Monday, December 1, 2008

10 days back...something's not right

So it's Monday and I spent the morning working on my thesis and jumping through the academic hoops that are necessary to prove that one is worthy of a master's degree.  HEY -- DON'T YOU GUYS KNOW -- I'M A CERTIFIED BIKRAM YOGA INSTRUCTOR -- THAT'S WORTH A LOT MORE THAN A FR*&%$#NG MASTER'S DEGREE!!!  At least that's what I want to yell.  But of course that would not be effective, and I promised myself that I would have this monkey off my back by my birthday in March.  So the clock is ticking.  In oh so many ways.....

I'm staying in the Roseville area with my dear friends Robyn and Cindi.   Along with my awesome brother Bob and his lovely girlfriend, we enjoyed a tremendously relaxing and bountiful Thanksgiving dinner.  I am grateful for all of my friends and so glad that Robyn and Cin have offered their spare bedroom for the meantime, but I still feel so out of sorts since returning.  I'm teaching as much as I can and again, am grateful to Patty for offering me what she can in regards to classes and helping to run a thing or two at the studio.  But still...I don't feel like I belong here any more.  I suppose in a way that's a good thing, and I'm holding on to that discomfort because if I do get comfortable sleeping on a futon bed in the spare bedroom of friends, then that says something very bad about who I have become.  

I'm absolutely jonesing for my own home and space.  I want so much to just jet over to the place I feel I belong and get a home, start a studio, begin a LIFE again.  But I know that I have to get some teaching under my belt, I have to get this thesis completed and I have to stick it out here for the meantime, and get comfortable with this uncomfortableness.  Embrace it, in a way, and keep my eyes, ears and heart open to the next phase.  This is temporary...

...I am still feeling awkward about having an open schedule.  I feel like I'm wasting so much time because I'm not locked into 8:30 yoga, lunch, lecture, yoga, lecture, bed.  Also, the yoga I'm doing here feels so much different than yoga with 300 people.  In some ways it's easier, I'm not dying from the humidity and heat, I'm not bumping into others in full locust, but it's also harder, I feel so removed from the other people in the studio, it's almost a lonely experience, and I seem to have lost any of the balance I gained in Acapulco.  I'm having trouble standing on one foot again.  Perhaps that's because I'm wearing shoes again and my feet are changing shape.  I am definitely stronger and certainly more flexible, I just feel....weird. 

Can anyone shed light on this peculiarity?  

Thursday, November 27, 2008

LA Woman...walking down the street with her dog

So I arrived in Los Angeles, found the Bikram Headquarters (more on that later) and then made my way into Hollywood to find the hypnotist.  I know that going a small distance in LA can take hours due to traffic, so I did the recon, found it and then got a comfy and safe hotel nearby.  Showered up, gave Higbee a quick walk and then walked onto the studio lot where Mary's office is.  Our appointment was at 5pm, and most of the business of the day was over,  so I didn't get to see any famous people.  Mary's office was in one of the original buildings, a beautiful art deco design looking over a courtyard.  We spent nearly 4 hours together, and talked quite a bit about my experience in training, why I felt I was having trouble learning the dialogue and how I did in posture clinic.  Then we did two meditation  imagery exercises.  Finally, Mary talked with me for about 45 minutes about hypnotism and how it works.  Then I put on some headphones, wore a lavender scented bean bag for the eyes and settled comfortably into the couch and listened while Mary mixed her voice and ocean sounds into her computer and of course into the headphones I had on my head.  She did the countdown and I was out before she got to five, and then I woke to the count back up.  I have no idea what she said, and even after listening to the CD she gave me later, I still went to "sleep".  But I do seem to have more ease memorizing the dialogue and it seems to be sticking better.  So hey!  I'm happy with the results so far!  

The next day, I took Higbee for a walk around Hollywood and Vine and we looked for a place for her to do her business.  There's a lot of concrete around, and lots of bars on the windows in that part of town, but finally spotted a beautiful lawn in front of an apartment building.  Feeling a little guilty about the inevitable pee on that nice green lawn, we made a beeline for it and found....it was a plastic yard!!!  Yup, that green was astroturf.  So we walked around a bit longer and finally found an appropriate place for Higbee to do her business. 

We then headed back to Bikram headquarters.  I was surprised that it wasn't as luxurious as I expected it to be.  In fact, it seemed a little run down!  The studio itself was really large and I virtually stood alone while I practiced.  Had a hell of a time doing the balancing postures as the floor and the walls were all the same tan color and had trouble finding a point of reference.  But it felt so good to practice and I even saw two people there from training!!  Honestly I do miss being in the room with 300 other people.  The women's room had really old lockers and the color on the wall was kind of stale, but I did like that the studio had doors on either side -- it was obvious that opening up both would create a great cross breeze.  

Manali was not there, but I did get to talk with several other people there and it looks like my thesis can progress.

Made the long drive home after that, and dealt successfully with the holiday traffic.  Am enjoying a terrific day today with friends and family.  Looking forward to getting back to the studio tomorrow.

Love to all and happy thanksgiving!!!   

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The adventure continues

A few more notes on teaching my first class:  

Those poor students.  They really put up with a lot from me.  I was able to complete the class in 90 minutes because I forgot more than half of the dialogue!!  Here's the internal dialogue that I was having:

"Oh my GOD --- they are doing what I'm asking them to do! Look at that!   Oooo, I'm standing in the way of that woman and she can't see the mirror. I need to move to the right. Oh, now I'm standing in front of him, I'll move over here, oh fuck it, there's too many people in here, I can't avoid being in the way of somebody, oh no, what's the next posture? Well, I couldn't remember much of that pose but people got through it, ok, on to the next one, oh yeah, I could have said this and that and this...oops better focus on the posture I'm in....darn, what's the sanscrit name again? HEY -- I'm doing ok in the timing of this! Ok that's a bonus! Uh oh, which leg is it? Right? Left? Oh, there's Patty touching her right leg, ok, it's right leg over the left leg!"

It felt pretty hot in there, but as someone talking through the class and not actually doing it, I couldn't tell if it was hot or not, and of course coming from the boiling hell of Acapulco, what's hot?  At the end of the class, when everyone was in final savasana, as I was walking out to turn off the lights, a fellow kind of moaned, "turn on the fan", and I realized that people were truly suffering.  Of course, I completely forgot to say thank you or "Namaste", so after I stood in the lobby laughing my head off, Patty told me that the group said it to themselves.  

Obviously, I need help, so I'm writing from Harris Ranch along hwy 5.  I'm on my way to LA to meet with Mary Holmes the Bikram yoga hypnotist.  She has helped dozens of people not only get the dialogue in their head, but access it in the order at the right time.  Let's see how this works.  Several friends have asked for her phone number so they can tell her to put a few items in my brain, and maybe take a few out!!!  No way!!!  

I'm also planning to meet with Manali at headquarters and talk to her and someone else about using Bikram people to complete a survey for my thesis.  Met with one of my committee members last night about 8:30 to confirm the process and then drove down about half way down with trusty Higbee in the back of the car.  At around 1am (time sound familiar?) I decided to call it quits, and made the decision to sleep in the car --- figured that I'd save some money and would spend it on a hotel tonight in LA.  So I found a cozy parking spot in the Harris Ranch parking lot, rolled out the sleeping bag and grabbed my pillow.  Higbee and I tool a short stroll so she could stretch her legs, and we took in the lovely smell of thousands of cattles' poop.  Those of you who take that trip down or up Hwy 5 know that tell tale smell --- ick.  So we climbed back in the SUV and, without permission, I commandeered Higbee's bed as a comfy cushion for my head and hips.  This awesome dog that's not SUPPOSED to shed has disproven the breed - this dog sheds like a building in the back yard (get it....shed?).  So there I was covered in dog hair, realizing that I was completely buzzed from the diet coke I drank about an hour before to stay awake.  Bummer.  And Higbee was sitting on my feet.  65 pounds of dog tends to cut off the circulation.  I kept telling her to get off my sleeping bag, but I'm certain her response was, "well, get off my bed"!  

So finally fell asleep, avoided any highway killers on the road and woke to the amazing smell of cooking beef!!  Much preferable to cattle poop!  I let Higbee do her business, did a little of my own, and now, fully stocked on a lovely Earl Grey tea and a banana walnut muffin, I'm heading south to Los Angeles.  

Wish me luck.  Love to all.  

Lucille

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Yup!! I did it!!!

So on friday, I went to the 4:30 class at the Granite Bay studio.  I was so warmly welcomed by Patty, the studio owner, and Cory, her assistant manager.  They were so happy that I had survived training and immediately asked if I had taught a class yet.  I told them that I hadn't and that I was planning to go to LA first.  They said, "no, no, no, you must teach as soon as possible" and Patty tried to talk me into teaching the next morning at 8am.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), I had already planned a road trip with my buddies Selina and Karin, so Saturday was not possible.  So she set me up for this afternoon (Sunday) at 4:30.  I didn't have much time to prepare in my mind, as I spend the weekend with the gals, and I got to the studio, sort of ready at 4pm.  

