Saturday, March 29, 2008

Getting So Close!

Next week at this time I'll be cozied up in my room in Acapulco. I can hardly believe it! This week was eventful, so here are a few updates...I'll go backwards.

Today I spent getting organized and packing things I won't need between now and when I go. I neurotically updated my packing list to include another 20 things or so - highlights I'll call out: Heating pad (DUH!), laundry receptacle, Spanish phrase book, and I also detailed out the medications, etc. My list is getting shorter in terms of things I need to still get, and hopefully but being so prepared I won't get sick and will just have lots of stuff on hand for next fall's cold season! Today I did clothing and all of the "other" stuff; still have to organize the food/kitchen stuff, and the electronics. Oh, and I also went ahead and ordered a really cool water bottle that filters the crap outta everything, including "biological" contaminants - While it may seem a bit overboard - I mean, we are staying at a resort intended for rich white people - having the runs at Bikram training seems like a fate worse than death. So, I opted in on this little gadget, just in case.

Dialogue is going well. Christian and I met up this week daily for 1 hour and practiced. We both have a fairly decent command up through hands-to-feet (so, for the non-Bikram folks, that's basically the first posture, which has 4 parts though we only have to learn/be tested on 3 of them). We also had a private session with Saiko who was so generous with her time and attention, I was overwhelmed. She had us go through each posture, corrected us, and then we took photos! She said this was a great way to be able to see how much we progress in each posture as a result of training. Her battery died after Locust, so I have pictures up to there, and Christian will be getting me the remainder off of his camera. It was really interesting looking at myself from angles other than "in the mirror." I did 9:30 class, and then we did this at 12:00, so I was nice and warm. Overall, it was good stuff - many of my postures look respectable, a few look better than others, a few need some attention. So cool to see! Plus, Christian and I practice together a lot, so we never really get to see each other in practice - some of his postures were stunning, and that was fun to see too!

Here's my Locust...and a photo I will entitle, "If Only...." or perhaps better, "Someday"...

Practice has been really good - I find I'm looking at it in a whole other way, thinking about being a teacher. I had one really distracted practice, so the next day, I waited and went late in the day after I'd gotten a lot done - then I had a fantastic "I wouldn't wanna be anywhere on Earth but right here in this hot room doing this yoga" practice. And, of course, a few in between. I'm doing a double here and there, and otherwise just trying to take it easy and be gentle with myself (without going overboard) since in a week, I won't have a choice. Plus, ALL my teachers keep saying "take it easy" ... "pace yourself once you're there - don't be all gung-ho and hurt yourself"... etc.

Life otherwise is better - I dialed back expectations on my contract job, and have more-or-less wrapped up my organizing/personal assistant clients, and have my Lead Organizer, Susannah, set up to hold down the fort while I'm away. I went and got a massage which helped my shoulders immensely, worked in a couple chiropractor visits, got my teeth cleaned/check-up and have my annual physical on Monday. So all of the physical service providers will be up-to-date. I've given up on seeing all the people I want to see before I go; honestly, short of having an actual party (not happening!) it's hopeless. I saw my family on Easter which was great, and have touched base with most friends. I'm figuring 9 weeks will fly by, and I'll be back before anyone misses me...except Jill.

Jill has been so fantastic in supporting me getting ready, giving me room to be a stress case and bitch-slapping me as needed back into reality. Her birthday is Tuesday so I'm working super hard this weekend to be squared away so we can enjoy our her birthday, and our last week together. She got her ticket to come to Acapulco for my last week, to be there for graduation and take the last class with us (family members are invited! apparently Bikram just runs around and makes fun of them :) She's looking forward to a week of vacation, as she will have just come off of covering her business partner's maternity the timing is good.

This last week is such a mix of stuff - I want to stay calm, focus on my practice, and get up through awkward down pat (or relatively pat). I hope to get my house in good order so as not to leave Jill in the wake of my departure; spend some nice time with her, finish off my clients and stay sane! :) Here's hoping!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Whirling Nerves

I'm finding that my belly is a bucket of nerves. It's the same feeling I've had in the past few years before big life changes - my weight loss surgery, plastic surgery. leaving my job...all that same "oh-my-gawd-i'm-so-excited-at-the-same-time-may-i-please-run-away?" feeling.

