Monday, December 21, 2009

Things to come

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Well, besides the fact that I hate the cold weather and snow, I’m still feeling happier than ever. The past 3 or 4 years I just haven’t been a holiday kind of gal. But a lot has changed in me in the last half a year. I’ve got all these maternal feelings that have taken ahold of me, I’ve become a more giving person, and yes… I actually got a Christmas tree. And it is beautiful. It may be the most perfect tree ever. (Unfortunately, the night we put it up, the tree had and accident and ended up smashing on the floor in the middle of the night. But let’s not go there right now, because you know what I’m exuding positivity and sticking with it!)

And well, this 30 day challenge is sadly coming to an end soon. I’ve got 4 classes left to take, so as I planned, I will be done on Christmas Eve. I know I can keep it going if I want to, but between Christmas and New Years I know I’ve got a few days I won’t get to class. But it’s ok. I love that I decided to commit myself to it, because I have truly enjoyed this 30 day challenge more than any other. It could be because I feel more connected with so many of the students that are also doing it, now that I am teaching. It could be that I love that I get to be at the studio and see all the people I love on a very regular basis. It could be that wonderful sense of unity that you feel when you are going thru something with others. It’s all of these things, I am sure. But mostly, I think it is because I have pushed myself to new heights, and feel incredibly strong. I have felt so in tune with my practice, my body, and my strength. I continuously work on my goals that I set on the first day, and can see clear improvements. Dare I say I don’t hate Bow Pose anymore?? Perhaps…. ☺

Things are just good. All around. I’m looking forward to holiday parties and spending time with family. I’m excited to see my dad’s side of the family. I’ve just realized that I haven’t seen them since I’ve been back from training!! I get to meet a new little cousin (who actually isn’t really “new” at this point, seeing she was born on May 5th!!) I get to spend time with my brother and his girlfriend, which makes me incredibly happy. We don’t get to see each other as much as we used to, so I’m looking forward to that. I am thrilled to have some time off of work and to be able to spend some snuggle time with Tim. I feel like my teaching has taken a great turn. The past few weeks, a little bit more has “clicked”. Things are just good.

I am psyched for tomorrow. I took the day off of work to have an all-yoga-all-the-time day. I’m teaching at 6am, taking at 8am, then heading to West Roxbury to take the advanced class with Diane. Sounds like there is going to be a good group of folks there. I finally get to meet thedancingj, after 3 years of chatting online. I’ve convinced another teacher, Laura, to take the day off with me so we can ride up together. We’ve got a nice friendship and so much in common, I often think we have parallel lives.

So as I embark on a short night of rest, I am hoping for deep sleep, sweet dreams, and a continuations of all things that are good in the world.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Struggle, struggle, struggle!!

Tomorrow marks the halfway point of my 30 day challenge! It is going really great. I’m loving that I am forced to find the time to make it to class every day. It’s not as if I normally have to “force” myself to class, but with my hectic schedule, I often find myself pushing that extra hour of work that I have to get done, which makes me miss class. But now – NO CHOICE!!

My body is feeling fantastic. I’m finding new muscles that are getting sore, and new depths to some postures. It always amazes me that after almost 5 years of practice, I can still wake up the next morning with a new soreness in my body. I got super deep bending left side in half moon the other day. I looked at myself and thought “Wow. So. Cool. That’s me!!” And on that same day, I got into my middle back in something… I’m still not quite sure what posture. But I woke up feeling more alive in that part of my back than ever. Such a good pain! Getting to that point beyond the normal depth that we are comfortable with is always an accomplishment. And feeling it in the body (all over, inside out, bones to skin) is when our bodies really start to change. I’ve been trying to stress this while I am teaching, too. It is so important to go beyond that normal place of comfort. If you are just hanging out balancing for the full minute of Standing Bow, you are not working hard enough. You need to fall forward sometimes. You need to kick so hard that you lose your balance. Even though the dialogue says “if you lose the balance, you’re not kicking hard enough”, that does not mean that we can just hang out there forever. Falling is not failure. Getting back in and struggling just as hard is success.

Which brings me to what I have been working on, which is my stamina in Standing Bow.

It is getting better. Off and on though. But ever since I have made up my mind to work on holding it longer, I have actually been able to in the majority of classes. I still struggle with just getting too damn tired in that first set. I’m not looking for these thirty days to suddenly reinvent my Standing Bow, where I can hold it the whole time, all the time. But little by little, I will get there. I have had a couple of classes where I actually have found myself relaxing into that posture. Hard to explain. "Relaxing" might not be the right word… There is a point where I am kicking back and up so hard and stretching my fingertips forward so hard that I have a sudden realization of ease. Then I put a big ol’ goofy smile on my face, and that is my posture!

I still don’t know that I can talk fully about any major improvements in Floor Bow. The past 14 days have brought me to somewhat look forward to the posture a little more because I have found some clarity in it. I want so badly to improve in that one. I totally understand why that posture is where it is in class, but damn! I am so spent after the previous three postures! That could certainly be a part of my struggle. But enough excuses. My exhaustion doesn’t really matter – all that matters is that I stick it out and try as hard as possible to do the posture 100% the right way to the very best of my ability. And someday, eventually, in the future… I will improve, I will progress, and maybe, just maybe, even learn to like that posture a little bit.

Halfway mark – here I come!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

One Day after the Next

I just finished my 8th day of the 30 day challenge. I’m feeling pretty good. Tonight’s class was awesome. It kicked my asana, was challenging, but not to the point of sitting anything out. I always consider that a great class. A good challenging ass kicking in Bikram Yoga is why we all continue to show up every day, right?

Well yesterday was quite different. It was a serious ass whooping… slaying… pummeling… whatever the word is; it was TOUGH. I absolutely killed myself in all the postures up to Standing Bow, was feeling strong, then – THUD. My hands and forearms got tingly and fatigue just hit my whole body. The next few postures I joined in slowly and half-assed them as best as I could, then finally had to sit out the first set of Triangle. The teacher, Sunny, has a nice long one, so it was a good break. I got my butt up for the second set, and Sunny says to me, “You can do it, Danielle!” THAT statement took me through the rest of the class. Every time I wanted to stop and rest, my brain said, “you can do it, Danielle!”

I’ve said it before, but it is true – we are so much stronger than we think we are. Strength of mind, strength of body, strength of will. It’s not every day that we get to really push our strengths to heir limits, but when we do… it feels so good. And when we pass over that supposed limit that we think we are at, well now THAT is powerful. In this yoga class, we have all experienced the feeling of defeat. It bums us out a little, but we go back the next day with that knowledge that every day is different, and if yesterday was bad, today will probably rock. But there are those moments in those killer classes that something happens to help us push through. Sometimes it’s the teacher’s comment (whether directed at you or not), and sometimes it’s something inexplicable. Whatever that “something” is, every day is different than the last. All we can do is put one foot after the other, one posture at a time, one breath at a time, and carry ourselves through class with no expectations, open hearts, and English bull dog determination. ☺

(Side note: I’d like to give a great big THANK YOU to miss dancingj for her tip on floor bow. Still not loving the posture, but I think I’ve found it! It’s a kick UP like in standing bow… brilliant!! I can feel it in my glutes, which I’ve never felt before! Rock on! I hope to write more about this soon.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday 30-Day Challenge - Here I go again!

Thanksgiving Day class marked the start of what we are calling the “Holiday 30-Day Challenge”. Students can pick any 30 days in a row between Thanksgiving and New Years to complete their thirty days. It’s a tough time of year to dedicate yourself to this. I know how busy we all get with holiday parties with co-workers, family and friends, but I’ve committed myself to it, and am feeling confident that I will complete it. I was having some hesitation writing my name down for it, but took a deep breath, set my goal, and VIOLA! I’m there.

Since I have been back from training, it has been a struggle finding the time to practice. I have found that 4 to 5 days a week is pretty consistent for me. I’m looking forward to pushing myself to making the time for yoga practice. Christmas Day will mark the completion date, however, my goal is actually to complete it a day early so I can sleep in with my husband, spend time in our PJs in front of the tree, and relax. ☺ That means at least one double, probably more. I haven’t done a double since training, which is funny because I when I came back, I had some high aspirations that I’d double up a couple times a week.

