Thursday, December 17, 2009

Week flying by

Last night's practice was at my home studio. I rushed to get there which always leaves you feeling a little harried. However it was just nice to practice. It's not nearly as optimal with the heat at that studio as the studio I visited on Tuesday so I'm heading back there tonight.

Last night's practice - firstly, I keep meaning to say, there was NO HUMIDITY at training. It's so different to sweat because the humidity is right vs. sweating because it's really really hot. The sweat just flows back here on the east coast in ways I completely forgot about for the last nine weeks. Would you believe it really gets my grips messed up sometimes?

Last night I had a run of the mill practice. Second set half moon - AW YEAH BABY I'm at my true body maximum at the end. That's one of the prettiest gifts training gave me. Awkward - before I left for training I had a foot injury that continues to make the second part of awkward truly my weakest point in practice. By the end of training I sat down in that pose to close to where it's designed to go. Since then I'm trying that. The result? I fell straight back on my ass and rolled back onto my back last night and laughed. I like being there taking chances, showing people in the studio that it is OK TO FALL OUT OF YOUR POSTURES. If you fall, that's just you finding your balance! I'd much rather fall out than hang out way high up on the bar stool for a few years.

Head to knee - how do I say just awful in a positive way :) I had no stamina in the pose, my hands were slippy and sweaty. With all this different kind of sweat - different conditions - I have to rework my grips. It's hard for me to reach around the foot to get the initial grip in this pose anyway. Last night - nothing doing. However, it did bring me back to something I learned in training. Apparently the initial part of the pose where your thigh is parallel has been modified a little bit - Bikram was letting people pull the foot up so the thigh was past parallel. I tried to remember the foot "light as a feather" in my hand. Still nothing helped my grip.

Triangle sure feels good to be home. Thank you training, I now LOVE this pose.

Floor series, came and went, nothing amazing doing, just practice.

Today has been great at work, something that I was worried about turned into a real feather in my cap which is amazing and I got my year end bonus. Life is good.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ah... practice.

I finally feel like I'm home. I went to a sister studio to practice last night and had a wonderful, deep, focused, strong practice. New studio, front row, nice and hot, new teacher. She was all business, it was great.

My half moon second set was maybe the best it's ever looked. I love this posture since I've come back from training. I still strain to hold it and maintain breathing, but boy do I love it. And I did a bunch of camels yesterday during the day so my backbend second set was nice and open.

Standing balancing still a challenge, but I know that I have to work on squeezing the thigh in standing bow pose. Maybe this will help me. I have great depth but it's such a challenge holding it. Balancing stick - all four sides... held with strength and purpose.

The thing I like most about practicing post training is working with something I learned about half way through training. As the heart rate climbs and the heart slams in the chest, for me, it activates a panic sensation. About half way through training, I started working with my breathing, to really focus and maintain long smooth breathing throughout class, especially when my heart pounded.

Bikram said during training that you'd be operating on a higher level when you returned to your real life, having been turned on to the beginnings of self-realization. I don't know - I can't say that is happening or not happening to me, it's terminology I won't pretend to own. However when I stay with my breath and breath long slow breaths and stay calm instead of letting that heart-pounding-working-hard feeling make me panic (like "I'm not going to be able to keep this up, I'm going to die," etc)... I do feel a real connection with the sensation of working one layer up. Being one step removed from reality. Operating, as Bikram would say, in a higher dimension.

The true test of your fitness in a Bikram class is how quickly your heart calms between postures. I can't say that I have that level of fitness; my heart pounds through the spine strengthening series. But I do, in the rest periods, truly rest, and feel it come back down. I can now identify the sensation of blood rushing to my head in my first backbends of the day. Boy is that wild. Sometimes it is very intense, especially when coming up. That's why I like to do camels throughout the day so that when I practice I don't run into the wooshing and lightheadness in the yoga room.

I had this amazing delicious appreciation towards the 3/4 mark of class last night, appreciating the sweat, the practice, the difficulty, the heart pounding feeling, and really appreciating my own strength and my ability to keep my breath calm in the face of it all, to rise above, as it were. I am so happy I have worked so hard in the past year to get to where I am, where I can truly LOVE practicing Bikram. I am not struggle-minded in the yoga room. Not anymore. I think it's awesome.

I can always connect with beginners though because I remember what it was like in training when I couldn't even stand up some days. When I had shooting pains in my shoulders, cramps, all of it. This year, my 30th year, has been so amazing. I did not know at the beginning of this year that this would be the year that I became a yoga teacher, something i have desired since 2000. I am so proud of what I have accomplished this year. And I love practicing at my home studio, but am psyched to make it over to the other studio twice a week for a new environment, new teachers.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Settling back in...

I'm finally feeling like I'm inhabiting my own body after training. It was amazing how the last 24 hours in Vegas, the trip home, and the first week home at various points felt like I was watching a movie of my life happening... like I was disconnected from my body, and especially my own volition. I had set things up and they happened to me, around me, and for me. Sure, I still had to do a bunch of stuff, but I followed the path I had created for myself and landed home safely.

Getting back to work within 24 hours of landing was a choice I might not make the same way again. However, I love my job and the people there and so it was the right thing to do. I only managed three practices last week. My body is and was crying out for MORE YOGA PLEASE.

Last night was my third class teaching. I felt great. Much more comfortable. The timing of the class was great, the attendance good, and the heat was perfect. Nice and hot, not TOO humid. Lots of red smiling faces at the end of class. Someone brought a seltzer into class and cracked it during class... it inspired me to add "Crack a beer" to my dialogue. It was funny if I do say so myself.

In general, I feel that my teaching dialogue is strong through the first water break. After that... I have strong poses in a sea of mush. My second teacher to take my class said lots of great things to me about my class and my energy then gently reminded me to keep reading my dialogue. I have not stopped. I took week 9 of training off of dialogue study and I'm thankful that I gave myself that peace. Since I have been home I'm back to listening to the dialogue recording I made in the car, at work, whenever I can. I love auditory learning. So at this point, I feel good about:
Half Moon/backbend/forward bend
standing separate leg stretching pose
fixed firm

I feel ok about:
pranayama breathing
kapalabhati breathing
standing head to knee
standing bow
balancing stick
standing separate leg head to knee
spine twist

I could really stand to work on:
balancing stick (it just feels a bit icky)
tree & toe
full locust
separate leg head to knee w/stretching

I know that all the dialogue will get there. The stuff I have I have cold, exact, verbatim.

Regarding practice, I squeezed in a mini-bikram class yesterday before teaching leaving me feeling glowing and plumped up. Maybe pumped up is the right word. 45 minute class with myself in the studio was really really awesome. I looked around when practicing by myself and said... hey! I am a yoga teacher! I'm practicing here, practicing hard, doing my thing, and I have this beautiful space all to myself. I did feel energized for teaching. A little longer though and I would have that wilted sweaty look that I don't want when I am teaching.

Today I'm off to a sister studio to get my butt kicked. I'm hoping to practice every day this work week - 5 classes - plus sunday morning makes 6. I'm hoping that amount of practicing gets me back to feeling like my body is singing. I don't feel awful per se, I just feel the transition from Vegas to Vermont, relative warmth to WINTER, yoga life to regular life with job... I feel it in my body.

I have read some stuff recently by Erich Schiffman (a yogi I admire) and many other yoga blogs that I follow. I wonder if sometimes my blogging about yoga is petulant and whiney, rather than sage and "still" as it "should" be. What a gas. There are always lots of "shoulds" I'll be working with in my life. That's the way my mind works.

I read other people's stories and see them immersing themselves into the yoga world much more deeply than I will be able to do. I admire and envy them at the same time, then return to my perspective, my life... and realize that a life of balance, love, family, and commitment to my circle of people is more important than running off to India to study with the masters. There are many things I can be doing to deepen my practice while maintaining my regular old life. I can be more joyful with what I have right here and right now. I don't have to run off to India or open a yoga studio of my own to do that. In fact that would not be a balanced act on my part.

