Juice Fast Progress

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Slowly but surely

Returning to a place of balance and harmony back here in the "real world". It's interesting - I don't feel like I'm returning to my old ways and my old life so much as learning how to sail through life with a new body, a new mind.

It's somewhat tiresome to continually refer to myself and any changes I've made as the "new me", as if I've had a total plastic surgery and have gone into federal witness protection or something. Realistically, despite the fact that it feels like I was away for a lifetime, in reality it really was only ten weeks, and as such the differences I feel are subtle, small things. However, I think in their subtlety they are powerful and important.

Clodagh and I are moving into a new "temporary" home from now until Burninman at the end of August. This is addressing my need to feel like I have some space to paint, a space to settle - my current room is very small for the two of us an feels very temporary, like I can't relax or unwind. Ironically, the place we've chosen to move is even MORE temporary, as we have to move out by the end of August, so really, the only thing I've accomplished is paying more rent and getting way more space in this temporary time. And then right into burningman! Ha! Yeah, I can't see my soul settling down for a while.

Yoga teaching continues to be a stronger and stronger anchor, reinforcing the feeling that I did make the right decision to do the teacher training, even with all of this turbulence and disruption. And as my friends have pointed out, I wanted a change, and now I just have to be patient while the changes settle. But teaching is wonderful - it's the only time I feel totally, completely like I'm doing what I should be doing - even more so than when I'm practicing. I can't get my class under 95 minutes to save my life, but I feel like my students are getting a lot out of my class. I'm not being too easy or soft - quite hard, I think - but still light and maybe (hopefully) a bit funny. And the dialog is solid! I'm surprised when I go back and look at the dialog how close to verbatim I'm doing!

Reading over the last few weeks of posts, it's difficult not to notice how DRY everything has become. Hopefully that will pass, I don't think it's my nature to be boring.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Somewhere in between

Theoretically, I should be reacclimated to my life here in Wellington again. I've taught four yoga classes now, taken a few more than that. My clothes are unpacked, the jet lag is gone, and I've said hello to and hugged everybody who missed me while I was gone.

I feel completely out of place here. I feel reasonably centered while I'm teaching yoga class - that feels good. But everything else just feels vaguely, slightly wrong. Or, I think more precisely, it feels like I'm slightly wrong for everything/everybody else. I am more quiet, more observant, and I feel much calmer in social situations, from spending time with Clodagh to hanging out with my friends, but I am coming across as, or being interpreted as, having no energy, being unenthusiastic, not being "the old me". Also, I have difficulty resisting the temptation to talk about yoga all the time, and it's making me into the Amway Salesman of Yoga, which sucks. It's making people less interested in trying or going to yoga. Gack.

Work is another whole episode of weirdness. I find that I'm sorta stuck in this "taking a step back, looking at the big picture" mode. I went to a meeting last week - normally I avoid group meetings because they're unproductive time wasters, but I figured I'd go as part of reentering work society. I found myself looking around the room and seeing people in various states of boredom, fatigue, disinterest, anger, agitation. A few smiles here and there, but largely the crowd seemed genuinely displeased with the goings on. Lots of looks of frustration - I know this is not an original or new observation, but it seemed so silly to me. Getting frustrated and angry over abstract things like the names of directories on file systems. I know those abstract things transform into non-abstract work and frustrations for people that are very real, but it was difficult to take seriously. Except that I can feel little tiny tendrils of that stuff creeping into me - I feel myself getting upset by the little abstractions too, if only in a small way. I still don't feel like I know what I do here anymore.

I take comfort in knowing that the rest of my fellow teacher trainers are experiencing something similar. Another thing I've noticed is the way that the return to "normal life" pulls me away from the place of health. It's not any single person, not any single thing that I can easily decide is no longer a healthy part of my life. Rather, it's a general inertia - a slide away from that place of feeling like my body and mind are coming towards some balance. It's a cup of coffee here, an early dinner there, a second helping, yeah why not have dessert, and so on. I'm letting myself slip back into comfort foods and missing yoga. I just don't want to feel like I am losing the gift that I gave myself over the last few months.

The cold and dreary assault of southern wind and storms upon Wellington are no doubt contributing to this feeling of despair.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I did it! I taught my first class!

I'm back in Wellington, which is impossibly cold, rainy, dreary, and from a weather point of view, wholly unwelcoming. It has been wonderful to see my friends and to see Clodagh, though on some level it's been very much like coming out of the wardrobe from Narnia to the "real world" only to discover you haven't been gone for more than a few moments. I feel like a lifetime has passed, and yet everything here is exactly as it was when I left.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

And then there were none.

I'm sitting in the airport at an internet terminal. It appears to have been designed for people with six millimeter diameter fingers.

I haven't been able to post because I've been without internet access since the end. So I have a lot to write down - I don't want to forget it.

The last two classes were exactly what I needed them to be. They were congratulatory, exciting, sad, empowering, powerful. The friday morning class was taught by Rajashree, the friday evening class, our last class, was taught by Bikram. They were intense and difficult and we all did magnificently. My strength and my enthusiasm and my joy came back to me. My friend Carrie (where do they COME from?) insisted that I finish the training practicing next to her - most of the training we ended up next to each other because we both like to be right in front of the podium directly in front of the teacher. I had been feeling weak through the last week and retreating to the back of the room near the doors, but I wanted to share the end with my friend so I sucked it up and went to the front, and I did great. No falls, kicked out in all the standing head to knees, did all the toe stands, and sat out for nothing. I won't say I rocked, but I represented Wellington and Anika's studio proudly. And then it was done! The roar of applause and congratulation and hugs and tears was overwhelming, but humorously not as powerful as the time when we found out we got to go home a few hours early... A lot of people were crying, lots of people were hugging (delicious, delicious sweaty post yoga hugs... slimy...) For my part, I felt like I was floating. The emotions were there, but not knocking me over. It was calm, happy - surprised. There were parts of me that really, truly didn't think I would make it, and definitely didn't think I'd have the center spot in front of Bikram for the very last class.

Graduation was pretty much what you'd expect - it was hot and humid and long, and I was a bit stressed (though trying to stay in the moment) because I knew I needed to get to the party location and start setting up lights and speakers and wires. Virginia came to watch me graduate, and when it was finally my turn to walk up on the stage, shake Bikram's hand and kiss Rajashree's cheek - I was almost disbelieving. This is the hardest thing I've ever done - more than I ever would have credited myself for, and I rocked. I've never been more certain that I had done the right thing, walked the right path. And now, once I teach my first class, I'll be a YOGA TEACHER! WHO ON EARTH WOULD HAVE SEEN THAT COMING??? Bikram looked sincere and proud as he shook my hand, and Rajashree looked pleased and beaming. I heard the applause and the yogis yelling my name and I felt really, truly thrilled to be me. I wouldn't change a thing. (Lie! Still trying to find a good nostril hair trimmer!)

The party was so wonderful, I doubt I can explain it. A fellow yogi Martinez and I rushed over with Virginia after the graduation to set up lights and DJ stuff as the sun set over the terraced gardens in Malibu overlooking the ocean. As always, it took forever and people were starting to show up while we were still putting up lights. There was a gigantic full moon, the sky was perfectly clear and the air still. We could hear the ocean breaking. HUNDREDS of people showed up, including RAJASHREE!!! I couldn't believe it. We had a meditation that filled me with energy and power courtesy of Ulises - awful, awful cheesy dance music courtesy of a DJ we were hooked up with through the school, and as the evening reached its peak, I stole a page from Ethan and had everybody come down to the main lawn and hold hands in a circle and I said a few words about taking moments like this into their hearts and bringing them home to create more of this in the world. I would have liked to have been more poetic, but you do what you can. It was a magnificent success. I know that everyone who was there will remember the magical, special place and moment for years and years - that it ended the whole training on such a high note of union and, well, Yoga!!! I spent a small fortune in the end, though other yogis pitched in, some with small fortunes of their own. At one point during the evening I got to see Craig sitting in a love seat MADE OF GIRLS. He didn't seem troubled at all. I played a bit of music, but didn't really have with me the kind of music the crowd needed. They just weren't really feelin' the breaks... lesson learned!

And then it was all over! I stayed awake for more than two days with the party planning and the party cleanup and I didn't really eat at all the whole time, and felt perfectly energized. Of course, when I did crash, I could barely remember my name and forgot where I was.

Since the, I've been just wandering around LA - Virginia let me borrow her car, and I took Dave's first yoga class down in Laguna Beach (and then jumped in the ocean directly after class!!!! YAHOOO!!!!) I went back to Bikram headquarters a few times because I didn't know what else to do and I missed it. I stocked the water coolers and helped do some clean up and then realized I was being pathetic and went home.

And now, here I am. I'm in the airport, ten minutes to board - a few days until my first class - dialog running through my brain and over my tongue. I'm nervous about coming home - sometime during week seven I felt like my connections to home got cut (around when Clodagh and Kris went to the South Island), and I feel apart from it. Clodagh has organized a welcome home party for Saturday, and for some reason I feel slightly nervous about it. I would try to explain it in terms of energy, but I don't think I'm quite there yet.

Goodbye, LA. Goodbye Bikram, Rajashree, Emmy, Craig, Doug, and all my friends. I know I'll see you again, and as I said at the party when everybody's hands were held under the full moon over the ocean, I love you all. Namaste.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Sum of the Parts

Tonight's the last night. Tomorrow is the last morning. Our last Emmy class is over. Our last Craig class is over.

I'm having a rough, rough day. I didn't want to end Yoga School like this. I wanted to end strong, clear, focused and shining. Instead, I'm depressed, exhausted - everything hurts. I feel so clouded. I feel like I haven't changed very much at all, like I've learned nothing. I know, intellectually, that this isn't true, but I just feel broken.

Bikram taught us the very last thing tonight - a breathing technique that is very, very powerful and potentially dangerous. He made us raise our right hands and swear that we would not practice this breathing for more than ten minutes at a time for the first six months that we practice it, and requested (less dramatically) that we not try to teach it to others. He then led us, with the lights off and our eyes closed - all two hundred and twenty (plus guests) of us in about twenty minutes of the breathing. He demonstrated first, and it was weird - he's pretty hyperactive normally, but for the demonstration he became totally, rock-solid, completely still. He reminded me suddenly of Amrit Desai, and I was reminded that he really is a guru, that it's not all just personality and charm. Then he had us follow along with him. It was SO FUCKING FRUSTRATING. I just couldn't do it. I have such tight hips that I can't sit with my legs folded and spine straight without intense pain, and it was just too strong to ignore. I have to use my abs to fight with my hips to keep me up, and as such my breathing was totally compromised and I just got nowhere. I kept feeling more and more like I have learned nothing, like I'm exactly as inflexible and manic as I was when I got here. Then afterwards people described how overcome and uplifted they were as the experience took hold of them, and I felt like I didn't even belong there. There were a few very quick moments during the breathing when I felt like I had grasped the idea, and could continue to practice it on my own, which I intend to do, so at least it wasn't totally wasted.