I figure I should set a yoga goal or two for these 30 days. I realized in class yesterday that I need to work on my stamina in Standing Bow. I think that possibly two times in my life, I have held the first set of this posture for the entire duration of the pose. I know that I give up sometimes. But I also know that I fall out even more than give up because I am kicking and pushing so hard. So there. I am going to work on holding it. The whole time. YAY! The other posture I want to improve upon has been my nemesis since the very beginning, Bow Pose (on the floor). I dislike/hate relationship with this pose. I have NEVER liked it. I have NEVER been very good at it. And I can NEVER get my legs 6 inches apart!! Such a struggle for me. There is so much for me to work on: getting my wrists straight, getting my legs closer, getting my legs higher, figuring out the difference between toes pointed and toes pointed out. And I might as well work on not dreading this posture every time we get to it! It just the one pose where I mostly feel like it is horrible, and the rest of the time I think, ‘well, I guess that didn’t suck.”

Of course, I see the correlation of the two poses. And of course, I know that if I can get one to improve, the other will likely follow. Hmmm… maybe I should take some pics after class this weekend.

I am hoping to be able to write a little bit more during these 30 days. I have a lot of things going on in my head and my life, and I hope to find the time to write, because it is another wonderful outlet for me. I will do my best!! But for now, I have to change and guzzle some water so I can head to the 3:30 class – DAY 2 of my 30 days!!

Wish me luck!

Friday, November 6, 2009

You are stronger than you think you are

I was just reading a blog post about standing head to knee, and it got me thinking about the posture. I might be in the minority, but this posture might be my MOST favorite. (And I say MOST favorite because I have few… but this one takes the cake.) So why is it my favorite?

I’ve taken myself back to when I first started practicing. It’s just amazing to go back there sometimes. First of all, this whole “locked knee” thing just didn’t make ANY sense to me. When I thought “locked knee”, I just knew that all of my life, it was important to keep my knees soft. (Where did that come from, I wonder?) So when teachers would tell me to lock my knee, in my head, I would think, “No, that’s not what they really mean.” And then one day, I figured out what they meant. CONTRACT YOUR THIGH MUSCLE. Kneecap lifts up! I can’t tell you how long it took me to realize wheat a locked knee was. Perhaps a couple of weeks. Maybe more. Maybe less. What amazes me right now, at this present moment, is that I could not stand there on that solid, concrete, lamppost, locked knee for half the posture. Perhaps amazement isn’t the right word. Maybe it should be pride… accomplishment… determination.

How far have you come in your practice? Go back there. I guarantee you will feel a sense of pride within yourself. I observe so many postures that I have grown dramatically in. And the best thing is, there is SO MUCH MORE. I used to dive in and out of workout routines. Five years ago, I never would have thought that a series of 26 postures, in the same order, every single time, would keep me interested. But those accomplishments that occur on a weekly basis keep Bikram Yoga so fresh and so challenging and so intriguing to me. Standing Head to Knee is my favorite posture!! I mean, really? And there are still 5 more things that I KNOW I need to work on while I am in it. And once I get those 5 things solid and concrete…. The next challenge will be there. At training, when the Advanced Series was demonstrated to us, my jaw dropped when I saw Juan let go of his foot, with his head on his knee, and Just. Hold it. There. WHAT??

I will do that some day.

How do I know that? I just do. I’ve seen the strides I have taken in my practice over the last 4 years. I say strides, but I really mean leaps. Bounds. This is what yoga is all about. It is about realizing your potential. It is about pushing yourself to achieve the impossible. We are so much stronger than we think we are. And every single day, as I look at myself in the mirror, I struggle. Sometimes I don’t struggle as much, but no matter what, I struggle. And when I walk out of that room, having endured those 90 uninterrupted minutes of my life, I see a more confident me… a stronger me… a more empowered me. And that person who walked into class for the first time slowly begins to evolve into someone else. Someone that no limits. Someone like me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The dialogue is always there

I woke up Sunday with a horrible head cold, a sore throat, and a nose that wouldn’t stop running. Ok. Fine. Everyone gets sick. And when I get sick, it usually doesn’t last very long. So I wake up today (Monday) after a night where my husband says he thought he was sleeping next to Darth Vader, and I’m still not feeling so hot. But I have lots to do at work, and a sick day is just not in the cards for me. It’s just a cold anyways. Suck it up.

Halfway thru the day, I realize that it’s Monday and I have to teach tonight. I haven’t bothered trying to find someone to teach for me, so I figure that I will take class first at 5:30, which usually clears up a head cold temporarily, and I will be good to go for teaching. (At least that was the intention that I set out to the world.)

I set myself up in the back row, which is not the norm for me, but I knew that I might struggle and didn’t want to bring anyone down with me. Class is going pretty well, actually, although it feels like I am sweating even more profusely than ever. I finally had to take a knee and get my heart rate back to normal. No big deal. After all, I am sick!! We get to the floor, and I had an emotional release. It took me by total surprise. The only time I have ever cried in class was in training. And there is a LOT going on at training, so it’s not too surprising. Well, there I was back at training for a few moments. It was 100% a relived moment. I remember so clearly the day during the morning class at training, when I was as sick as a dog, and just lost it. I won’t say that I lost it today. It was more of a quick release that went almost as quickly as it came. It was a re-creation of my physical past experience: the way my body and head were feeling, the actual class, the pressure I was feeling about teaching class next. And boom! It all came out. I don’t know that I have anything to say about it right now (probably because I just took a big shot of NyQuil), but I found the whole thing very interesting. I may speculate more on it later.

Anyways, that is really not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about what came next. Teaching. I feel like I have a temperature, my ears are blocked, my throat is sore, and I have a cement block pressing down on my head. And the microphone is broken. And my mentor, Linda, is taking my class. And Charlie and Jen come to take my class. So I’m feeling anxious about the whole situation. Under normal circumstances, without the sickness, I’d be a little nervous. But now I’m actually concerned. Never the less, I make the commitment to give every ounce of energy that I have in me to the class. And I do. It was HARD. Really hard. I struggled with my dialogue in Pranayama Breathing. My brain was totally not finding anything besides “Chest up, Spine straight, full lungs”. But that’s ok. I forgive myself. I realize I am sweating as much as I was sweating when I took the class prior. UH OH!

But somehow, the rest of class went well. I had a hard time with my breath, because I was having a hard time breathing. I haven’t had to remind myself to BREATHE since training. And also, I felt like I was shouting the whole time. I don’t have a very loud voice, so I may have over-compensated for the lack of the microphone. But all in all, it was good. I had a hard time giving corrections, and realized that I just had to stick to the dialogue. The corrections are already built in. Just say the dialogue. It is there. The words were put on that paper for a reason. And even though I felt like it was not my best class, it was good. The students were strong. They listened. They even laughed a little. They gave me back what I needed to make it a good class, and in turn, I continued to give back what was given to me.

I learned a few very important lessons today:

1. Trust the dialogue. When all else might be crumbling, it is there.

2. Give and you will get back.

And as much as I may have learned “life lessons” from #1 and #2… #3 is…

3. If you’re sick and have to teach, don’t try to be a hero… at least try to find someone to cover for you!!!

And on that note, the NyQuil has definitely clouded any finesse that I was trying to end with. So good night. xoxo

Friday, October 9, 2009

All the right reasons

I took my favorite (and first) teacher, Linda's class tonight at 5:30. It was such a doozy for me. I was struggling with my breath and my stamina, and had one of those insanely mentally challenging classes. I have a love/hate relationship with those classes. I try so hard to push thru that mental challenge. You know, the “Oh my god, it’s too hot, my heart is racing, I want to DIE” kind of class. Lately, I would say that 95% of the time, I can push through. Today was one of those days. I pushed through. I struggled. I did it. The feeling after those classes, after the 15 minutes of trying to put words together to make actual sentences, is amazing. Is that why we push so hard? For the aftermath blissful feeling? For the internal sense of accomplishment? For what?

In one of the savasanas, Linda said, “I was having one of those classes the other day where I just didn’t want to be there. But there were two brand new students behind me. So I fought through. Sometimes you practice for yourself. Sometimes you practice for others.” I found that so appropriate. And so true. I thought to myself, who am I fighting for here? One of my best friends, Michele, was right beside me struggling just as much as I was. I was pushing myself to help her, too. I knew if I hit the mat, she probably would have felt like she could have also. I did it for Linda. I don’t get to take her class very often, and damn if I am going to sit out when I get 100% of her energy, knowledge and love in class!! And yes, I did it for me. Because I know I am strong. I know that sometimes it is all in my head. I KNOW I can do anything.

