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.