Looking inward.

January 5, 2009

I was at the studio this morning, after teaching the 5:30 am class, and was trying to decide whether I wanted to use my spare hour to do yoga alone or go get coffee.  I struggled for a short moment.  I wanted to think, to be quiet, and to be alone.  So the question stood whether I wanted that in the form of a little sweat and stretching, or in a cup of milk and caffeine.  I stood there in front of my packed bag of clothes, looking at the shorts and top I had brought along for my “solo yoga”, and decided the yoga was better than the caffeine.  So I dressed, grabbed a mat and towel, and headed back into the hot room.

This doing yoga alone thing is kind of a new ritual for me.  Today is my second time to do it.  When I teach early, then stay to teach the 9:30 am class, I have a gap of time.  Prior to this new ritual, I would spend that hour or so eating breakfast and inhaling coffee.  But given my new career, I’ve found that my body needs more yoga time.  That empty hour or so was the perfect opportunity.  I’m already at the studio, I have access to the room, and I like to do yoga alone.  It’s something I miss from time to time.  I started doing Bikram alone in my apartment in Colorado nearly nine years ago.  It’s kind of interesting now, all this time later, to once again practice alone.  Now I have one of the best heating systems around available to me, a huge open studio, and plenty of mirrors.  It’s quite the contrast to the way I started out, but I’ll take it.  It’s nice.

Today as I stood in front of the mirror, I was critical of myself.  Too tired, Karen.  Not enough yoga lately, Karen.  You need to work on your posture, Karen.  These shorts look awful on you, Karen…  Blah Blah Blah. It’s interesting that I spend a great deal of my time when I teach encouraging my students to let these things go.  I tell them, Meet your own eyes in the mirror.  Face yourself.  Let it go. I could learn from my own words.  Maybe we teach the things that we really need to learn first.  I dunno.  But I did it, I started.  Breathe, breathe, breathe..  Inhale, exhale.  Again.  I did my hybrid Advanced Class/Beginning Class warm up.  I did my Salutes, my backbends, and I worked.  I didn’t feel particularly excited to be practicing.  The humidity was low in the room and I felt dry.  I had fairly shaky balance, my legs giving way as I worked on head to knee pose, my body not wanting to bend the way I wanted.  It was there that I was taken back to the Training room in Acapulco.

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Training.  I went through a time when I got home of thinking about Training constantly.  Part of me wanted nothing more than to get back on the plane and go back.  Those formative nine weeks changed me forever.  The further I get from Graduation, the less I really want to go back.  Being home is better, and I know it.  Nobody is meant to live in that situation long term.  Teacher Training was but for a season and that’s OK.  But there are days when I’m taken back to that hot room and it all comes rushing back.  Today was one of those days.

I remember those nine weeks as a very complex emotional journey.  I spent the time separated from all of my friends and family here at home.  But during that time I built up a new support system.  I took care of me for the first time in a long time.  It wasn’t fun or easy or particularly comfortable at times.  In fact, there were times that were painful and I wanted out.  But the time passed and looking back, I have no regrets.

I read a note that a friend of mine from Training wrote today on her Facebook page.  She said that we leave such an intense season of change to return home where we require a season of rest.  Our hearts, minds, spirits, and bodies must recuperate from the intense therapy we have given them.  (my interpretation)  I agree with her.  When I came home, I was spent.  My body was irritated and creaky.  Over 100 Bikram classes in nine weeks left me sore and weary.  But now, a little less than two months out, now that I have rested a bit, I feel much better.  Some days I still feel like I am recovering.  There are times that I practice and my body complains.  There are times when I feel like I’m back in that hot room in Mexico, and I feel sentimental all over again.

The physical recovery is only one side, though.  Physically Training was very demanding, exhausting, and difficult.  But that’s only one part of it.  Emotionally and Spiritually I feel changed as well.  And maybe that’s really where the recovery is happening now.  The body, the most acute need, had to recover first.  Now the mind, spirit, heart, and soul can have some time to breathe.  As I stood on my mat alone today, I wondered at all the things that I’d been through.  It seemed petty and small to feel so frustrated with my inability to hold my posture in that moment.  I remembered the early days of Training when that posture wasn’t even happening for me at all.  How far I have come indeed.

