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.... 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 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.


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


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,


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Update: Oxygen is Important!

Bikram came into lecture last night and wasn't mad at all.  He did a little research after he left the studio and learned that this particular studio is especially hot and humid, and the students in this session and the last have had more troubles than in other locations.  The conclusion is that the room, located in a basement setting, may not be delivering the oxygen needed for us to complete the 90 minutes strongly.  He said the guy who designed the studio is on his way out here to take a look.  I also asked Bikram to check the mold in the air and carpet --- there are so many people here who are sick, I'm just a little worried that there's risk of mold related illness.  Also consider that the fall training is during the rainy season.  It is a lot more humid now than in the Spring training, and may be a reason for people taking a knee more than in the past.  

Of course, all of this new knowledge was no reason for us to have an early night.  We were up to nearly 2am watching a poorly subtitled movie relating the BagaVageeta (might be spelled incorrectly).  It's a good thing to know, but the medium for delivering it may turn people off to it, and that's a shame.  I have previously mentioned my "Thought for the Day" provided the Eshawaren Institute.  Ecknath Eshawaren translated the document into English and often quotes it in his daily thoughts.  That's a nice way to get bits and pieces, but even reading the doc or perhaps doing a re--cut of the flick might be good too.  

Ok, gotta get going.  It's going to be an interesting day.

Love to all.  

Monday, October 6, 2008

And Now...The Real Yoga Begins

Got a few extra minutes here...Bikram started out the 5pm class with a great deal of energy and entertainment, and then sent our friend Sunny out of the room because she is really sick and was on the floor from the get go.  He immediately thereafter started picking on people for their poor postures and made us do several difficult postures like standing head to knee more than the usual two sets.  Many people here are  very sick with lower respiratory infections (thanks humidity and warmth -- it's spreading like crazy) and others were simply falling out of postures because they are worn out.  

Bikram got more and more irate and about midway through the floor series, he started a fairly long rant and rave about how weak we are.   He was pretty angry, and just stopped the class.  Cancelled it all together and walked out.  Don't know if that ever happened before, but frankly, I don't blame the guy.  I'm fairly beat up --- my back is killing me, my knees are still really sore and my hamstrings are tighter than strings on a fiddle.  But when Bikram is the instructor, I do the very best I can.  He asks for that and I deliver it.  Healthy people here in their mid-'20's should be able to get through the classes without having to go down on the floor or leave the studio. 

But here's the thing.  This is a boot camp-like experience, and it's time for the shake up.  Every single movie about creating a team of well-performing individuals includes the scene where the leader is disappointed and first yells and then gives a big speech and then everybody works harder and comes together either because they are mad at the leader and/or eventually because they want to follow the leader.  Either way, the process is a needed one and tonight, we'll be up for a long, long, time.  Tomorrow, the real yoga will begin and everyone will start to perform like never before.  

My only hope is that I don't tear or injure anything.  

Love to all.  

Sunday, October 5, 2008

In Response to Robyn's Questions

My dear friend Robyn had some interesting questions a few posts ago:

"You said in yesterdays blog that they wanted you to reduce your water intake. Why? won't that lead to dehydration in those conditions. Please explain. Are people adjusting to the heat and extreme lengths of the sessions? Is everybody still participating or have some quit. Just questions your writing bring to mind."

In regards to water:
About 60% of the human body is comprised of water, and we all know that we can survive only a few days without water.  Consumption, however, can be a tricky thing.  Don't drink enough, you get dehydrated, and your muscles cramp up; drink too much and you wash all the electrolytes out of your body and have worse problems. 

On average, the human body should consume about 1.5 litres of water in total each day.  That's a little less than a half a gallon.  At each 90-minute yoga practice, I have been drinking more than that.  There is a risk that I'm drinking too much water and that I will flush electrolytes (and I was warned by the nurse that I'm doing just that), but I have adopted the habit of drinking pedialyte after each class.  Here's another problem with too much water consumption during class:  Your body can only process so much water in 90 minutes.  By drinking too much, you are just loading up your belly and risking injury and perhaps regurgitation in forward bending poses.  The key is to hydrate throughout the day so that when you get into the studio, you don't need so much water.  

