Juice Fast Progress

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Actual conversation snippets floating up around me.

"I'm pretty sure there's a war brewing between yogis and robots. But the yogis are totally gonna win, because, um - you know, we can like, regenerate and shit, and the robots will have to get repaired or they'll like break."

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure there's a post-apocalyptic nightmare world coming soon, so the faster we can get on top of our robot skills, the sooner."

"Dude, as long as there's asymmetrical haircuts and dune-buggies, I'll be happy with it. Bring on the oversized sunglasses."

"So wait, did you say you're going to SRF or to SRL tomorrow? What's SRF? Oh dude - that's the Self Realization Fellowship. Oh. I thought you said SRL. The Survival Research Labs... you know, giant robots killing each other. They're really not the same. No, not really..."


Pride and Rest and Cold, Cool Water

6 days. 11 yoga classes, more than half of which were harder than any I've taken before. I feel so proud of myself and of everyone for making it through this whole week. Certain that subsequent weeks will be okay, though painful. And for the next day and a half, a bit of (sorta) rest! Hoot!!!

Friday, April 21, 2006

War weary.

People in the yoga studio seem a bit haunted today - lots of dark eyes, pale skin, skinny, skinny bodies. I feel strangely unaffected. I feel a lot of changes in my mind and my calm, and I feel my positivity growing by the day, but my body seems totally unchanging. But people around me seem to be shrinking a lot - and not always in a good way.

Rajashree taught class this morning, and I had to place my mat directly in front of her because I asked her yesterday about my misaligned hips. I have been increasingly worried that I'm not even getting to first base with a lot of poses because my hips are so tight and lopsided. Alas, my delusions of being a misfit were shattered when Rajashree said that I had "excellent form" and that "nothing was wrong with me". I just have tight hips. But in her pre-class mini lecture (just 10 minutes or so), she mentioned that this week was the end of the "ease in" and now they can really start to challenge us. I get a little pang of panic every time I hear that. But she also said that in the next two weeks there are going to be a lot of frustrations and emotions coming up, and people are going to get irritated and angry with each other, so we should be easy on each other.

After she said that, today it was like a BOMB went off. People are pissed off at Bikram, pissed off at Craig, pissed off at Doug, pissed off at each other. Lunch was medium snarky. Dinner was medium-well snarky. Our van ride home was a bit aggressive as well... I'm trying to say positive, but even I am irritated at a number of small things. May as well get these things out...

There's a guy in training who just doesn't seem to think that he has to actually do any work to reap any rewards for this. It's as though he thinks that he paid money for a certificate, and this whole "training thing" is just a formality that he can take or leave. He parks his car blocking other people in, shows up late for class, talks during class, sleeps during class... today he practiced diagonally from me in yoga and just drove me nuts. He breathed through his mouth, made grunting noises constantly - talked during the savasanas.. Bikram called him an "idiot". Emmy called him out during class the other day, Craig spoke to him the other day. Apparently today he got a bit shredded by the visiting teacher Dave. And for some reason, he's totally under my skin! Why do I care about this dude? I'm having a really positive experience, making tons of friends, getting really healthy... why am I attaching to this irritant for no reason? Gotta practice letting go of it... there's always going to be an irritant for me to be annoyed by. Let it go. YOU FUCKING MORON! Okay. There. Whew....

Tomorrow morning we have class at 7:30 am, which means we have to leave here at 6:30 am, which means we have to wake up at 6:00-ish.... SO I AM GOING TO SLEEP!

A day in the life.

7:00 am: Alarm goes off. "Canned Heat". Snooze. Again and again.

7:30 am: Get out of bed, panic because I've over slept. Run into kitchen, make Quaker instant oatmeal, put fresh fruit in it. Drink glass of orange juice. Try to do this fast, because yoga starts at 9:30am, don't want to be nauseous. Put food into tupperware containers for the whole day, as fast as I can. Run out of the apartment at 8:15am (when the van leaves). Run back to get the two or three things I forgot, get to the van by 8:20am.

8:20 am: Apologize to van mates for being late, AGAIN, and then either try to sleep or practice the yoga dialogue in the 45 minute car ride through hollywood to the bikram studio. Note to self. Good GOD we're all becoming yoga geeks.