Lately, I've been rattling on to anyone who will listen about the fact that I'm stressed, but trying to also impart how I'm also anxious and excited! It's all under control, but inside, my gut knows whats coming. And soon. This morning I was like "Jill, my shoulders are KILLING me! I think it's because I'm kicking out in second set Standing-Head-To-Knee, and I'm bending my elbows down and it's a lot of tension in my shoulders...."

She said, "Um, no, honey, you are stressed."

Duh! I didn't even think of that. It's like those times where (as a woman, anyhow) you look over a few days and say "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" because you got your period which explained your crankiness, tiredness, aches... but it didn't even occur to you when it was happening. So I am stressed, and it's ok. I'm trying to be all yogic about it - it's a moment, it's just time and it will pass and move along and I won't be in this place for long. Really.

Practice has been good lately! I got a bunch (re: Could've fed a small village in Africa for 2 months) of LuluLemon fit'outs the other day. My gawd are they cute; my gawd were they 'spensive! But, honestly, I've been all excited to wear my new things I can't wait to go to yoga everyday (though I think I'm through them all now, so that joy will expire shortly...alas.) But, I've had some really nice, challenging practices and not too many brutal ones. My teachers (who all know I'm going to training) have been very attentive and generous in their corrections, and I've felt some "ah-ha!" moments in a few postures.

For one, ok - others in training will get this - there is a line that says, "Right shoulder forward, open your chest like a flower petal blooming." No shit. That's the dialogue. No one I've ever been to says that; but, it's in the 1st side of 1/2 Moon - and you know what, the other day I tried it. I was well into the posture, leaning to the right, and I always try to correct my hips and shoulders (don't we all?) and I thought, "open your chest like a flower opening Jenn" and honestly, *I went to a whole new place* in the posture. I was actually in a straight line, or, well, moreso than ever before! So while some of the dialogue is hokey, honestly, some of it in practice makes more sense than one would think.

Secondly, I shortened up my step in Triangle. Why this never occurred to me I don't know. But not that I'm some triangle-machine or anything, but it's looking MUCH more like the pictures :) I've also recommitted to my Balancing Stick, and Rabbit. Not that I didn't like those two, I just had gotten lazy in them I think.

On the other hand, Christian and I are dialogue machines. Now that I'm over pneumonia, and he's over his horrible cold, we have a mere week to practice dialogue together. We've got Half Moon (right side) nailed - this is the only one you do for Bikram himself in front of all 300 people. We're also both pretty much good with Half Moon Backwards. He's way ahead of me on Hands-to-Feet, but I'm working on it! We have a private session scheduled with Saiko on Thursday, and she wants us both to be able to do up through the 1st part of Awkward; and Christian wants us up through Eagle by the day we start. That's the first 1/2 hour of the class (minus breathing, which you do very last).

More to come! Everybody together, feet together at the line, heels and toes touching each other. Arms over the head sideways, palms together....... :)

p.s. I further updated the packing list! Added bug spray and Thermometer based on my Facebook pal Leslie's suggestion that some mosquitos there transmit fevers and malaria. Good times!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Email #1 From Bikram Training

We got this email today, from Shelly, the administrative coordinator of training. My favorite line is highlighted in green :)!
Hi everyone,
Just a few notes on what to expect at Spring 2008 Teacher Training in Acapulco.
Transportation to the Hotel is available for a charge of $30. Please email Juan Solis; if you need this service.
For anyone who has booked a room and needs a confirmation number, or if you need to book an early arrival: email
Rooms are double occupancy. You have until the 28th March if you would like to request a roommate.
Internet service is available at $50 per month.
Two mini refrigerators are provided in each room.
There is a complimentary Bikram buffet each day during lunch break.
The hotel is offering a laundry service pick-up, $3 per kg. There are also laundry facilities near by the hotel.
Please bring clothing to cover up before and after yoga class. It is not acceptable to walk around the hotel's premises wearing only yoga clothes.
Please bring your own yoga mat. Towels will be provided for yoga class.
It is a simple request. Bikram does not ask much of you during the nine weeks. Please pay him this simple courtesy.
There will be staff available to answer your question when you arrive in Acapulco, so there is no need to respond to this email..
I wish you all a safe trip down to Mexico, and a great experience in the 9 weeks to follow.
In Gratitude of my Life,