I was really nervous and when more and more and more people came into the studio, I didn't know whether to shit my pants, drop dead in fear, or just be glad that I could embarrass myself in front of even more people!!!  I decided to just go to the bathroom and then walk into the studio.  Patty gave me a beautiful introduction and then I started......started to completely butcher the dialogue!!!!  I could not remember much of anything, forget the Sanscrit names for the postures and I was into the next pose when I remembered, "Oh shit ---- I forgot that paragraph, or that phrase" and in the remembering of what I forgot, I was forgetting more!!!  But I got through it, got everyone safely in and out of the postures, even a very first time student, and I had people laughing now and again, AND...I finished in 89 minutes!!!  When people were in final savasana, I completely forgot to say thanks for being on the show and Namaste, I just walked out of the studio, but I did it, and for a few moments in each posture, it was really fun.  They were actually doing what I asked them to do!!!  

So now I have to learn the dialogue more and more and more, and I'll be better at it.  Patty said afterward that I have nowhere to go but up (and I'll take that as a compliment), and she also said I have a nice voice, and I'm very grateful for that statement (and even for the nice voice), so now I just have to get better.  

Whew!!!  It was fun, it was scary, but it was so good!!!!  I'm going to like this!!!

More later.  Headed to LA and Bikram headquarters tomorrow.  Will write more after that adventure.

Love to all.  Lucille 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Adios Acapulco!




November 19, 2008
10:43 am I’m waiting around in the Mexico City airport for my connection to Cabo and then on to Sacramento. Spent two days not very far away distance-wise from the Fairmont, but about as far as you could get socially. I ended up with group of yogis in Playa Bonfil, a beautiful and simple little beach and surfing community unfortunately getting edged out by high rises and luxury brand specialty stores. I spent most of Monday sitting in a hammock reading a novel that was quite gripping, I’d read for several hours, nod off for a while and then wake to grab the book again (it’s title is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Sieg Larsson – don’t know if it’s available in soft back in the US yet). Had an ice cold Corona to celebrate a stunning sunset and then went with my buddies Mark and Chris Bayokis (refer to previous entry on Chris) to dinner at 100% Natural. Our other eating option (since almost everything else was closed by sunset) was a place right on the side of a very busy road, with small chickens running about, a non-operating toilet and a drunken old man trying to grope me. Normally I would consider that type of thing do-able (not the groping, but he could be handled), but after Mark reported on the condition of the bathroom and suggested an alternative, I agreed. I’ve been fairly lucky in regards to stomach illness; no reason to tempt the gastrogods at the end of the trip.
We retired to our simple and much less expensive hotel on the beach and called it a great day.

Yesterday, I woke earlier than most of the group and enjoyed a lovely breakfast on the beach. Continued to read my book and then was joined by a few yogis. Mark, whom I went into town with a few weeks ago, wanted to teach a yoga class (his first) so we moved a few tables and set up our mats under the palapa roof of the restaurant and did a class in the sand! I didn’t really push it – my knees are only just starting to repair and my hamstrings are still aching, and I didn’t want to tweak something in the sand. Plus I was in my bathing suit and the top wasn’t as reliable as regular yoga togs. Mark finished in 100 minutes (a little over) and he did a good job – he wasn’t exactly on dialogue, but he kept going and I think he will be a good instructor once he hits his stride. It was good to do a little stretching! Then an excellent swim in the ocean -- the riptide wasn’t as strong at the Fairmont, but the waves were bigger. Apparently this weekend they will have a surfing competition at Bonfil. I’m sorry I’ll miss it.
The photos in this entry were taken by Chris. He did a good job capturing Bonfil’s relaxed atmosphere.Again had a beer at sunset, then a mosquito filled meal after sunset (that’s another strange thing – there are NO bugs at the Fairmont and of course a million elsewhere, don’t even want to think about the level of pesticides at the five star residence). Once again retired early in order to prepare for a 7am flight out of Acapulco. It’s pretty darn cold here in Mexico City. When I arrived 10 weeks ago, it was boiling hot, but everyone here is wearing warm coats and scarves. I think I’m in for a shock of cold when I get to Sacramento.

But I’m ready to go home.I’ll have to hit the ground running when I land – have an opportunity to work with Bikram studios on my thesis and have to meet with Manali next week in LA to discuss the particulars. Which means that I’ll have to talk with some of my committee members to get a few things sorted out before I go. While I’m down there, I’ll visit Patrice’s studio in Orange County – it’s supposed to be the most beautiful studio built and I’d like to benchmark it. Will also talk to the hypnotist who has helped many a Bikram yogi get the dialogue in their head. It might be a shortcut, but if it helps, hey, why not??? I’ve looked at the dialogue document over the last few days, and although it’s certainly familiar, and I know I could do just as well as Mark did yesterday, I don’t feel like I own the words yet.
Still have some thinking to do about all of this. But I suppose that feeling will be with me for a while. I have completed a pretty impressive thing and I feel very good about it, but I really feel like I’m just starting. Have a lot to do in the short and long term. This is just the beginning.

5:44 pm. Absolutely exhausted. How many times have I written that over the last 9 weeks? It’s been a long day, but unlike none in the past. I’m shivering in the air over California (I think we’ve crossed over the border), dressed in a ridiculous group of layers, none of which match, all of which make me look like a dork. Even so, I’ve introduced myself for the first time as a yoga instructor!! Kind of a strange feeling, but one I’m very proud of. As opposed to “marketing director”, “graduate student” or “Silicon Valley resident” I really like referring to myself as a yoga instructor, or rather, a BIKRAM yoga instructor! Surprisingly, the woman I talked with, who is from Mexico City, knows about Bikram yoga, but she hasn’t been. She said she’ll think about it. She’s a psychotherapist.

Cindi is going to pick me up at the airport and she’ll have Higbee with her. Can’t wait.

At graduation, Dr. Tom, one of my fellow graduates and a retired oncologist, spoke about the benefits of Bikram yoga and how it can be used to promote good health. He was very articulate and convincingly talked to us about how the current medical system is seriously broken and a new model is required, one in which the pharmaceutical companies are rewarded for developing life saving drugs, but where also we have alternatives that allow us to do activities that help us to prevent the need for those drugs (and perhaps even recover without them). I talked in an earlier post about the awesome stories people told at the last lecture. There were people who had been addicted to alcohol and drugs, women who were anorexic and had done self-mutilation, people who had recovered from pretty serious diseases including RA, major knee ruptures, and even depression, and they all triumphed because, they said, the yoga healed their bodies, their minds and their spirits. I believe it. This is a picture of Emmy (she’s facing the mirror so you see both front and back views) from the advanced class demonstration – she’s near the same age that my mother would have been. She had a brain tumor a few years ago and look at what she’s doing – the woman is amazingly flexible and she’s also sharp as a
 tack. I plan to be somewhere in the vicinity of that level of flexibility in my ‘80’s! So Dr. Tom said in his speech that not only should every student of medicine take Bikram Yoga (and the teacher training program), but they should prescribe it to their patients. Wouldn’t that be cool? Tom is going to work with Rajashree to set up and conduct several medical studies that will help to identify in more measurable ways, the benefits of Bikram Yoga.
I asked Rajashree, Emmy and Craig how they see Bikram yoga as a business evolving in the next 10 years. Raj kind of avoided the question, but admitted that as a member of the family, she was biased in her vision. So she talked a lot about how it has evolved in the past. Craig and Emmy said that they can only see it growing for many reasons, several of which I’ve described in this post. The whisperings are that Bikram will have a franchise agreement in place by January, which means that when I open my studio, I’ll be obliged to be part of the franchise. This worries some people, who think that they will not be able to pay Bikram and make a living. I’m not concerned, I have seen the benefits at Kinko’s of standardization in operations and in branding, and if the franchise fee is fair (and I have no reason to believe it won’t be), then it will be a good thing for studio owners and for Bikram yoga in general! I’ve also learned that there’s no reason to worry about something I can’t control and is a nebulous thing in the future. I’ll figure it out when I need to.

Ok, battery is getting low and that’s a bummer, the laptop is keeping me warm. But that’s enough for now.

Love to all.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Leaving....sort of


Well, here's one photo of me, Sunny and Jacqueline on graduation day.  I took a bunch of images of the demonstration as I had a perfect vantage to see our wonderful Susan from New York and of course Erin from Chicago.  So when it was time for me to get on stage to receive my diploma from Bikram, my camera died.  Serious bummer.  But my awesome friend Upkar took a photo with her camera, I'll have it soon.  

