Not-so-obligatory post.

November 13, 2009

I’m here.  Yet, maybe not.

Hi my name is Karen and I do Bikram Yoga.  I also teach Bikram Yoga.  Basically I live, eat, sleep, shower and dream Bikram Yoga.

I haven’t been bloggin’.  Sure you’ve noticed, right?  Haven’t you?  I haven’t been writing.  But I’ve been practicing, and I for sure have been teaching.  I’ve also been doing Aikibudo, but that’s for later on.  Let’s get back to the practicing.

Yes, practice.  Sri Pattabhi Jois says, practice and all is coming. I am no great interpreter of words, but I think he’s basically saying what Bikram always says, get your shit together and just do the posture.  Do the yoga, do the class, just do..  it.  Practice, practice, practice.

Is it really that easy?  Is it really as easy as showing up, unrolling the mat, and then doing..  it??  Yes, it is.  It’s just that easy.  Yo-ga is easy.  Asana, Pranayama..  it’s easy, right?  Maybe.  Some days it certainly feels easy.  Some days I’d rather stay in bed with a TV remote and a cup of hot chocolate.  Some yogini I am, right?

I find myself reflective this week.  Our studio just finished hosting a huge event, including the state yoga championships.  I was, well, involved with that.  I’ve had several amazing friends in town recently.  I’m also rapidly approaching my one year teaching anniversary.  The train is picking up speed on this whole yoga thing.  And when I look in the mirror, I still see someone I don’t quite recognize.  Who is that girl?  I teach with reasonable confidence, and I usually know every single person’s name in my class.  Who is that girl again??  So, I’m pensive all over again.

I’ve maintained a pretty darned disciplined practice in spite of the momentum of life.  My kids are growing up so fast, my husband is nearing the end of his Master’s degree, life is so good.  I love teaching.  The room is my refuge many days.  Whether I’m behind the mic or on the mat.  I just love it.  The yogini is still there.

Six months ago I started practicing Aikibudo. I have at my disposal an incredible sensei and we train twice a week.  It’s a long story, but the budo is such a part of who I am now that I can’t remember exactly what it was like before I was doing it.  The yoga practice and the budo practice compliment one another in amazing ways.

I’m grateful, that’s the bottom line.  I’m grateful and I have to laugh a little bit sometimes that I get away with having such a cool life.  I mean seriously??  Family, yoga, budo, friends..  That’s my life and my work?  Wow.

I can’t believe I’ve been teaching for almost a year.  I can’t believe I’ve been doing budo for six months.  I can’t believe that in general my biggest concern when I get up in the morning is how I’m going to juggle my practice(s) around my teaching job.

So when I get to my mat (either one) and I feel a little tired or a little grumpy, I’m drawn back to that gratitude.  I chose this life.  I chose to pursue yoga, teaching and most recently budo.  I chose to walk the path.  I’m stronger, healthier, wiser, and more courageous because of it.  All I have to do is practice.  Just do the practice – and all is coming.

 

 

Right in front of me…

October 10, 2009

I haven’t been blogging much.  It’s no secret.

I keep a pretty busy schedule between yoga and budo.  But so many wonderful things have been happening to me on both mats lately that I thought I’d stop in here just to make a note.  It’s been far too long since I’ve made a list like this and a friend of mine this morning inspired me to return to the ritual.  So here goes.

Right in front of me are the most amazing and loving children on this earth.
Right in front of me is the kindest man I have ever known.
Right in front of me is a home, a job, a life, a career, and boundless love.
Right in front of me is a blooming spirit.
Right in front of me is a hot room that has mended me over and again.
Right in front of me is a warm bed, a safe haven, a loving gaze.
Right in front of me is a hope that extends beyond the hours contained in a day.
Right in front of me is a Sensei who teaches me ruthless compassion, discipline, and strength.
Right in front of me are friends of a caliber I cannot explain.
Right in front of me is a body full of life, energy, and breath.
Right in front of me are family, yoga, and budo – all three of which make me who I am.
Right in front of me are skills, talents, gifts, miracles – all which nurture who I want to be.
Right in front of me is a mat that beckons me to push myself to find new depth.
Right in front of me is a door opened enough to entice me walk forward.
Right in front of me is a soft place to land – a place to relinquish fear, and trade it for wisdom.
Right in front of me are books, music, places, people, and sunsets that will draw tears of joy, pain, and wonder in this lifetime.
Right in front of me is right now.

Losing it.

January 4, 2009

Well, it happened to me.  The New Teacher lost her Voice.

