Monthly Archives: November 2012

“people will love your voice, but they will not love your body.”

Yes. Someone said that to me at training.

Warning: this blog post might make some people angry. It is also quite lengthy.  Enjoy.

Teacher training is DONE!!!! I have been home now for a good week, and I have already taught 5 classes. The end of teacher training seems to be a blur.  Hilary and I left before the graduation ceremony finished, because we had a red eye to catch back to the east coast. We were for sure ready to get out of there! We completed 95 classes in 61 days; what an accomplishment.

I never thought I’d enjoy teaching so much. Wait, maybe I did know that I would love it. I especially love the morning (6am) yoga class because the students are so disciplined, determined, and everyone moves together. It’s really beautiful to watch and lead.

There’s one thing I would like to comment on, and it has been in the back of my head since before coming to training. That is – the amount of girls (and guys, I’m sure) with negative body image.  This makes me so sad.  This yoga is hot, which means female students are usually wearing little shorts and a bra top, and men are wearing either short shorts or a speedo. People who don’t do Bikram yoga think this is weird and usually always make comments, but we know that it is the easiest to stay the “coolest” and also less clothing is easier to move around in.  Since beginning a consistent practice in Jan 2011, I have heard so many times thin girls talk about how fat they are in front of the mirror.  This practice is for sure a self-realization practice – you learn so much about your physical, mental and spiritual self. You standing in front of the mirror for 90 minutes and watch yourself, not once ever closing your eyes.  Bikram often says “not only do you have to suffer for 90 minutes, you have to watch yourself suffer.”  Looking in the mirror can teach you all sorts of things – how strong you are and how confident you are. You can also look in the mirror and start judging yourself (which we all fall victim of) – your love handles, your pimples, your greasy hair (or is that just me?! Lol).  And it’s true, maybe you could spare a few pounds or so.  The practice of Bikram yoga is to think those thoughts and then let them roll out of your head.  The purpose of the practice is to listen to the dialogue and apply the words to your body.  That’s your meditation.  But in reality, many girls come away and think they need to diet and do more yoga because they are “too fat”.

Everyone has heard that “Americans are getting fatter.”  We love fast food, processed food, etc. etc.  However, I think the opposite is true as well.  I think we also love organic food, vegan food, raw food, etc. etc.  I think “Americans are getting more obsessed with their food.”  Yogis (I say yogis because this is the population I’ve observed this the most with) will go on this juice fasts, raw diets, no meat diets, no carb diets, you name it, you got it!  That’s fine, it’s probably healthy to do every so often and also teaches you self control and maybe new habits to adjust on how to eat better for your body.  However, I think the danger is when people obsess over this, and I see that a little too much among the yoga community, particularly at training.  Girls would obsess over what they ate, how much they ate, and if we had a “cold” class, they couldn’t eat as much because they didn’t sweat as much.  I would often see girls at the gym on the treadmill or the elliptical before our 8:30am class.  I even heard of some girls going to a different yoga studio to take a 6am class before our 8:30 am class – meaning, they would do a triple! That’s insane! Our bodies were under so much stress, doing 2 classes a day doesn’t allow for very much recovery.  We all were eating less food just due to our tight schedules and lack of means to make a proper meal, so I know from my experience I certainly wasn’t eating right.  A banana with peanut butter for breakfast, an avocado and tomato for lunch, and a can of soup for dinner is not a well-balanced days’ worth of food, but this was often how I would eat for days at a time.  On top of that, in the late night lectures I would just eat cookies (yay Hilary!) and dark chocolate to try to stay awake.

We were told time after time that the best food, is NO food.  I cannot even imagine what affect this statement would have on someone with body image issues or someone struggling with an eating disorder.  At one point we were told that a good “yogic” breakfast is SIX almonds and a glass of water.  Knowing the group of people there, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them took this to heart.  People were constantly called fat, told “you eat too much food, give some to her (a skinny girl)”, “you have so much body, use it (in a posture)”, “cottage cheese ass, fat stomach”, I could honestly go on.  After hearing all these things for 2 months I am so SICK of coming home and still hearing about people (non-yogis) obsess about their body weight!  I see it on TV, I hear it on the radio, I see it in the mall, etc.  All these diets are out (fad diet, much?!) and all these electronics to monitor what you eat and how active you are – anybody ever think that maybe your body is the way it is because ummm maybe that’s the way you were made?!?!  I’m not talking about a 300 pound person.  I’m talking about a normal size (maybe my definition of normal is not socially acceptable, but whatever).  While at training, I thought – what makes a person FAT?  What makes someone look at someone else and say – hey that person is FAT?  If you get an annual physical and your triglycerides, HDLs, LDLs, blood pressure, heart rate, enzyme levels, etc are all normal but the person is say a size 10, does that make them FAT? Makes no sense to me! If someone is a) healthy by a doctors standards and b) is comfortable in their body, how can another individual declare them to be FAT?

