Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Updates Galore: Road Trips, Yoga Postures in Odd Places & Fleeing to the Cleve

Hello my friends!  I know, it's been a long time (long time, shouldn'tve left you) and there's lots of news to share.  We'll start with my sister's and my road trip all the way up to Victoria, BC and back down to San Francisco for our stepbrother Rod's wedding.

I was lucky enough to both teach and take class at a number of studios on the way.  My sister and I also planned to take photos of all 26 Bikram beginning postures on our way up and back for this very blog, but we got bored...so a few of the good ones, pre-boredom, will be illustrating this post as we go!

Me and Aimee in Tree Pose

Our journey began in Ashland, Oregon, right over the California border.  One of the amazing side effects of having gone to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training is that you're part of a worldwide network of likeminded people who went through the same wacky experience as you.  

So, even though Aimee and I didn't know each other well at training - I think we may have met briefly once or twice - she graciously hosted my sister and me in her sweet little rustic cabin above Bikram Yoga Ashland. Aimee and I spent several glorious hours gleefully sharing training stories and gossip the night we arrived (my poor sister was SO bored.  But I was SO happy!)

The next day, Aimee and I shared a silent Bikram class together in the early afternoon.  The Ashland studio is gorgeous: wood floors, muted lighting, heated by a natural gas stove.  It was a really relaxing, delightful experience and a great way to start off the trip (we also decided to do three sets of camel and two sets of advanced camel...just for fun!).

Balancing Stick in Portland, Oregon

Next stop, Portland, Oregon - where we stayed with couchsurfers for the first time and where, despite the fact that there was a Bikram studio TWO BLOCKS away, I was gently reminded by my sister that our trip was NOT going to revolve around yoga.  In Portland we ate fantastic street food and explored some of the bohemian neighborhoods. Of all the cities on our trip, I could see myself living here someday.

Wheel in Seattle, Washington (true, not a beginner pose, but how can you NOT do wheel next to a wheel sculpture?)

In Seattle, Washington we stayed with Allison's friend from her year in Spain, the charming and very hospitable Kalin, who is living the dream - she met a sexy Spanish guitarist while an au pair in Barcelona, and she's now living there with him and teaching English full time.

We agreed that I would be dropped off at Bikram Yoga West Seattle, Allison and Kalin would have breakfast, and I would be picked back up for a full day of Seattle tourism.  Unfortunately when I arrived, I learned that the studio was under renovations and there were NO. SHOWERS. Well, I was already there, so what the heck.

I blame Seattle's Fremont Troll for my lack of backbend.  Hips FORWARD, Danielle!

The class was great, nice and hot and fast paced.  Since there was no carpet, when we moved to Standing Separate Leg Stretching we turned to the side to stand on our mat; the teacher saw me slipping and recommended that I stand on the rubber flooring.  Psh, I scoffed inwardly.  Does she not see how I have sweat more than any of the men in this room?  I don't think my feet will have better traction in a puddle of sweat.  But they DID! 

 Standing Bow by Seattle's Gum Wall

Afterwards, I had the opportunity to chat with the owner, Kevin Cooke, who was a very warm and talkative fellow and who explained how that magical non-slip flooring worked.  Their very special, very expensive flooring is antifungal, antimicrobial, smooth-surface, 100% recyclable, made up of several layers, used in the Olympics...too cool.

Of course, attempting to "shower" by rubbing myself down with a damp towel was a bit of a struggle, but I managed, and Allison and Kalin assured me that I didn't stink.  And if I did...sorry, Seattle! 

Rod and Jill - now that's what I call a handsome couple!

Onwards to Victoria, British Columbia, for Rod and Jill's wedding!  It was a marvelous affair that included breakfast food for dinner, a 60's cover band, and a photobooth.  We also enjoyed catching up with all the various family members, step- and half-siblings scattered across the US and Canada.

My fellow Spring 2011 trainee, John Ellis, and his lovely wife Jacqueline generously welcomed me into their studio, Bikram Yoga Westshore.  First I took a class the morning of the wedding, to learn a little more about the in's and out's of their complicated (but effective!) heating, cooling, and air system.  

On the ferry from Seattle to Victoria
The next morning, I taught a small class of around fifteen folks.  Everyone was friendly and listened closely, even the woman who spent the whole class frowning at me and slowly shaking her head in disapproval (I kept thinking, "What?  What am I doing wrong!?" but after class she was friendly as can be.  John and Jacqueline's daughter told me she does that all the time...it's funny how people aren't really aware of their facial expressions in class!)

All dolled up wedding-style!
When it was time for Standing Separate Leg Stretching, just like in Seattle, everyone moved sideways to stand on their mat rather than on the rubber floor.  And WHOA...it threw me like nobody's business.  With everyone turned sideways rather than facing me, my lefts and rights went out the window and I scrambled to regroup.  You wouldn't think it would be so disorienting...but it was!