9:00 am: Pull yoga mat off of drying lines outside studio, run into building as fast as possible to try to "reserve" a good spot in the room - close to the doors, far from the heaters. Yo soy pussweed. Sign in to the attendance sheets, lie on mat in the big yoga room while the room heats up, reading my little dialog book, trying to memorize. Maybe find a friend and ask them if they'll let me practice my dialog on them (they stand up in front of you, you lead them through the pose). Note, as I do every morning, that yoga people are SO RIDICULOUSLY HOT.

9:30 am: Morning yoga class. Remember to breathe. Remember to breathe. Why am I here? Why on earth have chosen THIS as a life path? Breathe, breathe.. GOD it's hot... Aw dude, get your foot off my head... oh, sorry miss! I didn't mean to put my foot on your head! I just want ONE GOOD POSTURE. My triangle's okay. Not great, but okay.

11:15 am: Lie in savasana, trying to reroute the energy systems to find strength to sit up. Welcome the cool air, gradually rediscover joy in being here. Get off floor at 11:30.

11:30 am: Lunch. Wait in microwave line for 20 minutes, reheat my AWESOME FOOD! (Thank you, Kris), sit down with fellow students - I try to sit with different people every day and meet at least two or three new people every day, so I don't end up falling into the comfort of a "club". Practice dialog. "Arms back, Look back, Fall back, Way back, Go back, MORE BACK!!! Come up and stop in the middle."

12:30 pm: Back to the big room - sit on the funny little floor chairs in the yoga room. Try to avoid giant sweat pools hiding in the floor. Posture Clinic!!!! Everybody gets in a queue (or a LINE, for you americans..) to go up and recite a pose of dialog. We're still in the beginning - basically, you get up with a microphone in front of the whole class and you've got four students lined up that you're going to direct through a posture (or part of a posture). The dialogue has to be memorized and delivered verbatim, with no improvisation. Furthermore, the primary focus is not on the exactness of the memorization, which we were supposed to have done before we got here, but rather on the delivery, in a very theatrical sense, of the lines. I chuckle to myself multiple times a day - I feel like I've become one of those drama kids in high school... I'm all streching all the time, wearing loose clothes, barefoot, hanging out in a mirrored room with a ballet bar, getting and giving advice on how to emphasize the words in a delivery. I am truly dissolving my concept of "me", because... I LIKE THIS. It's so much fun! I get to make big muscley bodies bend by saying WORDS!!! Tee hee. Little pee breaks here and there.

4:30 pm: Break to get ready for evening class. Run into the yoga room to reserve a decent spot. Run into men's bathroom, try not to laugh at the "naked guys standing around having a conversation while completely naked" thing.

5:00 pm: Evening class. Second verse, same as the first. Hot, hot hot.

7:00 pm: Dinner. Virtually identical to lunch, only colder outside.

8:30 pm: Either MORE posture clinics or Bikram lecturing. There's no way to describe a Bikram lecture. It's this chaotic, rambling, repetetive thing, and right when you feel like tuning out, he says something that seems poignant. In true yoga geek fashion, I've begun sitting right at the front, close to Bikram, so I don't have the opportunity to tune out. He notices it immediately. Also, work on sitting in indian style with a straight back.

11:00 pm or 12:00 pm or whatever: Back to the van! Drive home! Or, more precisely, be driven home. Lots of singing along in the van to the radio, or talking about the lecture or some such. Jibber jabber! So much post yoga energy!!!

1:30 am: Write blog entry, talk to Clodagh, wonder why I'm not tired.

Actually. Now I'm tired....

Thursday, April 20, 2006

So little sleep!!!

Bikram's assertion is that, as we do more and more yoga - we're achieving stillness and rest in our savasanas, learning to calm ourselves and rest efficiently, and therefore we need less sleep.

And just maybe... he's right? I've been going on 4 hours a sleep a night for days and days and days, and I feel fine! Also, I wake up so quickly! (By comparison - it normally takes me over an hour to wake up, instead of the minutes it does now). I'm weary, and I do seem to sleep whenever I get a chance - 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there... but I don't feel like I'm approaching burnout, which is great! When I overwork at "regular" work, after a few days I just become useless, but here - I feel like I'm sharpening a fair bit.