Here’s my perfecto example.  It was about week 7.  We were done with the dialogue but at this point in posture clinic we were stringing 3 postures together.  It was late at night and we had one teacher leading our group, who I will leave unnamed.  I stood up to go – I wanted to do separate leg stretching pose, triangle pose, and separate leg head to knee pose.  I was excited because first of all these are my favorite postures to say and second of all these are my favorite postures to do so they make me enthusiastic! I taught 5 people both sides of all 3 postures, and I was pretty proud of myself.  I think I was the first person in my group to string those 3 postures together, and like I said, I like these postures.  My feedback from my faux-students was all positive, and I was happy they were happy.  I turned to the leader of my group, and he said: great dialogue and great voice. Then he said this very strongly, and I quote it because I remember his words very vividly: “Look me in the eyes, Christina, LOOK AT ME.  People will love your voice but they will not love your body.  Promise me, promise me Christina, that you will lose at least 25 pounds.  Take care of yourself here, but when you get home, it’s time to get serious.”  I know he was expecting me to cry.  I actually wanted to laugh.  I felt that he was SO stupid to tell me this advice, because he doesn’t know me. He actually couldn’t even see my body because I was wearing a shirt and long pants.  I looked at him and said “thank you for your feedback, but I’m very comfortable and confident in my own body, and I think I look just fine.”  His jaw just dropped.

Before I came to training, I found that an old teacher of mine had posted on their twitter account that I was “a lazy, distracting, telletubby” aka – another way to call me fat, and ugly I assume because telletubbies are some of the ugliest made up TV characters I’ve ever seen! While these words are mean, that’s not what upset me. What upset me is that a leader, someone I and many other students look up to, can not only think this about their students but also say it, in hard writing that can be saved, printed, copied and viewed on the internet.  This is upsetting because this only solidifies my thoughts of how warped some of our minds are around body image and food, and subsequently this yoga.  I have judged my body PLENTY enough since before I can even truly remember, there is no need for outsiders to do the same.  I always had the biggest thighs and was the tallest in my dance class, I’ve ALWAYS had love handles, I’ve always had more weight around my waist. ALWAYS. When I say ALWAYS I mean like I remember pinching my love handles on my 5th grade sleep away field trip because all the girls were staying up late in the bathroom obsessing over their bodies.  I was the only one with love handles and a fatter stomach.  Guess what – I have come to the realization that is just how my body is!  I am perfectly healthy. In fact, since starting Bikram almost 2 years ago, I have lost 20ish pounds, my HDLs have gone up, my LDLs have gone down, and my blood pressure went from 160/100 to 120/70 (I suffered from anxiety, and after many tests doctors concluded my high blood pressure was from stress).  I threw away my Lexapro, and I could finally sleep at night without the fear of dying in my sleep.  Yeah, I was really anxious.  I get a physical every year, and I continue to show that I am healthy.  Even after as much as I’ve toned up from Bikram, I still have big thighs, a love handle, and more weight around my mid section.  I eat healthier than many of the people I know who are sizes 0 and 2.

SO – when people tell me how good I look after teacher training or comment on how I lost so much weight, I don’t know what to say.  Why? Because, yes I did work hard – I mean helllooo I took 95 classes in 61 days, and I did push myself because I wanted my practice and postures to improve.  BUT – I’m so sick of hearing so much obsession over body weight and food, I just don’t know how to respond.  After hearing day after day girls call themselves fat and then other people calling other people fat, I’m just sick of thinking in terms of “FATNESS”!  Thank you for telling me I look good, but I think I looked great even before training.  I didn’t try to lose weight – I didn’t obsess over extra workouts or crazy diets – and I still won’t.  My clothes are looser, but my weight in pounds is the same before I left.  Most importantly, I feel good and think I look good.  Same thing happened after my 100 day challenge (100 Bikram classes in 100 days) – my clothes fit looser but I actually didn’t lose one pound.

