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
Artichoke dip/spread
Pita chips
Chicken Cold cuts

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,

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.