Really wanting to get away from this place, but it's a national holiday in Mexico-they seem to have a lot of those-and there's nothing available anywhere but here.  So...I'm going to spend the night sharing a room with a bunch of people and then I'll find a peaceful place to relax tomorrow.  
Had a half glass of wine with dinner last night and I immediately felt its effects - and even woke this morning with that tell tale dryness in my head.  Couldn't believe it.  So that cold beer on the beach will have to be handled with care.  Guess my body is more pure than I thought!!!

Ok, have to check out of my home, and get on with life.  More later.

Love to all.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Graduation Day

The alarm woke me at 7am, but I snoozed for an extra half hour.  Gathered a bunch of extra food and supplies and carried them to the yoga room to donate to a homeless children's organization. Hope they like sweaty yoga togs!!  I was pleased to see a lot of things there, hopefully we will help a few unfortunate kids.

Awesome Diane taught the last class ever to be held in the studio -- Bikram has moved the location next time to Palm Springs, CA.  Unlike last week's makeup class, where I was still suffering from the effects of dehydration, this one was nice and loose, comfortable, easy, flexible.  There were two women right in front of me who were beginners.  One in particular kept walking around her mat and checking herself out in the side mirror, all during the balancing postures.  I was entertained rather than flustered by it (even though I kept falling out), as we have been told over and over that we will be shocked to get back into a regular yoga studio and see what "regular" people do.  

About half way through the floor poses, I started to realize that I was coming close to the finish line.  Last night was great, but I held back my excitement as I felt it would have been premature to celebrate.  So while on the floor, I finally felt a tremendous sense of completion, and I also felt both of my parents love and support.  That room has been a hell, a haven and almost always hot, in many ways I'm going to miss it, but will always treasure the transformation that occurred there.   63 days, 101 yoga classes, 750 hours of training, and about 82 hours of sleep in total.  

I'm not the same person who arrived here 9 weeks ago.  Although this is certainly not the hardest thing I've ever had to do, it's pretty close in many ways, and the quiet satisfaction of this accomplishment (especially at this age) will be with me for a long time.  Last night at the talent show (which was amazing -- I had no idea we had so many amazing people amongst us), Diane gave me a big hug and said she could feel my wings.  I'm not sure if she meant that the muscles in by back had become more defined, or whether I had metaphorically sprouted wings to fly.   Either way, I like it, and believe they are both true.  

It's been a rough year in so many ways.  But I'm stronger, better, faster and I can lock the knee!  
Tonight is graduation.  There were women in the salon across the street getting updos.  I felt pretty fancy just getting a trim off of this ratty hair and a pedicure.  We will have quite an event I understand, and it will include an audio of Bishnu Gosh, Bikram's guru, multiple speeches, and of course, each of us gets to walk across the stage and receive a diploma and a photo with Bikram and Rajashree.  

Here's the photo I got last night.  It's a pretty big smile, but I think tonight will be even bigger.  Or maybe with more tears.  Wait, don't anticipate, just do.

Love to all.

I'll write more as the days progress.  I'd like to continue to capture my thoughts, and if you're interested, you are welcome to continue to read!!  I'll also be sure to write about my first teaching experience.  THAT will be a hoot!!!!

I have to thank you all, not just for following my progress, but also for giving me support, on this blog, via email or just in your thoughts.  Believe me, I could feel it and it is so greatly appreciated.   

Ok, time to get gussied up for graduation!!!  

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bikram's Final Class


Just completed our last official class of the training (and yes, I have a makeup tomorrow, but that will be just fine, in fact it might even be relaxing after this afternoon's class!).  The energy in the room was amazing.  I'll write more later, but here are my before picture, with my awesome buddies from group 1 (yes I'm the whitest one there) and after picture with my wonderful friend Melissa.  I'm almost there.  What a great feeling!!!!

Now I remember.....

So at this afternoon's lecture we were able to stand up and talk about why we came to training and what we got out of it.  It was EXACTLY what I needed.  I've been cranky and achy,  and in more of a foul mood than not over the last few days.  Today, I was reminded what this was all about.  People stood up with absolutely amazing stories about how the yoga healed them, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Yes, we have been through hell and back and then back again over the last 9 weeks, but it has done more than we can know right now.  Some people know, but I think that when we go home and get the perspective I talked about before, we will really come to understand what we have done and what we have become.

OK, I have to get going for class in a moment.  More later.

Love to all.  

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Grenades and Insight

All week, I've been thinking of these last few days like a soldier whose been given leave.  You know the story...he or she is really excited about going home to partner and family and then steps on the grenade.  BAM!  That's that.  

Well, apparently without my knowledge (but isn't that always how it goes?) I've stepped on the grenade.  I checked the makeup class list and guess what?  My name is on there.  I can't friggin believe it.  The LAST thing in the world I want to do is one more class.  So I checked with the person who is in charge of the lists, and she said that I forgot to sign in earlier this week.  Frankly I find that hard to believe, as I have a system -- I NEVER cross the path of the sign in table without adding my name.  There's definitely a part of me that thinks that perhaps my name is mistakenly still on there from last week.  I've been stewing about it for a good part of the afternoon, simply pissed.  But then when I was still irked in afternoon class, I realized that I've been bothered by it for much longer than the 90 minutes it will take to do the makeup class.  

So, I'm going to put down the  anger and frustration and just do the class.  In the grand scheme of things, 90 minutes (plus the prep time, but hey -- who's counting?) is a small amount of time and effort, so I'll do it.  Not exactly happily, not grudgingly, I'm simply going to do it.  

The aches and pains in my knees, hips, hamstrings and even my fingers are back with a vengeance, but hey -- that too will pass.  

So time for a quick shower, some food and then the final lecture from Bikram.  This has been a very long week.

Love to all.  Lucille

A few random thoughts...

Just 3 more classes to go before graduation.  I'm wrapped in a towel, and need to hustle to get to breakfast/meal, but I have some thoughts I'd like to share:

One of the things I've noticed about many people who are certified Bikram yoga instructors is that they have a certain type of quiet confidence.  They are not cocky, but they are self-assured, and today, just a few moments ago, I started to get that feeling.  Yes, it does feel good, but it's also like it's always been there and is now just coming up to the surface.  Interesting.  I'll give that more thought soon.

Juliana, I told Diane you send your regards, and she asked me to say hi back.

They told me a while ago to trust the process, and I have, especially in regards to the dialogue.  I've been simultaneously worried I've forgotten the whole thing and then madly studying and then not worried about it.  But yesterday while waiting in lecture, I just started to think about eagle pose, and was mildly surprised and pleased that I remembered most of the pose....and I haven't even given that much thought in over a month!  So maybe there's hope for me yet.  Or maybe that's where part of the quiet confidence comes from.

Here's an image of me in that afternoon posture clinic, studying and doing the dialogue while it's being recited by another student/teacher.   Thought you'd enjoy this one.  I need to flatten out the foot and sit down more.  That's good to see!!!  

OK, gotta get dressed and get some food!!!  Love to all.  
 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Boot Camp, Concentration Camp & Craig

It's been a rough couple of days.  They told us weeks ago that week 9 would be easy, but it's been anything but.  A few weeks ago it felt like book camp here; over the last few days, it's felt like a concentration camp.  Yoga classes have been a challenge (and the extra 2.5 hours in the hot room didn't help), Bikram has kept us up very late watching movies, and people have been generally disgruntled for a variety of reasons.  By lecture time this afternoon, people were either giddy with exhaustion, cranky beyond reason or pissed and ready to go home.  Then Craig, who is normally the teacher training coordinator for the entire training, was introduced by Bikram and came on stage for the first time.   Through his enthusiasm, his passion for the yoga, his humor and his insight, he turned things around.  I honestly didn't think it would be possible, but he got nearly everyone's attention and held it for several hours.  Ironically one of his topics was perspective, vision and focus -- I must be psychic!!!  

Then he taught class this evening, and although it was a rough class, it wasn't too exhausting because he kept the flow going.  I actually enjoyed it!  

I finally feel pretty good, although again, my knees are ready to explode, my hamstrings throb, and my back is ready to go out any second.  I think that's from being in the hot room for nearly 6 hours yesterday and then in a very uncomfortable chair in a really cold room for nearly 5 hours.  Not a good combination.

Anyway, I have hope for an upbeat conclusion and that makes me happy. 

Love to all.  Lucille 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November 11 -- RIP VMA

Well, today is the one year anniversary of the death of my mother.  She died in the early hours of the morning, around 4:00.  So I awoke this morning at about 4:15 to a fairly good sized earthquake -- I laughed about it and thought it was my mom letting me know she can still shake me out of bed.  Apparently she was pretty adamant about me getting the message -- we had two more good sized rockers in that hour.  