I am committed to helping my current studio increase its profitability over the next year. I'm helping with marketing materials and ideas. Hopefully we can see some real benefits from marketing over the next couple of months.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Being Home...

Being home is tough. Training was tough... Coming home right after graduation (like moments after) and diving back in to work/teaching/life is a tough transition. I have particularly struggled with finding the way to practice. From 11 classes a week down to... 2? 3? I have tried to get to more classes but there was snow, no snow tires on my car... It's cold here!

I can't use my yoga room at home. It only gets up to 80-90 degrees. I did one practice there this week and I'm heading to class today thankfully and will practice on Sunday. I'm basically freaking out about how hard it is to get into a heated studio here in Vermont. At least it was this week. I know it's going to get better but yuck. Snow, cold, no practicing... I don't feel very good.

I want and intend to practice more. And, I'm getting a month at the gym because at least I can swim and be in the sauna.

I try to stay positive really I do! I will feel more positive when I don't feel quite so panicked. Hopefully soon. I do love being home with Jonas and the kitties. That part is great. I would have given myself a few days at home before returning to work if I had thought things through a little better.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The cycle is complete!

I taught my first class last night. From here on out I'll keep my posting about class to a minimum, but what a milestone. I arrived two hours before class started to meet with my studio head to discuss the nitty-gritty details of teaching. After a few moments to reconnect, it was time to get down to business. We reviewed the heating, humidity, and ventilation systems in the room. We reviewed the process of checking people in. The night before, I had gone over my dialogue a bit. Yesterday I was tired and shellshocked, fighting a cold, and was of course nervous to see what would happen when I taught!

People streamed into the studio starting exactly a half hour before the class. For a studio that only has ten people in class much of the time, there were fifteen or more people there - maybe sixteen plus my studio head. Checking everyone in and keeping money straight kept me out of my head and busy before class. Many of my yoga friends happened to be there, everyone was welcoming.

Class - started five minutes late, ended five minutes late. It was amazing to get in there and go to the front of the crowded room. My studio head ran the heat in the room for me so there was one less moving part in a room full of people's moving parts. Bikram is 26 postures two breathing exercises, everything done twice. First there are standing postures and then postures on the floor interspersed periods of rest. Getting all the postures in (two sets) in 90 minutes is incredibly challenging. I didn't fret too much about the timing. However, hitting the floor at 55 minutes left me only 35 minutes to complete the floor series, which was just difficult. I ended up teaching one set of most of the poses to get the class done on time.

I really felt that I had lots of good energy to give and good encouraging things to say. I had a beginner in the class and she was excellent, listened well, and I was able to keep an eye on her and keep the class moving. I made two corrections and it didn't mess me up too much, I was able to keep things moving. I need to work on my half moon, triangle, and cobra dialogue, keeping things moving, fresh, etc. I got a little stuck in triangle and said the same thing over and over again (stretch your right hand down left hand up etc.) and my setups for these postures could have been more snappy.

All in all I am extremely pleased and it was rewarding to see them come out of the room, red faced and smiling, cheering me on - "great class!" so timing is something that I can work on easily! One down, a million more to go.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm home.

Wow. I'm home. I'm shellshocked. Friday night was the last class. The last couple days I was able to work hard every single class - maybe in anticipation of being done. I felt happy to dance and hug and cry after class, but every bounce around was accompanied by deep pain and tiredness. Went out to dinner Friday night and then to the optional class Saturday. Graduation was Saturday. It was uneventful, tearful, etc. then I pretty much got on a plane right away to get home.

The redeye flight - happy to be on it, happy it was over. Traveling all night was a decision that I made, so I stuck to it. It allowed me to be back at work today. Still, the whole time up until pretty much now I've felt like I'm dreaming... it all happened so fast. Yesterday seeing Jonas was amazing. Having a few sips of beer was yummy. One of the greatest experiences of yesterday was cutting up lettuce and cilantro and tomatoes in my own kitchen. That was divine. Seeing my kitties - amazing.

So... I teach my first class tonight! I'm tired, have a cold, and would rather go home and sleep but I will teach damn it! Last night I slept from 5-10pm then got up and made some tea and looked over the dialogue. I then fell back asleep listening to it on my ipod. Tonight - I'm hoping to make it through all poses all sides all sets in something like 90 minutes. What comes out of my mouth? It will be an experiment. The dialogue itself can always be improved upon.

The teacher training... well it was an amazing experience and I learned so freaking much there. Just coming back into the real world and talking to real people makes me understand how much I've learned. Would I recommend it? I would specifically not recommend it to someone, then wait for them to argue with me about how much they want to go. Depending on how far they would argue that is how much I would support them going. You so have to have the desire to be there with full knowledge of what you're getting into. Without that burning desire you will not make it. Ten people dropped out of the training. Out of 300, that's not too bad. Basically, it's really, really hard. I am so amazed at myself for making it through - amazed and proud.

I won't blog too much about teaching specifics, to protect the privacy of my studio and the students. We'll see how it goes. I do hope to blog still about my practice. Having not practiced bikram since saturday morning, I'm feeling... weird. I want to be in that room so bad - not just to teach. I think my first practice will be at home tomorrow morning though. In the studio, Wednesday will be my first day. I'm contacting studio owners locally to say hello. Most studios are far away and not accessible for daily life but I am not going to practice a ton at home either. I'll figure it all out. This Sunday I will be husbandless and thus will get to do a double. Whooppee!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Week 9 is grueling, long, no letup. It is not winddown week. However Craig and Emmy classes are amazing.
Barely. Good news have first few classes scheduled and am happy.
I feel like so much information is being forcefed into me that I might want to phisically puke. My brain - foie gras. Body- BEAT DOWN. Spirit - hanging on.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving dinner

We had an amazing four hour dinner... with unofficial talent show. Everyone was amazing. I got a haircut from my neighbor across the hall - a great stylist. Fabulous!!!

I started to really comprehend the enormity of going home next Saturday. I have gotten used to being away from my loved ones and am thrilled at the prospect of going back to them. Him.

End of week 8... Thanksgiving

Well... I have had a tough couple of weeks really... I haven't written much because I have felt strongly that I have nothing positive to say and I didn't want to be negative. Week six, seven, and the first few days of week 8 were a real grind. I did not feel the end was in sight, nor was it until now. The schedule was long, hectic, unforgiving, and the classes just pile up. The sheer amount of yoga in the hot room is pretty unimagineable. Many times I had the thought "don't look down... I'm doing this. I'm really doing this." I read many accounts of training and I knew exactly what I was getting into but I had no conception of how it would feel and how tough I would become in this process.

The last few weekends have been studying studying and more studying... getting four or five postures memorized a weekend, which leaves little time for resting and relaxation, which is really what we need. My body is hamburger. I was feeling very strong (with the requisite days of weakness and inability to do much physically that comes with the strong days) and making progress in my practice then in about the middle of week seven my foot pain came roaring back and I had to sit an entire standing series, in abject fear that this would sideline me for good. I have tried to explore the idea of being curious about the sensation while trusting that the yoga would continue to heal me. Thankfully I am feeling much better and had a twinge free (muscle spasm free) class this morning. Posture clinics have been quite challenging, I sang like an opera singer in one. They had no idea but singing in front of people is definitely a stress button to push in me... more stressful than the posture clinic in fact. It's funny how they find your exact buttons to push to get you out of your comfort zone here.

Yesterday we delivered our last posture "final spinal" in the lecture tent on stage. Our group was lucky enough to end there, where we can stomp and cheer and hoot and holler. The week had really been dragging for me and I was feeling extremely negative, withdrawing, not wanting to be around people, not wanting to practice... just a large dose of don't wanna taking over. But that posture clinic really perked me up, then we had a class taught by bikram last night and a great lecture by Lynn Whitlow that really did bring so much of training together for us. This morning instead of the back to back we were all expecting we got one class (a great class) and were given the day off except for a great turkey dinner given by Bikram for us all. Wow did I need some time off.

