New Journey: Yoga Teacher Training

I have always loved yoga, ever since the first time I accidentally stumbled upon it while at my dad’s house alone, watching TV before school. It was like 6am and my dad had already left for work, and it was too early for me to go to school, so I was just flipping channels on TV when I found this one station (The Oxygen Channel), and saw some people doing this weird exercise that I would later come to find was yoga. It looked interesting, so I began to try some of the poses. I’ll never forget the joy I felt while hanging upside down in the living room. I was 15. I’d found something to grab onto that totally changed my way of being, and I began practicing nearly every day after that.

Ten years later I started Bikram Yoga and fell in love all over again, and for the past five years my practice has grown stronger and stronger.

Now I’m 30, and doing my 200-hour yoga certification. Fifteen years later, I’m still just as curious as I was as a little teenager. I just started my training over the weekend and at first I was very nervous, one because of the money, and then two, because it’s a LOT of work. We have to do this daily meditation using mala beads and a mantra given to us by our instructor. Mine is pretty intense. The first day I did the meditation, I felt HIGH, like I was either drunk or just ate like ten weed brownies. The feeling made me almost sleepy. It’s weird. But it was this feeling of wholeness, completeness, like there was nothing further I needed to do. I swear it opened me up. I went to my Bikram class immediately after and was able to do so much and go super deep in certain postures, even though I hadn’t practiced in a week.

The training calls to me. I feel as though it is necessary right now, to heal, to grow. My mantra essentially is about coming back to the self, that which remains intact after everything ends. So essential to me right now. After all the things I’ve been through, relationships, jobs, things that we think define us. That’s not who we really are.

So the training is pretty intense. I have to read six books, meditate daily, practice daily, and actually log in 80 teaching hours, all within 10 weeks. Heh, if you are in the L.A. area, I can give you free yoga! I’m going to be practicing with friends and family but I’m totally down to practice with people I don’t know. SO…HMU if interested.

Of course I will share all the things I’m learning. It’s challenging for me not to write about what I’m excited about and is changing my life and helping me heal myself, and inevitably others. That’s what I choose to dedicate my life to: healing and love. There is nowhere else I need to be.

 

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Living my yoga

This week has been one of those weeks. A great one! So many things are coming together and it feels amazing. My energy is brimming over and my light is strong within, so with that spirit, I write today.

What I’m experiencing lately is releasing expectations and attachment to result. When we hope for the best and forget the rest, life becomes quite magical.

So, I’ve been practicing Bikram Yoga consistently for over five years now. It’s the great love of my life. When you love something, you want to do something more with it, like give back to your community.

So, I was planning to go to teacher training this year, and it’s still one of my goals, but now the Bikram trainings are in different parts of the world, like last year they were in Thailand. I applied for a teacher training scholarship but didn’t get it so I know that I will have to pay for it out of my own pocket if I plan on going, and I just don’t know if I want to fork out that much money right now. I am planning on traveling and I just bought a car, so I’m kinda, eh about it. I would totally pay the money if they were going to a country I wanted to visit like India or Bali, but not Thailand. It’s just not a place I want to go right now, so I’m waiting to see where the next Bikram training will be, and planning accordingly, but I still want to do something with yoga in the meantime.

One of my favorite yoga instructors started this organization called Uprising Yoga that brings yoga to incarcerated youth in juvenile hall. They held a teacher training this weekend and I went. I can’t tell you how inspired I was this weekend by all the yoga teachers and social service and medical professionals who are committed to making a real difference in people’s lives.

When I was fifteen years old, I fell in love with yoga and ten years later when I stepped into the hot room, I fell madly in love with Bikram yoga. So here I am, at 30, ready to take on a new avenue in my life and that’s teaching yoga. I never thought that one day I would be a yoga instructor. Life really is about embracing passions and being completely open to the universe. It’s so funny, my old passions are surfacing lately. I’m embracing something I fell in love with at 15: yoga. I’m also dating someone I was in love with at 15 as well and that’s going good too. We go through life and we do what we do, learn what we need to. It might not always make sense but we just have to be open to it.

