Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The New Regime - Class 20

I have jumped ship, but have yet to set sail.......yesterday marked a new beginning for me. I taught my first yoga class at Bikram Yoga Union Square. It was a fascinating, painful, productive and ego-removing 105 minute class. Why the extra time for someone who's always on point with her timing?

Otto stopped me no less than 15 times over the course of my class to make corrections to my dialogue in front of the students. I enjoyed his candor and took pride in his feedback. While most people would feel intimidated in a situation so intense, I just went with it and embraced a new studio owner that was actually interested in seeing me blossom and become a better teacher. A studio owner who likes me for my "star-power." Yes, he used the phrase, and I'll take it!!

Otto is a business man, plain and simple, with an affinity for Bikram. God bless him! He calls it like he see's it and you always know where you stand with him. Unfortunately he requires more time than I have to give right now as I embrace my new job and career beginning September 4th.

It's definitely not the end of my time at Bikram Yoga Union Square. I will work with Otto in any capacity he will accept me, even if just a practitioner.

I would personally like to thank Idan for making it this particular class and sticking it out with me. Your support and undying love for what I do makes everything lighter and brighter.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Way You Do Anything Determines How You Do Everything - Class 19

This afternoon's class marked the end of my teaching at Hamptons Hot Yoga. I write this blog with heavy fingers and an even heavier heart. I will miss my students there very much but will still see them as a practitioner. Today's stormy weather matched perfectly with the mood tonight in class. It was by far one of my weakest classes, personally. My nerves and emotions got the better of me, my peace was stolen and still the rain continues to fall outside the house and inside of me.

Driving home, I realized I would no longer have to take the back roads at warp speed to arrive to teach on time. I will miss the sunrise/sunset hours, gazing at the farms and endless sunflower patches. In these last weeks of summer, I can go slowly, slowly. I can look around and smell the wild flowers a bit more than I have been. I'm looking for the lesson in all of this and hope the universe will show up on my doorstep to teach me, sooner rather than later.

I anxiously await an audition for my NYC teaching job. Until then, it's cocktails and dreams all around. More time for the beach and entertaining. More time for me.

PS - I am still proud of the confidence I exuded in tonight's class, despite my perfectionist ego. My head was held high from start to finish; the same way I carry myself through life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Giving Back - Class 18

There is a Fall 2012 Teacher Trainee in my midst. She is a strong student, with beautiful energy. I met her for a snack right before I taught my 18th class. I won't give names here to protect privacy, but she has all the same nervous energy that I did. Even though we are the exact same age, I felt at least 10 years older in my mind, as I was giving her the low down. She's going for it and a part of me is so jealous, but the other part of me would never go back. I think what I feel is an envy and longing for the simpler, longer, more structured days of training. They were drama-free days, spent with good friends without egos. How can I recreate this stillness, this paradise in my own mind? I hope to find this answer in the last days of summer and through more teaching. 

In the mean time, I dedicate this post to the Fall 2012 Trainees and everyone who will follow them. Here is the Mother List....
What to Bring:
- Your car (if it's an option); car = freedom in training and in LA. You will have time to use it, especially on weekends.

- Extra shower rod for the bathroom; ideal for hanging your mat on to dry after class. The alternative is hanging mats to dry by the pool.

- 64oz Hydroflask. Bigger is better, just trust me on this one. At the very least, the 42oz. You can order them on hydroflask.com

- All yoga clothes and "teaching" clothes you have. Don't invest in a lot of new gear before you get there, as you'll have access to a lot of new yoga labels and Lululemon is close to the hotel.

- As far as regular clothing, bring your staples; the stuff you live in day in, day out. I call these items, "my uniform" (i.e. if you were stranded on a dessert island and could only bring a few comfy tops and bottoms, what would they be?). Don't forget a few nice, "going out" pieces because you will want to and there are events other than graduation that you will want to look nice for.

- Bring running shoes and even hiking shoes, if you want to explore the gorgeous trails outside of LA.

- You can't bring enough flip flops but you can bring too many regular shoes. Less is more with shoes.

- Swimsuits and cover-ups for the beach and pool. I was at the pool for at least an hour a day on my break between class and lecture.

