Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End of 2008 and End of Yogabootcamp Blog!

Well, the year is over - and wow - what a year in terms of yoga for me! A year ago, I had just finished up my first 60-day challenge after getting serious about my practice a mere 3 months earlier...and then the decision to go to training...and then actually GOING to training...and now teaching since June. I could rattle on forever, as you all know, but I won't. I'll just wrap up the year - and this blog (I'll have a new one...see below) - in this post.

There is a lot to say - about the yoga, about teaching, and about my practice in particular. I am happy to report I still love the yoga, without question. I want everyone to do it but I realize (now) that it's not for everyone, though ideally that decision is made after giving it an honest go :) It continues to be a thread of goodness that weaves through my life in many, many ways - on and off the mat. I'm honestly grateful for it.

Teaching is a whole journey of a different kind. It is at it's most basic level - at times - a job. Other times, it's the most amazing experience - giving the yoga to people who want, need and love the yoga is a privilege I truly enjoy. Sometimes it's exhausting, other times it's energizing. Sometimes I just don't want to go to work - but I love teaching. I have evolved so much already, and I realize it's just the tip of the iceberg. It's so much like my practice in so many ways - ebbs and flows, easy and hard, focused and not-so-much, seemingly flawless for mere moments followed up by feeling like an utter disaster...but always with a strong dedication and effort which I can hold my head up and feel good about. I've taught many classes - I'm not sure exactly how many, but somewhere around 125 or more so far...

My practice - wow. I did 294 classes this past year, that of course, with the influx of 100ish at training. I seem to average about 5x/week without too much negative impact to my body or schedule or mind. That said, some weeks it's not enough, other weeks, it feels like too much. So I give myself permission to do what feels right - being honest with myself and limiting my lameness around being lazy or just planning poorly. My postures are coming along, and my focus has been really good over the past couple months. I'm setting goals for 2009 - a few around posture-specific stuff, a few around habits. I think it'll be good. And it will.

One thing related to both aspects is that Jill is now dedicated to doing Bikram yoga 4x/week, sometimes 5, but very rarely less. It's fun to take class with her, or have her take one of my classes - and it's nice to have someone at home who's into it, simply put. She's really into her backbending, and is working on her Standing Head to Knee, and it's fun to watch her progress.

Where to from here? Well, since this blog was really intended to detail my teacher training experience (and, well, I can honestly say I think I got'it done :) I'm going to close this blog out with this post. I'm going to keep writing about the yoga, it's impact on my life personally in terms of taking, teaching, and how it all impacts my body (in many ways, including weight loss/maintenance), my mind and my life in general.

Please join me there in the future:

Yoga to the people! Thanks for reading :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Acapulco Day 8: Sunday (the end...)

Advanced class!!! I did it, first off. Finally, after wanting to try it for a long, long time, I did the Advanced Series and lived to tell about it!

Secondly, I did it with Christian, which was so cool since we did our first Bikram class together back in September of 2006...he recently went to Jason Winn's weekend advanced workshop, so he was excited to get to do it again so soon. Anyhow, it was just 6 of us, 3 who have done it extensively, and Kylie, from Brisbane, who was also doing it for the first time. Can I just say: IT WAS SO COOL. Teisha and Dale taught, and were so generous and supportive of us all, giving us time to really try each one - we took the better part of 2 hours, when 90 minutes is the goal - super kind of them to take the time though, I appreciated it so much, because I've wanted to do it for so long.

Here's why, and Christian had said this and I'll second it: You get to feel like a beginner again. That is, you're doing postures thinking, "No way in bloody hell will I EVER be able to do this one. No way. No way." I remember feeling that in the beginning series back in that fateful first class with Nina, and guess what, I can do all of the Beginning class relatively respectably. Second, it was crazy to experience FEAR again - there were a good handful that I could feel my fear stopping me. I think fear in yoga is normal, at first, it might even be wise - your body is telling you that perhaps you aren't strong enough to do something safely. But, usually, I think fear is just that: Fear. And I felt it! Crow, I'm always worried I'll break my wrists. Headstand - what a different view of the world. Handstand? Hopeless....for now. And you know my takeaway in terms of my own practice? Joy! Joy to have a new set of challenges, material to work on, to practice, to grow into.

