Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back In Action!

Oh dear.

That first class back after a long hiatus is not destined to be one's best class, as I was reminded today. At 5 p.m. I threw down my mat for my first Bikram Yoga class in over two weeks - luckily Nina, the first Bikram teacher I ever had, was at the desk. The class was quite full and it was at Sweatbox, not my home studio but one I like a lot. So, class began.

Breathing was fine, warm up, fine. Balancing series...fine. Triangle, could've been better. And once I hit full locust, no pun intended, I crashed. Of course I finished class ok, but I hadn't felt that dizzy/nauseous/blackout feeling in...well, some time. My sweat was sooooo salty too! Now that is something I remember from training, the distinct change in how my sweat went from salty to almost purely tasting like water. (Sorry, is that gross? Oh well.) Anyhow, I'm clearly not hydrated very well, and haven't had a good sweat in a long time.

The upside were that I enjoyed it! My postures looked ok, because of course I feared that I wouldn't be able to execute a single pose to resemble anything correct. Why? I don't know, because I get scared when I step away. In the past, stepping away from exercise usually meant a huge weight gain, and a long hiatus from any sort of healthy living...and a build up of fear around going back. This time, I trusted that wouldn't happen, and I'm trying to bat down any feelings to the contrary as I get back to it.

I certainly feel 'yoga'd' - lots of things hurt that haven't in a while, but in that good, yummy yoga way! More to come. This was only Day 1, after all... :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Almost Back In Action

This is a long, long time without yoga. And it's been good in a eating-chocolate-cake-sure-is-good-but-not-good-for-you kinda way. So, here's what I've learned from my forced 2-week break from teaching and practicing Bikram yoga.

First, my sleep has been profoundly affected. I'm a good sleeper - one of my physical blessings. But, in the past two weeks, I've been clenching my teeth again (something that went away with weight loss/yoga). Jill pointed it out one day when we napped. It's typically a result of stress, and though there are a few things going on in life, comparatively, I'm not feeling particularly stressed...so this struck me as odd. Second, I've had some wicked horrific nightmares - again, not something that happens often - it's been years since dreams of this magnitude have surfaced. And, lastly, I've woken up early, my mind spinning a bit and forcing me out of bed at ridiculous times in lieu of laying there...well, spinning. And again, not that much is happening to cause me to spin! I'm not worried about this and if anything, what awesome learning, no? I mean, we all know the yoga is good for us. But this kind of clear demonstration of it's far-reaching benefits helps inspire me back to my mat, and encourage others to do the same!

Second, the obvious lack of energy, physical fitness-feeling/confidence, and that yummy "I'm all yoga'd" feeling every day has been apparent. I just feel sluggish, a little dumpy and not so...I dunno, fresh. :) Still, I've not been a total slug as I've worked a ton at my job (some physical gigs) and gone on lots of walks and whatnot, but clearly, it's not the same, or enough.

The only good things I found were that well, truth be told, as mentioned in my last post, having so much time was just crazy. Eating whenever I wanted, not planning my whole day around the logistics of getting to class (not to mention, getting in practices and teaching classes too)...this part did feel nice...to look at my calendar some days and have literally nothing on it. (Yes, I do schedule my practices in my Google calendar...I have a separate calendar just for practicing and teaching even...I know, organizing geek's'r'us).

Jill made the point of how good this break was for me - as I'd have never opted to take 2 weeks off at home; while I could see doing so if I was on a trip with no access to yoga, but not at home! The exercise of taking time off in the midst of regular, daily life has been very eye-opening and if anything, reaffirmed my commitment and passion for the yoga. In addition, it provided me even more insight in to all of the goodness it brings me outside of the obvious, and I'm always a big fan of more information, especially when it leads to more motivation!

Tomorrow is day 10 since my little surgery, and 2 weeks since the tattoo. Everything seems healed and ready to go. Jill said, "I told someone how, knowing you, you'd probably do another 30-day challenge..." Which was hilarious as I'd been thinking about that over the past few days. I feel a little like an airplane, I need a good juicy bit of energy to take off again, then I can settle into a cruising pattern once I'm up and running. We are going away for a few days in mid-August, but I think I can commit to some doubles to get a few in the bank to compensate and simply go for "30 in 30 days" vs. 30-days-straight. So, starting tomorrow, I hereby commit to 30 practices in the next 30 days!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Taking A Break, Getting Tattood, New Bikram TT Site Up!

Well, I'm on a break - not from my blog, though you'd think so by the huge gap in posts, no? But rather, from yoga! Yes, you heard me right.