This morning was like most, another class at 8:30, but we were told we'd have an extra half hour off before lecture began this afternoon.  So I took the opportunity to swim in the ocean, which had a strange and fierce tidal pull.  Didn't stay in long, I could tell it was making me tired and not rejuvenating like usual.   Went for a swim in the pool and then came back to the room to talk with Bob via skype.  

Caught a very late lunch, in fact I missed the gratis lunch in the Chula Vista restaurant and instead got a sandwich in the hotel deli.  Just managed to take the last bite before I went into the lecture room, and so when they told us to change into yoga clothes and meet in the studio, I got a little nervous.  Turns out we spent afternoon lecture time in a new kind of posture clinic, and those who wanted to practice, got to go up on the big dais and deliver three postures.  We all had to do the postures, and on a full stomach, I thought I was going to hurl.  Didn't, but others did, and then we got a short break and returned for our evening class.  So I'm going to say that I'll have done 100 classes during this trip (the effort put into that hot room for 2.5 hours this afternoon certainly counts as a class), and now I'm at 94 and have a balance of 6.  I really hope we won't do that again, but I'm not going to cross my fingers.  Started to get that electrolyte headache in the third class of the day, but got through it with minimal damage.  

A lot of people here are in a foul mood, for a number of reasons, but mostly I think they want to go home.  People are tired, they are starting to look gaunt and unhealthy, and I think by the end of this, some might be on the verge of homicide -- roommates look out!  I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to get my own room, the women especially seem to be completely fed up with those whom they share a bathroom.  

So, a bowl of soup and another Bikram lecture.  Again, no fingers crossed, but I'm hoping that we'll get out fairly early.  

3 more days and counting.  

Love Lucille

Monday, November 10, 2008

Focus, Vision, and Perspective

My vision these days is a bit askew.  I can see close up just fine, but my distance vision is definitely wanting.  So I find myself doing the opposite of many people my age -- I'm putting my glasses on to see far away and pulling them off to read or write.  Or maybe it's the same as other people.  Whatever, you get the point, I can't see very well consistently.  
But I don't wear my contacts or my glasses into the yoga studio.  Forget the glasses, they will not stay on my head and the contacts will clog my eyes.  So although my vision is wanting, my focus has become dead on.  Instead of looking in the mirror as I had done at my home studios, here I focus on one stationary object (usually it's an orange water jug) in front of me.  Of course, I can't see myself in the mirror most of the time anyway, but even when I can, I prefer to look not at myself, but at the reflection of a jug.  With this focus, I'm able to balance much better than I had before, and I'm improving in the balancing series fairly well.  I think -- I can't tell because I don't look at myself in the mirror.  And in that regard, I had come to believe at one point that my yoga had become better, and I was fairly good at it!  But then when I was close to the mirror one day I was shocked, SHOCKED, to see that my practice wasn't what I believed it to be.  I guess you call that perspective.

But I have to admit, after eight weeks of a fairly consistent groundhog day experience, I've lost most of my perspective.  I no longer remember what it's like to not do yoga twice a day, I can't figure out any more if I've lost weight or gained it, I don't know how I compare to what I was before, and I certainly don't know anymore how to consider this experience.  I've lost the perspective with which to compare it.   Some people here are getting so wrapped up in the politics of the group,  I'm smart enough to avoid that, and others are judging people and events in ways that I think will embarrass them when they return home, so I guess I'm not the only one left wanting in the perspective department.  

I am, however, looking forward to the day when I'm far enough away from this to give it some perspective.  I know I'll miss parts of it, but I also know that I'll gain more meaning from it when it's a little farther away.  

====================

I got up on stage with Bikram on Friday.  Even though I was washed out entirely from Thursday night's classes and the subsequent IV treatment, I felt ok enough to go up and get direction on the separate leg head to knee posture.  He was pretty funny with me.  He said that because I was trying hard and not doing it very well, I was getting 110% benefit -- those who do the pose easily don't get as much benefit.  I take that to mean that I'm really getting a LOT of benefit from my entire practice!!!  

Also today, I stood up when we were talking about bow pose, and told him that I came with excruciating back pain and now that's all gone, but my knees are killing me in standing bow and in the floor bow.  He asked me why my backed ached so much and I told him I had been sitting at a computer for 20 years.  He complimented me and said that I must have started sitting at the computer since I was 5 years old!  Perhaps his vision needs some help too!!!  Anyway he told me to take the knee pain, it will go away eventually, so I will.  

All in all, I will have done 99 yoga classes while here.  This evening, I completed the  91st class.  That's pretty cool, I have to admit.  


The Last Week

Spent most of the weekend sleeping.  Talked to my dear friend Eileen, and she said that when you're dehydrated enough to require IV fluids, it takes a few days to come back up to speed.  So I don't feel so bad about the volume of sleep I've had.  Did go into town with my buddy Mark on Saturday night.  Bought a new pair of jeans, which are already too big (not because I've shrunk, but because the jeans have stretched), and we had a great dinner in the old part of town.  A giant meat, fish and vegetable kabob, rice, and some kind of slaw for 100 pesos (about $7.50).  A very different price than what we've been paying here at the Fairmont.  While we were enjoying our meal on the patio upstairs, there was a birthday party going on at the building next door --- they played musical chairs and had a pinata.  It was so heartwarming and beautiful.  

Then we walked a way and took a cab home.  Yesterday, Sunday, the last Sunday I'll spend here, I again slept for most of the day but made sure to go to the beach for sunset.  I love it here at the end of the day.  It's still warm out, easily warm enough to swim in the waters and the sunsets are spectacular.  Ended up talking with Ivan from Croatia, and he's from an Island close to Split, where I've been and knows Plitvice, one of the most beautiful places in all of Europe.  It was an interesting and eye opening conversation.  Ivan is a very thought provoking fellow.  We enjoyed the sunset together, talked until way past dark and then I returned for a shower, a little food, some study of dialogue and then another long sleep.  This one was filled with strange dreams, I guess that's what happens when you get enough sleep.  I finally feel rested.

Good news!!!  Diane, the instructor from Boston whom EVERYONE loves is back!!!   I hear that this week will again be a rough one, but at least with Diane on campus, we'll have some interesting and fun conversations.  I would love to work with her, who knows.  

Ok, time to get ready for another day.  

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Eight Weeks Down, One to Go

We had another long lecture last night -- I think we went until after 1am.  By the time I left the lecture hall, I was a zombie.  Still tired from the dehydration.  and I didn't help it earlier in the day -- after morning class yesterday, one of the studio owners from NYC offered to buy us all a coconut.  They are really healthy for you; the juice inside can revitalize.  The only problem is that we had to walk a way down the beach for them, and then stand in line for about a half hour.  Then after I drank my coconut juice, I again stood in line to get it chopped up so I could eat the meat.  Great coconut juice, bad sunburn.   I can't believe I did that.  I've been so careful and then at the worst possible time, I get a burn.  

Just came back from my second yoga class of the day, my 13th class of the week.  Am absolutely wiped out, plan to spend a good deal of time this afternoon sleeping.  I have very mixed feelings right now.  Am definitely exhausted, and frankly feeling not so excited about yoga in general.  It might be a function of the exhaustion, or perhaps a little too much of a good thing.  Even so, I'm hoping that next week, we'll feel a little more psyched up about Bikram, about teaching, and about life.  I don't want to leave here feeling overly tired or down.  

Ok, time for a nap.  Might go into town this afternoon, so I want to get some rest beforehand.

Love to all.  

Thursday, November 6, 2008

$150 US a litre

UPDATE:  In addition to the $150 IV charge, I get to do a makeup class for missing lecture last night (which went  until 2:30am).  Robyn, your questions are good ones, I'm asking the same thing.  Don't want to ponder it too much, I need to stay positive through the next 8 days.

=================================  

Well, I'm not nearly as tough as I thought I was.  After what we thought was final savasana this evening, we were told to stay in the room and then Bikram came in a taught a third class of the day.  I was in the front and had just finished a class that I had worked fairly hard.   And I only had a little water left in my jug.  But ok, I gave it a shot.  

It didn't take long for me to totally lose control of my breathing, and I continually kept gulping air into my mouth.  I could only do a few postures, didn't have much energy at all, but kept getting up and giving it a try.  At one point, I was nearly sobbing, just simply because I couldn't seem to get my breath.

When class was over, I took what I thought was the longest walk out of the studio,  hauling two very wet towels and when I got to the lobby, I nearly collapsed.  They gave me some gatoraide, but it didn't help a splitting headache that I had.  I could barely open my eyes.  Then when I got back to my room, I still couldn't breathe and then after a quick shower, I started to shake all over and got really, really cold.  Had the sense to call Jacqueline and Erin's room, and J came up immediately.  Wrapped in a towel, I got the door open and then just lost it, couldn't breathe at all and collapsed on the floor by the door, by then a few other people were there to help, good thing because I couldn't keep the towel on and they had to help me to not flash the entire hallway!!!  