Also, water temperature is important.  According to the instructors here and just confirmed on the internet (yeah, I know, but it was from Outdoor magazine and fairly reliable), the body absorbs water best when it is cool, but not icy temperature.  This makes sense as the body would have to work to bring the temp of cold water up to meet body temp and process it.   In this heat and humidity, it's important to not tax the body any more than necessary, and although icy cold water feels and tastes GREAT, it's better to have only cool water in the studio.  
Do I do that?  No, not yet, but I'm working toward it.   

Student Population
We have lost a few participants, for a variety of reasons.  One person was not healthy enough to stay and they are very serious about making sure you are reasonably healthy.  Lots of people here are getting the shits, and the number of people cramping has gone down but there's still some each week, but if a person has some kind of condition that puts them at serious risk, they are pulled out.  We are being coached extensively to take responsibility for our bodies, work hard but do not overdo it.  At this stage, people (including me) are starting to get very achy and are at risk of pulling/tearing muscles and/or tendons/cartilage.  I have made the decision to really take it easy in morning classes and to push in the afternoons only when I feel truly strong.  I had been taking motrin after morning class, but I've stopped that, because it inhibits the pain sensation in the afternoon and can lead to over stretching.  

We've also lost a few people due to stupid actions.  I won't go into detail, but this is a Fairmont hotel and certain protocol is appropriate, and some people apparently feel privileged and it cost them their training.  

Others yet are frustrated with the bootcamp-like process.  They have not and will not leave, but they do resent some messages and some of the rules.  For me, I remember that there is more to this than just hatha yoga -- it's about rebuilding our bodies, minds and souls from the cellular level.  And the results can be remarkable.  Don't think this is a cult -- it's a proven process (hundreds maybe thousands of years old in India), that allows us to gain an amazing strength.

More on that later.  I have to shower and get some food.  It's Sunday, and today for sure I'm going to get a massage and work on my dialogue.

Love to all.   And thanks for your support and messages.  It's such an honor to have your kind words and good feelings.  

Friday, October 3, 2008

Posture Clinic

I'll sprinkle in this post some photos of this beautiful place.  Just so you can see that it's certainly not all difficult!  

For the last two weeks, we've spent most of our afternoon lectures with Dr. T, an old friend of Bikram's who is a chiropractor and an author on nutrition and holistic eating.  He's a pretty good guy and although his anatomy classes haven't been the most exciting, his lectures on food and nutrition have been very interesting and entertaining.  It's obviously where his passion lies.  In any event, today was the last lecture from Dr. T, and on monday, we have our second anatomy test.  It's fairly basic stuff, but a good review nonetheless.  

Saturday is shot as far as freedom goes, as I'll be partaking in the CPR class and the anatomy test review.  

We have also started this week our "Posture Clinics".  This is how they work.  Our very large group of over 300 (but that number is becoming reduced, more on that later) has been broken up into smaller groups of 25-30.  After Dr. T's lecture and in the evenings, our groups meet in a designated hotel room that has been cleared out and carpeted.  We all sit on the floor (thank GOD to whomever recommended the back chair, I would be a wreck without it) while one person stands up to delivery the dialogue of a particular posture and 3 others do the posture for the speaker.  It's not long and boring like 300 half
 moons in front of Bikram; 
it's more like a terrifying anticipation of having to go up in front of your peers and deliver a very long poem that you sort of have memorized.  Some people are amazing; others you just want to weep for, they are either so hard on themselves and expect perfection or simply freeze up in fear.  This week we have done the second half of half moon pose, and parts 1, 2, and 3 of awkward pose.  OH, did I mention that the master instructors and visiting instructors watch and listen and provide feedback and make notes in some secret binder about our performance?  Even for this fairly experienced public speaker, it can be nerve racking.  

The best clinic so far has been with Diane, who is from Boston.  First of all, she took time to go over the posture in detail and show us not only how it should look, but also what to look for in people who might do it wrong and injure themselves.  Then her feedback was spot on, kind, and yet firm.  
She asked one woman, "Do you want to be perfect, or do you want to be a great yoga instructor?"  The woman burst into tears as obviously the answer was that she was expecting perfection in herself.  The 2 or 3 other people started to cry also, having similar expectations for themselves.  It was very insightful.  

