Tuesday, February 7, 2012

And It Feels Like...

To recap: I thought the halftime show was amazing. Total nonsense, but so cool to look at it. Amazing back up dancers and Madonna looked like she was genuinely excited to be there and be performing. So, it was excellent to me.

Yesterday, my friend Kate and I were discussing yoga teachers. Specifically, what makes a good yoga teacher? When Kate asked me my thoughts on Bikram teachers, I was admittedly stumped. For vinyassa teachers, I actually have more thoughts. Some teachers put together amazing, amazing sequences that leave one part of my body feeling all tingly and crazy and great. Other teachers get a great rhythm going. One of my favorite teachers always manages to shake the order up and change things around. It's great!

But, isn't it almost harder to say what makes a good Bikram yoga teacher? For me, it's always about much more than The Heat. Some people obsess over teachers and The Heat. Admittedly, I used to obsess about It too. (Is this class Hot? Or just hot? Or HOT?) But then I realized, I've had amazing classes in crazy hot rooms and shitty classes in crazy hot rooms. I've had amazing classes in not so hot rooms and shitty classes in not so hot rooms.

Technically, all Bikram teachers teach the same sequence with the same words in the same conditions. I can't comment on how well one sequences a class based on the others because they'll always do the same sequence. But still, every teacher, every class, every room is different, no question about it. I didn't know how to articulate it well, though. How some teachers can create a quiet, but forceful class. How some almost flow the class together but others create a challenge through the stillness in between.

Then, just like a prayer (yes, I'm quoting Madonna. I'm gayer than laughter deal with it), in walked Johnny Salvatore and helped me answer all my questions.

I had read the name in all the teacher training blogs and all the stories. And I thought, "Ok, I have to take the class." It was packed, lots of students who had been at the studio for years and a ton of teachers. Really amazing environment. And to me, Johnny was like having Joan Rivers teach me yoga. If that sounds like an insult, IT IS NOT. It is the highest compliment I can give. He's a wonderful teacher, and I'm in love with him. I'm still on cloud 9.

Here's how he answered my question though: I've had a ton of good teachers. All different. But Johnny finally made me realize what I love and prize most: presence. Just staying in the room with us for 90 minutes. Most teachers do. People who teach yoga love to teach yoga, and I know that. Some people, though, are simply better at remaining present. It's what gives some actors that extra push or makes a dancer like Margot Fonteyn transcend bad feet. And, Johnny was present with every single person in that room of 63 for all 90 minutes. He was with us, and we were with him.

I don't usually get all spiritual and hoo hah-y, but it was beautiful. I didn't want to get up off my mat at the end. I felt totally whole and totally one with everyone around me.

I thank every teacher that's done that for me, but tonight was something special.

Monday, January 30, 2012


I manged to drag my ass to four 6:30am classes since my last post. You know, you can get a lot done between the hours of 8am and 10am. No one's up yet. News cycle hasn't started.

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

(CUT TO: 2 weeks from now and me swearing to never go near a studio at 6:30 in the morning EVER AGAIN, but for now, it's a beautiful friendship)

Also....kudos to people who teach early early morning classes, especially where I'm practicing. A) They get up even earlier than I do and B) They handle a rough situation very well. Let me splain:

That early in the morning, I'm just not mentally ready to go THERE right away. I try to be awake and present but it's definitely not an easy feat. I appreciate that teachers respect that and still push you to do the pose right. They know you can't just pop back into a back bend (after the second one, though, I'm pretty much awake as I'll ever be in my life) but they also know you didn't drag your ass there to stand and do nothing. I still sweat, I still push, I still feel all sorts of pain sensations in the back of my thigh, and my heart rate is elevated (just like it's supposed to be). I appreciate that a lot. I don't know if I could ever do it.

Although I did like it when the teacher this morning slipped up and told us to bring the forehead to the knee during final spine twist. Nobody made any big deal about it, but it definitely led me to contemplate what the hell that would look like.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

On my Own Schedule

I think most people have a sort of "I'm committing to this!" moment about a month ago. As one year winds down and a new one begins and resolutions! and all that. I made mine this week, which feels perfectly suitable to me. I'm going to give it my God's honest try to get to yoga every day. Even if it means waking up early. Which I can do. There is nothing physically stopping me. I just whine and don't do it.