In the end, I had a great time, and Jacqueline gave me some really helpful, unique feedback.  John said that the students liked having a new voice teaching the class.  It was fun!
Standing Separate Head to Knee on Granville Island, Vancouver BC

On to Vancouver, Canada, where once again, yoga took a backseat to food (and fireworks!)  We stayed with a truly wonderful couchsurfing couple who had a personalized map and everything.   We were unimpressed by our first real Nanaimo bar (a cookie that's been a staple of every Hoffman Christmas), but Allison was properly impressed by her first taste of poutine.

From Vancouver, we traveled back down to Corvallis, Oregon.  Kelly, the lady whose dreadlocks have often graced the pages of this blog, spent a couple years living in Corvallis, and when she heard about our road trip north she insisted we make the stop.  

Unfortunately we arrived too late & too tired to partake in Corvallis', shall we say, limited nightlife (how could I have missed this!?), but I did get to share a beer with one of Kelly's dearest friends, Scotty! who was just as genuine and gregarious as the exclamation point that seemed to follow every time Kelly said his name, and who gave us a place to crash.

Allison is not terribly impressed by downtown Corvallis 

The next morning I drove to Bikram Yoga Corvallis, where Kelly had practiced many times and left behind many good impressions (several students said "Oh, I miss her...tell her I said hi!") Unfortunately owner Carol was out of town, but her second-in-command Jeannie was just the sweetest little lady; her husband even brought fresh watermelon in for the class to celebrate Jeannie's yoga challenge milestone (I can't remember what it was now, but it was impressive.  250 classes in a row? 300?).

The students were FOCUSED - if you're going to come to a tiny little, hard-to-find studio, you're committed.  They followed my every word.  The studio was good and hot, and when I asked about doors or fans or anything like that Jeannie said "oh no, we don't open the doors here" - these students were way too hardcore for that stuff.  It was great to teach them!

Oh god oh god it's far and it's cold and I just learned how to swim...

I returned to Scotty!'s, met back up with my ever-patient sister, and we filled our bellies at the Broken Yolk before driving off to Crater Lake, Oregon.  As you might expect, there are no yoga studios in this national park...but we did manage to set up a tent AND start a fire on our own!  And after a brief childlike moment of abject fear, I jumped off Crater Lake's infamous cliff into the icy waters below.  Bracing! 


Back in San Francisco, Allison flew home to Pittsburgh (she'll be on an adventure of her own in Chile this September, volunteering for a full year - I miss her already!) while I taught two early morning Walnut Creek classes on two hours of sleep...for the first time, I sat down during most of the floor series, but I discovered I actually liked that viewpoint of my students.  Live and learn...

I picked back up with teaching, but still only a few days a week, applying for jobs all over the globe but with no real bites.  I was starting to worry that I would remain in limbo forever, doing lots of yoga but slowly eating through my savings, until I was living in a box or crashing on a couch like the yogi hobo I am.

What to do, what to do...(in Portland)
But the day after our amazing senior teacher Julia told me "If you're ready to go...just go!" I had a few phone conversations with Jeannine LoConti, who is opening the first official Bikram studio in all of Ohio.  We both felt an immediate rapport and had very similar teaching philosophies.  Cleveland is two hours from my mom and little brother back home in Pittsburgh, PA, I'll be working full time...all the puzzle pieces and priorities seemed to fit.  And for the first time, it just felt RIGHT - the right decision to be making, at the right time.  

So...I'm off to Bikram Yoga Cleveland on September 3rd!  

I'm throwing a goodbye party on the 2nd to which you're all invited.  I'll be doing more driving, stopping (tentatively) in Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Denver, Des Moines, and Chicago.  I'll arrive just in time for the grand opening.  I can't wait!  It's amazing how everything came together.

I know this post has become, once again, obscenely long.  But I just wanted to say how truly lucky, and how grateful, I am.  The friends that I've made here in San Francisco I know I'll treasure forever.  I'm so lucky to have the opportunities I've had - not everyone can just drop everything and go to training, then drop everything again and move across the country, and still have the unconditional love and enthusiastic support of their family, friends, and everyone around them.  So...THANK YOU, to all of you...you mean so much to me.

Now come visit Cleveland!  You can club up at the flats and have lunch with Little Richard!

Love always,

Why yes, the sweatshirt I wore every day in training is still in active use...AND WHAT OF IT?


  1. aww Danielle! I love your blog entries. I never want them to end!! And the photos where the perfect complement. I can't believe you're moving to CLEVELAND! Oh how you will be missed out west. Who knows, maybe I can be convinced to do the Cleveland triathlon and pay you a visit.

    Keep writing, because I'll be reading.

  2. Hi Danielle! What a great post! Sounds like you had a great summer. I'm a little envious of the adventure. Love the pictures! So excited for you going to Cleveland to teach. I like what you said about the decision feeling "right". Good luck with your move and your new job!!! Congratulations.

    Colleen (Group 8)

  3. mega congrats lady! i hope you have fun teaching full time! it was great to read your post. keep up the good work. im sooooooo excited about fall training. cant believe its almost here!

  4. Danielle, I'm thrilled for your new adventure to Cleveland. Congratulations! Loved reading about your travels and seeing your beautiful pictures. Wheel pose! WOW! Much love, k

  5. Danielle ROCKS!! watch out Cleveland...
    she's back in the East- yah!

    Great post entertaining as always...NEVER too long for me...

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