I feel extremely thankful for my health, my practice, my family, Jonas, the kitties, my roommate, this experience, all the things and people who encouraged me to come, this country, everything. This morning I worked so hard in class. I gave it my everything. I'm proud of the minute differences I can see and feel in my practice. I miss everyone. I can't wait to come home. It's official, one week from Saturday I'm on a plane. I cannot wait.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wednesday week 7

I could hardly write last weekend... Week six was so hard for me. I had two very weak classes and I was worried that since I didn't set myself the goal that week to do every posture that I was just a slacker innately and that I had to set hard and rigid goals for myself in order to practice well. Not the case, it was a visit from mother nature that caused the weakness and so I was back to full strength by the week's end. In fact on Saturday I practiced right in front of the podium with Rajashree teaching - and completed a no-water class. In order to do that I was peeing like crazy every ten minutes before-hand but it was an amazing experience. I felt great and totally focused.

Week six had a nice 3 am night followed by a 5am night. That just kills me. I don't want to say too much about it because I don't want to be negative.

Today I had a great great morning class. I went farther in many poses than I have in the whole training, incorporating and consolidating my gains. It was a morning class to boot - wherein you often are less flexible. So we're really on the downslope here - just like 18 days left total, 8 days to Thanksgiving (theyr'e giving us a nice banquet dinner) and then nine days after that till I get to go home. I cannot wait to go home and see Jonas.

We're on half-tortoise in posture clinics and there's talk of finishing all 26 postures by the end of the week. I am not sure that's going to happen but I'd love it if it did (even though I haven't much looked at the last three postures) because that would be a huge load off our minds and allow us to enjoy the weekend. WE have our cpr certification this weekend and my posture clinic group is going out to dinner together Saturday night.

I still have $200 of my $600 food card to use in the hotel which is much better than most people - I have been very careful about budgeting that money. I have lots of "room food" in the room - ramen, instant mashed postatoes, canned veggies, crap like that. I'm pretty done with food you can cook with hot water. I'm going to try to make it to the end without going shopping. I will run out of bananas for smoothies in the morning but I will only have two full weeks left when that happens and so I'm not so worried about pumping nutrients in. I have made it this far and know that minus a few fresh things I'll still be able to make it to the end. Good news is I've been so careful with my money that I will have enough cash for new glasses when I get home. I've needed them for about three years so I'm quite excited about new glasses for the new me.

half moon really getting some good gains in lateral flexion
awkward - doesn't suck nearly as bad any more
eagle almost tucking my foot behind the calf
head to knee not much new - can touch head to knee sometiems, balance still crappy
standing bow can't wait to see what it's like at home
balancing stick stronger, longer
sep leg stretching - i can really feel my spine stretching
head to knee sep leg - better stronger longer more stamina
tree toe - some improvement not much
floor series...
bow I felt awesome today - my foot pain went to my kneewhich killed this pose then today it went back to the foot and this pose ROCKED again!
everything else is pretty much the same, rabbit my um, chest, doesn't suffocate me anymore must have lost some inches there
camel I almost saw my toes today
sep leg stretching I really touched elbows to calves first time and stretching I touched both thumbs to my forehead thsi am.

Woo hoo!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

No big post for wk 6 long and hard I'm upset tired and want to go home. Did a water free class and went in front of the podium for the first time Saturday.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I finally held all four triangle poses!! Day 36 of training! WOO HOO!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week 5 Stayin' Alive!

Hi everyone!

I'm in a happy place today. More than halfway through training, I'm rested, I went to the spa this morning and memorized a posture while sitting in the jacuzzi and steam room. I spoke with some friends, which is REALLY nice. My roommate and I worked really hard on memorization yesterday and ran our errands right after class so Sunday has arrived and I can truly relax. Praise be!

This week was amazing. We were put through our paces. Along with our standard 11 bikram classes, we had our final anatomy test, then nothing but posture clinic. We went from Standing Bow through the end of the standing series this week. I have not heard of any other training that did this many postures in a single week. The stress levels around training were extraordinary. People were in tears, walking around the hotel bleary-eyed, mumbling things about locking your elbows and touching your forehead to the knee. We have taken over the east wing lobby area - at most times during the week when we're off, there are yogis down there reciting and performing postures. The "civilians" as we call them (normal hotel guests) walk by, drinks in hand, with wide eyes. On occasion some dumbass drunk dude will say something about "can I help?" and laugh with his buddies. We just laugh.

I was in relatively good shape until Thursday night with the postures. I got great feedback this week. I delivered standing separate leg head to knee when I was just tired on Wednesday night. It was the first time I delivered a posture I was kind of unsure of, and certainly I had not delivered a pose when I was feeling totally out of it. It went just fine! I surprised myself and I'm glad I went. When I did tree and toe stand together on Thursday night I finally was told that I'm to move on to starting to think about and deliver corrections to the demonstrators along with the straight dialogue. Woo hoo! Thursday night, after that, we had another day of posture clinics ahead, and I finally got to the point where I did not know the next posture and would have to memorize a page worth of stuff overnight to potentially teach it the next day. (In the end, we did not do the first "floor series" posture the next day so my stress was not warranted.)

I definitely had a moment of looking around and wondering who I was going to study with. I work with my roommate a lot and my neighbors but my neighbors have been doing their own thing recently. And when I study with them sometimes recently I've felt like I was butting in (which is a feeling that I hate.) This is probably all in my head of course. So I stress ate some chips instead of studying, but stopped after about five minutes and started to study on my own and found some folks to work with the next morning. It was a good little emotional rollercoaster ride for me to have that reaction and to pull out of it.

Physically this week - I am extremely proud. I set myself a goal that I would do every posture this week. We do two sets of each posture for the most part, so there were 3-4 times where I took a knee for one set of something. But I DID EVERY POSTURE. I did not let myself "check out" when it got hot and hard and just sit there. Bikram taught a brutal class Wednesday night where he did not allow anyone to sit. "If you sit you disrupt my class. You must leave." I was in the middle towards the back. Bikram CORRECTED THE PERSON NEXT TO ME. She ended up leaving the room after that. It was the first time his eagle eye has been so close to me. It was terrifying and exhiliarating though because I know that he has seen me and recognizes my effort and alignment are 100%. Thursday night Jenna from SF taught. I don't usually post names of people in this blog because I don't want to get into any of that. However Jenna was amazing in posture clinic (tough but accurate and helpful.) And her class was easily my favorite of training. Very tough but calm and focused. Laser beam focus in the room. I loved it.

Friday night there was a camera crew in the room. There were rumors going around that our sleep depended on us staying on our mats in the room (typically many people just can't hack it and leave the room, especially if we're not allowed to sit down and take a knee (by Bikram). He killed us on Wednesday. There was palpable fear in the room. The weather all week was warm so the room was toasty, floor hot all week. So I talked with a buddy of mine who had been struggling all week - we talked about breathing in the warm up poses (especially eagle) and going into the poses carefully and with control so that you go exactly to the right point at the right time. I'm so glad I had that talk with her because I meant to help her get through the class but I helped myself at the same time. I kept track of my breath ALL THE WAY THROUGH CLASS. It's so amazing to breathe "low slow flow" when your heart is pounding. I also said "I love you Anna" throughout the class when things got tough. I have always struggled with saying things like that and meaning it. It may sound hokey or cheesy but I needed to feel that connection with my higher self, like I was there, powerful, and taking care of myself, doing this out of love and not punishment. It often feels like punishment. I was glowing and radiant after class. I worked my ass off but was so very very proud of myself. It was easily my best class. Of course, I still haven't held all four sides of triangle, but I'm getting stronger.