Craig's class this evening was fun. I didn't win the Awkward 2 contest - not by a long shot (lost my balance, rather than running out of strength, at about 1:20), but the guy who DID win came in with the new teacher training record of 3:02. HE HELD AWKWARD TWO FOR MORE THAN THREE MINUTES. I'm so impressed - he's a really cool guy too, very understated and quiet, and he was totally still and not shaking at all. Just a rock. He had a rough remainder of the class, though... As with my last few classes, I just felt heavy, full of pain, weak, and mentally worse off than I was when I got here. There's so much noise in my head - so much more than a few weeks ago, and all of it related to panic and heat and self criticism. I know that it's on its way out - hence the surge of it. The Indian Summer of my Discontent, or something like that. I had to move my mat closer to the door after the standing series, which was done as a full sprint. Seriously, Craig took maybe one breath between saying "Change" and saying "Second Set". Like the amount of time you'd spend between two sentences. I was just in awe that the class survived it. I was disappointed in myself for not being stronger or more proud, and then for moving my mat - but I find that once my heart rate goes above a certain point, no amount of breathing can seem to calm me back down. Stupid sympathetic nervous system!!! Stupid fight or flight response!!!. I'm being really hard on myself, which I think is just a result of being so tired.

Planning the graduation party is stressful. It's the same stress I feel before every party, like the Hell Party we threw after King Kong, or the Ice Ball before that - and it always works out in the end, but I think coupled with my exhaustion, it's just more stress than I can take. I'm so worried that people won't have a good time, that nobody will come, that we'll be so far from breaking even that it'll sting, that I'll be a shitty DJ, that the lights won't be enough, that it'll be too cold, that there's not enough things to sit on, that people won't enjoy an outdoor party... (and so on). And Lora's doing far more work than I am! Plus, she's doing triple classes a day! People were talking a lot today in ways that made me feel like throwing this party was a mistake - there was just this cloud of unenthusiasm that made me feel like I misjudged the group and what they'd enjoy, and that I was too presumptuous or too arrogant about planning it. But - I suppose, applying Kris Ardent's worse-case scenario approach - what's the worst case? It rains, nobody shows up, those who spent money lose a few hundred or thousand dollars each, I spin a shitty set, the yogis who do show up decide they hate my DJing and then, by extension, me... None of this is a big deal!! REALLY! Jesus. Let it go. (Still figuring out how to do that, actually).

Please just let tomorrow feel like there's some closure. that's all I really want. To feel a bit complete, or at least like one phase has completed.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


We've gotten down to counting hours. As of right now, it is 41 hours until we're done. Four classes. The last of which I'm reasonably certain we'll float through on air.

I want to go home, to rejoin my life, but also - I never want this to end. I don't even know how to process the thought of letting go of all of these loved ones, who are literally the substance of a large part of me and my life. I'm going to have to devote my life to travelling the globe just to see them all.

Classes, despite nearing the end, are NOT getting easier. Harder and harder. Clawing through by my fingertips.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The sickness.

So, my friend Lora and I have taken a bit of initiative and planned the graduation party for this saturday. Lora managed to find a MANSION ON TOP OF A HILL IN MALIBU. It's going to cost a bit more than expected, but it's going to be so magnificent. I have to call the Malibu Police Department tomorrow (stay out of Malibu, Lebowski...) and clear the event with them. This is hilarious.

However, as part of this planning process, Lora and I have to go to Malibu tomorrow morning, and Craig excused us from the morning Yoga class, without having to do makeups. So - dig this for sickness. I'm waking up at 5:45 tomorrow morning to do the 7am class because I have six classes left to graduate, and I'm not missing one. Can you believe this? What kind of person behaves like this? ONLY JUNKIES.

I love party planning. I LOVE IT!!! And I get to DJ, though I have absolutely no set prepared, and my set notes for my Hell Party set are in storage. I'm going to have to use my new Yoga superpowers to put a set together with no planning! Hoot!!!!.

Six classes to go.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Not much to say except...

85 down. 8 to go.


Monday, June 05, 2006

The End Is Near

Friday night we had a talent show. I was trepidatious prior to the event, for some reason worried that I would be uncomfortable or bored or I don't know what - I'm not sure why I didn't greet the evening with openness and enthusiasm. I sat in the back, near the door, a bit disengaged. This was foolish. I failed to remember that amongst our 220-ish band of sweating yogis, there are more than a few professional entertainers. I've mentioned before the woman who is a presenter for a BBC music show - she and another dutch man with the most amazing voice (who is a dancer) were the MC's for the evening, and they were amazing. Their jokes were actually FUNNY, and their delivery was fast-paced, energetic, and seemingly effortless. The talent show was wonderful. So many different voices and songs and dances - there was a group dance where we all got up and danced together, and my single favorite moment of the evening was a dance by Dax, who up until now had been my single largest frustration here at yoga camp (besides my own failings, of course). Dax may very well be a Jack Black's long lost twin brother. It made me realize that, for all my love of Jack Black, going to yoga school with him might be challenging. We danced for about a half an hour to some trance music after the talent show was over, and it was fantastic fun. Afterwards, I was excited and infused with energy and enthusiasm, and asked Craig if I could help plan the graduation party and spin at it. He agreed. So - if the cosmos are willing and we can find a venue that we can afford (we've got a few possibilities), next saturday I'm going to spin a breaks set for my yogis. I'm going to start with my hell party set and try to rebuild it with a slightly less dark tone.

Today I attened a meditation session led by one of our other yogis, Ulises. He is this deep, spiritual and calm man who teaches and leads meditation circles, and seems just like a shaman walking amongst us. I was a little nervous about the meditation, I think because of a combination of not knowing what to expect and fearing that my emotions might come out in front of ALL THOSE PEOPLE. Gasp. We started the meditation at around 6pm in a dark meeting room here at our yoga dorm, after getting reprimanded for sage wanding the room. ("Who's smoking marijuana in here??!?!?!?"). My hips are tight, which makes sitting with my legs folded and my spine straight immensely painful, and I have great difficulty keeping my back from rounding to place less pressure on the hips. So, the first whole part of the meditation, during which we were breathing very very deeply, gradually increasing the speed of our breaths, was really frustrating for me. I felt like the dominant part of my experience was the shifting pain in my body as I tried to find a comfortable sitting position. I kept being distracted by the worry that our circle would be interrupted by the Oakwood staff (we were starting to get quite loud as the breaths became more primal). And then - at some point that I don't precisely remember, all of the various tinglings in my body merged into one whole body tingling and the pain went away. It was orgasmic and engulfing and so vivid - not abstract in the slightest - I was thrilled at the feeling of ENERGY, this thing I keep trying to narrowly define and wrap my head around and find an equation for - it was so obvious, so simple, so THERE, that I didn't have to look for it. I kept thinking, "I understand now, I understand now, I understand now". The heartbeat of the room got faster and faster. The music playing underneath our breathing became more primal, darker. Ulises sometimes let out gutteral screams, like an animal. Other people followed. Sobs and tears began erupting around me, but all tied to this passionate, almost obscene breath that rose and fell fast and faster, spinning and spinning. My eyes were closed and I was rocking around on my seat and rolling lightly back and forth. The speed and force of my breath causing me to almost convulse. And there was this bloom of light, like a water balloon bursting in my chest - like the chilled pear shot at Alinea - a splash of light inside of me, and I had this rush of seeing all the places in my life and my world where I am a conduit, a channel for happiness and joy for others. The parties we throw in Wellington - the smiles I share with everyone I see, the laughs we all have together. It wasn't a denial of having any moments where I'm not perfect, but just a celebration of all the good things I am and that I share with the world. I felt my whole spirit grow tall inside me and stand up and take responsibility and ownership of all these amazing and wonderful things that I can bring and share with the world. I felt like I was being born. I felt like I could hear bells, like everyone in the room must be realizing what was happening to me, the dead skins that were finally coming off. I felt my smile grinning off my face so big that the room couldn't hold me. And I just started laughing, uncontrollably. It just got louder, and more hilarious, and I couldn't stop smiling - the tears were pouring down my cheeks and I was just laughing and laughing and laughing - soon the room, even the people who were crying - started laughing with me. Ulises started laughing as he led us in the meditation. I'm finally here. My eyes are finally open. I don't need to apologize any more. I'm not smaller than my body - from now on, my body will barely hold me in. And maybe this has been there all along.

As the meditation cooled down and the breaths got slower, we all drew closer and closer into the middle of the circle until there was just a big pile of hugging people, all breathing slowly with their eyes closed. There were heads resting on my belly, my head rested on someone's arm - a back leaning against my feet, and we just stayed there and breathed. It was the best e-puddle I've ever been in, and we were all sober (though distinctly inebriated - oxygen's a drug like any other!!!). I felt like I could feel everybody - I mean, of course I could feel the people who were lying on top of me or whom I was lying on top of, but beyond that - I felt like I knew where each of us was in the room, like I could see them with my eyes closed. I don't know how long we were there - it felt like forever and just a moment. When we finally broke up and came back to normal consciousness, it had been well over two hours. We all shared our experiences somewhat, had a short chant, and went out into the world. Everything smelled intense and fragrant - the colors, despite the sun having mostly gone down, were saturated and pulsing. I want to share this kind of experience with my friends in New Zealand, if any are interested. I am not the shaman that Ulises is, but perhaps he can impart a small seed in me to take back. I'd like that.