Nothing happens by accident. I’m just very grateful to be where I am, working in the holistic health field. Things are coming together slowly but surely.

I’ll be honest though. This weekend I did a lot of meditation as part of the training and it really opened a doorway into my soul in that I am open to many possibilities for my career, so I know I need to make a choice soon. Something is brewing within me. I’m going to try something and that’s meditation every morning and see if that helps my clarity. One of the things I learned in the training this weekend is just how powerful mindful meditation is. We can be ruled by our minds. As a writer, I live in my mind with my characters and worst possible scenario plot points. It’s enough to drive one wild, so meditation is my new experiment.

Again yoga has opened doors for me. I’ve said it many times before and after this weekend I am sure that yoga is the great love of my life.

Bikram: Form over Depth

I’ve practiced Bikram in three different studios now and each one is different. I am so extremely grateful to have started at Bikram DTLA because I learned form over depth. I had so many different teachers there  who mostly emphasized yoga practice as a journey and that you can’t expect to master everything in one class, one month, or even one or ten years. Having that mentality, I grew to know form and not push myself that hard because I was always like, it’s a journey, I have my whole life to practice, right? But now, it’s been four years and my practice is pretty solid, so I have teachers telling me all the time to push myself.

At the new studio where I practice, one of the teachers told me, “there’s no cruising in here.” I was surprised because no teacher has ever said that to me! It was harsh but I absolutely loved being told that. I needed to be told that, so every time I go practice I push myself. I’m not afraid to barf or get nauseous or sit down, and I haven’t needed to. I just focus on pushing myself the hardest I can go.

But there’s one thing I need to remind myself: form over depth.

DUDE….I pushed myself yesterday and wasn’t aligned properly in half moon and my back feels tweaked. I was a little scared to go to class today, so I didn’t go, but I definitely need to get in there tomorrow. There really is something to practicing with a teacher who will emphasize alignment. Yesterday I practiced with this lady who was kinda spacey, didn’t keep time properly and was more about cracking jokes and focusing on people’s faults rather than proper form. My side of the room was completely ignored and I could tell some of the ladies were just not having it because they would come out of the poses way earlier than the “change.” But I’ve heard many a teacher say it: every part of being in the hot room is part of the practice, beyond the poses. It’s really all about you and how present you can be despite the teacher, your neighbor, your focus, etc. As a seasoned practitioner, I have to remind myself to stay aligned even if a teacher won’t call me out on it.

I feel like I’m at this point where I need to push myself because I’m ready for it, but I really have to remember to focus on the form above everything.

Shameless Bikram Yoga Love

Lately yoga has been the only thing that makes sense in my life. I have had many changes happen within the last five months moving back to L.A., taking a new job, and sleeping on couches, and not practicing yoga regularly.

I forget what happened, but one day I came out of a Bikram class and I felt really good and I was like, how can I not want to feel like this more regularly, or even every day? I thought it was okay to practice Vinyasa flow at the L.A. Fitness by my house. I found this teacher who was the best, out of all the janky yoga teachers I’d experienced in L.A. Fitness. Aziz was the best, but when I went into the hot room, I could feel that my practice was suffering because as good as Aziz’s class was, I just wasn’t stretching the same way.

I needed Bikram. It’s really not like any other yoga practice. It’s no bullshit. No damn chanting or music or out of sequence postures. It’s the best and I can honestly be grateful for not consistently practicing for five months just to see how much other yoga doesn’t compare and how my body suffers.

So, I decided to do work/trade at a new Bikram studio in Pasadena. That was part of the problem. I had been practicing at the same L.A. studio for 3 years and I wanted to go somewhere new, practice with new teachers. Once I started practicing more regularly, I felt like myself again. No matter what the hell is going on in my life outside of the room, my practice brings me back to my heart/soul, and I’m flying.