But in the yoga room, and in my life anyway, I completely believe body and mind are intricately connected.  When the body hurts, or even reaches new depths, the mind and spirit react.  Yo-ga.  Union.  Hatha:  Ha (sun) tha (moon).  Opposites.  Union, togetherness.  All connected, and all the same.  Just as there is no *perfect* posture, there is no right or wrong emotion on the mat.  It is what it is.  This is perhaps one of my great lessons from Training.  Just letting it be.  If I am happy, or if I feel pain, if I celebrate holding my head on my knee, or if I whine because my back aches – it’s all the same.  Yoga, uniting, bringing together the mind and the body.

I will keep looking inward on my way as I practice.  I will have many more mornings in that room alone, I hope.  Maybe I’ll pick up some more insights.  I will continue to allow my soul, body, and spirit to rest and recuperate.  As Sean reminds me, I will continue to respect myself and afford myself a little kindness and balance.  I will continue to appreciate the lessons learned in Training, and continue to be thankful for the work that was done.

Namaste.

Eleven days ago I completed Teacher Training.  I completed the last classes, my last few lectures, and walked across the stage to accept my certificate from Boss.  Only eleven days ago.  It’s amazing to me how long ago that seems.

When I wrote the last blog, I was sad about seeing Training end.  I remember writing it, the morning of the last Friday.  I was sitting on the floor in the hallway, as I often did.  I had my breakfast beside me, I felt the cool wind of the morning, and was contemplating what to wear to class that day.  I remember that last day.  I remember Rajashree’s morning class, so full of energy.  I remember the afternoon lecture.  I remember Bikram’s final class and the sheer electricity in the hot room that night.  I remember standing with my Posture Clinic group and goofing off.  I remember laughing, crying, and not quite believing it was really over.  I remember when Bikram ended the class and we all screamed and clapped.  We jumped up and down and hugged one another.  I remember people dancing and cheering.  We did it.  And really, it was over.  That night we had the talent show.  It was exhilarating and exhausting to think of what was ahead.  I remember not wanting to go to bed that night, so afraid I’d wake up and it would be over.  But no matter, I did wake up, and it was over.  The next morning felt strange with no yoga class and I started packing up to go home.  I went to the pool one last time to sit with my friends.  I ate lunch in the sun and thought about graduation.  That night, we all walked across the stage and took that little piece of paper from Bikram.  It is that piece of paper, coupled with our nine week journey, that would enable us to be Teachers.  Nobody in that room had ever looked or felt better than we did at that moment.  We shined as brightly as a million stars.  We did it.  Really, we did it.  Graduation gave way to the goodbye dinner.  I sat one last time with my beautiful friends, and we all felt a little solemn under the warm evening.  As time waned, we started hugging, and crying, and realizing we were parting ways.  I remember getting up to leave, and staying another hour just to not have to let go so soon.  But when my final goodbyes were done, I walked back to my room feeling spent.  I was so ready to go and yet didn’t want the night to end.

I flew out on Sunday, late in the morning.  My flight was short, and deposited me back into a cold city.  I got off the plane and wondered instantly where I was.  I saw my precious babies and my husband for the first time in two months.  It was amazing to see their faces, and feel their embrace.  I felt like a stranger a little bit.  But it wasn’t long before I was mommy again and even now, those 9 weeks seem to have slipped by so quickly.

So, now, I sit here only eleven days past graduation.  I have taught four classes at my studio.  My tan is fading, all of my suitcases have long been emptied, and I’ve adjusted to the cool weather.  I am fully re-initiated into my life here in Texas.  It feels strange when I think about it.  Some days I struggle to understand what just happened.  I no longer spend Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the sun by the pool.  I have a stove, and my own washing machine again.  Nobody makes my bed while I am in class every morning, and I no longer sleep alone.  I don’t have to sign in four times a day, wait in line for lunch, ask for things in Spanish, or give my room number every time I want something.  I don’t have to go to yoga if I don’t feel like it, although I do – unless I am scheduled to teach.  I can drive to the store, instead of take a van, and nobody keeps me up until 2 am anymore.  Teacher Training is over, and I really really really miss it.