The last week is upon me. I am ready for it to be over, ready to feel the final finishing touches to my changes occur, to stand up and face Vader so I may at last become a true Jedi. Already know that which I need. There's only ten yoga classes left until the end. This next week will have no posture clinic - only lectures from Bikram on the essence of teaching his class, on the guts of the poses, on how to breathe. His final gift to us is a lecture in a kriya yoga breathing technique that was taught by Yogananda - part of the meditation that can eventually replace sleep for a yogi. I'm ready. Still, I'm also sad, in a way. I am starting to miss people already, I'm already making plans to see as many people as I can as I travel the world, and thinking about how my life will be, and what I want from it. I saw Xmen3 in the theater yesterday, and I was incredibly proud and humbled by the work that my colleagues and I did. My proudest moment in the film was seeing the shots that I left unfinished in their final state - knowing that the guys on my team did all of that without me, that they stepped up to the plate and created something more beautiful, I think, than what we would have made if I had stayed. Bravo, you guys, You rock. And this confirmed in me the truth that I still love being an effects artist - I will just have to find a balance in life. But I don't think that'll be a problem. I have balance now.

Bring it on.

Thursday, June 01, 2006



I did my last dialog today! I ROCKED IT OUT!!! I delivered it as the teacher I'm going to be, and already am, and it was strong and powerful and confident and enthusiastic as all hell. I'm barely scraping by in yoga classes, and had to leave the room due to cramping today in Craig's class (which did not contain an awkward competition, thank god). It's so disappointing to leave the room, even when I know I'm not being mentally weak. Seriously, EVERYTHING in my body hurts.

The day began with a dark cloud still sorta hanging over the studio and most of the students, people still uneasy about what happened last night. I found I was not the only person whose opinion flipped back and forth with contemplation. In the end, I agree with Bikram's attitude of refusing to allow fear or panic to enter the situation, and to minimize whatever fear and panic did arrive. I also agree that it was important that he remain in charge of the class, forcefully. Otherwise there would have been two hundred people panicking instead of just one. However, I disagree with the lack of caution, and think it's important to note that if John or Craig or the other staff had actually followed Bikram's instructions and moved John, it would indisputably have made things worse. Also, Bikram insisted throughout the event that John's hip was not dislocated, and in the end it was fully dislocated. I think it's important to note that he was wrong, and that his lack of caution could have made things worse.

John's okay. He has no serious damage, was discharged from the hospital, and is going to visit us tomorrow before he goes back to New York.

We had a lecture with Rajashree this afternoon, after our preposterously difficult morning class. People were still very serious and frowny, and Rajashree kinda was also - she was all business. But then, at some point, kind of out of the blue, Rajashree just started laughing about the hip thing from last night. She said she was talking to Craig and they were a bit shaken - they were talking about how, "Isn't this yoga supposed to HELP us? Why did Bikram hurt his back? Why did John hurt his leg?". But, then she said they realized that injuries happen, and it doesn't invalidate the health benefits of what we're doing. I had to come to a similar realization when I hurt my knee by going too carelessly into Toe Stand a few months after I had started this Yoga. Once Rajashree started laughing a lot, everybody did, and it seemed like the cloud lifted. Then Craig taught the most kick-ass evening class, and despite the fact that I had to leave, it was a really energizing class. I feel so much better than I did yesterday, despite dreading tomorrow's yoga classes.


Ooooph. Just... Wow.

The last few days have been overwhelming, in every sense. Bikram's house party was nice, but fairly uninteresting. His house was definitely more of a "house" than a "palatial mansion", up on a hill in Beverly Hills. Really, nothing much happened. We ate indian food - saw people in their nice clothes. I was in a weird mood, quiet and antisocial and sad, without a really clear idea why.

Today was frightening. One of the visiting teachers, who taught a fantastic class last night, has just recovered from a total hip replacement surgery. His surgery was six and a half weeks ago. Today, for reasons unknown (but probably related to the repeated insistence that this yoga cures everything), he decided to first do the advanced class with Emmy at 12:30 and then to do the regular class with us at 5:00, taught by Bikram. I was about two rows behind him, and just a bit to the right - maybe ten or twelve feet. So I had a really good view and was within earshot when, in standing head to knee, his hip completely dislocated. POP. Followed by shreik, and scream, and tears. The class was shocked and frozen, and Bikram reacted very unexpectedly (actually, in retrospect, not unexpectedly).

He yelled at John to stop crying, to calm down, to stop panicking. He never left the podium. John's femur was visibly sticking out of his hip girdle, his leg twisted. Bikram made him turn around on his back, do wind removing pose, flex and point his feet - all while the paramedics were one their way. All the while, yelling at him to stop panicking, that fear was the biggest enemy, that he must be calm. I was fucking terrified. I actually had to lay down and not watch the proceedings after awhile. I couldn't believe how hard Bikram was pushing John, how he was showing no compassion of any kind - and even more - he was lashing out angrily at anyone who was attempting to intervene on John's behalf. The paramedics came, took him to the hospital, and class continued. Oh - it's worth noting that Bikram continued class through most of this, having us do standing bow pulling and balancing stick over John's body while he was weeping to Bikram's commands. A few hours later, during a Bikram lecture, we learned that John had been heavily sedated and after a "few tries" they managed to relocate his femur into his hip bone without surgery. Thank god.

Bikram lectured to us later in the evening about having total strength, not allowing fear to have even the tiniest foothold, and to be a total leader - especially in situations where fear is likely to occur. I couldn't help but think, through all of this, that faced with a similar situation, I know I would not have reacted with Bikram's ferocity. I think I would have kept my shit together and handled the situation okay, but I would not have been able to be that strong. And, I'm not sure I would want to be - I still feel like there should have been more caution displayed - if John had actually tried to stand up, or if we had lifted him, as Bikram suggested (but Craig refused - he is truly a hero), it would have DEFINITELY made things worse. I don't like the feeling of questioning Bikram to this extent, and it makes me feel doubt of the rest of the training.

I feel like, at the moment, this evening's drama and scariness are overshadowing the staggering awesomeness of the other guest lecturers we had this week, but I'll try to describe them so I don't forget.

We were visited first by Dr. Anne Marie Benstrom, who Bikram insists is the only person in the world that he defers to in matters of eastern and yogic philosophy. As usual, I sat in the front row, and she was, for lack of a more imaginitive word, TRIPPY AS HELL. She talked about the chakric system, energy in the body, the persistence of our spiritual energy beyond the death of the body, and towards the end, she described her system of "body reading". It involves looking at the posture of the body in resting state, along with the basic shape of the developed body, and talking about different aspects of the person's life based on their body. The central idea of "the body is crystallized emotion, or coagulated thought" was a very strong recurrent theme. The body reading seemed hokey, except that she had people stand up and she told them their entire life and emotional and familial history, with freakish accuracy, causing one person to start crying immediately. She spoke to me directly a few times, and much like Amrit Desai, I felt very electrified and stilled by her eyes and contact with me. A lot of what she spoke about was out of my experience (seeing energy fields, "orbs"), but like most of this experience, I tried to absorb it and tuck it away for later, when I have more experiences to bring to my understanding. More about Dr. Benstrom: The Ashram .

Today, before the drama, we were also visited by Dr. Mani Bhaumik, a physics professor who coinvented a particular kind of laser and who has spent the last many years of his life using rigorous scientific analysis to understand and share his understanding of eastern philosophical ideas, particularly energy, oneness of all beings, and life force. This lecture was AWESOME. He was TOTALLY unfruity, completely logical and succinct (didn't say "ah" or "um" the whole lecture). He described, in surprising detail for his audience, quantum fields and how they fluctuate througout the universe, and how they interact to form the building blocks of matter and energy, of which we are constructed. He introduced a magnificent idea, which I was so thrilled by - just as every cell in our body - every single cell - contains a copy of our DNA, so every "cell" in the universe contains a copy of that blueprint from which the universe itself was created. He described how the behavior of energy at the sub, sub atomic level in matter exactly mimics the conditions that would have existed at the very beginning of the universe, just after the big bang. This lecture was magnificent, and I felt like so many of my fundamental questions about energy and "chi" just fell into place. I feel like I should let Dr. Bhaumik speak for himself: Code Name God .

This has been a hard week so far - possibly the hardest. Still, only 14 yoga classes left, and then, graduation. (thank god!!!).

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Imagine "Rocky" Theme Song

Sunday, end of Week 7, 10:45 pm:

1:07 - first try
1:07 - second try (without having countdown! weird)
1:10 - third try
hour rest
1:39 - fourth try (shifted weight slightly, turned off tv and iTunes)

I will not go softly into that good night.

Oh, IT'S ON.

Craig announced in Friday's evening class that sometime in the next two weeks we will have an "Awkward 2-off". I know it's not really the point of all of this to be competing and being macho, unnecessarily, but...


The current record is (staggeringly), TWO MINUTES AND FORTY FIVE SECONDS. I have absolutely no idea if I can do this, but I think I can. There's just one problem, one thing standing in my way. My fellow trainee, Kathy (Cathy?), who is a former national triathlon champion and also the female winner of the IronMan Hawaii Triathlon. (Kathy Kinz-Smith, if you're one of those searchy people...). She's relentlessly focused and disciplined and a NATIONAL TRIATHLON CHAMPION. She's light, has very little body fat, highly trained muscles, and presumably perfect focus. She informed me this evening, in a little fun bit of smack-talking, that she will not be allowing me to win, under any circumstances. She's already practicing at home to hit three minutes.

Fortunately, I'm not too wound up about this. I'm determined to give it everything I've got, and know when it's done that I did all I could do. But, I know I have a lot of muscle mass and a somewhat heavy body. I also know that I've only been training for a comparatively short time and that winning contests isn't the reason I'm doing this. So, if I lose, I don't think I'll be too disappointed. And if I win... heh heh... I'll be unable to walk for a day or two.

Two minutes and forty five seconds. Jesus. Okay. Bring it on. Go go gadget thighs. Wish me luck, y'all.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Smooth Sailing

Week 7 in the CAN. This week went by in the blink of an eye - I did five dialogs, each one better than the last. Today's dialog was fantastic - I decided to (respectfully) do the dialog in a southern accent, which for some reason made it DRASTICALLY easier to do - my pacing, emphasis and strength were vastly improved in a made-up voice rather than my own voice. I really think it has something to do with the remaining bits of self dislike - when I hear my own voice, my confidence is diminished. That too is diminishing, but it's interesting to note.

I'm definitely starting to feel the sadness of knowing that these people who ARE my life right now will soon be out of my life, many of them forever. Though, I take great comfort and joy in knowing that even if I only get to "keep" five or ten of these wonderful new friends, that's still a miracle and worth it's weight in gold.