- If you like protein shakes, like I do, invest in the Magic Bullet. It was not a problem to use it my room and it comes with some insulted cups for other beverages.

- As for other beverages, a coffee maker will make you the Mayor of your hallway and a lot of new friends, and/or a hot water heater for tea.

- Wait and buy your yoga mats onsite at the water station. You will end up needing two during training.

- Buy a mini-laminated dialogue at training, but you can make one at Kinkos before you go as well. This will motivate you to take it with you everywhere. The pocket size one I made wasn't laminated and was great for taking notes on for that reason.

- Bring your iPhones (or another comparable smart phone that allows you to take voice notes). Listening to yourself saying the dialogue is the best way to learn it. I still play it in my car all the time. Bikram's dialogue is also available on iTunes.

- You will need a seat cushion or neck pillow to sit on during posture clinics. The floor is hard on your tush for three hour windows. Something that works as dual support is ideal. Those stadium seat cushions work well also. You can buy this at Bed, Bath & Beyond when you arrive.

Last but not least, LEARN AS MUCH DIALOGUE AS YOU CAN BEFORE YOU LEAVE! This will save you a lot of stress in weeks 3-6, when you have round the clock posture clinics and need to learn a new pose almost every day if you haven't already. Knowing the dialogue before training will enable you to teach sooner when you return to your home studios. Just trust me on this one. Having said that, I only knew the warm-up (through Eagle) prior to arriving, and my life turned out ok. However, I needed a solid two weeks upon returning to master and recall everything.

We are all Teacher Trainees in Life, learning our own paths, how to swim in our own ponds and oceans. Peel back all those unnecessary layers and open your chakras. Go in peace on your journeys. Life as you know it will never be the same.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Waiting to Exhale - Classes 16 & 17

Sometimes a Guru can come in other forms than a Yogi. For me, I have Emmy Cleaves & Veronica Timiras. "V," as I like to call Veronica, has been able to look inside my soul with a magnifying lens. She has safely gone where no other therapist, life coach, healer, clairvoyant, acupuncturist, etc. has gone inside my body. She has healed me on many levels, from the inside out, bones to the skin, coccyx to the forehead, coccyx to the toes! I have not seen her in many months; it felt like an eternity, until today. 

I confess that I am not in the best of spirits this week. Even with all my recent successes and accomplishments and the luxury of not having a full time job for the summer, there are times I feel empty and lonely. I have holes in my heart that used to be filled with people who are no longer around. People who have moved on and people I have moved on from. I miss them all dearly, but I know that something bigger and better is coming to fill their places...lately, that's the only thought that gets me through the day.

That, and a much needed glass of wine at Wolford Estates out East. I took my mother on her first ever wine tasting adventure this week. She loved it and we invested in some wonderful bottles. Speaking of drinking, I am officially off the bottle after a bender this week. When I stopped to think about it today, I had alcohol every day since Saturday and it's ummmm Thursday? Not ok. Veronica tapped into my Liver today during our acupuncture session and it was ridiculously painful. I cried, my digestive system screamed and even my sweet tooth gland was throbbing. NO MORE BOOZE for a bit. I will survive. I always do.

Some positive news, my teaching is on the upswing; always a work in progress and constant improvement. I started cracking my journal from training and re-reading old posts from this blog for some new inspiration. It helps. It matters. What I learned can easily be forgotten if not studied and maintained. Maintenance, Emmy says, is the hardest thing to keep up with after training, so why stop? Especially when you have the pleasure of practicing next to Billy Baldwin, mat next to mat. He's definitely a fighter on the mat and has a lot of room to grow in his flexibility, which is always inspiring to see as a teacher. If everyone walked into the room already flexible like a Gumby, I would be out of a job! 

Baldwin came back to take my class Wednesday evening with a first-timer friend of his. Both of them were lovely and humble in their practices. I definitely didn't pay him any special attention as his teacher. You can't play favorites in Bikram because the ones you neglect somehow end up being the ones who need you and you need the most. I'm not messing with those odds ever.