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Practicing Again

Pneumonia is not fun. I was down for the count for a whole week -- no practices at all. Sunday, I went to Bikram and it was ok; Monday (here I'm 'coming out' as someone who does {gasp!} other yoga) I did Power Vinyasa (also heated...and hard!); Tuesday another mediocre Bikram...and yesterday, I had a banner, lovely, euphoric Bikram class!!!!!!!! I wanted to cry, I was so afraid my love affair was over, that I took off a whole week and now, I'd never find love like that again.

No, I'm not dramatic or extreme at all. Ever.

Anyhow, yesterday was amazing, today, back to mediocre, I had a tummy ache and something in there wasn't quite right, still, though, I had a nice, respectable practice. Now, from here on out, practice will be daily - I'll probably go to a few Power classes just to shake it up while I still can. And of course, outside of that, dialogue dialogue dialogue. I got behind when I was sick (no focus) and then I got an unexpected contract job that is taking up, well, 40 hours of my time each week until I leave. Couldn't pass up the cash, especially with the cost of training...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I want my Bikram back!

Being sick sucks! I started antibiotics today for what my doc thinks is walking pneumonia. I would rather be lying in a pool of my own sweat, in a sweet, post-practice savasana....but rather, I'm lying in a pool of my own sweat in my bed, after a mid-day sicky nap. I miss yoga! But without a doubt, resting is key right now. I want to be 100% by the time I depart for training. Still, this is a crappy set-back and a big bummer. More soon!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

No Practice Again Today

Being sick sucks. I've got a wicked cold/flu thing and I'm down for the count. I haven't practiced since my poor performance on Sunday evening, a class I usually adore. Monday seemed smart to take off; Tuesday seemed logical...and today, well, today was non-negotiable. Believe me, there would be no semblance of a silent practice with me in the room hacking and sneezing and blowing my nose!

I added a few links of people who I've found who've got to teacher training, or who blogged their 30-day challenges. I'll keep adding as I find'em.

In other news, I updated my packing list below based on (very much appreciated) comments from everyone; received my new yoga mat (Gaiam's Red Koi Fish Mat), and tried out my new Magic Bullet blender, in an attempt to make a smoothie. It actually came out ok, and there are only about 200,823 recipes in the world for the "perfect smoothie" but I'm working on a formula for maximum bang-for-the-calories while at training. Today's was super simple:

2 tbsp. peanut butter (all natural)
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1/2 banana

It could've used a pinch of salt, truth be told. And I'm reading about people putting Emergen-C packets in, or other electrolyte supplement thingys. One bummer about Mexico is that, well, it's a foreign country - it's not like when training was in LA and you could run to the smoothie shop next door, or scoot to LuLuLemon on the weekend and grab a new top, etc. However, I know Costco's are like any store - they cater to the culture of the area, still, I'm hoping they have Vitamin Water or Gatorade or the like. Some are recommending up to 2x your normal caloric intake for training! This worries me in that one thing seems to be for certain: Mine is not a normal body with a normal metabolism. So, I'll need to figure my balance of "enough" additional calories, and not so many that I come back fatter. Reading Tom's teacher training blog (see link to the right), he lost 15 pounds but reported other people gaining weight due to eating 'for two.' After all I've done to get here, I just don't want to go backwards!

Any suggestions for YOUR perfect smoothie would gladly be accepted! It's like anything, there are so many out there it's hard to really discern the ideal, other than trial and error. So much is personal preference...still, I'd love ideas!

Here's hoping I get to go to yoga again soon, but I want to really be better before I do. No messing around with training on the horizon!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What to bring!