My goal this weekend is to get some of my photos posted onto this blog, to show a bit of the world we inhabit. This weekend we've been invited to a party at Bikram's house, which I'm just so incredibly excited about. I can't wait!!! I'll take plenty of photos there too.

I'm not sure what else to say at the moment - I feel like there's a gradual opening of myself from day to day, but it's subtle. The panic is really leaving - and I feel a thousand pounds lighter. I had no idea how much crap I was carrying. But, from a "narrative" point of view (I can't help but think of this journal as a narrative), it's not tremendously interesting - just more of the same.

Based on established patterns, all prediction mechanisms should predict that next week will destroy me. But I really don't think it will. I feel STRONG.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Awkward, Hawaii, Breakthrough and Magnificence

This journal is funny. Reading back over it, every single time I comment that I've hit some kind of wall, or that I want something to happen - in almost every case, the very next journal entry has some kind of revelation, some kind of breakthrough. And this one's no different. My last entry was whiny and despondent and complaining that nothing is different, it's all the same. Yesterday and today have answered my prayers.

Yesterday we had a lecture from Rajashree in which she began to go over each pose in detail, specifically focusing on the short and long term medical benefits of each posture. With each posture, she asked the class if there was anyone who was really excellent at the poses. First half-moon pose - there are several people in class who can side bend below parallel to the floor with apparent ease and backbend down all the way until their fingers touch the floor. It's mildly frightening. Rajashree measured the spines of the people in the posture as they bent one way or the other - in some cases the spines were lengthening or shortening by more than ten inches. It was cool. After half moon came awkward pose - I have different degrees of skill at various poses, but my awkward is 99% perfect, particularly the second part. When she asked for volunteers, my hand SHOT up. Amrei, one of the wonderful girls in our training, got up with me. We faced each other, sideways to the room, and then went into the postures while people took pictures. When it came time for second part, I lifted my heels up as high as I could, sucked my stomach in, dropped down thighs parallel to the floor, and smiled while we just held the pose. It was great! People clapped and cheered after we had been in the pose for more than thirty seconds - I saw one of the pictures of our poses and they were great! Backs totally straight, arms perfectly parallel, and we held it! I felt so, so proud to have come this far in the training - to go from a point where I didn't think I would even survive to a point where I got to demonstrate a pose for the whole class and do it really excellently. I never thought my life would have these kinds of moments involving my body, it's so encouraging! For the first time, I started to feel like a TEACHER!!! Now I'm feeling cocky and thinking of challenging Craig to an "Awkward 2-off". I'd probably lose, but it'd be fun... And the feeling of starting to feel like a teacher seems to have completely changed my experience here - yoga class isn't a nightmare anymore, my mind is thinking about what parts of each pose I like and might derive enthusiasm from to share with students. And posture clinic is SO MUCH FUN!!! All I have to do is imagine all of my friends in class and how they might be doing the pose, and it totally calms my mind.

Bikram has confirmed, multiple times, that this is the very last teacher training to occur in Los Angeles, and the next teacher training will be held in a luxury hotel on Waikiki beach on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. He has also confirmed (and Rajashree has substantiated) that the World Headquarters will be moving to Hawaii as well. In our yoga class this morning, Rajashree announced that this is her very last teacher training - she may come to future ones as a guest speaker, but will not be involved on a continual basis. For some reason, hearing this felt like a punch in the stomach - I was so incredibly sad. Rajashree also said that Emmy will probably not move to Hawaii, though other staff members are already making moving plans. I just can't imagine how different this experience will be! I'm incredibly excited about returning as a teacher to future teacher trainings in HAWAII, but also saddened by the thought of a teacher training without Rajashree or Emmy or maybe even Craig. They seem like such important parts of the whole picture. Rajashree seemed very sad and reflective this morning in class - she was talking about the very first teacher training, which had only five students and was six months long, how early teacher trainings had everyone living together in one big rented house, how they learned what worked and what didn't. She has invited us all to her and Bikram's home in Beverly Hills this sunday for a pool party - I can't wait!!!

Finally, FINALLY, some mental calm in classes. The panic is starting to leave. I had to change a number of things - most importantly how I do pranayama breathing, but I can also feel that my mind is calming down, in general. Those icky noises are still there, only not as powerful. Muffled. I keep thinking about how I have to be an example for my students - how if I am doing my postures in an undisciplined or unfocused way, I'll erode my ability to demand discipline and focus when I teach. Weirdly, this is making things easier, not harder. I'm actually starting to enjoy class. There's a girl, Bridget Ann (BA), who smiles gently throughout the WHOLE class. I look at her in the mirror when I'm struggling and remember to smile, and it has totally changed the struggle aspect of class. I'm not quite able to do it the whole class myself, but I'm getting there. My poses, with the exception of Awkward and Triangle, are not really all that advanced from where they were when I got here - some are even less deep, but I rarely fall out of any posture anymore, and my strength and focus lasts through the whole class, instead of just to the end of the standing series, like it used to.

There have been a lot of discussions in the last two days, spearheaded by Doug, about life after training - how we should really appreciate the time we have with each other, because we'll never have an experience like this again, we'll never all be together again, and we'll never have to total immersion in yoga like we do here. I really started to feel emotional and incredibly connected to everyone I've met - I felt an urgent need to get to know the people I've just crossed paths with and to not take anybody here for granted. My life really has changed, already - I was too busy looking for the change to notice it. I have new lifelong friends, that I didn't even notice I had made! People to meet at burningman! And I'm part of this wonderful worldwide FAMILY now! They really do take care of each other, all of them! It's the most wonderful thing I've ever done for myself.

Today I performed THREE postures in posture clinic - Fixed Firm Pose, Half Tortise Pose, and Camel. I did fantastic on all of them, but I totally TOTALLY rocked Camel, and I only had about twenty minutes, COLD, to memorize it and had never said it out loud when I went up there, and it just FLOWED out of me, effortlessly. I really think that it's the feeling, the very new feeling, of almost being a teacher that's changing it. When I get up there, I really feel like I'm getting up in front of students in our studio in Wellington. It felt GREAT. So much fun, so much energy, I could barely contain myself. And now I get to love doing Camel pose in class because of it!!! YAHOO!!!!!!

I thank everyone who helped me get here for this magnificent gift. Thank you Anika - thank you Taisuke, thank you Clodagh, thank you Stef, Jaya, Dagmar, Jaguar, Erik, all my teachers, and all my friends... from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Groundhog Day

Every day feels like a copy of some other day. I feel like I'm not having any new experiences - just variations on old ones. I have no new ideas, no greater understanding. The only new thing that happened today is that Bikram may have told me to get rid of my fat stomach, which made me feel like shit. I feel like I've done such a wonderful job of doing the most to change here, and I've already lost 28 pounds, and I just don't feel like I have a fat stomach. But, maybe I'm deluding myself. And, whether I am or not, I shouldn't be fixated on how I look when I know I'm doing my maximum.

I did find that by studying dialog with much more focus and dedication this weekend - just devoting more hours to it, really working hard - totally changed the posture clinic experience from one of stress and disappointment to one of calm and triumph. So, I guess that's a bit of a new experience, but overall, I still feel like we're all in a holding pattern. We're not getting killed by this, but we're not sailing, it's still a rough slog. I've heard a lot about having the pheonix burn down, and being reborn from the ashes, and I feel like I'm missing something. I feel like parts of me, here and there, are burning down and being reborn, but I'm still basically the same.

I guess I just don't feel, today, like I'm any different. I still have panic in every class, even if I don't leave the room because of it. I'm feeling deflated.

But - I know I need to focus outward, not inward. Give what I want to get. That much, at least, I'm learning. I wrote (by HAND, can you BELIEVE IT?) letters to my grandfather (father's father) and my father today. This is something I have NEVER done. Seriously, not once in my life. It was weird. I had to remember how to write a return address. I described the yoga in great detail to my grandfather, with the secret hope (expressed, tactfully, in the letter) that he might consider trying it to help him fight the pain and suffering from his heart disease and diabetes. I'm officially a yoga evangelist. Even though I'm personally a bit worn out by it all.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Two Thirds Done!!!

Man, this obsession with fractions! Still, it's the end of the sixth week. Our saturday morning classes were cancelled because we left too much sweat on the floor prior to Bikram's 10:00 am classes, and Bikram cancelled them. It feels really wonderful to sleep in. And TWO DAYS of sleeping in! Can you imagine??? I like how this experience makes the little things so valuable. Like a nap is pure gold nowadays - a nap longer than 30 minutes? Platinum! Diamond! A neck rub or a back rub! All the riches from all the worlds...

Last night I reread this journal from the beginning, and I find it surprising. I'm surprised at how convinced I was that I couldn't do this, or at least how willing I was to say that - but is that really the deep truth? I think maybe the case is more that something deep inside me knows and knew that I could do this, and only this outer layer of learned self-doubt was providing that negative voice. Coming here is like the deep core declaring war on the negative outer layers, which is great. I'm also surprised that the "mental noise" battle in yoga seems to be a constant theme - and that's still with me. As classes get more manageable, I really am spending more and more time confronting this interminable mental "I can't do this" chatter - well, more klaxons than chatter.

We are told over and over and over, "Let it go". When I was in therapy with Cary during our separation and afterwards, I was given that advice over and over - also I've had acupuncturists say the same thing to me. I've generally found it really frustrating, since I don't feel like I'm choosing to hold onto things, I don't feel like I choose what thoughts and responses come into my head. Similarly, I'm not sure how to choose to "Get out of my Head", as I keep hearing this last week. But... I have a theory! A mild variation on "Give what you want to Get", one of my favorite Bikram sayings (though he's certainly not the only person to teach that). I think that the more time I spend thinking about other people and the things in other people's lives that I am drawn to and inspired by, and the less time I spend thinking about myself, the less power this chatter will have. I don't think the point of this whole exercise is for me to be able to look in the mirror and like what I see, so much as it is for me to look in the mirror far less often! Or, as our wonderful teacher Luke said yesterday in his goodbye, when he looks out and sees us all over the last few weeks, he gets to see himself. So - to the extent that I need to see myself, I'll try to start with looking at other people and the things I love about them. Of course, that doesn't really apply to class, so there I'll just breathe.

