Sunday, June 20, 2010


Friday was the last class for the Spring 2010 teacher trainees. Fellow yogini Carmen and I decided to meet down there. We both got there pretty early and immediately started running into teachers and students from other studios. We set up on the left side of the tent about three rows from the back. The back 4 or 5 rows are reserved for guests. As more teachers and students arrived from our studio, we kept laying down towels to save spaces. I ended up being surrounded by students and teachers I knew, which made for an amazing class. The tent was packed to the gills. 365 teacher trainees and probably close to 300 guests. It was also HOT. HUMID and HOT. This was my first class with Bikram himself and I was excited to see what my own reaction to him would be. I have practiced at so many studios, read so many blogs and talked to so many yogi's that I've heard alot of his quotes, mannerisms...everything. It's like I've already been around him, but I hadn't. Standing there with all of those yogis, getting ready to start breathing was an experience that can hardly be put into words. The love, energy, excitement, joy, acceptance was tangible in that big white tent. The heaters worked, steam came out of misters in the ceiling and droplets of sweat formed on bellies and backs before we even got started...and then there was boss. Standing up on the platform, in front of his large throne-like chair, headset on, little black shorts and hair back he looked exactly like every other picture of him posted on the Internet teaching. He doesn't change....he is timeless. He started to talk and the trainees stood there, tense with excitement, looking like live wires. Nine weeks of yoga bootcamp over....their excitement bubbling over. Right away Bikram is making jokes. We are trying to do pranayama breathing and he says something so ridiculous that we are all laughing. Try to laugh during breathing. It doesn't really work. We get to awkward posture and he decides he needs to adjust his balls. Suddenly he goes behind his chair, fixes his balls, then gets down into third part of awkward and starts hopping around. "See. Balls fixed. I can do this forever" **bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce.....freeze** applause and laughter. A huge smile was plastered across my sweaty face. I was absolutely charmed and delighted. I love him. That's my reaction. He picked on a few people during class. No, it wasn't directed at me, but I can say with absolute certainty that if it were I wouldn't have taken offense. He does it with love and humor. You can tell it's not malicious. The class was very hard but at the end with Bikram playing music and trainees dancing around the tent I was very glad I did not miss this. Training is in San Diego in the fall. No more Las Vegas training. I picked the perfect class to go to!

I did run into DancingJ but it was just briefly before class so no picture. Sorry. She was glowing. I am so proud of happy for her! She did not teach here, went right home to teach first thing Monday morning at her home studio. No worries, I will take her class someday! She lives 30 mins from my home town, so I will get to her class....eventually....or in the future.

**I'll go ahead and clarify something I said, because I got asked this in the comments, but I'm sure more people will be wondering as well. The fall 2010 teacher training is officially going to be in San Diego, not Las Vegas. Bikram himself made the announcement before class Friday night. He said he had just signed the papers and that it will definitely be there. I'm sure they will update their website soon.

Me and Carmen after class (What's up with my freaky yoga eyes??)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 13: Two behind but feelin' fine.....

Today was 6pm with Frank. It was not very busy, which seems to happen during the summer. The class was lighthearted, the temperature pleasant and my body felt pretty good. I was a little dehydrated, but no stiffness or pain anywhere. I missed Monday and Tuesday (a bout of food poisoning) so I've got two to make up. I already have my doubles mapped out (split doubles of course) and one of them involves the last class with the trainees down at the tent. (Big G, if you are reading this: Friday, 5pm, the there!) I will bring the camera and try to hunt down dancingJ for you guys! A picture of her and I on her last day of training would be great!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 8, 9 and 10

6pm with Frank, 11am with Dray and 1pm with George. An exercise in mediocrity, a struggle and a beautiful dream.
Done, done and done!
1/3 of the way through....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 7: Drayisms

