Yoga for everybody: Dad edition!

 

Dad and me after his first yoga class

Dad and me after his first yoga class

Proof that my dad survived his first yoga class last weekend. Although I definitely heard him mutter “I’m going to kill you” to me during savasana after camel, he even volunteered to come to family yoga again for at least a few months. He did great, and I’m SO proud of him for trying something new and intimidating! Just goes to show…..

“You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late and never too sick to start from scratch once again.” – BC

Adventure: Cairns

Honestly, at this point, I was travel-fatigued and ready for home. Thanks to a mix-up with the Greyhound buses, wherein they had recently changed the schedule and didn’t inform me (I had pre-booked months beforehand), I missed my original bus from Townsville. So I had a few bonus hours in Townsville with Peta, spent the night on the bus, and arrived in to Cairns at 5 AM.

This turned out to be a blessing, since my hostel in Cairns was the worst hostel of my entire trip by far.  Fortunately, I only had to spend a (miserable, awkward) two nights there and I was booked out for full day trips.

Looking out over the Tablelands

Looking out over the Atherton Tablelands

Day one I had a group tour of the Atherton Tablelands. We saw pretty places, our tour guide was friendly and super-interesting, but all in all a very typical tour experience– too much time on a bus, not enough time to play and wander, and too much forced socializing. We got to see tree kangaroos, though! And play in VERY cold rivers. And be served tea and cookies twice. (Tip: tea and cookies will always endear you to me. So long as it’s not that dirt we call Lipton.)

Josephine Falls (also, waterslide yeeeeeaaah)

Josephine Falls (also, waterslide yeeeeeaaah)

Of course, as often happens when people ask you what you do and you say you’re a yoga teacher…. you end up posturing. So I turned it into a teaching moment and taught my tour guide Standing Bow. Because I can be very intense about the things I love, I find introducing people to yoga a little stressful (my inner dialogue sounds like this: “What if I sell it the wrong way and they NEVER try it? THEY WILL LOSE OUT ON SO MANY AMAZING THINGS. OH GOD MUST EXPLAIN PERFECTLY AND CONVINCE THEM!”). Luckily, I practice yoga (as always, my saving grace), so I can step back from my crazy, chill out, and play around a bit.

Standing Bow at Milla Milla Falls (don't worry, he enjoyed it more than this photo lets on)

Standing Bow at Milla Milla Falls (don’t worry, he enjoyed it more than this photo lets on)

Day two I spent on a tour of the Great Barrier reef. As we learned in The Whitsundays, boats are not my favorite. This time, thankfully, I was on a giant catamaran, and so our time was therefore both short-lived and relatively smooth. We went out snorkelling to two different areas. The first was fun, apart from the minute where I saw two tiny jellyfish, freaked the eff out that they were Blue Bottles (whose stings are widely thought of as the most pain you will likely ever experience) and did a panicked turnabout as fast as my fins would take me. They were only baby jellyfish, but by the time I had figured that out mentally my limbic system had already taken me for a joyride. At the second location, we got to swim to a small sand island in the middle of the ocean used as a turtle breeding ground and watch the turtles in the surrounding waters.

A horde of snorkellers

A horde of snorkellers exploring the Great Barrier Reef

Overall, two beautiful days at the end of a beautiful month.

Next up: Farewell to Australia, hellooooooo to Maui!

Adventure: Brisbane & Noosa

In visiting Brisbane, I was lucky enough to be welcomed to teaching by both Nundah and the Gabba for my few days in town. The students were disciplined and a joy to teach. Every time I return from a break in teaching, no matter how long or short, I experience this odd swirl of trepidation mixed with relief and gratitude to be back where I belong. It’s the latter that’s truly incredible–any studio in the world, and I can feel at least a little like I’m coming home. So although my teaching schedule did not allow me to do much sight-seeing while in Brisbane, I am still glad and appreciative of my time there. Brisbane grows some excellent Bikram yoga studios.

