Bikram yoga in Miami

This past weekend we went to Miami. I went to 6am yoga class as per usual (hey, we had dropped from 12/14 to 10/11 people in class… Friday we had 16! Not bad. PS 4:40 and 6:30pm classes are more like 26/30 per class). Worked from home till the afternoon and then took off for the airport. What is a girl to do in a foreign town? Look up the local Bikram yoga studios of course! DUH! Sunday’s earliest class was 10am, and with an 11am flight that wasn’t going to work. Thus all we got was our Saturday class. It is so good when one gets to go. I did feel like I could not goof-off in class because I was representing my home studios. Can’t be having other folks thinking my local studios have been lacking in their kicking of my voluptuous ass! The North Miami studio is very nice. The practice room in long and narrow, giving maximum usage of the gargantuan mirror to all of the students. I also like the fact they have the podium at the back of the class (I am not a huge proponent of the big ass podium in the front).

Many of the folks that I spoke to in the class only go once a week. While I am sure there are many individuals at my local studios that do this I typically talk to the folks I see most often (i.e. 3 or more times per week). It was odd to think of only going once a week. One gent viewed it as his weekly stretching amidst his gym and running routine. He was complaining her hurt for a few days afterward every time. That’s the sad thing about muscles… leave them for too long and they return to their old ways. Throw in some weight lifting to shorten the muscles… and that “long period” turns into a week. So many folks think they have to run for hours a week to “get their cardio” and this is so wrong. They don’t have time for a second yoga class because they have to go jog for an hour.

Many of the general public believes that you have to perform lots of cardiovascular exercise to achieve health and/or weight loss. However, this is not true. In fact, greater benefits can be achieved with shorter duration higher intensity exercise. One study compared the one-minute bout of intense exercise with twenty minutes of moderate intensity exercise, it was discovered that only four one-minute bouts of intense exercise would be required to exceed the total oxygen consumption of a twenty-minute bout of moderate (60% maxHR) intensity exercise. The research data showed that the one-minute bouts of intense stepping on the X-iser Machine™ used an average of 46.7 Cals/min compared to only 9.3 Cals/min for a twenty-minute bout of typical aerobic exercise. In addition, when you perform extended periods of cardiovascular exercise, you raise levels of Glucocorticoids, which are tissue destroying hormones. To maintain health and optimum weight you need to keep as much muscle tissue as possible. This probably explains why my personal trainer has me doing cardio for 10 min (5 peaks) 3 to 6 times per week. Of course this being said… when they talk about higher intensity they literally mean pushing with everything you have for the full minute. Staggering on the treadmill for the recovery minute is permitted. I see why 1hour jogs seem more alluring.

Back to TT talk! The other thing of note is that I am vacillating a LOT less than I used to. I used to go through these periods of “what the heck am I thinking; I don’t need to go to TT. I should just focus on my practice?!” and “I can’t go to TT! We can’t afford this!” that used to occur more often than I care to admit, now I am finding them less frequent. I am more at peace with the idea that if TT is meant to be then things will occur such it can happen. You know, things such as winning the lotto or Master P continuing to be employed in order to pay said mortgage. Although… these days the lotto winning is seeming to be the more likely (what with him working for Chrysler (today at least) and all).

New teacher

A few weeks back I had an interesting experience. It was made even more interesting by how a friend (planning on going to TT) and I looked at it so differently. Saturday 10am class we get a visiting instructor teaching her second class. She has 2 new people in class. Right off the bat she makes a big omission in the dialogue (a little short of starting with “inhale” without saying what to do). This left her completely unfazed; she corrected the students and went on. She made several other mistakes, but never wavered in her conviction. She went on like a trooper. In the meantime I’m in class thinking “I’m going to SUCK!!! OMG, I am so going to suck!” The realization that sucking at first was as inevitable as not being able to fly was pretty strong. After class though I pondered this. So I will suck. All new teachers will make mistakes, and will need to grow into their teaching chops. However she taught me a valuable lesson. It did not kill her. She did not have to curl up on the ground and die from mortified overexposure. She prevailed! Heather was in the same class and was delighted with the experience. Her take on it was that it was good for her to know that others had and would make mistakes and that made it all okay because it was perfectly normal. She's right. I hope to overcome my suckyness quickly so that I can help my students have the best possible class they can have ASAP.