Before I went to Bikram school, I had a small revision to my post-weight-loss plastic surgery scheduled for April 3 - needless to say, it had to be moved. Figuring I'd be all gung-ho and want to do loads of yoga and teach when I got home, I gave myself a 6-week window and scheduled the revision for July 18 - this past Friday. I thought I'd need to take a few days off, maybe a week - turns out, I'm banned from the hot room (teaching and practicing) for two whole weeks!!!!! In addition, I scheduled my long-awaited tattoo for the same week, and last Tuesday, got myself a new piece of permanent art. See photo- it's on my back, slightly covering my scar in an experiment to see how the scar tissue holds color, and if it goes well, we're going to add to it a bit and cover up more of it. Oh, and the little surgery thing went fine, just a little sore and sweating is not fun right now :(

So how is it not doing the yoga? Well, truth be told, since I knew it was coming, I'm enjoying it. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, and this morning I woke up feeling a yearning for the quiet in my mind I get from my practice...later in the day, I found myself doing a little bit'o half moon in the grocery store line. I'm missing it, without a doubt...but the guilt-free feeling is great. Normally whenever I take a day off I feel guilty - which is not good and something I need to work on, obviously. This is nice, time off without guilt.

And, let me tell you about time. One thing that is clear to me is how much time Bikram yoga takes in your day! Not a complaint - rather an observation. Jill will leave for yoga, and in the time she is gone, I will get so much done, I can hardly believe all she did was go to yoga. Yesterday, for example, in striking contrast to yoga class, I left 15 minutes before her to go to a party - while there, I drank several glasses of wine, ate dinner, met several new people and had two very long conversations with two different groups of people. In the course of those conversations, I arranged a blind date for my friend Mikey using my iPhone and gave out a handful of business cards to very potential organizing/personal assistant clients. I got home 1/2 hour after her, and while yes, she had cooked two hot dogs on the grill, otherwise, in all that time, she'd simply gone to yoga.

My point is maybe not what you expect - my point is that the yoga requires a serious dedication of one of our greatest resources: Time. And it is totally worth that time. I can't think of a better way to spend it, though I had fun yesterday - still, the regular, daily practice (and now adding in teaching) is such a healthy way to spend 2+ hours/day, feeding your mind and body with yummy yoga. I'm soaking up my two weeks of 'freedom' from this obligation, but I fully expect to be back in full force as soon as I am cleared for duty!

In the meantime, I've been busy with my business, and a writing gig! I was brought on to write the text/copy for the new Bikram Teacher Training website - if you haven't seen it, take a look! I tried to infuse detail, honesty and reality into the text. The last part just posted today was the FAQ's, and those of you going to training, I hope you find them helpful. As I wrote them, I thought back to me and Christian preparing to go, and all the things we said, "I wish we knew..." or "I wish they told us..." - Todd, my practically-back-up-blogger was kind enough to review the FAQ's for me and interject a few ideas I'd not thought of. Anyhow, my hope is that those who go to training will have an easier time getting ready, more clarity in their decision to go, and a good sense of what to expect. So, if you haven't already, check it out: www.bikramacapulco.com!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

One Month At Home!

Wow! Today is one month home...it seems like an eon; like training was another lifetime!

So a month out, how am I feeling about the whole thing? Let me break it down into segments...

My Practice: Well, it's ok. I can't say I feel as mighty as I did doing it 2x/day, but I like not having to do it 2x/day, or even every day - though I go most days for certain. I still love the yoga, my body seems to be maintaining it's overall strength and stamina, and I'm still at it!

Teaching: I have to say, it's going as well as I could hope for it to! I am getting all the classes I want right now (5-8/week) and as of now, I have 3 permanent classes, and am adding 2 more in September - that, combined with various filling in, it getting me right where I want to be. I wish I had more teachers around me who were in my classes giving feedback, but it's just not happening that way. Still, any chance I get to obtain feedback from other teachers, serious students, or even just 'regulars' to my class, I do. I keep reviewing dialogue and still need to keep reviewing dialogue forever more, but I'm ok with that.

Teacher Training: Well, I finally miss it! Just this last week, I started feeling nostalgic and missing the whole experience. I apparently needed a little time at home and some separation from it to really miss it. It's funny how it is this microcosm of an experience - this sort of alternative reality that while real, it isn't daily life at home. I tried to be careful not to attach too much to the whole thing so I wouldn't be wrecked when I got home; in some way, I wondered for a while if I had attached enough, since for a bit, I wasn't missing it at all! In the end, or, well, at this point anyhow, I feel a healthy longing for what was, and also a general happiness that I was fortunate enough to have the experience, to be able to teach, meet cool people, and prove some things to myself about myself.

Life at Home: Just fine. Seems some of my friendships are shifting and that is something everyone warned me about "oh, you won't be the same to the people in your life" or "oh, people won't be the same for you" and while some of the changes aren't exactly what I want, I'm working to just let change happen without reacting to it, trusting things will work out the way they are meant to. Jill and I are doing well, readjusting to life with her has been one of the easier things - her coming down to Acapulco for the last week made for a smoother transition than I would've expected otherwise. She comes to my classes when she can, and we go to practice yoga together a lot too...oh, and we do other things than yoga, sometimes, believe it or not! I've slowly made dates and at this point seen all my sisters, mom, friends and colleagues whom I wanted to get together with - or at least most of them.

What's Next: Well, teaching is a priority at a ~1/2 time level - which means about 5-8 classes a week (~3 hour commitment/class, less if it's two in a row). I asked Mary Jarvis (a well-known Bikram teacher who read my blog and commented a good bit) if I could come down to San Francisco and study with her for a week or so, we're working out a date on that and I'm excited (and scared!) but it'll be good for me when the time comes...a nice whipping me back into shape while also giving me valuable teaching feedback and coaching.