Saturday morning, at the end of it all... I was so tired and my body was revolting against me. My practice was shit. Just shit. But I was so close to making it through every posture that I willed myself on. I willed myself on! Come the floor series I had that horrible feeling where your body is made of lead. I was so close but it was so hard. I ended up in tears, sobbing, doing some semblance of the last few postures. I would not give up. It was not pretty. It was straight up ugly in fact but I did them.

So... that's week five. I did it. I stayed alive. And I'm happy for it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Week 4 Strength and weakness

I had an amazing week this week. Monday night (second class of the week) I felt like I had a whole new muscle suit of armor on... This week I did some amazing things physically. Many here at the training arrived with all these capabilities so it's maybe not that amazing for most teachers but it's big for me.

In padahastasana, warm up forward bend, I touched my forehead to my shins. In standing head to knee pose, I touched my forehead to both knees - then quickly fell out of the posture, but I did it for a second! My balance is getting better and I can definitely hold all parts longer. In half tortoise I kept my hips on my heels for the first time EVER (trying to do this since the dawn of time). In the final forward bend (seated) I touched my elbows to the floor early this week and Friday night in Bikram's class I touched, for a moment, my thumb to my forehead (while holding my toes with index and middle fingers). It was an incredibly rewarding week for me. I felt very strong until Thursday, then I had a weak, weak day. A cheeseburger halfway through the day may have helped me back on Friday - I had a great hilarious class with a British teacher and Friday night's class with Bikram. He requested that everyone wear black and orange and we did... Saturday morning (this morning) I was all icky feeling and had to take it kind of easy. But all in all this was a great week for me.

Posture clinics are going well. I have to take back what I said before about the teachers giving us harsh criticism. They have been completely fair in my opinion and are definitely trying to help us be better teachers. I delivered standing bow pulling pose last night (we were in clinic till 12:30am) in front of the head of the posture clinic "department" at training. I was incredibly nervous but did a very good job. I actually put so much juice in it that she said you're doing a great job but you use that energy in that balancing pose and you might knock them out of the pose! She gave me tips on the pacing and intensity of the next few postures and sent me on my way. Best "homework" ever. Awesome.

I have started to become a helper for my posture clinic group. I have a reputation as a good dialogue deliverer - good inflection, command and power, and the ability to control my voice purposefully. I have helped quite a few people this week and plan to get to posture clinic 20 minutes early each night to help others. It's good karma yoga. I could help out at the weekend study sessions but I need that time to get ahead in my own memorization. There are some who arrived with the whole dialogue memorized but I am not one of those! Double posture clinics will start this week and we will quickly catch up to what I know, then I'll be scrambling like everyone else.

Note for those going to training:
Bring three outfits that are for posture clinic only. Capris, tanks, sports bras - separate from anything you practice in. There are rules about what you can wear to posture clinic and they're strict about it. So save yourself some scrambling and have separate posture clinic clothes. NO GREEN THINGS AT TRAINING - no mats, water bottles, blankets, sweats, clothes of any kind. NOTHING green. Ask Bikram why at training.

Memorization-wise - DO NOT sign up for training at the last minute. Save yourself some grief and wait for the next training. Sign up early and get your dialogue and spend 3-4 months with it. Arrive with the standing series memorized and memorized well. Then you will be VERY HAPPY. When you memorize work with someone so they can check that you're doing it verbatim. You can't just read it out loud either. You will be delivering it with feeling, standing up in front of about 40 people and three teachers writing notes about you that you never get to read. It's purposefully more stressful than teaching an actual class (so they say.)

Every day you need good electrolytes. I like Ultima brand lemonade - it's stevia sweetened. Great. I also use trace mineral drops in my water. I have two insulated water bottles, one for straight water, one for water and trace minerals and ultima mix (1 scoop). I put ice in my bottles. Some teachers recommend against it. It is my habit to reach for coldness in the hot room. I will try to work on that. I swear. Rooming with someone from my home state has been wonderful. The luck of the draw can be good or bad... I guess that's why they call it the luck of the draw.

Last thing, in class, just wear shorts for guys, shorts and sports bra for girls. They haven't cracked down on the capris in the yoga room yet, but they could - Bikram wants to SEE the KNEE.

I guess that's it for now... Happy Halloween. I wore my orange cardboard flames that Janet gave me with my going away present to class this morning. They wilted about as soon as I walked in the room, but I do have a pic of my friend in a nun habit and me in my flames. Maggie and I went to the wax museum today (also some great pics.) I swear pics will be posted soon... Internet issues prevent it usually. I should be studying but I'm watching movies and studying at the breaks, chatting with Jonas, and trying to rest and relax before a massive study effort tomorrow. WOO HOO!!!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week 3 Lock the f-n knee!

Week three started on a very high note for me. Bikram was gone for the week to Japan and many other such exotic places where he is needed and wanted all the time. What that meant for us was a week of being excused at 11pm. It gave us a sense of regularity and calmness of schedule that was quite welcomed. Our schedule for the week was:
8:30-10am class with Emmy (with 8am sign in)
12:30 - 3 anatomy lecture with Dr. Tripiani (think I spelled that right)
3-4 lecture with Emmy (more about Emmy later)
5-6:30 class with 4:30pm sign in
9-11 pm posture clinic with various teachers leading small groups in really targeted teaching training exercises

Wash, rinse, repeat.

About Emmy - she is the 83 year old principle teacher of Bikram's Yoga College of India. She's been doing yoga for over sixty years. She is an absolutely amazing teacher who has seen everything. She is a stickler for alignment and I loved every one of her classes, even the one I ended up crying in... because of the heat. It wasn't particularly hot for most but it was for me. This is typical - some of us are strong and heat proof while others are weak/sick/suceptible to the heat/ etc. We're all on our individual ups and downs.

So Emmy is known for her toughness. She is tough in a different way than Bikram is. He is off the wall bouncing with energy. She is as Minali (staff member) says Silent. But Deadly. She was the first teacher to get off the podium and roam the room sneaking up on people to correct them. That's a freaky feeling - you don't know where she is and you are doing everything with the fear of god in you because you don't want to be poked and prodded or snuck up on from behind. Thankfully I work with attention to alignment all the time so I was not corrected this week. I spent 2-3 classes right in front of her as she taught from the back of the room so that was great. She holds poses for longer than I can (she asks us to hold poses for a long time) but I always fall out. I'm not that strong yet. Monday she taught a two hour class to start the week which had everyone walking around sore and tired for days.

Her lectures on pain (and other things) and her pose corrections and day of triangle posture clinic were wonderful. I have pictures but the internet connection here is 14 dollars a day so this is the first time my roommate and I have paid for it. She was up this time so her computer is what I'm using... and so I don't want to download my pics from my camera. But I will try...

I was riding high early in the week. In posture clinics, we deliver memorized pose instructions in a mock class setting with about forty people watching us, and teachers critiquing us. It is stressful for everyone, even me, who is not afraid of public speaking and feels good teaching. I am a born teacher and have wanted to teach yoga for about ten years, so this is the part of the training I'm stronger in. I'm not as strong at the actual yoga but it all evens out it seems.

In the hotel room suite, they have moved out all the furniture. There are two 15-20 person trainee groups in each room. We have our group that we stick with and another group each time so we eventually get to do posture clinic with everyone, and all different teachers. The room has taped off areas for the teacher, the demonstrators (the mock class members), etc. Everyone sits on the floor, there are strict rules about eating, going to the bathroom, no leaving, etc.

I have a theory about the militancy here. I feel that there are some who come to this training as a kind of yoga vacation. They're kind of la-di-da about the whole thing. Then there are those of us who researched the crap out of everything and take things very seriously, learn as much of the memorization stuff before we get here as we can, and are really tuned in. So I believe that the militancy in schedule and rules is for those la-di-da-ers - to get them out of la-di-da-land and heads into the training. Some of them have strong practices so the doubles don't automatically break them down (like me). Those of us who take things very seriously to begin with need to lighten up in situations like this as much as we can, because otherwise it gets to be very oppressive.

