Tuesday, January 13, 2009

JIll's 1-Year Bikram Anniversary

So when I first met my girlfriend in October 2006, I had just started doing Bikram Yoga. I was still working to lose another 20-25 pounds before my plastic surgery and while I can't say I loved it right away, I loved to hate it. Or something.

I rattled on about it on dates with her and told her how amazing and hard and cool it was. She said, "Thanks, but no thanks" and stuck to running and pilates, and 'regular' yoga. I resolved that we'd just tell each other about our respective exercises, and not overlap...

Then came my plastics that December and I struggled to get back to the Bikram until that following September, 2007 - about a year after my first class. At this point I got hooked and was "in" - Jill, however, still was not. She had no need to go into a hot room like that, she hated heat.

One of my most impactful Bikram teachers was Saiko - especially in the beginning - she and a couple others "raised" me at the Fremont studio. One night I learned that she was also certified to teach Power Vinyasa (she studied with Brian Kest) which is also heated - but technically, "not as hot." I tried it, because I trusted that if Saiko taught it, it would be good...and it was. So somehow, after a longtime of convincing, I got Jill to go to Power classes with me. To me, they were just as hot as a Bikram class, but she was not willing to try Bikram.

Then, last year, in January 2008, we were in NYC and I was going to go to a class there. Jill brought her stuff along and ended up coming along for class at the Lower East Side Bikram studio. Earlier in the day we went to find it and ran into the owner, who said, "That'll be a great class - John is teaching, he's amazing. " We got there, and the teacher was John Salvatore, a Broadway actor/singer, and a flippin' hoot. Jill did great! There were two other new people who had to leave the room and struggled a lot (it was humid, way more than we're used to). According to my post on my normal blog, "it was brutal and amazing all at once. Jill did great, though I nearly died. :)"

Today we celebrated her 1-year anniversary of that first class. Looking back, she commented "Wow, to think back then you hadn't even thought about going to training...and now, here a year later, you're a Bikram Yoga teacher!" And, I thought, "Yeah, and you, who wouldn't even go - now you're regular and half the time, dragging me to class!"

Here she is, a year later, with a dedicated practice 4x/week minimum (usually maximum, too :). She has a killer backbend, camel and rabbit for that matter. She has conquered her anxiety of going into the hot room, which was huge in the beginning. Now, she has the same anxiety/stress we all have about getting to class due to logistics, tiredness or whatever else is going on in life. She said, "it's like going to the chiropractor, getting a massage, exercising and meditating and I get it all done in the same 90 minutes." Like most of us, she gets excited about getting props on postures that are hard for her...and wants corrections so she can get better. When she takes my class, she's always one of the strongest practices in the room.

Needless to say, I'm proud of her! I love when we go to class together - whether we practice together side by side or not, I love that she's in the room. She understands me, my practice, my teaching in a way that never could've been possible without her own practice and dedication to it.

Sadly, I was not able to practice with her today - and though it bummed me out, I thought about the fact that yoga is a personal journey. While you practice in a room with other people, the experience itself, once your toes and heels are touching and toes on the line, is all yours. So that she practiced alone today was fitting, in a way, because her yoga is hers. It's not about 'us' but I think we both really love that we share a love of it, and understand each other's experience of it.

The picture above is one from when she visited me at teacher training in Acapulco in June 2008. There, she did 7 classes in 5 days and got all the hits - Bikram, Emmy, Raj, Craig and Jason Winn...among others.

Big ups to my Jilly! Here's to another year of killer yoga classes and feeling really good about yourself :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Did I really blow it already?


I mean, I didn't post 2x last week. I only got to yoga 4x, not 5. Lame. But you know, goals are just that - goals. They aren't always met, but I sure do try!

This week was exciting in that I'm now on the sub list (officially) at one of the affiliated studios in Seattle, and teaching about 3x/week (right now) at the other. After about 6 months of putting in time at non-affiliated studios - a reality in this town - I'm happy to finally be where I want to be. I'm not able to, nor do I necessarily want to, leave the studios where I've been all this time. However, it's nice to be moving in the right direction. Bonus that they're closer to home, and/or in more appealing neighborhoods.

I continue to learn a lot and come up against new challenges as a teacher, but I keep cooking along, remembering I'm just a guide - and each person brings their own stuff into the room. I've found lately that sometimes I just say what to do, and how to do it - and in some cases, I add in the "why" because as adults, we all want to understand why we are doing something. At least I do, and when I do, I buy in *way* more than when orders are merely given out at me. So, when I see questioning looks - esp. from newer practitioners - I throw in a little more explanation in between sets. Not always, but sometimes.

