Friday, February 21, 2014

I'm disappointed, Stockholm

When I moved here, Stockholm, you promised me beautiful winters. In exchange for cold days with little light, you said you'd bring me snow to silence the city noises and cover it with a blanket of pure, bright white. You promised days of winter sporting - sledding and cross country skiing and, if nothing else, walks with a crunch underfoot.

my walk to work this morning - a dusting turned to rain a couple hours later

This year, Stockholm, you've not given me any of this. I may be exaggerating slightly - we've had about 6 days of the blissful winter that I love this city for.  

Of course, summers in Sweden are incredible - but when they let me down (which they often do with a drizzly grey tepidness that would hardly be described as summer at home), I assure myself that Stockholm does winter right at least. With the gorgeous snowfall and the cozy, candle-lit windows - it's a fairy tale. 

But this year, it's mostly been an endless gravel-ground-covered grey. It wears down the soul. And the sun - I'm forgetting what it feels like. I'm craving that feeling. 

So I've decided to put a stop to this. Right now. Well, tomorrow. I'm off. We're off. NS and I are going away for a week to another land far, far away - the land of the United Arab Emirates. To Abu Dhabi to be exact. To visit some very dear friends. To see a place so different to any I've ever seen. And to get some sun - because I don't function without it, and I've almost reached that point. 

And all I can say, Stockholm, is that you better straighten up by the time I'm back!


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Bikram galore

Have I mentioned that every winter, I do a spurt of bikram yoga? It’s become a sort of tradition, when the bitter coldness of the Scandinavian winter becomes too much to bear. I retreat into the deep warmth of a mirror-lined cocoon where sweat drips from my every pore for 90 intense minutes.

my sweat-soaked towel at the end of class

I have a love-hate relationship with bikram yoga. I’m in the middle of a month-long spurt now, and am part counting down the days until it’s over, part wishing my last class would never come. 

In the hours leading up to each class, I desperately try to drink as much water as possible. And throughout each class, I play a fantasy of jumping into a cool pool of water - any water - over and over in my mind.

At the end of every bikram class, I'm beat. Beat in a good way, beat in a bad way - in either state, moving is a great effort, at least for a little while. I drag myself out of the studio and sit on the cool floor letting what feels like cold air (read: normal room temperature) surround me. It's probably a breeding ground for getting a cold, letting my sweat turn so quickly, but there's really no alternative if I ever want to leave the yoga studio.

With recovery and showering, it usually takes me about half an hour before I leave, but my face remains beet-red for at least another hour. I like to think of it as a healthy glow, but beneath my clothes is also a whole lot of "after sweat." No matter how cold of a shower I take and how slowly I try to get ready, each layer of clothing must be peeled on over rising sweat. How can there be any left? I wonder in vain. There always is.

I love the sweat and I love how I feel after a good class. But I look forward to not spending so much time preparing for, doing, and recovering from bikram. And so, the end of my month comes just in time... until next winter, Namaste!