Lightening up is not one of my strong suits.

This week I was riding high on sleep and regularity of schedule. After class on Wednesday morning however I had chills in bed for 45 minutes and could hardly walk to afternoon lecture. It was 85 degrees out and I was wearing a hat and sweats and was still cold. After being checked by the nurse I had a fever and was sent to my room to rest. Fever broke over night but I think my immune system was weak and I picked up the cold that's going around, so I've had two days of very sore throat followed by the rest of the cold, coughing, sneezing, congestion, the works. Thank goodness it is the weekend when this is happening.

So... my time with this computer is almost up but I'll try to add some pics.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pose checkin One third of the way through

Pranayama - fine. working on contracting the thighs throughout and sucking the stomach in. I can at least do these things both most of the time.

Half Moon - I don't feel I have that much more lateral flexion in the spine (thanks Dr. T) but what I have is regular. Backbending - I had my nice deep backbend for a little while and it's gone way away. padahastasana - I don't feel I'm making progress in this pose, but I'm also not really pushing it too much. I haven't been strong enough through the entire class to push the warm up yet.

Awkward- AWKWARD! this pose is one of my most hated moments of every class. the first part at least I'm able to do wtihout getting too tired. The second part I have marked improvement in since training started. I came with a foot injury that this pose was very painful. Now I'm doing it and going down as far as the barstool (some days farther) without pain. third part - have pain in my left knee when I go down and frequently I fall out. I still suck at coming back up in this pose at the end, no chance of having my spine straight.

Eagle - patiently, I have almost got one of my feet behind the calf muscle all the way (second side!) This is exciting. Also this week with Emmy here I started to not just interlace the fingers but extend them palms together. I don't have the palms together yet, but I'm trying. I'd say there's a 1-2inch differential depending on the day between the palms. And when I'm tired to start, I fall out. That's pretty much true of everything.

Balancing series -
Head to knee - have marked improvement. From someone who could hardly stand on my left foot when I arrived, this morning, Saturday, I kicked out and held it on both sides. for how long? Maybe ten seconds to be honest. I don't have very good balance on one foot. I have tiny, narrow feet. Still, improvement.

Standing Bow - thanks to Emmy, I work on bringing my kicking hip down in the bow, and don't go forward till I feel the kicking back leg pull my arm back. At that point I try to bring everything down. I can bring it down but I have never held it for more than five seconds. I really hope this improves. I do feel stronger in the pose.

balancing stick - when I'm on, I'm on. I know my alignment is awesome in this pose. it's a matter of stamina. Sometimes I have it, sometimes I'm sitting for one set to try to survive the standing series and do some triangles. Sometimes I hold the full pose for the full time. Finally, one pose I can say that about! I had a good balancing stick before I left. I really work on charging forward.

Sep. leg stretching - I havent' made any improvement in this pose really, because at home I practice on a mat not a carpet. practicing on a carpet is really really hard, especially a new slick carpet. Sliding city. I find myself using my arm strength to hold my legs from slipping sometimes. I also frequently when tired find myself taking a knee here to try to avoid skipping any triangle.

Triangle - DOOZY. firstly, I am proud to say that whatever I do in this pose, the master pose, the hardest of the series, I do honestly and fully. No crappy hip popping up legs close together triangle for me. That said... I feel sad that I don't have more strength to hold this pose for longer. Though it's by far my toughest pose, I continually work towards making full effort and trying. Because my stamina is just not as good as most of the other trainees, it's rare that I do every pose of a class (when doing doubles in the hot hot hot teacher training room and getting very little sleep). So that said, I am trying to the best of my ability. Emmy did a lot of triangle posture clinic stuff wtih us before she left and I learned a lot about rolling the hip forward and tightening the butt behind it, then lifting off the hip and twisting away (back). Fabulous, amazing, powerful stuff. Putting it into practice - I hope that by the next time I check in that I can say that in at least one class I was able to hold it in great alignment for two sides two sets.

Head to knee sep leg - doing this pose hands together in prayer most of the time and inching my forehead up the leg a bit at the end when I can. that's totally progress.
Am usually wobbly wobbly wobbly at this point in class.

tree - stronger balance than before, no 2 knees in one line yet for me. With my extra chunk on my body I do the best I can. I don't have very open hips in that direction. Am working on focusing on that hip joint exactly to work on that.

toe stand - have gone down on both sides (amazing since the foot injury disappeared in week 2). Short arms make it super hard for me to have help stretching up to the ceiling. I know I need to work my core to do this... but I'm not there yet. Once or twice I got my hands into prayer before tumbling forward.

Savasana - holding my heels together is hard for me. My left leg (of injury fame) doesn't like it - the knee doesn't like it. I try to do it in some classes. this pose gets dicey (can you believe that?!!?) when the heat is pumping through the floor. There have been times while I'm trying to rest and catch my breath that I cannot stay in savasana because the floor is burning me. then I pop up, usually in tears, and sit on my butt, knees bent. I hate it when the floor is really hot - there is no relief, nowhere to run. I don't consider leaving the room a real option. tears come easily at that point, but I try to control the abject sobbing because it's a waste of energy and water. I think a lot of that is a feeling of firstly, cooking, secondly - not fair. Bikram often says you have nothing to lose because you had nothing in the first place to begin with. I have always taken the floor not being burning for granted in savasana. I've always taken it for granted that there was always somewhere to rest if I needed it, to find peace. I do feel so upset/angry/not-fair about this being taken away from me. It's easy to check my ego at the door regarding my postures. I knew coming in I was not as strong as most trainees. I try to do what I do 100% right though. Having savasana not be a soft place to land is very very hard for me when the room is hot. (like 120 - 130 degrees.)

Wind removing pose. Sigh... no real progress here. I have short arms. the third part, I try all the tricks - trying to grab my shin to get one arm some leverage to get to the elbows... no dice. No dice. I really try. Will continue to try. Also losing some more weight will help.

Situps - with lots of focus and instruction, these have improved, my effort and execution have improved even while tired.

Cobra - this pose has really changed at training. I have a pretty cobra, and can get my arms to 90 degrees with the help of my hands, but always using the spine strength first and adding the arms at the end. I love feeling the strong back side of the body in this posture.

Locust - nothing doing here. Sore, tired, rarely do I feel any freedom or lift or lightness here.

Full locust - I was soaring this morning. When exhausted, my maintenance level of this pose is pretty pathetic. But good to be doing it. I just feel like lead sometimes and even while looking up, I don't go up.

Bow - when I really push this to my limits I get a yucky tweak in the left lower back. I know there is a tightness there ongoing. So instead of trying to push it up up up, I'm trying to find length through that hip from the lower back to the thigh. I continue to work my awareness there. I know it's worth it for me to work the length before the height. Alway always looking up in this pose. I didn't know why before Emmy told us about looking back (or up) in prep for any backbend, to calm the body's natural protect-that-spine reflex.

Fixed firm - no problem.

Half Tortoise - I am getting closer and closer and closer to the day when I will be able to keep those hips on the heels. I move so slowly in to this pose thinking every day that today may be the day :)

camel - I have a great camel at home. Here I struggle to do camel. I have not made progress in this pose. however, I know that doing it, every class, is the culmination of the series, so doing it is important and is helping me build strength and flexibility. I don't hve too much attachment to this pose going out the window because my back is way stiffer from this amountof practice. Hopefully this will change in later weeks.

rabbit - A hard pose for me. I was not even grabbing my feet till about two weeks before training. And that was a gift to me from a teacher who suggested I take a small gap between the knees and feet to help me grab the feet wtihout bending the heck out of my wrists. In this pose, my boobs literally suffocate me. I think there are a small group of people in the world who would understand that feeling and how awful it is. I can get so little air that sometimes it triggers absolute panic. Actually, it always triggers panic to be suffocated while upside down in a claustrophobic position. Sometimes I can breathe a little bit and stay with it. Often I can't. Working on stretching the right part of the back is awesome though.

sep leg stretching - I like this pose a lot. I realized when I got here that I wasn't exactly keeping both hips on the ground. I have seen some egregious poses though - mine is not like that. But I found a centimeter or two gap and I work to close that. Sometimes that means I don't flex my foot all the way off the ground. Most of the time I try to flex it a few times while keeping the hip down. When I'm feeling strong by this point in class (don't think its happened in 3 wks) I can do it all. My forward bend is out the window from what it is at home. But I always try the right way for the health benefits of the pose.

