Yoga in Times Square

The Times Square Alliance held its annual Solstice in Times Square on June 20th, the day of the Summer Solstice.  Thousands of people descended onto the crossroads of NYC to participate in free yoga classes throughout the day.  One of the classes offered during the day was a Bikram class and this year, Bikram yogis got a special treat:  Rajashree Choudhury, the wife of Bikram Choudhury (creator of the series) taught the class.

A preliminary count of 3,260 people participated in last Wednesday’s class, arguably making it the largest Bikram class ever assembled. And I was there in attendance!  I ended up practicing in the fifth row from the stage with a clear view of Rajashree and the backdrop of Times Square behind her.

Practicing yoga in the heart of Times Square with thousands of yogis was a unique and exhilarating experience.  The sea of yogis stretched from 42nd to 48th Streets.  The added challenge was to find stillness in the total chaos. Cars honked, sirens roared, large TV screens flashed, the subway rumbled underground, and passerbys took pictures with their phones.  For more than 3 years, I have practiced concentration and focus in the serenity of a yoga room.  I was pleased to discover that after several “Oh-my-God-I’m-on-TV-Do-I-Look-Cute?” moments, I set aside the distractions and found my focus.

Lying in Savasana, Dead Body Pose, on Broadway in Times Square

View of the Sky from Savasana, Dead Body Pose

Stillness of the mind starts with stillness of the body. The most effective way to still the body is to still the eyes.  As Bikram teachers, we like to say “Where the eyes go, the body follows.”  When my students struggle to find physical balance, I encourage them to pick one spot with their eyes and focus on it.

In Times Square, the best focal point in my line of vision was ironically a billboard sign of a Corona bottle.  I stared at it and found my balance. I successfully managed to tap into my inner stillness amidst the chaos.  If I can find peace in the middle of Times Square, I can do it anywhere especially in the midst of the chaos of life.

Reflections on Bikram Yoga Teacher Training: Top 5 Obsessions of a Trainee

#5:  LAUNDRY

Eleven classes a week means you go through a lot of wet yoga clothes.  Keeping track of dirty clothes, wet clothes, half-dry clothes, and clean dry clothes is a juggling act.  You learn to soak, rinse, squeeze, hand wash, and hang clothes quickly.  If your turnaround time is slow then you’ll have a pile of wet/dirty/soaking clothes and nothing to wear.  This may be hot yoga not naked yoga.

#4:  NUTRITION

A balanced and healthy diet is important yet every BODY is different.  In the first week, trainees experience sudden loss or increase of appetite.  Palates change because bodies change in this process.  Some long-time vegetarians and vegans start craving the flesh of a carcass while others are repulsed by their favorite foods.  Some eat comfort food while others maintain the status quo.  Practicing 180 minutes of hot yoga almost daily burns a tremendous amount of calories.  The body craves what it needs. It is not uncommon to find ramen noodles, soda, potato chips, candy, and chocolate co-existing with coconut water, leafy green vegetables, fruits, and roasted seaweed snacks in the shopping carts of trainees.  Personally, I was addicted to Doritos, Cheetos, BBQ potato chips, and little sausage wieners.  By the end, I succumbed to drinking a can of Coca-Cola almost daily.

Nutrition is not only a matter of what to eat but also when to ­shove eat your meals.  Free time is extremely limited so finding the balance between eating what your body needs versus preparing a convenient meal is a challenge…especially when 400 trainees share only 2 microwaves at virtually the same time.  Now you see why I had to do this to prevent me from pulling my hair and scratching my eyeballs out?

#3:  ELECTROLYTES

After class, you ride the hotel elevator back to your room.  If a hotel guest not attending training (tell-tale signs include:  wears everyday, non-yoga clothes that contain little to no lycra or spandex; wears perfume; has well-coifed hair and makeup) has the misfortune of riding with your stinky, dripping, red-faced self, 8 times out of 10 they will look at you and ask, “Oh, how was the pool?”  What else would they think?  Your drenched mat and clothes are dripping sweat on the elevator floor and you look like a wet dog.