We said goodbye to Luke, and any doubts left in my mind about the presence and tangibility of energy are gone. As he finished his goodbye, clearly trying to hold back tears, everybody stood up and gave him a standing ovation. The energy in the room was so tangible, so strong, I could feel all of my skin tingling, all of the hairs on my arms standing on end, my breath shimmering, my pupils dilating. Luke was turning bright red and trembling. Then, Group 4 gave him a present and a group hug, then Group 3 gave him a group hug, and then everybody just got up and got into it. I was in a group hug with more than a hundred people! It was beyond amazing, and I was just so happy for Luke. He looked so overwhelmed, and I just kept imagining what it would be like to be given such a gift from people who you've been so instrumental in awakening. I want to go to New York with Clodagh just to take Luke and Troy's classes.

But, as a fantastic woman often says, IT'S THE FREAKIN' WEEKEND!!!! Time for movies and sun and all sorts of fun that will make monday yoga that much harder!

Triangle Man, Triangle Man, Triangle Man hates Particle Man
They have a Fight, Triangle Wins, Triangle Man.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Yoga Prison

I'm feeling better today, in a resigned sort of way. I still feel like this experience is infinite and will never end, but I'm not quite holding my breath for the end as I have been. I have gotten a lot of encouragement from friends here at yoga camp and friends who leave me comments here on this blog or write me emails, and that helps immeasurably.

Yoga classes are definitely getting easier to survive physically, but the mental chatter is seemingly increasing in volume. My brain wants OUT of that room, even though I'm not dying in the postures as much as I used to. My concentration, despite the noise, has increased, which is interesting.

We had a lecture today from "The Fascia Guy". He's a body health worker - I'm not sure how to describe him, he's not a doctor, more of a yoga-therapist energy-worker. It was interesting, but it was also the first time in this training when my skepticism and analytic side got really involved, and in general I was extremely annoyed. Mostly because the assertions made in the lecture about the nature of Fascia in the body and the descriptions of Energy (Chi, Mana, Prana...) were delivered in such an over-simplified, generalized way. It was impossible to take something seriously that completely and totally discarded all of psychiatry with a wave of the hand, for example. Rather than describe his lecture, I'll let him speak for himself: Jon Burras . I didn't disagree with his central point, which is that most things we do in western society hurt the body, and yoga fixes it, "all over, inside out, from the bones to the skin". The more I'm here, the more absolutely certain I am of that basic assertion. This yoga fixes EVERYTHING. So - I was disappointed in myself for not keeping an open mind, but I just couldn't handle the repeated demonization of "science", as a general term. I feel like science gets bashed by Yogis a fair bit, who then turn around and completely abuse Quantum Physics and Relativity Theory without real understanding of the underlying concepts. To anyone reading who buys into these things, let me state clearly and unambiguously: The Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle is NOT APPLICABLE to every situation in life. It is applicable ONLY on a QUANTUM ELECTRODYNAMIC SCALE, which means at the scale of the size of atoms.

Emmy said something in class this morning that rocked me a little bit, unexpectedly. In an offhand way, she said, "now that you are Yogis, you are going to live much longer than normal people, so you have to take better care of you body so it lasts for you". (Paraphrasing). I've always assumed I would die young, and the thought, presented so simply and factually by Emmy, snapped my eyes open - it's TRUE! I'm going to live longer, healthier, happier! And so will all my loved ones, since I force them all to do yoga with me! Hoot!!! Yeah, I'll survive this yoga prison. One more time... Bring it on.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sad, lonely, homesick

I miss home. I miss Clodagh. My friends are dispersing, leaving New Zealand - Trina's gone! Virginia's gone! It feels like the things that made home "home" aren't there anymore. It scares me. Clodagh's leaving for the South Island in a few days, which scares me for some reason - I feel like I'm not part of anything except yoga camp anymore. I don't even feel like I'm part of Weta, or like there's a Weta to be a part of anymore.

I feel like this yoga camp is never going to end. I know that's what everybody feels like right now - I'm right on schedule. That doesn't make this easier. I'm exhausted - EVERYTHING hurts, everything's swollen or in pain - if I move my back or knees even one degree out of alignment, I turn into a big pain machine. I guess this is a cool way of being forced to do the poses with correct form, but it's merciless!

I have no idea what I'm going to do with my life when I get back to New Zealand. I know that I can't continue to work in the same way at Weta - I know that Weta needs to get healthy, as a company, or it'll eat itself alive. It already is, the cracks are showing. But I don't know if that's something I can help to change. I don't know if other people feel similarly about Weta - feel that it's a wonderful, noble institution that has, through neglect not born of malign, become unhealthy. And if they do feel similarly, do they think things can change? Should change? And yet, despite my feeling unable to operate in the same capacity, I still feel like I can guide people when I am asked questions, I feel like my knowledge and wisdom are sharper than ever - my ability to concentrate is orders of magnitude higher than it once was.

I feel HELPLESS! I can't drive myself anywhere, I have no control over anything around me. I know that this is entirely the point, but I hate it - my whole life has been about creating and molding my environment, and now I feel like I have less control than I had when I was a freshman in high school. GAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! Sigh. I'm just exhausted with all of this. Yoga classes are not even all that difficult anymore - they're challenging, but I'm kinda zombieing through them, just doing what I can but not pushing to my limit, because I have no energy. And I still barely understand what energy is!!!

I'd love to know how to make this panic go away. I asked Luke, one of the teachers, and he answered (somewhat tough-love-ishly, which I understand) that my emotions are not in control of me unless I let them be. Bikram said something similar in lecture the other night - we control our emotions, or at least our responses to them. Surely there's a pose that will fix this - Next is panic-removing-pose.

And, to add to all of this, another confusing tidbit. Bikram gives people nicknames - lamppost, chickenlegs, "idiot", miss pink, miss blue. I answered one of his questions the other night, and he said, "Correct. You must have studied. Give a big hand for (slight pause)... the Jeweler". What?

Monday, May 15, 2006


Here's a quick and easy way to floor and otherwise incapacitate half of a room full of experienced yogis. All you have to do is cause a giant humidity wave to come into the city, making the humidity in the room over 80%, so that there's a visible haze around the lights and a visible, light fog from one side of the room to the other. Exhale breathing, and YOU GO DOWN.

Seriously, it was like a bomb went off today. Dozens of people left the room in the morning class. I fought my hardest struggle with the annoying "leave the room right now" voice that I've fought so far. Fortunately, there was a teacher right behind me and she did that thing with her eyes at one point when I caught her gaze of, "don't you even THINK of leaving the room". So I didn't, and it SUCKED. I felt like my skin was burning, or like I had gotten the worst sunburn of my life. But I made it, so once again, I have one less thing I'm allowed to get away with one things get uncomfortable. Dammit.

I froze in posture clinic today, during Toe Stand. It was trippy. I practiced this posture a lot, probably more than any other so far except half moon, and I got up there and just went completely blank. I couldn't think of a single word to say. It felt like an eternity, but was apparently only a few seconds. SUCKS!!! And it has nothing to do with nervousness, and nothing to do with practice! Fuck!!! Still, I grudgingly admit it was a good learning experience, and I know what to do to unfreeze if it ever happens - ditch the dialog, look at where the students are, think of what step comes next, and paraphrase. The dialog snaps back like magic, but it still SUCKED!!!

In this afternoon's class, there was a photographer from USA today taking pictures of Bikram teaching. I was right in front of him on the podium, so the photographer took a lot of photos with me in them, and was hovering around me quite a bit. There's nothing like the threat of ending up in a national newspaper doing a pose WRONG to make you concentrate like HELL. I couldn't kick my knee out in Standing Head to Knee, so he took one photo where everyone in the line was kicking out EXCEPT ME!!! Let's hope that my nipple piercings rule me out for inclusion in a family newspaper. Still, I got some good positive feedback from Bikram - he declared that my second set of Balancing Stick was perfectly parallel, which is so cool!!! Also, I touched my head to the floor in Standing Separate Leg Stretching, which I've never done. It was incredibly difficult, but when Bikram is two feet away and yelling at you to do something, generally, you do it. He walked around the room and made manual adjustments to various people's poses while the photographer clicked away madly, and it was really cool.

I received a package today from Anika, the director of the yoga studio I go to in Wellington. Inside was the most heartwarming gift imaginable... When I first started doing Bikram, I was basically completely sedentary, and started right into a 30 day challenge. My first instructor was a beautiful Canadian woman named Dagmar, and she gave me little gold stars on my chart when I completed classes. I think I was the first to get a star, because in those early days, I needed every form of encouragement I could get. I spent most of my first two weeks on the mat, lying down, gasping for air and praying for dear life. My package from Anika today contained about a dozen big gold stars, and on the back of the stars is written encouraging, inspiring, and heartwarming comments from all the students in the yoga classes. I teared up instantly upon realizing what they were! It's incredible!!! I don't feel worthy at all, but I'm determined to make everybody proud and to come back and kick the SHIT out of all of them in class (lovingly). So, if any of you are out there, thank you from the bottom of my heart, I'm touched and humbled. Who knew you could get a group hug from across the ocean?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

So much!

It's been a few days since I've written down my thoughts, and it's really too long. I find that so much happens, at least in my head and my thoughts, that the thoughts from just a few days ago, thoughts I'd like to remember and have a record of as part of this experience, start to get pushed out of my memory. I'll do my best remember everything.

Bikram's last lecture, on thursday, contained an interesting tirade/dissertation on love. He was discussing the body and reached a natural stopping point, at which point he asked if anyone had any questions. A few simple questions were asked that he dispatched quickly, and then a very brave girl from Amsterdam stood up and asked, "You have told us that, as westerners, we fall in love and get into relationships too quickly, and thus we fall out of love and get divorced. How did you fall in love with your beautiful wife, and how did you know it was love?". I thought this was a very brave question to ask, especially considering Bikram's reaction. He practically exploded with the words, "WHO THE HELL EVER TOLD YOU I LOVE MY WIFE?". Gasps around the room of dismay. Bikram loves getting a reaction, and did not miss this opportunity. But people were feeling bold, I guess, and challenges started erupting from around the room, and even from the brave girl who remained standing. You don't love your wife? "We have nothing in common! Nothing to talk about! My parents and my guru said, you should marry this girl, so I did! Obligation! Duty! Love doesn't exist!!!" What about your children? "Obligation! Duty!" More gasps. What about Shirley Maclaine? "She and I are friends! We have more in common than uncommon. We talk about yoga, and making movies, and other things. But that's friends. There is no such thing as love!". Bikram getting louder and louder with each retort, gasps and challenges more and more audible. The room, in general, becoming charged. Nobody sleeping secretly in the back anymore.

