Friday, June 27, 2008

Going to Training? Part 3: Dialogue and Study Suggestions

Learn the dialogue before you go.
Learn the dialogue before you go.
Learn the dialogue before you go.
Learn the dialogue before you go.
Learn the dialogue before you go.
Learn the dialogue before you go.
Learn the dialogue before you go.
Learn the dialogue before you go.

Did I mention....Learn the dialogue before you go?

And know that if you don't, you'll be ok. In fact, there was something (for me, the extrovert) about being a part of the minutia of the experience, staying up late, studying with people you hardly knew but there you were, rocking out postures at 1 a.m. and doing great in posture clinic the next day. There is something to be said for the 'group suffering' part of it; however, that's coming from someone who only had (roughly) up to Eagle when I got there. I'm sure those who had it done will tell you of blissful nights of sleep, regular opportunities to practice empathy, and the opportunity to help others. :)

Todd suggested I blog this topic as it was a huge part of training - as big as, and often worse than, doing the yoga itself. This was so different for different people too! The experience around the dialogue was intense all around, but it came easy for some, seemed impossible for others, and for the bulk of us, once we got a study system that worked, and frankly, just got the hang of doing it, it happened with a medium/reasonable amount of struggle.

The thing to think about is this: You need to learn the dialogue and actually remember it, and be able to recall it once you get home. So rather than cramming to get it in your head long enough to spit it out in a posture clinic, consider finding a way to study that will allow you to retain it, making life after training much easier (and life during training, for that matter). I had so much more dialogue when I got home than I thought, but the postures I crammed in irresponsibly are still the ones I struggle with the most, even now.

For me, (1) it went back to how I successfully studied in college and (2) finding a way to learn and function within the setting I was in. Plus, at no time in my life have I had to memorize 90+ minutes of words, verbatim. Unless you're an actor, it's unlikely you have either. So consider this is a different thing than studying to pass a test on geography where you can wing it to some degree. Verbatim, people, verbatim.

And, I'll say this - it was a bit like what I understand childbirth/labor to be - what works in the first few hours is shit at 9 cm. Well, true here too - it seemed everyone went through iterations of studying that worked for a while and then didn't work anymore. Once you get into a flow, it does indeed come easier. Most of us (though not everyone) came up with some semblance of this formula:

- Learn the lines on your own by reading them, and saying them aloud to yourself.
- Then, practice out loud with 1-3 other people saying each line until each paragraph was solid, continuing through the posture until each paragraph was solid, then finalizing it by saying the whole thing.
  • This is good for you in terms of getting the words to roll off your tongue out loud and you're doing "practical application learning" (good for most adult learners - the concept of actually 'doing' the task at hand rather than theoretical learning)
  • For those who are big "reading comprehension" people, like me, I'd read the words as others spoke them, so I'd re-read it 2-3 times in between speaking it without looking at the words
  • For "auditory learners" (which I'm not), you also get to hear it out loud, which for some is very helpful. It's not my primary learning tool, but it didn't hurt.
  • When you were ready, you had other people handy to start practicing with bodies in front of you, which is a whole other layer of learning - seeing someone do it and concentrating on that often required a sort of 're-learning' of the dialogue. I know I got thrown off by it in many postures! They stress it like mad, and many found the bodies "distracting" but, hello, when you teach, (hoepefully) there are bodies in front of you! :)
Honestly, this covers most adult learning styles at once, which I think is why so many people (or the ones I was around) took this approach. I say this with a giant disclaimer that many, many people did it a variety of ways - some holed up and truly only studied alone the whole time. Others studied until they had it down, and then would only meet up with others to practice with bodies and/or say the posture in its entirety. Some had just one partner, and they exclusively studied together. People who had it memorized before coming would often just support and help others, as a way to solidify their own learning (but always with the option to hit the hay, lucky devils). Others crammed like mad just before having to deliver it and hoped for the best, many doing just fine with that approach. You'll find your way, this was (somewhat) my method and the general method I saw used by most (not all) people.

I believe I blogged my exact method earlier, which was this (not that it's full-proof, good grief...but just happened to work for me for most of the postures):
  • I would learn each line, repeating and saying them out loud, alone
  • I would make a list of 1st words of each posture, and use those to jog my memory of the lines that I had learned (this saved volumes of time just trying to get the next line, and also stopped me from having to look at the dialogue to find out - hence sort of cheating, because you couldn't help but see the next couple lines, so then your practice of those became a little bogus)
  • I would practice with other people, repeating as stated above (this worked too, when I didn't have time to learn the lines ahead of time in a few cases where we really got pushed)
  • I would use bodies once I had it mostly down, ideally at least 5 times before delivering it in posture clinic
  • Sadly, I did not spend much time going back to older postures until we were done, in the last two weeks
This may all sound like gibberish at the moment, and it kinda is. The rule of thumb is to just know Half Moon, the 1st part, before you go. This is the one you do in front of Bikram. Have it down so you can relax about that, but man, we all wished we'd gotten more serious about dialogue before we started posture clinics in Week 3. You're so busy acclimating Week 1 & 2, you feel so full, overwhelmed, etc. but if I could go back, I'd have found some serious study-buddies and got crackin' sooner. Everyone told me to just know Half Moon, and for that, I cursed them, wishing I'd buckled down at home more too...though they certainly meant well, and I did survive, so they were right on some level!

Those of you who were there, feel free to add a (robust) comment on your thoughts! It will further drive home my point that this really was different for everyone!

BONUS! Todd was kind enough to write up his own perspective on this so I could include it here rather than having him just add comments (which not everyone sees...). So, here's a whole other perspective on this topic!

The study method I used, and one that others picked up in Mexico was to write the first letter of each line and then repeat the line with that prompt. If the line had a period or comma I would add the first letter right after that also. So first paragraph of Half Moon would go:


F, H

A, P

I, R, T

K, D

H, U, T

Then I would study the first paragraph until I could repeat it in full using the first letter and then go on to the second paragraph. Once I was able to repeat the second I would then combine the first and second before moving on to the third. Once I got the third down I would then combine the first, second and third and repeat, and so on till the end of the posture. After a couple of postures my ability to learn a posture sped up and I could use this method to get a posture down in my head in an hour and then another hour I would lose the cheat sheet and know it.

Also, this is just me, I found that when we got out at night from lecture I couldn't practice dialog in my room alone or I would fall asleep. I suggest that you head down to the lobby where the breeze and noises (nothing loud) from the hotel will keep you focused. The staff will encourage you to work on your postures with others and this does work as it adds another dynamic to doing the posture that is much different then just saying it to yourself. My suggestion is not to do this too early in the posture. If you don't know the posture working with another person may just be a distraction that you don't need.

Before I learned the method above in Mexico I was using a digital recorder. I would look at the paragraph and go line by line. Say the line a bunch of times using the book and then when I got it to memory move on to the next and then when I had a couple of lines I would record and listen to myself. This technique worked for me as I said earlier, but once I got to Mexico I found the structure of our time didn't allow me enough time to make this technique work. You will find that after the first three postures the crunch will come and you will have to deliver two or three postures in a day. This is why learning as much as you can before Mexico will be a big benefit. Now you never know when this day will come as staff won't tell you. They don't give you updated agendas, so it is a real guessing game as to what will happen each day from the start to the end of the day. When you add in the short periods of time you get to study, which is really your free time between midnight (provided Bikram doesn't keep you later) and 8:30 AM when the first yoga practice takes place you don't have a ton of time to study and sleep. This is why I say the recorder method, for me, didn't work. I found that by using the method above I could actually learn a posture by myself in the posture clinic while others were delivering theirs if I had to. On a couple of occasions I actually had to do two or three postures when I had walked into the posture clinic expecting to deliver one.