Important body minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium are lost in sweat.  Bodies need the right amount of these minerals for numerous reasons that include proper nerve and muscle functions.  Trainees turn to Gatorade, coconut water, or manufactured electrolyte powders or tablets to replenish these minerals.  An inexpensive method is to simply squeeze lemon and add a pinch of sea salt into your water.  Sea salt contains many of the minerals that your body needs yet loses in sweat.

In severe cases of mineral loss, there is Pedialyte.  Yep, it’s the same stuff given to dehydrated babies and young children because its main ingredients are sodium, potassium, chloride, and zinc.  If you are administered Pedialyte by staff, you have been relegated to that of a baby.  At this point, your body has started to shut down and most likely cannot move.  If this is the case, then it is served by being held up to your mouth by another person.  This experience can be frightening and equally humbling.

#2:  HYDRATION

Electrolyte imbalance has a direct correlation to dehydration.  Symptoms include:  headaches, prolonged tingling sensations that lead to cramping, claw hands (fingers and hands turn inward to resemble a claw), and perhaps even delirium, unconsciousness, or collapse.  In the first two weeks, it was not uncommon to see dehydrated trainees lifted up and carried out of the room by staff.

Incredible amounts of water get lost through sweat so drinking five to six liters of water daily is recommended.  Many trainees succumb to buying a “Tower of Shame” aptly named because we would never ever use a monstrous 2-liter cooler filled with ice water at home.  But the rules of the game change and what may be normal at home no longer holds any water (heh, pun intended) here at teacher training.  During very hot and humid killer classes, trainees skip the miniscule drinking spout of the Tower of Shame and instead, rip the lid off to gulp down ice water until the throat and esophagus are numb from the cold while the rest of the body feels like its on fire.

Here, Aussie trainee Kathryn Gregory of A Sweaty Adventure, proudly displays her Tower of Shame.  Note its size is bigger than her head!

Other trainees opt for the “cocktail bar” method, where they bring in a combination of the following:  water, Gatorade, coconut water, Vitamin water, electrolyte packets, a container of ice.  It is easy to identify these trainees because the bottles/containers are lined up near their mats.

And the #1 obsession of a bikram teacher trainee?????

((drum roll please))

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#1:  HOMEWORK

WHAT?!?!  Did you think it’s just yoga all day?

NO!

We have homework.

We study.

We get tested.

It’s overwhelming…and stressful.

It’s the number one cause of sleep deprivation, anxiety, breakdowns, and breakthroughs.  Read next week’s blog post to find out more.

A special thank you and credit to:  Kathryn Gregory for all hydration, electrolyte, and homework pictures and LaLa P for all laundry and nutrition pictures. 

Reflections on Bikram Yoga Teacher Training: First Class with Bikram Choudhury

“Check, check.  Check, check.  Let’s rock and roll!” said the slender Indian man into his microphone headset.  There he stood with a broad smile, atop a 7-foot mirrored podium in front of the room, rubbing his hands eager to start.  “Welcome to Bikram’s torture chamber where you kill yourself for the next 90 minutes,” he continued.

My teachers at home rarely started class this way.  If they did, they would surely strike fear in the hearts of their students especially the first timers.  But in a room of 400 yoga students training to be teachers, it was appropriate and even welcomed.  The energy in the room was electric.  Most of us never took a class taught by the guru who created the yoga series we sought to teach.

Bikram Choudhury wore his signature teaching outfit:  a black Speedo-like bikini bottom, a black headband across his forehead, and his long thinning hair tied up in a small knot on top of his head.  On the podium was an over-sized chair, covered in orange towels.  An adjacent small table hid a plastic bin of ice to keep bottled water and Coca-Cola cold.

Just a few hours earlier, Bikram stood before us in the lecture room in a fitted shirt, slacks, an expensive wristwatch, and Italian leather shoes.  “This first week, take it easy honey!  Don’t kill yourself now.  Don’t worry, I will kill you later in week 4!” he joked.  We all laughed…nervously.  Later, I would learn that this man loved to tell jokes and stories…and that he always kept his promise.