Outside of yoga (gasp! is there such a thing?) my organizing business is flowing along nicely and I have steady work there for the next while doing projects I'm looking forward to; I have a contract job writing documentation for a corporation that is up to 20 hours/week, along with two (fun) writing side projects (one paid, one not paid...yet)! So, I'm busy, but it's such a good busy for me - I'm getting to do so much of what I enjoy, with a little bit of work to pay the bills.

Would I do it all over? HELL YES. I still have such a good memory of my experience, feel like it was money/time/effort well spent, and still am mulling over everything I got out of the experience. I'll keep writing about it, as I'm sure as time passes, more and more will unfold.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Much Better This Time

Ok, re-do.

So, yesterday I took a 4 p.m. Bikram class before teaching a 6:30 p.m. class. I took electrolytes before class. I ate a proper lunch, and had a snack before class. I drank the right amount of water. And, shazam! I felt much, much better. I couldn't believe that taking class just before/after teaching was going to be a "no-no" for me - how inconvenient! It just required a bit more organization and planning, that's all. I had about 20 people in my class, it was hot outside so managing the heat was an added task, along with 3 newbies, but all went well! Now I've got me a little formula.

It's true when they say teaching is not unlike practicing - different every time. A bit of forethought does seem to have a significant impact. I'm all for that! At my 6 a.m. class today I got my first yoga teaching paycheck - I don't know why, but it just felt so exciting (not the amount, mind you :) but just the reality that I am really, really doing this! I am a yoga teacher, people pay me to do this job, and I am really loving it and enjoying it. More and more I'm settling it, getting to know some students and feeling that elusive 'connection' they talked about so much at training that was hard to articulate or understand.

When I'm getting ready to teach, I take everyone's name, put it on a post-it and do my best to really show up for them. I know for me, when I practice (esp. before training), my class everyday was a BIG deal - getting there, eating properly to plan for it, and just being in the heat and committing to work hard. Now, as the teacher, I feel a tremendous obligation to work hard to give my students exactly what I always want: A good, solid, engaged, meaningful class. And that said, some days, you're just off (either as a teacher or a student) - but overall, I find I work just as hard to (try to) focus and concentrate while teaching as I do when I practice. Of course they told us all this at training, but now that I'm doing it, it's actually sinking in a bit :)

On other note - two of my friends from training were passing through and we were all chatting about teaching and how that was for us. One of them said how it really cuts into your social life - and it's not a complaint but a reality - anyone thinking of teaching should consider this. Many classes are over the dinner hour, typically a get-together/social time (start times of 3:30 - 8:15 p.m.). Also, if you teach the wicked-early slots (6 a.m.), you get up around 4:30 or so to do it, so that (for me, anyhow) means 'early to bed' to get enough sleep - no nights on the town those nights.... Just something to think about - I had classes 3 nights this week, plus one 6 a.m. - which basically precluded me from making any dinner or evening plans until Friday (holiday). I hadn't really put that together in a big way, but when my friend mentioned it, I thought "yeah, you're right! this is why it's taking me 2-3 weeks to find a time to do dinner with certain friends..." That all said, classes are going well too - I'm getting exactly what I wished for, about 5-6 classes minimum/week, often a couple more than that, and it's all working in nicely with my other job(s) and responsibilities!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Learning Continues!

So, last night I thought I'd hit a Hot Power Vinyasa class before teaching my Bikram class. Oh dear. Let's just say, it's a reminder of how your body settles in to doing the same thing all the time - no matter how wonderful, juicy, and lovely Bikram is! It was wicked hot for Seattle yesterday, and the room was humid as all get out. I kept up, but felt like a noodle - it caused me some training flashbacks - I was nauseated, I wanted to leave, or lay down, or anything...I just wanted it to end!

That said, I was having fun; I found that I am no doubt stronger than I was before (duh, but still). I tried a slew of postures I hadn't attempted since before training and some I could do some so much better than before I was truly shocked! Others simply hurt a lot less than they used to... It was a great time, despite wiping me out in a whole different way than Bikram does. A few Bikram postures were in the mix and as usual, I felt at home in those...but all those planks, down-dogs, up-dogs, and warriors - fun, weird, and frankly, hard to do all those different things, at least in this body's opinion.

I was wiped, and then I had to teach immediately after, and I found that I had to work sooooo hard to stay engaged, to bring the energy I typically bring to that late-night class (8:15 p.m.) of tired, hungry yogis. Coupled with not really eating anything other then a light lunch at noon and a small mid-afternoon snack at 3 p.m., I decided that I need to plan a little better: Good nourishment is a must before teaching, unless it's 6 a.m. (whereas coffee is then critical :); and practicing just before teaching - at least if it's an unknown quantity like Power - needs to be thought about closely since I won't really know what I'm getting myself into until I'm there (Power is different every time, some harder than others..like last night).

The learning continues! Who knows, if I did it like that every week, it may not be a big deal. But last night, I felt like I wanted a savasana in between postures, too! :) Note to self on that one!