I feel like the logistics of this thing are even bigger than I thought. I realize the approach of "it'll all be fine. just chill." is reasonable...however, being removed to a foreign land for 9 weeks of intensity and do I daresay, duress, makes one seriously consider the requirements, creature comforts and non-negotiables. With that, I thought I'd post my list and likely adjust/add to this post to help other people going, but also to act as my checklist! For most of you not going to tt, reading on from here will be, well, boring. And it still may be even if you are!

Yoga Stuff:
1 Mat (I gotta new, cool one), My Dialogue (printed and my CD of it in mp3), Yoga Outfits (11 bras, 11 shorts, 11 headbands, hair elastics for pig-tails); yoga mat wipes, 2 small hand towels.

Kitchen Stuff
Appliances (no kitchen, only a fridge): Mini electric kettle, 3-cup (plastic) french press, Magic Bullet (Blender), electric egg cooker (hard/soft boils & poaches); can opener; knife to cut fruit, baby cutting board; small spatula. Small plastic containers for lugging snacks around and storing any food leftovers/or things I make (tuna salad, egg salad...). Sponge for dishes.

Food: Protein Powder & Peanut Butter (morning smoothie/protein drink); Nuts (Tamari Almonds (addiction)); trail mix (one salty/one sweet); mayo, canned tuna, dried cranberries & onions; crackers; 2 cases of Luna Bars; teabags; loose tea/teaball; ground coffee; other "just add hot water!" items - soup packets, oatmeal; salt; sugar; favorite chocolate :)

Regular Clothes:
2 pair of shorts/crop pants, 6-10 t-shirts (1/2 performance, 1/2 casual), 5-8 tank tops/sleeveless shirts (1/2 performance, 1/2 casual); 1 pair of jeans, 2 skirts; 5 long-sleeve shirts (1/2 performance, 1/2 casual); two light jackets; 1 hoodie; 2 bathing suits; 2 bathing suit cover ups; 3 regular bras; 15 undies; 6 little white socks; pajamas (2-3, warm/cold); 2 pair of black socks; flip-flops; pumas; brown sandals; black sandals; shoes for graduation; 2 dresses (graduation/dinner on saturdays?); slippers; non-workout hairbands.


My pillow! Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, soap (bar), shower gel, face wash; lush shower bar); exfoliating gloves, foot scrubber, razor and replacement blades, Make-up (mascara/eyeliner, eyeliner sharpener; lip gloss, eyeshadow, baby perfume); face lotion, powder, body lotion, foot lotion, hand lotion, lip balm, feminine hygiene supplies, tweezers, nail clippers, nail file (emery board); deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss; contacts, contact case, contact cleaner, re-wetting drops; back-up eyeglasses; jewelry (for off-times; NO jewelry at all is allowed during class); hair bands/barrettes; sunblock lotion; hand sanitizer/ antibacterial wipes; sunglasses; sun hat; face care items from julie; blow dryer; curling iron; hair brush; tape measure; laundry bin (or bag); ice bag and heating pad!

Electronics (two 3-prong power strips; 3-prong small extension cord; Macbook, extra battery, charger; Ipod Nano & charger; Iphone & charger; Camera, USB, charger; voice recorder, instructions, AAA batteries; JBC iPod player for room; a few books; office supplies (notebook & pens for notetaking in classes, post-it's, index cards, highlighters, small scissors, paper clips, tape, blank CDs (for sharing files and photos with folks!)); Bikram's 2 books; Acapulco guide book; Spanish phrase book; pics of my honey/family/kittens; ID/Passport/Credit Card/Cash. Eye shade and ear plugs (roommate); Laundry soap & portable clothesline; tide-to-go/oxy-clean stick.

Medication (advil, tylenol, ammodium, nightquil, cold/sinus, benedryl, tums, pepto bismal; nasal spray; cough drops; throat spray); RX's (thyroid, ambien, metrogel, few others); pill box; general "first aid kit" (bandaids, neosporin, hydrocortisone cream, ben-gay); thermometer; bug spray. Portable kleenex (1 or 2); vitamins/supplements.

Did I forget anything??

Monday, March 10, 2008


Dialogue! The Dialogue is where I am spending a chunk of today, promising myself to have half-moon (first part) nailed by bedtime tonight. I am down to the last paragraph! The hard thing is all of the "the's" and "your's" that is to say.... "Arms over YOUR head...Interlock THE fingers..." but slowly they're becoming clearer to me and I'm messing them up less.

