Week Three

Emmy Rocks 


Week Four 

October 8

 (Our class: FLOOR BOW)

Three weeks. We all keep laughing that instead of three weeks it seems we have been doing this three months already. Not because it is always torturously slow, but because we are in the same place, with the same people, all day, all the time. There is a sameness beginning to kick in, which will only be exacerbated in the coming weeks as the guest lecturers slow way down and we do the exact same thing, every day: 2 actual yoga classes and over 8 hours of posture clinic. One of the teachers from Chicago, a great guy named Mike, told us that when he was going through training, during Week Six he shaved off his goatee because he felt like time had stopped; the only way he could know for sure that the days were changing and that he wasn’t in a yoga form of “Groundhog Day” was to see his beard grow in the mirror each morning. He wasn’t joking. I am starting to see how that can happen.
Time is weirdly going both very slow and very fast. The days seem long, because they in fact are very long, but at the same time, we have to do so much and there is so much memorization, I am starting to feel as if I am on a treadmill where I am going just a step slower than the actual pace. This, too, will increase as the weeks continue and the time between our teaching ‘tests’ gets shorter and shorter.  We are now getting up almost once a day in front of our groups to do the dialogue/teach a mock posture and be critiqued. It’s fun but it is also intense. We have to struggle to be word for word…in ‘Bikram-speak’ no less. For instance, ‘Put yours arms down’ is ‘Arms down side’. Or you have to say, ‘Suck the stomach in, compression of the abdominal wall, contraction of the abdominal muscles’. When you have a posture full of that Bikram speak (English is about his 3rd or 4th language, and he wrote the dialogue) it can be hard to stay on track and not reinterpret it into a more common usage. There is a method to the way the dialogue is stated, and I have come to appreciate how important precision is when teaching this type of yoga, but it is difficult to learn. I tend to keep throwing in words or rewriting them slightly, just by habit, for which I keep getting nailed by the teachers who critique us. So I am working on being very precise.
Physically, what I can say is that I AM SORE. It’s an interesting soreness. It’s not very painful, really, like a pulled muscle or some such. Rather, every muscle in my body is sore in a ‘Hello, I am here’ kind of way. Many of these muscles I have never even been aware of until now. (Hello, inner thigh muscle!) Some mornings I still wake up and feel like there is no way I can get out of bed and get through the day. Yet about 2 hours later, there we all are, in the morning class, sweating and flipping over, etc and somehow you just get through. The 2 classes a day continue to be my favorite part of the training. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but so far they are great, even though the classes do kick my butt and sometimes, even in the middle of a class, I feel like I can’t even bend over, as my back or hamstrings or some such are so sore and tired.
Speaking of being sore, we had a great lecture on Pain by this amazing woman named Emmy Cleaves She is Bikram’s senior teacher, she is 81 years old and looks maybe 60. Maybe. She can do yoga with the best of them and the actual yoga classes she teaches us are probably the most brutal of anyone who teaches us. She is Latvian, with accent and attitude to match. She is a fountain of information and is cool as hell. I hope even two years from now I am as alert and nimble as she currently is at 81. There must be something to this yoga stuff, I guess.


Emmy gave us a wonderful lecture on pain. She began by talking about it philosophically, noting how pain is a priceless gift, in that if we could not feel pain, we would destroy ourselves, not knowing when we were hurt. She discussed how pain is a great teacher. Pain also is a sign we are improving our health, in that when we work out – and workouts should hurt, or you are not really doing anything for your body -- we are improving our bodies. Pain Heals Pain is a big motif in Bikram: have pain in the class to eliminate the pain we feel in our bodies when we are not in class. Perhaps most interesting to me, and quite helpful, she then discussed how pain is a signal from the body to the brain and that often, particularly when we are working out, our brain/mind will overreact dramatically to a signal from the body. The body might just be making a note that the hamstrings, for instance, are stretching in a healthy way (which will ‘hurt’) but the mind panics and reacts to the signal as if there is an open wound on the body. Take a Bikram class and you will see just how wildly your mind can overreact to what is going on – we all have been panicky, for instance, at times in the room when we start to feel as if there is not enough oxygen. Yet there is plenty of oxygen, our minds just overreact to the stimulus. Our lungs are probably enjoying the workout: Bikram helps expand the lungs, which has a number of health benefits. But our minds start going, ‘Hey, hey, stop, stop, get out of the room, right now!’ So we are having to train ourselves not to let our minds control us in that way. More mental discipline. Gee, my favorite.
With that point, Emmy then noted how pain, after an instinctive and subconscious reaction, becomes very subjective and personal. The subconscious reaction is when you pull your hand back fast after being burned. You don’t think about pulling your hand back, it just happens. Then, our own personalities and world-views kick in and our reaction to the pain has to do with who we are and how we have trained our minds. As a big wimp when it comes to pain, this talk had a big effect on me. I am really trying to build my mind and my reaction to the good pain we get in the workouts rather than mentally whining to myself during the class.  Emmy later addressed various health issues, such as when we don’t move our bodies, we atrophy; to be in shape we must be moving and working out. One objective with Bikram Yoga is to stimulate every muscle and organ in the body during each class so that your entire body stays healthy. The postures and order of the postures has been designed to do just that. Believe me, it is an amazing workout.
I usually sweat off about 5 pounds during the workout. Obviously this is all liquid and that weight comes back on. But as our skin is the largest eliminating organ in the body, when we sweat so much (and people sweat at different levels in the class, I am a big ‘sweater’) we sweat out a lot of waste and a lot of toxins that get stored in our bodies, which aids our circulatory systems because it takes a lot of pressure off the waste elimination that our circulatory systems normally perform. This is one of the many reasons the heat is cranked in Bikram Yoga.
Anyway, Emmy is a wonder to behold. We have some other great people who have taught us, both the actual yoga classes and the posture clinics. And I continue to enjoy being around most of the people in the group of 300. I am coming to know quite a few people pretty well.
Adam also continues to be a great person with whom to go through this experience.  At this point, I can’t imagine having made it through without him being around to help and pull me forward. We’re also just having a great time hanging out, both in the clinics and when we are driving to and from the training. Given all the types of people I could have ended up staying here in the house, I am so thankful we have clicked so well personally. I’ve really got a new friend for life here. Again, check out his blog if you want a different perspective:
Here is a picture of him doing his backbend in class…and no, I don’t quite go back this far: 