Spinal twist - I hope to be able to grab the knee with no towel assistance by the time I get home. I have short arms and big thighs and big biceps so it's not happening now.

Final blowing - this is getting way stronger.

Phew! More pose updates at 2/3 and all the way through.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week 2 Woo Hoo

I can’t believe I made it through this week. It was very very tough for me. I was feeling great on Monday and so I really pushed hard in Monday night’s class (Bikram teaching.) It was good to work hard of course. However it really made me tired (of course.) You’re supposed to gain energy in the class but with little sleep it gets dicey. Three nights in a row Monday through Wednesday we stayed up watching movies till 3-4am. Each night I think except one I ended up sleeping on the floor. It’s technically not allowed that you sleep on the floor but at a certain point they stop coming around to wake you up and send you back to your seats. Pillows are not allowed except for medical reason. However I have two smallish bamboo blankets that are wonderful as pillows and support for my lower back in those awful chairs with no padding on the back. Really it’s torture. Once I just kind of lost it and sat on the floor in front of my chair (barely big enough space to squeeze my butt down there because of the row of chairs in front of me and contorted my head through and underneath my chair and slept there. Who knew I’d be doing yoga in the lecture hall. Really.

Tuesday and Wednesday were just a blur. Each night no matter what I read a few pages of Jitterbug Perfume (Robbins) to help me escape and turn my mind off. The only night I didn’t do that I was obsessing about counting how many days left till I get to go home and sleep and see Jonas and the kitties. (It’s 48 days by the way… graduation is seven weeks from today). We had brutal classes this week. The heat was extreme. It was 120-125 on Tuesday night, class with a guy from Mexico. He really pushed everyone hard. I didn’t like some things he said – at one point he said, have no compassion for yourself. I don’t. I found that to be just awful and I was swearing at him under my breath for the rest of class.

Bikram gave a few great lectures this week in the afternoons and I loved that. It was easy to stay awake. We finished everyone reciting half moon in front of him so we’re moving into the next phase of the training. He lectured on karma yoga, love, some of the science behind the poses, his history, all kinds of stuff. He talked about Hatha Yoga which is the limb of the eight limb yoga system that is physical postures and why you can’t really get into the mind to improve it without getting the body in shape. The goal of the yoga is to turn the mind off and open the heart so that the mind can be swayed by the heart and not the other way around. I noticed after that lecture my mind’s tendency to bitch and moan every morning before class. I just feel so put-upon and “don’t wanna.” I also feel that way in the night movies but thanks to my bamboo blankets and some naps I was a little better with the 3am and 4am nights.

The morning classes are not taught by Bikram. They were sort of medium this week. I usually go in trying to be with the body and let it open up on its own. At night, for the 5pm class, however, it’s all business. Bikram teaches or he gets someone else to come in and kick our asses all over the place. It’s been hot this week and that hasn’t helped – the heat inside is amplified by the heat outside. Last week it was cool outside and not hot enough in the tent to stretch properly. They fixed that. They brought in new generators, etc. So they started pumping hot air under the floor which is a temporary floor of the semi permanent tent, so it’s thin. By Thursday night – the temp in the room was 130 degrees and humidity was 40 percent. Normal class is 105 / 40. It was steamy and brutal. Bikram pushed and pushed us. The girl next to me collapsed and went out of the room with the help of the staff. Many others crawled or were carried outside. I went down after the standing series and the floor was so hot that where you can usually catch some sort of relief there, it was burning and cooking us from underneath. I was in tears, hysterically crying. The staff asked me if I wanted to go out and I said no. I just kept crying but stayed on my mat and tried to do some postures. My body would not allow me to lie on that burning floor and the thought of it had me in tears. I was in a pile of snot and tears by the end of the class and almost half of the class was down at some point. It was awful. That night the staff met with Bikram. At lecture he said, “I didn’t realize I was burning your asses and your balls!” (He’s very crude.) One of the senior teachers had her watch on and it burned her skin.

So they gave us the night off after 11pm and I was grateful for the rest. I was a wreck. Friday morning the heat was lower in the am. For the pm class, with Bikram, it was hot again in there. I was shaking with fear putting my mat down. I went to a visiting teacher and asked him what to do about abject fear. After checking that I was ok, hydrated, and fed he realized I was just scared. He said a bunch of stuff trying to make me feel better but it didn’t. He then said you’ll be ok, I’ll keep an eye on you. I said I’ll be in the back corner. He said NO you go right in front of Bikram, get his energy. I said can I do it when he gets back? (He’ll be gone next week) he said NO IT’S ALREADY DONE. Go. So I went in and moved my mat to the center of the room, closer than I’ve ever been to the podium. I went outside in tears and my friends consoled me. The fear was palpable. It turns out Bikram had to catch a flight and taught an 80 minute high energy class (usually 90 minutes). It was amazing. I did every posture. He didn’t pick on me for doing anything wrong and I was openly in front of him, which was a HUGE fear of mine to overcome.

After the class he puts on his music he’s recorded. He put on this techno track and everyone burst into applause and jumped up and danced. I did not dance, I was just very happy to have survived and faced my fear of the middle of the room. They gave us the night off last night too, then class this am. I was tired but did most of everything. Good news – my foot feels way better right now. I’m hoping to have continual improvement. Poses getting stronger and better. Mind getting stronger. I miss and love you all.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Week 1 and done :)

Woo hoo!!! I can't believe, still can't believe that I'm actually here. I'm in Vegas. I'm at the Bikram yoga teacher training.

For those of you who don't know much about bikram, it's very intense. It's a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises, done in the same order each time. It is a very challenging practice, starting with a standing series and then moving to a floor series. This is done in 105 degree heat and 40 percent humidity. Those are the idea conditions. The class is designed to last 90 minutes and that's what you would experience in a studio.

It has taken many of us, the trainees, years to get up the strength and stamina and mental desire to practice every day, let alone twice a day. And here I am, here I stand, after one week of mostly doubles, with a single class this morning, Saturday, after which I am free (!) till Monday morning.

The trek out here was good. I have never traveled with that much stuff before in my life! My big checked bag was one pound away from the limit. However I'm very glad I brought everything I did. Upon arrival you could see many yogis at the hotel rushing to check in. I arrived moments before the orientation was supposed to start. After signing in and picking up my materials, they pushed back the lecture a few hours. Everything here runs on Bikram time. That means everything happens according to when the boss wants things to happen. My roommate is a fellow yogini from Vermont and we have been having a wonderful cracked out sleepless sober time here in Vegas.

On Monday it began. We did not have class Monday morning because they were still trying to get the heat right in the yoga room. We had our first lecture with Bikram. The setup is... we're all in the hotel in pairs. The locals from Vegas are staying at home, and I don't envy them that. It seems very difficult to me to have feet in both worlds, to have to drive home, etc. We have a HUGE HUGE HUGE practice tent. It's a semi-permanent structure, set up outside, with tons of heaters and steam machines pumping heat in. There are 302 of us students and many visiting teachers and staff. When we practice it can sometimes be up to 375 people in the room. Mostly it's like 315 though. The tent is set up outside the north wing of the hotel a short walk away in the parking lot. We do not have to go anywhere near the casino to get there. Across from that tent there is a smaller tent with many chairs set up where we have lectures and more lectures and late night lectures.