There are 41 pages of dialogue that fill the 90-minute class which you (technically) are to have memorized PRIOR to training. Most people say they get up to about Triangle, or at least through Eagle...or at least half-moon...or or - I guess it'll just be what it is. Also, the dialogue has an ESL 'flair' to it, shall we say, so some of what you have to say sounds, well, incorrect in terms of grammar (arms always touching with the ears), or is an odd choice of preposition (weight IN the heels, not ON the heels...) or just an odd phrase (open like a flower petal blooming).

Saiko offered to help me and set me a deadline to memorize up to Eagle by the 20th. I work well with a deadline, so I'm glad for it! Also, ck, (my best friend and bikram-training-companion) and I are slated to start spending some time together to go through dialogue with each other. He's investigating options for recording CDs ourselves so we can listen in the car, on the iPod, etc. It's so challenging, but the whole thing is, so I'm setting my intention to believe I am good at this, and I can do it!

Practice Report:
1- 10, 10 being debilitating hard, and 1 being a breeze...

Physically: 4 standing/8 floor
Emotionally: 3 standing/8 floor
Heat Factor: 6

Comments: Yesterday I did 5 p.m. with Saiko (again! :) and ug, what a rough one. I started to feel some, er, intestinal distress in padahastasana right in the beginning; got through standing pretty ok but the floor was brutal. I made it through, but by the end, I felt super sick and later in the evening, had a wicked tummy ache, sore throat beginnings and...well, a bit more intestinal distress. So, today is a day off - still feeling not well, and though Bikram says "you're never too old, too sick..." I disagree today, I'm too sick.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Prepping Prepping

Yesterday I did a bunch of funny little things today - requested menus from the hotel, started my Amazon list, posted a bit on the facebook group that has a whopping 5 of us in it so far, and of course, practiced! Tomorrow is more of the same. And, I think I'm getting a cold. Damn.

Saiko again today, always a lovely class:
1- 10, 10 being debilitating hard, and 1 being a breeze...
Physically: 6.5
Emotionally: 4
Heat Factor: 6
Comments:Good, hard challenging class with a lull around balancing stick and low point during triangle - on the other side of that, I perked up a lot and the rest of class was nice, athletic and effective. Met a girl who just started this week and did 5 classes! She was sweet, we chatted after and I gave her all my new-person-pep-talkin' that I tend to do :)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Teacher Training Explained

Teacher Training, abbreviated tt by most, is actually held by Bikram himself, though loads of other people teach classes and seminars and lectures. For our training, there will be about 300 people from all over the world. There are several components to the training (see the official curriculum here), but in a nutshell...

1) Anatomy
2) Dialogue
3) Practice
4) Posture Clinic
5) Logistics/Practicalities

Anatomy is taught in relation to each posture - and in my usual classes, I love this! "You are compressing the thyroid and parathyroid..." ... "You are massaging your liver..." Bikram is a yoga that impacts your body from the inside-out, and when you're suffering/struggling in a posture, for me anyhow, knowing the goodness that comes from it helps! I want to share this with my students because I know it helps me!

Dialogue is known as "the dialogue" - 41 pages of words the teacher speaks during the 90-minute class, barely taking a break. Again, this consists of getting you in and out of the posture safely, explaining the benefits of the posture, offering corrections and advice on how to go deeper if you are able. The glitch here is that you must learn it VERBATIM - and a lot of it has an ESL quality since Bikram is not a native English speaker... "arms always with the ears" and stuff like this, where we would say "arms always with your ears" or whatnot.

Practice - oh, the kicker. The thing that instills the fear of gawd in us all - Monday through Friday, 2 practices a day (9:30 and 5:00 I think), plus one on Saturday morning...then rest Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. Of course "rest" means you study and memorize dialogue, prepare for anatomy exams, etc.

Posture clinics are where you learn the intricacies of each and every posture, and then give the dialogue in front of your group. You have to "pass" each posture to graduate.

Logistics/Practicalities - Additionally, you get lectures on yogic philosophy & history, how to project/protect your voice and the business logistics of opening your own studio.