Sometimes I lay it all out on the table for someone else. And sometimes it is just for me. I think they are equally important. And when we can realize that our own beings can lift others… well, now that is yoga.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tomorrow is a new day

The New England Regional Yoga Championship is October 24th. I’ve been saying that I am going to compete. And now it is less than 3 weeks away and I haven’t got a routine. The only thing I did to prepare myself was to go to Diane’s studio and take an Advanced Class / Coaching Session. This was over 3 weeks ago. I was intimidated with the advanced postures, and truly have no clue what I would do for my optional postures. I feel pretty disappointed with myself, but I really just don’t think I am going to enter the competition.

I hate to give excuses. But I have been so busy with life. My full time job has been insanely challenging and taking up every ounce of energy that I have for the last month or so. I feel like I haven’t got much left in me after work, so I haven’t taken the time to even THINK about competing, never mind train for it. I didn’t set my intention. I didn’t add it to my list. And now, I feel it is too late. My studio owner, Sam, says that I should still do it, just for the experience. But I don’t feel like I can. It’s funny, I am no longer a “No I can’t” kind of person. What is going on here? What is this negativity creeping into my being? Tomorrow, my goal is to awaken that me that I found 3 months back. That “I can do anything” me. I think I like her a lot better.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ummm....

I'm just not sure what to say about this.... Anti-Gravity Yoga.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A beginner all over again

My first advanced class was quite an experience. I went to the West Roxbury studio because Diane Ducharme was holding a coaching session for anyone who is going to compete in the New England Regionals. She suggested that I take the beginners class first so that I would be warmed up enough to get into some of the advanced postures. The first class was amazing. Really hard, really juicy, and one of those mind-over-matter classes that when you are done, you feel like you really accomplished something.

I’m sitting in the studio after class with some fellow teachers, sweating my ass off for a good half hour, trying to regain some semblance of normalcy, and realize that *shit* I have to take another class!! Whoa. A few grapes, some coconut water, a liter of Smart Water, some internal positive reinforcement, and I’m good to go.

The Advanced class starts. It starts with the same breathing exercise as in the beginner class, Pranayama Breathing - only, like, 168 times faster. After 4 breaths, I’m totally lost. I catch back on again toward the end. Just in time for the breathing to be over. Super. Next we do these salutes to the sun gods or moon goddesses or both, I’m not sure. Ummm… ok??!?! Can someone please slow down and let me catch up?!?! By now, I’m back to being completely doused in sweat, and we haven’t really even begun!

This is pretty much how the class went. Every so often I’d be in sync with everyone, but more often than not, I’m looking around, just trying to see what it is I’m supposed to be doing, or looking at other people completely dumbfounded. A few times, I would think ‘I will never be able to do that’. Only to remember my first few months practicing Bikram yoga, and realizing that YES, with practice, yes, I will be able do that. It has given me a whole new appreciation for the new students that come into class. We were all there once. But after you’ve been practicing for a while, it is easy to forget what it is like. As a teacher, getting those looks that say, “Am I doing this right?” or “What the hell am I supposed to do?” is always hard. I just want to say “Listen to my words; I’m telling you exactly what to do!” But when you are new to something, you don’t hear even half of what you are being told. In the advanced class, I was laughing at myself even doing the postures that I knew incorrectly! Sensation overload! Systems crashing!!

It was so wonderful to get that new student/beginner perspective again. I mean, I felt like I had never practiced yoga before in my life!! Lucky for me, I can easily laugh at myself. I certainly wasn’t getting frustrated at all, just amused at how clumsy I must have looked. There was a point in class, where I was doing a posture called Frog Pose (I think). You sit on the floor with your legs spread wide, then kind of get your arms under your legs and you sort of are flattened to the floor. I was much better at it than I thought I would be until... Uh oh. I’m stuck. Really stuck!!! Someone call an ambulance, my legs are strapped over my shoulders!!! Oh man, I laughed and laughed. (I almost dislocated my shoulder, but dammit, I’ll laugh while doing it!!)

It was so much fun to see the possibilities before me. I was completely humbled watching all of these amazing bodies go into such strong postures. Knowing now that our bodies (and minds) are pliable and can be trained to do things you never thought possible, I have new goals, new aspirations, new ambitions. I have a renewed sense of where I can go. All these fresh aches and pains have made me feel so alive, and so sure that there is so much more in me that I haven’t even seen yet.

I’ve only just touched the surface.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Just have to share...

I took my first advanced class today. Took the beginners class prior to that, which had already kicked my ass, then became a beginner all over again in the advanced class. What I want to share is that I've been staring at a blank page for about 15 minutes. My ass was literally handed to me today. I'm hoping tomorrow I have some brain cells left that did not sweat out onto mat so I can actually recap my experience. Until then... I'll just limp around. :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Me, the teacher!

How about this… I freaking LOVE teaching Bikram Yoga. L-O-V-E Love it. Every day that I lead a class through the series, I fall more and more in love with it. I am starting to find my way up on the podium. I really feel like I am finally making connections with the students and the dialogue. I’m giving corrections without losing my flow of class. And I’m even cracking jokes and (what???) having FUN UP THERE!!

I have to start off my saying, I know teaching is not about me. I know this. But I think it is healthy and wonderful to have my own sense of accomplishment. I think back to the panic attacks I would have during posture clinics at training, and can see just how far I have really come. Deep down, I always knew I would be ok when I got back to actually teaching, but there was always that anticipation and anxiety and unknown element. So here I am. Me. The teacher. It’s finally happening. I’ve had the certificate for about 11 weeks now. But in the last few weeks, I really feel like I have become a teacher.

This just occurred to me: I think it might all be connected. My previous post about my own practice suddenly evolving into this power-house 90 minutes, I think it could be connected to the real understanding that I am having of the dialogue. Of course it is connected!! (Dope slap to the forehead.) It’s all developing simultaneously, 50/50.
This is the reason why we were told time and time again that our own practice is just as important as teaching. You can’t have one without the other. Well, I suppose you can but without one, the other will suffer. The fact is, I have finally gotten back to a consistent practice. For a while, I was struggling with the balance of everything in life, and I was only taking class 3 – 5 times a week. But I am back to practicing almost daily. Can I say it again? Of course it’s ALL CONNECTED!!

So I just had the above revelation while writing, and at this point have no idea where I was going pre-dope-slap. (Crap!) For fear of not making any sense at all, I will sign off and catch some early zzz’s., so I can get up early for 6am class and keep this momentum going!! Good night!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Manifest impeccable form

Something is happening. And it is WONDERFUL.

The past week I have felt like someone new in my practice. I walk out of the room after my 90 minutes feeling a strength that I have felt very few times. And it’s not just physical strength I am feeling, but focus, determination and will-power. We talk about our yoga practice as a meditation, but how often do we actually clear our minds for the full 90 minutes? There is always something that trickles in. Did I pack my underwear? What time is that meeting? God, I can’t wait to get a coffee!! (The coffee one seems to hit me around Fixed Firm Pose every morning!) But lately, I get to final savasana, and suddenly “snap out of it”. Whoa. Class is done. And I rocked it.

There is a statement that has been running thru my head every time I step into the hot room. It is something that Craig Vilanni said during training. “Manifest impeccable form.” It has become my mantra. It has opened the door for me to constantly concentrate… meditate. I’m practicing presence. In the moment, in the posture, I am 100% invested. Is this what we call meditation? I challenge you to still your mind for 90 minutes and be completely present in that room. By manifesting impeccable form from start to finish throughout the postures, we have no other choice.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hello World!! (It's been a while!)

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve been back from training for 2 months now. My hiatus from life seems like it was eons ago. I miss it a lot at times, but at the same time, I have so much of it with me that I’ve been able to harness. But the friends, the routine, the intensity… I do miss.