And as a teacher? What better way to re-visit the experience my students are having when they show up for their first Bikram class. To relate to how they feel when they first see someone do Fixed Firm when their knees are screaming; or when they look at Eagle with utter confusion, and you can see that look on their face that says, "No f'ing way, man." Such a good reminder of all of these things - that it's easy for the teacher to say "Don't scare" but you know what? It's still scary sometimes!!! And overcoming fear, learning patience as your body slowly grows into a posture, whatever it is for you - it's your practice - and it's good for me as a student and a teacher to be reminded of all this. Now, if someone in Seattle would just please please please start holding advanced!!! (We're working on it in a grass roots kinda way, but no luck yet :(

From there, Christian, Kylie and I had lunch and I headed out to the airport, got to Houston, and then hopped on my flight back to Seattle.

Final thoughts on the trip?

- I'm so glad I went back, esp. while training is still in Acapulco. It was important for me to revisit my experience in the same environment/space I was in as a student. (It's rumored to be moving again, to Palm Springs is the word on the street).
- I loved it! I loved supporting the students as a peppy visiting teacher and hopefully providing a little relief/support to the hard-working staff.
- Oh, and I did get a good appreciate for that too, the staff and how incredibly hard their jobs are too. I figured and always felt that they must be exhausted too, and indeed, it's true. Those are some hard jobs they signed up for.
- It was great to get to take 11 classes from senior teachers, as well as getting to do advanced.
- Posture clinics were super fun to do, and helped me revisit the dialogue myself, and re-commit to some things I'd drifted from already.
- It was fun to be a teacher, have choices, visit and talk to other teachers and experience the whole thing from a different point of view.
- How was it compared to my training? Again, I don't think you can compare. I think there have been some really positive changes made, and at the same time, I can't imagine going through training in a way different from what I experienced. I am sad for this gang not to have Craig, who for me was the person who pushed me on and off the mat in a way I will always be grateful for; but that said, people get what they need and I expect the folks in training now are getting what they need.
- I enjoyed my Huevos Rancheros at the buffet everyday, I cannot tell a lie.

I'm excited to get back in the hot room as a teacher - I've got 8 classes this coming week which will be great! I head to yoga-less Arkanses in about 10 days with Jill, and we're there for 10 days - so that will be a total yoga break and that will be ok. I've been hauling ass on the yoga since September 1st, and it's been great, but a little time away always makes the heart grow fonder for it, at least in my case :)

Hit your mat soon if you haven't lately!!! :)

p.s. A few favorites heard this week in classes....

"Time is over."
"Think of it...."
"All your life you pull someone else's leg, now you learn how to pull your own heels..."
"Get your f'ing hips DOWN."
"Nothing happening."

And one last thought - I really didn't remember Bikram himself using so much of the dialogue, verbatim. Over and over in his classes this week I was shocked and surprised at the amount and detail of the dialogue coming out of his mouth. With added color, of course :)

Pix: Christian & I after Advanced; and a few final images of the pretty sunshine in Mexico, and random shots from TT, including Chunky & Kimi, the resident Golden Retrievers; Todd with Orange Jug; and me and BJ, who practices at my home studio and is kickin' ass and takin' names at training!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Acapulco Day 7: Saturday

Well, Saturday Todd did me the honor of going to morning class with me...most likely because there isn't an afternoon class on Saturday. It was the 3rd class with Marlin for the week, and it was good. The hard thing about Saturday morning is that no one wants to be there. It's the last "i" to dot and "t" to cross for a day and a half of glorious freedom, and it just feels forever (as I remember it). At the same time, once class starts, it's easy to just focus on the fact that in 90 minutes, no one owns you for nearly 48 hours! What joy! Still, Saturday classes bring a combination of frustrated, angry, tired and just plain lame energy.

And, let's couple that vibe in the room with the *wicked* sore throat I awoke with. Oy. I brought a cough drop and drank more water than I even wanted to just to soothe my throat. It was by far my lamest class of the week, but I did it! All 11 classes, which was my goal and commitment to myself in return for the spending of $$ to go. Plus, I must say in the end, a week of doubles felt like pure luxury! It was the only thing I actually *had* to do; normally I ain't got that kinda time, you know? I'm usually running between teaching and clients and my practice and my girlfriend and my friends and my family and and to just have a week to do yoga, help out with posture clinics, and kick it with Todd watching trashy TV and eating pretty decent food, well, I'm feeling grateful!

Another super exciting event was the owner of a local affiliated studio was visiting, and I was able to meet with her and land some classes (finally!!!) at an affiliated studio! I'm really excited and will begin in November, initially plugging gaps in the schedule, and then hopefully getting a few established classes going forward. We'll see how it goes! My next step now is to look at my big picture and perhaps start to limit the number of studios I'm at in the near future, which will also hopefully make room for some of the new kids coming up from training.

