Saturday, July 2, 2011

Week Nine and After: Tales from Inside and Outside the Yoga Bubble

Many of my loyal readers (well, my Mom) have been asking for a wrap up post.  What happened in Week Nine? How was your first class? What happened in Vegas?  Did it STAY in Vegas?  There's so much to tell about the past three(!) weeks, and going back through my pictures trying to decide what to write about has made me all nostalgic, so I'll try to keep this relatively short and sweet, but still satisfying...

Our "artsy" LAX photo
I had planned also to respond to two questions from commenters that are not members of my family or friends (whoa...I'm like a real blogger!) but I've run out of time - a good reason to return to this blog within the week!

And don't worry, I do plan to keep blogging, since things will keep changing over here - I'll hopefully be teaching a few classes in Corvallis, Portland, and Seattle on my way up to Canada for my stepbrother's wedding in Victoria, BC, and in a few months I'll probably be moving out of SF so I can teach full time without going broke...surely that will all be interesting to read, no?

Why yes, Emmy CAN still get both legs over her head!

Week Nine
At the beginning of Week Nine we had a special treat - an advanced class demonstration by a crew of yoga badasses, led by Emmy herself.  Advanced class is the next step, two hours of both beginning and advanced postures.  I took my first advanced class yesterday and it was like my first Bikram Yoga class all over again - will I EVER be able to do some of that craziness? Time will tell.  Bikram and Emmy were like two bickering siblings the whole two hours - it was a delight!

 Who's that in the middle?  Erstwhile Mission Yoga teacher, former yoga champ and awesome dude Amir, of course!

Week Nine was also full of "lasts" - the last time we do laundry and study dialogue at the same time...The last time we go food shopping for the week...Our last Emmy class...Our last Rajashree class...our last Bikram lecture...our last late night Bollywood movie...

 All you need to stay up through the last late night movie is pillows and popcorn - and without a doubt, this was one of the best.

Our last class of training, which happened Thursday at 5pm, was utterly overwhelming.  First off, there were lots and lots of extra people in the room (visitors for Graduation the next day, competitors for the International Championships that weekend, etc) which, as you know, brings the heat and humidity way up.  Also Bikram was teaching, drawing it out as long as possible.

 Mission Yoga representin' before the last class!

Before class we were running around taking photos and buzzing like little almost-graduated bees.  When pranayama breathing finally began, my heart was pounding fast and I thought "oh man...this class is going to be TOUGH."  And it was.  People cried, passed out, left the room, were carried out of the room, ran out of the room.  I was determined to push through the whole time, so that by the middle of class I think I may have actually been semi-conscious, in a weird sort of out-of-body state of mind.  Yeah, I know, crazy.  

Last time Bikram sits up on his podium!

At the next to last posture (Spine Twist) people began to whoop and holler.  Almost the minute class ended we all leapt up for sweaty hugs, laughing and crying and cheering all at the same time.  We were so worn out from such a difficult class but it didn't even matter.  

Sweaty post-class hug with the beautiful Patrizia

It was one of the most memorable moments of training.  A bunch of us ran downstairs and plunged into the outside pool (despite the Week Two warning from hotel staff that we really should shower off the sweat before going into the pool).  I couldn't believe it was over.  It was OVER.

Of course, Bikram kept us all up till 3:30am with another rambling lecture - reminding me that there were parts of training that I wouldn't miss QUITE so much...

Graduation Day
We had the morning off before 2pm graduation on Friday, so we slept in, then joined Julia, Steve23, Juicy, and newest arrival, three-week-old little California Poppy from Mission Yoga for lunch at Tin Roof, using up the last of the lunch coupons so generously gifted to us by the owner back in Week One.  