I hope this post inspires other people who practice or even those who don’t, that you don’t have to have a certain body type to practice Bikram yoga, and you certainly should try your very hardest not to judge yourself in the mirror during your practice!

As I finish this post, I’m about to enjoy a sweet potato and pork chops with my sweet husband.

Namaste – Christina

 

Image

backbending one last time in the grand ballroom aka THE YOGA ROOM! on our last class, which was with Bikram of course, we wore all black. at the end of class, we skipped final savasana to dance around with a disco ball going and people were spraying silly string!

Advertisements

“you know Elizabeth Taylor? she loves me.”

It has taken me so long to write about week 8, because week 8 was the week of some serious sleep deprivation!!!! We watched the favorite Mahabarata Tuesday night.  If you haven’t learned by now, this is what Bikram likes for us to watch so we can understand why Indian culture is the way it is, and the origin of the different limbs of yoga.  Sounds cool, but it is so boring! Bikram even jokes with us sometimes and says if we make him mad, he will make us watch Mahbarabata until the sun comes up! Then everyone starts groaning in agony.  There was his one horse scene one time and it was the same shots played over and over with very annoying horse noise.  Then there was another scene of a woman drowning her babies, one after the next.  They were all the same baby, same shot, just put on repeat! Oh boy.  So – we were up that night watching that.  Then, Friday night we started  Bollywood movie at midnight – yes MIDNIGHT!!! We don’t go to bed any earlier than midnight around here, and we were already sleep deprived from our late night Mahabarata night earlier in the week, and then we had this! Everyone was dragging in Saturday morning class with Rajashree to say the least.  She asked us what was wrong with us, if our back hurt.  I was thinking to myself ‘NO! your husband kept us up all week!!’  Someone told me at the beginning of training that sleep deprivation makes the yoga better because you don’t think you just do.  We all know that the mind is a “bad neighborhood, and to get out of there” because a lot of the times what we can or cannot do isn’t determined by strength but by our mental capacity. 

Every time I take Emmys class I feel like my practice grows by the miles.  My favorite thing is she tells us to BANG our foreheads on our knees in the sit up.  She says “BANG BANG shake your brain up.” LOL

Today was my favorite class with Emmy EVER, and tonight was my favorite class with Bikram EVER.  Everyone even stood up after khaplabati breathing to give Emmy a standing ovation. 

Over the past 10 days we have had lectures from the Bikram Balance creator (speaking about importance of electrolytes), a quantum physicist, doctors, yoga therapists, how to open your own studio, and in depth discussion from Rajashree and Bikram on the 26th postures.  We also watched the advanced class done by Bikram and Emmy along with about 20 other students.  When I get back home and settled, I promise to write a more thoughtful conclusion to teacher training!  I will leave you with my favorite Bikramisms of the week:

“what the shit is that?” [usually referring to someone doing a posture incorrectly]

 “you have a junk body and screw loose brain.”

 “so simple, easy way, the most idiot person can understand.”

 “you have to practice yoga everyday, just like you flush the toilet every day – or else the shit will stink really bad.”

“you have no idea.”

“what time is it? I can’t see, too many diamonds.”

“if you like it, give me credit.  If you don’t like it, blame my guru.”

“in my class, no mercy. Eat shit and die.”

AND on that note – Change 🙂

last 2 classes of BYTT tomorrow!!!!

Image

Hilary and I went for Korean BBQ this past weekend. It seems to be the theme of the weekend – EATING!

message in a bottle.

This past week consisted of 5 trips to the Jacuzzi (so nice for sore muscles) with a visit to Starbucks, about 25 hours of posture clinic, 2 classes with Bikram, 2 trips to Manhattan Beach, 1 Bollywood movie, and 1 night of watching clips of Bikram from the 70s and 80s. Saturday was also our 75th class here! I felt very under-stimulated this week.  We finished delivering postures last week (week 6), so this week we just strung at least 3 postures together and delivered them.  It gave us an opportunity to practice teaching; however, I got very bored, very fast.  Supposedly we never finish delivering dialogue this early, but whatever, we did.  I feel like I need to be studying something of substance – like countercurrent multiplication in the kidney or the proteins involved in translation of a gene.  I feel more natural doing that, rather than sitting all day listening to dialogue or listening to some of these lectures we have had.  I like figuring out how things work and how to solve problems.  Like, when I visit with patients with the orthopedist I shadow, I like looking at their MRIs and helping figure out what the issue is.  I feel like I have no memory here, and I feel like I can’t even form real sentences. The dialogue has taken over my speaking and my thought process– I say things like “I need to look way way way way back in my email to find that letter” or “go all the way down, all the way down to the lobby”.  My friend Hilary bought cookies today, and they were called “way more chocolate chip cookies” and I thought they were called way, way, way, way more… I guess if you know the dialogue you know what I’m talking about.   If I have learned anything about myself from this process, it’s that I really want to go to medical school.  Likewise, I have said that after coming back from India and Ethiopia, so now is the time to make that happen.