The posture clinics are broken up by groups. They will make equal number of groups going by the last names. We had a total of 16 groups with 15 or so people in each. Everyday your group was in the clinic with another group and this would change each day. You are in the same group from start to finish of the TT program. They also use these groups to determine what line you will practice on each day in the studio. Now some groups were just better at dialog for whatever reason then others or the teacher (visiting teachers or staff) that were grading you moved slow or fast with their feedback of the postures thereby causing some groups to be faster / slower than others. This is why you never know how many postures you might have to deliver, and saying I only know one won't cut it. You will still have to get up and deliver what you do know. This grade will still go into the book and depending on how well you do overall with the other postures you do know it could impact on your graduation.

There are many techniques to studying dialog and once you get into posture clinic and people start to struggle with dialog you will learn from staff the numerous methods. For the most part you are on your own for learning this. Posture Clinic is a very interesting place and seeing the different people reacting to this was something I found very unique. Some people lost their voices and would totally blank and others would start to cry. Then there were others (not that many) who came in knowing their dialog verbatim from start to finish.

Ok Dear. Let Me Clarify.

Hi all. Just to clarify....I got an email or two from people who kinda misunderstood my last post. Worried for me that teaching is not working out for me...not at all! It's working out great. I had a couple goals with my post:
  • First, just to call out some of the logistical challenges of coming home and teaching, particularly when you're not walking right into a super-supportive affiliated studio owner handing you 14 classes a week.
  • Second, to share that I realized, for me, that 5-6 classes/week is a good goal for me. At training, there is so much push to teach like a maniac when you get home, and I've done my best to do that given the parameters I've posted about here. But now that a couple weeks are past, I took some time to re-evaluate and balance all the aspects of my life that are important to me.
So, with that, I'll be carrying on! I got up at 6 a.m. to try a new studio, talk to the owner and see if it was going to be a good fit for me. Then, at 1 p.m. I taught a teacher-class in order to get some feedback from them on my teaching. I'm not teaching tomorrow, but am the three days following. So it's all good everyone! Not to worry. :) It will happen as it should!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Negotiating Teaching: Part 2

Ok, neither my chiropractor nor my 8-pound old-lady cat can loosen what is now a tangle of muscles locked up around my spine...though both made an attempt yesterday, for what it was worth. :)

I didn't necessarily think I'd make the topic of negotiating teaching into a series of posts, but it kinda makes sense. We all were told over and over at training that "the journey really starts when you leave here and start teaching." It's true. Lots of things to balance, logistically and otherwise, and decisions to make about where you want to teach (or, in some cases, are willing to teach).

First there is the big issue of 'affiliated' vs. 'non-affiliated' studios. This is rough. You are specifically directed not to teach at non-affiliated studios - however, the reality is for many of us that these are the only option for getting classes. There are many opinions about this - unaffiliated studios typically aren't affiliated for a few reasons: Space is too small or not a rectangle (squares rooms are not ok); no showers; or they teach another style of yoga at the same studio (usually heated Power or Vinyasa Flow). Of the ones that fall into this category here, they all do teach their Bikram classes by the book with only certified teachers. So, this has been conundrum number one for me, as there are only two affiliated studios in Seattle, one of which is my home studio - they don't take new teachers - it's an old studio with seasoned students, and frankly, I think I'd get eaten alive. The second is totally packed with teachers at this time, though there is promise there with some effort and patience.'s a personal decision for each teacher to make, and there is a lot of judgment around it (esp. by folks who live in a city with 12 affiliated studios :) Ultimately, I would love to only teach at affiliated studios, without a doubt. Right now though...

Second, there's the whole thing about "showing your face" - that is, practicing at the studios where you want to teach. This makes all kinds of sense; you know the room better this way, students see you and your practice, and so does the owner/manager. The issue, of course, is running all over tarnation to go to class, and then doing the same thing to teach. And in my case, I still have a strong affection for the place I call home (where I can't teach), just down the street in my neighborhood, and want to practice there, too. This is another thing to juggle plus some studios are a drive and require some sitting in traffic, which with the price of gas isn't exactly a total non-issue. No biggie here, you just do what you need to of course, but it is a consideration as the ball gets rolling...

Third, Work. For me, teaching yoga alone will not pay the bills. New teachers make on the order of $40 - $45 here, or at least that's what I'm seeing. This is totally fair as you are new! Experienced teachers make on the order of (up to) $75 here. Each class is a 3-hour job, 30 min before and after, 90 minute class, and 30 minutes for wiggle room - at $15/hour, I'm not going to be paying my mortgage teaching yoga. I knew that going in of course - I have my own business as a professional organizer/personal assistant, and also take contract jobs. Right now, I've got a few organizer gigs, a couple regular personal assistant sessions starting soon, and a 1/2 time contract job starting up - in addition to teaching the yoga. (And oh yeah, practicing the yoga too, very important to teaching, so I consider that part of my 'work week' in a sense, as in, not optional but required...)

So with all that, I made a decision. I'm feel comfortable saying that I want to be a part-time Bikram yoga teacher. In the opinion of one of my favorite yoga teachers, 5-6 classes a week is plenty to both build and maintain skills - more will get it done faster, sure, but when he said that, I thought, "that sounds perfect to me!" It's also realistic, in that I have to work otherwise, and get at least 5-6 practices in a week, and balance my personal life. Part of this is practicing patience - of course I wish I could have 100 classes under my belt in short order, but it's just not going to happen that way for me. Plus, I met a girl (teacher) the other day who was in one of my classes who said she taught so much when she got back, she burned out after a few months and now just has gone back to practicing and filling in for emergencies. I felt for her - and thought, "I don't what that to happen to me..."

Teaching is exciting and fun, I'm loving it - and, at the same time, I'm back to "real life" now, and I just am putting it all together, realizing that my responsibilities (time, money) are to things I actually really want and care about - my girlfriend, my family/friends, my house, and my business. I came back from training with a validated, solid feeling that I'm set up right now in a way that maps to what I want for myself, I really feel good and at peace with my life. And, as it goes, that life happens to cost more than a yoga teacher makes...and I am ok to work within those parameters.

So, I'm continuing to take whatever chances to teach I can get - ultimately, I hope to eventually have 5-6 permanent classes a week, hopefully sandwiched into 3-4 days, leaving me 3ish days to do organizing work and contract work, with one day off each week (Fridays). Right now, I have 1 solid class/week on Saturday at 4:30; 1 class weekly (roughly) that floats around; and 1 'practice' class that is donation only that Christian and I are alternating on Sundays. So, most weeks that 2-3 for sure; and in time, I'm sure the other 2-3 will come. Plus, I have access to two studios that will let me set up practice classes of my own, should I have a light week.

Bottom line: Again, my training mentality of "Pacing, Pacing, Pacing" resurfaces. I'm dedicated, but chilling out about my initial approach of racing around and trying to force it to happen while also trying to maintain the other responsibilities of my life - instead, I'm going to keep networking and making contacts; take the opportunities to teach that come to me whenever I can; teach with gusto when I do; keep studying my dialogue like a mad woman; and trust that in the end, I will get exactly what I need at the right time. It's been true so far, so based on that, I feel solid in this approach. For now, anyhow. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Going to Training? Part 2: Budgeting for Training

Ah, the ever-asked question, "How much money should I plan on spending for training?" Well, the answer can really, really vary based on YOU. So, here are the knowns:

From Bikram's website, the baseline costs:

US$6,600.00 -- Teacher Training Fee
US$3,900.00 -- Hotel Accommodation for each student on two students per room. (
Single room US$8,000.00)

So, your baseline cost $10,500

Consider these costs which can vary:
  • Airplane Ticket
  • Airport transfers (taxi to hotel is $25, shuttle is $ you may need them at home)
  • Housesitting/pet care
  • Home expenses that you pay/normal bills
  • *Loss of income (consider, you won't be working, and factor that gap in)
  • Re-acclimation time when you get home (I budgeted for a couple weeks to settle back into life)
While at training, you can spend as much or as little as you like. Now, I feel cautious posting this as what I value may not line up with what each of you value. So please, take this list/suggestion with a grain of salt, and modify to your needs. There are a few comments after this list explaining...