They called the doctor and I got wheeled to the clinic, in front of a HUGE line of beautifully dressed people here for some convention.  I wasn't exactly a pretty picture and probably scared them to death.  And when I got to the clinic, they gave me two 1/2 litres of an IV drip, the first had potassium, the second one was full of Vitamin B.  

I feel much better now, and do NOT recommend this as an alternative to lecture.  It will cost me $150 US for that little treatment.  But the headache is gone!!!   

Had a banana to prevent cramps tonight.  Going to sleep now, 13 more classes (unless there's more surprise classes) and 9 days to go. 

I'm ready.   

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Before and After

Melissa, my buddy from Canada, took some pictures in the studio over the last few weeks and I copied them from her blog, just to give  you an idea how much we sweat over 90 minutes.  

Here we are before class started, Smiley and dry.  












And here we are after class, still smiley, but definitely a lot more wet.  Honestly, if we jumped in the pool, it's unlikely we would be dripping any more than we do after yoga class.  If you had any doubts about how tough this is, hopefully now you can see, this is NOT for wimps!!  




Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The story of Chris Bayiokos

Because there are so many people in this training program (more than 300), we have been split into 14 groups organized alphabetically.  I'm in group 1, Abidi to Bickle-Box.  We have a really awesome group including our friend Chris Bayiokos.  At the start of training, Chris had a lot of trouble, though, for whatever reason, he would often skip posture clinic and then when he did show up, he did not prepare to deliver the pose.  He was, in his own words, "miserable" and fought hard against the process.  In time though, and with quite a few talks by coaches, group members and others, Chris came around.  And then he REALLY came around and stood out as a very strong team member.   He learned his dialogue thoroughly and delivered beautifully.  I have been honored to practice with him on several occasions, and worked well together, we helped each other learn well and quickly.

So this week we had to choose one person from our group to deliver the spinal twist in front of the entire group.  It was unanimous -- we chose Chris.  Here's a picture of him just as we announced it to him:


And here he is with our group practicing this afternoon.  We look like bowling pins don't we?


And finally, here is our group on the stage with Chris at the lead, delivering the spinal twist dialogue.  I have say, I'm so happy for him and for us -- he did a GREAT job and we are all so proud of him and of our commitment to each other.  It was a terrific moment.  

Ok, we're off for the night, I'm heading to the bar to watch the results on the big screen with the group.  No beer though -- that celebration will have to wait.  

Love to all.  

Get out the VOTE!

Today's an historic day.....Bikram is letting us out of evening lecture to watch the election results!!!  

It's 7:30 am Tuesday, and I'm still sore from last night's class.  Bikram freely admitted afterward to testing us in the yoga room.  It was his first class in two weeks --- he did a grand world tour via Los Angeles, Munich, Frankfurt, Dubai, Calcutta, Miami and then a return to Acapulco.  And maybe a few other cities in between.  So to see how we fared in his absence, he pushed us very hard for nearly two hours.  No one threw up or  cramped up, but after class, many people were on the floor by the fans (haven't seen that in a while), and it took me more than 2 hours to feel human again.  I did pretty well -- completed all postures and held most for the entire time.  He is truly unlike anyone else in that he carries with him a presence that can inspire others to do WAY more than they thought capable.  

He also admitted to being impressed with our collective performance.  That's a good thing.

Ok, have to get ready for morning class.  Don't think I'll be full of energy for this one, but I'll give it my best.

Yesterday I delivered the last formal posture and did a pretty good job.  Hurray!!  I'm not done though, now it's time to start all over again from the beginning and re-learn all the postures.  This is an ongoing process.  Better get to it.

Everyone VOTE!!!

Love to all.  Lucille

Sunday, November 2, 2008

On Being 46 - part deux

I mentioned a while ago that Bikram was very explicit in his instructions, "no alcohol, no smoking, no drugs, no touchy, no feely, no kissy and no fucky".  Quite to my own surprise, except for the occasional twinge that passes fairly quickly, I really don't miss a glass of wine or a cold Corona.  In fact, I'm planning to cut back when the training is over.  There's no need to pollute this new--ish healthy body.  Regarding the passion and affection, there really isn't any one here who interests me (or whom I interest), so that's not much of a problem.  In any event, there's absolutely no way that I would even come close to risking my certification.  I've worked too hard and at this stage nothing will get in my way.

Now having said that, I'm lucky that I'm mature enough physically and emotionally to get that.  Unfortunately, there are a few people here who are making choices for immediate gratification in one way or another, and frankly, I think it's a bad choice.  Part of the purpose of this training is to remove us from the things that we cling to, to the things we take comfort in, in order to forge a stronger, purer and better sense of self.  I recognize that (but probably wouldn't have at 25) and think it's a terrific opportunity.  In many ways, I'm glad that I'm older than most so that I can take full advantage of that opportunity.  Yup, age does have its benefits.

Like many of the people here, though, I'm definitely displaying a "younger" side of myself.  I don't even think in the prime of my adolescence, I broke out as much as I am breaking out here.  I'm hoping, though, that the rash on my chest, arms and back is the emergence of pre-cancerous cells that are being pushed out by healthier replacements (I am avoiding sun exposure for those who wonder).  Either that or the fact that we're wet all the time, sweating profusely before, during and after yoga twice a day, and regularly exposed to chlorinated water might create a negative environment for my skin.  In any event, I started to do Dr. T's facial scrub and I have to say, my face and skin feel pretty good overall!  As I mentioned several weeks ago, Dr. T spoke to us about anatomy, but his speciality and passion is holistic food and products.  He recommended a facial scrub made of the following ingredients:  Avocado oil, spread lightly over the face and neck, then honey mixed with salt as an exfoliant.   Lightly scrub all over and then rinse off and be on with your day!  It's kind of fun, and it actually tastes good!  

I don't know what avocado oil costs back home, but I can get a bottle at Walmart for about $2 here -- avocados as many of you know, are in full supply around here, so if anyone wants me to get them a bottle, put in your order now!!

Love to all, your aged (and young at heart) friend.

Friday, October 31, 2008

BOOOO Jangasana!




Happy Halloween!!!

Have had a very interesting and quite fun few days.  We're nearing the end of the dialogue - in fact, I have only one more pose to go, whew!!!  and have done fairly well on the recent postures.  Joni, our coach from today (who lives in Houston with her husband, awesome couple), said that she had a hell of a time with dialogue when she went to training and used a hypnotherapist to help her solidify the words.  Might try that.  

We also had a really terrific speaker on Wednesday and Thursday.  Jon the fascia guy they call him.  He's from SoCal and is NOT a certified Bikram instructor, but he does practice and teach yoga and is also a body worker specializing in the fascia, which is the connective tissue all over the body.  Consider the white stuff in an orange.  it separates the different chambers and also serves as the sac for the juice.  In our bodies, fascia does the same thing.  He is a proponent that the fascia is one of the 12 rivers in the body and it holds the "memory" of physical or emotional trauma.  Stretching and flexing out the fascia through yoga or body work helps to keep the body healthy.  And because it is one contiguous organ, it can affect a number of things in different places.  When I was a kid, my mom got acupuncture in her ear to help her stop smoking, and she did.  The needle in the ear penetrated the fascia river that affects the physical desire to smoke!   He said a lot of things that many people found controversial, but I found it mostly sensible and all interesting!  He also said that getting a hard inner core (like 6-pack abs) is not a good thing --- hard muscles in effect dam up the fascia river and block the energy flow in the body.   Maybe that's why so many people here have little budda bellies.  I have to say I'm one of those people now.  That hard little body I owned 25 years ago is gone.  But I'm healthier now in many ways.  

Today being Halloween, included a lovely pan dulce in our rooms to celebrate el Dia de los
 Muertos, we also all wore orange and black in the yoga studio and that was fun to see, AND this evening we were taught by Wren, a senior instructor from headquarters.  Wren is quite flamboyant and put on a very hilarious show for us!   And that made the 90 minutes fly by.  

So a lecture tonight, and one more class tomorrow and that wraps up week 7 of this adventure.  In some ways this has been like groundhog day and in others it's different every day.  Earlier in the week, I was ready to go home, but today, I am already getting a little wistful.  Yup, I'm treasuring my remaining days.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

But if you try sometime, you just might find....

...you get what you need!!!

It's amazing what can happen when you put the request out there.  So this afternoon, we got Wendy from Vancouver as a dialogue coach and she was EXACTLY what our group needed.  Her feedback is always positive, constructive and NOT critical.  She created a positive environment, she helped us lose our shell-shock, and she even asked other people what advice we had for making people better.  It was so terrific.  

So, tonight another posture, one I haven't even come close to memorizing, so I better get to it.

Love to all.   

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thanks for the support!!