Melissa's high energy class 4 Dec

Melissa darling, someone spiked your water with crack last night. You started the class late and finished early. That being said, I rather enjoyed my first real Bikram flow yoga ;) Who needs pauses between the poses? Hopefully it made you feel better after your crappy day! Seriously though. It has been a while since an evening class. I have been doing pretty much morning classes for a long time now. I forgot how much more flexible one is during an evening class. (notice there is no mention of strength… one is typically as a strong as a ox first thing in the morning) So at my 6am class this morning I can’t bend worth a darn… oh well… so it goes. I should take it as an omen I need to practice more. My practice has SUBSTANTIALLY improved since I went from twice a week (^#@#% work) to 4 times a week. Adding a couple of evening classes after the current school term ends can only help.

Onto another topic. I have hips that are about as open as the doors of a high security prison. Many of the poses are some hard work for me, ones involving open hips I still very much represent the “before” aspect of the yoga pose. So, there I am before class the other day and Pedro has his knees out and practically against the floor, while his heels meet his groin. So I ask if he can do lotus. He looks at me puzzled. Understand that I can’t do half-lotus with one foot let alone full lotus. So I tell him what to do with the foot. Bam. No problem. Looks at me and goes “the other one goes here right” and plonks the other foot up easy as you like. So not fair. Okay, I get to see my mat in my backbends on good days. I guess unfairness goes all directions.


2008 Michigan Yoga expo

So, 22 November was the 2008 Michigan Yoga expo in Ann Arbor. We had 10 people competing (the winners go to the Nationals in LA in February). The competitors do 5 compulsory and 2 optional poses in 3min.

Kelly doing an optional pose (it's so pretty I can't resist sharing)
Gents winner Ladies winner


wrap up the retreat blogging...

So, without trying to bore you with… well… boring detail. After class Friday night we enjoyed our dinner. After dinner came a rare delight. Rajashree called it “story time”. There was a podium and a microphone on it (and 122 expectant faces watching whomever was up there). Some of the stories were brief. Some were about their first yoga class. Some were about what yoga has done for them. Some where about these very things but came proceeded with a tale of abuse, addiction and depression. One was a woman who had gone to the 1st women’s retreat last year and had decided then and there to go to Teacher Training. She got up to tell us at 59 she did it! =D Most of the attendees were indeed already teachers (hardly a deterrent). Afterward everyone went off to do what they liked. I leapt into the hot tub and had a blast on the waterslide.

Sleep, class, brunch, lecture, must… stay…awake (no offense to Emmy and Raj, but I think most of us were dozing off at the end there). Then some wise soul put on some very upbeat music and soon we were all dancing about (I bet the photos look like the later part of a drunken wedding party). We sure were invigorated for our evening class :) Dinner was good. We had a guest speaker Saturday night. May Yue, founder of the Tao of Youth was there talking about her life and her book. More revelry followed. I think we were all saddened that Sunday morning was our last class. We had a farewell ceremony after breakfast and we all dispersed. (or went to spa appointments, or hung around for a bit). I had a great dinner (and a beer sampler - gasp!) in the Minneapolis airport with Teri (another great yogi from CA – interestingly enough, Teri teaches Jill’s Advanced classes (go figure!)) Then off home… and straight into my massage chair…. Ahhh… and bed (needed a few hours rest before work!). Zzzzzz…