Bikram paused for a moment, and the room did too. He took a breath, relaxed his posture slightly, and exhaled. He then described love in such a beautiful and succinct way - I will try to do it justice, but I fear that I will not be able to be as succinct. He first of all said that he would give his life in a moment if it would bring Rajashree happiness. This seemed contrary to his earlier statements. He then said that he would give his life in a moment if it would bring his children happiness. When a person has achieved self realization, and has gotten to know and understand his spirit, then that person can learn to love himself and honor himself completely. When a person who has learned to know and love themselves beyond their illusions, and they meet another person who has accomplished the same, and their spirits have their joys in common, those spirits can join to become something greater. (I wish I could remember the sanskrit words. I want to say that Atma is the spirit and Mahatma is the greater spirit formed by the union of Atmas, but I just don't know for certain). That greater spirit in turn can join with the greater cosmic spirit that ties us all together, and become yet again something bigger.

We are all children of the first spirit, and as the "family tree" of our spirits has branched and branched and branched throughout the ages, our individual spirits have grown apart, but they still all share that common root - and "spiritual love" is when those spirits rediscover their sameness in each other, remembering the single root from which they came and feeling that truly, they are one together. I was very moved by this - I don't feel like I've done it justice, and my understanding and resonation is incomplete, but still, I was very struck by this. It makes sense. It explains, or incorporates, the experience that so many of us have had wherein we feel instantly connected to someone at a glance. It explains how, as you discover and grow closer to someone else over time, you know what they're going to say before they say it, think of the same songs you haven't sung in ten years at exactly the same time. If anyone who heard this lecture remembers it differently, or had a different impression, please leave me a comment - I'd love to get a different perspective on what he said or we heard. It was such a strange and jarring experience - "LOVE DOESN'T EXIST! Here is a beautiful and succinct and limitless description of spiritual love that we all share.".

I think part of Bikram's tirade against love has to do with they syntactical imprecision of how we use the word "love" in the english language. He said, "You say you love ice cream, you love a song, you love this wallpaper, you love your children, you love your wife! What is that? It doesn't exist!". I understand what he means... you can't really define love in a specific way if you use the word love in so many different ways, and so I think Bikram's annoyance at the word has a lot to do with the fact that it doesn't translate to a specific thing, but is instead entirely contextual. So what is love? Which love? The love you have for chocolate? The love you have for your grandmother? The butterflies in your stomach when you talk to your sweetheart? The devotion you feel to your spouse?. So yeah, if we use that word "love" for everything, we steal the power of the word to mean anything specific our profound. But I like Bikram's elaboration on "spiritual love", and will think of it the next time I look into someone's eyes and tell them I love them. I wonder how Bikram feels about the word "dude".

I spoke to my mother today to wish her a happy mother's day, and it was the best conversation I've ever had with my mom. First of all, she did most of the talking, instead of me, which was really great. I don't feel like I've had a lot of opportunity to see what my mom is like as a person, independently of her role as my authority figure and my elder. She's younger than many of the people I work with and many of the people I regard as peers. She was telling me about the last few days and hours of my grandfather's life - her father. He died very recently, and she stayed by his side in Florida through much of the very end. She was telling me about how my grandfather regained his lucidity and personality, lost some of his dementia, towards the end - how he seemed to recognize her again. My grandfather was a B-17 pilot in WWII who flew 17 missions as a captain before being shot down over Germany and spending almost a year in a German POW camp. He was not badly abused, but was severely underfed. Fortunately the war ended shortly after he was imprisioned and he was liberated by Russian soldiers. He was a very deep seeming man - definitely crazy at times. Interestingly, my mom said that he used to do something that was like Yoga that he learned, and told my mother that he had learned to breathe through his feet. The more I learn about breathing, the less crazy this sounds. More than a few times recently, I have found myself asking whatever part of his spirit is in me for help getting through yoga class, and I do feel like something, very very little, opened up in me. My mother told me about all of the different ways my grandparents who have passed (and my great grandparents) have shown themselves to her, in small ways, after they departed, and the peace it gave her. These are things I would have not really heard, or at least have discarded, until really very recently - and I'm really glad I don't have to shut myself away from sharing those experiences anymore. Still, in the end the nicest part was just hearing my mom talk a lot, unaffected. It was scary hearing her talk about how she panicked in the hospice and couldn't stop crying, and it made my grandfather panic because he knew he needed to die but didn't know how to die. I felt such sadness - and still do, even now - at the thought of knowing it's your time to go, being at peace with it, but not knowing how to die. They don't teach us how do die, we never even talk about it. Bikram's guru knew how to die - when it was his time, he simply withdrew his spirit from his body. Perhaps I can learn that, for when my time comes. Thank you, mom. Happy mother's day!!!

Last, but not least - I had an experience today that drove home how much I'm changing - or returning - to some previous confidence. I have had to deal with some business matters from my former company while I've been here. Most of the interaction has been through email up to this point, but today I had to speak on the phone to further negotiate. I could not believe my own voice - I was totally calm, confident - I spoke concisely, and did not get emotionally bound up with the reactions and interactions. I stated my needs and my positions and my offers clearly, hearing my exact thoughts coming out in my spoken words, without all the confusion and jumbling I've come to expect from myself. I felt so powerful! The negotiations went so well, we reached a compromise that we were happy with - and I just felt like I was an entirely new person. I'm so excited for the next time I have to negotiate with someone, it was so much fun! And it was all the better that I really wasn't too attached to how it came out. That made things far easier to say, demands easier to state, compromises easier to stomach.

Every time I feel like I've shed the last of a skin in this yoga camp process, about 1 or 2 days later I get knocked on my ass. Let's hope, for mercy's sake, that tomorrow isn't too unkind. Bring it on, cursed Monday...

Friday, May 12, 2006


Bikram delivered a lecture this evening that included a bizarre, hilarious, and surprising lecture on "love", it's nature, it's existence (or nonexistence?) and other elaborations. I want to write about this part of the lecture in detail, but I'm so exhausted and need some time to process what I heard. So... that will have to wait a day or two. Sleep, delicious sleep.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Past halfway.... WHOO HOO!!!!!

Wow. More behind us than in front of us. Aches, pains, weird acne, fatigue, emotional roller coasters, intense feelings of attachment, annoyance, intimacy, disgust, peace, panic. All kinds of weird shit, but we're all still here. Actually, all but one - we lost one of our yogis about a week ago, he gave up, went home. Still - people have their scars, but we're all holding together as a group fantastically. I'm so proud of the spirit and support that everyone show for each other.

An example... one of the visiting teachers is a former Army ranger (I am always skeptical of anyone who makes this claim, as it is often claimed falsely) and he is pretty tough in posture clinic. One of his rules is that we are not allowed to do our group cheers before people go up to deliver their dialog. Normally, each of the six groups (I am in Group 3) has a specific cheer for their group, which is yelled enthusiastically and chaotically just before one of the group members goes up to perform the dialog. It's an incredible confidence booster - I really love it each time before my dialog deliveries. Group 3's cheer (this isn't dorky in the slightest) is, "Group Three! Lock the Knee!". Anyway, our military teacher does not allow us to do cheers, and so one of the people in our group who is relentlessly upbeat started lifting his leg up in the air before each of the Group 3's dialog performances, locking his knee and pointing to it. Others started following along so that, before each delivery, a dozen or so legs were lifting up in the air, silently, with their knees locked. I was so proud of people for having each other's back so loyally.

Today I had my first truly rock star delivery, for me at least. I shouldn't be too proud of myself, but still it felt SO GREAT. It's silly, but I've felt all day like my wee pat on the head from Bikram last night has given me an oasis of calm and confidence, so when it was time to do Standing Separate Leg Stretching today, I had SO MUCH FUN! A few voice characterizations lightly infused my voice, I made corrections and kept flowing, I had so much energy and excitement, and even began to scratch the surface of my yoga-teacher-dream-situation: Delivering an entire class in a perfect, seamless Samuel L. Jackson impersonation. I know it will never happen (and probably shouldn't), but man it would be fun.

Another thing that's fun to watch is the coupling - it seems like the rampant sexual tension has annealed somewhat, so that people's flirtations in general seem to be settling on the same targets. There is a lot of "pairing" going on - even if it's subconscious, and it's really cute to watch. It's also really relaxing to feel a bit separate from it - certainly there are people I feel closer to or more open with, but I don't feel a pull from anyone or towards anyone, which is so relaxing! Being in a relationship means i'm not looking for any attachments, but the reality is that in situations like this, particularly intimate, challenging ones, attachments sometimes form involuntarily. I was accepting of the possibility that those things could happen and might even be difficult - that's okay - but I'm really relieved that it hasn't been something I've had to think about! All my drama is with my own rebellious and uncooperative body! Hoot!!!

The best thing to see is how some people are really coming out of their shells - the people for whom dialog has been a struggle are really starting to make really visible gains, and it's amazingly encouraging. I feel like I get a charge of strength every time somebody who really has to work gets up and kicks some ass, and I'm trying really hard to give that energy to people who are about to get up there and do their thing.

Lock the knee, y'all.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Pat on the Head

Bikram walked over to me after his lecture this evening, right to where I was sitting, and patted me on the head. I'm so glowing and proud, and I feel like such a fourth grader because I'm just so beaming. He just walked right over to me, looked at me in the eyes, and put his hand on my head. I said "Thank you, Boss". I sit in the front for Bikram's lectures. Partially because I'm tricking myself into not falling asleep, and partially because I really want to just absorb as much of this experience as I can. I really try to pay attention, and I'm trying really hard not to editorialize the information - just to let it all in, without comment from me, and see where it ends up. I don't want to make up my mind about parts of things before I experience all of it.

I feel totally different now. It felt, when Bikram looked at me, like he was saying, "good job". Maybe not. It doesn't really matter what he was thinking, I just feel so calmed, and not scared. Prior to this happening, I was planning on writing today about how yesterday's collapse has infected me with a kernel of fear, and my mind was really scared and jumping around like crazy in class today. Humidity has been higher the last few days than it has been the whole time so far, and that's made classes more challenging. I didn't do well today, though I feel like I'm starting to rebound - 80%. However, after this evening's lecture and Bikram's kind gesture, I feel like I don't have to be afraid tomorrow, which is great.