Mid-afternoon Christian arrived and had lunch with Todd, and then he and I visited by the pool while Todd continued his quest to beat my score on Wurdle (didn't happen, fyi). Then the three of us went to dinner at our favorite, 100% Natural, which we all agreed tasted far better when we were in training than it did this trip :) Everything is relative, I suppose. From there, we just all headed back to chill out and do a little packing to go home.

At some point I ran into Louis (staffer) who told me that there was ADVANCED CLASS IN THE MORNING! I nearly screeched with joy! I have wanted to do advanced ever since the day after we graduated, when it was offered but I was up from training to drag myself there. I've kicked myself for missing the opportunity for a long time. So, tomorrow, it's my first Advanced Class! Yay!!

Me and Todd after our last class together; Half Tortoise set up; me after class; Todd with his companion, my iPhone, playing Wurdle; Room 712, the room I lived in for 9 weeks in the Spring; Todd & I NOT all sweaty on our way to dinner; Christian being a goofball with his longed-for 100% Natural Pineapple with Camerones!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Acapulco Day 6: Friday

Friday already! I'm so sad :( I can't believe my week here is about to come to a close - it went so flippin' fast, I can hardly believe it! Today was really just more of the same. Morning class at 8:30 was pretty damn hot, but I had a decent practice. Marlin taught again, and I liked her class more this time. First time was fine, this time was just better. Then I came back, fetched Todd and we went to lunch before heading to Posture Clinic.

We both participated in Posture Clinic this afternoon - my group finished up Separate Leg Stretching and started Triangle. I again was with Louis who again gave me ample opportunity to participate. We essentially took turns, alternating whoever went up. Both groups I had (ironically) had before, so it was cool to see people developing and getting better at it.

Afternoon class with was with Bikram. I went in and noticed a crazy gap in the room, right in front of the podium. The last night he taught, the second row was sparse and he was like, "What is up in Row 2? Did someone shit there or something!?!" And was not happy. So I asked a staffer if we should have people move up to fill it in, and indeed, he agreed. So Todd and I helped with moving people up and over - this kind of action has really helped me "see it from the other side" as it was not at all a 'power trip' (and hopefully our asking/directing people to move did not make it seem like one). Rather, it was just a respectful (re: wise) thing to do to help ensure a good (mood) class. And in the end, class was a lot of fun - I had a really strong class and it felt great. I even rocked Triangle, which seems like a small miracle these days. It again was pretty sweaty, but Bikram told the class after Pranayama that they'd have the night off if no one sat down, and no one went out of the room....and they did it! So, tonight was a night off - a huge morale boost to say the least. (NOTE: Later, two of the gals I moved who I knew were strong but did *not* want to be moved told me that they had the best class since they started, and being in front of him helped bring out their best. I told them it was proof, that we all get exactly what we need at training!)

Todd and I took out BJ from my studio and her roommate, Cheri. We went to this little Italian place off-site which was perfect - a few minutes away, something different and tasty, but didn't take up too much time since we're all pooped from the week. One more class tomorrow morning, and possibly one on Sunday. It's been really fun to be here, and I'm sad it's over already, but I'm also excited to get back to Jill, my life and teaching and all that!

Todd and I outside after afternoon class - it was already DARK! :( Me, below, after morning practice and my mushroom/truffle oil risotto at dinner. :)

Thunder & Lightning in Acapulco

A little taste of last night's storm over the Pacific Ocean in Acapulco, Mexico last night.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Acapulco Day 5: Thursday

Ahhhh... a day of rest. Sort of.

Today I got up for 8:30 a.m. practice, Todd again opted out :( so off I went on my own. Diane D. from Boston who is an amazing teacher taught. The room is now outfitted with 13 fans and the back doors are opened up around the balancing series and kept open. Today, I didn't get my usual sweat on (my hair wasn't soaked all the way through even) but I did have a really nice practice. There was a new student in the room and I was close by so I got to assist her a little, which was really fun (I realize I've really missed teaching!!) It was a nice class, though my hamstrings are soooooo tight, and for the first time in an eon, I "felt" my hips in fixed firm, which never happens for me. Ouch!).

After lunch, Todd convinced me to stay with him today and hang out at the pool. We first made a quick Wal-Mart run, walking over and then cabbing back with more water and a few other odds and ends. Then a few hours by the pool which frankly, ended way too soon. We were off to 5 p.m. class with Bikram.