The schedule is: Get up at 7, make a smoothie, sign in for class from 8-8:25 and class starts at 8:30. Then we are free till 12, when there is sign in for 12:30 lecture, or later, posture clinics. That goes till 4pm and we rush to our rooms to get back for a 4:30 - 4:55 sign in for 5pm class. We're then free for dinner till 8:30 0r 9 when we again sign in for a late night lecture. Wash, rinse, repeat. It's grueling.

Why? Firstly, practicing bikram twice a day is, on its own, one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. It's tough. Secondly, those late night lectures??? Twice this week we were there till AFTER 3AM. It is the definition of torture for me. I feel sometimes that it is so pointless. However we are told over and over to "trust the process" and suck it up. They wake us up if we fall asleep. I have already been tapped once on the shoulder by one of the staff and given the "open your eyes" signal.

The lectures are sometimes Bikram talking, sometimes he shows us Bollywood movies, and we did get to see our first taste of the Mahabarata the other night. This is an Indian epic that's many many books squeezed (!) into 92 HOURS of hour long episodes. We watched the one that is the Bhahavad Gita (oh forgive my spelling on that please.) It was Arjun's conversation wtih Lord Krishna and it was played after a lecture on Karma Yoga. The takeaway was this - do your duty and don't question. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Many of you know that I had a recurrence of an injury right before I left for training. I am currently wrapped with ice on my knee and arch of my foot, which I do after each and every class for at least 20 minutes, and pop some advil. I am extremely happy to report that after one week I am still standing. This is such a challenge for me. I lasted through six classes without significant muscle spasms and pain (icing, massaging, trying to keep the knots out when I wasn't in class), then the seventh (or maybe it was the sixth class) I got muscle spasms in the foot and a lot of pain during the standing series, especially on the one leg balancing poses. I talked to the nurse immediately. She said do what you're doing, you have a good handle on it, sit when you have to and don't push it so hard that you can't walk. I was in tears, very very upset that night. I was less worried that I wouldn't make it through than that I was not going to be able to push myself and improve during practice. But this is my yoga here - managing this injury, trying to make myself stronger, stopping when I have to to ensure that I don't do damage.

It is very hard for me, ms. competitive, to look around and see everyone kicking ass while I have to sit. The reality is that many people do sit down and take breaks. It's a marathon, and most people will sit at some point throughout the training. But I am very happy to say that after backing off a bit and sitting WHENEVER the pain comes in a certain, twingy, spasmy way, I do feel way stronger than I did a week ago. I am working my foundations in the standing poses - tightening the leg muscles all theway up to the stomach and trying to pull that arch up off the floor and sink my four corners of the feet down to have the best foot structure I can. When I can't do that stuff because I'm tired, I don't go too hard or I sit or I stand still. I may look like a slacker, but I know that if any teacher comes up to me and asks, I am doing what I have to do, and that the nurse has a note from my podiatrist.

I hate to be in this position, but frankly, I feel that I am getting stronger every class and that maybe by the end of week three my foot will be way stronger, strong enough to make it through the full standing series, no breaks. I did do the whole class the first couple of classes but that's what landed me in pain. The room was also not properly heated for the first few days so they were clear that we were to start slow. Now that week one is done, we are getting pushed and corrected more and more and more.

The final piece of the puzzle is the dialogue. I have a 46 page script of pose commands that has to be memorized and delivered verbatim throughout the training. We do the first part of the first pose in front of Bikram - all 300 or so of us. Then we break into smaller groups and do posture clinics each afternoon, where we recite the pose while other traineees perform it exactly as we say it (like if we miss a key line, they have to do what we say anyway, which is meant to show us that if we don't say it right we may be asking people to do unsafe things.) We have a panel of teachers watching us and giving us feedback (read sharp criticism.)

I am pretty happy about this part of the training. I have good public speaking skills and a good voice thanks to singing and radio production. I feel relatively prepared, having recorded myself delivering the dialogue and edited it down into something I had in my car for the last few months. I'm familiar with all the dialogue, though I don't have it all memorized at all. I actually went third on the first day doing dialogue in front of bikram and he said to two girls ahead of me "shake her hand. You need her energy. She was giving it all to the class."

That was awesome. Totally horrifically nervewracking but awesome. We're still days later getting through the 300 of us doing the posture in front of Bikram and him giving comments on voice and delivery and memorization.

So the rest of the posture clinics start week 3 and that's when it will get crazy. We have NO TIME to sleep let alone memorize except on the weekends. So tonight we're ordering pizza and working a few postures ahead to get some in the bank. They come fast and furious so I hear and the standing poses are long and hard to memorize. I'm a good coach though - I make my roommate do it many times with me when we practice so it really sticks. I can't wait to teach.

So that's the deal. I am heading to the pool soon then off to do some shopping for food. We get a $610 meal card giving us $10 a day to spend in the hotel and restaurants supposedly providing one meal a day, the rest we must fend for ourselves. Of course nothing in the hotel is $10. I filled my waterbottle with cranberry juice the other day and it was $10. So I make oatmeal, pb&j, turkey and cheese sandwiches, that kind of stuff, in the room. It's nice to go out for dinner sometimes though.

Finally, I want to talk about what it's like to be doing this in Vegas. It's crazy. We have to walk through the casino and the sports book room with the huge TVs and men screaming, drunk, to get to the buffet. I did catch Lester getting pounded the other night in the first Red Sox playoff game the other night Jonas - sorry to see it but you asked me to think about seeing some post season baseball and so I did look. There are pictures of ladies on all the walls like cheesy hotel art and they're all supposed to be high class "call girls" I guess. Then there are all the ladies walking around in sequins and four inch pumps. The line for the Barry Manilow show (he is in residence here) the other night scared the crap out of us. We were worried they were waiting for the buffet and we only had an hour till lecture. They were not. They were a wild pack of Fanilows roaming the first floor of the casino/hotel. That's what they call the Manilow fans. Fanilows. No comment. Many jokes to make with that though :)

For anyone who is sending me anything, letters are ok. Any packages have specific instructions so that I don't get charged $5 to pick them up.

Address to: Scott Nelson, Bikram Yoga
then my name
Hilton, Vegas (I don't have the address handy).

Not that anyone has to send anything at all :)

I really miss my family, Jonas and the kitties, Brian and Monica and the new baby(!) and just everyone. But I'm safe and sound and strong and happy. Sleep deprived, but happy. We had last night off late night lecture and went out to the diner and bounced around, happy, sober, and giddy. One week down. Eight to go. This is an amazing experience and I'm grateful for it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thoughts before I leave for training!

Wow. I'm sure when it's all said and done I will have gone through so much more at training than I have gone through in the last two weeks, but really, it has been an unbelieveable experience preparing to leave everything I know for nine weeks and embark on a major challenging event in my life.

The nerves, jitters, vomiting butterflies, general anxiety, waves of nausea, and feelings of doubt and abject terror have ruled my life. I have worked hard to pull myself out of the darkness that came when I felt an old injury in my foot coming back to life. I searched out my friends to ask for their gifts - a healing, a dinner with my fellow teachers, a massage, some flower essences... I do feel that my loved ones are filling me and surrounding me with blessings of hope and a safe journey.

I have experienced so much movement in my body experience of the pain in my foot. So many doubts and fears are residing there right now. All the injuries down the left side of my body are gathering forces to remind me to honor my inner goddess, the Divine Feminine, while I go into this masculine experience of "hardcore" yoga. I have struggled for my whole life to remain in touch with my intuition and mystical dark forces that dance around my life experience. My masculine, goal oriented, driven aspects have long ruled my life, and I promise here and now to give my all to contacting my inner self, my higher self, my intuition, my gut, my guidance. I will not give up my sovereignty to this training. I will always have the right to stay within, to find the stillness within, to commune with myself, to witness.

I enter the training with no goals except to stay in Vegas and get my money's worth. I have no expectations for my physical practice. I hope to rely on the form of the yoga and not get too caught up in the messages of "get me outta here" that I'm sure to receive as I practice. I hope to change that channel when it comes through loud and clear. I hope to connect with my spirit of playfulness during this journey.

