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.