Monday, September 19, 2011

Bikram Yoga Cleveland is Incredible (and I Don't Know Much About Cleveland...Yet!)

Well hello my friends!  After five days of driving, and three days of recovery in Pittsburgh eating my way through my Mom's kitchen (and getting a new tattoo with my brother...maybe not the best idea right before starting at a new hot yoga studio?), and five days of throwing myself into the joy that is teaching and taking yoga at Ohio's first official Bikram studio, I am FINALLY ready to catch you all up to date!  But first and foremost...

Fall 2011 Bikram Yoga Teacher Training starts today! 
I am so excited for: my fellow Danielle back in San Francisco, who has great dialogue, an amazing practice and is just an all around lovely person...Barbara from Budapest, a sweetheart from Hungary who has practiced at Bikram Yoga Cleveland every day since we opened (and when she forget the question she meant to ask me and I jokingly suggested she write it down during class, she actually took me seriously and paused during class Saturday afternoon ten times or so to scribble down a question, most of which started with "which is more important?" (usually the answer is...both!)...and my blog readers, like Jill, Spring, Kat, and Gamebred - I may not know your last names (or even your first names!), but your comments and feedback have been a joy!  Enjoy your time at the Radisson LAX...

Road Trip!
Let us begin with the cautionary tale of my trip across the country.  As you know, I became a licensed driver at the ripe old age of 27, so I don't really like to drive...a fact I conveniently forgot when I decided to drive across the country by myself.  

Cross country trips are not really something to wing, nor is it a good idea to throw your goodbye party the night before the first leg of your journey...but with a bellyful of eggs, bread, and my last Ritual coffee soaking up the night before's beers and whiskey (always with Kelly, the whiskey! I will miss her and her whiskey ways) I got on the road...four hours late...and ran right into two hours of traffic.  So of course I floored it after the traffic finally cleared and got my very first speeding ticket for driving 92 in a 70 mph zone...

I was physically and emotionally exhausted.  I had said goodbye the night before to so many people I loved so much, and I was so tired, and I was on my way to an unfamiliar city where I knew no one and OH MY GOD I HATE DRIVING AND MY HEAD HURTS WHAT HAVE I DONE.

So yeah, I pulled a Dawson.   Luckily I had supportive friends & family to listen to me vent and help me plan, and Patrizia (and her boyfriend Karl), who welcomed me into her home at 2:30am on Saturday night, didn't give me grief for arriving so late that we had to skip our early morning rock climbing plans, made me TWO delicious vegan feasts to fuel my drive, and just generally was her calming beautiful self.  

The rest of the trip was just fine, although I stopped so frequently for bathroom, snack and stretching breaks that if I had had a driving partner, they would've rented a car and driven off without me in a huff.

I was awed and amazed by the canyons of Southern Utah and the mountains of Colorado.

I ate lots of grapes and peanut butter crackers and chocolate and drank enough coffee to drown a small child.

I watched three episodes in a row of "The Millionaire Matchmaker" in a hotel in the middle of nowhere eating takeout from Applebees on the bed.

I listened to a lot of Alan Watts recordings, nerdy podcasts (while I was enthusiastically describing one of my favorites to Stephanie on one of our daily calls (my Dawson moment was effective enough that several people called me daily to ensure my continued survival - I am lucky indeed to be so loved!), she said evenly "wow, you've really been wanting to talk to someone about this, haven't you?"), Moth stories (including an incredibly funny tale which involved a trip to Cleveland!), and music old and new (while my old roommates' new album was energetically fantastic, especially while driving through Colorado mountains, Massive Attack albums just made me sleepy)

I learned that I still know all the words to the first Weezer album, the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, and every album Tori Amos released before 1999 (my nerdiness began in childhood, clearly).

I was stopped by a policeman my next-to-last day of driving, only twenty minutes from Kate's house in Chicago, for going ten miles over the speed limit.  I couldn't find my license in the disaster area that my car & purse had become.  When I finally dumped out the contents of my massive purse onto the driver's seat to dig through gas receipts and phone cords and crumpled dollar bills to find it, he said "you have got be kidding me," gave up, handed me my registration, and told me to drive slower.  Phew!