The day looks like this (M-F) roughly:

9:30 - 11:00 ish Practice
11:00 - 12:30 Lunch
12:30 - 5:00 Lectures, Posture Clinics
5:00 - 6:30ish Practice
6:30 - 8:00 Dinner
8:00 - 10:30, or 12:00, or 2:00 a.m. Lectures/Posture Clinics (no kidding)

8:00 a.m. Practice

In the end, you are a Certified Bikram Method Yoga Teacher, and after 6 months of teaching, you are eligible to open your own studio. Additionally, for me, you get to say (in my case, hopefully....) that you survived tt.

T-Minus 4 Weeks

We got back from Mexico late Thursday night, and yesterday, I did a 9:30 practice and then 4:00 practice. The morning one wasn't too hot - a mellow welcome back - but then at the 4 p.m., the heat was downright broken, so it was a little warm but mostly, uh, tepid yoga. I can't complain, as doing a double after essentially 6 days off was a hearty goal! Today, just one. I'm sore from Bikram in the cold I think!

I thought about ranking my shall I go about it? 1-10 scale with these categories:
Heat Factor:
Anything else? So for yesterday, I'd say:

9:30 -
Physically: 4
Emotionally: 2
Heat Factor: 2
Comments: Overall, it was a nice, good, solid Bikram class. I only had a couple times where I felt slightly overwhelmed by the heat and a little annoyed with my new shorts.

4:00 -
Physically: 5
Emotionally: 1
Heat Factor: 1
Comments: No heat, but I situated next to a small wall heater that burned my toes during locust, as they were inches away from blarring heat! I got bored, actually, in that usually I'm so focused on my practice under the duress of heat, it was kinda dull just :) And, the heat really opens you up - Jill and I both noticed lots of postures were harder without the warmth. I guess it goes to show how valuable the heat factor is!

I will be on a plane 4 weeks from today headed to Acapulco. I am terrified and excited. Perhaps that should be the re-name of this blog..."Terrified & Excited"... :) Yesterday I did a bunch of "homework" and figured out where the Costco is in relation to our hotel; where our hotel is in relation to the downtown area (technically, it's a "Suburban Hotel" - which is good in that we may be able to find regular-people grocery stores and laundromats, but bad in that you are truly resort-trapped most of the time). We are staying at the Fairmont Princess Acapulco. The upside is that it's got a lot of services (5 pools, spa, tons of restaurants) the downside is that it's its own microcosm so unless you take a taxi 20 minutes into town, you are stuck there; and having just gotten back from a slightly-outta-the-way-Mexican-resort, though there were several eateries they basically had all the same foods everywhere, which I was sick of after 2'll all get figured out, but considering the stressful situation the whole training is, these are the things that make me most nervous outside of training itself:

1) Money - Again, having just gotten back from a resort in Cabo, running up a bill takes no effort at all. Jill and I wracked up a somewhat shocking final bill on what seemed like snacks and little meals. I know myself, and under duress, I will spend money to feel better (room service, spa, etc.) so I will need to be super careful.

2) Food - Since I had weightloss surgery a couple years back, I do have food restrictions as to what will "go down", how fast I can eat, and how often I need to eat. The lunch buffet is provided daily, which is great! One of my teachers, however, suggested that "With just an hour for lunch, you're not gonna wanna stand in a long line and waste that precious, you have to shower after the morning class..." so the option of grabbing a big plateful and stuffing it down isn't going to work for me. So, I'm working on my "food plan" with these goals in mind: 1) I don't gain weight 2) I eat enough to not get hauled off to a Mexican hospital on a stretcher and 3) I don't spend insane amounts of money on mediocre high-calorie foods out of convenience/laziness.

3) Foreign Land - I don't know a lick of Spanish, and sadly, being in a foreign country presents its challenges. For example, past students in LA or Hawaii easily found off-site Chiropractors, Massage Therapists, etc. - here, well, I wouldn't know where to start, so I'll be relegated to the $2/minute+ massages at the resort, etc. Again, it'll all work out and be fine, but it is a stress-adding factor for me.