Tonight was 6pm with Dray. It was packed. There were over 50 students in the room and roughly 15 of them were new. Amidst all of the flurry of activity as yogis jockeyed for space, I knelt on my mat quietly, feeling pensive. I gazed into the mirror, noticing the soft rolls around my midsection, the wide hips and the rolls peeking out from the sides of my sports bra right around the underarm area. Two years ago, this was what I looked like. Then I lost 20lbs and kept at least half of it off until now. I've run the gamut of being angry with myself, being sad, being frustrated, being anything but forgiving. As I sat there I realized now I just feel empty. The place where happiness used to live is empty. I stood up for practice and spent the next 90 minutes alternating between thinking too much and not thinking. Dray's nuggets of wisdom, or "Drayisms" as I love to call them, would spur me to another train of thought everytime he peppered one into the dialog. Tonight, the physical part of the postures were almost an afterthought. Tonight I dove into layers of emotional "stuff". At the end of class, laying in savasana, Dray said something about happiness. Am I happy? I wondered. The answer didn't come right away. Not happy but not unhappy finally felt right. What used to make me happy? Hope. The word came quickly. Hope. I was always working toward something. A better position at work to take better care of me and my daughter, and of course, that true love, that would turn into marriage, just waiting to swoop into my life when I was least expecting it. This past year I realized I have the job/position already (which is good!) and the true love illusions were completely shattered for me last year. Add to that the personal challenges I've faced this year that can't be blogged about, hope doesn't really spring eternal right now. Practicing yoga has taught me to always try to be present in and out of the room. To be grateful. What I've been missing is learning not to tie the strings of my happiness to fragile hope balloons. What I'm missing is to truly feel happy and content in the present moment, regardless of my life circumstances.
Rolling up my mat, armed with these thoughts and realizations, I knew I had already won half the battle. The rest will work itself long as I keep putting one foot in front of the other on the right path....the path that includes putting those feet on a yoga mat everyday.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 6: Straight Feels Crooked

When I was a little girl, I remember being diagnosed as having a slightly crooked spine. A slight case of scoliosis. There was some anxiety as I went to my pediatrician every six months or so to get it rechecked. He said if it got any worse, I'd be in a back brace. The back brace never became reality and I continued on in life with my slightly crooked spine. Frequently in yoga, I become aware that I am not laying straight in both stomach and back facing savasanas. However, since I'm not standing over myself, I have no idea which adjustments to make to straighten out.
Frank notices this and fixes me sometimes. Tonight, after slugging my way through a very mediocre feeling class, I lay in final savasana, crooked. Frank came over, lifted my head gently and moved it left. Then he gently pushed my left shoulder down towards the back wall. "There, you are straight now". These two adjustments are the same everytime. I lay there, feeling completely crooked, wondering how I could be straight. My instinct was to get up and end the savasana. Instead I lay there in wonderment at how very crooked laying straight feels!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 5: I get by with a little help from my **smokin' hot** yoga friends

Tonight was 6pm with Dray. I went in with no expectations after the struggle that was last nights practice. Yoga BFF's Tommie and Shelley were there. Shelley and I set up in the front row next to regular Alli with Tommie behind us. Class started with the entire back row being first timers. Dray was his usual awesome self. As we were starting I was distracted for a second by a handsome yogi behind me. I gave myself a mental slap to snap out of it and focused. The room was hotter and more humid than yesterday. I burrowed into the heat, welcoming the release it provided my muscles and joints. I hit the deck for the floor series sweaty, happy, breathing. We get to full locust and I feel an arm lay gently across my ankles. I sneak a peak in the mirror and notice that smokin' hot handsome yogi behind me is the one navigating the lack of real estate and improvising. I flushed with unexpected pleasure. The casual easy way he did that was so different than most people who are freaked out by the sweat in the room and will twist into a pretzel before touching another yogi, especially one you do not know. Second set I feel the gentle pressure of the arm again. We go up into the posture and Dray says "that's right dr., now help her get her ankles up!" I had no idea who "dr." was until suddenly the arm was under my feet, lifting them higher. I smiled, which is a bad idea in full locust because you pretty much look constipated when smiling in that pose.
After class I floated out of the locker room, feeling the yoga glow. As I'm leaving my yoga crush walks in. I say hi and float on out......