There are things I do not miss.  Of course, I love the freedom of being done with Training.  I love having my precous husband and kids back, and having a car, and being able to sleep late.  I love my home studio, my friends, and my really comfortable bed.  I love being home, and I love being a teacher.  But I think I will always miss that hot room, the sun, and Mexico.  It will never be the same, we can never go back, and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.  I’m right where I’m meant to be, a little homesick for Training.  I miss Bikram, just like he said.  Amazing.

But no matter, I am here now, and I am a Teacher.  If there is anything that seals the Training experience, it’s teaching.  Teaching is the perfect completion of the circle (thanks Craig), and it’s like the icing on the cake for me.  After all that hard work, putting on that headset mic and walking into that hot room feels like the best reward.  Hello, my name is Karen, I’m going to be your teacher today.  Please come standing in the middle of your mats and towels, toes on the line… The circle is complete.

But the journey goes on, and I have much to learn.  I have so much more of myself to find.  I have so far to go in my practice and I’m excited to see how it will continue to change.  Even as I am growing, my life on the mat will continue to grow and evolve.  One of the best things about this yoga is that there is no end.  There’s no destination point.  It just goes on and on, if we let it.  I am excited to see what is ahead.  I know there are many ups and downs waiting for me, but the yoga is constant.  Even when every class is different, the yoga is the same.  26 and 2.

We say this little phrase a lot in the Bikram world, Eventually or in the future. It’s kind of a little funny part of Bikram’s “language.” I have adopted it so much, and it means a lot to me.  Eventually, or in the future, I used to think about being a Bikram Yoga Teacher.  Now I am.  Everything in its time.

Namaste.

To tell you the truth…

October 11, 2008

WOW, week four is over.  I am almost halfway!  WOW.

I know I haven’t been writing much, or saying much, or *ahem* posting any pictures.  Bear with me, it’s all good.  I’ve always been really honest here on this blog.  So, I am going to talk a little bit about how I’ve been feeling this week with true candor, well..  because I can.

Before I came here, I got SO much advice, information, insight, whatever.. about how this Training was going to be.  I read so many blogs, heard so many stories about it.  I was SO sure I knew how it was going to be.  Well, as per usual it isn’t at all what I expected, or what I was told, really.  OK, OK, maybe a little bit like what I expected.  But overall, not really.

The truth is..  are you ready????  I am happy here.  I know!  That’s good huh?  I feel so incredibly in my element.  I have been a little afraid to say it.  I’ve been worrying that if I say that, it will change.  But, I don’t want to live in fear that this will or won’t change.  I want to share it, so you guys know how I feel.  I’m all good.  I’m sore, exhausted, cranky, hot (duh), and homesick..  yes, I am.  But 85% of the time (or more) I am happy here.  I love it here.  I love the classes, I love posture clinic, I love my friends.  And at the risk of sounding truly annoying, I really really really love the yoga.  I better, right?  Ha.

The good thing about being happy is that no matter how horrible it gets, and it can get pretty bad at times, home base is good.  I feel safe here, I feel healthy, I feel STRONG.  My body is a machine.  Even though they tell us we’re not supposed to necessarily focus on our practices improving during Training, mine is.  I’ve been well and strong since Day One (save that nasty ear thing and a small cold), and have never left my mat.  I have really done well with my dialogue and I feel good about going home to teach.

Oh, and I have an awesome roommate.  I do.  She rocks.

So, in my heightened state of bliss, I fall deeper and deeper in love with the yoga.  I am getting it.  I understand more every time I go into the room.  Of course, I have my days when I want to tear my hair out, or rip off my clothes and run screaming, or just scream.  I have those days, trust me.  I have days when I sob and cry and miss my kids so badly it aches.  I have long nights with movies in Hindi that I neither understand nor care to understand.  I have days when those precious 3 or 4 hours of sleep just aren’t enough.  Yeah, I have those.  But, I signed up for this, on purpose.  And no matter what, there’s always a weekend coming.  And, the best part?  At the end of this nine weeks, I will have a whole new life.  I will be a teacher (or a teacher in the making, at least), and I will have my certificate.  I’ll have crossed over that invisible chasm and have survived the Torture Chamber.  I will be a completely different person.

For all of that, I am thankful and very happy.  And, that is the truth.