Practice has been hard for me this week - motivationally speaking. My thyroid, on a related note, has been frakked up. That is to say, not working. And when it doesn't work, concentration/motivation is impacted...along with energy, sleep, metabolism. So I've just been feeling a wee bit like a pile'o'poo in that regard. Good news is I'm back on the right dose/brand of meds. I'm off to confirm with the doc tomorrow, and from here, in a few weeks once the drugs are squarely re-established in my endocrine system, I'm hoping things will look up. Still, the guilt I harbor when I don't get to class almost outweighs the painful idea of going on those days. You'd think I'd learn. Alas. Still, when I do go, I'm loving it. So, there is that!

This week I started a writing class/program at UW. It's a non-credit writing certificate program called "Writing the Memoir" - that's right, I'm gonna write me a book. While I can write, I wanted help with structure, feedback, methods, and specifically an understanding of how to best couch certain aspects of a book like this. Memoir is the art of telling non-fiction in a fiction-style of writing - so all the elements of story-writing (which I love) are there, but with the added flavor of only writing the truth...unlike fiction where you can just make shit up, that has nothing to do with anyone or anything in your life. Here, I'll be baring my soul and writing about my experiences over the past few years, tackling my weight and all that went along with it, as well as providing enough of a backstory to show what a big deal it was. For me, anyhow. Goal: To go on Oprah and make my millions. See note about goals above. :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jenn's Yoga Goals 2009!

So I wrapped up the blog I kept over 2008 (www.yogabootcamp.blogspot.com), as I decided to go to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training and somehow managed to finish it, came back to Seattle and started teaching.

Still, and always, my practice will be more important than teaching - it has to be. It's the airplane analogy - put on your oxygen mask before you help others. Practice your yoga before you guide others through their practice. And I really, really believe it - I have a hard time teaching on days I don't practice, as I feel almost hypocritical (unless it's a "legal" day off)! While this is silly, it rings true on a conceptual level.

With that, my first post is my yoga goals for 2009:

Posture Goals:
1. 2nd Part of Awkward: First, be consistent and lose the fear of it. Second, learn to love it (or at least stop hating it?)
2. Standing Head to Knee: Touch my forehead to my knee when kicking out on the right side. Get elbows down below the calf muscle on the left side.
3. Triangle: This is the big one with a few facets to the goal. First, work with as many experienced teachers to understand this posture better in my body. Second, consistently focus on it in every class. Finally, stop hating it.
4. Camel: See my toes while keeping my hips out past my knees.
5. Savasana: No, I'm not kidding. Truly get this under control - not only the long one, but all of them. Focus!
6. Half-Moon Backwards: Keep Going! Seeing the back of my mat is the goal.

Other Goals:
1. Practice Frequency: Practice minimum 5x/week; that's 260 for the year - minimum. 300 is the stretch goal :) no pun intended...
2. Rotate Around the Room: Practice in different places all the time, and learn to focus no matter what or who is around me. Let go of preferences and attachments.
3. Triples: Do one triple each season this year (4 total).
4. Advanced: Do advanced, assuming it's offered, 2x/month.
5. Other Yoga: Try at least one "other yoga" at different studios once/season (4 total).
6. Blogging: Post at least 2x/week to this blog!
7. Visit Teacher Training: Nothing like an injection of the energy of Teacher Training, The Boss, and the enthusiasm and energy of soon-to-be-teachers.

Teaching Goals
Sadly, these are somewhat dependent on finances since - I know this will shock you - teaching yoga isn't exactly lucrative $ wise. So, these are my hopes in terms of goals:

1. Teach at least 5 classes a week if I'm doing other work; 8-10 when I'm not. And no more - I stop enjoying it at this point, and I don't want to teach unless I'm happy to be there.
2. Visit Teacher Training.
3. Go someplace or to at least one workshop or seminar on Bikram Yoga with a senior teacher, outside of Seattle.

I'm starting the year super excited about the yoga. Having spent the last couple days in Vancouver, BC, and seeing friends from training (and doing yoga with them) brings it all back - rekindles that feeling, that connection to the yoga and to the massive focus I found for myself at training. Plus, whenever I'm sharing a mirror with a TT friend, I know they know what I'm capable of. And that helps to hold me accountable, which is something I want to do more and better in regular practices. So, with that - welcome to 2009!

Let's see what we have a year from now!