It happened about two weeks ago.  I really really really lost it right before Christmas.  I had not been feeling my best over the weekend, fighting off a nasty something or other, and a sore throat.  Well, I woke up at that particularly lovely hour of 4 am to greet my amazing 5:30 yogis and was SO hoarse.  My throat was sore, but I taught, then went back to teach 9:30.  Somwhere around 40 mnutes into class I didn’t know how on earth I was going to finish.  Thank the Gods above for the microphone.  I surived that one but was whispering as I left the studio.  It’s been nearly two weeks and though my voice is back, mostly, I still can’t sing..  at all.  And yes, I can usually sing.

Anyway.

I lost my voice.  I have gotten the lecture, so please..  I know.  I KNOW how to use my voice.  I’ve had plenty of voice lessons.  Diaphragm, I know, I know.  Really, I think I lost my voice because of whatever something or other I had.  Either way, it was gone.  And if there’s anything you can NOT do without a voice, it’s teach Bikram Yoga.

This too shall pass.

So, I’m fine, and I only missed two of my classes thanks to the Holiday time.  By the way, my Holiday was great and I hope yours was too.

So I think I’ve lost count of how many weeks I’ve been back from Teacher Training.  I’ve also lost count of how many classes I have taught.  Teaching is going so well.  I really love it, like, a lot.  I love love love love it.  Of course, it does not hurt that I have the best studio to teach in with the best fellow teachers and bosses (shameless plug)..   In all seriousness, I feel great about teaching.  I feel so supported at BYTW and feel like I’m learning as I teach, and that’s the point, right?

Every day is different when you teach.  Much like when you practice, you can never really tell how the class will go.  I’ve had some rough classes.  My worst on record, I believe, was a Friday 5:30 am’er where I was so sick by the middle of class I barely made it home.  That was no fun, but a learning experience.  I’m learning more than ever to take care of myself and respect my physical limits.  And yes, I do have some.  Teaching can be exhausting,  It’s hard to find the balance between teaching class and finding time to take class.  I’m still working it out, but mostly I get in the room as much as I can and not worry about the rest.  Some days, like today, after teaching a double back to back class, I just do not have it in me to take a class (let alone an Advanced Class).  So it is what it is.  I get plenty of yoga, and plenty of heat.  I still crave more yoga, as I always have.  Maybe that will never end.  But one day at at time, I make my way.

It’s a New Year, and I’m still a New Teacher.  I feel great, but still learning, and that’s why I’m here.

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.

Midpoint ponderings.

October 20, 2008

Wow, well I am really over halfway done with Training.  But I didn’t have time to really write much this week, so I’m catching up now.  Thanks to all of you who have stopped by to see the pictures.  I wish I could have gotten them up sooner.  But they’re up now, and as you can see, this place is pretty amazing.

So, thoughts on Teacher Training from the midpoint…  Wow, what a ride.  I say it over and over and over and over, but wow..  what a ride.  If I think back to the day I left Houston to come here I can hardly believe all that I’ve been through.  Getting here was such a big deal, and then the hurricane hit.  It was a whirlwind for about two weeks.  Training started and the madness ensued.

I remember a lot of it.  I remember Orientation, meeting the staff, the welcome dinner.  I remember that FIRST CLASS.  I remember meeting Bikram.  It all feels like a year ago.  But really, it’s only been five weeks, so much time and yet so little.  I remember how anxiously we all navigated around one another for the first week or so.  I remember the rough transition into the heat of the yoga room, the adjustment to the humidity, and finidng ways to cope with the class.  I remember thinking I was starting over like a brand new baby with my practice.  I remember feeling like I was going to die, wanting to die, and hoping I would die so they would have to carry me out.  But I also remember feeling better and laughing at Bikram’s hilarious commentery in class.  I remember when my body said, “thank you” and worked harder for me.  I remember the glee of making it through without sitting out a single posture for the first time.  I remember thinking I’ve never worked harder in my life for anything.  I remember thinking I’d make it afterall, then the next day not being so sure.  I remember crying through more classes than I can count.  I remember all the compassionate arm squeezes, handfulls of ice, and “are you ok’s??”  I remember giving up on trying to figure out why I was crying, and feeling so free.  I remember the first Posture Clinic with Boss.  I remember nailing my dialogue one day, then struggling the next. I remember ANATOMY with NO BOOKS!!  I remember my first LATE night with a Bollywood movie.  I remember wanting to scream I was so tired, but having nowhere to go.  I remember the ache that finally subsided from missing my kids and my husband so much.  I remember the day I accepted that I was supposed to be here.