also – If I hear one more person say to “trust the process”, I might just go cookoo for coco puffs for real.  I kept joking in lecture/posture clinic that I felt like going outside and sending up a flare, or yelling “EARTHHHHHQUAKEEE”.  Also The Police song, “I’ll send an SOS to the world, I hope that someone gets my, message in a bottle” was a recurrent theme song in my head all week.  Another theme song I’ll add to the mix was sung and created by Hilary and it goes to the tune of “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”, except her cover was “It’s beginning to look a lot like PRISON, everrryyy where we go.” …… these are the best days of our lives, this is what I just keep telling myself.

Did I say already how sore, crunchy, achy, etc I am?  My husband suffers from knee pain from old injuries, I now know what it’s like to have aching knees all the time… hmmm.  I’m sore in body parts I didn’t even know I had.

Anyways, it’s almost time to go home! Never been so excited.  I’m literally counting down the days by number of sleeps in my night-sweat-infested Radisson bed, number of doubles, number of classes, number of times I have to shop at Trader Joes, number of times I will order Thai, and number of late nights we *might* have.  If you haven’t gotten the jist of it by now, we have NO IDEA what our schedule will be like.  For example, there have been quite a few Friday nights were we had the night off, so we assumed this would be true for this past Friday.  Instead, they announced after the 5pm yoga class (that is when we find out what we are doing next), that we needed to be in our posture clinic by 9.  Then, after 2 hours there at 11, they told us to go to the big lecture room because we were starting a movie at 11:30.  SO, this has been good for me (I guess?), because I figured out I am probably a Type A personality.  I love schedule, I keep one on my phone, in a planner, and on my gmail account.  I am constantly planning when I’m going to the hospital, when I’m going to the clinic, when I’m going to work at the store, when I’m going to yoga, etc.  but, you can’t have a schedule here!  Whatever! I go for the flow for the most part. Whenever we have late nights (like – they announce we have lecture or a movie at 11pm) I run up to my room, grab my seat cusion and usually the following items: kombucha, a thermos to get hot water for tea, candy, something to crunch on like chips, crackers, or popcorn, water in my hydroflask, a scarf, a sweatshirt, and I just picked up some leg warmers this weekend to add to my “survival kit” as Hilary and I call it.  If you fall asleep, don’t worry – staff will wake you up with a water gun.

We had a Halloween party this week – me and Hilary were bicycles.  Last week in one of Bikrams lecture he was talking about looking like a human vs. acting like a human and he asked us a silly question “do you look like bicycle? Do you look like tree? Do you look like toothpaste? Do you look like snake?” so we decided to “look like bicycle”.  It was funny to see what people dressed up as.  I even saw someone go as a Japanese Ham Sandwich, which is what I was last year! BTW – there’s a Japanese girl in my group, and I asked her what a Japanese Ham Sandwich is, so now I know! Speaking of JHS, how come I never figured out to put my forehead to my shins?! I guess I wasn’t ready to hear that part of the dialogue? It gives the best stretch in my lower back and now padahastasana is one of my favorite postures!

