Bend It Like Bikram – Hot Yoga

January 19, 2010

I have a friend who has invited me to go with her to yoga several times in the past, but each time either something else came up, or we ran into transportation problems and didn’t make the class in time. In other words, exercise fail. This weekend, I got another opportunity to go (grateful that she’s persistent!) and decided that no matter what, I would make this class.

So there I was, racing to the subway at 11am on a Saturday morning, happy that I actually made it, when she said, “Oh, you know it’s bikram yoga right?” Uhhh, now I do. Okay, no worries, I had a tank top, cropped pants, should be good to go. I had practiced yoga several times back in college and had an idea of what to expect, so I embraced this new challenge.

(photo credit: Yoga to the People)

The studio we went to was Yoga to the People, an organization dedicated to making yoga accessible to everyone, skipping past the high fees (which go as high as $25/class in some studios), and providing a place where anyone can practice. There are also locations in SF and Berkeley, for all the California people! Each class is $8, and mats and towels can be rented for an additional $2 each. The studio is really clean (think the location I went to just opened last year), and has changing rooms with showers. I was really glad I went with a seasoned pro, who showed me where take off my shoes before we went into the changing room, how I should place a towel over my mat so I don’t slip around, and how to strategically position ourselves closer to the door to catch any cool breezes.

The class lasted an intense 90 minutes, and I sweated through every single one of them. The room is heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit at 40% humidity, and one of the biggest challenges, one that sets bikram apart from “normal” yoga, is dealing with the external heat while actively contorting the body through various poses. Everyone is profusely dripping sweat, and as gross as that may initially sound, I really appreciated the sweat as a physical sign that we were really working and pushing our bodies. There are 26 poses in bikram yoga, and each class goes through the same routine, a but you can tweak each pose to increase the difficulty in future classes.

When it was all was over, I was drenched, but felt so accomplished, energized, and motivated. The heat helped with my swollen ankle, allowed me to stretch further than I could in a cold room, and the heat is good for skin to boot! “Like a cheap sauna!”, my friend said. Indeed, except one that kicks your ass.

Well, I was hooked on bikram, or “hot yoga” as it’s sometimes called. I went back the next day – the instructor advised newbies to do 2 or 3 days in a row to loosen any muscle soreness – and it was just as tough and equally sweaty. Hopefully in time, I’ll become more flexible, stronger, and be able to introduce others to bikram.

Some tips for brave souls who would like to try bikram: 1) bring a large towel to place over your mat to prevent slipperyness, 2) bring a small towel to wipe sweat with during class, 3) hydrate well prior to class but make sure to go to the bathroom beforehand because the teachers are strict about not letting students leave the room until class is over, 4) most girls wear bra tops and shorts, while guys go shirtless and wear trunks or shorts. this isn’t for fashion, but out of necessity of trying to stay as cool as possible, 5) bring a change of clothes after, 6) drink something with electrolytes after like SmartWater, or coconut milk, or maybe Gatorade (although that’s pretty heavy with sugar)

The 26 poses of bikram yoga

Back to Work Beauty

January 10, 2010

Yep, the time has come for me to return to work after a revitalizing 3-week break. Can’t say I’m *that* excited about getting back into the grind of long workdays. Besides getting the chance to catch up on some much needed beauty rest (cheapest way to get bright eyes!), I loved not having to get dressed up on a daily basis. Sadly, it’s time to say goodbye to make-up free days and sweats. After a year of working, I’ve been able to cut down my morning beauty routine quite a bit (thanks to laziness), but it’s still hard to come up with new ways to look fresh and ready each day. I wish it didn’t matter, but I’ve come to learn that looking grubby at work doesn’t help me garner as much positivity from coworkers, superiors, or clients.

Thankfully, there’s help out there! I started watching videos made by YouTube beauty gurus last year and have been able to pick up some pretty great tips from these ladies. One of my favorites is Christine, aka xteener. Not only is she a sweetie, but she stands out from the rest of the girls in her ability to use fairly cheap products to come up with some really natural and pretty looks. A few days ago, she uploaded a new video that I’m definitely going to be putting to use over the next few months. I’m loving the sleek and polished hairstyle. This is one of my favorite ways of keeping my hair out of my face for longer workdays and the addition of braids is so perfect! For a more conservative touch, lessen the “poof”. Paired with the light and natural make-up (which she also has a tutorial for), this is definitely a quick and sophisticated, work-friendly look.

Watch below and subscribe to her channel for more helpful tips and tricks.

Safe Travels Lie Ahead

January 7, 2010

…for my make-up and brushes, that is! Between all the visits up north to SF, business trips, weekend sleepovers, and vacations I’ve had over the past year, it’s embarrassing to say that I wasn’t armed with the proper travel kits for my beloved items! After much searching, the Sephora Calypso Hanging Bag ($10) and Bare Escentuals Deluxe Brush Roll ($35) are my new favorite traveling companions.