My mind feels like it's rearranging itself. You know when you play a videogame, particularly a geometric one like Tetris or Tetris Attack - if you play it ALOT, you start to feel like your brain is recognizing patterns on a larger scale, almost subconsciously? I feel like something similar is happening - I really feel like my synapses are firing faster, connections being made more easily - I can't believe the increase in memorization speed. Last week it took DAYS to memorize the first part of Half Moon Pose, and I memorized Back Bending Half Moon and Hands to Feet Pose in an hour or two today, and it just STUCK. THIS IS SO COOL!!!!!

We had a pretty great class this morning, but this afternoon's class was held by the Director of Teacher Training, Craig - and he, for lack of a better phrase, was NOT FUCKING AROUND. As promised (threatened), he did in fact hold Awkward Pose for VERRRRY long, and promised he'd hold it even longer next time. Ow, ow, ow. Bikram took Craig's class as a student today, and it was very, very strange. He had very inconsistent focus - he'd stay in one pose, but in others, he'd hold them for a short bit and then just stop and lie down. He has been awake for a few days and hadn't eaten anything, but it was strange to see him anything but the invincible I had imagined. Also - this is kinda cool - as a result of his knee injury oh so long ago, he can't wrap his legs in Eagle pose without using his arms to crank his legs into place. This comforted me for some reason. I guess I'm feeling more and more okay with the fact that I'm not perfect at this - I suck at a lot of it, but I feel like I have more and more integrity with trying to do the poses correctly. At one point in the class, Bikram indicated that he felt like he needed to leave the room (super super hot class), and Craig told him he could leave if the class said it was okay. When asked, we unanimously and resoundingly answered, "NO". That was fun. It's interesting - the class was HARD. It took a lot to stay in - the girl next to me literally sobbed throughout most of the class, while still doing her postures! I was impressed. But after a class like this, I just feel like I can walk on air. And I had such calm in waiting to deliver my dialog - last time I was a nervous wreck!!!

I learned today that if you're in one of those horrible balancing poses like standing head to knee, you can make it a lot easier to lock the standing knee by just repeating "lock the knee lock the knee lock the knee" over and over in your head. This is cool.

I suppose, though, my favorite moment of the day was when, while lying down on our mats waiting for yoga class to start, 200+ people in the super hot room, people already starting to sweat - this dude just yelled out, "STEAMROLLER" and rolled, mostly naked, over about three girls, who went into giant giggle fits. So. Awesome. I wanted REALLY BAD to do the same thing, but I think that'd be unoriginal.

This, for some reason, reminds me of a weird thing that's been nagging at the back of my head. People basically wear as little as possible to class - underwear, speedos - you get the idea. Anyway, I'm trying to shed the embarrassment of walking around in my underwear (not that hard, we're usually so hurried anyway). I've noticed as I walk back and forth from the locker room to the classroom that people have been scanning me with their eyes and stopping on my PRIVATE AREA. Some people have frowned slightly. Have you ever had a dinner conversation with someone who keeps staring at your forehead or hairline while you're talking? You start thinking, "is there something on my head? Do I look funny?". But in this case, I keep going back to the locker room to check.. do I have some kinda weird bulge? Am I comically tiny? Did I accidentally split my bits into two pieces? WHAT IS IT? I can't really ask anybody....

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Six Months Pregnant

The last few days have been SO HARDCORE! This is gonna be a long post.

Yesterday we did yoga in the Westin Airport Hotel's Grand Ballroom while Bikram went on a Los Angeles-wide whirlwind of building code compliance madness! And, most importantly... he got the job done. To our stunned amazement, instead of us being three or four days in the hotel, we were out in one. Which made me a little bit sad, because the hotel had a grand piano that I got to play in the break. One of the side effects of this yoga is that my mind is getting really clearly sharper and sharper - I'm remembering names of almost everyone I meet - my thoughts are converting into words much more easily than I'm used to - and when I sat down to play the piano, songs I haven't played in 10 years just flowed out of me, beautifully and cleanly. It was exciting. Yoga class was COLD! And I learned that the heat is there for a reason. Sure, you've got tons of strength and stamina, but KNEES OW! BACK OW! HIPS OW!.