A day after our arrival, we now faced him like an army, arranging our mats and distributing ourselves along ten white lines that horizontally cut across the floor of the Radisson’s main ballroom.  The high ceilings, glass chandeliers, and wood paneling were further accented with fluorescent lights and floor-to-ceiling mirrors on the entire front and left side of the room.  Several large air ducts at the back of the room transported heat.  Fellow trainee, Steve Landry, shot this one-minute video revealing the transformed ballroom where we would practice eleven times per week for the next nine weeks.

I looked over at Lala for reassurance. She stood on her mat next to me and smiled. We had enough balls to choose to stand in the front row, right next to Bikram and the podium! I was nervous and excited. It all felt so surreal. I dreamt about this moment for so long and it was hard to believe my dream became a reality.

I looked around the room.  My fellow trainees hailed from 40 countries (see list below)*.  About 85% were women and ages ranged from 19 to middle age and beyond.  Some trainees had a head full of silver hair.  We were single, engaged, married, straight, gay, Christian, Hindu, agnostic, atheist.  We were parents, social workers, carpenters, doctors, psychiatrists, dancers, actors, and graphic designers.  Find a label, we represented it.

Bikram was ready to begin.

Start please.  Toes on the line.  Pranayama breathing.

The opening breathing exercise requires students to inhale by the nose creating a snoring sound and exhale by the mouth creating a “HA” sound.  Its purpose is to open up the lungs to its maximum capacity thereby preparing students for the next 90 minutes of class.  Bikram was in a great mood.  On the podium, he danced, smiled, laughed, and joked.  After 20 minutes, Bikram sat down in his chair, crossed his legs, and taught the remainder of class with the same energy he had when he started.  Once in a while, he called out a student usually by pointing and identifying the color of his or her outfit in a sea of yogis.

Miss Pink!  Sit down more.

Boss!  Chest up, arms back!

He addressed the male students as “Boss” and the female students as “Miss” or “Sweetheart”.  If he got to know someone, he would assign him or her a nickname.

Miss Bushy Bushy (her hair).

Miss Chinese Chop Suey (her ethnic background).

Miss London (she lived there).

Lampost (he was 6’7”)

Class went by quickly.  When it was over, I lay still on my mat with my eyes closed.  I was so happy.  My heart screamed with joyous certainty:  I belonged here and this path I chose to become a teacher was the right one.  I smiled, looking forward to the next nine weeks.  I was finally going to get to call Bikram the way most of his teachers address him:  BOSS.

*Trainees hailed from:  the USA, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, France, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Lithuania, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Poland, Holland, Bulgaria, Turkey, Israel, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, India, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Sunday Signs & Symbols: Harmony, CA

After visiting Hearst Castle near San Luis Obispo, California, I was driving on Highway 1 and came upon a sign for a town called Harmony (population 18).  What a unique name for a town so I stopped to strike a pose!  Tree posture strengthens the legs and improves balance.  When you practice tree pose, your standing leg remains strong and rooted to the ground as you stretch your spine up towards the ceiling, growing taller like a tree.

Beginning today, Sunday Signs & Symbols will be a weekly blog event, showcasing a picture and an explanation on this broad topic.  Every culture uses signs and symbols to interpret their environment, inject meaning to life, and attach value to an object or practice so that its people share a common understanding of the world and the social rules that dictate the behavior within it. 

Reflections on Bikram Yoga Teacher Training: Arrival

I craned my neck looking anxiously for the right shuttle at Los Angeles International Airport.  Forty-five minutes of waiting caused my neck and back to hurt.  Never mind that a 50-pound backpack strapped to my 5’2” frame and an equally heavy suitcase stood next to me.  Where was the damn hotel shuttle?!  I had only one hour left to register, settle into my hotel room, meet my roommate, and buy groceries for the week!

When the shuttle arrived, the driver helped with my bags and half jokingly said his back broke due to the heavy weight.  With embarrassment, I found a seat and started picking up the conversations around me.

I‘ve been practicing for 2 years.

I live in Vancouver.  How about you; where are you from?

My husband has been very supportive of my decision.