Each time I prepare for a posture, I have a personal goal.  Initially, it was to just get up there and deliver the dialogue.  Then I wanted to emphasize certain words, which I did, but got nailed for forgetting entire sections of the dialogue.  Today my objective was to focus on getting every line right.  Not necessarily every word in every line, but I did not want to leave out any line.  I accomplished my goal, and of
 course was provided with new feedback.  Which is absolutely fine.  I talked to one woman today who thought she did a great job (she was in a 
different group so I have no opinion), but felt she got bizarre and inappropriate feedback.  She really wanted to be told she did well.  I asked her if SHE thought she did well and she answered in the affirmative.  I told her that was all the affirmation she needed.  Don't look outside for kudos, just know inside that  you are great.  

That's one of the wonderful bonus gifts we get here.  

Ok, I have to start to memorize Eagle pose.  

Love to all.  

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Whatever you can do.....

Mostly in the morning, my joints feel like they have rusted shut, my tendons feel like they will snap like over stretched taffy, and my hamstrings especially are very inflexible.  So I really don't have any expectations for morning yoga.  Staying awake is my new objective.  

Today, I was especially tight and sore, but I got through most of the poses, not prettily, but I got through at least one set of most.  And when I couldn't do the pose, I decided to watch those around me to see what I could learn.  I was lucky enough to be right next to Robert, my new buddy from Amsterdam.  Robert has been a yoga competition winner, and has a beautiful balance of strength and flexibility.  He is thin, with beautifully defined muscles and at various times while watching him I was reminded of a graceful bird, a butterfly emerging from its case, and a Japanese ham sandwich -- no gaps anywhere!   My observations helped me to learn how to improve my grip in rabbit pose and others simply inspired me to learn to stretch more.

Then behind me was Jodi - she stayed with us at the youth hostel before training began.  She's from SoCal, but lives in Kentucky and is a coach for a university there.  She reminds of my college buddy Janet in both her structure and her personality.  She just does the work and doesn't necessarily do it easily, she just doesn't seem to be bothered by it.  I'm not explaining that well, but there's not a lot of drama for her.  And I like that.  At one point I turned around and she just nodded her head and mouthed, "C'mon, you can do it" and I believed her!!!  Then later I saw her tap the towel of the guy next to her and she coached him into doing more.  She will be a terrific yoga instructor and I would love to take her class!!

OK, got to practice dialogue.  I'm not learning as quickly as I'd like, more on that later.

Happy Birthday Shout Out to Selina in Antioch, Judi in Africa, and Sunny and Erin who are both here!!    

Love to all.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Balance, Flexibility, Strength and Patience

So I rocked the studio yesterday afternoon, and today I literally SLEPT through nearly the entire 90 minutes of class.  Finished initial breathing exercises, did a little half moon, a little awkward, and then went down and woke up for the last breathing exercise.  I had heard of other people doing this, but it was an interesting experience, to say the least!  They are encouraging us to reduce our water intake and I did do that was a plus!  

Here's another Thought for the Day that was totally appropriate to yesterday:

Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Poets like to write about love, popular singers like to glorify love, but nobody bothers to sing the praises of patience. I once heard of a man who prayed to God, “Give me patience, O Lord, and give it to me now!” That man was not born with a patient nature. Most of us aren’t – but we can develop it through practice.

You will find opportunities every day if you look for them. In a situation where there is a lot of friction, where people differ from you and aren’t shy about letting you know it, don’t run away. Move closer to them. You may have to grit your teeth; you may have to bite your lip to keep from giving vent to a harsh retort. And then, of course, you need to smile too, which doesn’t come easily with your lip between your teeth. It is a demanding art to do this gracefully. But it is an art that can be learned.

Some of the senior instructors I can completely relate to.  I love the way they teach, with encouragement, with a commanding and low voice and with compassion.  Other instructors are to me like fingernails on a chalk board.  In my opinion, they sound like they are nagging, their voices are high and whiney and their choice of words are always commands such as, "roll over, sit up, touch your toes, bend backwards"  without the explanation or the result we should be feeling.  Now this is not their problem.  It's entirely mine.  The style they use may work really well for other people,  just not for me.  So it's MY job to be patient with them, with their style and try to find in their direction something that I can use or take....even if it's that I don't want to sound or talk like that.  Patience, it's a beautiful thing.