Juice Fast Progress

Friday, April 28, 2006

Amrit Desai

Today we were blessed by a teaching from the Guru Amrit Desai. The yoga studio was all buzzing today because Amrit Desai is a very honored guest, one who has never come to teacher training before - or at least not for the last 6 years, I'm uncertain of the exact details.

I'm still feeling buzzy and floaty from the encounter with him. I sat in the first row, near him, because my vision is fairly blurry. When he entered the room, there was a distinct sense of an almost electrical charge in the air. After being introduced, he led us in a guided meditation with mantras and the chanting of "om". At first I was a little self conscious, and felt like I was out of my element, but I relaxed into the experience quickly and tried to open my heart. I've never been in a room with a few hundred people all resonating the sound "om" at exactly the same frequency - but when it happened, when my own sound merged with the room's sound - my whole body vibrated and I felt like a fountain of light emerged behind my closed eyes. My cheeks and face felt suddenly cool.

After the mantras, Yogi Desai led us in a teaching about his Kriya Yoga. The contrast between Yogi Desai and Bikram was almost comical. Bikram is very chaotic - his philosophical teachings are presented in machine gun firing fashion - one of them bullets has got to hit. Amrit was like a surgeon. He explained each idea in slow, simple terms, and then cemented each idea firmly before taking a small step forward. I never for a moment felt like I needed to take notes or catch up. It was hypnotizing. Several times during the lecture, his eyes met mine and for that moment I felt rooted, almost cemented to the spot. At one point, Amrit performed a prana breathing exercise - just himself - and about 3/4 of the way through I felt like the room began to warp and vibrate in my vision while Yogi Desai stayed perfectly still. Other people later in the class described feeling and even seeing the hairs on their arms stand up.

I summoned my courage and asked the burning question that plagues me - "What is Energy?". I asked Yogi Desai to explain energy as he might explain it to a child. His initial response was "Energy is the fuel that fuels the thoughts of the mind and the actions of the body." He then elaborated, describing how an elderly person (grandparents) who no longer has lust for life or zeal to do things has very little energy, while a young child who is bouncing off the walls has very much energy. A definition through inference, sorta. I then asked how this "interpersonal energy", which I can accept the existence of through inference without too much trouble, relates to the concept of energy between people and things. There's so much talk in yoga of "the energy in the room" and "keep your energy aligned with the class, stick together, and you'll be able to surf that energy like a wave". I've actually experienced that feeling in a yoga class of getting swept up by the momentum of the whole class. Yogi Desai answered that the energy in a person is the same as the energy that connects us, and that furthermore, by gaining consciousness of the energy in our selves, we connect to that larger energy outside ourselves and become larger than ourselves. I've got a lot to chew on... (ruminate!)

Doug taught class after the teaching, and it was trippy. It was like a whole different yoga. The hum from a billion bees in the room during the whole class. I found myself moving without deciding to or even thinking about it. And my breathing is becoming automatic. It was a day of revelations. During some of the savasanas, particularly after camel and in the end, people were sobbing quite loudly and uncontrollably. Even though I did not (cannot?) cry, I felt like it was a release for all of us through those few people who let go.

Third week, almost in the bag.

For those of you who would like to know more: Amrit Yoga


With every up, there is a down. With every down, there is an up.

I was pretty crushed the other night. The feeling of separation from my New Zealand friends and especially Clodagh is wearing on me. The lack of sleep, the relentlessness of this process, the feeling of falling behind and falling behind. Eventually it just reaches a breaking point.

I felt like today was a bit of a breaking point for me, but not in any huge dramatic way - I just had so little energy I couldn't do anything. In class, I managed to attempt the poses, but the entire time I was just trying to find energy just to stay present. I kept falling asleep for 20 seconds in the floor series savasanas, and waking up abruptly everytime Emmy said, "Second Set" or "Sit-Up". This would be the perfect alarm clock for me - a recording of Emmy saying, "Sit Up".

There was a weird upside to all of this, though. Almost every day, I beat myself up constantly during yoga practice - I hate that I'm so weak in the poses, I hate that my hips are so tight, I'm so fixated on the place where my pose "sticks" on its way to the perfect expression. I know that the "secret" is that, no matter if I do this my whole life (or several lifetimes, if I start buying into THAT whole thing...), I'll still be hitting a sticking point in my yoga - it'll just move further and further in, but still be every bit as difficult, physically. But... just maybe, my mind will get calmer. I feel like that started to happen today, for a weird reason: I was too tired to think. My mind would start the usual, "Oh shit, Standing Head To Knee is coming soon, I fucking hate that posture, it kicks my ass" and just run out of gas as I stared blankly at somebody's water bottle. And class was calmer, less of a panic. I feel like this is my battle right now - or one of them - not the physical part, but letting the mental chatter pass me by.

Of course, reading over that, it all feels almost scripted - but, it's happening, so there you have it.

Dr. Lillian Glass, "Speech Pathologist to the Stars!" came and gave us a lecture yesterday, after our Anatomy/Physiology lecture with the very unusual Dr. T. Anyway, it was a very strange experience... it felt very distinctly like a "motivational speaker seminar" that business people pay lots of money for based on ads in the back of magazines that they give you on airplanes. She was very succinct and effective and did manage to unblock a few of the most challenged public speakers amongst us, and she had a few cool pieces of advice (my favorite was, "Be Interested, Not Interesting"), but...