It was the chatter of Bikram yogis arriving to attend 9 weeks of full-time teacher certification.  Many were smiling.  Some already seemed to be best friends as they talked about the family and pets they left behind, the homes they wouldn’t see, and how they got to this point.  Some kept to themselves.  I decided to do the same.

The main lobby of the Radisson LAX Hotel resembled an ant colony.  Four hundred yogis descended upon the hotel simultaneously, all seemingly moving with purpose.  Some pulled large suitcases, others hauled bags of groceries and boxes of coconut water and bottled water.  We looked like refugees, carrying the few possessions we had and stocking up on food to last for weeks.

This frenzy brought me back to moving day on my first day at college.  What the hell did I get myself into?  I am too old for this.  But then I saw the welcome sign with Bikram Choudhury in the spine twist posture.  The words “teacher training” beneath his contorted image reassured me that I was in the right place.  I chose to be here…and paid an exorbitant amount of money to do so.

In the sea of yogis, I looked around for Lala, my roommate.  We had never met in person, only on Twitter.  Online, we would passionately exchange tweets about food, Filipino culture, and Bikram yoga.  She seemed like my perfect match but would our online harmony translate into good roommate material?  Maybe she had a weird crazy habit.  Maybe she would drive me up the wall.  I thought I had written off temporary roommates after deciding to have a permanent one by getting married.  It’s funny how life turns out sometimes.  My phone vibrated.  It was Lala.  She texted saying she was returning from the Filipino grocery store and would see me soon.

Knowing nobody, I gathered my courage to explore the second floor of the hotel, which was solely dedicated to our group.  The registration line snaked around the 250-square foot room.  The chatter of yogis created a loud, indistinguishable noise.  Zico representatives were giving away free coconut water.  A Trader Joes’ rep gave away free reusable shopping bags.  Interested in weekly bottled water delivery?  Laundry service?  Sign ups were available!  This feels like a convention.

When Lala arrived with the groceries, we also snuck in our most precious contraband:  a microwave.  The hotel did not allow us to cook in the room but we did not care.  We borrowed the microwave to save our sanities.  Otherwise, we would be forced to share TWO microwaves with 400+ other yogis all eating at the same time in a designated common room.  Oh, hell no.

Lala and I arranged our hotel room to accommodate our needs for the next 9 weeks.  The writing table became the prep area for food.  The desk lamp and telephone shared space with the rice cooker, mini grill, and electric water kettle.  Two dresser drawers held our clothes but a third dresser held dried and canned food, ramen noodles, seaweed packs, condiments, and teas.  We hid the microwave under a wooden luggage rack whose surface held the dish rack and coffee maker.  The surface of our mini-fridge served as our hydration center where our Brita pitcher sat along with our towers of shame (more on that later).  We pinned two ends of a clothesline to the window curtains to hang the two sets of yoga clothes we would both use daily.

Knowing that we had a lot of unpacking still left to do, we begrudgingly headed back to the second floor for orientation.  Seats in the conference room were arranged theater style and faced a stage in the center.  Three 2×3 framed portraits flanked the stage, each depicting an Indian man.  Two of them had a fake lei of flowers draped over the top.

Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi and founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship is on the left and on the right is Bishnu Gosh, younger brother of Paramhansa Yogananada and Bikram’s guru.

The third portrait portrayed Bikram sitting shirtless in lotus position atop a tiger rug, both of them staring at you with a steady gaze.  I met Bikram once in May 2010 and during that first meeting, I thanked him for creating this yoga series that healed my knee.  I told him it was my goal to one day become a teacher.  Two years later, that dream became a reality.  I looked around for the man who would be my guru but Bikram and his wife, Rajashree, were out of town.  Instead, we were greeted by their daughter and other senior teachers.

After the usual logistical housekeeping items, they prepared us for the intense physical, emotional, and mental journey ahead.  Regardless of what lay ahead, we were advised to “trust the process.”

Little did I know that this phrase would be my daily mantra for the next 9 weeks.

Photo of Paramahansa Yogananda is courtesy of Eladio Garrido.  All photos of the hotel room are courtesy of Lala P.