Pictures from the retreat

View to the conference centre (where classes are held)
Martha (Minneapolis studio owner and part event organizer) and Rajashree (Bikram's wife - a remarkable woman in her own right) up on stage before a class
Me and Rajashree (half the reason I went to the event!)
For those not in the know go to http://www.bikramyoga.com/Rajashree.htm
(the five-time winner of the All-India Yoga Championship and probably knows more about yoga than Bikram, but we can't say that to him)

Me and Emmy(the other half of the reason I went to the event!)
For those not in the know Google Emmy Cleaves

If you have not already done TT and you EVER get a chance to do a seminar with Rajashree or Emmy, take it. I don't care if you have to beg, borrow or steal the money, it will be well worth it. These are remarkable, inspirational and amazing women. You will learn so very much!

So, I need to get back...

Okay, so I look lazy, but in truth I am overwhelmed! I’ve now had 3 people tell me to get off my ass and get back to my blog L I have so much to write about, but I didn’t keep up… so it got away from me. There was the 3 day Bikram Women’s Yoga retreat, then the 2008 Michigan yoga expo, and my random musings. Let’s start with the 2nd annual women’s yoga retreat. It was truly amazing. Unfortunately it’s one of those life events that are hard to relate. I was really lucky that I went into the weekend with no expectations, as this left me open to new experiences. For the record, I still don’t care for flying alone and traversing airports alone ;) I think airports are related to hospitals in the way the faceless masses huddle to themselves. I flew out of Detroit Friday morning (that would be 7 November – yes I know… I suck). Got to Minneapolis without incident. Actually had a nice seat and had a brief chat to a gent flying to South Dakota to go hunting with his dad (guys in the Midwest do seem to like the hunting thing). It was snowing in Minneapolis when I got in for my 2 hr layover. The best kind of snow, it was the big soft flakes that drift down as if you’re inside a snow globe. While waiting for our teeny tiny plane I got chatting to Jill, another yogi from California. Jill is a Bikram yoga instructor (as is her husband), so we were talking about that a fair bit. The plane flight itself was very short (maybe 30min?) and we arrived in the very tiny Brainerd airport where we shared a taxi to the lodge. Traveling alone bites, but you can make it not suck entirely by making the most of it. The food at the lodge was good all weekend. The retreat provided 2 meals a day (after each class) and these were buffet style. As it turned out I shared a cabin with 4 other women. Big cabin mind you; big as in pool table, full kitchen, fireplace, foosball, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms big.

For me the retreat really began with the Native American sweat lodge. Do not pre-judge the black tarpaulin covered branches making a low dome in the dirt =). So a whole bunch of us go in and the flap is lowered. It is pitch black in there. Ooookay. On goes the water. Place fills up with steam. Not pleasant steam, like a steam room mind you. Cloying. So the one woman who had be raised Lakota does the chanting and the initial blessings. Very nice. She did a great job. I’m wondering when the steam will subside so I can slip out (no exiting till such occurs). Then I find out what sweat lodge is really about as we are asked to offer up thanks or prayers. The words in the darkness are deep and profound. A prayer for a loved one diagnosed with cancer. Thanks for a healthy baby. A prayer for self-acceptance. So it went. For me that set the tone for the weekend. No facades, no drama; only warmth, caring and sharing. I felt connected. These prayers and thanks did not belong to one individual; they belonged to all of us. We were created together from the earth and we all share in all the world’s pain, suffering and joy.

As you can see, right from the get-go there was a lot to deal with mentally and emotionally. I think everyone at the retreat got what they needed when they opened themselves up to it. I went looking for answers I hadn’t even asked. Prior to the retreat I kept vacillating between “I have to do this” and “no, this is nonsense, I don’t have the time or money!” I have to grow to TT. Yes, I meant to say grow and not go. I have to go. It may or may not be in the spring, but I have to go. My yoga practice sure could benefit from it ;) but the truth is I think I need it even more. I’ve always told people you take your emotional baggage into your yoga class with you. While that is true, you don’t have to deal with all of it at once. Everyone I have spoken to has confirmed that at TT ever nasty habit, bit of luggage, and scrap of self-loathing comes forth. There is no place to hide. Good.