Behold, the perfect work-life balance: Absorbing the sun at Southbank, Brisbane's manmade lagoon, AND refreshing my dialogue for my afternoon classes

Behold, the perfect work-life balance: Absorbing the sun at Southbank, Brisbane’s manmade lagoon, while refreshing my dialogue for my afternoon classes

Most rewarding (or at the very least heart-warming), being in Brisbane meant I got to see two of my group-mates from my Teacher Training. For those of you who have never been to Teacher Training, your group-mates are like your family. You sweat and suffer and struggle together, and you support each other. Two and a half years later, it’s fascinating to see the diverging paths each person has taken since Training, and lucky when we get to converge for even a few short hours.  I adore both James and Julie, and I am really proud of them– both have dealt with some serious stuff since I last saw them, but they are tenacious. It meant quite a lot to me to see them again, and introduced a theme into my travels: they were the first of several Spring 2012 BYTT reunions.

Julie and James (and me), sweetly, briefly reunited!

Julie and James (and me), sweetly, briefly reunited!

Then, it was onwards to Noosa, where I got to reunite with another good friend from Teacher Training, Nzinza–originally from Detroit but in the middle of a global teaching adventure (I love how this happens!). We got to take each other’s class, eat Tim Tams, share teaching philosophies, wander on the beautiful beaches of Noosa, and eat some delicious seafood.

Nzinza's powerful Standing Bow

Nzinza’s powerful Standing Bow

(Apologies: between my travelling schedule and my (lack of) internet access, I am now updating well after the fact…. but chronicle I will!)

Next Up: Teaching yoga on Fraser Island ….at sunset ….on the beach

September: A Retrospective

Recipe for Inspiration
Lucas Miles, an American-but-Auckland-based senior teacher, visited Melbourne and did a posture clinic & class at Bikram Yoga Preston. This was my first opportunity to meet him, and I’d heard quite a lot and was looking forward to meeting him. I really enjoyed his master class—his approach is both laid back and highly practical, and he has a lot of insight into the postures and practice. I particularly enjoyed his discussion of balancing action, relaxation, attention, respiration, and duration when practicing: each mutually influencing and necessarily in proportion with the others.

Luke having me demonstrate the Spine Strengthening series. Here, clearly pointing out our area of focus for Locust posture. My favorite (not)!

Here, clearly pointing out our area of focus for Locust posture. My favorite (not)!

Me in Cobra. Luke: "Contract HERE, guys."

Luke having me demonstrate the Spine Strengthening series. Me in Cobra. Luke: “Contract HERE, guys.”

 


Hot Stuff

I completed our studio’s September consistency “challenge”: practice four times a week for four weeks. I say “challenge” because I normally do five to six times a week normally. Still, I dutifully tracked my classes (6, 5, 5, 4), and fit in class whenever I could so long as I wasn’t teaching. For the most part, however, I have been teaching quite a lot in order to save for my upcoming adventures. All in all, I was in the room for 76 classes this month.

Out of the Box (into another box)
In a break from our normal, hectic schedules, Claire and I took a field trip out so I could see and practice at Bikram Yoga Tullamarine (another local Melbourne studio I’d yet to visit). Such a beautiful studio—you could see the love and thought that had gone into the planning of the space. Succulents everywhere, natural light streaming in, comfortable couches and chairs, lots of reclaimed wood and secondhand furniture. After, Claire and I enjoyed lunch.

Claire (fellow teacher), Annemarie (teacher and BYT owner), and me after class

Claire (fellow teacher), Annemarie (teacher and BYT owner), and me after class


Yoga Playdate

After much organizing, a few of us Bikram teachers tried Anti-Gravity yoga together. I loved it as much as, or perhaps more, than last time. This time I was surrounded by friends who would laugh with me. It made for great photos.

Bikram Yogis do Anti-Gravity Yoga

Bikram Yogis do Anti-Gravity Yoga

Claire and her husband Tim-- don't they make a nice couple, hanging out?

Claire & Tim– couples that hang together, stay together?