Teaching. WOW. I love it. It is such an awesome thing to be able to help people from the outside in, to watch the transformations of people right in front of me, to see a first-timer new student come back for more. I love being up on that podium and giving students all that I have. And I love watching myself begin to evolve as a teacher. From my first class, where I think my husband was going to have to slip me a valium so I could get through it, to the last class I taught on Friday morning, where I felt more connected to my students than I ever have, I’ve enjoyed every single experience. I am seeing more and more (sometimes too much, I think!), and I’m slowly but surely getting better at corrections, without losing the flow of class. There was a really cool point in class on Friday when I was saying the dialogue and thinking, “Hmm… something’s not right there, she’s got to get her upper body back. That’s odd, he’s got to sit down more”, and as I’m thinking it, I make the corrections (not just in my head). I found it amazing that I could be doing all these things all at once in a matter of seconds. I know I’ve sort of been doing it all along (perhaps??) but this was a bit of a revelation to me. And as I’m doing all of this, I’m also having a revelation!! I guess when they say that teaching is just like juggling, I now understand a little bit more. I seem to have added a couple more balls to my juggling routine!

Being back home is great, of course. I took a couple of weeks off before going back to work, which is the best thing I could have done for myself. I definitely needed that adjustment period to reconnect with Tim and my family and my home and just the regular things in life that I didn’t have in training. I was able to teach a bunch of classes in that time, which was wonderful, too. It kind of helped to get me over that little “oh shit I have to teach” hump. Getting back to work was a whole other adjustment. What? I have to sit at a desk? I have to dress up? I have to wear a BRA???? Oh no, I’m not liking this AT ALL! (Have I mentioned that one of the best parts of training for me was that I didn’t have to wear undergarments for 9 weeks?? ☺ ) After getting over the culture shock of being back at work, I slowly began getting back in my groove and back into the swing of things. It was hard for a good month though. I really just wanted to be teaching. I just spent 9 weeks learning this amazing new craft, and I just wanted to be doing it!! That was the hardest part. After some time, I had a little one-on-one talk with myself. I decided that I have to give my 100% at my job, like everything else that I do in life. Give it my all, and give it a chance. If after 6 months or a year, my heart is just not in it, well then I can at least say that I tried. I’d hate to have quit only to look back and wonder if I’d done the wrong thing.

So with that mentality, I’ve picked myself up and gotten right back into the swing of things. And I remembered that I do actually like my job! I like the people and the work, and yes, even the stress (although I don’t seem to get nearly as stressed as I used to!). I’ve noticed that I’ve become more organized, more efficient, and more assertive. Look, it’s that “better me” I talked about before embarking on my journey!

Right now, I’m working on finding balance in my life. I’m only teaching a couple of classes a week. I wish I could teach more, but having a full time job, keeping up with my own yoga practice consistently, softball, and spending time at home just doesn’t allow for much more than that. Perhaps when the cold weather hits I may add another class, but for now, I think that this is what I can do. Eventually, in the future… well, only time will tell what happens then.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How Sweet It Is

I’ve been back at home for a little over a week, and it has taken me about that long to wrap my head around what just happened to me. It is kind of crazy being back home. I feel like I was just packing my suitcase in my guest bedroom and bawling my eyes out on the way to the airport. But alas, a mind-blowing, life-altering 9-weeks has occurred, and now I am back. Full speed ahead.

I’m trying to figure out how to wrap up my overall teacher training experience, and without further ado, I think a continuous stream-of-consciousness chronicle may ensue. First of all, I have to say, teacher training was the hardest and best thing I have ever experienced. What a profound thing, having 9 weeks to 100% focus on myself. I found a deeper sense of self in those 9 weeks. It’s funny, I realized about 3 weeks in that I was a lot different at training than I am at home. But maybe that was the start of this so-called transformation. At home, I’ve always been the ring-leader, surrounded by friends, and this outgoing life of the party. I didn’t know what to do with myself at training. I felt out of place the first couple of weeks, not knowing where I fit in. Not knowing who these people were that I was with, and not sure if I was really ready to let them in. I ended up being more of a loner. I most definitely made a few life-long friends along the way that I had some absolutely wonderful experiences with. But I enjoyed my time spent with a couple of friends at a time, if not by myself. I got to spend time taking things in at my own speed, with my own heart, without any distractions. I was introspective and spent a lot of time reflecting on life. It was such a valuable time for me to learn about me.

The hardest thing for me throughout training was, by far, coping with my irrational fear of public speaking. Every single day, I’d have anxiety about it. Will we have posture clinic today? Will I be able to breathe? Will I be able to control my shaky voice so that they can’t see how out of control my fear is? It was a constant monkey on my back. And what was hardest was I truly had no idea how to control it. One day, a few Pranayama Deep Breathing exercises would do it, but the next day I’d have sweat dripping down my back, blurry vision and a thumping heart. The fact that I got up there every day, even with my inner craziness, was a huge accomplishment for me. Not that I actually had a choice! I can’t say if I will ever be 100% confident getting up in front of people, but now that I have started teaching, I know I can do it. THAT is when the real accomplishment sunk in. (More on teaching later.)

In general, I feel like we had a really great class. Most of the people I met were just plain good folks. We had a strong group of yoga practicioners. No major drama happened in the hot room. In fact, from all the hype I heard prior to going to training, I don’t think that anyone ran out of the room puking. In the 97 classes that I took, I left the room once, and sat out postures in a total of 8 classes. In those eight classes, I sat out only one posture in four of them. I’m proud of myself for the way I practiced in the Big Top. I had very strong focus and determination to just do the damn yoga to the best of my ability. Even when I was surviving off of 3 hours of sleep from the night before, I told myself that the harder I worked, the better I was going to feel and the more energy I would gain. And when my poor, beat down body (you know the one that was possessed by the 84 year old man with bad knees) was begging for me to stop, I pushed through. I did what I could do on that day, to the very best of my ability.

Regarding the hot room, well, I think we were pretty lucky. For me, the conditions were completely bearable. In my central Massachusetts studio, we have to deal with HUMIDITY. The Big Top conditions in the desert were actually a lot easier for me than my home studio. The heat was dry. It was definitely HOT, don’t get me wrong. And with 350 human bodies generating heat, the humidity was decent. But I feel like we were very lucky, especially since I had heard such horror stories about the past training held in Alcupulco. Which brings me to my next topic… Sleep (or lack thereof).

I have a theory. Since our conditions in the yoga room were pretty good, and as a whole, we were all really strong in there, Bikram had to find a way to “break us down”. And so our class was the guinea pig on extreme lack of sleep. When Bikram was around (which I’d say was about 6 weeks), our average time out of lecture was about 3:15 am. We felt incredibly lucky to be out of the lecture hall at 2am, and cursed our watches other nights as we watched the minute hand tick, tick, tick… 3:30… 4:00… 5:00… 5:30… Oh, hello sunrise!! I never expected to be having high school flashbacks of drug-induced, all-nighters, walking out into the bright morning sun, AT YOGA CAMP!!! I may never understand the mentality behind this aspect of training. All I can say is that I was there, every night, for every lecture, every movie, and every episode of Maharbarhat. Then I was up every morning with a fairly happy, smiling face, ready to take on my day. One of the best pieces of advice I got from one of my teachers, Sunny, was to simply set my intention every day as a positive one. Instead of waking up with dread, knowing I only got 3 hours of sleep for the night, I’d wake up saying, “I got 3 solid hours of sleep last night! SWEET!” And you know what? It worked. The power of the mind is incredible. As Bikram told us time and time again, “Negative energy is 95% more powerful than positive energy.” With that intention set, I feel like I really was able to allow myself to have the best experience possible. Again, I’m not going to fool anyone on this, I did have my days where I was nodding off in the middle of lectures and wanted to just crawl to my room for a long final savasana. But the overwhelming majority of the time, I dealt with it, and dealt with it well.

Removing myself from everything in the world that I know was also a hard thing for me. I was insanely homesick for the first few weeks, and missed Tim more than I ever thought I would. What a wonderful thing that is though. I’d sit back sometimes and feel like I was the luckiest woman in the world. I think I didn’t know how lucky I was until I signed up for this 9 week extravaganza, and once I did, my whole world turned upside down. I remember driving to the airport with Tim and suddenly saying, “What the hell am I doing?” And now I know that it was 100% the right thing to do. Our marriage has grown even stronger, and the love I feel is brand new. The support Tim gave me throughout training was impeccable. Somehow, he knew what I needed and when I needed it. And he knew when I just didn’t have the juice to communicate, and just say good night. I don’t think I quite explain it, but it was astoundingly powerful.

I learned so much about myself. I found how strong I am. I found how happy I am. I found a power within myself that I never knew I had. It is so hard to explain the way I feel. It’s kind of just an inner peace. I am present every moment, and feeling more than I have ever felt before. It is a knowledge that I have deep within me that no one can take away from me. It’s not something I can’t write about or talk about, it just is.