I did confirm at the retreat that TT was being moved to California and would no longer be in Acapulco. Since then Bikram's website has been updated with the new dates and location :)

2009 Training ScheduleSpring Session: begins on April 26 to June 28, 2009
The Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort and Spa


lame update

So, i will not be providing the update I was expecting to ;)
Been a long and busy day.  I need a massage... as much as any person has needed a massage :)
I did learn one VERY important thing today.  Rajashree (Bikram's wife if you're not in the know) confirmed that Spring teacher training next year will NOT be in Acapulco, it will be back in California.
More to follow...


where to begin...

My next post was going to be about what we wear.  I guess that will have to wait.  So here I am on day one of the 2nd annual women's yoga retreat. There is so much to tell, so much to ponder. I have no idea where to start.  Maybe after getting up before 5 to be at the airport by 5:30am and it now basically being Saturday in the early AM. Having flown here this morning, had lunch, hung out in a native American sweat lodge, met numerous people,  wondered the grounds, done a yoga class, had a fabulous dinner and had a chance to share inspirational stories in a room with 122 remarkable women, hot tubing, water sliding... i should probably start by going to bed. More tomorrow. promise...


Lock the knee

Lock your knee. Lock your knee. Lock your knee.
I’m not sure anyone who has not been subjected to Bikram yoga will actually get the humor, the terror, and the irony of those 3 words. It’s all part of Bikram’s dialog that each teacher must learn. (for those of you not yet privy to the subtle nuances and downright funny phraseology, let me introduce you to a few of our favorite gems. While these are at first funny, one comes to embrace them. When you listen to the dialogue, it’s a form of concentration. It’s a meditation. So here are some: Open your chest like a flower petal blooming. Pulling is the object of stretching. (admit it, you’re thinking WTF?!) Focus with your English bulldog determination, your Bengal tiger strength. Inside out, bones to skin.)

I digress. It has been an interesting week. Sick. Sick of being sick. It all started with an exceptionally sore throat. By Thursday I was wishing I had the sore throat back! I didn’t see my personal trainer all week, but I think being sick and having done 4 yoga classes in the last 4 days counts :). I went Tuesday evening. I typically go 6am on Tuesdays and only miss that class with due cause. I hardly sweated all class and had zero strength. I therefore focused on keeping my leg locked any time my leg was to be straight. It is amazing how often my leg is not locked. :( I think this is probably because I’ve never needed to lock the knee to get my legs straight. It takes an inordinate amount of concentration let me tell you. At one point I was in Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Paschimottanasana (pose below) trying to keep my thighs contracted (aka locking the knee), suck in my stomach, and pull with my arms. I could only seem to do two at a time so I kept cycling. Oi! My water embargo proved detrimental as I had to leave the room due to hacking up the proverbial lung! Next time we allow little sips of water for extreme coughing.

Wednesday, feeling worse again (I felt MUCH better after Tuesday's class, but it only lasted about 12 hours) I went back to an afternoon class. Sooo much better. I was so inspired I followed the regular 90min class with a 110min advanced class. May as well kick that bug to the curb! I think it worked. =D I was spewing mucus yesterday in a way that made me eternally grateful for the technological advances that led to tissues with aloe and vitamin e! I hope the inventor is obscenely wealthy. I would have gone to bed earlier had I not had to pack my Halloween garb! Up at 5am to get to 6am yoga. There appears to be a consistent 12 of us at the 6am classes with one or 2 intermittent individuals. I love my 6am classes. What a great start to the day!

Here's an davanced pose I won't be doing this week...