Bottom line: $100/week or so for average expenses - here's my breakdown

$30 - Groceries (in my case...limes, cheese, crackers, nuts - note: I was not buying water/gatorade, etc. or meat)
$10 - Laundry (again, you can handwash, go to the uber-cheap laundromat for way less...but again, time was more important to me than a couple bucks)
$20ish - Room service - usually at least one night, and this was really only for a bowl of soup, though for the same, you can do the steak sandwich, ceasar salad, etc.)
$40 - Dinner out on the weekends/Poolside Snacks/Taxis - for me, being able to go out to a decent meal was really nice and getting out of the hotel was good for me. Poolside snacks were a happy indulgence, etc. There is a shuttle to the Mega/Wal-mart area, but if you prefer a cab or end up needing one, it's $5 each way.

Not included in this were my spa fees, which you can get a $150 punchcard and use the hot tub, steam room and sauna for a full day 10x ($15/visit). I would go and study dialogue, sleep in the sauna, and generally just chill there. Massages were $100ish, haircuts $30ish, and pedicures (very important to me!) $30ish. So this, or any other special 'care and feeding' of yourself (shopping, traveling, touristy stuff, etc.) would be additional. Keep in mind you are under duress, and you will find doing something nice for yourself can make a difference. I budgeted with this in mind, got a few massages and also canceled a few when I felt ok and didn't really need to spend the money.

The doctor's office charges about $150 for a visit, but if you need it, it's there for you and in the realm of medical costs, not that expensive. Just be aware of it and prepared - no one knows how their body will react. I had plenty of friends need IVs, some as late as the last Friday night who had no big issues until then! You just don't know, so don't be surprised, plan for it and likely you won't need it.

Phone calls/contact with home - there are so many options! Skype is great if you are in the princessa tower with internet connection via a cord (or, like Todd's comment you can set up a little wi-fi network for you and your floormates). In the main pyramid though, the internet wi-fi rolls on and off constantly and Skyping from there is a frustrating experience. Either way though, it's internet, and it works most/some of the time. Be sure to go now and sign up for the Fairmont President's Club to access free internet the whole stay! - if you forget, you can't do it once you're checked in (though, I know some who begged and it worked out). You or your person at home can get phone cards too, and in the end, I just ended up using my cell phone after making sure I had a the Mexico plan turned on. It was way more convenient, doesn't disturb your roommate, and let's you be mobile so you can go sit someplace pretty to chat. Reception was great, no issues there.

In terms of eating, Todd estimated room service to be around $20 - 30 a pop; you can get a giant pizza for that and save 1/2, etc. If more people go in on it, you can split up the service charge/tip which adds 20% on the top. On the cheaper approach, I knew folks who went and got loaves of bread, lunch meat, sliced cheese and mayo and made sandwiches for dinner (or, PB&Js, etc). The Los Angeles Cafe offers mediocre sandwiches and long lines, but at a much lower price point than room service, maybe $10 for dinner. Your big meal is after morning practice, and I found we all treated dinner, in most cases, more like 'lunch' in normal life.

Because I brought a lot of what I needed, I didn't find myself spending wads of cash on daily items or anything like that. When I got sick, I did load up on Pedialyte, at a couple bucks each, stuff like that.

With all this said, I'd say $100/week overall is safe for most people, plus any extras (I'd plan $500 overall just to 'play with' - haircuts, medicine, touristy stuff, phone calls, etc.). Many did it for less, and I'm sure many spent more. It just depends on your values, your needs and your means. So, in addition to the costs to sign up, airfare, taxis, I'd suggest $1400-$1500 for comfort and ease assuming you have fairly average tastes. You'll likely go home with money in your pocket. In contrast to that, the least I heard of was one person with $400 total - he ran out of money three days before it was time to go home. Throughout, he generally just let people know his budget was wicked-tight, so a lot of us would take him our extras, foods we tried and didn't like, or just things we somehow got too much of - this worked out great for him and he was gracious for anything anyone passed on to him. With many friends by the end, everyone jumped in and took care of him the last few days. So, with that, you can obviously do it for way, way less. I'm speaking from a former-software-company-employee-37-year-old perspective; in contrast to a lot of 21-year-old actors and baristas, who had very different expectations and needs/values.

Have I qualified my thoughts enough?? :) Don't not go just because of spending money; my thought was this: I paid $10,500 off the top, a little bit more to actually help me enjoy the experience was going to be money well spent, and it was!

Those who were there along with me, chime in with your thoughts, or anything I completely forgot!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why No Green?

Bikram hates the color green and won't have it at his training. His staff supports this, so no color green anyplace in training. You can wear it on the weekend, but honestly, if it's green, just leave it home. This doesn't apply so much to patterns, as I wore my predominately yellow hoodie that has some green in the pattern upon it. Also, my little backpack had limes, lemons and oranges on it - so again, a little bit of green. If you wear green to a yoga class, you will be kicked out of that class, period.

Here's the story, as I remember it - keeping in mind I think it was late and I was tired:

Bikram's guru had a son around 12 years old; this was before Bikram started working with his guru when he was 5 years old. The guru's son was set to do a yoga demo at a festival, in the main tent. He was wearing a green shirt, which in Indian lore signifies bad luck. His mother advised him to change, he, being a near-teen, opted to wear it anyway. So, he and a friend went off to the festival for the demonstration. While in the midst of the event, a fire broke out - the guru's son got out in time, but realized his friend was not with him. He went back for the friend, and sadly, perished in the fire. Out of respect for his guru, who believed the green shirt had a hand in this inauspicious event, Bikram eschewed green at his direction from Day 1.

That's the story as I remember it. If someone interpreted it differently, please chime in. The staff will always defer to Bikram on this, so if you ask Craig or anyone, they usually will wait and let Bikram tell you as it's a very personal story for him; however, he typically tells it at each training to ~300 people, so it doesn't appear to be a secret, hence I'm sharing it here so you understand why he asks this of you if you go to training.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Going to Training? Part 1 of 3: My Final "What to Bring" List

Note: Read the comments after reading this post. Christian added his thoughts, and others have asked questions I've answered there. So, be sure to check'em out.

Disclaimer: I tend to be (overly) uber-prepared girl and often opt for that approach over being super-simple. So take this for what it's worth and decide for you what is best!


Here it is! The Final "What to Bring" post. Be sure you consider your own interests and hobbies; and of course, ditch those items that lend to my interests and not yours. If you want to know "Why that?" just comment and I'll answer back *in the comment section* so check back there for a response. If I forgot anything, let me know! Also, consider I got made fun of a lot for all I brought, but many of those people ended up seriously praising me when I had the exact thing they needed after they humbly came and asked :)

You can see my original posting of what to bring here. Now then, yeah, I over-packed a little but there were a lot of things I was so happy to have along. Before you go to the list, here are a few thoughts:

MVP: The Britta Pitcher
In my opinion, the single best thing I brought was the Britta Pitcher. The water in the hotel is fine, really, but the taste is odd. The Britta made it taste great and gave another round of filtering. We used it and avoided slugging suitcases full of bottles every weekend. You are so tired, and using a chunk of your weekend to haul water just seems like a lot. Christian and I each kept a couple big water bottles in our fridge and refilled regularly so we were always ready for class.

MVP Runners-Up:
A small hot water kettle like this one (not technically allowed...but...tea, instant soup, etc.) - also was handy to fill the Britta, which was too tall for the bathroom sink; the power strips; good, sturdy flip-flops or sandals that can get wet.

Also, EAR PLUGs - Bikram plays movies at a deafening level, and typically until all hours of the morning. That said, the ear plugs just take the edge off and make the whole experience much more comfortable.