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 4: Resistance

Today was 6pm with Dray. I pulled up to the studio, knowing my two yoga bff's were not going to be there. I trudged up the stairs with the hot desert wind buffeting my body. This past weekend and today Las Vegas has seen temperatures upwards of 110. I set up for class feeling drained from my brief interaction with the intense heat. I chatted with regular Joe before class and told him "I'm not feelin' it today!" Once we got in there, the mental chatter kicked into high gear. "I'm tired. My calves are still sore. I don't want to be here today. My limbs feel stiff and heavy" Once the mental chatter started it was all I could do to stay put on my mat. In addition to the mental chatter I couldn't balance at all. I couldn't even balance in first part of standing head to knee. I shook my head in disgust after falling out several times, judging myself harshly. I caught myself doing this and reminded myself not to judge, to just be in this practice and try to stop resisting. By the time I got to triangle I was a bit more focused and was able to stay present and finish without too much more drama. Toward the end of class, I started to feel so grateful that I was able to come when I didn't want to and stay when I wanted to run. I was happy that I am doing a challenge or else I may have missed today. Then I heard Dray say "the worst Bikram class is the one you don't go to". And that little nugget was the best thing I heard all day!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 3: I started without you

I'm going to do a 30 day challenge. The first few challenges I did, I completed them successfully. Then I had a couple of challenges that fell short. Two attempts at 101 that didn't quite make it. One fell short by just a couple of days. What I've realized is this, combined with a very difficult life change this year has chipped away at my self esteem. I'm gaining weight again, I'm not my normal sunny self. I have pushed away some friends because I prefer to sulk around in solitude. I'm grateful though. Grateful that I recognize all of this and even more grateful that I have someplace to put all of this....right smack dab in the middle of my yoga mat. I've been going 5 times a week to yoga for the most part, but it's not the same. No frequency of Bikram feels the same as doing a challenge.
I decided all of this on Friday and that makes today day 3. In the first 3 days of this challenge, I've already had two very interesting classes. The first was Friday night at 6pm. We had a visiting teacher named Caroline from Headquarters. She is a lovely lady who attended Bikrams first TT, prior to the "dialog" being around. She's an older lady with a glowing spirit. I adored her class. Even though she's not up there doing verbatim dialog, her instructions are precise. She's also got an eagle eye for form and corrections. She was engaging with the students. It was so much fun! Saturday morning was 9am with Frank. My friend Shelley met me down there, or I never would have gone that early. I hate morning classes...anything prior to 11 is Satan in a Sunday hat. And it was. Satan in a Sunday hat. My body was so stiff and so heavy it felt like I accidentally stumbled into the studio with somebody else's body entirely. I really had to pay attention to form and throw all of my normal depth out of the window. It just wasn't going to happen, with anything. In fact, I stood there in tree while everybody eles was going into toestand. My body just felt like there was no way in hell it was going to be able to execute a posture I attempt daily. Frank called me out on it "Mish, what are you doing, don't you normally go into toe stand? Get down there!" I ignored him (sorry Frank!).
Last but not 3 (today) 1pm with LYNN WHITLOW. For those of you who are regular Bikram addicts, you probably have heard of Lynn. She is a senior teacher who does seminars and is a bit of a rockstar in the Bikram community. I took her class last time she was here out at the Green Valley studio. You can read about it here. It was pretty brutal. I'll sum it up this way: I sat out half of that class. Ok, so going in today I made sure I was hydrated to the max. Plenty of sleep (check), proper food and water (check), electrolytes in balance (check). I lay my mat down and looked around. Lots of teachers and also Big G from the Green Valley studio. The class was HOT and HARD but I made it through pretty well. Not awesome. Just pretty well. I sat out one set of triangle and had trouble first set of camel. There were only two newbies in the class and I felt bad for them because there is just something about Lynn. Her class is just tough. She's not yelling, she's not holding you in a posture for a bizarre amount of's just very tough. I cannot figure out what it is about her class. Afterwards, sitting in the lobby eating watermelon courtesy of another *very smart* yogi, we talked about that concept. Why is Lynn so dang tough? The yogi who brought the watermelon said "she just makes is sound probable and possible and you just do it". I think that is right, the way she explains things is so matter of fact and her dialog rhythm lends to "just do it".
Good advice. Just do it. I'm gonna "just do" this 30 day challenge.