Tomorrow is halfway. I can't believe it. Halfway. And everybody insists that the second half is easier, and goes faster, than the first. My memorization capabilities are definitely highly accelerated - I feel like I can memorize things with less work - plus I have a NEW TECHNIQUE. It goes something like this... I noticed that when people are playing the memorization game, they are trying to remember the right sentences, and often saying the wrong words when they make mistakes, and starting over from the beginning. It seems like people end up executing the wrong movements with their voice and speaking muscles more often than the right movements, and on top of that, they're executing the beginning of the pose way way more than the end of the pose. So - instead, I've just started reading the dialog, off of the page, out loud, in "performance voice", over and over and over, start to finish - NEVER halfway. Sometimes bodies in front of me, but most often not - and I'm trying to read each pose 50 times. I find that after 10 repetitions, I don't need to look at the page the whole time. After 20, I look down less. After 30, I barely look down at all, and at 40 I don't need the page anymore. Plus, the muscle memory of saying it correctly is totally ingrained and I don't have to think about it. It seems to be really working fantastically. Plus, I think all of this physical, mental and spiritual purification is just causing us all to become smarter - or at least quicker. People have also noticed, as have I, that their fingernails, toenails and hair are growing much, much faster - sometimes twice as fast. My hair is definitely growing hella fast.

AND I STOPPED BITING MY NAILS!!! The neurolinguistic programming isn't totally complete yet - my fingers still sneak up to my mouth from time to time, but I haven't bitten in a few days. HELL YES!!! I haven't been able to stop that since forever.

Tomorrow - no fear, calm, celebration, and beaming from my pat on the head.

Shame, Ego, Defeat, Despair, Acceptance, Release

Today killed me. I left the room. I didn't even really choose to, when it finally happened. There was no choir of angry voices in my head demanding that I leave. I don't really remember making the decision. I got up and walked to the open door to take a breath, because I couldn't breathe and my heart rate just kept going up, and up, and up. When I got to the door, Antonia, one of the staff members, was outside, took a look at me, and said I should come outside, sit down, and drink some Pedialyte. I was shaking so bad, and so, so, so ashamed and disappointed. Craig said first week that we should imagine being able to look back on our training and be able to say we never left the room unless it was an emergency, that we never took the easy way out. I don't know if this was an emergency. I didn't know what else to do.

When I was in the lobby, I started to cry, but no tears came out - my body just did the crying motion in my shoulders and chest, the shaking and the wracking. I was, and still am, so disappointed in myself. The disappointment was quickly replaced by anger at seeing one of the fellow teacher trainers, whom I have mentioned before, the guy who doesn't seem to think he has to do any actual work, sitting in the lobby with his legs crossed, having a conversation with somebody, "cooling off", perfectly calm. I drank my pedialyte, shot unnecessary eye lasers into him, failing to cause his death, realized I was just projecting my own shame, and got back into the room. I couldn't really do the rest of the postures very well. I tried Camel, had to take it super easy, and did finish all of Rabbit and the end postures, but with only the bare shreds of energy. Bikram finished class (he was teaching) by saying "You guys did pretty good, physically, but mentally you are shit." He then got down of the podium and left class without a final savasana, which has not happened before.

I worked really hard this weekend studying anatomy. I really, really wanted a perfect score - for no really good reason other than to feel like I was doing all I could do. I got two questions wrong on the test, and it just completely took the wind out of my sails. More disappointment. The question I got wrong was not in the study guide, is not in our anatomy book, and was mentioned in passing in the lecture. AND, according to the internet, is WRONG. The question was, "What is another name for Adrenaline", and the answer they're looking for is "Norepinephrine". This is incorrect, even if that's what Dr. T said in our lecture: Wikipedia Adrenaline . I'm really pissed about that. And I got another question wrong, because I let my logic (faulty) override what we were told in the lecture. The thing about all of this is that I really, truly know that it doesn't matter whether or not I got 98 out of 100 correct or 100 out of 100, yet I still have this disappointment about the whole dismal day.

In the end, it was Clodagh who helped me get over this. I could barely hear her on the phone, as I was using my precious break minutes to wolf down a burrito in the fast food place, but she reminded me that I didn't come here to win an anatomy award or to have some superficial boy scout badge of "never left the room". I came here to find out who I am, to find out what I can do, and to learn to teach so I can help other people start in the direction of finding themselves. (Hey! I can answer that question now!!! And mean it!!!) What matters is that I know the anatomy, which I do, and that I can use it to help myself and help people, which I can. What matters is that I'm honest and disciplined with my practice, not that I'm perfect at it, and that I did the best I could, correctly - which I did. These are the things that will make me a better teacher and a better student - not little boy scout badges. Thank you, Clodagh - I love you.

The day ended with a 4 hour Bikram lecture on yoga philosophy. Again, somewhat meandering and abstract, but good. He does manage to say some things that I find deplorable, though - today's gem was that "Man likes another Man, they do coochie coochie, they go against the nature and the god, they get AIDS and they DIE." Bikram seemed to lose a few supporters on that one. During a break, a boisterous Australian girl burst out with (quite loudly), "Somebody should ask Bikram, 'HAVE YOU EVER SUCKED COCK? NO? MAYBE YOU SHOULD, YOU MIGHT LIKE IT...'". Quite an evening indeed.

One of my teachers, Stef, is here - she made me a bag of super secret super power seeds to eat, and gave me some support, despite my rough day. It's wonderful to feel like people got yo back. Thanks everybody. (Two more days until HALFWAY MARK!!!)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

That shit's got you SIDEWAYS, man!

Last night was a bit of an adventure - an interesting tutorial on having a new body and what (not) to do with it.

Our Friday evening class was very intense. It was taught by Jason Winn, who is a bit of a "Yoga Superstar", to the extent that there are such things. Here's a bit about him: Jason Winn . Jason is a drill sergeant. He began the class by lining everyone up to exactly their toes behind the blue lines on the floor, and then toured every line of the floor aligning every person who was out of line by even half an inch. He then informed us that nobody leaves the room, period. His demeanor was extremely serious, almost humorless, though not entirely, and his central focus was discipline. He held the poses for exactly 60, or 30, or 20, or 10 seconds, on the clock, depending on the pose. He insisted that we not fall out of the poses, and, for the most part, we didn't. I held my foot out in Standing Head To Knee for the entire pose, not one fall. (My standing leg wobbled a bit at the end, though... I can't lie). This seemed epic to me. Something about Jason's unrelenting precision dragged more out of me than I could have consciously delivered on my own, I really like that. But the result of all of this is that I pretty much extracted exactly the maximum amount I could have given. This is important for what follows.

Normally, we have an hour dinner break after the evening yoga class, before returning for posture clinic from 8pm to 11pm. However, as we finished class Jason informed us that we were done for the evening and could go home. I'm certain this was in no way related to it being Cinco de Mayo and the instructors wanting to go out for the night. Definitely not. The cheer that arose from the yogis was deafening. Really astounding. So, of course, we drove home... without getting dinner. I really wanted to go get Mexican food to celebrate the holiday that I know nothing about, but nobody wanted to join me. I can't drive, so I decided to walk to Universal Studios City Walk, which is about a 40 minute walk. By the time I had arrived at the City Walk, it was 9:30 pm. I had not eaten anything since lunch at 11:30am, and had gone through a pretty intense yoga class and a bunch of posture clinic and other draining stuff. I put my name on the list, was told there was a 1hr wait, and I took my seat outside to do some quaiity "attempting to meditate while people watching". I'm such a dork. At about 10pm I noticed myself feeling distinctly unusual - colors and sounds intensifying, dizzyness, a feeling of separateness from my body.

I finally got seated at about 10:30, and was immediately brought out a basket of chips with a little bowl of salsa. Clearly delirious by this time, I requested a "spicy" salsa. When it arrived, it was a little bowl of blood red viscous sauce, almost paste, just FILLED with seeds. I proceeded to wolf the entire basket of chips and the bowl of extra spicy salsa down in about 10, 15 minutes. Again, not firing on all cylinders here. No less than five minutes after beginning this feat of stupidity, my entire body was flushed with chills and I began vibrating, a LOT, in every muscle. And I couldn't stop it! My whole body was shaking like crazy, I broke the chips as I picked them up, spilled water, and was shaking so hard that the table of people next to me were, with the most charming display of tact and subtlety, pointing at me and remarking to themselves. I didn't quite hallucinate, but the room got hazy and weird and sounds became a little distorted. Sadly, my spirit guide (voiced by Johnny Cash) did not appear. Still, I feel I have gained a greater understanding of the mysterious Guatemalan Instanity Peppers. When my food arrived (enough food to feed a family, no wonder Americans are gaining weight), I was so freaked out that I figured I'd eat as much as I could to diminish the reaction. This worked slightly, but I was still really shaky when I left.

This morning's subsequent yoga class was an adventure unto itself. Good GOD. Can you imagine rolling all your weight onto your belly and maintaining nearly full lungs while your stomach and intestines are stuffed with too much food, lined with liquid fire? It was not one of my more impressive classes. I'm stunned that I survived it without vomiting or shooting flames out of my clenched buttocks.

I'm gradually becoming aware that my body is different, and needs different foods. I ate a burger today and it just didn't feel right. The first few bites were somewhat satisfying, but then it just became a heavy, greasy chore. It's weird. The old cravings are coming apart, but the only new cravings I have are for watermelon and chai. I'm finally starting to change shape - now that just a little is happening, I feel like I can stop worrying about it, since it was really not important. Still, I can't avoid vanity entirely, and maybe don't even want to; today while shopping on Melrose I tried on a pair of pants that fit without me sucking my stomach in - a tiny bit snug, but still wearable. They were a size 34, which I haven't worn since I was 17. I was stunned. Of course, I bought the 36 in the end, but STILL!!!! Whoo HOO!!!!

As my anxieties about whether or not I'll survive yoga camp subside, they're gradually being replaced (or revealing) a new set of concerns that I don't need. How am I going to maintain this commitment to health when I return to my life, without completely throwing my job and possessions away? I'm certain it's possible, but how can I approach my old job and tell them that I only have 40 hours a week, maximum, to give, and that I'm not willing to sacrifice my health any longer, under any circumstances? This will be the biggest challenge of them all, I think.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Keep on keepin' on.