What a fun class! Bikram was pretty serious, but for me, I just had a really nice, solid class. He made all the women sit and had all the men do a 3rd set of Balancing Stick, commenting on how this is a terrible posture for men and they can't do it, adding that they can all easily do Rabbit, which many women are terrible at. Thankfully, he did not make all the women do and extra set of Rabbit. :) Todd was along and made fun of me as I had on a new outfit with the tiniest bit of green in the pattern, so he kept telling me I looked like Kermit the Frog and was sure to be called out and sent home. Nice. Afternoon class had a nice heat - hot but not debilitating, but challenging good heat - still with circulation due to the fans and open doors. My hair was appropriately soaked through by the end!

The group is moving along in their process. Way fewer people leaving the room, improved (but still a fair amount sitting cross-legged vs. in Firm pose or savasana) discipline for many when they do take a knee or lay down, and a few still cramping up and/or having very emotional releases who do step out of the room or too the back.

I felt a bit guilty not doing posture clinic today, but it was nice to just do the yoga and enjoy a little of the nice weather! I cannot believe it's already Friday tomorrow, and I'll be doing my last double. I plan to do Saturday morning class, lay by the pool all day and I might even be able to squeeze in a Sunday practice if I'm well-prepared! It's very interesting being here on the 'other side' and it'll be interesting to see how I look back on it and how it impacts my teaching once I'm home. For now, I can say I have a new dedication to Standing Head to Knee and Standing Bow dialogue, after hearing each one about 50 times! :)
Above, a big sweaty post-p.m.-yoga hug with Todd; Katie & BJ from my home studio; Me after morning class with semi-dry hair; Todd and I by the pool; and there are those new, ubiquitous FANS IN THE ROOM!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Acapulco Day 4: Wednesday

Wednesday's over already and other than the day I arrived, and 1 hour otherwise, I've barely seen the sun! Today was more of the same - I did the morning class, sans Todd who opted to chill out today...I missed having him there, and instead practiced with Manali. It was taught by Mike W. from Houston, who is Marshall's studio owner. During my training, I wasn't in a good space when he taught and I didn't really connect to his class. However, today, I really, really enjoyed it. I also saw his influence on Marshall and told him that clearly, Marshall is a little protege. :)

Lunch followed with some teachers and then I helped BJ (from the studio I practice at in Fremont) and a few of her pals with dialogue. I showed them a couple techniques - the round robin thing that worked for many (but not all) people; the first word/first letter thing that I did as well as the somewhat different version that Todd did...mostly just giving them a bunch of things to try to see what works, since everyone is different and what works is different for everyone. It's getting to the time when many who memorized at home are 'running out' of postures they know well, so many are having their first difficult delivery since they are entering unchartered waters. I just keep telling them not to worry, they will learn it, it will pour out of their mouth one day, eventually, in the future :)

Posture clinic followed with one of the staffers, Jelena (Yelena). We alternated giving feedback and it was great fun - most of the room was on and finished with their Standing Bow Pulling Pose. It's amazing what you see from the teacher's seat - so much potential masked by nervousness and fear in many cases. I know that was me! I was so nervous almost every time, and afraid of not doing well, and sometimes knowing I went up there ill-prepared, all of it. It's nice being back so soon in that I 'get it' - I feel like it was me up there not 5 minutes ago. Everyone is doing great though, working hard, trying and getting (slogging?) through. You can really see how some of them are going to just be kick ass teachers as soon as they just let go and let themselves come out.

Afternoon practice was taught by Marlin, a very old-school teacher whose been at it since 1985 (when I was in 8th grade!). She taught a relatively low-dialogue class as a result, because she is considered "pre-dialogue" - it was fun and now, the room has been outfitted with (wait for it) FANS along the top of the room, mounted there, 4 on each side and 4 on the back wall. In addition, the back doors are now opened around balancing series and mostly kept open throughout class. Not that I'd compare my training to this one, but man, I must say, there was a moment when I thought "I'd have given my first born for fans like this in my training." They said "Whoever complains that it's too cold will have a make-up." It was surely a different experience than my first few days here, and also in comparison to the Spring training.

Todd and I just hung out for the evening time, had room service and watched some trashy tv. Super fun, I was beat and went to bed around 10 - another luxury I'd have killed for during my training! Bikram apparently lectured until 1 a.m. :)

Above, Todd and I after a windy, fresh afternoon practice; below, me after my lonely morning class; my eggs being cooked up before my eyes; and a little pic from study time on the lawn.