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