Strengthening You Inside & Out: An Interview with Yours Truly

One of my students, Ajay, interviewed me a few weeks ago for an assignment for his journalism class. We had a long conversation, a few tidbits of which are included below. Mostly, I’m always gratified to discover I do make sense when I’m talking. My favorite part of the interview: in discussing challenging situations in the room, I mentioned how yoga allows me to be patient with crazy students as well as patient with myself when I get angry or frustrated at aforementioned students’ behavior. Ajay exclaimed that he’d never seen me get angry in class, and was shocked to think sometime I was. My answer? “Good! That means I’m doing my job right!” It’s not about me. I never want to express or take out my negative feelings on my students.

In any case, here is the result. I have edited out the parts introducing Bikram Yoga, since hopefully you are all already aware of the practice.

Triangle PoseEnthusiasm

 

 

 

 

 

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT : JESSICA PERFORMING TRIANGLE POSTURE ; JESSICA WITH HER SIGNATURE SMILE.

“It requires a lot of vigilance to avoid injury-which is the nature of any physical activity–and vigilance is one of the things that is continuously being taught in the room,” was her reply when she was questioned whether somebody could hurt themselves in the hot room. After hearing her reply, I was able to gather the reason as to why so much emphasis was always laid on being alert of your body. The vigilance in class supported safe practice of yoga.

She told me that having been practicing yoga 4-5 times a week has not only made her a stronger version of herself but has also made her more patient and compassionate. “It makes me a lot kinder towards myself and other people” she adds. When pushed into revealing more benefits of Bikram Yoga other than the obvious she jokingly replies that now she has got a “crap ton” more flexibility.

When the question arose as to whether the students should try to push themselves in the hot room in order to receive more benefits from their practice, she advises that students should try to improve every single class but they should also be aware of their own capabilities. Hence as long as you were performing with proper form and not with your ego you were receiving the benefits. “You never win an ego contest. Never, ever.”

When asked if there was any secret behind having a great class, she replies, “If you can smile in here (in class) you can smile anywhere.” Now I could figure out as to why she always had on her 1000-volt smile. I was sure that everyone who did hot yoga could completely relate to what she was saying because if a person who was trying to do a yoga posture against odds such as heat, humidity, sweat, mind-boggling thoughts etc. and still could smile, then it could be made damn sure that person could smile on the face of any challenges that faced in the outside world. After this our conversation ended and her words of wisdom kept ringing in my ears even after a few days literally (well not that literally but you should get the meaning by now).

July: A Retrospective

Time flies when you’re doing yoga. Here are some highlights (visual and textual) from my last few weeks.

Learning & Growing
Craig Villani, with whom I did a teacher’s retreat last December back in California, came to visit Melbourne. I had the opportunity to take one public class with him at Bikram Yoga Fitzroy as well as a comprehensive class at my main studio in Werribee. It was great to take his class—his teaching personality differs from my own, so I enjoy picking up techniques on how to vary my own style. He devotes considerable effort to creating community, conversation, and continuing education within the Bikram yoga community, for which I am highly grateful. It’s a monumental, but also extremely necessary task.

In my downtime, I have been working on my art journalling– it’s my way of meditating while simultaneously helping me to incorporate new lessons into my teaching repertoire.

A little wisdom from Iyengar

A little wisdom from Iyengar in my teaching journal

New Faces & Places
In addition to getting to know and love my students at Werribee all the more, I also taught a few times out at Bikram Yoga Preston and twice at Bikram Yoga Fitzroy. The latter made me especially nervous (nervous is how I roll in new situations anyway ;)), since the studio is much larger—much like BYSJ—and my class was being recorded. It is the first time I have ever recorded my class, and I have since listened to the recording and am happy to acknowledge that I don’t ramble nearly as much as I feel like I do! Both of these opportunities also brought me really good feedback from the respective studio owners.

BYPreston

Lookin’ Good
I bought a new Onzie yoga top and some new Lalaland yoga shorts. Because yoga is better in a comfy, colorful new outfit, right?

My roomie Emily and me holding up what shortly became my new shorts

My roomie Emily and me holding up what shortly thereafter became my new shorts.