And how sweet it is.


(Oh yeah, chopped off 11 inches of my hair when I got home, too!)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Week 9 – And… CUT.


We were originally told that the final week of this journey was sort of a “party week”. All the hard work (dialogue and studying) was over, and this week we’d just coast thru. Well, I think I speak for everyone when I say it was one of our hardest weeks, if not the hardest. At this point, it all seems like a big blur of classes, lectures, postures, Bikram, late nights and the Mahabarhat. I don’t think I could tell you what happened all week, and in what order. I just know that we had a slew of very, very late nights, with absolutely no reprieve. I think it really affected everyone, since we had such high expectations for the week. We all thought that we’d have some free time to spend with each other. But the free time we did have (at least for me) consisted of 20 minute naps and trying to snap out of the funk of sleep deprivation.

Throughout the week, we ended up going thru each of the postures in the series with Bikram, where he dissected what we might see with beginners, what the benefits are, and how we can personally improve. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the Cobra series, I could simply no longer process any information. I feel a little bit jipped by the week, I have to be honest. Actually, at the time, I was ok with everything. I knew that it was almost over, and quite frankly, I could handle anything they were going to throw at me. Walking out of the lecture hall at 5:30 in the morning, with the sun coming up was not going to steal my peace. But the more I think about the week in general, the more I feel like I was robbed of some good knowledge. I am trusting that there are reasons for the week ending the way it did, and maybe it will be clear to me eventually, in the future. But right now, not so much.

I don’t want to end this on a sour note whatsoever. I mean come on! It was WEEK NINE! This was it! The grand finale. Spirits were up throughout the days, and there was such a buzz of energy between all 320 of us. We could taste the bitter-sweet end to this long journey of self. I felt excited and anxious and happy and sad to know that this chapter in my life was coming to an end. Excited to get HOME. Be home. See my amazing husband. Be in my living room. Anxious to get back to reality. Anxious to see how much I may have changed, while everything at home has stayed the same. Happy to get back to my studio and TEACH. Happy to wrap my arms around Tim, see my family and friends, and to spend a couple of weeks digesting what I’ve just been through. And sad to know that I am never going to be with my fellow trainees (now teachers!) again. I am going to miss the wonderful friends that I have made. But am so thrilled to have made them. What an amazing thing to know that I now can travel anywhere in the world and have a home to go to. It is quite settling to know that I will be welcomed with open arms into people’s homes and hearts. This Bikram family is such an amazing community of people and I feel so blessed to be a part of it.

I am currently about 40 minutes from landing in Boston. I will be home. I feel like I was just packing and crying and saying the hardest good bye of my life. I realize now that I was saying hello to this new life. I don’t know exactly what it will bring. I just feel like I can now do anything.

I can do anything.

And I’ll do it with a smiling, happy face.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Week 8 (Can you believe??)


What an amazing week it was. I started off a little rocky. Monday night’s Posture Clinic, I had to teach Half Tortois Pose. First of all, this is a fairly short, relaxing, easy pose, where you don’t necessarily have to bring a TON of energy. There is nothing complicated about how it is delivered to the students, and I felt very comfortable with the dialogue. But I got up in front of my group during posture clinic, and suddenly I felt like I was back on stage on week 2 with Bikram. My heart started thumping thru my chest, my knees were sweating, my back was dripping, my chest and face were blotchy and my voice was trembling. I made it thru the dialog without a problem, but knew without a doubt that the nerves were so close to the surface that everyone could feel them, see them, and hear them. One of our staff members, Ester, was leading the clinic, and I’m not even sure what she began telling me, but I began crying. Yes, me – can you believe??!? I became the first person in our group to have a crying meltdown during posture clinic. I felt as if I took 15 steps backwards in my progression… like everything I had been working at for the last 7 weeks was stripped away from me, and as if I may never be able to control this fear of mine.

I was so happy to have Ester there, because back in the beginning of this process, she mentioned that she had a fear of public speaking. So she was able to relate to me and to give me EXACTLY the encouragement that I needed. She related some of her stories with me, and helped me to believe that it wasn’t some regression that I was sinking into. Everyone has their days, and maybe this was one of mine. And the next day, I came back stronger and in more control, more confidence, and more ease than I have ever had. I can’t say that I know if that night was the supposed “breakthrough” that they talk about people having. But I do know that I went up the next afternoon knowing that I could not let that feeling come back. There was no way. It was almost a “F*&% THIS” feeling. I’m not here to stress myself out. I’m here to teach yoga. I’m here to help people. I’m here to learn how to have the beginnings of a good teacher. And suddenly things just clicked. And for the rest of the week, my postures weren’t the stress-factory that I created for myself. I think I may have actually started teaching.

The week went on with little sleep, even less free time, and lots of aches and pains. My body is no longer mine. I don’t know whose it is. Perhaps some 78 year old man with bad knees has taken over my body. In the morning classes, I morn the postures that I once was able to do. I morn the loss of my knees, my back and my hamstrings. I miss my poor, sorry Triangle, and just pray that while I am in it the teacher won’t call me out because of how pathetic it looks.

Ok, so maybe I am exaggerating a little. (But only a little!) I am looking forward to getting back to a normal yoga practice, where my body can have some time to recover from this intensity. Granted, I can’t quite knock my evening classes as dramatically as the mornings. I do have some positive things that I can talk about with my postures. I no longer have a super-wobbly ankle in the one-legged balancing series. And my Standing Head to Knee is SOLID. My strength has definitely improved, whereas my flexibility has dwindled. I supposed that is what happens though.

We finished our last posture, Spine Twist on Thursday. What a feeling! It was a combination of relief, elation, accomplishment, and even sadness. We’ve all worked so hard in these posture clinics to be the best that we can be, and the finality of them being over was something else. We no longer have to spend all of our free time studying and talking to ourselves and stressing. It was as if a huge chapter in this training came to an abrupt close. It means the road is going to come to an end very soon. It means that I am going to go out there and teach this yoga to people who need it. It means I am going to have the power to change lives, just like mine was changed. The anxiety and feelings of “Will I be good enough?” “How is this 90 minute class going to flow out of my mouth?” And “Will I be the teacher I know I want to be?” are all arising in my heart. Deep down, yes, I know it will all happen in time. And I know that the moment I step onto that podium, the person who I have become here in these 9 weeks is going to unfold. And there I will be. ME. There for you. There to give everything back that was given to me.

One of the visiting teachers this week said something that struck me so profoundly. She said, “Think of all of the thousands of things that had to have happened to make all of us 322 people be here in this training.” I realized that it is so much deeper than just finding the money and the time to physically get here. What is the thing that made each of us walk into our yoga studios for the very first time, however many years ago? What are the obstacles that we went thru to get here? Who are the supporters that had to be behind each of us, and what was it in them that they saw in us? All I know is my own experience. I know that there are at least a dozen particular things that all happened in my life to be able to lead me to this Spring 2009 Teacher Training. I’m so thankful for the hurdles I had to go thru, because I wouldn’t want to be here any time other than now, and other than with the particular teachers-to-be.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Week 7 baby!


I can’t believe that week 7 is over. Yet another week flew by. It was nice this week that we got to vary things up. I think we are all getting a little bit tired of Posture Clinic, so it was great to have some good lectures and guest speakers this week. Bikram wasn’t around this week either, which means we were done with the day by midnight every day, enjoying a steady flow of about 6-1/2 to 7 hours of sleep a night.

Rajashree lectured about yoga therapy one day, and went thru each of the postures another. We had Dr. Choudhury give us an overview about women’s health issues (which the men absolutely loved). And we were graced with a Friday afternoon lecture by AnnMarie Benstrom. She was awesome, an 82 year old woman with oodles of energy, charisma, and humor. We learned about the Chakras, along with a bunch of other things that I may or may not believe, but I’m happy to be exposed to. To say the least, she was very entertaining, and full of life, so it was definitely a big highlight to hear what she had to say.

My yoga practice started off outstanding this week, then with no warning, my knee and IT band started acting up. I was so bummed out Wednesday morning. It wasn’t a gradual ache that seeped in. I went down in the 2nd part of Awkward and literally yelped out. I had to baby it for a good portion of class because there are a lot of postures that it really hurt in. I wish I knew where these pains came from. Knowing that everything in my body is connected, it could be anything. My afternoon classes have been a little less painful, but still not 100%. I got into class early on Saturday morning, and really just stretched and bent my knee for a good 20 minutes, which helped me out a lot. I also plunked myself in the front row, which also helps to keep me focused and honest. So all in all, it felt better. The pain was still there, but taking that extra time in the morning was probably a smart thing for me to do. And now, I’m blessed with a full day off, so I’m hoping to be back up to par Monday morning!