And now here I am, about to being week six, a new person.  This is not the body that flew to Mexico so many weeks ago.  It’s not the same brain or the same heart.  I have a long way to go, and a lot more to do.  But being here, at the crossroads, just over the mountaintop – is really, really, really awesome.

If I look back at those goals that I set for myself the first night in Acapulco, I can honestly say I’ve really accomplished most of them.  I’ve given my full effort to this experience.  And, I’ve NEVER left my mat.  All of those little victories are adding up to what I hope will be the start of my new life teaching.  But, I’ve still four weeks ahead.

So, in celebration of this landmark, I’ve decided to write a Thankful list.  I used to do these a lot on my other blog.  I think it’s only fitting, seeing as how I have so much to be thankful for.  So here goes.

Things I am thankful for today:

I am thankful that I am here.
I am thankful for this yoga.
I am thankful for my husband and family.
I am thankful for so many people who believe in me.
I am thankful for my studio at home.
I am thankful that Training is halfway finished.
I am thankful for my amazing friends.
I am thankful for my roommate.
I am thankful for the staff here.
I am thankful for this beautiful place that I get to call home.
I am thankful to be able to be included in this amazing group of people.
I am thankful that I *can* do this.
I am thankful for my body.
I am thankful for water, salt, and sleep.
I am thankful for my ipod.
I am thankful for all the shorts I brought with me.
I am thankful for my water bottles and my insulated bottle sleeves.
I am thankful for my watch.
I am thankful for caffeine, crackers, and chewing gum.
I am thankful for blogging, and having the internet.
I am thankful for my Posture Clinic group.
I am thankful that the weekend is always coming.
I am thankful for the pool.
I am thankful that I can buy a new yoga mat because I killed the first one.
I am thankful that I don’t have to wash my own towels.
I am thankful for my maid, the lunch buffet, and the ICE MACHINE!!!
I am thankful for candy.  Yes, really.  Candy, especially caramels.
I am thankful for the van that carries me to the grocery store every Saturday.
I am thankful for my small, laminated, dialogue that has been through so much.
I am thankful for my alarm clock.
I am thankful for my bed.
I am thankful that I get Sunday off.
and yes..  I am thankful for Bikram.

I could probably go on and on.  But I think that should do it for now.

This week should be interesting.  We are supposed to have some great lectures this week with Rajashree.  I am looking forward to seeing her happy smiling face again!  As always, more YOGA, and more POSTURE CLINIC!!!  My dialogue is going really well and I only have TWO more postures to learn.  WOW.  I worked really hard this weekend to get through a bunch.  It is nice to know I am almost done.

As always, my love to you all.  Here’s to four more weeks!

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.

Week one redux.

September 20, 2008

Wow, it’s really over.  Week one is really over.  It’s hard to believe that, but also SUCH a great feeling.

So I’ve been trying to just be really present and honest and open the past week.  I’m not overdoing it with blogging or journaling.  I love sharing with you all, I really do.  And I’ve been doing the best I can to give you the big details.  But, honestly, I kind of like keeping this experience a little bit to myself.  I have so many different emotions moment to moment.  It’s impossible to keep up with all of them.  It’s really true that you are up one minute and down the next here.  It changes so fast and sometimes you have no idea where it comes from.  Like a ship in the night. But I’ll try to sum up the past week for you guys, my faithful readers.

First of all, WOW, this entire facility is incredible.  The hotel staff are amazingly friendly, it’s so clean, so beautiful, and it’s such a comfort when you literally crawl out of the hot cave and see them around smiling at you.  The sweet lady that cleans my room everyday always lines up my shoes and puts my slippers tucked under my bedskirt.  She also lines up the limes on my dresser.  Little things, people.  It doesn’t take much.  The food is great, and I’m NOT sick of it yet.  Pretty good variety doesn’t hurt.  I got a good look at the spa today and later I’m going to get a pedicure.  Yeah, my feet have been through a lot this week and this is one luxury I am affording myself.  Also, how awesome is it that we have laundry service?  It’s pretty cheap too, and SO nice not to have to wash out all those Shakti shorts and bras.  Little things, little things.

For those of you waiting for pictures, they’re coming.  Not today though.  Soon.  I’ve been a little stingy with pictures because it’s so time consuming to upload.  But they’re coming.  Be patient.

Anyway, the place is amazing and the pool is the most amazing heaven when your sore aching body wants to cool off.  Still no beach.  Later.