Wished I'd Had It:
  • A small pillow for sitting on during posture clinics, or a camp chair thingy (the pillow would be less invasive though, and handy for movie nights)
  • A pair of noise-canceling in-ear "earbuds" - sometimes I'd chill out before lecture listening to music, but my lame iPod headphones let a lot of noise in. Try Shure earbuds or something like that.
  • A quiet, insulated water bottle.
  • Oh, and a massager - the pain...oy
  • More cute clothes (I assumed we'd be doing posture clinic on the sweaty yoga room floor as in the past, and left most cool clothes home...and felt dumpy on the weekends especially); jewelry (I left almost all home, but it was only banned in the yoga room, not the rest of the time as I'd thought).

Another notion on food - I paid a lot ($150) to bring a second suitcase, mostly full of food which I cheerfully shared until I realized I was going to run out of things I was needing and relying on. Then it was hard to say no, when I'd said "be my guest" to that point. That said, I wished I'd had a Luna Bar for every afternoon, but I ran out because I kept giving them away to people at lecture and in my group...and then was bummed when I had to eat peanut butter toast instead; I shared my coveted organic Tamari almonds and a few others got addicted to them then I had to switch to ghetto nuts from Wal-Mart. When you calculate the cost of that extra bag, them were some pricey bars and nuts! So, my advice is to bring what you need for yourself, plus a little to share, and be firm that you need the rest for yourself. I'm not at all sorry I shared! I love to share. I just ended up not getting my own needs met in deference to others, and that didn't feel very good, especially on days that were rougher than others. To be clear, it's just something I'd do differently, not a regret. So, take care of you first, and if you plan to take care of others too, just pack extra so you can share! (er, perhaps Jenn needed to practice a little bit of non-attachment in this area, huh? :)

That said, there is plenty of food at the Wal-mart and Mega...but good luck finding any sort of "bar" - they had lame 80's style granola bars and these weird ones that tasted like graham crackers...there are no Power Bars or anything remotely like that. Bring'em. Seriously.

Some Other Advice...

, was by my account, cheap - $1oish/week - and that is way cheaper than loads of LuLulemon and Shakti outfits - so the old adage of having 11 outfits really wasn't necessary - I'd say having at least 6 would make life easier, and if you're down with handwashing, go for it - I was more interested in minimizing effort/saving time so I just let them do it for me 2x/week. Now, some folks on a super-tight budget would go to the laundromat by Wal-Mart and spend several hours to save $7. It basically comes down to what's more important to you personally: Your time, or your money? I cheerfully spent that money each week!

Consider Electrolyte Capsules that you take like pills over fizzy drink thingys or big plastic bottles of stuff - it seemed having to lug Gatorade and/or Pedialytes was a pain for most people unless they were uber sick/struggling (where it made perfect, important sense). Even Emergen-C's require water, mixing, etc. I opted to take capsules. They have the same ingredients as most of them (though, without sugar/calories), and found them portable and easy. I brought 9 bottles for the 9 weeks, took 12/day (3 before, 3 after each class). It was easy and seemed way less of a hassle, assuming you're generally healthy and feeling ok...I did use Pedialyte + extra Vitamin C when I got a little sick, in addition to the electrolytes. But otherwise, they worked great. (There's a pic of the brand that I used).

Totally Did Not Need
yoga mat wipes, 2 small hand towels; electric egg cooker (hard/soft boils & poaches); dried onions; My pillow (they had nice pillows, tons of 'em); slippers (too hot); most socks; multiple PJ's - one was enough; heating pad wasn't used, the ice bag only once, but it was good to have. A lot of long-sleeve shirts that were heavier. I didn't really use the voice recorder but was glad I had it.

This is a packing list for Bikram Teacher Training in Acapulco, Mexico!

Note: Do not take green! No green clothes inside or outside the lecture room. Also no green mats or water bottles, notebooks, or bags/backpacks.

Yoga Stuff

  • 1 Mat (I gotta new, cool one)
  • My Dialogue (printed and my CD of it in mp3)
  • 6-11 Yoga Outfits (6-11 bras, 6-11 shorts, 6-11 headbands, hair elastics for pig-tails)
  • 1 Regular water bottle, and consider an insulated water bottle for ice water that is quiet (unlike the Orange Towers of Shame, which were like maracas) :) Believe me, so many people there eschewed ice at home, but it got them,, through the rough parts in decent order. I'm not an advocate for ice in 'real life' but there, though many shamed us, the ice really made a difference in the beginning especially.
Kitchen Stuff
  • Britta Water Pitcher & 3 extra filters
  • Mini electric kettle, 3-cup (plastic)
  • Mini-French press
  • Can opener
  • Knife to cut limes + baby cutting board
  • Small spatula
  • Small plastic containers (gladware) with lids for lugging snacks around (small) and storing any food leftovers/or things I make (tuna salad, egg salad...) or for stealing from the buffet (sandwich size) :)
  • Sponge for dishes (one with the handle you fill with dishsoap is great) & dishsoap
  • Your favorite dry goods and canned goods (if you're picky)
  • Protein Powder
  • Peanut Butter
  • Nuts
  • Trail mix (one salty/one sweet)
  • Jar of mayo
  • Canned tuna
  • Dried cranberries
  • Crackers
  • 2 cases of Luna Bars or your favorite health bar (60; more if you want to share with others)
  • Teabags
  • Ground coffee
  • Other "just add hot water!" items - soup packets, oatmeal..
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Favorite chocolate bars :)
Regular Clothes
  • 2-4 pair of shorts/crop pants
  • 3-4 t-shirts - not too heavy, ideally cotton blends (1/2 performance, 1/2 casual)
  • 5-8 tank tops/sleeveless shirts (1/2 performance, 1/2 casual) - lived in these!
  • 2 pair of jeans (one nicer, one casual)
  • 2 skirts (or more, I'd wished I had more)
  • 2 long-sleeve shirts (1/2 performance, 1/2 casual)
  • 1 light jacket
  • 2 hoodies (1 lightweight, 1 heavier)
  • 1 cute utilitarian sweater/cardigan
  • 2+ bathing suits...or more :)
  • 1 bathing suit cover up (you can buy a sarong on the beach, or a coverup at Walmart easily)
  • 3 regular bras
  • 10+ undies (extras were was hot there, so often I'd switch after yoga, etc.)
  • 2 pair little white socks
  • Pajamas (1 lighter material, it's hot there! you do have AC)
  • 1 pair of black socks
  • 1 pair fluffy socks for movie nights. That room can be cold.
  • 1 pair sturdy flip-flops or sandals that can get wet
  • 1 pair pumas/sneakers
  • 1 pair nicer/non-workout type sandals
  • 2 pairs shoes for looking nice (dinner/graduation)
  • 2 dresses (graduation/dinner on saturdays?)
  • A couple cool shirts for with jeans and skirts
  • Non-workout hairbands/accessories
The Rest...
  • 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 with sunscreen
  • Powder (chafing happens)
  • Optional: body lotion, foot lotion, hand lotion (it was too hot and I would be too slick in class if I used it was for weekends only)
  • Lip balm (with sunscreen)
  • Feminine hygiene supplies (bring your favorites, they have different brands there...and I had 3 full-on periods in 9 prepared for anything)
  • Tweezers, nail clippers, nail file (emery board)
  • Deodorant (lots! again, they have different brands there, but one big one got me through)
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste (2 tubes if you're brand-picky like me), 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
  • Hat for inside if you like hats/hat for sun
  • Sunblock lotion; hand sanitizer/ antibacterial wipes (these were used only when I was sick, or people around me were coughing or snotting on everything)
  • Sunglasses
  • Blow dryer (the one in my room was lame); curling iron; hair brush
  • Tape measure
  • Laundry bag
  • Ice bag
  • Two 3-prong power strips + one 3-prong small extension cord
  • Computer/Macbook, anextra battery + charger
  • Ipod Nano & charger
  • Cell Phone/Iphone & charger
  • Camera/charger and USB cord
  • Voice recorder (to record classes), instructions, AAA batteries
  • JBC iPod player for room (this was awesome, to be able to listen to music in the room)
  • A few non-yoga books/magazines
  • Office supplies (bring a couple notebooks you like if you're picky, otherwise Wal-mart has them & 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 (he'll sign them, and good for reference)
  • Acapulco guide book
  • Mexican Spanish phrase book
  • Pics of my honey/family/kittens (it was nice to have touches of home)
  • ID/Passport/Credit Card/Cash
  • Eye shade and ear plugs (roommate)
  • Woolite; tide-to-go/oxy-clean stick
  • Beach bag, shoulder bag/back pack; purse or bag for going out
  • Massage ball or mini massager or something like this of some sort (or all of them) People will beg to borrow it! and at times, I just needed something to loosen a tight spot up, and I had a small massage ball, but a mini massager or acupressure gizmo would've been a life-saver.
  • General Stuff (advil (bring A LOT), tylenol (bring a GOOD AMOUNT), ammodium, nightquil gelcaps, cold/sinus pills, benedryl, tums, pepto bismal; nasal spray; cough drops; throat spray)
  • All of your RX's; pill box (really, the days blur together, this will ensure you don't miss any doses)
  • General "first aid kit" (bandaids, neosporin for little cuts/scrapes/blisters, hydrocortisone cream for the heat rash, ben-gay for sore muscles)
  • Thermometer
  • Bug spray
  • Portable kleenex (1 or 2)
Jenn's magic formula little pill packs that I took at lunch and dinner:
  • Electrolytes (duh.)
  • Calcium (joint health)
  • Multi-vitamin (general health)
  • Vitamin B (nerve health)
  • Tumeric (joint health)
  • Potassium (electrolyte)
  • Glucosine (joint health)
  • Vitamin C (add'l taken only when I was sick)
I used mini-pill baggies and made them up each weekend for the week (7 labeled for lunch, 7 marked dinner)...otherwise, I'm not sure I'd have been so religious about it. They were portable and easy. I have no idea what it would've been like without these things, but I do know that with them, I did pretty well!