I can't thank you all enough for providing positive feedback and comments.  It helps so very much -- this evening was rough, at least in my mind.  It can be frustrating when you do your "homework" as instructed, and it compromises  your delivery of the dialogue.  Then the new coach criticizes you exclusively for doing what you were told to do.  Grrrrrrrrrrr.

But here's the thing:  When I get back and start my apprenticeship, it might be a little rough at the beginning, but as I find my own way, I KNOW I will be a great yoga instructor.  As I mentioned in the last post, I may have a different style than others, but I know that there will be people who appreciate my style.  In addition, I am not the best yoga practitioner in the world, not even close, but the fact that I struggle in so many poses will help me have compassion for those who also struggle, and with that compassion, encouragement and use of the dialogue, I will help people.  

Last week we saw a recent news clip of Rajashree talking about the benefits of Bikram yoga and while she talked, they were showing some rubber band of a human doing a bunch of poses in the 26/2, but this bendy person was ALSO doing very advanced poses.  In my opinion, anyone who watched that, even though Rajashree said that it's for everyone, probably thought, "Well, I can't bend like that, I can't do that yoga, they're crazy if they think I can do that"!  One of the things I will insist upon if I ever get the opportunity to participate in any kind of news coverage, is saying that I struggled for two years to get my hips on the floor in fixed firm, I am still working toward getting my head on the floor in many poses, and stretching my hamstrings still is a challenge, but I'm better than I was and I will continue to improve, and so can YOU!!!!  In a visual, I will insist that there be both super-bendy  and a regular-bendy  human so people can see the natural variation in the yoga practice.  

Sorry for the preaching, I'm a little worked up tonight.  Should be learning camel, but I won't be able to until I get all this off my chest.

I also think that at this stage in the training, we know our group members more than some of the coaches.  Although coaches have information that can provide benefit, I think the system would  be better if we had one or two members of our own team up there as coaches to discuss and encourage, to identify steady improvement, and to consult with the senior teacher/coach because what he/she wants to say, may NOT be what that person needs to hear to improve!

Perfect example:  One person from our team stood up tonight and delivered a very strong dialogue and showed fabulous improvement.  From where she had started weeks ago, it was a great delivery!  The coach, however, said to her in a squeaky voice, "you have a squeaky voice".  You should have seen her face drop.  Not only was it not what she needed to hear, it negated all of the positive feedback that came before.  This young woman will not remember any of that, she'll just remember that "she has a squeaky voice".  If we had a person from our team on the committee of coaches, we would be able to communicate her progress, her strengths and also coach HOW to deliver criticisms in a way that the person can receive it in a positive manner.  Oh well, wishful thinking, but thanks for letting me get it off my chest.  

And thanks again for the positive comments, support and questions.  It does help so very much. Now I need to learn Camel.  
  
Love to all,  Lucille

On Being 46

Some days I really don't feel my age.  I'll catch myself in the mirror and am truly surprised to see an older version of myself looking back at me.  

Other days, it's fairly apparent.  Today, for example, I was looking at all the spry 20 and 30 somethings, and I remember what it felt like to have a body that was lithe, strong and good looking!  Now I have a few wrinkles, a thicker mid-section (that is getting smaller, but still) and bones and tendons that don't like to cooperate as much as they used to.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm still in fine shape, I just don't look the way I used to.  That's fine and I'm not trying to regain the past, but at times, I wonder.....

Here's something interesting about being a woman of a particular age...today I stood at the mirror for the very first time since training began.  Which meant I was closer to the podium than I had ever been.  I was fully expecting to get a lot of corrections, but nothing.  I wonder sometimes, if I am ignored as I'm not as promising as others in the room.  I'm not sure, but it's a thought in my mind.  

This morning, I worked really hard to not only do, but do well all of the postures.  I'm hoping that the cost won't be additional pain in the knees.  They were fairly ok this weekend....but I felt Fred Flintstone throbbing in the studio and after.  So we'll see.  Jacqueline is letting me use her homeopathic pain gel from Holland and that stuff is magic!!  Don't know what's in it, but it has gone beyond ibuprofen as the magic I need.

Ok, better shower up and eat.  We'll have 6 hours of posture clinic today, which means that I'll have to do at least 2 postures.  Better get to it!!

UPDATE 8PM:  Well, it figures, for the very first time, I got called out in class and told I needed to separate my legs more in standing separate leg head to knee.  I have very small feet for my height and have a hell of a time balancing on the way down, while down, and on the way up, so I tend to keep my legs together closer than I should on the way down and up just to prevent falling down, then separate them while I'm in the posture.  Not the greatest form, but better than falling out.  Today I finally got nailed for it, and I smiled like crazy.  I WAS NOTICED!!!!   

ALSO....talked today to a friend around the same age as me, and she too feels the difference in doing this as a more mature person.  She feels frustrated and criticized often in posture clinic, and isn't able to let down a mane of hair like the younger women are asked to do (or at least was asked today).  She also feels that she will be a disappointment to her studio owners.  I told her that although we are all encouraged in similar ways to be very vivacious here, we will develop over time our own style, and if I've learned anything, I know that as a studio owner, I will hire a staff of people with varied styles of delivery, some with lots of "rah rah" energy, some a little more low key.  Because some of the teachers I love here are not appreciated by others and vice versa.  People have different tastes, and I think it's important to give them different options.

Love to all.    

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stressful Friday and Picture Time!

If last friday was a riot, this friday was the polar opposite. We had posture clinic with an instructor who creates an environment that can be fairly stressful. Although I'm guessing that part of the reason is to recreate, to the best of his ability, the yoga studio, the results at times can be overwhelming. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that some people had a really rough time and received a type of treatment that, in my opinion, verged on the inappropriate. It was the very first time that I actually questioned the logic and the wisdom of this process. I'm shaking it off now, with effort. 

Ok, so I took a bunch of photos over the last few weeks and have time to post a few and describe this life here.   

This is Eleanor doing the bow pose with Rajashree on the podium. Eleanor is a human Gumby and is a beautiful yogini.  But look around, most people are not like her -- they are very "normal" in their ability to bend.  







Here are my posture clinic buddies doing standing bow. Andy is a writer from London, Annie is a marketing person from Canada, I don't know about the other guy, and Summer is a lawyer from somewhere. Great people all.




Here's Jodi!!! She's so totally cool, and is always in a good mood. I often find myself practicing next to her, and she coaches me to keep going when I want to take a knee. 


Last Sunday's sunset on the beach. In Mexico, there are no private beaches, 
so there are always vendors selling all kinds of things in front of the hotel. This guy was selling horseback rides.


Toe pose in posture clinic. The guy in the center is a senior teacher from Bend Oregon. Very positive guy.  BTW, I can't do this pose yet.  I hurt my knee in this posture before I came to Acapulco, and between fear and aching knees (a description, not a complaint), this one eludes me.  

Sunrise from my balcony. Great full moon, eh?




Robert and Vincent. I love these two. They couldn't be more different, and yet they are the best of buddies and roommates. 
Vincent is a retired school teacher from New York City and Robert is a yogi master and a physical therapist from Amsterdam. Great people.


Here's Robert and our group a few sundays ago practicing triangle. Robert doesn't project much, so we went to the hotel's porte-cochere and Robert stood in the driveway yelling his dialogue.

That's it for now. Tonight is a barbecue on the beach and I have to run errands before then!!! Love to all.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Medical / Spiritual Lecture


Rajashree has been leading up the lectures all this week, and they have not only been interesting, they have been many, and so we've only done two postures this week!  How lucky are we???

Raj discussed the medical benefits of Bikram Yoga.  She has been involved in several studies designed to show that this type of yoga does not treat the symptom, but rather it improves the system, thus the symptom eventually is alleviated.

The definitive tests are just beginning, but through initial tests and through  people's own experiences, it can be said that Bikram yoga helps improve depression, diabetes, a multiple of auto immune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis, crones, lupus, and it seems to alleviate the treatment of cancer.

It makes sense if you think of it.  The 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises first of all help to slow and yet increase capacity of breathing.    This is exactly in opposition to the fight and flight syndrome in which your breath is quicker, your immune system shuts down, your blood pressure rises and more. In western society, the proverbial tiger chases us daily, and some argue, the subsequent stress is the cause of many diseases. Bikram yoga helps the body to counteract that stress.

In addition, because accurate execution of most poses choke off a section of the body (and an organ or gland), the release of the pose flushes fresh oxygenated blood to that previously deprived body part and helps to keep it clean and healthy. This is one of the best things I can be doing for my body.

Last night our lecture was from a woman who is a general physician as well as a yoga instructor and studio owner. She talked about how our mental state and how our status in the fear vs. love continuum also affects our health. She talked about how our emotions actually crystallize in the body (issue in the tissue) and can cause illness. Staying in the love state helps to alleviate that stress and all the bad stuff that comes with fear based living.