Take a pose

Okay, so being run down from too much work is causing me to have a compromised immunity and some form of cooties is trying to manifest.  Sore throat and coughing. If yoga yesterday and today don't knock it out of me I'll just have to go tomorrow.  The bad thing was i had a coughing fit so bad i had to step out of the room :(  I guess I should have had some water!  Duh!

Two of my frequent instructors were at 2008 spring TT in Acapulco.  Kelly and Amanda both teach at the Ann Arbor studio. Today we went to the Plymouth studio and had Mark from Las Vegas (also a Sprint 1008 alum). After class Pedro took some snaps of me in the poses.  The next set will get taken in the weeks leading up to my departure (with any luck they will be better).  Two weekends from now I will be attending the women's yoga retreat.  These seminars really tend to help, not only in terms of poses, but in terms of focus, understanding and patience with self.  I know I tend to push to hard.  I used to do better in my poses until the accident.  I will get better though.. but only with patience.


Eazy breezy...

Okay, not easy; at least easier! Yoga was easier today. Sure my compressed disc bitched and moaned like a 5 year old being sent to bed when the adults are up having all the fun, but class was solid. No water. No leaving. No issues. Even the heat wasn’t overwhelming. Okay I admit there is a chance class wasn’t as hot as it aught to be, but give me my moment to revel why don’t you?! I need skimpier shorts too! It's not about how one looks... it’s about not futzing with clothing. Habits and excuses remember? I also need to take some pose shots now. I doubt I'll post them until I have the pre-TT and post-TT ones to put up with them for comparison ;)


Get that monkey off my back!

This is going to be a LONG haul. Habits and demons. Habits and demons. I had a truly crappy class yesterday. I do not know is it was because I'm not used to evening classes (I’d better darn get used to them again... I only have like 45 consecutive evening classes looming in my future), but it was brutal. The one good thing was that I am sticking religiously to my "no water in class" embargo. Yay me! It’s all in the little triumphs, eh.

I did up the ante though and refused to let myself out of the room. Filthy habit that… allowing oneself to leave the room when overwhelmed. It’s such a cop out. Quitters never win and winners never quit. If you think leaving the room for 2 min is okay as long as you go right back you’re only kidding yourself. Even if it’s not yoga, we all have our “leaving the room.” For some it’s conning yourself into thinking one small bit of cake will do no harm. True in calories but not in psyche. Dressing like a frump is another lie, simpler to deal with than the truth. It is nothing more than another self conning betrayal. Why do we let ourselves down? Most of us would never even consider betraying our friends the way we betray ourselves. What is your cop out? Do you even know? Did you tell yourself you could skip your workout today because you were too tired? Did you tell yourself you would join the gym next year when you were thinner? Are you skipping push-ups because you “can’t” do them? Who cares… certainly many of us don’t care enough about ourselves to push. So I challenge you… do something today that you’ve been telling yourself you can’t do. You will surprise yourself with the result!

170 days to go...



So I talked to HR to find out in detail the Leave of Absence policy. I learnt 2 things. Firstly, there once was a guy from Nantucket who... oh wait... wrong story. Back to my "firstly". There once was a guy who took a leave of absence from my place of employment to study yoga (many years ago). Signs of hope! The second thing i learnt was that Leaves of Absence are typically granted for periods up to and including 30 days off. 10 weeks in Acapulco does not for 30 days make. So, here's how it works for those wanting more than 30 days for non-medical reasons. One requests the Leave of Absence for 30 days and upon expiration it is up to the individual's manager if they wish to renew for another 30 days or not. It is also at the manager's discretion to grant the entire period prior to departure. Sooo, that leaves everything in my director's hands. I have my weekly one-on-one with him tomorrow. I will broach the topic and let things fall where they may.

I do think Master P is right when he says he thinks I should do another 60 day challenge. This is where one days 60 classes in 60 days. I did one before, but it would indeed be excellent preparation for teacher training. I need to prepare for yoga day in and day out.