Let me know if you have any questions, or any suggestions!

Negotiating Teaching

Things are going pretty well in Teaching-Land. The owner of the one studio that is a bit of a drive has taken a very strong interest in all of the new teachers. I taught those two classes last Tuesday, and then again taught on Thursday - a class she was able to be in. It took a couple days to get in touch with her, but she gave me a whole lot of feedback that I'm going to work incorporating and working on...

A couple things that stood out for me were:

- Using phrasing from one posture in another, similar posture. Apparently, I said, "Bend your body down from the lower spine to the floor" a few (jillion) too many times. So, I went back and reviewed which postures have that line and now will only use it appropriately.

- Another reminder that I need to stay focused on the details of postures that were not ever hard for me, but that are very hard for a lot of people. In this case, Fixed Firm - where I plopped right down day one (open hips, healthy knees, flexible Jenn...). I apparently haven't been saying a dang thing about "be careful of the knees" nor have I offered any modification options for when the knees hurt. Oy! So, again, I reviewed one.

- A myriad of other things - mostly dialogue, a little bit of pacing though overall she said I was good, and continued work on breathing.

The other thing at this point that I'm working to negotiate are all of the nuances of each studio. This ranges from how to deal with the heat (last night, I cooked those poor people. The owner told me the heat was self-regulating...and after opening windows, and having a student advise me on how to turn the heat off, the thermostat was still reading 108! Live and learn...they certainly all felt they got their money's worth...); all of the check-in systems and rules (ranging from online software to little books/cards/papers...) and the hardest: rules in the room. For some, it's "nothing but clear water, no fancy waters" or "we always give advice on dealing with high blood pressure during the floor series" (this wasn't covered in training at all); leave the fans on...turn the fans off...lights on...lights off. I'm sure once I'm doing it for a while, it'll all come clear! Right now, I've had or will have classes at 3 different studios with a couple others on deck. It's all good! And I am continuing to learn and study and practice :)

Speaking of my practice, that's been going well too. I'm still getting 5-6 in a week, no doubles though :) I'm all set in that regard for a while. Now I'm also practicing at different places, which is interesting to have a different space, different teachers and just the overall different (I'll just say it) vibe. Some are hotter, some not so hot - which is fine because I can focus on different aspects of my class (hotter = more mentally challenging for me; not-so-hot = more focus on postures and details). My body is still in pretty good order, my hips are a little achy sometimes after teaching from standing in 1 place for 90 minutes without really moving. I'm sure I'll get some chops in that regard and it will be better. And, my poor bum still hurts a lot, with lesser agitation in the hamstrings, low back and little bit shoulders. Nothing new, so that's good.

I'm still having a load of fun just being home! I am slowly but surely churning through coffee, lunch, dinner, yoga, and walking dates with friends and family. There are a few local folks looking to go to training so I'm meeting up with them to give them the 411 before I forget it all. It's a great time of year here, of course, and so just being out and about is really nice. Jill and I fell right back into order pretty easily - I think her coming to training that last week made for a nice, smooth transition back to couple-dom. Still, my favorite things are cooking dinner, getting up when I want to (it's still always early, really, but my choice) and the best: going to Yoga because I want to, not because I have to! :)

Posts to Come: Packing List Update; and I'm debating on this - but this week I'm spending a chunk of time with my notes on each posture, and I'm going to combine and tidy them so I have all the nuances, health benefits and other tidbits in one place. I'm debating posting each one as a separate post. Interested?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Enjoy Some Movies

Courtesy of my friend Todd - "yogaforachievers" on YouTube, here's a bunch of clips from the talent show we had that I was not in... Here's one that gives a nice overview of the hotel & grounds:

The rest are here:


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mega-Yoga Day!

What a day, yoga-wise!

I started the day at 7:30 with a private dialogue coaching session with Saiko, my mentor. We met at my home studio in Fremont and did about 1.5 hours of dialogue, with heat. She picked out postures, I did them, and then she critiqued me and provided little tips for each one we did. It was very helpful!

At 9:30, I took class - had a nice practice, though mornings are not my favorite time, Jill had walked down and it was fun to take class with her.

Then, at 1:15 I had my 2nd class - another 'mock' class at a studio in Woodinville, a ways away for me (about a half hour, but in a very different area from where I typically hang out). The studio is lovely! I got there, and the owner was there, she said she couldn't take my class :( but would hope to soon. That was ok though, I was ready and excited to teach!

A few minutes later, she said, "So I've heard through the grapevine that you're 'ready'." I thought she meant for the 1:15 class (minutes away at this point) so I said, "Yep, I'm all set to go here in a few." And she then told me her 3:30 teacher called off, and asked if I'd teach it! Sight unseen, just based on feedback from two teachers who'd been to my first class. I was flattered, shocked and excited all at once! So I went on to teach 2 classes, right in a row, the first to folks in the know - a free class for a new teacher - and the second, a group of people who only saw me as "new to the studio." It was super cool!

There was a 16-year old girl in my first one who has Chron's disease, she and her mom come together and she said it helps with the symptoms a lot. The second class I had a girl who brought her 60-something Japanese mom, who is in town visiting - and who (1) did not speak any English and (2) had never done Bikram before! I had to help her with hands in Eagle and the grip in standing bow (just like people who do speak English :)...but she did great. There was also a young guy who was taking his 2nd class - he was great and a wonderful opportunity for corrections - a lot of newbie things like grips, chin position, eye position - easy things to see and fix.

It's getting there - I'm getting more confident and feeling more relaxed when I'm up there teaching! A Bikram teacher whom I had never met was also in the 2nd class I taught - she sent me some good feedback. And it's funny, things I thought I did well she suggested I work on, and the area I thought I was weak, she said was fantastic! So there you have it - we don't perceive ourselves as our students do, and it's important to listen and adjust based on your audience, not your own sense of things, ego or pride. It's all about them - and I just keep reminding myself of that, and with that, know it will all turn out well!

More soon, promise!

Monday, June 16, 2008

One Week Home: I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be!


It's been a week since I got home and it feels like a month, or even two. I'm not kidding - and it's a good thing, not a bad one.