My favorite teachers this week were John Salvatore from Los Vegas (originally from NYC) and Tereza from Prague.  Tereza was the leader in one of our posture clinics, and it was my favorite PC all week – don’t worry, it won the competition by a land slide.  I learned so much from her about teaching.  She told us teaching is a JOB not a HOBBY so don’t criticize or laugh at your students.  John was hilarious.  He brought so much energy and enthusiasm.  I have really been struggling with the morning classes here, which is a surprise, because I prefer a morning practice at home.  However, when he taught a morning class I was pushing myself and I felt good.  Between the night sweats, late nights, 2 classes a day, and eating little, I wake up in the morning feeling very low-energy and not well rested.  It takes a strong and good teacher to really get me going in the morning.  I would go to Los Vegas just for his class!  I am excited to travel around whenever I’m on vacation or just traveling to different places to take classes with the handful of teachers that I’ve really enjoyed here (mostly  the ones from NYC) and from other teacher trainees!!!!  I’ve already had 2 people who live outside NC that told me they plan to travel to the triad some time early next year and they want to know how they can find out when I’m teaching.  I will for sure go up to the DC area to take class with my friend Hanna who will be teaching at my Aunt’s studio and to take class with Hilary who will be teaching in the DC area as well.

One thing I want to add in here that Bikram says – the flies always go back to the shit.  What he means is that we are a slave to our bad habits.  Whether it be a bad habit we picked up in our postures or a bad habit lifestyle etc.  I’ve learned here to let go of some of my bad habits in my practice.  This week we had a lecture (and class) from Jim Kallet, as he comes to TT every week.  He told us that in our postures (and in life, really) we can acknowledge that something is painful, but we don’t have to react to it.  Like “oh $h!t my butt cheek is going to fall off in standing head to knee I must evacuate this posture immediately.” WRONG Christina. He also made a point for us to focus on the action we are doing, not the sensation we are creating (which I believe can also be applied to life situations).  So basically, we should learn to let go of bad habits that don’t serve us and not think too deeply about uncomfortable situations….something to think about. I mean, I gotta force myself to think about something around here.  Like I said earlier, I need some mental stimulation.  Not mental masturbation like Bikram says….aka – thinking that does nothing.

Hilary and I ventured to Manhattan beach yesterday and then today her and I went along with Stephanie back to Manhattan beach.  It was cooler yesterday but it was nice and toasty today.  Thankful for getting some sunshine, vitamin D, and working those melanocytes in my skin!  We visited a shop we always visit – the owner knows us and is so sweet.  Hilary often teaches her new yoga postures, and today she handed us a big grocery bag full of oranges from her orange tree.  We also devoured some pancakes and eggs at a place where the wait was 45 minutes – well worth it.  Despite not being extremely fond of LA, I really have enjoyed going to Manhattan Beach, and love the cute downtown feel, the bagel shops, the boutiques, the restaurants, and the humble and homey feeling it has.

Things I missed a lot this week: my husband, family, and friends, my fur children (Chloe and Leila, I heard Chloe got fluffier), Bojangles, the “toaster” (heater) at Bikram Yoga Durham, my moms rigatoni with meat sauce, the freedom of driving my car, my bed, eating popsicles every day, reading on my kindle, blow drying my hair (which I don’t do that often at home!), and running at the art museum.

Things I will not miss: walking to Trader Joes with a bookbag, night sweats, always carrying water, hot tea, and kombucha with me, washing my yoga clothes in the bathtub with vinegar and soap, eating in my bed, being terrified of being woken up at 2am by a squirt gun or someone poking me, wearing the same dirty clothes over and over again, smelling the hot room, some of the peoples drama here, hearing monkey/bird/tiger/any zoo animal noises in the hot room or lecture room when people get excited, signing in to everything (class/lecture/posture clinic), and trying to figure out if I want to eat a banana with peanut butter or crackers for lunch.

One of our lecturers had this quote on one of his powerpoints, and I really love it so I’m sharing with all of you:

“when I practice, I am a philosopher. When I teach, I am a scientist. When I demonstrate, I am an artist” -BKS Iyengar

In the words of my dear friend, OY VEY NAMASTE.

Christina

Image

Me and HIlary at the Halloween Party as bicycles….. LOL

Image

my dear teacher friend Cheryl gave me a calendar and a pack of stickers before I left. She said some days it’s all you can do to put a sticker on your calendar and said, I just did that 90 min class – yeah! It was a nice reminder to look back at Oct and see all that I accomplished! 50 classes and 23 doubles!

Image

sunset at Manhattan Beach over the Pacific.

Image

delicious lemonade with Stephanie!

Image

casually just walking down Sepulveda Blvd (which I still can’t pronounce) to get groceries…

Image

my mom sent me the best package! it had all my favorite goodies like fruit wraps, fruit slices, choc covered espresso beans, etc. these nuts are the best! neomonde is where it’s at.