I took out my camera to record my dear old high school friend Kate's astonishing ability to recreate Starbucks mochas at home (and her adorable kids too, of course)...and then left my camera behind, hence the lack of personal photos peppering this post.  Oops!

But you're not here to hear about my almost-fail of a road're here to hear all about Cleveland!  Two things you should know:  1) Bikram Yoga Cleveland is Incredible, and 2) I Don't Really Know Much about Cleveland...Yet!

Bikram Yoga Cleveland is Incredible
I walked into this studio Monday morning for a test class and my jaw dropped.  Those years spent in the small, sweaty, smelly studios of San Francisco did not prepare me for the lavish environment in which Clevelanders can now do yoga (is it Clevelanders? Like Pittsburghers?).  

The studio is big, beautiful, wonderfully laid out, clean & sparkly.  Any amenity you can think of it is there.  Multiple showers, each with a little privacy stall of its own? Check.  Travertine tile (I think that's what it's called...and I only know that word through a brief addiction to this dumb show) on the bathroom floors?  Check.  The finest, most sophisticated heating system and carpeting you can find?  Check.  The carpet is actually a brushed linoleum called Flotex, cleaned nightly by a professional cleaning crew, so I think that that distinctive Bikram aroma may never find its way to Cleveland.

Jeannine's Pada Hastansana - the only photo on today's blog post I didn't get via Google image search.  I need to get that camera back!

Okay, fine, you say.  So the studio is all sunshine and rainbows.  But what about the people?  Well, that's where I'm so lucky - all the ladies of Bikram Yoga Cleveland are a delight.  My fellow teacher Erica, so genuine and sweet, moved here from Naples, Florida to help her husband's family with a now-thriving goat cheese business (why yes, goat cheese IS one of my favorite things!).  Sarah's cute & bubbly personality livens up the front desk (she recommended I pick up a winter sport to better survive the brutal winter season - and took only her second Bikram class from me!).  And of course Jeannine the owner, who is smart, capable, warm, and all the adjectives you'd hope for in an owner.  I know I sound like a big ol' kiss ass...but it's TRUE!

Teaching at Bikram Yoga Cleveland has been a fascinating, eye-opening experience.  Our first week we offered all classes free-of-charge, so the hot room was packed - with mostly beginners.  My first class was almost 40 people, well over half of whom had never done Bikram yoga - many of whom had never done any yoga!  I did my little opening spiel, started the breathing, and just looked around like whoa.  Where...what do do I even begin with I rallied, took a deep breath, jumped right in - and never looked back!  

 Good breathing form, random dude I found via Google image search!

When you're teaching mostly beginners you have to stay completely engaged, focused, and high-energy the ENTIRE time.  Whenever my energy started to flag or my attention would wander the least little bit, I would actually see the results of my inattention right in front of me.  Forget to say "keep your arms over your head?" Half the class has their arms down.  Haven't looked over to the right side of the room in five minutes?  That guy is about to fall over and he needs a correction NOW.  It's such a wonderful way to reinvigorate my teaching.

Plus, the students so far have been fantastic.  Of course, we have our share of wacky characters (and I've taught very few hot shirtless guys thus far - clearly I was spoiled in San Francisco. C'mon boys, no modesty here, Bikram yoga is good for you and I need some eye candy!)  But in general, the enthusiasm and that distinctive midwestern kindness displayed by Cleveland yogis thus far has been really heartwarming.  I had regular students coming in every day that first week - one of them even gave us each a little bar of homemade soap to thank us for the free week of yoga...only in Cleveland, folks.

Okay, so you've got the point.  Bikram Yoga Cleveland is a wonderful place, and I definitely made the right choice. But what about Cleveland itself?  Well...I Don't Really Know Much About Cleveland...Yet! I've only been here a week, and I both live & work in the suburbs (Shaker Heights).