Posture Clinics have been good. I’ve had a couple of brain freezes, but have been able to recover fairly quickly from them. I just finished up Fixed Firm, which means we only have 5 postures left!! We’ll likely finish them up this upcoming week, and then the hard work is over!! We’ve been told that Week 9 is kind of the “party week”, and that once week 8 is over, we are pretty much done. It is hard to believe that we are wrapping up. I am looking forward to getting home and teaching as many classes as I can before going back to work. I want to get in my studio and see what comes out of me!! I’m definitely nervous about the left sides, because we only practice teaching one side here, but hopefully it won’t be too hard for me. I don’t know what time I am teaching on Tuesday when I get back, but I talked to the studio owner and am down! I cannot wait!!!

So as this week comes to a close, and the last “real week” begins, I’m going to take in every moment as best as I can, because it is going to be over soon. Bikram will be back this week, which I am really excited for. Looking at our curriculum, we still have a lot to cover, so I’m sure we’ll get lots of face time with the boss. For now, time for me to hit the books for the day and get myself ready for week 8! WOW!



Sunday, June 7, 2009

Week 6


(Unofficial Photo for week 6 - Sorry folks!!)

The week started out with a bit of a THUD. Tim left right before Monday morning class, which obviously had me a little bit weepy. And class that morning sucked major ass for me. The room was hotter than I’ve ever experienced and it totally kicked my ass. For the first time, I actually had to leave the room. It was a huge disappointment for me, that I let my mind take over, but at the time, I had no choice. I was overwhelmed with emotion and heat and just had to GET OUT. But the week only went up from there. And it actually was a good one.

There were a lot of little unexpected great moments throughout the week, looking back on it. The visiting teachers hosted a little pizza party for us on Tuesday night after class. We all kind of just figured that we’d get some free pizza and get to socialize a little, but it turned into this amazing dance party, where everyone just got up and busted out dancing to some Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, and oh yes… Lionel Richie. A conga line was formed, and we were all in really great, high spirits. We all seemed to have a lot of pent up energy, whether it was good or bad, and sort of got it all out there. It was so fun to see and to be a part of.

Rajashree was back this week, too, which is always a treat. She only taught one class, but she is back all next week, so hopefully we’ll get to have her in the hot room a few more times. The classes this week have been really great. I’ve had some of my best classes simultaneously while I’ve been here. I feel like I am starting to have my body back. I felt more in tuned with myself and focused and stronger than I’ve felt all thru training. Last week and the beginning of this week, I was really feeling like my practice was at a steady decline. I couldn’t hold postures, I was getting really fatigued, and I was actually doing a lot of comparison to those around me. It kind of sucked. However, I’ve kicked it into high gear and feel like these next three weeks are really going to catapult me into a new realm in my practice.

This week was all about posture clinic. I think we may have done about 22 hours of posture clinic, because supposedly we have fallen behind schedule. (No fault of our own, we just had a lot of lectures early on.) So in order to get back on track, we had to kick it up. It’s been really fun… I think I’m getting into a good grove. Little by little, I’m feeling more and more comfortable up in front of people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still nervous and have my fluttery heart, but I’ve learned how to take better control of it. And guess what? It is all about BREATHING. Hey, go figure! That is exactly the feedback that those damn teachers had been telling me!! Who would have thought??

My group was on the stage on Friday, which I had been dreading. But Friday came along, and actually felt excited about it. I got to do two postures on the stage on Friday, and feel really, really good about them. I did Wind Removing Pose (which isn’t the most high-energy or exciting posture) and Cobra Pose. I absolutely love doing this! A cool thing started happening while I was practicing with actual people, too…. It got easier. I think things are starting to click. I don’t necessarily think I am ready to start giving corrections or anything, but I’m definitely starting to see what needs to be fixed with students. I know this, because while practicing Cobra, one of my demonstrators had their feet apart, and it sort of threw me for a loop. That is going to be a whole new challenge. I look forward to it!

Week 6 is done. It is totally surreal. I’m slowly starting to understand why people have been saying we are going to miss this when it is over. As much as I look forward to getting back home, being back in my house, seeing my husband on a daily basis, and reconnecting with my family and friends, I know that this time right now will never be relived. This experience, with these 320 people, in this exact moment of time and space will never happen again. I’m taking it in a little more now than I was before. I don’t know why that is. Probably because we are in the downward slope, and the end of this journey is starting to come into my sights. But for now, I’m gonna keep looking right here, right now.

(After last class of Week 6! Fellow Group 3-ers, Ashley, Reawin, and Tom)
(Group 3 dinner Saturday night, Phil, Ashley, me and Joe)
(Me and Reawin in Posture Clinic)
(Locust Pose - My knees should be a bit more locked, I think?)

(My backbend. Well, I really thought I was back further than that!!)
Just plain funny...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Week 5 Still Alive!

We hit the halfway mark this week. After Wednesday’s morning class, Natasha and I busted out Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”, belting out “Ohhhhh, we’re halfway there…” as loud as possible in our room. It got out some much needed energy.

Last week is a little bit of a blur for me, due to the fact that I came down with a pretty nasty bug. I was ok on Monday and Tuesday, ready to take on the week with some gusto. But I began to feel the scratch in my throat on Wednesday. Then Wednesday night, we were up watching the Mahabarhat until 3:30 in the morning, where I couldn’t breathe, could stop blowing my nose, and generally felt fevery. Getting only 4 hours of sleep certainly does not initiate our immune systems.

Emmy was back this week. I think our group has improved quite a bit since she was here on week 2, because she didn’t give us quite a hard a time about our postures as before. That is awesome to see. We did get some good hands-on time with her during lecture, where people could go on stage with particular postures that they had questions about, and she would give them steps for correcting them. It is great to see this, because you learn a lot about all of the different bodies and ailments out there and how to cope with them as a teacher.

I can’t say I have much to talk about for this week. The sickness that overcame me, unfortunately put me in a crappy place. Feeling like shit and being forced to practice yoga two times a day is just not fun. It’s the first time that I really wanted to get the hell out of this whole situation. I wanted to sleep and be on my couch and eat chicken soup with tissues up my nose. I desperately tried to not let it overcome me, and I guess I really only let it on one day. But with practicing twice a day, I guess it actually helped to sweat out whatever bug was in my system pretty quickly… and I was on the upward swing by Friday.

Oh… and Friday (as if I would forget), Tim came to visit me!! It was absolutely amazing to see him. I got the biggest, bestest hug of all time. He came to class with me on Saturday morning, which I am so happy about. He got to feel what it was like to be in that room with 350 people. It was a really intense class for a Saturday… the heat was cranking and a lot of people struggled. When it was over, I was just so full of emotion with having Tim there, and so happy to be able to have some time with him. We had a great weekend just being together. It was exactly the boost that I needed to get me through the rest of this training. I feel completely revived, and ready to take on these next 4 weeks. It’s going to fly!!

I’m a little late getting this posted, and already halfway thru week 6, so I’m cutting this one short… more to come next week!



Monday, May 25, 2009

Week 4


Bikram was back this week! That man brings so much energy to us. It is really great to have him back. He can pull so much out of me, both mentally and physically. Granted, with Bikram back, that means sleep is at a minimum. Let’s see, Tuesday night we were up until 3:30am, Wednesday night – 4:30am, and Thursday night up until 2:00am (which we all thought was a treat!!). But somehow 12 hours of sleep in 3 days actually wasn’t so bad for me. I am able to squeeze in a few 30 minute catnaps between classes, which seem to keep me going for the rest of the day and night. It’s amazing that how yoga gives you energy. I’ve heard it time and time again for the last 4 years, but I am seeing it clearly now. The fact that I am able to survive and function with so little sleep is all due to the yoga. In the mornings, I drag my ass to class, still half asleep. I am rejuvenated and wide awake after class, and ready to take on the challenges of the day.