My mother gave me a piece of advice when I was in high school that has stuck with me ever since then and feels like one of my most useful social tools - it goes, "Don't Take Advice From People Who Don't Have What You're Looking For". And applying that to this situation - while I enjoyed Dr. Glass's instruction on interpersonal communication - it seemed heartless and superficial on some level, and at the end of the day - I don't want to end up communicating the way Dr. Glass did to our class. She seemed uncompassionate and superficial - not entirely, she did smile very geniuinely at us, but it was bizarre to have what we're doing framed in terms of "selling" and "being a winner, not a loser". I am aware that these tools and mindsets help us achieve our larger goals of helping others and ourselves, but I didn't feel that conviction underneath it all. With Bikram, despite his grandstanding, I do genuinely sense a basic, fundamental desire to help people. And I just didn't feel the same compssion from the lovely speech pathologist. Still, I got up and made a stab at public speaking - expecting to be given a shopping list of things to fix, and instead being told, "Perfect. A+. No changes". Heh...

I was expecting this experience to be all about adding new abilities and new features to myself, and so far, it seems to have a LOT more to do with coming to accept and celebrate the abilities I already have. To stop being so critical of myself. In shorthand, I guess, to stop feeling revulsion when I see myself in the mirror. (Which, little by little, is starting to happen). I find it interesting that my entire assessment of my appearance, and subsequently self, is defined almost exclusively by the things I can pick out on myself that are undesireable. Instead of noticing that my shoulders are getting really rounded and defined, or that I'm smiling more often and easily, or that I'm not furrowed with frustration or anger really ever at all... I see my flabby stomach, or my chubby skin, or my messy hair, or whatever... Thank GOD this shit is changing, if only little by litte.

Dialogue delivery becomes more and more fun. The thought of returning to Wellington and forcing all of my friends and a few helpless strangers to kill themselves in a stupidly hot room tickles me. And - I love that if I screw up, or forget my dialog, it just means that they all have to hold the poses longer and have their muscles and minds scream at them while they shoot eye daggers at me. BWA HA HA HAHA HA!!!!!

Almost a third week down the drain. I feel weirdly torn - I'm anxious about the coming weeks and the challenges they'll contain, and I'm counting the seconds until I'm reunited with my friends, and yet.... this experience is so magical, so wonderful, so BIG - I never want it to end, in a way. I love that my life consists almost exclusively of getting my mind back in touch with my body and taking care of my health. Why did it take so long to get here?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Screw you guys, I'm going home...

No. More. Yoga. Camp.

So... tired. Behind on memorizing my dialogue. Have tons of raw food ingredients to cook, but too tired to do it. Need to eat more, too tired to find food to eat. Can't imagine making it through 7 more classes this week. Have no idea how to integrate the comments I've been given into my dialogue. Miss Clodagh terribly, miss my friends, miss stupid video games. I'm not even losing weight.

Blah. Meh. Hrmph.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Big Crazy Monday.

Today was an interesting and chaotic day. Woke up with the wonderful sciatica pain, which dominated my morning until yoga class. We had a super senior teacher, Cindy, who was WONDERFUL. She's been teaching for 27 years - started along with Emmy as two of Bikram's first students in the United States, and has been doing it ever since. She taught us the literal meaning of various sanskrit words while we lay in savasana. I had to run out of the room right before the first breathing pose to pee, as my bladder suddenly approached bursting point, out of nowhere. But when I came back, she complimented me in Half Moon Pose, saying that she was glad I went to pee because I had a beautiful Half Moon now that my bladder was empty.

We started Anatomy today, meeting Dr. Tripani, yet another of the absurdly overqualified top-of-their-field experts who are here to teach us. Anatomy & Physiology was WAY more interesting than I expected, and the pace of the class was really surprisingly fast. He's a chiropractor, among other things, so when I went to speak to him after his class about sciatica, he felt around on my back and informed me that I have scoliosis of the lumbar spine! Hoot! Like I said, bring on the numbness and nervous twitching. He gave me a series of tips for how to modify and focus my Bikram Yoga practice to address this and fix it - so, THAT's exciting.

I did the first part of Awkward pose today. I got up, delivered the dialogue, and I really thought I rocked it. I thought I had tons of energy, was fast and direct. But when I was done, they said I didn't seem sincere, like I meant it, and that it seemed a bit casual. So I had to do it again - I tried to add "oomph", but they gave me the same criticism - I was starting to feel really embarrassed, and then they demanded that I do the pose as over the top as possible - which I did - it was just LUDICROUS. I felt like Richard Simmons on crystal meth. And when I finished, all this applause and then they responded, "Exactly! Perfect! If you do your class like that, you can charge $100 per class!" Yadda, yadda. To be honest, I am surprised that I had had that kind of energy in me, but also - I'm surprised that this is the kind of class they want me to teach. It felt so crazily overdone. But everyone I asked about it afterwards was so thrilled with it - do I maybe hear my own voice as more intense than it actually is? I had so much energy after doing the pose that way that I was twitching for a half an hour.

So beware, Anika - I may come back and teach class like Richard Simmons on crack.

As an aside, this evening's class was my hardest class to date - I started to actually pass out - seeing darkness on the edge of my vision and little stars. It was scary. I turned out to have extremely low electrolytes, and could barely stand up after class. Scary. Electrolytes! My friend!!!!

Do your worst, week 3.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sciatica sucks

Ow! OW! OWWW!!!!

My entire right hand side is a throbbing chunk of PAIN! About a week before I came to yoga camp, I got a bit of mild sciatica. Sometime between yesterday morning and right now it turned into the most unbelievable pain I've ever felt. Last night I could barely lie down in bed, and today I'm walking all funny!

To add insult to injury, an internet search on how to treat sciatica suggested that the best cure is YOGA! Particularly BIKRAM YOGA! GAHHH!!!!

I'm actually not that upset about it. It's kinda funny that this is happening. Let's have some numbness!!! Maybe a nervous twitch! HOOT! Seriously, BRING IT ON.