Forgiveness, Courage, and Leaps of Faith: Why I Left My Job

Nelson Mandela is one of my heroes.  As leader of the newly formed, democratic South Africa, he rejected anger, revenge, and violence despite decades of suffering incredible injustice. Instead, he turned to reconciliation and encouraged both the former oppressors and oppressed of his country to work together to do the same. In the movie Invictus, he offered this advice to his black bodyguard who had trouble working with newly assigned white colleagues:

Forgiveness liberates the soul.
It removes fear.
That is why it is such a powerful weapon.

I was drenched in sweat. My face turned to the right, my entire left ear pressed against the soaked towel. I lay on my belly, body and mind still. My Bikram yoga teacher broke the silence in the room and said, “Time waits for no one. What are YOU waiting for?” Her words slapped my face and seeped through my every pore. The clarity I sought for years suddenly came rushing forward out of the fog of uncertainty and fear. That moment propelled me to listen to what my heart had been saying for so long.

Eight years earlier, I felt directionless and burned out. I left my job and took a leap of faith by backpacking for four months through Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Portugal, and England with someone I loved. As I lived through this life-altering experience, I had no idea that the travel bug would bite me so hard. When I came home to NYC rejuvenated, I promised myself that I would see at least one new country every year.

I worked at a private, philanthropic foundation helping give away millions of dollars annually to colleges and universities. I was ambitious, driven, and pushed myself to the limit. I asked for (and got) more responsibilities, pursued a Masters degree part-time, got married, bought a house, and still managed to travel for three weeks to my new country of choice. But soon I would learn that my go-getter attitude was not sustainable. My body eventually rebelled and broke down gradually, cracking under my self-imposed physical, mental, and emotional prisons. Medical doctors only offered me prescription drugs and surgery to help me deal with the severe, chronic pain I felt throughout my body.

Desperate for an alternative, I turned to an Eastern healer and Bikram Yoga. I channeled the same hard work, focus, and determination that put me in this mess to get myself healed. Working to heal myself was hellish and grueling because it was an irritatingly slow process and went against everything that our pill-popping, quick-fix culture teaches us.

In every Bikram studio, students are instructed to look at themselves in the mirror for the entire 90 minute class. As a beginner, I could not look at myself without unceasing criticism. You’re too fat. You’re too injured. You’re not flexible enough. You’re not good enough. Each time I looked in that mirror, I confronted my own worst enemy: me.

The intensity of the heat magnified the challenge of the yoga poses. Many times, all I wanted to do was collapse, give up, or run out of the room screaming. Magically, my teachers knew when to offer me the compassion I needed to back off. Johanna, stay still. All you have to do is breathe. They also knew when I gave up too easily. You fall out, you jump back in! Johanna, what are you waiting for?”

To survive in that hot room required only a calm breath. Surprisingly, even that seemingly simple act was the most challenging. The classes where I struggled to “just” breathe were the ones that dealt heavy blows to my ego. Patience, compassion, and forgiveness were forced to set in because there was little room for self-criticism, judgment, and attachment. The salty tears and gallons of sweat chipped away at the protective walls I built so long ago against hurt and pain. It no longer mattered if I wasn’t good enough, quick enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. All that mattered was that I do my best. And when I fell down or fell out, all I needed to do was jump right back in.

As counter intuitive as it may seem, acknowledging my humanity afforded me the freedom to access my inner strength. Only when I forgave myself could I allow myself the chance to start again.

In the 2½ years of practicing Bikram yoga, I no longer feel the weight of the world.The chronic debilitating pain I once felt, is completely gone. Today, I am the healthiest I have ever been in body, mind, and spirit. I have learned to live my life the same way I practice yoga. I tackle each challenge and uncomfortable situation with a calm breath, a focused mind, and a compassionate heart. I have learned to be okay with uncertainty, fear, and discomfort knowing that these feelings ­shall pass. I am still learning.