So, I’ve decided to quit complaining about how sore and achy I am. It will go away, and the longer I spend complaining, the longer I’ll be in a fear based state. You will hear no longer about that topic.

We have a few doctors and psychologists in our group. One is an oncologist and he was right on board with last night’s discussion. He will be participating fully in the future studies. The good news is that in the U.S. and the world, the trend is going toward yoga and other preventative processes because they recognize the benefits, and because the health care system is not working.

Ok, got to get on with it!!!

Love to all.

Lucille

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tension in the body; tension all around

I don't take comfort in other's pain but at last I'm not the only one with a body on the verge of falling apart.  Everyone is getting sore knees, riotous hamstrings, achy backs and more.  The majority of the group has some kind of funky skin condition as well --- heat rash, allergies to the chlorine in the towels, water and sheets (yes, they chlorinate the tap water, not enough to kill you, but to kill everything else) and we are blotchy all over.  One of the guys today brought ice to yoga class and put it all over  his towel in an effort to avoid heat rash on his back once we hit the floor poses.  Don't know if it worked or not, but I can guess that it felt pretty good!

For me personally, my yoga has gone completely to shit.  Completely.  Anything I was good at before I can barely do, and the stuff I struggled with I continue to struggle.  Here's my positive perspective:  I try to do the setup in a completely accurate way.  If, with the grace of whatever higher power is up there, I'm able to get my practice back, I'll have a good foundation.  And if I continue to suck forever, at least I'll have a good foundation.  

The nurse told me that her knees hurt for two weeks after training concluded.  That's comforting!

In addition, many people are getting very edgy.  They are either perturbed with their roommate, tired of the same food every day, or just plain tired.  Others, however, are savoring every moment.  They realize we are on the back end of this adventure and feel sorry that it will be over.

Me?  When Higbee had her puppies, I fell in love with every one of them.  I could not imagine letting them go, but when the 10th week arrived, I was ready to have my time and my dog back and so was Higbee.  I feel that way about this, and really, if I've learned anything, it's to not lament change.  It is what it is and it will be what it will be.  

In the meantime, I need to stay a little more positive as I can see myself getting sucked into the social tension.  

Here's the good news though --- FINALLY, I'm starting to perform well in posture clinic!!!  Yesterday, I actually had a person tell me that I sounded like a real yoga teacher!!!  That is really comforting.  I knew that once I was able to get the dialogue down, I could deliver with gusto, and it's great that that moment is finally here.

Ok, gotta get a shower and prepare for this evening's posture clinic.

Love to all.   


Saturday, October 18, 2008

The thought for the day sums it all up!

I just read yesterday's thought for the day.  I said before that it seems to be paralleling my experience here.  Well, this one nails it.  THIS is why we're here:  to learn to fly!!!!

He that loveth, flieth, runneth, and rejoiceth. He is free, and cannot be held in. He giveth all for all, and hath all in all, because he resteth in one highest above all things, from whom all that is good flows and proceeds.
– Thomas a Kempis

This spring I watched six baby swallows learn how to fly. They were huddled on the telephone wires observing their mother, who came flying slowly by in front of them, doing the easier turns and showing them the basics of flying. There was no need for these baby swallows to read books or attend lectures on how to fly. They have an inborn instinct for it. Learning to fly may not be easy, but this is what birds are born to do.

The Lord sees us sitting on a perch made of pleasure, profit, power, or prestige, quaking with every variation in our bank account and every critical comment that comes our way; and he asks us if we would not rather forget our failings and learn to fly.

This is what we are born to do: to leave our perch of selfish interests and soar aloft. To soar to union with God means that all the faculties and resources which have been hidden in us can come into our lives, to the great benefit of those around us.

Week 5 Recap

Greetings sent during a relaxing saturday afternoon.  A lovely respite after a crazy couple of days. After the “Go Lu Go” event, I kind of blew it in posture clinic. The posture of the day was wind removing pose and when I got up to deliver, the coach asked me if I was ready. I said yes, I was ready and she said she didn’t think I was and suggested that I sit down. I said no, I was ready and began the posture. About 5 lines in, I stopped and said I had fucked up and asked to start over.  She suggested again that I sit down and I told her no--that would be admitting defeat, so I started over and did fairly ok. Not my best posture, but certainly not my worst. Now, one way to describe the situation is to say that she psyched me out by suggesting that I wasn’t ready and I needed to sit down. The alternative is that I psyched myself out, but by staying up there, I pushed through it. I think I did have a breakthrough; I studied until 1:30 on Thursday night for Friday’s pose (about 90 minutes, nothing compared to others) and delivered it beautifully. It felt great! I even got to tell the group my Go Lu Go story, and brought quite a few people to tears. That was cool to have touched people that way. 

I haven’t been worried since then. Others, mostly the perfectionists, were absolutely freaked out by Friday evening because we were moving into postures that they hadn’t practiced to perfection. So when we got into posture clinic on Friday, the room was filled with nervous energy combined with mania. We had a coach from Boston, and she was very kind. Her feedback was mostly appropriate and very encouraging. One guy wasn’t loud enough and she told him she would make him “deliver it to her in the bathroom”. The intended meaning, of course, was that she would go in the room next door and he’d have to yell it loud enough for her to hear it, but we all just busted up at the double entendre.

When we finished with Cobra, people started to look around nervously as we had to start on Locust and we weren’t ready. I was pretty calm; it’s not a terribly difficult pose to describe; mostly, you have to do is be sure to get the head, hands and feet in the right position, and then it’s all encouragement, “go up, way up, more up, lift up, come up MORE….aaaaaand relax” That’s not exactly right, but it’s not that hard to get close. So, Malavika, aka Miss Calcutta, is from India and is amazingly prepared and usually delivers in a crisp and direct manner. She got up and just freaking let loose! “put your hands under your body, yeah, yeah, do that” and then “lift your body” (when it’s supposed to be leg), but she just kept going strong and when it came time to encourage people to continue to hold their both legs up, she was swinging her arm around like a cowboy on a wild buck: “Go Up Way Up Come Up, More Up” and the normally disciplined and proper Indian woman was swinging around like a maniac just blew our minds. She finished and ran around the room getting high fives from everyone. We just laughed and laughed and laughed, both from her energetic performance, and from the break in tension. It was a great night. 

Here’s an image of proper Malavika teaching triangle to Jason from Hawaii.

We have finished five weeks of training. My body is getting stronger (and firmer) and soon my joints will stop aching and my knees will stop throbbing. In afternoon class, I’m fully participating; in morning class, I’m getting through most of it. When I think of what I’ve accomplished so far, I’m pretty impressed. Not in an egotistic way, but more with a quiet pride. I’m doing this, and after Friday’s dialogue, I finally got to believe that I CAN be a Bikram yoga instructor. And THAT is why they put so much pressure on you. You have to come to that conclusion on your own, you have to know it in your soul. I love this journey. It’s not easy by any stretch, but it’s amazing and extraordinary. And I have help. That’s what’s really great.

A few more random thoughts:

On Thursday evening, Manali, Bikram’s personal assistant, led us in a beautiful meditation. She sang in sanscrit a prayer (she called it something else) that she had learned as a child. Her father taught it to her and she admitted that she just liked the tune when young, and the meaning continues to unfold. It was so beautiful, if I hadn’t already had my cry for the day, I would have wept at the beauty of it. Instead, I just felt an energetic humming throughout my body. Sunny, who’s very much into these things, said that was Kundalini energy. She felt it too. This week and next, we’ll learn more about that topic as Rajashree and another woman will be here to talk about chakras and other healing benefits of yoga.

In regards to the healing benefits of yoga, some of the senior instructors stood up on Thursday night and talked about their experiences. One fellow said that he was nearly dead at 27 from clots in his leg. The doctors wanted to amputate and he refused, and instead found some relief through other types of yoga. After a regular practice of Bikram, the pain in his legs disappeared completely, AND while in teacher training, he got a massage and while they were working on his legs, he had a huge realization that the pain in his legs was related to the death of his father and the subsequent sorrow. He referred to it as an “issue in the tissue”. Makes a tremendous amount of sense to me.

Another instructor had had ovarian cancer, normally a death sentence. She not only beat the cancer, after several years of Bikram yoga, the doctors said that that the ovary that they had removed mostly was regenerating and healthy. Go figure.

Third, an instructor with scoliosis said that her spine has straightened more than 4% since doing Bikram. That’s significant; as an adult, it’s virtually impossible to get the spine to correct. She also has had her bone density measured; at nearly 50, she has the bones of a 24 year old. This stuff isn’t magic, but it does heal the body, mind and soul.

Ok, have to get some postures memorized. Then another visit with Gorky!!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Go Lu, Go!