Friday, August 3, 2012

At The Carwash, Yeah! - Class 12

As you may or may not remember from my April post, I am a serious car person. I love driving, maintaining and just being in nice cars in general. With this infatuation comes an addiction to detailing my BMW on a weekly basis. I'm sorry LA, but the Hamptons might just have you beat in terms of the level of care taken for all the exotic cars roaming the streets out East. 

When I arrived in Southampton a month ago, I went straight to Southampton Car Wash. It was nice and loose, comfortable, easy, flexible. My car had taken a beating, after being on a truck to and from California. It had been vandalized before I left LA, and I'm sure a million other things I don't even know about. What the owner of Southampton Car Wash pointed out to me, as the car was pulling out of blow dry heaven, was that my front hood had shallow scratches, a little acid damage from the garage in the City and a slew of other details that they could easily correct with a more intensive service. He showed me what a little wax could do for maintaining the exterior cleanliness and I was hooked! It was like crack.

Please note, I have yet to make a single analogy about cars, fuel or gas stations in any of my yoga classes. Bikram would be so disappointed...

Flash forward, I have the uber-expensive detailing job, and let's just say it was worth it for so many reasons. The most important being the relationship I formed with the owner and his son this week. I have to say, the Southampton Car Wash team is the friendliest, nicest group of people. It's a family run business and the cars are taken care of with love. Since I'm there almost once a week, it's impossible not to get to know everyone. When the boys found out that I'm a yoga teacher, all ears went up and tails were wagging.

The three most consistent comments I get from men who have never done Yoga is: 
1) "I'm so inflexible"
2) "I can't even touch my toes"
3) "I need to stretch more"

All I can say is this, with so much stiffness and inflexibility comes a lot of room to improve; a lot of growth potential. This is how I explained it to Jacob tonight in class. He is the son of the car wash owner and a football player. At age 18, he has suffers from Type 1 Diabetes and has already had a concussion and a bunch of muscle issues that usually plague those in their late 20's / early 30's. I was amazed by his will to succeed in tonight's class. With sugar and insulin injections by his side, Jacob gave it all he had. He did every single pose and listened to direction, which is usually the hardest thing to do in class. The beautiful thing about him attending tonight, aside from his company as I closed up the studio, is that his father really pushed him to do it. His dad asked me a million and one questions before letting Jacob come to the studio. The love this father has for his son is so transparent and pure. It made me miss my dad and a relationship that I would never get to have with him.

Jacob is one of five siblings. I can't imagine spreading my love amongst five children, but tonight's class showed me that it is quite possible. I hope to see the rest of the family back in class with Jacob soon. Oh and apparently the next car wash is on them - yay!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Training Wheels Come off Before Class 11

I have a confession to make. Both of the yoga mats I used in training (fondly known as "chocolate brown & "pink princess") have been lost. One was left by accident on Third Avenue in the City during the heat wave, and it was just too damn hot to walk back for it. The other was left to dry on my fire escape and it blew away. That's right, it must have fallen five stories down and hopefully did not hit anyone on the way. I began thinking about those mats and all the emotions they shared with me. The good times and the bad, the laughs and the tears. I said to Ish the other day, "if this mat could talk, what a story it would tell." That was about 10 minutes before I lost it.

In a lot of ways, those two mats represent the training wheels of my journey into teaching. Now that they're off, I must be stable on 2 wheels; 2 arms & 2 legs in one base. I have a new found confidence in my teaching that only comes with time and practice. I'm discovering a different sense of inner peace in my delivery. I am no longer scared of making a mistake. I can actually feel the yoga as I practice, as opposed to just listening to the words and reacting.

As Lorenza said in her class yesterday, the student has come full circle and become the teacher. The yoga community is a beautiful thing in that respect. We all learn from each other, by sharing with each other. I was able to give back yesterday to my own NYC yoga community by volunteering to assist at Free Yoga in Bryant Park, sponsored by Bikram Yoga NYC and LuLuLemon. It was a wonderful morning with all walks of life taking part. 250 people in total.
Sometimes your wheels come off before you're ready and you have to deal. In my case my mats had to disappear for me to realize what I have and what I've gained.