I can really start to see physical changes in my body this week. So cool! Two of the visiting teachers from my home studio said they didn’t recognize me from the back because my bootie shrunk. (But no worries, I am still bootie-licious!) My postures are getting stronger, too. Well, mostly in the evening classes. I have a very hard time with the morning classes. My body is SO stiff and I can’t really get into anything. But when the 5:00 class rolls around, watch out!! I’ve had 2 of my best classes this week. Thursday nights class, Bikram taught, and I was feeling kind of tired. I ended up being a few rows back from front, and right in the middle, which meant clear visibility of me for the Boss. I took so much energy from him, and totally rocked that class. I felt so open and proud after class, and had to have myself a little cry. It was all good.

Friday night, a visiting teacher from Texas, Lisa, taught class. It was absolutely AMAZING. She may just be my new favorite person in the world. She had this insane energy about her, and exuded such a love for the practice and for teaching. After class ended, she busted out some dancing music and the whole class was on their feet busting a move. It was really fun. After the week of sleeplessness, I think that was just what everyone needed. When I get out of this training, if I can give my students half of the energy that she gave us, I will consider myself successful.

I feel so incredibly lucky to be here. This experience is absolutely like none other. I am learning so much from all of the visiting teachers. They are all so open to sharing their knowledge and their own personal experiences. When someone is down, they always seem to know how to pick them back up, whether it is just a comforting touch to the hand, or sharing their own stories. It is the best feeling to know that right now, I am being taught by the best teachers. The Bikram classes are unbelieveable. I’m learning about the different styles and approaches that each individual teacher has, and figuring out which pieces of them that I want to take with me. Listening over and over and over again to the dialogue, day after day after day, slowly but surely is making me a firm believer that YES… I’m going to be ok once I get into my own classroom. The words are actually going to come out of my mouth. And damnit, they just might come out with some hefty conviction, love, energy, and strength. Watch out!!

Me, Leah (Canada), and Julie (Boston)
Natasha and I right before our last class of week 4!

The walk back from evening class.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Eating Habits



It is odd, but this week my eating habits have totally changed. After class, both morning and evening, the last thing I want to do is eat. I end up eating a good lunch, because I know that I need it to sustain me for the rest of the day. But when it comes to dinner, there is nothing that I want to eat lately. I've been living off of tuna and chicken cold cut sandwiches, more or less. Once a week, Natasha and I do up some rice, veggies and shrimp in the rice cooker... but it is getting rather monotonous and BORING. And it seems that I am just not hungry as much any more. I just want to pick at food, but nothing is really doing it for me.

So one night, Natasha gets out of the shower, and sees me at out little desk/table with EVERY POSSIBLE bit of food spread out in front of me. Let's review...

Green beans
Corn chips
Salsa
Artichoke dip/spread
Pita chips
Hummus
Cheese
Chicken Cold cuts
Peanuts
Cookies

Yes.... that's right. :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Week 3 - It was a goodie!


I’m 1/3 of the way done with training! I can’t believe it. So far, this was my best week. I felt good, I was rested, and I was positive all week (a la, no emotional breakdown, hooray!). We began Anatomy this week, with Dr. T, which I thought was going to be really boring, but ended up being extremely interesting. The actual anatomy part of it isn’t necessarily the most interesting part, but Dr. T would take breaks from anatomy and lecture about nutrition, organic foods, natural medicines and general health. He has a huge wealth of knowledge and I feel like I am going to be a much healthier and more aware consumer of food back in “the real world”. I’m looking forward to reviewing my notes and passing along some good info to my family and friends.

And we broke up into smaller groups this week to begin our posture clinics. This is where we go thru each posture, and have demonstrators who perform the posture while you teach them. There are senior teachers there to give you feedback and “homework” for the next day’s posture. On Monday, I did Backward Bending and Hands to Feet Pose… I did a pretty good job, even though my heart was thumping thru my chest. I certainly haven’t gotten over my nerves with speaking in front of people! But I had good energy in my voice, and had the dialog down perfectly. Apparently when I get excited I do a little dance with my butt though. So I was told to use that energy in my voice rather than my body, and to try to stay still.

The next day, I did Awkward Posture, which is a really long, 3-part pose. I was really proud of myself, because I was less nervous and shaky, and definitely felt more confident. I took the previous feedback and stood there and just delivered. I felt really good about it. But this time, they said I need to meet somewhere in the middle of both. And on Friday I did Eagle Posture and brought good personality, but totally brain-farted at the start of the pose! My brain just shut off! I beat myself up a little bit about it and was kind of pissed and disappointed with myself, because I KNOW this posture in and out.. it’s actually a really easy, short one. But I’m over it and have moved on. ☺

My nerves are still killing me, and I’m looking forward to the supposed time when it all “clicks” and I no longer have anxiety about getting up in front of people. I have a hard time imagining that happening, but they tell me it will. Until then, I am trying my best to use that nervousness and channel it into excitement. Not easy, but I’m trying!

One of the visiting teachers, Martha, who owns a studio in Minnesota taught class on Thursday night. It was an amazing class… by far the most memorable experience I have had so far. She teaches a really great class – very energetic, and has great messages about setting your intentions positively and about the power of our own inner strength. So we get to the floor postures, where we get a 20 second break in between postures. She starts singing some obscure songs that were really lovely to hear. Then we get to the set up of Full Locust pose. This is the one, where your arms are spread out on the floor, then you LIFT your whole body up off the floor, so only your hips are touching the floor. The hot room is fairly tight quarters, so in this pose, you undoubtably end up touching your neighbor. Martha starts singing Neil Diamond’s song “Sweet Caroline”… where it says “touching me… touching you…” Then suddenly the ENTIRE CLASSROOM, lifts up into the posture and belts out “SWEET CAROLINE… BAH, BAH, BAH… GOOD TIMES NEVER FELT SO GOOD…” To feel the energy that came from 340 people experiencing this one moment that will never be repeated was such an intense thing. After we all released from the posture, the whole room was banging on the floor and clapping and laughing and crying all at the same time. Martha was laughing and crying and took it all in with us. It was absolutely beautiful. For as long as I can remember, that song has reminded me of the Red Sox and being at Fenway, but now, that moment will undoubtably be replayed in my brain whenever I hear it.

It was amazing. I will leave it at that. Hope you’re smiling!

(Saturday relaxation by the pool)

(Sonny and Linda visiting from my home studio!)

(Natasha and I - Half-Mooning)

(Pre-lecture pic)

Monday, May 11, 2009

About my days...

For those of you who I haven't spoken to that are wondering exactly what my days are like here in the desert, well they are jam-packed. Once Monday starts, it is a whirlwind. Monday morning... up and adam at about 7:00am so I can eat a little something, shake the cobwebs out of my head, then head to yoga class, where you have to check in at about 8:00. Class begins at 8:30. And this isn't some 90 minute class that we get back at home. They are about 2 hours. Once that is over, we trek back to our room, which unfortunately is the farthest it could possibly be from the Big Top, it takes about 7-8 minutes to get there. We're usually back around 10:30 - 10:45. Quick shower, clothes wash, and get dressed.. then get down to eat lunch by 11:30. Cram some grub down my throat, then back to the lecture room, where lecture starts at 12:30. This then goes to about 4:00...

Trek BACK to our room to change into yoga-gear, grab our mats and refill our water... then BACK to the Big Top where we have to check at about 4:30 for 5:00 class. Again, class goes about 2 hours and we get back to our room at about 7:00. Shower, clothes wash, change... fix something up for dinner quickly and eat again. Depending on what we fix ourselves, we actually may get a few minutes to relax. But only a few!! Then it is back to the lecture room for 8:30. Lectures have been going about 2-3 hours. And depending on Bikram, we may get movie night, which has gone anywhere from 2:00am - 3:30am. Not always, but right now, I'd say it is half and half. Back to the room for a few hours of sleep. Then lather, rinse, repeat!!

Needless to say, the weeks FLY BY. I'm looking forward to this week, where we are going to be getting into Anatomy and breaking up into our smaller groups for posture clinics, where we are really going to begin getting down and dirty!!

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!!! Love you and miss you!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Week 2 down!


It’s Friday night and we officially have finished our 10th class of the week. Ahhh.. and we got the night off! Yippie! Just one more class tomorrow morning and a couple of hours of CPR certification and week 2 will be OVER.