Now, I don't know how 'deep' my reflections on teacher training can really be at this point - a whoopin' 1 week out - but I have a few thoughts I'll share at this point.

I loved it. I really, really loved it. In thinking back on it this week, I collected my thoughts on a lot of things and came to a few conclusions...

First, Teacher Training - for me - was not the hardest thing I have ever done. I realized this around the middle - Week 4 or Week 5 - and at the time, it was a good learning and it kept me going (i.e., "You've survived worse). Like what, you ask? Well, anyone I've said this to has asked the same - "Jenn, what was harder??" I easily came up with 4 things - the tornado I was in when I was 14, my two grueling break-ups (the first was more about co-dependency; the second was more about facing my own mistakes/darker side); and the crowning jewel: My weight.

Losing the weight after weight loss surgery was by far the hardest thing I've done to date in this lifetime. Possibly because it was the wrap-up of no less than 10 serious attempts over 15 years - each resulting in 50+ pounds of weight loss only to be gained back the minute I so much as walked by a bakery. It required me to look at every part of myself - emotional, spiritual and physical - while have the eyes of everyone I knew upon me, wondering (though not wanting to wonder this way)... "will she just gain it back this time, too?" Hell, I wondered if I'd gain it back! Or fail in some other way - either not losing to begin with, or cheating, or whatever. Along with this came the task of figuring out how NOT to equate the number on the scale with the potential of my day or self-worth; that is, if I gained, I was bound to feel like shit about myself (even if only .5 lbs), and if I lost, I was on top of the world. This was all messed up, no? And conquering a good 35 years of thinking this way was no small feat. Waking up asking, "How will I lose weight today?" was a given back then, and really, it was a veil for, "Will I like myself today?"

Thankfully, that time has passed. While it may ebb and flow, at least now I know what it looks like to be on this side of it. Defeating that part of myself, which was a primary shareholder, let me tell you, far outweighed the challenge of Teacher Training - for me. Which leaves y'all asking, "Then what did teacher training do for you??" Well, let me tell you... :)

For me, at this point, I would say there were a few outcomes of teacher training:

1) The first, most obvious, is that I am certified and can now teach Bikram yoga! Yay! More on that later.

2) As mentioned in my goals post, physically, I couldn't have asked for more from my body. It really showed up for me and I have never loved it more. This is HUGE (unlike me, at this point ;) Seriously, to not feel body-hate is weird, it's like something is missing but in a good, good way.

3) Emotionally, it validated that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be (to steal a quote from my sister Kate, who's blog has this as a title). Theoretically, we all are exactly where we are supposed to be - I suppose - but we don't always like it. Right now, I think I learned that I'm in fairly good order. I've worked my ass off these past three or so years - again, the weight loss is so little about food and so much more about your inner self, so much about not using food as a weapon, a tool for self-love (or hate), and learning to forgive yourself when you aren't perfect. (Shock! Newsflash: I am not perfect. Amen!)

So with this, I came home gleefully to a renewed sense of validation around loving my life right now. A lot of people who were at training are not having this experience - many are going home to break-up relationships, move, quit jobs, go to therapy, and deal with confusion, lack of direction and a myriad of fears - for all of us, removing ourselves from our daily lives let us take a good hard look at what it is we are doing with ourselves. Lots of different people got lots of different answers - and I'm not assigning judgment to my experience (or conclusions) or anyone elses for that matter. It's all good - we all learned something and now have to decide where to go from here. I was open to whatever came my way, as best as I could be, and being home has just shown me that at this point in my life, things are nicely lined up. Sure, I worry a little about my business, still in its infancy, and thus worry about money (but trust I will have enough); I get a little scared when I step on the scale (which is far rarer now that my compulsive weighing of the past), and overall, like anyone, all of the relationships we have in life have ups and downs, which are challenging. I'm not saying my life is 'perfect' but rather that I'm plum satisfied with the choices I've made and I feel the challenges that face me are fair and doable.

All that heavy stuff said, I'm also happy to just be back in my world. To go to the coffeeshop and run into friends, walk around the lake, to have people call and stop over and hang out for an hour, to see my 90-year-old friend and cook dinner at home!!! So good, all of it. Oh good lord the first vegetable I chopped nearly brought a tear to my eyes (and it wasn't an onion) - and while I was literally afraid to cook the $18 piece of fresh King Salmon from the farmer's market for fear I would ruin it (it's been so long since I cooked!), it came out perfectly! Even yesterday, mopping the floor, I felt this strange sense of joy. It's just nice to be home, back to my life, my stuff, my hobbies, and most of all - my people.

An aside: For those of you who like this kinda thing, I have another blog where I post a photo every day - sometimes I slack and then catch up, but I'm re-committing! No words, or very few, but just a little pic of something that I saw that day. It's at:

p.s. More on how yoga is going, and a teaching update in my next post!

Above, the farmer's markets are back in full swing!; My birthday; dinner prep!;
me and Xaven, Jill's coffeeshop co-owner's baby, born 3 days after I left for TT; Greenlake; 4 - count'em - 4 cats; and Me and Leela, my friends' Paige & Joe's daughter who I swear grew 6 inches while I was away.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Feeling Lonely? Come soon.

A little memory from our last class at Teacher Training.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My First Class!!!

I did it!

I taught me a Bikram Yoga Class and nobody got hurt. At least I don't think anyone got hurt, though Jill is complaining of new ankle pain, I don't think it was my fault :)

Today was my first class - it was a "mock" class in that no one paid for it. Saiko set it up (she set up the one for Christian this past Tuesday in the same way) by inviting all the students on her mailing list as well as all of her teacher friends to attend. I had 12 people in all - 3 of my personal friends (Jill, Mikey & Conrad) and the rest, except for 3, were teachers. Christian was there, of course, and Roxanne, who attended training with us in Acapulco.

What can I say? Most report their first class was a blur - true in this case, to some degree. What I found most challenging were things like:

- Managing the heat (windows open/closed at the right times and for the right amount of time)
- Looking at a variety of students (I tended to focus on one person at a time)
- People looking at me with that pained, "I'm gonna die" kinda look on their faces (I know it well, as I make that face at my teachers) - but they just looked so much like they were truly suffering...oy, that was hard.
- It was way more exhausting that I expected - that is a lot of energy to put out and while I knew it, I was feeling it too.
- Timing - keeping longer postures a full minute, and the second set half of that time - since many of those came at the beginning, I hadn't quite gotten in the groove of using the little clock I had.
- Trying to not be nervous was hard at first!

The things that were good from my perspective:

- I used a lot of dialogue - tons - and I was indeed surprised how much of it was "in there"
- Overall, there were no big huge mess-ups
- My newer-to-Bikram friends and a couple of the newer people simply thought it was "great!" and since in many ways they are my target audience (rarely will I walk into a room full of teachers randomly), that made me feel good.

I got some nice compliments too:
- My voice was strong
- I had good enthusiasm
- I multi-tasked well (with 1 exception) opening and closing windows
- I had good dialogue

I have plenty to work on - like practicing the yoga, teaching is similar in that every day is different:

- Shortening up set-ups, particularly in Triangle
- Working on timing, making sure both sides are the same length as well as making sure the first set longer than the second (where appropriate)
- Being more comfortable overall, owning it
- Strengthening up my stance, not moving (this got better after about 20 minutes...but still)
- Doing corrections (I did a few today that were good and went ok!)
- From my perspective, connecting more with the students.

It ended exactly at 90 minutes, and while it was my intention, it certainly wasn't my expectation that it would happen that way! I am glad to have one under my belt and expect my confidence to grow as I keep practicing!

Over the next while, I plan to do some logistical things (like my revised packing list) and I still have a few others posts up my sleeve. Stay tuned!

Pix: Above, Jill snapped a few of me teaching my first class, here's two - I'm probably using my hands too much in one; and obviously checking my little clock in the other :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yoga-Free Birthday!