Is 6 months ahead of time too far in advance to be considering what to pack? Those of you that know me are no doubt surprised I don't have a packing list yet (fret not, I have jotted a few ideas down). However, I really really think every girl should pack at least one Convertible Dress. it only makes sense. The more i think about it the more i think i need 2 different types. One simple black and one dramatic red/blue. It's better to focus on the food and clothing and prepare for the physical aspects than to ponder too long on the impending physical torment ;) Now... what to wear for PJs (my poor roommate).

Now... about filthy habits. We all develop them in life. In yoga they can stand between you and growing your practice. I am most annoyed at all the habits I have found in myself. I need to work through these before teacher training. First on my hit list is drinking water in class. So far I've done my last 2 classes water free. YAY me. Water in class disrupts your flow. not to mention putting water in your tummy which leads to blood flowing there to take care of it. This reduces ones energy. Then why do we drink water in class? It's a security blanket. It is simpler than dealing with one's emotions in class. Next i have to figure out why I need to pee in class. Got to stop the need to step out.


Moving forward

I've been talking to more people about the logistics and this is feeling like more of a reality.  Spring training runs from 12 April till 14 June 2009.  Monday to Friday one wakes up to an early class (for those of you do not know Bikram yoga, this is 90min in a 105F/41C room)  then we get brunch served.  After brunch there are lectures (anatomy, posture clinics and the like). Then in the evening there is another yoga class.  We get a dinner break (find your own food) followed by more lectures (that typically end between 11pm and 4am). ALL classes and lectures are mandatory. Saturday has one mandatory class in the morning. All other yoga classes over the weekend are optional. If my math is right it's 98 mandatory yoga classes in 62 days. That's 147hours of yoga (assuming you only get 90min classes, and Bikram is notorious for his 2hr evening classes). I'm thinking I may as well make it an even 100 by picking up some optional classes.  but I can see about that when I'm suffering day in and day out :)

I will have to pack and take certain supplies to ensure I have them.  Acapulco apparently only has granola bars and no energy or protein bars. Also, I will need electrolytes out the yin yang! I was thinking in yoga class today that I shall take a weekly reward.  End of week one I can open my jar of power butter.  End of week 2 I can get a fresh set of yoga togs, yes?  Ah the things we do for a little inspiration.


The big decision

This weekend brought a significant change for me.  I have decided to attend Bikram Yoga Teacher Training next spring. That is 6 months out.  This is a significant decision for anyone who takes this step, whether they know it at the time or not. I have been telling folks about this since my decision on Saturday morning. Each time I tell someone I am faced with new emotions.  The initial excitement was quickly replaced with trepidation.  Don't get me wrong, I am still VERY enthusiastic, but this decision is like stepping out in front of the cavern mouth brandishing a sword and yelling "Hey!  Whatever demons and dragons are in there come out and face me!" at the top of your lungs. Now I'm standing there thinking to myself "how the heck do I wield this friggin sword?!"

I'm still undecided as to whether i should post my journey over the next 6 months (emotionally and logistically that is).  Figuring out what to pack is one thing, figuring out how to fit it all in your bags is another. I do not know how some folks afford this.  I am thinking of those that become full time yoga instructors.  It's not like they get paid handsomely. Unless one had the money prior, one would spend an inordinate amount of time repaying said debt. better to focus on the plight on others rather than the amount of money I will be using out of our funds. yes, yes, I know once in a lifetime experience.  I pretty much get that or I would not be going :) One of the logistical experience I am not so worried about is being able to handle yoga, yoga, yoga.  I have already done a 60 day challenge (one does 60 yoga classes in 60 days).  I have done some doubles (2 classes in one day), which also alleviates that fear. In fact I did a double last Sunday.  Yoga for breakfast and advanced yoga for dinner. I will ensure I prepare myself physically for the challenge.  

The truth is of course that I'm just doing this so I can say "been there, done that, I have the t-shirt." specifically I think the t-shirt I will be talking about will be this one...