Besides being adorably pink, the Calypso bag allows me to fit a good amount of products in its three clear compartments. The depth of each compartment allows for some stacking (2 MAC quads/2 MAC Skinfinishes), so it’s actually pretty roomy. 

A problem I’ve always run into is having to dig through my messy makeup bag for smaller items, such as, sharpeners, eyeshadows, and travel-sized primers and lotions. With this bag, I can see exactly where everything is. The hanger also makes for easy make-up application in the bathroom. For only $10, this was such a great deal for something I desperately needed.

Another thing I’m so glad I found is the BE brush roll. My brush collection has expanded quite a bit over these past few years and I even adopted the Sephora-style glass jar with beads (such a great, great invention) to keep them safe at home. Taking them on trips was a little more of a hassle. I love the simplicity of this case and how neatly it locks up. It’s hard to imagine that it can carry so many brushes! Besides containing 10 slots for large brushes and 10 slots for small brushes, the brush roll also has a little pocket for my beloved MAC 182 kabuki brush. It’s too good to be true! My most used brush and most neglected during my travels because I’ve stuffed it in so many random places each time (sometimes resulting in crimped bristles due to my carelessness). Now that shall be a problem no more!

I’ve Become a Haircare Snob

January 6, 2010

I guess the new year is all about new things. I’ve always been a big product junkie, but I’ve never really ventured into the realm of salon haircare. My best friend is a bonafide hair snob–she’s tried every ridiculous (and expensive) product out there. I, on the other hand, have stuck to mostly Herbal Essences–without real complaint. Then again, I can’t say I’ve ever had that beautiful, bouncy, and silky hair that some girls do. Each time I’ve had my hair cut, I’ve managed to continually brush off my stylists’ attempts at convincing me to shell out $30+ for a bottle of shampoo… But, have I been missing out all these years?!

Maybe I got lost in the midst of getting my hair done in Beverly Hills recently, but I somehow allowed myself to run home with a bag full of Schwarzkopf Bonacure goodies: shampoo, conditioner, treatment, styling creme, and split-end sealant. It was a good deal, I swear! Besides that, these products are actually quite amazing!! I bought the OSiS Sparkler Spray a couple years ago, and although the concept of adding shine was interesting, it doesn’t really make much of a difference. As such, I’ve never really given Schwarzkopf a second chance after that product fail. I’m glad I finally gave the line another go.

I thought that purchasing the entire kit was a little overkill, but surprisingly, each product has made a really wonderful difference. The shampoo lathers up really nicely and my hair smells great afterwards! Maybe I don’t need anything besides the shampoo, conditioner, and Sealed Ends leave-in, but I am really impressed by the Smooth Express conditioning treatment. At $35.99 for 10 packs, it’s the priciest of the products, but keep your eyes peeled for sales at your salon because these are such a treat to use. My hair is so soft and shiny after putting this in because it’s meant to target all the damaged parts of your hair. I like that something so quick and simple gets me such great results!

The Bonacure line has four sublines: Repair Rescue, Color Save, Volume Boost, and Moisture Kick. My stylist recommended the Repair Rescue line (probably because my hair was seriously no bueno) and I picked up the entire set of full-sized products for only $60! Sold separately, these items range from $15-20 for shampoo and conditioner and $25-50 for the treatments. Luckily, Amazon also sells liter sized duos of the shampoo and conditioner for around $30-40, depending on the subline. Thank you, Schwarzkopf for giving me a chance at finally having pretty hair!

Big Bags are Fun

January 5, 2010

Happy New Year! Hopefully, 2010 is going to be a great one!

I’m still enjoying some time off from work and wanted to catch up on some much needed blogging. First case of business, say hello to my new friend:

I picked up this Morning After Bag at the RM San Francisco sample sale and it’s quickly become a favorite! Slate greyish, with a tinge of green, I was hoping to grab a more colorful piece while there. However, despite getting there around 10:10AM (minutes after the sale started), the girls were already roaming around with multiple bags on their arms! I have to admit I didn’t love this when I saw it right away, but now I actually really like that it’s such a muted color since the bag is kind of humongous. Yes, the bag is pretty heavy–especially since I manage to fit a plethora of random bits and pieces in there, but I really love it! In addition to it amazingly allowing space for my 12′ work laptop, the trio of interior pockets is awesome for a girl like me! Spots reserved for keys, iPhone, and index cards (yes, I am a nerd), so I don’t have to dig around for them. What could be better? I’ve been wanting a new bag for work, but this has become a quick and easy go-to for everyday errands as well.

Minkoff sales seem to be all over the place, so I’m happy that her bags are so cute and affordable! Regular seasonal sample sales in NY/SF/LA and online sales? Pretty awesome way of getting her bags into the hands of the regular consumer. Plus, how genius is the “Vincent” card inside the morning after’s?