My first job after graduation was at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, and my dad worked directly across the street at One Market Plaza.  We'd often have lunch together and we'd also ride home from work together.  I participated once in the "Financial District Strut" which was a relay race for women.   We had to pass a newspaper baton and speed walk through a designated route in our business suits, wearing sneakers and carrying our briefcases.  I was the last leg of our team, and after winding up staircases and around the Embarcadero Center, I entered the chute into Justin Herman Plaza.  There had to have been a thousand people there, but about 3/4 of the way in the chute I noticed my dad at the rope yelling, "Go Lu, Go!"

So today I woke sore and achy from head to toe.  I was so tired of the continual pain and the inability to fully perform the poses.  We had Lisa from Texas as an instructor, and she is truly inspirational, but even so, by the time we got to triangle pose, I honestly wasn't sure how I was going to get through it.  I searched deep down for something to help, something, and then bright as day, as clear as it happened more than 20 years ago, the image of my dad yelling, "Go Lu Go!" blazed into my head.  It was so visceral; he was there with me.  

So I started to cry again, but this time, I had a great big smile on my face and I continued to do the poses, I continued to do them well and strongly.  I kept weeping but nobody noticed, and my body felt lighter, the poses got easier.  My dad was with me and he was cheering me on.

I was a daddy's girl; I AM a daddy's girl.  And someday soon, I will find a man who will cheer me on just like my dad does.  Thanks dad!  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Group One --Jazz Hands!


This is an image we took today of my Posture Clinic Group.  We have really gelled and are so supportive, happy and just plain good people.  Ok, more later, just finished class and my knees feel like they are going to explode.  Plus we have another posture clinic tonight and NO ONE is prepared for this pose.  Better do some work.   

Hey --- they played "We're Half Way There" at the end of class today!!  Cool!!!

Oh, We're Half Way There....

Oh Oh, Living on a prayer.  Take my hand we'll make it I swear.  

Today marks the half way point of the training.  Feeling strong enough, sore, but getting by.  More later...have to deliver tree and toe stand this afternoon and need to solidify the poses.  

Love to all.  

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Emotional Pain, Physical Pain and the Yoga Triangle

A few weeks ago, I talked about my back pain and the feeling I got in savasana that said, "let go of the pain".  I did let go of not just the physical pain, but also the emotional pain of the loss I have experienced.  But I didn't deal with it fully-it wasn't all out.  This week I was in a standing posture, and a thought blazed into my head in bright neon lights, all caps, "YOUR PARENTS ARE DEAD".  I lost it and started sobbing.  Got into a child's pose on my mat, and just let loose.  I had put my hands around my face, like a child, to be alone, but what I didn't realize is that I created an echo chamber and instead of being more quiet, I was booming my sobs about 4 rows around me.  No big deal, everyone here breaks down eventually.  

I have talked about how we are changing on the cellular level, and I really think this is true.  Old injuries, physical or emotional, are coming up to the surface and we have the opportunity in this place and time to heal them, to fix them, to resolve them.  Some injuries can't be fixed, but they can be faced and acknowledged, and I think that those who fight the flow will have a harder time than others.  And the resolution is not just in regards to things that have happened to you, it's about the pain you have caused as well.  It all comes to the surface in one way or another, and stuffing it back is contrary to the flow.  "Let it out, let it go" is one of my mantras.  "Lock the knee" is another, of course.

I just got back from Mega, the awesome grocery store next to Walmart.  It's like a Mexican Raley's.  While waiting for the bus to pick us up, I had the opportunity to sit and chat with my buddy Jodi.  She never ceases to amaze me.  She has such a positive attitude, not naive by any stretch, but solid, intelligent and funny!!!  She said she sits in posture clinic and thinks about making t-shirts with Bikramisms.  She let a few fly and I just laughed and laughed.  I won't share because they belong to her (well, and Bikram), but they were brilliant.  

Ok, off to the pool for the afternoon to study 2 more postures.  

This is a shot of Robert, Erin, Vincent and me practicing our dialogue in my hotel room.  Robert is a yoga champ from Amsterdam, Erin is my buddy from Chicago, and Vincent is a retired school teacher from New York City.  Excellent people all.  

Make it a great day!!! 
Love Lucille

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Aaaaahh

With all due respect to the people who have laid hands on me in the past, I just had THE. BEST. MASSAGE. EVER.  Honest to God, it would be worth flying to Acapulco and checking into the Fairmont just to get a massage from Gorky.  He softened the knots in my hips, he stretched out my achilles, he removed all pain from my back and neck and he opened up my chest.  It was a deep, deep tissue massage, but by breathing through it and warming up in the steam room ahead of time (THAT was an interesting experience, but good to do), I'm not sore at all, in fact, for the first time in a long time, I feel pain free!!!  And, I have to admit, surrendering to the hands of a good strong man was a wonderful experience.

I've already booked my massage for next week.  

The rest of the day was also pretty good --- had a fairly good class, especially for the morning, learned triangle fairly well and feel confident with separate leg head to knee, and got to talk with a few interesting folks in the lobby of the hotel.

Now it's time for a little sleep and another whole day off.  I'm really happy.

Love to all.  

 

Four Weeks DONE!!!

The internet's been down (and then up for about 5 minutes and then down again) in the Princess tower where my room is located.  So I'm in the lobby of the hotel on the wireless system.  Here's what I wrote yesterday:

What a week. Except for during very obvious trauma in the past, this was probably one of the most challenging weeks of my life. Complete lack of sleep (and we all know how much I love my sleep), physical and emotional strain, and pressure to memorize and deliver the dialogue in a satisfactory manner.

I have to admit, despite my communication training, I lost it on thursday and after attempting to simply wing it on balancing stick posture, my chin started to do that little wiggle thing and tears streamed down my face. I wasn’t embarrassed as much as I was exhausted. But today, with even less sleep, I was able to do my best posture – separate standing leg stretching.

Memorizing this dialogue and delivering it is VERY VERY different than speaking ad lib or to a ppt presentation. I’ve presented in front of hundreds of people, but this is actually harder --- at least for me – because I’ve never been one to speak in a precise manner (writing is another matter). Now is the opportunity to do just that. As long as I get the words down, the delivery will be fine. In fact, I’m pretty confident that many of the people who are struggling with the dialogue will probably be better instructors because they won’t just let it roll off the tip of their tongues, they will own it.

Tempers are fraying, women and men are breaking into tears, this is the breaking down point and it may continue into next week, but soon, very soon, will be the building up. And it still won’t be easy, but it will be better.

This weekend, we have the opportunity to go on a guided tour of Acapulco, but my only objectives are to learn at least 4 postures well, and to get myself a real massage. Maybe a pedicure too. My toes are looking fairly nasty. Aren’t you glad I shared?

Compared to others, though, I’m holding up fairly well. There are people here who are suffering from very bizarre ailments. Pinched nerves that lead to strange eye ticks, extensive cramping leading to IV fluids, and there’s a woman here who cries during every yoga class. That’s not right – she doesn’t cry, she WAILS. Loudly. It’s a great exercise for her. I don’t know her well, but she agrees that it’s a great opportunity to purge a lot of emotions and I have to admire her for not holding it in and just going for the release.  It’s all part of the process and the relationship between physical pain and emotional pain and yoga is an interesting concept to explore. More on that later.

Love to all.

8:00 pm FRIDAY UPDATE: Well! Bikram offered us a deal in 5pm yoga class. If no one – and that meant NO ONE --- took a knee or left the room, then we’d have the evening off. We’re a tight group of people and no one wanted to let the group down, so we all did a really great job, knowing that the reward would be a good night’s sleep and a little free time. Personally I had a great class, and I can happily report that I looked pretty good in the mirror. Meaning that yes, I’ve shed much of that extra layer and my poses are starting to come together. Even the balancing poses.

So after class I took a dip in the pool, enjoyed some unexpected fireworks right above our heads (the president of Mexico is here, but I'm not sure if that was the reason for the show), and now I’m going to dinner with my buddy Sunny. Then it’s an EARLY night in preparation for our last yoga class of the week tomorrow morning. Whew!!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yoga in the Rain Forest

Latest news quick:  

Bikram reported yesterday that the humidity in the studio was up to 97%.  Don't even know how that's possible, but the minute I walked in that room, I started to profusely sweat (forget about the postures) and now that they have installed several more fans and other air moving, drying and cooling devices, it seems to be a bit better.

People are still really sick, I'm getting a sore throat but trying to hold it off, and after 2 very late nights of lecture and movies, people are exhausted and ready to leave.  Some close friends are preparing to pack it in, it makes me sad, but I will not succumb to any negativity.  It's a waste of time and energy.  

Ok, gotta go practice standing bow pulling post.  I don't even have the dialogue memorized and I'm fairly sure we'll have to do it this afternoon.  On a wing and a prayer!!!

Love to all,

Lucille