Namaste.

Check-in

October 8, 2008

Oh boy.  It’s been a while.  Truth?  I wrote a huge, long “update” this weekend and decided not to publish it.  Yeah, I know.  It had pictures and everything.  But alas, I did not publish it.

I’m doing fine.  Many of you, whom I speak with regularly anyway already know most of what’s going on with me.  You know my daily ups and downs.  For those of you who are outside of that loop, rest assured I am just fine.  The pace has picked up considerably in the last week, and blogging has kind of fallen to the side in my priorities.

There really is no way (for me, anyway) to really describve this experience.  I’ve tried, many times, and my attempts always seem so feeble.  I came to the conclusion last week that overall, this Training is impossible to understand unless you are actually here or have been here before.  And yes, even despite my very eloquent writing skills, I feel like writing about it is a little empty.  It’s beneficial, for many personal reasons and it certainly keeps all of you connected.  But in general, I’m not very good at the chronicaling of this 9 weeks, that I initally set out to do.  Which, to be honest, is just fine with me.  I haven’t got the time to be that diligent.

So, on a practical note, we’re here in the middle of week four.  Posture Clinics are rocking along and as I said before, the pace seems to have picked up quite a bit.  I’m not comlaining one bit.  As per the usual, the weekends are so restorative for me.  This past weekend I got a cold, which I am still nursing.  Seems we all have some kind of something we’re dealing with.  I’m just glad it’s not in my stomach.

Classes are..  well, fine.  Good and bad.  You know, the same.  Overall, I definitely feel stronger.  You just never know going into that room what’s going to happen.  The easiest thing to do is to just have no expectations and let it go.

I hope all of you are well.  I’ll try to write more later this week.  Namaste

For a reason.

September 29, 2008

It’s been an interesting week. Week 2. I am totally feeling the ups and downs. The week starts off with energy and by midweek I feel drained. The weekends are the best. I feel so refreshed on the weekends. I think it’s what makes this process bearable, the knowledge of those 46 hours off. Yeah, I counted the hours.

This week I’ve learned a lot about my practice. I had many incredibly strong classes. It felt SO good to just feel the yoga in my body. I am getting leaner and stronger. But one of the hard things about this Training is that when it’s great it’s REALLY great, but when it gets tough, it can get REALLY tough. I feel like the room is getting hotter, which it very well may be. I had a few classes this week when I truly felt that my body wouldn’t be able to do this Training. I had another emotional breakdown on Friday evening in class. I just sobbed and sobbed. A lot of it was exhaustion, but a lot of it was also an overwhelming release of so much of the anxiety I brought with me to Acapulco. I am learning that it’s easier just to let it go, so I did. The process gives way to the healing, even when it’s tough. Physically it feels harder to actually let this happen. But it’s more emotional than physical, and I know it. I’d prefer to muscle through and fight it off, but my body and spirit has other plans for me. I am healing on such a profound level. I don’t love it all the time, but I know it’s best for me.

We had some great lectures this week. We’ve been studying more Anatomy and had a very talented woman come talk to us about how to use our voices. She was great and brought a lot of energy to the group. Bikram gave more lectures on Yoga this week. We saw one Bollywood movie and also had the lovely Emmy Cleaves with us all week. Oh how I love Emmy. I’m not sure if she’s going to be here next week. She helped me in posture clinic with my left side Triangle. Oy, I won’t soon forget that experience! And my Triangle is certainly better for it. Her classes were so wonderful. She teaches very deliberately and gives really detailed information about postures. I learned so much about alignment and correct positioning. Learning learning..

So.. How’s the body holding up? Well, really well. I still feel overall really great. No dehydration, no cramping, and no real misery outside of overheating in the room. Physically, I’m great. I do tend to get a little weak in class at times and find it hard to get my heart rate down. Once again, the sea salts are saving my life. Thank God for pure minerals and electrolytes. Thanks Arnie!