I hope to enjoy connecting with new people while noticing interpersonal drama and steering clear of it.

I hope and I pray for the inner guidance and strength to guide me as I attempt to surrender the ego completely. I hope to turn the brain off and give it all up to the heart, and to stand in truth.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I'm going out on a limb to say my summer yoga challenge is done. 100 classes! Some of these at the end have been seriously modified due to foot pain and the need to rest before training. I leave on Sunday morning.

I will do my best to update here about how I'm doing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2 down 7 more

I may drop off on posting till I leave for training... there's nothing of interest to report. I sent off my stuff, I'm practicing some but not overdoing it, seeing friends and family, and waiting for the journey to begin!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

9 more and a milestone

9 more classes till I hit 100 for the summer.

I have sealed my envelope with my final payment (till I get back, when I'll have 3,000 more to pay off), my medical waiver, letter of recommendation, and photos. I'm off to mail it now!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

12 more classes

The studio has been closed for a week so I've done a lot of home practice. I have been feeling some strange twinges all over - especially in my knee. I just try to be calm and know that the yoga really does heal everything if I can practice and be mindful and careful.

I have less to say about any one class... I can't wait to practice in the studio again. In the studio - the teacher says it, you do it. At home, sometimes I struggle to keep myself motivated to, say, stay in floor bow for the entire time I should.

My home yoga closet was 110 yesterday. I don't have a humidity monitor but I had a humidifier going full blast for quite a while before I started. It just felt great. I hope I'm heat-ready.

The last 3.5 weeks before I leave are kind of bittersweet. I feel nerves mixed with glee mixed with anticipation and wanting to go right now. However I need this last bit of work to get things done and get the whole thing paid for. This Friday I'll send my final payment (but will still have 3000 to pay off when I return.) So I guess that's final payment for now.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

17 to go until 100 classes

Feeling strong in my practice. I'm feeling relaxed and happy. I'm not struggling to "fix" my practice anymore before I leave. I just want to appreciate what I have - great alignment in all postures and good focus. Sure, my standing head to knee is still an abomination. Sure my standing bow pulling pose is super wobbly - but pretty when I can get into it without falling.

Sure I fall out of balancing stick just about as much as I stay in it.

Sure these are the complicated looking poses that everyone kind of checks each other out as they practice - but I will be fine, my practice is fine, I hope to not make a big deal at training. I don't need to meet Bikram or get really involved. I'm there as a personal practice. I'm there to meet a great physical challenge with my best, to try to not let the sleep deprivation get the best of me, to deliver and nail down that dialog, and to come home happy, healthy, strong, and trim.

I can't fail by doing my best. And sometimes giving or performing at my best means backing off and resting. Woo hoo! Vegas here I come!

Monday, August 31, 2009

19 to go until i hit 100 classes

Friday, Saturday Sunday - great practices all. I feel strong and amazing right now!

The bigger news is that I leave in less than four weeks - four weeks from yesterday. That's 27 days!!!!!!!!! 27 days to training HOLY MOLY!

Friday, August 28, 2009

22 to go

I lost my cat and have had a hard time getting my practice in... we've been needing new kittens quickly because we were so devastated and lonely. So I've gotten two more down, and three new kittens. I'm looking forward to getting back in the studio on the REGULAR starting today. Training is four weeks away on Sunday.

These are our new kitties - The grey guy is Teddy (Edward) Kennedy, the white guy in the middle is Jesse, and the girl (cutie) on the left is Muna Lee.

Monday, August 24, 2009

24 to go

Practiced in the studio in Friday, home on Saturday. Good practices both.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Four more down, 26 to go!

Had a great couple of classes back. One of them I took from a teacher who went to the training this spring. Coincidentally, I felt I had a crappy practice that day. I told her I was worried about being one of the wobbliest people at training. She said, you won't stick out one way or the other. Your practice is solid and your alignment is good. There will be plenty of people at the teacher training who are better than you are, and PLENTY who will be less experienced and won't have as strong a practice as you have.

That was great for me to hear, from someone so fresh back from the training. She also said that the work I've been doing with the dialog is great and that I'll be in good shape.

I feel happy to be back practicing. I am not positive I'm going to do these 30 last classes in a row. I'll do my best to practice every day, but I'm not going to stress over it as I try to see friends and family before I leave.

My wrist is feeling great these days!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Finally, back at it. 30 TO GO!

I took a grand nine day vacation from practice. There. I said it. I had to do it. It's very easy for me to become militant with myself, and frankly, I was getting to the point where I was not enjoying my practice. I was seriously bored. So I took some time off, and feel really refreshed.

Back in the studio yesterday, my practice was definitely a little wobbly - more than usual. But I just relaxed and didn't push too hard, as I am going to complete a 30 day challenge now, then modify my practice for my needs the few days before I leave for training.

I have felt some wrist tendonitis activated over the last month, something that I thought I got through. After a week off, practicing yesterday, I identified exactly what has triggered it recently. I have a bit of extra heft. I'm working on it, I'm working on it! I've lost a lot of weight this year - a lot of weight for the fact that I'm not dieting it off, I'm eating more healthfully.

This extra weight does get in my way in certain poses. In rabbit, for example, I have not been able to grab my feet well ever. In the past six weeks or so, I have actually done some rabbits - real ones, where I grab my heels.

So having taken some time off, I was very curious yesterday to figure out what was triggering the wrist pain during my practice. Wrist pain that nags me all the time when it gets triggered. It's uncomfortable. So... as soon as I did the real grab, which I can barely hold, my wrist exploded with pain.

Now I know - that pose puts too much strain on my wrist at my current weight. Because, I have to reach really hard to get around the thighs to the feet, I have short arms to begin with. So I immediately went back to what I was doing before, which was to grab my towel as close to the heels as possible and use that for leverage.

As soon as I did that on the second set, the wrist pain went away. It doesn't require me to bend my wrist too far to do that. I was loving rabbit when I could grab, but my top priority is to be as pain free for training as possible. So I'm really excited to do this last 30 day challenge to complete my 100 class summer now that I know for certain what's triggering the wrist pain.

Other than that I feel great. No more booze going into the system. I'm trying to eat healthfully without restricting myself, allowing for some treats. But really, I know that refined sugar is just not going to do me very much good at this point. So I guess those treats need to be wholesome stuff.

I look forward to training. I am incredibly nervous about training. I feel like everyone there will be skinny and I will not be. I'm really going to have to keep my head in a positive place. I have my line all planned out for when Bikram calls me a fatty - I'm going to say, you should have seen me last year, boss!

Last year at this time I was not as far along in my recovery from Binge Eating Disorder and Compulsive Overeating Disorder. I was not exercising that much. I was significantly heavier. I don't know how much on the scale because getting on the scale does not assist me in my recovery. I am much stronger and more confident now, and I know without a doubt that I will be an amazing yoga teacher.

Since my last post I have started leading a weekly yoga class at my office. It's nothing much, yet. I want to work with the ladies that come in building strength and confidence eventually, but first I want to show them the joy of yoga - the relaxing of the muscles, the care for the heart and mind that comes from watching the breath and moving with intention. This ain't no bikram class. Really I am going to teacher training for my own personal practice - I look forward to teaching bikram, but it's just the beginning of my teaching journey.

If I had tons of cash and time, I'd run right off to the Viniyoga certification, anusara, and iyengar certifications. I do however believe strongly in the healing power of bikram, and would send someone to that practice first. But the other traditions have much to give, and I am a student always.

So... nerves, living on pennies for these last six weeks, hoping to meet some good friends at the training, hiring a temp to replace me, hoping that person just kicks so much ass to give back to the company that has allowed me the nine week leave of absence, trying to feel connected to my hubby, who is very sad about the reality of living alone again...

and the saga continues!