Graduation was a little microcosm of the whole of training.  It took place in the hot yoga room (they hadn't even ripped up the carpet, so the minute we walked in the smell was just...gross).  Bikram gave a long lecture.  Rajashree made us all feel warm and loved.  The demonstration team of fellow trainees absolutely killed it with a demo of each and every posture in the beginning series.  There was a long line for the buffet, which was not very good food.  My buddy Andrew trusted me to take a photo of him receiving his diploma with his fancy camera and I FAILED miserably (despite the amazing photo he took of me that opens this blog post!).  Awards were distributed to just the right people.  We all laughed and cried and took pictures and were amazed at how different, yet the same, we looked with makeup and real clothes on.

Group 8 all dolled up!

After graduation we piled into Andrew and Chris' room for a college-style gathering with wine and champagne in plastic cups and glasses borrowed from the hotel restaurant.  Then several of us ventured down the street to the Melody Bar (stopping to take a photo at the LAX sign, of course).  I have danced to cheesy music in a divey bar with a gin and tonic in my hand many times before, but now, with my yoga friends and ten weeks without, I had a newfound appreciation for just how awesome it was.

Yogi pile post-graduation

Graduation Day was a whirlwind, but I'll never forget it!

International Competition
Saturday and Sunday were the International Championships.  Yogis from all over the world arrived to show us how it's done - and yes, the championships took place in that same smelly giant yoga room.  Man, was I done with that room.

Yup, I apparently only took photos of the male competitors...AND WHAT OF IT?

The Week That Followed: Arizona and Vegas
After way too may goodbyes and a departure straight out of a Lifetime movie (Danielle driving away from the LAX hotel that had been her home for nine weeks crying like a baby?  Yeah, I'm not ashamed) I got to spend a day and a half with the lovely Angie Sun.  We cooked my first real meal together (salmon and potatoes, with beets and goat cheese on ciabatta toasts to start!  how Trader Joes gourmet are we?), saw a movie, decompressed a little.

 Look ma, we're cooking!

I spent Monday afternoon getting some R&R with the three small dogs belonging to Angie and her roommates, all of whom fought for position on my lap while I recorded all 26 postures worth of dialogue to study during the long driving trips I knew I had coming up (hence why, when I was driving the next day, I couldn't figure out what was jingling in my car, stuffed to the brim with suitcases and bags and boxes, until I realized it was the dog tags that made it onto my recording).  We also saw Jeff Goldblum's jazz band, thanks to a tip from Kelly's lovely cousin Kristin - thus finally having, at least marginally, the LA celeb encounter I'd hoped for.

 Kristin watches Jeff Goldblum tinkle the ivories...

 ...while Danielle, Victoria and Angie take photos on the stairs

Then off I drove to Arizona to spend some time with the marvelous Rippey family - Aunt Margot, Uncle Paul, and Cousins Jake and Cole.  Aunt Margot was my favorite aunt growing up (the youngest, and a cool NYC city girl who would play board games with me) and she definitely lived up to the title of "favorite aunt" when she took her very first Bikram class from me - as I taught my very first Bikram class!  

Aunt Margot makes the BEST post-hiking, pre-teaching breakfast sandwich ever...
...and I eat the best post-hiking, pre-teaching breakfast sandwich ever!
The wonderful Kelly Green was also there, and I took her class right after mine.  Having taken four other trainees' classes since, I can tell you that it's very hard not to jump up off your mat and clap and cheer "you did that SO GOOD!  I'm SO PROUD OF YOU!!"  You have to wait till the end.

Guess who just taught her first class?
Bikram Yoga Avondale was a perfect studio in which to teach my first class - it was a small class, the studio was peaceful and serene, and the owner Shelby not only gave me a time slot but also took the time to sit down with me, Kelly, and another teacher afterwards to review feedback and suggestions.

 The Grand Canyon! Clearly I did not pick up anything resembling a tan while in LA.

After two days in Arizona, I picked up fellow Group 8-er Emma in Flagstaff and we drove together to Vegas, where we met up with Patrizia and did some canyon sightseeing and indoor rock climbing.  

