong. I am a flower petal blooming and I ground the posture from me feet to my fingertips. My eyes follow the curve of my body in the mirror as I visualize a crescent moon. My right side is stronger and more flexible than my left. I often feel a pinching in the left side of my back in this posture. This is not the same type of pinch that happens when I don't lift up through the chest. The pinch is in the same place I carry my stress, the same place I pull my muscles repeatedly. This posture does give me energy for the rest of class and I am constantly reminding myself that pushing in this posture will not wear me out, but will pump me up. When I bend over to grab my feet, on flexible days, I can straighten my legs and I more often than not enjoy the posture. After first set, no matter how hard I try in the posture, coming up in the finale is like a breath of fresh mountain air.

Awkward Pose- Utkatasana This posture is rarely hard for me to hold. The first part, I sometimes don't really get. i do it, and open my chest but don't really see the point of the posture... what I am saying is that I don't really see the yoga in it. This second part of the posture on the tippie toes, I do get but my body doesn't. It is always a struggle for me to bring my hips forward and my upper body back. I see this as more of a 'structural' problem that is slowly correcting itself over time with a little push from me. Always trying always improving. Instructors often tell me to lean back.. I KNOW I am not leaning back in perfect alignment and it is because my body is not ready. At least this is how I see it. The third part of the posture, I enjoy visualizing 3x 90degree angles and pretend that I am the box. I don't bounce because my knees suck. This posture is supposed to be good for cold feet. I have yet to see the benefits of that because my feet are always cold.

Eagle Pose- Garurasana I love this posture. Connecting with my breath, inhales and exhales iare so beautifully self explanatory in this posture. I carry all of my happiness, sadness, stress, life in my upper back muscles and I relish the moment I swing my arms one under the other, then pull down to connect with those muscles. Sometimes when I am really hot and class seems to be an enormous effort, I just stay in that first part and feel my shoulder muscles stretch. In Bikram's book he says that you should press wherever you feel pressure in this posture and I remind myself of this while I am in it. This posture is so dynamic with so many places to focus on.

Standing Head to Knee- Dandayamana-Janushirasana My standing leg burns and my lower back is always sore after this one. 1 year and a 30 day challenge later and I still kick out only occasionally. As long as that standing leg is strait, you get the benefit so what is the rush right? I am plenty challenged holding the posture and not falling out- while not kicking. Sometimes I am able to kick out, the left leg kicks out easier than the right one and in this posture I am painfully aware of how my legs and hips were put together funny. I am constantly working on this one, I am only now finding peace in it.

Standing Bow Pose Dandayamana-Dhanurasana Strength, focus, laughter. I refuse do get frustrated when I fall out of this one, it is a decision that I made from the beginning and one that I plan to stick to. Lately this posture has been very solid. My left side is not as flexible but seems to have better alignment. My right side is more flexible and I enjoy going to my edge. Not much else in that hot room is as gratifying as holding this posture for the full 60 seconds. When teachers stand in the front row, I gape at how beautiful this posture is. This is the posture that first helped me to understand what an 'asana' was. This stillness I find in this posture transcends my ego and holds my Self.

Balancing Stick- TuladandasanaI am strong and capable in this posture. Aware of my body, balance, and alignment, I work on tightening. This is the most fun posture for me to watch when I sit out. All the bodies! Everyones uniqueness comes through, tall, small, apples, oranges, broken umbrellas are funny.

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