Last Thursday, I said goodbye to my colleagues of eight years at my secure job. I venture now into uncharted territory. Yesterday, I arrived in Los Angeles for 9 weeks of full-time certification to become a Bikram yoga teacher. I have always dreamed of becoming self employed, doing things that I love most. Leaving my job and becoming a yoga teacher will make room for my greatest passion: writing travel stories and making travel videos with my husband. I feel that my mission in this post 9/11 world is to promote cultural understanding and healing. As a yoga teacher, I can help others who seek redemption. As a traveler, I can tell you stories about the places I visit and the people who live there. As an anthropologist, I can provide a unique insight to these cultures.

Every morning we awake, we are given another day for the chance to start anew. That journey always starts with the decision to forgive. I’ve learned that forgiveness first begins with ourselves before we can bestow it to others. Only then can we become courageous. Only then can we aspire for greatness. Only then can we inspire others to do the same.

Brought the Office with Me

Day THIRTEEN

My day was going well until 4:55pm when a colleague decided to confront me, very upset at something that I had done. The act that I did made her feel very threatened while I thought I was just doing my job. By 6pm yoga with Danielle, I couldn’t shake off what happened an hour before. I felt unsettled and as a result, my mind replayed the conversation, asked questions, got defensive, and a whole range of emotions. I had trouble balancing on one leg and kept falling out of standing forehead to knee and standing bow. Although my mind settled a bit more by cobra, the aftertaste of the bad experience lingered. By spinal twist, I was exhausted both physically and mentally. I was so tired that I didn’t even have the energy to be upset with myself for letting this get in the way of my practice. After class, this unsettled feeling had dulled greatly although it did not completely disappear.

After talking about my day with The Husband over a sushi dinner (I felt I needed to treat myself), I wasn’t bothered by it anymore. I’m not going to own someone else’s insecurity and anxiety. I will have a very matter-of-fact discussion with my colleague tomorrow to clarify my side of the story and I will try to be compassionate about where she’s coming from. That’s it. I’m not giving this any more time because I’ve already let it bother me more than necessary!

Pampering

Day TEN

Hooray, I’m in the double digits of this challenge and I echo ahappyyogi’s recent sentiment about 9 more batches of 10 classes and the challenge will be complete!  I am celebrating!

I’ve been feeling a little down lately and so I decided to cheer myself up by getting a manicure and a pedicure.  When you get a pedicure at Pema Nails, they do a salt scrub for your legs (up to your knees), pumice (or use a blade if you prefer) your feet, massage in lotion for your legs, and finish the process with a hotel towel on your legs.  It’s lovely especially since the ladies here don’t rush you and my legs have been massaged for a good 10 minutes sometimes.  I guess there are benefits to being a regular customer.  Btw, did I mention a manicure and a pedicure is $17!!!!  I love living in NYC.  :)

That was at noon.  I had to really drag my a$$ to bikram today.  I just didn’t have the desire and that’s when the doubts came rushing in.   

You’re only at day 9 and you feel totally unmotivated.  
You’re never going to complete this challenge.  
You?  Do bikram every day for the next 92 days?  
These last few days have felt like forever.  There’s no way you are going to do 92 straight more days.

I tried to push these doubts away and said to myself, “Just get to the hot room.  Just get to the hot room.”  Several minutes before I left the house, I remembered to wash the lotion off my legs from my pedicure and arms from my manicure or else suffer a supper slippery class especially at standing bow pulling pose.  You know you do bikram when…

I took the 4:30pm with Caroline at my neighborhood studio and set my mat up to the left side of the room, next to a pillar.  Today, I just needed a little separation from most of the students and this sport was perfect.  It also happened that I was standing in front of an exit door and by the time we got to the floor series, I felt the draft on my face seeping in from underneath the door.  It was nice in the beginning but after a while, I wished it wasn’t there, which must mean I am feeling closer to regaining 100% of my health (I usually like it juicy!!!).  Didn’t cough as much and didn’t need to blow my nose during class — all good signs that I am on the mend.

