Juice Fast Progress

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.