So.. I'm feeling a little bit cautious. Because... yesterday's ephiphany (epiphanies?) seems to be sticking. I had two magnificent, powerful yoga classes today, and I feel like I'm glowing. The classes weren't easy, by any stretch, but it seems like if you make the primary "thing that you're doing" in the posture breathing, you almost forget about all the other stuff, particularly if it hurts. Plus, we got to yell "YEE HAW" and "FUCK YOU" during our situps as loud as possible. If that's not cathartic, I don't know what is. Yoga teachers from texas are a TRIP. Craig was talking more about the "yoga truck" today and how we should be wary of it, that it might sneak up on us, and to be honest, I feel almost a bit nervous, like it must be sneaking up on me. I don't want to feel overconfident, but right now... things seem to be going fantastically.

I have a visualization about breathing that I want to describe. It seems to be working magnificently for me. I imagine a plastic piece of PVC tubing, about 1.5 inches in height and 2.5 inches in diameter. It has little wheels inset inside it, all along the middle circumference, little wheels which spin when air blows through the tube fast enough. I imagine this little device right in the center of my windpipe, just behind the sternum (a little lower) right near where the windpipe bifurcates out to the lungs. In each pose, as my body bends forward and backward and side to side, I can imagine where in my body the non-deformable little tube thing has been moved to - if I bend backwards, my spine pushes it up into my chest. If I bend forwards, the tube thingy moves into my back, feeling almost near my spine. In each pose, I spend almost 75% of my mental energy trying to spin the little wheels with my breath, imagining pulling the air through from below the device, hard. This has kept my heart rate down dramatically, and seems to have made the entire class not so panicky. Anyway, there it is.

Dr T's poop lecture was disappointing. In a nutshell: Don't grunt or push too hard, just... you know... poop. There's a much longer and more verbose version of it involving the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, blah blah blah... yeah. Just poop. I guess we'll have to wait on the revelations.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Click and Lock

Great Glorious Expanses of the Infinte and Beyond!!!! WHOO HOO!!!!

It works. It's there. It's true. It's not bullshit, it isn't marketing.

I woke up this morning in the foulest mood I've been in for AGES. Pissed off at EVERYONE, my roommates, my vanmates, the yoga school, everyone in LA, annoying kids from my 3rd grade class - my annoyance and irritation knew no temporalspatial bounds!!! Class began horribly and annoyingly. Fuck this lady, who the hell is she? Why the hell doesn't she go back to Kansas? These pranayama breathing cycles SUCK! They're too fast! They're inconsistent! I hate her voice! RARRRR!!!!!.

And then... somewhere around, well (big surprise), ahem... (cough)... camel pose... it just evaporated. It was gone. In a moment, like a splash of water that drenched me for a moment and then slid away. It would be great if I could say these moments of breaking - well, this wasn't the biggest one of the day, but it'd be great if they suddenly made the class easier, but no... class is still hard. But the day was suddenly light, joyful, hilarious, stupid, magnificent, funny, absurd. I belong here! I'm doing this! I love it! May every day from now on be filled with challenges, may I be pushed to where I think I'll break every day, so that when I do rest, I'll SLEEP THE SLEEP OF THE JUST! (as Joe would say...). Yoga Teacher from Kansas whose name I cannot remember, I SALUTE YOU! I was a fool to ever doubt your pranayama pacing!!!

That wasn't really even the big break. I fucked up my dialog today - I was not as practiced as I could have been, I was a bit low on energy, and the dialog dragged out of me, reluctantly and without excitement. Those poor folks in Standing Bow Pulling Pose - they had nobody there to make them give it their all. But I think I needed that to happen - because it was a failure, but not in the way that I'll beat myself up for it - it was really clarifying. Why did I fail at it? Not because I'm stupid or not cut out for this or lethargic and dull - because I didn't practice it mindfully enough, precisely enough, often enough. Cut and Dry. Simple. And I don't have to feel bad or anxious about the next one, because the next one (Balancing Stick), is going to be incredible. Fun. Hilarious. Exciting. Because, when I go up there, I won't have a sliver of a doubt in my mind that it's going to rock - in fact, I won't even consider it. It will be ingrained. And really - it doesn't take that much to make that happen. Mindfullness, precision - and I'm going to DO THE DIALOG.

And THAT wasn't even the big break. The second class of the day. Was so rushed getting dressed and ready and so on that I didn't have time for the ritual pre-class, "Ugh... not more yoga" exasperation. Got into class - we've transitioned to being in rotation around the room, so it's somewhat forced where in the room you are. I was not quite under a heater, but close enough for sizzletoes. Tight quarters... clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right... and CRAIG IS TEACHING. The remnants of "oh fuck", but not quite as much as usual, and a new feeling - excitement. Just at the end of breathing, which was dizzying - Craig said, "Okay, we're almost halfway through training, you guys are getting a lot stronger now, let's let the horse run a little bit." My heart jumped a bit at it, but again, a new feeling - okay, let's do this. I held awkward part 2, first set, for over one minute, solid as a rock, no sinking, no rocking, face calm, breathing slowly. My thighs were on fire, they were screaming, but I was so focused on trying to keep the breath big and slow and the stomach in and the arms electrified that it was like a voice outside the door. A fucking LOUD voice, of a dude with giant arms and a shotgun. Second time around, a stumble, but only one. It's actually easier to just stay in and live with the pain than it is to get BACK in, I learned tonight.

Craig's class felt like sixth gear. I know we've got more to climb, I know this is not the fastest or most intense or strongest class we'll have, and I know I'll find more in me, but I really WENT for it. I stayed in the loathsome standing head to knee, even though I can barely express it. I held bow on two sides without falling, without having bad form. And camel... it was like one of those shows where they have to crack open the sternum to get to the heart, it just folded open, I seriously felt like my sternum was a v-shape pointing out of my chest. Surrender, release - I drank almost nothing for the whole class.

And this evening has been like wearing a new pair of clothes. I feel like something just snapped. I'm SO ENERGIZED. I can feel my skin sizzling. I feel like I can reach out with my feelings and actually FEEL my friends in New Zealand, just the hint of them, but they're there, especially Clodagh, who I can almost reach out and touch. I'm bouncing of the walls, and feel like I have a giggle inside my chest that I can barely contain - it's just shy of uncomfortable, but solidly in the territory of AWESOME. I don't know how many times I'll get to feel this way, but the hairs on my legs are literally standing on end. And I want MORE.

Actually, I'm avoiding the real truth here... Dr. Trapani, or "Dr T.", our esteemed Anatomy/Physiology teacher has promised us, on his honor, with great seriousness... to teach us tomorrow how to properly poop. I'm completely serious. And he even wagered that, after his "How to properly have a Bowel Movement" class is complete, that not a single one of us will be able to say we've ever previously contemplated what he will provide us to ponder. Pinky... are you pondering what I'm pondering? Yeah, Brain, but where we gonna find twelve rubber duckies and a bucket of yogurt at this time of night? So, tomorrow.... I shall report on how to poop. CORRECTLY. Be prepared. (We speculate here that it will involve 3 feet of rubber hose, a plastic bag with NO HOLES, a rubber band, and a meat thermometer. The jury is out on the WD40).

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The slumps are BORING.

It's so boring to be melancholy! I know I'm worn down, but I'm not worn down so much that I'm approaching a breaking point, and I'm almost disappointed - it seems like, for many people, the breaking down is a sacrament of some kind, a doorway to something else. I suppose I could intentionally drive myself into the ground, but that doesn't seem like the right thing to do.

I wonder if the training of the movie industry and my "previous life" has given me tools for managing chaos. I'm good at ignoring madness and doing as much as I can, even pushing myself for excellence, without beating myself up for not dotting all the i's and lower case j's... but then again, perhaps I am beating myself up for it.

Two noteworthy things happened today. First of all, I instinctively used my friend Kris's mocking theory of reassurance on a friend who was struggling, and it totally worked. I was so thrilled. One of my new yoga friends was sitting on the floor outside in the lobby, looking a bit vacant and shattered, crying very lightly. I watched a bunch of people go over to tell her she'd be okay, and she responded and nodded, but still looked a bit distant. As I was leaving, I walked past her and gave her a hug and said, something along the lines of, "Yeah, you're a total broke-dick. You're so broken. You should probably give up, clearly you're not made for this... soooo retarded". My tone was caring, but with that loving mockery that Kris has taught me. And she laughed and shook it off and hugged me back. I think Kris should have mockery teacher training. And make a reality show out of it.

The second thing that was interesting was a dialog delivery by one of our dialog superstars. We have a girl in our group who's a television personality in the UK, sorta a VJ on a music show on the BBC, as it was explained to me (I'm probably getting that wrong). Anyway, she got up and delivered Standing Head to Knee pretty much flawlessly, as usual. Because it seemed to be effortless for her, the advice she got from the instructors was that she needed to get out of her comfort zone, to fuck up a little bit. So, when we transitioned to the next dialog, Standing Bow Pulling Pose, she got right up in the front of the line, announced that she did not have the pose memorized, but was going to "fuck up", as instructed. She proceeded to deliver the best dialog I've heard so far. Amazingly, she managed to get about 75% of the dialog correct, but more importantly, she taught. She gave individual corrections, she spoke quickly, she was enthusiastic and excited and pulled them into the depths of the pose. I was so inspired! I feel like this is a lesson I want to learn. I don't feel like I'm teaching. I'm somewhere in between performing and trying to remember. I don't feel like I'm doing badly, but I'm still very conscious. I want to feel like the instruction is just flowing out of me.

I almost cried in savasana today. Almost - still working on it - the teacher had mentioned that she was humbled and giving respect for the fact that we had given up money and time and our loved ones so that we can make this commitment to learning to help people. She said that in a few weeks (my first class is in like 6 weeks! Holy shit!) we'll be in front of a room of people who are looking to us to HELP them. Not just teach, or explain, but HELP. This got me for some reason. I felt shocked by it. I know that my reasons for coming here were not really principally about helping others. They were about helping me, really pretty selfishly, to superficially look better, discover some new tricks, and hopefully find a way to like myself more (that theme is getting so boring!). Still, I'm here, and the prospect of not only helping people, but voluntarily choosing to make a life change so I can help people, and myself... that's really a big deal! I've never thought about doing something like that before, and have been in a small amount of awe of people like Clodagh who specifically chose their life path so they could help people.

I'm going to see if I can get a bit extra sleep tonight, as an attempt to find some passion for doing this, instead of this meandering dread about having to struggle. I also must note - I feel a little bit of pressure now to be interesting in my blog entries, knowing that people are reading them! It's so weird!!!