For those reading this who are going to take teacher training, a couple of things about the classes you might find interesting:


Both the men's locker room and the women's locker room have great steam rooms. I have never been a fan of being in a steam room myself. But the first week of training, one of the teachers, a terrific teacher named Jim from San Diego, told us that if we wanted a way to adjust to the heat in class better, go in the steam room for a few minutes right before class and it will help. So I tried it. It works incredibly well. As many who have done Bikram know, when you first walk into the classroom, you are blasted with the heat. If you go into the steam room first, however, when you walk into class, it feels very cool. Just lovely! Often, after having been in the steam room, I don’t even begin to feel the heat intensely until the second half of class. I don’t know about the women’s locker room, but there are times we have upwards of 25 guys trying to fit into the steam room before class. If you go to training, give it a try.


Another raging debate within the class are the heat blowers in the 'Airplane hanger' where we have twice a day class. There are three large vents that blow the heat into the room. Most people hate the blowers. Some of us, however, love them. When you go into class, which of course is packed very tight, there are three open spaces under the blowers that remain empty until everything else fills up and people have no other choice. But for me – and a number of others – the blowers are great because you at least get some air circulation, even if it is hot. Other places in the room, in the back or in the corners, for instance, are deadly to me because the air gets very still and oppressive. I'd rather have the circulation, even if hot air is blowing on me. Secondly, the room gets so hot that by the second half of class, the hot air blowing from the vents actually begins to feel a bit cool, because it is now cooler than the air in the room. I particularly like the blower in the middle of the classroom, as it gets the freshest air from outdoors, from the vents on top of the building. The only drawback to this middle vent/blower is that it is positioned in front of the podium on which the teacher stands, so you are in the line of fire for the teacher’s gaze and often get the most instruction/criticism in the class. My advice is to give the blower a chance and see if you like it. Those of us who love the circulation swear by the blowers.

I will wind this up with a couple of random quotes/recipes/etc.
One thing that made me laugh a lot this week was when Craig, who runs the training, for reasons I won’t bore you with, started talking about the all time worst children’s book titles. The best, which put me on the floor, was:
“Daddy Drinks Because You Cry”
If you want to see a few more of these, scroll down.
Also, each week I am going to throw in a couple of recipes and/or natural prescriptions we are using or have been taught. Feel free to try any that sound good to you.
Thanks again for the support and the emails. Prayers to stay healthy would be great – there is a vicious cough/cold/fever spreading thru the class. So far, Adam and I have stayed very healthy. Most people do fall ill at some point during the training but it would obviously be wonderful if that were not to happen. Please update me as to how you are doing as well.

Week Four

2 bananas
2 cups vanilla soy milk (or raw milk, if you can get it, with a drop of vamilla)
1 cup frozen blueberries
20/30 grams of Whey protein
1 lemon (remove only the yellow rind – keep the white pith, which is the best part of the lemon – tons of vitamins)
grade B maple syrup (a good pour, maybe 1/4 cup)
1 packet of Raspberry (or Lemon) Emergen-C (optional, but very good for you)
1 teaspoon brewers yeast (optional – it is VERY good for you but gives the shake a bit of an aftertaste – yow!)
Blend the bananas and soy milk. Add the blueberries and protein and blend again. Add the remaining ingredients and blend one more time. This is a great healthy start to the day and also gives you about as many vitamins, proteins and immunity MMM as you need.
(Emergen-C comes in packets and is loaded with vitamins, electrolytes and such)
Instead of Gatorade, which I love but is loaded with fructose (bad for you) take your water bottle and add:
a pinch of salt
a pinch of sugar (or a squeeze of natural honey, I like using honey)
and the juice of half a lemon (this is for a liter size) 

The taste is subtle and really keeps you going during a workout.

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Where  Would You Like To Be Buried?

Week Four