Defying Gravity
I also tried anti-gravity (/aerial) yoga for the first time, upon recommendation by Katie. As advertised, it feels like a deep tissue massage. But better! It took a few minutes to get the hang of the verbal cues (even with Bikram yoga, it took me a long time to learn my lefts and rights, so imagine adding the dimension of being upside down). Once I did, it felt amazing. I could feel my hips and shoulders—two points that currently limit what I’m capable of in terms of range of motion—release tension and open up. The feeling was unparalleled, and I know this is a practice I’ll be incorporating in to my future! So excited for this new exploration. Plus it’s just fun to hang upside down. Backbends are so much easier when you can be lazy!

And, as with all good yoga teachers, we enjoy eating just as much as (perhaps even more) we enjoy yoga-ing.

And, as with all good yoga teachers, we enjoy eating out after just as much as (perhaps even more) we enjoy yoga-ing.

Melbourne: Week One

First week in Australia, broken down by numbers:

  • 8 classes taught at 2 studios (Werribee and Yarraville)
  • 6 classes taken at 2 studios (Werribee and Fitzroy)
  • 5 forms of transportation (feet, train, car, bus, tram)
  • 4 dinner outs (Asian fusion, Japanese, Korean, and Thai)

I now know that Australians do NOT like saying “Mama give me money!” Even when prompted multiple times, that particular joke is DOA. Ah, well! I am impressed with their strength coming out of third part of Awkward, however. They go slowly, it’s wonderful to watch.

I have only just started to explore Melbourne proper, but I’m looking forward to doing more. Yesterday I had the opportunity to lend a hand at the Mind Body Spirit festival on at the Melbourne Convention Center. The local studios had a stall, and my job was to demonstrate postures for a three hour shift. Although exhausting, it was a great way to meet a few of the other nearby studio owners and gave me an excuse to wander a bit.

Wandering about the Southbank with the Seafarer's Bridge behind me

Wandering about the Southbank with the Seafarer’s Bridge behind me

So far, I am enjoying myself, and looking forward to getting to know my students here as well as explore the area as much as possible!

Kid’s Yoga: Australian Edition

I taught my first class here in Australia this afternoon.

As happenstance would have it, it was a kid’s class! I wasn’t expecting it, but the scheduled teacher wasn’t feeling well and knew that I had taught it before. I had over 20 kids (plus an accompanying adult) ranging from 3-11 years old, which made for a lot of fun energy. The kids were so cute.

My favorite moment: right before Half Tortoise, this barely three-year-old girl just wandered up to me from the back of the room, gave me a hug, and sat on my lap. I asked her if she could help me demonstrate, so I had her sit next to me on the podium and put her into Half Tortoise. After, I had everyone clap for her. Her big sister (also in the class) was so proud of her.

Teaching the kids is simultaneously exhausting and energizing.

And it looks like I’ll be leading it again! Hopefully by then I’ll at least know some of the parents.

Tomorrow’s the real go around for teaching. Still, so far, so good!

I don't have a picture from the kid's class, so here's a shot of me fresh of the airplane yesterday.

I don’t have a picture from the kid’s class, so here’s a shot of me fresh of the airplane yesterday.

Halloween Edition: Lock yer knee!

Lock yer knee, matey, or you'll walk the plank!

Lock yer knee, matey, or you’ll walk the plank!

Happy Halloween to all! Hope you had a fun Halloween class, or just a fun Halloween!

yoga and new directions

Mountain-Camel
It’s been an exciting week for me, yoga-wise:

  • I taught for the first time at a studio in 16 months. The last time was my first week out of training. Both classes were really fun–the students were disciplined and focused, but also open to being persuaded to smile. My favorite!
  • I contemplated a change in direction, something breathtakingly exciting and new. It was one of those decisions that I felt so lucky to have the chance to make! There was no wrong answer, but I declined. My gut told me now was not yet the right time; still, I hope it signifies future good things. And for now, I’m appreciating my yoga community all the more. So many students I love, the other teachers, our studio owners, our studios–I’m staying grateful.
  • Speaking of being grateful, I had a good friend snap some yoga posture shots for me but it turned into so much more thanks to my little friend. He enthusiastically (albeit unexpectedly) joined in on the fun.

camelvisitor