On a more business-y note, there was some talk this week about my blog going private. I know many of you have commented and emailed me about it, and I had considered it as well. However, I have decided not to do this afterall. The general feeling here (in the Training), and the impression and requests I think we have all gotten from the staff and teachers is that this experience is unique. The way that we, as students blogging, speak about Training affects the way the outside world (and potential future Trainees) view it. It is inappropriate, I believe, to overshare others’ personal experiences, give specifics from the lectures (Copyrighted information), drop names, and gossip. However, I do feel that this blog, and many of the blogs being written by my fellow students are very helpful to those we have said goodbye to at home. These blogs are our lifeline and outlet. They serve to inform our loved ones and friends of the daily goings on here in Acapulco. For that reason, I have chosen to leave mine public. You may find as you read that my blog is fairly general, and at times vague. This serves several purposes both for myself and out of respect for the requests being made of us while we are here. Please understand this, and do remember that this Training is an incredibly unique community. We are all here for different reasons, coming from different places, and will all have a different point of view. I hope that my words shared offer a glimpse of this community, with the utmost respect to the staff, the Senior Teachers, Bikram, and especially my fellow Trainees.

I hope you all have a lovely week.

Namaste.

Tres mas dias.

September 11, 2008

I’m leaving in three days. Can’t believe it’s finally here.

I’ve had kind of a slow week so far yoga-wise. I’m not so much pushing myself in class. It’s been a great week otherwise, though, full of all kinds of goodbyes and *lasts* as I bid my cozy life with the Woodlands Yogis goodbye for a while. I’ve also been spending as much time with these guys as humanly possible.

Man, I’m going to miss them.

It feels weird to say that everything is done.  The bags are packed, arrangements made, business sorted out, it’s all done.  I just have to get on the plane.  And hug and kiss my guys goodbye.  That’s the sucky part.

As you can imagine I’m all over the place emotionally.  I’m excited, no doubt.  I’m also dealing with the grief I knew I would of anticipating being separated from my family for so long.  I’m nervous, and anxious about the logistics of travel (damn hurricane!).  I’m also curious about the hotel, my room, the hot room, my roommate, Acapulco, the beach, and the pool(s).  But with all the anxiety, and the glee, and the uncertainty, I remain surprisingly calm.  I feel the quiet peace of knowing that come Saturday I embark on the next journey laid out before me.  I know that no matter how anxious I am, or how much I worry about the things I’ve packed, the nine weeks will be.  I will be, Training will be.  It will all be, and it will all be fine.  The hurricane may disrupt my flights, my plans may be disheveled.  I may get exhausted, and homesick, and cry.  But it will be what it will be.  I will wake up Monday and go to class, and the wheel will start turning.  This is who I am, and who I will be, and who I am supposed to be.  And it’s going to be awesome.

In case I don’t get a chance to blog again before I go, I bid you all a fond goodbye.  Here in my quiet house, with my boys snoozing upstairs and my tea beside me, I relax one more time.  I will take you all along in my heart and your words will encourage me as I work towards one of my life’s biggest goals.  Thank you all SO much for your support and your love.

I will be blogging here as much as I can while I am away.  Please feel free to leave me comments but understand I may not be able to respond to them.  My time online will be limited but your words encourage me, so keep them coming!!!

All of my love to you all and see you in Acapulco.

Day 27: Sore no more.

June 27, 2008

Something has happened. I have my “old” spine back. I got up early today and took Jessica’s 5:30 class. Now, usually I am stiff early in the morning. But today I wasn’t nearly as stiff as I have been. Could it be? The yoga is working?? Could this be true? Of course, it’s not really an old spine. More like a brand new spine. Thank you Boss, I’ll take it.

Whew and only 27 days in. Can’t believe I’m about to say this, but this is FUN! Yes, I said fun. Today’s class felt like a dream. I loved the way it felt. And I almost slept in. Silly me.

Process, indeed. I did a backbend in the third part of Half Moon today that even I couldn’t believe. My spine has been so tender for so long I kinda didn’t expect to even see the wall much less see where the wall meets the floor. But WOOHOOO.. Fall back for sure, and I loved it.

OK friends, I have a confession to make. I am addicted to Kombucha. I blame Jessica, entirely. It’s her fault, I swear. Nothing is better after a class than an ice cold Guava Kombucha. Try it.

Alright, I have much to accomplish in this day. So I am going to leave you all. Looking forward to seeing Roy tomorrow at 7:30. Who knows, maybe Daren will be there. 😉

Namaste.