I stayed up until 3am last night making food for myself for a week - Kris made me recipies that were nutritionally balanced with this practice in mind - fajita steak burritos and nepalese gorkhal chicken with spiced yellow dal). I am, as everyone who knows me is aware, the world's slowest cook. More about the food later.

But today we returned to our shiny yoga studio, with two lovely new frosted glass fire doors, and all the little crossed t's and dotted lower-case j's. With the benefit of our new perspective - instead of dreading the heat, I was really psyched about it. Craig gave an explanation of what exactly "stomach tight" means, and it was one of those lightbulb turning on moments. My practice seemed to leap forward now that I actually understand how to tighten my stomach. Anyway, I actually extended my leg in standing head to knee with both legs locked. I didn't make it through the whole 60 seconds (who are we kidding, Bikram was teaching. 90 seconds? 120?). Still, I feel so much stronger.

Bikram had his claws OUT today. We did Half Moon postures today, and he was just cutting to the bone with some people. He was generally happy with most people, but from time to time, somewhat arbitrarily, he would just choose something that he didn't like and just attack it. There were some noteworthy ones, but the jaw dropper was when a very very surfer-esque girl got up and delivered a pretty great dialogue. Instead of commenting on her dialogue, though, Bikram paused and then said "Nobody's going to listen to a yoga teacher who looks like you do. Look at how you are standing!" She had a somewhat casual stance, with her belly a bit hanging out. Bikram then said, "you've got to learn to hold your stomach in, like me" Bikram stands up and shows his six pack , and then he said, "standing like that, you look like you're six months pregnant. ROOM COLLECTIVELY GASPS. To her credit, the girl held her shit together really well. At first I was horrified, but then... this is what we signed up for. I hold (or don't hold) my belly in, just like her. Though now I'm going to keep my belly in come hell or high water. Besides... I do want that nice stomach. There were a few other gems as well - in reference to a gynecologist (not sure how it came up), Bikram said, "Oh, a Pussy Doctor? All day in the same hole. I don't know how he doesn't get bored". There were others, equally tasteless, but... I laughed a LOT today.

I'm totally drinking the kool aid. It's ridiculous. I like Bikram more every day - of course, he hasn't attacked me yet... but if he does, I feel like I'll probably survive and come out better for it.

Oh yeah - the food. It was a huge pain in the ass to prepare, since I'm so damned slow, but the class after I ate the first of it, I was so incredibly energetic, so strong. And, I don't have to think about food for 5 more days. Genius. Thank you, Kris.

My mantra for the moment. Your Focus Determines Your Reality. (Right Leg Locked. No Knee. No Knee...)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The other shoe drops.

So, that was fun while it lasted. I'm packing my things.


Sorry, I'm mildly amazed that there's suspense out there about my blog, which seems verbose and dry to me. But here's what went down. I will attempt to be precise and reproduce Rajashree's statements accurately.

Rajashree and her daughter were here at 4:30 pm. They waited for the little crowd to form by the pool - it was so LA, some people were gathering IN the pool. Once the crowd was assembled, Rajashree (very quietly) began. Her demeanor was caring and apologetic and understanding, as she has been in every meeting so far. I have been thinking about the 4-sided star that forms the Bikram teacher training organization, Bikram, Rajashree, Emmy and Craig. Birkam is the passion, the drive - Rajashree is the compassion, the heart - Emmy is the intellect, the brain - and Craig is the strength, the endurance. I think it wouldn't work as well without all four of them.

Okay, back to the plot. I've described Rajashree's demeanor - it's easier to present the pertinent information in a LIST.