Emmy Cleaves, who has been practicing with Bikram for 35 years (I think), taught our first class Monday morning. I’m not positive how old she is, but the rumor is she’s upwards of 80+?? She’s in amazing health, and moves like a 30 year old. She definitely teaches a tough class. She is hard on us, but for very good reasons. She focuses on alignment of the body and doing the postures perfectly, 100% the right way. She has SO much knowledge of the postures and their benefits. I wish I had a notebook in class so I could’ve jotted some things down. And unfortunately (or well, maybe fortunately!), her classes all kicked my ass, and by the time I got out I could hardly speak.

The heat is definitely starting to crank, which is nice but challenging at the same time. I’m getting deeper into my postures, and struggling with the mind game that the heat plays on me. Actually, the heat isn’t what is killing me right now. My quad muscles are insanely fatigued. They are pretty strong thru the first half of the class. My balancing series postures have been pretty solid (although I haven’t really been able to hold standing Bow for too long). But by the time I get on the floor – particularly in floor bow, they don’t really want to do it. I’ve been pushing thru it and going on, but man, do they hurt!! I’m looking forward to resting them tomorrow afternoon and Sunday. They need a break.

It’s funny, at home, I usually take the 6am class. Obviously, I’m always more stiff in those classes, but I’ve always loved morning classes. Here it is a whole other story. My body in the morning classes here say, “What the fuck you doing?? I don’t think so!” It’s not that hard for me to listen to my body in those classes, because quite frankly, I don’t have a choice. My afternoon classes are where I can really get into my body, and where I really feel things changing.

Practicing in the newly dubbed “Haunted House” is giving me a real sense of my body in the postures. I haven’t been able to see myself in the mirror yet. I’m kind of happy about that because I’m learning to feel the alignment and focus more on myself and concentrate within. I look forward to the day I get up closer… I think it is going to be cool to see how far I have come once I get up there.

Oh yes, I’m on track to having one emotional day a week, or so it seems. They’ve been telling us that around week 4 or 5 that emotions would probably start flaring – but not me! Week 1, week 2… no problem finding the emotions for me!! Tim’s birthday was on Tuesday, and I just wanted to be with him and give him a birthday hug and kiss in person. Then the next day, I had my worst class so far… lots of muscle cramps, the heat was killer, and I just felt beat down. Talking to Tim quickly before the next afternoon class just got me really homesick and emotional again. Like I said, I just really felt beat up and drained, and it all came to head. Then somehow, with Bikram teaching, he pulled something out of me. I snapped out of my state of mind, had a pretty good class and was in great spirits for the rest of the night. We ended up finishing Half Moon at the PM lecture, got to sing happy birthday to Bikram’s mom, and had a little bit of entertainment from a fellow trainee to close the night. I’m seeing a pattern of the lows quickly being followed by some big, big highs.

I’ve been thinking about these emotional outbreaks I’ve been having and wondering where they are coming from. I have some thoughts on it… but I’m not quite sure I can express it. I have never really been alone in my life. I lived at home through most of college, always had steady boyfriends, then moved in with Tim before ever really being “on my own”. I do not regret any of this in any way whatsoever, don’t get me wrong. But right now… this is all about me. This is such an intense experience for me and for me only. I really can’t describe the experience properly for anyone to understand, so even trying to relate what I am going thru to Tim is hard. I guess it is a good thing, because I just have to deal with it on my own, and I am learning how to do it on my own, totally independent. And I suppose it is building me up to be more me than I ever have been before. Maybe it will be clearer in the end, but for now, that’s all I’ve got on it.

more to come later... I think I've found a way to get better (cheaper) internet access - woo hoo!

(me, Natasha, and Melissa - pre-class)



(Shannon (fellow Bostonian), me and Natasha)

(Natasha and I after the final class of Week 2... woo hoo!)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Week 1... a few more pics

Thanks to everyone for all of the emails and notes and good wishes on my journey. They mean so much to me. Please keep them coming!! I only am going to have internet access from Saturday noon - Sunday noon, so I'll be checking in then. Here are a few more pics from week #1!

Natasha and I on our first night (pre-sleep deprivation!)
The Big Top!
Nice and sweaty after Friday night's class!
Lots of love,
Danielle

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I'm here. Week 1


Well, I’m here. I made it. And one week is down. Unbelieveable.

The week leading up to my departure was a hard one. I love everything about my home and my life, so the fact that I was leaving it was really hard. Leaving Tim was the hardest. Yikes. But now that I am here and getting into the routine of things, it is definitely a lot easier. The people here are amazing. It is so cool to be with such a large group of like-minded people. It is crazy that you can have so much love and support for perfect strangers.

So Week 1… I don’t know how to explain it. When people told me to would be roller-coaster ride, I’m not so sure I believed it. The way my body feels day to day, and even morning to night is sometimes just that – Day and Night. I have been having some killer, strong classes, and others where I just don’t quite know if my muscles will hold me. I can’t imagine how my body will feel in the upcoming weeks. I already feel it changing. I feel so much strength in me that I’m not sure I knew I had.

Walking into the lecture room and seeing the big hot room was an experience in and of itself. The hot room is HUGE. They say it can hold up to 700 people, which I’m not quite so sure of. We have 322 people in our training, which is the most they have had to date. And with all of those people, plus the staff practicing, the room is a rather comfortable size and we have a comfortable amount of space. Meeting Bikram for the first time was incredible. He is a whirlwind of energy, knowledge and inspiration. Oh yes, and he is funny as hell.

The first couple of days were fairly mellow. Orientation on Sunday, meeting the staff, etc. Then Monday we didn’t have a morning class, but in the afternoon we met Bikram and got to take our first class with him. Class was good. There was such an amazing energy in the room. We were all so excited to get in there and start working!

Oddly enough, I already feel like the days are meshing together. I’m not quite sure what happened on what day… I do know that we have already had a couple long-ass nights watching Hindi movies with Bikram. Yup.. 2:00am one night, 3:30am the next. Then check in for class at 8:00 the next morning – woo hoo! But I’m trying to keep the “it is what it is” attitude and just roll with it. Getting upset about it isn’t going to help anyone. And I really don’t have a choice in the matter anyways!

Friday was very interesting for me, to say the least. This was right after the really late night. We got up for class and were almost late. I hate scrambling, so I was all thrown off to start. Rajashree (Bikram’s wife) was there to teach the class. She is so motherly and compassionate… and I’m not sure what happened to me, but to start the class, before we even started, tears just started falling uncontrollably down my face. She was saying that emotional things are going to start to come up, but I really didn’t think I was there yet. It was an intense class. As soon as I thought I had the tears under control, they would start back up. I still don’t know why they were there. I tried fighting them for a while, until Rajashree said, “Just let it happen. Holding it back is only going to hurt you.” So I did. All thru the floor series, I just let it happen. I was going thru the movements of the postures, which would give me a few seconds of reprieve, but they just kept coming. I got lots of hugs afterwards. The support here is unconditional.

Little side story… after my emotion-fest, Natasha and I were walking back to our room, and I am still pretty weepy. Natasha takes a HUGE digger in a big dirty puddle right on her ass. I start laughing, until I realize that she is actually crying. No worries – she is ok, but that was what it took for me to snap out of my sobbing. (Thank you, Natasha!)

Then we have posture clinic, where for the past week everyone has been getting on stage in front of Bikram to teach half-moon pose. Natasha and I finally decide to get in line and DO IT! I’m slightly petrified to get in front of people, so I was definitely nervous. I know the posture so well, I just had this fear that I would get up there and forget my name. But I got up there, and nailed it! I got a little shaky in the voice, toward the end of my sentences, but was able to take a deep breath and keep going. My energy was good, I felt good, and I actually did it! Bikram said “No comment. Is perfect.” And that was one of the best feelings ever.

So I went from this emotional low in the morning, to being ON TOP OF THE WORLD in the evening. My evening class with Bikram kicked some serious butt. I felt like a rockstar. So when I say that people talk about this “emotional roller coaster”, I now know what it means. I’ll just ride it when I have to, knowing that it will pass.

All in all, the first week has actually been very humbling to me. For the past couple of years in my yoga practice, I have felt as if I was “top of the class”. And here, there are so many people that are so much more flexible and strong and, quite frankly, just amazing. I’m not comparing myself to others really, it’s just something I noticed and have accepted. I guess that this is just another reason why this training is here for us… to help us see our own potential. I’m learning tons about myself, about being a better person, and about living happily. I can’t wait to see thru these eyes 8 weeks from now. I think the world is going to be a different place.

Lots of love… I miss everyone.