I am feeling a soreness in my right quad and there is a pinch that I feel in my lower back, on the right side that I just noticed today.  The pinch became more acute during backbends.  I have also noticed that every time I take a class with Caroline and we are in cobra pose, she always calls me out to lift my chest and go higher.  And every time I try, I feel an incredible stretching in the front of my neck to the point that it is uncomfortable.  And the pinch in my lower back today did not help my cobra.  I wonder.  Have I just been hanging out in cobra?!?!???!!!!  I didn’t think so but maybe I was wrong.

I am making great improvements in awkward, toe stand right side, and fixed firm thanks to the healing I feel in my right knee.  My sit ups are stronger and I am working on trying to keep my chin to my chest, my arms by my ears, and get my elbows to the floor when we exhale twice.  And slowly but surely, I feel my upper back opening up in rabbit.  I struggle with all the compression postures, never being able to get my forehead exactly to my knee thanks to my long torso.  I am really working on keeping my chin to my chest and sucking sucking sucking in the belly.  Oh, the joys of a super flat upper back!

Today, as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, I always take a moment to remember those who work for social justice especially for the vast majority of people who don’t make it to the news but are recognized by the people who benefit from their tireless commitment.  I especially remember the people of Haiti and the relief workers who are trying to help all those who are suffering in the country.  I remember our practice and how we learn compassion for ourselves and in turn, we learn compassion for others.  We take the energy we get in that hot room and we spread it to those around us, making our lives and the lives of others just a little better.

Pampering

Day TEN

Hooray, I’m in the double digits of this challenge and I echo ahappyyogi’s recent sentiment about 9 more batches of 10 classes and the challenge will be complete!  I am celebrating!

I’ve been feeling a little down lately and so I decided to cheer myself up by getting a manicure and a pedicure.  When you get a pedicure at Pema Nails, they do a salt scrub for your legs (up to your knees), pumice (or use a blade if you prefer) your feet, massage in lotion for your legs, and finish the process with a hotel towel on your legs.  It’s lovely especially since the ladies here don’t rush you and my legs have been massaged for a good 10 minutes sometimes.  I guess there are benefits to being a regular customer.  Btw, did I mention a manicure and a pedicure is $17!!!!  I love living in NYC.  :)

That was at noon.  I had to really drag my a$$ to bikram today.  I just didn’t have the desire and that’s when the doubts came rushing in.   

You’re only at day 9 and you feel totally unmotivated.  
You’re never going to complete this challenge.  
You?  Do bikram every day for the next 92 days?  
These last few days have felt like forever.  There’s no way you are going to do 92 straight more days.

I tried to push these doubts away and said to myself, “Just get to the hot room.  Just get to the hot room.”  Several minutes before I left the house, I remembered to wash the lotion off my legs from my pedicure and arms from my manicure or else suffer a supper slippery class especially at standing bow pulling pose.  You know you do bikram when…

I took the 4:30pm with Caroline at my neighborhood studio and set my mat up to the left side of the room, next to a pillar.  Today, I just needed a little separation from most of the students and this sport was perfect.  It also happened that I was standing in front of an exit door and by the time we got to the floor series, I felt the draft on my face seeping in from underneath the door.  It was nice in the beginning but after a while, I wished it wasn’t there, which must mean I am feeling closer to regaining 100% of my health (I usually like it juicy!!!).  Didn’t cough as much and didn’t need to blow my nose during class — all good signs that I am on the mend.

I am feeling a soreness in my right quad and there is a pinch that I feel in my lower back, on the right side that I just noticed today.  The pinch became more acute during backbends.  I have also noticed that every time I take a class with Caroline and we are in cobra pose, she always calls me out to lift my chest and go higher.  And every time I try, I feel an incredible stretching in the front of my neck to the point that it is uncomfortable.  And the pinch in my lower back today did not help my cobra.  I wonder.  Have I just been hanging out in cobra?!?!???!!!!  I didn’t think so but maybe I was wrong.

I am making great improvements in awkward, toe stand right side, and fixed firm thanks to the healing I feel in my right knee.  My sit ups are stronger and I am working on trying to keep my chin to my chest, my arms by my ears, and get my elbows to the floor when we exhale twice.  And slowly but surely, I feel my upper back opening up in rabbit.  I struggle with all the compression postures, never being able to get my forehead exactly to my knee thanks to my long torso.  I am really working on keeping my chin to my chest and sucking sucking sucking in the belly.  Oh, the joys of a super flat upper back!