Emma is very good at driving on the "wrong" side of the road! 

Emma taught a class at Bikram Yoga Green Valley, a large and wonderful place run by Stacey, who had been one of our favorite Posture Clinic leaders back at training.  Unfortunately Emma was late because Patrizia and I didn't realize just how lazy the Lazy River at the MGM Grand was (I am incapable of being on time...that much hasn't changed!).

I don't know if we had got her there five minutes earlier, she would have been told about the big double doors that needed to be opened halfway through class to let in fresh air...regardless, it was SO. FREAKING. HOT.  Poor Emma kept trying to turn on fans and open outside doors to solve it, to no avail.  Patrizia and I tried to conserve our water sip by sip, and have at least one of us standing and doing the posture at any given time, but we were most definitely humbled by the experience.  Most of the time half the class was on the floor.  Poor Emma!  But she perseverved, and her dialogue was spot on, and her Australian accent was melodious and comforting, and overall it was awesome.

 Vegas baby, yeah!

The less said about the rest of Vegas with my crazy-wonderful girls Carolyn, Nikki, Shanna, Laura, and Stephanie, the better.  I'll just let the following photo sum it up:

Yeah, I'm the fake bride-to-be at our fake bachelorette.  AND WHAT OF IT?

The Week That Just Ended: Teaching in San Francisco, There is Life Outside the Bubble
 So as you can imagine, the near-11 hour drive back to San Francisco was a bit of a wash.  Listening to dialogue, once again, made me fall asleep, so I relied on M&Ms, coffee, a stop at In 'n Out, and Delilah's soft rock (or whatever else I could find on the radio to sing along to).  As I pulled into San Francisco, for the first time, the city felt like home (of course, when I opened the car door, the cold was a bit of a shocker).

Why is there a fake Liberty Bell at the Bellagio?

I was so surprised and delighted at the folks who showed up to my very first Mission Yoga class Tuesday morning - including teachers like Tracy, and Big Brothers Big Sisters coworker friends like Stephanie and Laura.  Laura taught a kickboxing class in Pleasanton that morning and STILL managed to make it for the second half of my class!  I wasn't thrilled with how the class went - I was a little too much in my own head, trying to put into action everything Shelby had given me, and I got confused about timing, thinking at 9AM that I had only half an hour left when I had a full 45 minutes to go - but it was fun and comforting to finally be back in my own studio.

Patrizia's epic Standing Bow at Red Rock Canyon

Since then my teaching has improved every class I teach.  And I LOVE it.  I had a moment on Tuesday when I was in the midst of taking my first of two classes that day, after teaching that morning, and I thought: at least for a little while, this is my LIFE!  I get to teach yoga, and take yoga, and immerse myself in yoga, and while in the long term this is not sustainable, and I'll have to leave SF if I don't want to go broke - how lucky am I!? 

Well this afternoon has run away from me and I want to get out and enjoy the rare warm SF weather.  In my next post I'll try to do more of a wrap-up rather than an update, and address the questions from Gamebred and Jill - namely, helpful hints...and was it all worth it?  (spoiler alert - in my mind, the answer is yes!)

Love & Hugs to you all!


  1. awesome update! and thanks so much for it! im so happy and proud of all you trainees. i cant WAIT til my life is just full yoga. i cant imagine what that must feel like but cant wait for it to be me. its what i want most right now. mega congrats!

  2. Thanks for a nice share you have given to us with such an large collection of information. Great work you have done by sharing them to all. simply superb. Photo Recovery

  3. Amazing update (minus the part about you needing to leave sf). I'm so proud of you!! you're a yoga teacher! I plan to take my first Bikram class with you. I'll try not to make you laugh as I struggle.

  4. Congratulations! Your blog has been a refreshing & inspiring read. I hope my Fall 2011 TT experience will be as enjoyable, can't wait. Good luck & all the best for your new future! Thanks for sharing :-)