Sometimes I think I really just need to stick with my yoga and it will lead me somewhere amazing. I honestly believe that these days.

 

Five Required Poses for Bikram Yoga Competitors

Late last year I was invited to take Advanced Bikram at my current studio. I never, ever, ever thought I would think of being a competitor, but I have been overwhelmed with inspiration as there are many students at my studio that are preparing for the Arizona state regional championships this weekend.

Last year I attended my first yoga regional championship in Los Angeles and was completely in awe of what people can do. I didn’t know they had yoga competitions. While I was in awe of many of the competitors, I was not intimidated. I was just like, okay, cool, so that’s how you do it.

Lately I’ve been wondering what makes somebody qualified to participate in a championship. I used to think championships were just for sports to measure points, speed, or distance. In yoga competitions, they measure focus, shaking, strength, depth, and whether or not you can stay in a pose. It’s not always about how deep you can go. People at my studio in Arizona do the five basic postures to the best of their ability, but they are not fully expressed. After I saw that these people were competing in the stages they were in, I thought, hey, I could do it too.

There are five basic poses you are required to do:

Standing head to knee
standinghead-to-knee

Standing Bow
imagesCAJ2ENHI

Floor Bow
bow

Rabbit
untitled

and Stretching
imagesCASKBZN0

After you do these five required poses, you can then choose to do any two poses.

So in class lately, I’ve been really trying to focus on the five required poses. I can see now why they are required. These poses are the ones that require strength, focus, and an opened up body at the basic level.

I’m grateful for one of my favorite Los Angeles instructors who emphasizes sucking in the stomach in nearly every posture. It’s ESSENTIAL to do Standing Head to knee, Rabbit, and Stretching. Bow and Standing Bow are really about the kicking.

I trip out in Standing Bow. One of my hips is tighter than the other so I don’t go very deep because I’m always trying to keep my body straight and my knees no more than six inches apart. I want to do the postures correctly.
“Form over depth,” they always say.

So I’m excited and motivated to push myself to do these poses in their full expression. For the longest time, I was just trying to keep my knee locked or suck in my stomach. Now, I’m getting to the point where I know the form, I always work on the form, now I can pour on the depth.
I got my hands full with these five poses. The one I look the best in is Standing Bow, but the rest need work and plenty of practice. Here we go 🙂

First Advanced Bikram Yoga Class

Sometimes all it takes is someone to believe in you to get you motivated to do something you never thought you could do.  I have had the pleasure of practicing under a great instructor, Nicole, at my Scottsdale, AZ Bikram studio who encouraged me to go to Advanced class. I read that Advanced class is for teachers and competitors, and I’m neither, so I didn’t think I’d ever be able to go. Deep down, I really wanted to because I love yoga so much and I want to do it all. I mean, I’ve been practicing for almost three and a half years. It’s hard to say you are “good” at yoga because it’s all about the process. Someone who takes class for the first time in their life and isn’t flexible can be considered good because it’s all about how focused you are, how you breathe, and that you try.

At my Los Angeles studio, all you had to do was be invited by a teacher to attend advanced class, so because I was invited by a teacher, I thought why not. Last night after I practiced, another teacher asked me when I was going to try advanced class and I thought, okay, I’m going to do this.

So today I did. I went in with a clear mind. I didn’t know what to expect and it was great because it’s nice to be a newbie again. Advanced Bikram is a whole new world. It requires a different kind of strength and is way more physical because many of the poses require upper body strength. The beginner Bikram series is more focused on back and leg strength and flexibility, not so much arm strength. I’m hooked and pumped because I’m sore in different parts of my body. I feel strong, like I’ve opened a new door in my life and in my practice. I feel blessed that my studio offers Advanced classes at all. I’m here for a reason. I was ready for this. Now, I just have to keep going so I can get stronger in my upper body and do some headstands or at least half a headstand against a wall.