Writing that is oddly foreboding, but I think it's a good idea to actually type it out for myself. We'll take it week by week and catch as catch can!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Men and Bikram

I've noticed a trend.

In a Bikram yoga class, there are either enough men for someone to remark, "Wow, a lot of men practice here!" or one token man (often me) standing among the scantily clad females. We've all heard that yoga attracts more females and all that, so that's no surprise. I think I find it more surprising that when men show up, they seem to naturally show up together. If I were an anthropologist, I would actually research this.

Oh one other thing, they seem to show up for certain teacher's classes too. At both studios I know fairly well, if there's going to be a lot of men, they're probably showing up to this teacher's class. I just don't get why. Maybe it's all happy coincidence-I just enjoy seeing it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Riding High Tide

I think I read it in someone else's blog somewhere, but the writer made a point that the practice of yoga is not just the 60-90 minutes spent in the room with the asanas. Your yoga practice is a lifelong, day to day commitment. And, like the 60-90 minute practice, your practice has its heights and its falls.

I've come out of a valley for a bit, and I'm riding high. Classes have felt great. My body feels good. I'm making progress. For a while, I was basically dying every class without fail, so it's sort of exciting to reach a high point after that.

I wonder if this is something I'm experiencing more drastically as a newbie or if it continues on. This shift has felt super extreme, from puddle on the floor of anger and tears to feeling like I could conquer anything. Even the latter, though, has days and moments that feel impossible. I'm curious to keep exploring and see if one day, it becomes a more gentle tide instead of tide pool to tidal wave every couple of months.

Oh! And now I have a picture. Of me. Doing something. My sister and I did a big yoga photo shoot after I took class yesterday. Maybe it was my ego feeling needy, but I'll always defend it as curiosity (and Bridget needed practice with her camera!). Can't lie, it made me proud of myself. I never thought of myself as particularly bendy. And yeah, I can't do this yet:

And maybe I never will, but everyone's gotta start somewhere.

Gotta wonder if that's what spoils Bikram yogis. We keep coming back because if you keep doing the same 26 poses long enough, they will look better over time. Not that any of us come to yoga to look good, how dare me to even say so....but yeah, it's nice to see progress.


Monday, January 2, 2012

I Blog, I Swear I Do

Yeah, so about this thing. I guess once school started, I stopped writing in it.

So, to those people who have missed not reading it or need something to roll their eyes at, it's back. I really need more yogi friends, because I'm sure this all just sounds like pure insanity. Which, I mean, it is. Those rooms get really hot. And make me nauseous. And then I come back for more and write about it. (As in, I thought I was going to throw up in today's class, but I didn't...)

I guess some of my goals for 2012 would be to try some new studios and new practices. I love Bikram, and it's a great home base. But I miss vinyassa classes. And I'd love to get deeper into yin yoga. Just a question of keeping an eye out and paying for classes and all that. Also, love to explore more of the NYC Bikram community. There are something like 10 studios on the island, might as well get to a couple of them.

Deal for myself: once a week. Maybe every Sunday or Monday? About what? God knows. We'll see where this goes. 

I feel like by the end of this year I'll know if a teacher training of some kind is right for me. It feels like it is and that teaching would bring me a lot of joy (if nothing else). I think a good training would also help me answer some questions and understand more of the yoga. However, I know I'm going to have to wait until after the spring of next year. I don't foresee fitting in a training during my time at NYU, but who knows?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yoga Exorcism

I think I had some kind of exorcism in yoga today. Again. These happen with some frequency.

I've decided they're good, but they definitely feel like hell. This one was brief, not a full on crying jag like I've had. But, the teacher tonight was very much on pushing my hips forward. They do tend to live behind me due to whatevah whatevah. But, I pushed them pretty far forward in Camel. First set, I was in for about three seconds, then out. Got up for second. Pushed those hips, fell out, came back in at teacher's request, and literally came up gasping. I don't know if it was mental or physical or some odd combination of the two, but it was pretty nutso.

So that was my afternoon. We'll see what happens tomorrow...