Today I turn a whoopin' 37 years-old. I can't complain, as life just keeps getting better. Jill and I walked around the lake - dialogue in hand - in lieu of yoga today. It felt a little funny to not go, but the way the day went, timing just didn't work out. I went to the spa and got a massage - my body is wicked wrecked from teacher training, and the massage was lovely!

Tomorrow is my first class! I'm nervous and excited. Jill was wonderful and let me go through the whole series in the living room, one set, both sides. Aside from Head to Knee with Stretching Pose, which for some reason I just can't seem to get in my head, I feel fairly confident with the dialogue. So, we'll see how it goes! Wish me luck - more to come :)

Pix: A 37-year-old Jenn!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Christian's First Class!

Christian taught his first class today! It was a mock class set up by Saiko with a good showing of around 10 people. He did a great job! It was quite hot, and I certainly got a good class in :) Yay, ck! :) Here he is after the big event, no doubt coming down off his yoga teaching high!

Goals Redux: Then & Now

Then and above and you can watch a little 12-second video of me walking, from behind, when I was uber-fat. Here's a pic from that time too....

That was me in 2005 - and here I am today, having just finished my 97th Bikram yoga class in 62 days. I feel like teacher training was a capstone experience for me to see what this new, improved body could do, after all the work and effort I put into it over the past few years to get it healthy. It absolutely came through for me, and I couldn’t be happier living in it! Bottom line: I have never, ever loved my body like I do right now. Ever.

Back on the flight to Acapulco on April 5, I wrote my goals out and posted them here. I grabbed a copy and reviewed them on the flight home. I wanted to write my thoughts about how I ‘performed’ against them straight away, and perhaps will revisit and look at my opinion again in a few weeks, and maybe still again in a few months. I had a lot of’em, so this may take a bit. I’ll capture what I wrote originally, and then give my thoughts on what came of it.

Before I do, I want to call out what for me are my most proud accomplishments. I think we're all taught to be uber-humble and never toot our own horns, yet I think many of us (myself, anyhow) might have a little more self-confidence if it was socially acceptable to say things like "I'm a good cook" vs. "I like to cook, and I work hard to get better at it..." so here, I'm unabashedly going to say what I did well at training. Below is the whole sha'bang, this is the nutshell:

1) I never missed a sign-in; no make-up classes for me!
2) I avoided "yoga drama" - really, I didn't over involve myself in a way that lead to drama.
3) I never left the room; or my mat; or, after the first two days, I never missed a posture!
4) I supported people but did not over-extend myself to the point of putting their needs before mine.
5) I ate what I needed to in order to have a successful, happy, healthy experience at training - putting aside weight loss goals and trusting the process, which worked, as I lost a load of inches and toned up nicely!

Ok, here's the original goals with their outcomes:

1) Physical: In this area, I think it is fair to have some expectations. I'm not going to be specific though - my expectation is that my body will come out of this training better than when it went in. I expect to be stronger, better at some postures, and maybe weighing a little less (I mean really, did you think I would leave that out??) or else, at a minimum, lose some inches. In terms of hopes - I hope for no injuries, no illness, easy periods, and the stamina and strength of a clydesdale!

Whoa. I love this part! As they say in the corporate world, I exceeded expectations! I am traveling home in a way, way better body than I showed up with 9 weeks ago. I did not lose weight, but indeed, did lose inches. I toned up like mad and can still hardly believe how my body feels to me. Firmer, tougher, stronger all around. In some postures I feel light as a feather whereas in the past, I felt like a dead weight. Health-wise, I can’t complain: Two short bouts of low-grade diarrhea; A rash that went away fast; I skimmed the top of a cold for a few days; and though my uterus blessed me with three periods in a mere 9 weeks, they weren’t bad at all. Oh, and my stamina. God bless my body. Clydesdale I was – I felt like a mighty-mouse powerhouse in this body of mine and I couldn’t be more grateful to it!

Oh, and my postures - I'd say I had some wicked movement in all of the backbending postures, and my leg strength has done wonders for my balancing series. More than anything, I have such a much, much deeper understanding of the nuances of each one, and the importance of those nuances, that I expect will change as I keep evolving and...practicing!

2) Emotional: Oy. Now this is a place where I am super excited and anxious all at once. I am wide open. I have no expectations, other than that of myself to be emotionally open, open, and more open to whatever comes up for me. (However, I secretly hope for some grand epiphany unlocking all of my psyche's mysteries - not expectation, I said hope, people. :)

This is another area I feel really good about - I stayed pretty darn open if you ask me. I had a few rough classes, and I just let myself cry if I needed to, allowed most feelings of anger quickly pass through that veil to what they really are – hurt, pain – and just tried to let my emotions come and go without a lot of judgment or attachment. And well, my secret hope did not happen – I didn’t exactly have a grand epiphany though I did have a few nice realizations. Additionally, I really enjoyed watching and being a part of seeing other people realize things about themselves.

3) Spiritual: Again, here, I expect some movement - some movement in my ability to find my own quiet, focus, peace and connection to myself, and my body. Again, nothing specific, I imagine something will happen, and going through teacher training will teach me something about myself at a spiritual level, and hopefully in a way that let's me live my life a little bit more in the way I want to.

This area I think I’ll need more time to really assess, but off the cuff, I feel like all of these things grew – focus, peace, quiet. And my connection to myself and my body – hell yeah – I’ve never felt more in love with my body and myself in my lifetime. Ever. It’s pretty cool. I believe I have greater ability to be quiet in my mind, fearlessly. While I won’t quite say I’ve reached bulletproof status, I think in moments, I can be – and that is a new thing! I'll take it.

4) Logistical: I want to never leave the room. I want to never leave the room. I want to never leave the room. Did I mention, I have a goal of NEVER LEAVING THE ROOM. We'll see how I do; I will allow myself exceptions if something, er, inappropriate would occur if I did not (think: intestinal distress, etc.). I just don't want to leave for emotional overwhelmedness; for anxiety; or for fear. In those moments, I remind myself, "It's ALWAYS better to stay in the room." I half want to set a more hardcore goal - like, never missing a posture; like, never laying down...but I'm not here to be a hero. I'm here to practice physically (and emotionally) doing the right thing for myself in any situation, which means pushing myself as hard as I can, while knowing when enough is enough - when it is the right thing to allow myself to rest (guilt-free) in any given posture, set, series or class.

Oh mama, my proudest accomplishments lie here. Not only did I not leave the room, I never left my mat – and, after the first few days of acclimating – I NEVER MISSED A POSTURE. This is not anything I expected, and once I got about ½ way, it kept me going (you’ve gone this far, don’t sit down now; yes, I know everything is black and you can’t see... Just do what they say; yes, you’re pissed, but you’ll be more pissed if you sit and you don’t really need to sit!).

It is amazing what one is capable of when pushed and pushed and pushed. I have to say, I am still shocked and surprised. As mentioned above, my body really, really showed up for me, so any physical distress was simply yoga related; I didn’t have the flu, I was eating and hydrating well, I took my electrolytes and vitamins, nothing was pulled or broken. In all, everything simply lined up. I won’t hold back though, I am super proud of myself and glad I had the opportunity to achieve this! After hating and being disgusted with my body for so many years, and putting so much energy into that self-loathing, this 180 degree experience has allowed me to see myself (and my body) in a whole new way.

My goal is to be good at reciting my dialogue, delivering it with some level of inspiration, gusto and genuineness. I would like to not sound nervous or unsure, but rather confident and firm (by the end of it all) :)

Er, we’ll see about this. I definitely was nervous and not nearly as confident as I’d hoped to be when delivering dialogue. It wasn’t a disaster, but also not what I’d hoped for. I worked hard, did my best in the confines of the situation, and figured this was a place I can continue to work hard at home! More to come as I get out there at teach!