  • The studio is currently temporarily closed due to non-compliance with a fire code building requirement that the studio had been made aware of a month ago or so.
  • The studio, and Bikram specifically, are constantly minding the fire code issues to make sure the studio is in compliance. They took appropriate measures, ordering a new door and having an architect prepare to have the door installed.
  • The door is arriving today or tomorrow, and will be installed immediately. Rajashree noted that there is a specific person on the bureaucratic side who seems to have a grudge with Bikram and is using a barrage of minute code violations to interfere with Bikram's business. For example, they insisted that each of Bikram's photographs (there are thousands) must be individually fire-code approved, which is patently absurd.
  • Most importantly, there is a PLAN B. Bikram has rented a conference room in an airport hotel (the Westin on Century Boulevard) and we will be having classes there until the studio meets these new code requirements. The room will be less hot than the usual (silent prayer of thanks from me), but is slightly larger, and has more bathrooms! I wonder if this poor hotel knows what their carpets are in for. Rajashree expected that we would have three days maximum in this hotel, but hoped only one.
  • Rajashree noted that they have had to change their doors multiple times over the years, to a specific design requirement, and they still keep having to change. I got the impression of a pattern of harrassment.
  • Most importantly, Rajashree apologized, multiple times, and it was not just lip service.
  • Actually, MOST importantly - Bikram has promised he'll make up all our missed classes DOUBLE. Talk about being careful what you wish for. Yow.

So - we'll still going to be yogis. I guess I should have had a bit more faith. I feel so fortunate to be in this group of people and to be able to ride this roller coaster. SO MUCH DRAMA! They've GOT to be filming this. And - I think this is an oblique gift - lemme 'splain. If it weren't for this, I think I'd be tempted to (from time to time) hope for things to be a bit easier. And I think I also that our group of people would not be quite as bonded as we seem to be becoming. Maybe I'm just all flushed with optimism now that I'm not worried about the training being cancelled, but I think this will only add to our training. Particularly if Bikram makes up missed lectures and classes in double. Yeow.

Bring the pain? BRING THE PAIN!


Bikram's wife Rajashree is coming to our apartment complex at 4:30 this afternoon (Easter sunday!), which is 1 hour from now. The negativity has me pretty solidly in it's grip - I'm assuming the news, whatever it is, will be bad. Here's my reasoning:

1. Everyone was assuming we need to go back to class tomorrow morning at 9:30 am, so why send Rajashree out here to talk to us when we were already with the plan?

2. If you had to pick somebody to give 200 highly emotional people bad news, it's Rajashree. And I think this is true for virtually any context. If I had to learn that a loved one had a terminal disease or something, I'd want Rajashree to be the one who told me.

So there's the negative outlook. But then, as I was writing that, I thought of a different line of reasoning. As I mentioned... everybody IS really emotional, really angry - wondering why nobody has given us any official news, expecting explanations, apologies, compensation... Rajashree I think would be wonderful at helping everybody get this off their chest, feel how they're feeling, and then put it behind them so that tomorrow we can begin again solid and whole and present.

So really, ANYTHING could happen. I'll post more in a few hours.

All over the map.

Today has been an emotional roller coaster. Every time we hear that the Bikram studio is definitely opening again at a certain time - tuesday morning, monday morning - I get that little tiny bit of (clearly illusory) certainty and feel better. After all, I've done 8 yoga classes in 6 days, my body is definitely in some kind of shock, I've got FAR more to think about from Bikram already than I could have absorbed in this amount of time... really, there's nothing missing. I lament the loss of momentum and intensity, but seriously - the days have had plenty of yoga in them.

But then somebody will send me an email saying something like "we just heard that we have to call the studio at 4pm tomorrow, it's maybe again for monday" and my stomach lurches. I can't focus to study my dialogue, I'm sick... I can't breathe through my nose at all, my throat feels burnt, I'm tired but can't sleep... (I have a little bit more whining to do, and then I'll be done). I'm not usually a person who misses my friends in a way that I can't rely on my digital interactions with them for 9 or 10 weeks. But, I think that, without the feeling that there's a concrete reason to be here, and missing my friends who are having hilarious fun having christmas at easter, I just feel like I have nothing.

But big deal! It's only nine weeks! It's only money! Right? But it's not that - it's the thought of losing the change in myself that I was hoping to find here. I don't even know what that change is - if I knew exactly what change I was expecting to find, I think I could do it on my own, without Bikram or this training. I know I want focus. The ability to quiet my mind. A six pack! Good things that come to my mind when I look at myself instead of bad. The ability to levitate? Bikram insists it's simple. Maybe... finally being able to do something with myself to help people? Even if it's a small something. Those all sound like good things, but I don't know - I think whatever the change is is bigger than that - or different - the sum is greater than the parts.

I'm holding my breath. It's the opposite of what I'm learning how to do.