The apartment I moved into sight unseen turned out to be a damp, moldy, depressing basement (though the roommates are nice enough - one of them even came to try Bikram!), so I spent a lot of time in that first week at various coffee shops (no internet in the damp moldy basement either), and visiting other apartments while the dehumidifier chugged along back at home, doing its best to keep the pages of my books from curling.  

By Friday, pretty much all I knew about Cleveland was that the avocados suck and unlike San Francisco, there's no little jar of soy milk alongside the skim and half 'n half at Starbucks (but I also found a wonderful little one-bedroom place, with lots of light and a great kitchen, for $150 less than I paid in SF with three roommates.  Oh, Cleveland.)

The Walnut took years out of my life.  YEARS.  Cats alone took at least two.

This weekend, however, I finally got to see more of the city.  An old friend from my year as an apprentice at the Walnut Street Theatre (when we were both much younger and quite a bit less wise) is now a devoted Cleveland resident.  Amanda's popular blog is, in fact, so popular that on Wednesday I get to see a show with her for free!  

Amanda, her husband Scott and I checked out the Ingenuity Fest and then wandered around the quirky, Northern Liberties-esque neighborhood Ohio City, where we visited a glass blowing factory, checked to see if a particular bar was still illegally selling Philadelphia's yuengling lager (it wasn't), and then went to Light Bistro and partook of the most delicious bacon wrapped, cheese stuffed date deliciousness that's ever been in my mouth.

Amanda is a wealth of Cleveland history, factoids, trivia, and knowledge.  I left our lovely evening together feeling far more positive about the city and all it has to offer in terms of food, social life, theatre, the arts, etc, etc!

Once again, I write too much - I wanted to tell you about Bikram Yoga Pittsburgh, and the restaurant where they serve primarily enormous grilled cheeses, and my plans to spy on a studio offering fake Bikram classes in an area of town called, appropriately enough, Chagrin Falls - but it's time to wrap it up.

I'm going to start making a concerted effort to post on a weekly basis, to keep you all up to date on my Cleveland shenanigans and the joys, trials and tribulations of being a part of a brand new studio...So I'll see you next Monday!

Much Love,


  1. You honestly write some of the most enjoyable blog entries ever. Congrats on the big move...and getting out of your almost-second speeding ticket! Cleveland is lucky to have you. How did they get so lucky?!

  2. oh my goodness! thank you for mentioning me on your blog! seriously made my night - especially after my first class tonight taught by Bikram was TOTAL SHIT. total. shit. already. oh well. i didn't puke and didn't leave the room. small victories.

    so glad the start of your ohio journey has been positive! those beginners are going to love you! can't wait for more updates . . .
    much luck to you!
    xoxo Danielle

  3. Danielle!

    So glad you're settling in. I can't wait until I get to take my first ever Bikram class from you in Cleveland (or maybe perhaps Japan?).


  4. Glad to hear you're settling in over there!
    Hopefully will be there to visit soon.
    Save me some goat cheese! :)

  5. You are sooo funny, Danielle. I love the part about eating Applebee's on the hotel depressing! We've all been there. Ohio is so glad to have you especially. It was GREAT to see you. I will definitely be back up soon to run are generous and quick to offer help, as always!! Keep exploring Cleveland!

  6. I miss, miss, miss you! I'm glad that you made it to the Cleve A-okay and can't wait to join you in the Midwest!

  7. awwe, miss you and missed missing your last night in town! but so glad i can keep up with you through the blog. can't wait to see you back in SF eventually. enjoy cleveland and your swanky studio!

  8. What a fun post to read and I'm so happy you're here in Cleveland, Danielle! I'm so glad you were able to find a better place to live because half the fun of living here is gloating over how little you pay in rent now as opposed to in SF (and for me NYC). Also, you have probably figured this out, but they have soy behind the counter at Starbucks. You just have to ask for it. But they don't have it at Panera's. I find that very odd too. Thank you for all your help in class. You're a wonderful teacher! xo