Today, as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, I always take a moment to remember those who work for social justice especially for the vast majority of people who don’t make it to the news but are recognized by the people who benefit from their tireless commitment.  I especially remember the people of Haiti and the relief workers who are trying to help all those who are suffering in the country.  I remember our practice and how we learn compassion for ourselves and in turn, we learn compassion for others.  We take the energy we get in that hot room and we spread it to those around us, making our lives and the lives of others just a little better.

Pampering

Day TEN

Hooray, I’m in the double digits of this challenge and I echo ahappyyogi’s recent sentiment about 9 more batches of 10 classes and the challenge will be complete!  I am celebrating!

I’ve been feeling a little down lately and so I decided to cheer myself up by getting a manicure and a pedicure.  When you get a pedicure at Pema Nails, they do a salt scrub for your legs (up to your knees), pumice (or use a blade if you prefer) your feet, massage in lotion for your legs, and finish the process with a hotel towel on your legs.  It’s lovely especially since the ladies here don’t rush you and my legs have been massaged for a good 10 minutes sometimes.  I guess there are benefits to being a regular customer.  Btw, did I mention a manicure and a pedicure is $17!!!!  I love living in NYC.  :)

That was at noon.  I had to really drag my a$$ to bikram today.  I just didn’t have the desire and that’s when the doubts came rushing in.   

You’re only at day 9 and you feel totally unmotivated.  
You’re never going to complete this challenge.  
You?  Do bikram every day for the next 92 days?  
These last few days have felt like forever.  There’s no way you are going to do 92 straight more days.

I tried to push these doubts away and said to myself, “Just get to the hot room.  Just get to the hot room.”  Several minutes before I left the house, I remembered to wash the lotion off my legs from my pedicure and arms from my manicure or else suffer a supper slippery class especially at standing bow pulling pose.  You know you do bikram when…

I took the 4:30pm with Caroline at my neighborhood studio and set my mat up to the left side of the room, next to a pillar.  Today, I just needed a little separation from most of the students and this sport was perfect.  It also happened that I was standing in front of an exit door and by the time we got to the floor series, I felt the draft on my face seeping in from underneath the door.  It was nice in the beginning but after a while, I wished it wasn’t there, which must mean I am feeling closer to regaining 100% of my health (I usually like it juicy!!!).  Didn’t cough as much and didn’t need to blow my nose during class — all good signs that I am on the mend.

I am feeling a soreness in my right quad and there is a pinch that I feel in my lower back, on the right side that I just noticed today.  The pinch became more acute during backbends.  I have also noticed that every time I take a class with Caroline and we are in cobra pose, she always calls me out to lift my chest and go higher.  And every time I try, I feel an incredible stretching in the front of my neck to the point that it is uncomfortable.  And the pinch in my lower back today did not help my cobra.  I wonder.  Have I just been hanging out in cobra?!?!???!!!!  I didn’t think so but maybe I was wrong.

I am making great improvements in awkward, toe stand right side, and fixed firm thanks to the healing I feel in my right knee.  My sit ups are stronger and I am working on trying to keep my chin to my chest, my arms by my ears, and get my elbows to the floor when we exhale twice.  And slowly but surely, I feel my upper back opening up in rabbit.  I struggle with all the compression postures, never being able to get my forehead exactly to my knee thanks to my long torso.  I am really working on keeping my chin to my chest and sucking sucking sucking in the belly.  Oh, the joys of a super flat upper back!

Today, as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, I always take a moment to remember those who work for social justice especially for the vast majority of people who don’t make it to the news but are recognized by the people who benefit from their tireless commitment.  I especially remember the people of Haiti and the relief workers who are trying to help all those who are suffering in the country.  I remember our practice and how we learn compassion for ourselves and in turn, we learn compassion for others.  We take the energy we get in that hot room and we spread it to those around us, making our lives and the lives of others just a little better.