We have been hustling through Half Moon dialogue all week.  Still a lot of peole left to give theirs.  I’m not sure what they’ll do this week with it, but it will all get done.  Basically everyone here says their first posture dialogue in front of Bikram.  It’s just how it’s done.  With 310 people, you do the math, it’s SO time consuming.  But it’s fine, and listening to it is a great way to be sure you know it well.  So here it’s basically class, eat, lecture, class, eat, lecture.  Rinse and repeat.  I totally already feel the “Groundhog Day” thing.  I’m in a pattern I like and it’s good.  The weekend is a nice respite.

So, how’s the yoga?  Wow.  That’s almost all I can say (almost).  I heard someone tell me coming to Teacher Training is like starting ALL over again with this yoga.  They’re not kidding.  I’ve had 10 classes already!  I can’t even believe that!!  TEN in six days.  Wow.  Every class has been so different and I’d be lying if I told you I could remember them all and how I felt.  I can’t.  But I do feel overall it’s getting easier to go down into the room and face myself.  You have no idea what a mental hospital that room is.  Wow, when you practice in a regular studio, I think you feel it a little bit.  But being here, in the HUUUUGE room (you saw it!) it is so different.  I’ve had every emotion possible.  Today was my strongest class so far.  I stayed up for the whole class, did every set of every posture, worked hard, and only drank water during the water breaks.  Now for those of you not steeped in this yoga, that’s a good thing.  Right now, everything is about my brain.  I’ve had a little physical discomfort this week.  But overall, I have to get my brain to shut up.  My mind is constantly chattering.  Here’s a little conversation I had in a class taught the other day by Ulysses who owns the Mexico CIty studio:

I can’t do this.  Why am I here?  Why is everyone so damn happy??
Shut up Karen.
No, this is too hot.  Too humid, too hard.  I want out.
Shut up Karen.
If I die right here they’ll have to shut the whole show down to drag me out.
Shut up, it’s not that bad.
Why are my arms shaking?  Why do I feel cold?  Why is my skin clammy?
Just breathe.
Who in GOD’S green earth thought I’d be able to survive this?
Breathe, breathe, breathe.
Ok, breathe.  OK.  I’m OK.  I’m OK.  Oh look, Spine Twist, class is almost over.

I then spent about 20 minutes on my mat weeping like a little baby after they turned the lights off.  You have no idea.  These conversations go on daily.  Oy.

So, the room.  HOLY SHIT it’s big.  Something crazy like 15 or so mat rows.  It holds over 500 sweaty bodies and is apparently the biggest Bikram Torture Chamber on this planet.  Hallelujah, and I get to live in it for the next 8 weeks.  EIGHT!  Can you believe it?  ONLY EIGHT MORE!!  The first night, when Bikram taught the first class, I could have passed out with disorientation.  So many people, so huge, so humid, so hot…  Save me.  But now, a week in, it doesn’t feel as big.  I feel like I’ve gotten my bearings with that hot cave.  The room, the hot cave, the torture chamber, the dungeon.  You pick a name, vote, I’ll stick with it.  I have a feeling when I go home, I’m going to feel like our beautiful orange room is so small.  The energy flows and sometimes it’s like fresh air and sometimes it’s like a tidal wave of hell.  You never know.  I try to just be open to whatever is coming, but you can almost feel it before the teacher even gets up on the box.  I’m only responsible for my energy.  What a relief.  I treasure the feeling though, I treasure the sound of 400 some bodies taking that first breath in Pranayama.  Like one million locusts (according to Boss).  It’s incredible.  Oh and nothing sounds sweeter than the click of the lights going off after the final breathing.  Click, click, click click click….  Hallelujah, I’m still alive and the class is done.  At least for a few hours.

So far I’ve only had to watch ONE Balliwood movie.  I have a feeling more are on the way.  Oh yes, laaate nights with Boss are ahead.  Can’t wait for that.  Oh and in case you’re confused Boss is Bikram.  Bikram is Boss.  You are Boss, I am Boss.  You get it?  Yeah?  OK good.

I’ve made lots of friends and as I said before my roommate is SO great.  I have a buddy, Renee, a fellow Texan, who’s been my main buddy here.  She practices in Austin and she’s one hot chica.  If you’re lucky I’ll post a picture of her for you to see.

I’m going to go nap before my pedicure and then go to the pool.  Weep for me, right?

Thank you all SO much for your comments and emails and all.  You are my breath of fresh air.  I love you all.  Namaste!