5) Socially: There are so many different kinds of people here and I want to meet and learn something from them! I realize some connections we make in our lifetime are purely logistical - that amazing person you talk to on a plane never to encounter again, for example; and I expect to meet some people here who resonate for me in this setting in a big way that may not carry over to regular life. Additionally, I figure on meeting a person or two who will be the "lifelong friends" that everyone tells you that you will meet at training. The nutshell is, I hope to meet and connect with some cool people, a few of whom maybe I will keep in touch with after training. And that all said, I want to practice not putting sooooooo much energy into others, that is, knowing them and helping them in ways that may not serve me (like, I'm beat, I know my dialogue, but you need I'll stay up to late for you. No Jenn. NO! Because the follow-up is, "then tomorrow I will resent you and be furious with myself for making a bad choice..." No one wins here! I know this, I just need to practice it!). When it happens this way, I want to be able to say "this person is not for me; I don't need to stay here and work to 'make it so' when it's just not. Let them go, move on, take care of yourself." I've been known to just try to get someone to like me, when maybe I didn't even like them so much - I just didn't like the fact that they didn't seem to like me. Now there's a batch of energy I don't need to expend in this setting. I want to practice a level of discernment in terms of who I put energy into outside of myself.

Here’s another place I feel really good about! I did indeed meet a handful of wonderful people I know for sure I will see again. I also met many others whom I delighted in talking with and connecting with in the context of what we were there for. While I may or may not see them again, I really, really am glad to have known them.

As for boundaries, I had'em! There were a lot of people going through a lot – I found myself able to be supportive where/when and how I could without ripping myself off. I didn’t coddle or try to ‘save’ anyone; in fact, at times, I was pretty firm in my approach which is something I’ve never really been comfortable doing – though I know 'tough love' is often the best support someone can give me. So I watched and learned and didn’t over-involve myself but still felt I gave what was healthy for both parties involved in many situations. It was good to have the chance to practice this concept, as it’s been a big ‘to-do’ for me for the last, oh, let’s just say many, years.

6) Afterwards: Who can say what after all this will be like? I suppose in 9 weeks I will. But for now, I want to teach right away (Saiko is generously coordinating a mock class on Thursday at 12:30 just a couple days after I get home! Those of you in Seattle, mark your calendar: June 12th at 12:30 in Laurelhurst!!! Jenn's 1st Class). Ongoing, I want find opportunities to teach at least 3x/week, and of course, practice at least 5-6x/week. And after a few months, assuming I like it, figure out what might be next.

Well, what can I say here? Time will tell, and more to come! But I’m enthusiastic and excited, but also tempering those feelings with my total lack of finesse and experience at this point. I know it will work out and I will get the classes I need to build my skills! Stay tuned for more on that.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Allow Me One Post to Gush About Seattle

I will get back to yoga tomorrow - I have a post all ready for y'all. But allow me to gush about my first day back in Seattle. What a joy! I love where I live, despite the fact that it was 49 degrees and rainy...summer really doesn't kick in until July 'round these parts.

Anyhow, I woke up around 7 a.m. and did some emailing and puttering before 9:30 a.m. yoga with Saiko. She was so supportive of both Christian & I in our prep and execution of teacher training, and she was my last class at home before training - so it seemed fitting she be my first class back. A bonus though was that Nina, who taught me and Christian in our first Bikram class ever, was there too! She has been gone about a year and got back while we were at training. It was so fun, I practiced right next to her, with Jill right behind me - what a nice welcome back!

Class was so different than before. I did have two other teachers near me and I felt like the new kid at school, kinda. They both have stunning (re: brochure-worthy) practices and well, I don't. So I felt a bit klunky and whatnot but had a good practice, especially after 3 days off and a long day of sitting on an airplane. It was weird to be in such a small room with only around 25 people (I used to think the room was big, holding up to 60 people!), and just seeing such a range of skills, focus and interest. Things like everyone not moving together, laying down in Awkward, and other little things were a big change from training. Plus, the low humidity here made the room feel like a hot, dry heat vs. the humidity fest we had in Acapulco, where I'd be drenched by the end of Pranayama and here, I hit that same level of sweat somewhere around Triangle. Crazy. I had notions of doing a double, but I was pooped and decided instead to hang with my gal.

Jill and I then went to Lighthouse for my first Seattle coffee - my usual, a double tall soy latte. I nearly teared up - 9 weeks without a decent, well-made espresso drink was a long, long time for Seattle-based Jenn. I was so happy! Then we cleaned up and met my sister Megan for Thai food for lunch (Seattle is laden with Thai food, but my 'hood in particular has a particular density of it). Mmmm! It was such a nice change.

After, a little shopping, and quick visit to Jill's business partner who had a baby 5 days after I left, so I got to meet the little guy - and then off to see the new Sex in The City movie at one of my favorite (dumpy, old, charming) theaters. I did stop to have one of my favorite cupcakes and an Americano beforehand :) The movie was fun and after, Jill said, "let's go to Presse." Not a suggestion you have to make twice with me!

So, we headed to Capitol Hill for amazingly good crazily cheap French food, it was like a little date, the whole evening, and super fun! Last stop was a little thrifting at Value Village (Monday is 1/2 price day!) where I picked up a couple 'finds' including a cute pair of Prana pants for $5. Woo-hoo!

I'm still unpacking and getting organized. Here's some news: I have two official, real classes on the books! Monday June 23rd & 30th at 8:15 p.m. in Laurelhurst. Yay! Mock class is still on for this Thursday at 12:30, also at Laurelhurst. I also sent a bunch of emails out to get my organizing business drummed up again - and here's a good little lesson. I had a very lucrative job scheduled for May 1 that I had to let go of in order to go to Teacher Training - and today, when I checked my mail, I got one saying that the gig moved to July 1st and could I still do it? - Honestly, it gave me great pause at the time, thinking I could do this job and it would essentially have paid for TT in the fall. But in this case, turns out I got to have my cupcake and eat it too! It's best to always trust that things will work out, they often do!

Back to wrapping up yoga camp tomorrow! Thanks for indulging me :)

Pix: Above, quintessential seattle coffee- I'm home! Class #1 at home :); Coffee, Thai Food, Rainy Day Jenn; Cupcake; Movie; Dinner at Presse; Thrifting!

Before & After: A Few Comparison Photos

Before & Afters...

1st class; last class. What a difference!
Flying to Acapulco; flying home.
Christian & I after the first class; and after the last!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day 64: Heading Home!

It’s hard to believe it’s really, really over. The training, of course – the real part is just about to begin: Teaching. Still, saying goodbye to people who I’ve come to expect to see daily was difficult. We were pushed to practice non-attachment this whole 9 weeks – the idea that when you can let things happen and flow and trust that all will be well – simply put, makes life easier and more peaceful. So leaving today was just another transition in life, really – as I mentioned, I was pretty comfortable with the notion that the 9 weeks would have an end. Still, it’s sad to think this time will never be again – never will this group of people be in the same place at the same time doing this same (er, crazy) thing.

We were on our way on time, around 9, and found a bunch of yogis at the airport headed to Mexico City as we were. There, we got to spend one last meal with Steve & Priscilla, along with a few others who we happened upon on the journey. As the day went on, more and more yogis fell out of the fold. By the time we got on our flight to Seattle, though, it was down to just Christian, me, Jill and Colleen, from Bellingham. And soon, we’ll all be back home doing our own things and having to work on integrating this whole experience into “real life.” I’m excited for it, truth be told!

Travels home otherwise were flawless. I studied my dialogue and caught up some blogging on the plane. My good friend Mikey picked us up and we got home around 8:30 p.m. He stayed and visited for a while and I can already see that I seriously drank the kool-aid, so to speak, and I will be finding it hard to rattle on about anything other than Teacher Training for a while (sorry friends & family). Getting back to our house and my girlfriend, my kitties and little things you take for granted – art on the walls, colors you haven't seen in living space in a long time, my kitchen, green lush northwesty trees and grass...Yay, home!
Pix: Last buffet (I was a little sad!) with my final Huevos Rancheros; Acpulco from above; the Northwest waters...a different look; Seattle from above; my car; my house! Above, me and my old lady kitty, Headbutt. :)