Saturday, 30 May 2009

Week 5 and I'm alive!

I’m still surviving and I passed my anatomy exam! It’s Saturday morning and I’m finally feeling hungry. This week I’ve struggled to get excited about food. I think that’s why I caught a cold– just haven’t taken in enough nutrients. However I am ADDICTED to cartons of Coconut Water (not milk or juice). It is fantastic for replenishing electrolytes. At first I thought it tasted like mouldy water but now I can’t get enough. It’s so good for you. I recommend anyone to try it, especially if you practise a lot. Just make sure it’s cold when you drink it.

This week has been so much fun. I’m really starting to enjoy everything. I have moments of feeling tired and lonely and irritated but they pass. The energy is incredible and everyday it feels more like were becoming a family here.

Wednesday night was another late one. We started off with a great lecture from Bikram (although I felt really sick for some reason). He says that only 5% of life should be about making money, the other 95% should be about learning to become a better human being – and this can be done by practising all forms of yoga. The postures (asanas) are only a fraction of yoga. Other things like karma yoga (being good to others without expecting anything in return) and raja yoga are also ways to help you live longer and have a good life. Bikram’s orange book explains them all brilliantly. I’m beginning to realise that it doesn’t mean we should all drop everything and emigrate to India, it’s more about being aware of ourselves and instead of doubting ourselves, use the tools to make us strong.

After the lecture, we had a movie until 4am. This time we were made to stay awake, we couldn’t lie down and if you fell asleep one of the staff woke you up. All part of the process apparently.

Thursday night was very different. We had a lecture from Jon Burras ( He’s a yoga therapist. He first talked about the body and why we can sculpt it into any shape we want. I’d love to be able to explain his theories as well as he can but here are a few points.

We aren’t held up by our skeletal system, it’s our connecting tissue (fascia) that gives us movement. Energy flows through fascia, but if we get an injury, the fascia can build up and harden and it blocks the energy flow. Hence the pain and tightness.

Emotions determine who we are as a person. These emotions can also block energy flow. Someone who holds emotion inside (and doesn’t let it out) is more likely to suffer from disease or illness because the energy builds up inside. If you think of a child who has a tantrum, they are a mass of energy. After the child has calmed down, they’re fine again. If you keep holding the emotion in, you hold energy in. Yoga is a great way to help you release this energy (whether it be emotional or physical). That’s why you can cry during class for ‘no reason’. It also explains why you can go through pain whilst practising – the layers of energy are beginning to be released around old injuries.

Back to me;

Best yoga moment of the week: Getting on stage with the Madonna mike (see pics) to recite Separate Leg Stretching pose (even though I called it Standing Head To Knee apparently).

Light bulb moment: When I was shown exactly how to do Cobra pose – can’t believe I’ve been doing it wrong for 4 years! My advice is to ask your teacher to check yours; it’s the most important posture for the spine.

My favourite place: Bed. I rarely get the chance so I try to slip in for the odd 10 minutes here and there. Never take having an early night for granted.

Best advice given: To have a natural birth (!)

Best song I’ve heard this week: After class this morning, they played “Don’t worry, About A Thing” during savasana and everyone sung. Made me smile.

‘I wish I’d waxed’ moment: Demonstrating Triangle posture on stage for Emmy with very skimpy shorts on. She announced to everyone, “Don’t worry, we can’t see IT”.

The thing that made me wet my pants: The Mexican wave (see video). It started with just five of us and suddenly all 325 of us were doing it. Then Bikram walked in.

Bikrams Big Entrance...

After 20 minutes of waiting for the Boss, the yogi's got a bit excited. Excuse the bad language, it's all in jest.

Week 5 Pics

Jon Burras, very interesting man

Group 12! We scrub up well sometimes

A teacher with style!

My lovely friends Mikey, Simon, Linda (pink), Stephanie and Lulu

Tiger pants, just for you Joey

Me, Simon (or Simone depending who's calling the register) and Lulu

How to do a good Triangle
(Surprisingly I'm not on this picture!)

Mikey with the mike!


"Come on girls,
Do you believe in love,
Coz I've got something to say about it,
And it goes something like this!"
(Me on the mike)

Bikram TV

A fraction of Group 12!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Week 4

Almost half way through! Monday was hell. Apart from that, this week has been incredible. I am surrounded by so many wonderful people from all over the world and we’re all here to do the same thing – to teach Bikram Yoga and ultimately make people feel good. I don’t mean that in an egotistical way at all. The more I understand the scientific reasons why the postures are so beneficial to the body, the more I want to teach people. It’s fascinating.

Anyway, back to me! I’m surprisingly good. We have teachers from all over the world visiting us who say that their training was a lot tougher in terms of the humidity and the living conditions. I have to say, the hotel is beautiful and I think the way things are organised has kept sickness and insanity to a minimum so far. It is extremely hard work though. Bikram has kept us up every night until at least 2.30am watching Bollywood movies. He says we should learn about spiritualism from India (and finance from America). Tuesday night, I didn’t get to bed until 4.30am. The birds were singing as I walked to my room.

My yoga practise has been fab and my back is still hanging in there. Friday night class, instead of final savasana we all got up and danced to Bikrams disco track. It was like being in Ibiza. So you could say that my spirits are high at the mo.

I’m getting a massage today at the Spa. Thank the lord Bikram Students get a discount. The prices are extortionate but my hamstrings are in bits. Posture clinics don’t help because you have to stand up and be a demonstrator for people as they recite their dialogue. I was in Standing Head to Knee for about 20 minutes on Wednesday night.

Highlights of the week...

Best class: Friday night with Lisa from Texas. We all had to say ‘ye-ha’ during the situps and had to do a speeded up Triangle, then got to dance like clowns at the end. Hilarious.

Best food: The heap of Green and Blacks mint chocolate sent to me by my lovely teacher Rachel. I am eating so much.

Best posture: This week my Triangle feels strong. It’s a great posture to help you breathe (as long as you stretch your arm and body up).

Most achy body part: Left hip and hamstrings. PAIN.

Best Bikram quote: Before the movie, “No lying down, no sleeping and definitely no silent-but -deadlies.”

The defining moment: When a teacher suggested that maybe the human journey should just be a celebration of life instead of a mission to make your mark in the world. So true.

Week 4 Pics

My lovely room mate Shirlyn, who is famous in Singapore - check out her amazing song

The Boss during lectures

12.15am - Bedding down before our movie

This was about 3am in the morning during the movie, let's just pretend we're meditating


We're happy because we are near the door, there's a lovely draft

It was still a hot class!

Posture Clinic

Saturday, 16 May 2009

More pics

Posture Clinic. I'm in group 12. We can't clap because of other hotel guests so after someones done their posture we do jazz hands. I laugh every time.

My lovely American friends Wendy and Katrina.

Dr Trapani (Dr T) and Sonia his wife

Warming up before class with Michael and Simon.

Me and fello Brit Catherine. Yes, I understand how attractive I look on this picture.

I don't always look so happy...

But he does! Simon is from Australia and keeps me going every day. He's the funniest person at training and I can't believe he's 40 this year!

Bob Ellis?!

Week 3

TFI Saturday! Another week done. Back is feeling fab. My body is tired. This week has felt like my first proper week of training. We’ve started posture clinics, where we take one posture at a time and we have to say the dialogue from start to finish. We have to memorise the script for it before hand, word for word. I did eagle last night. The feedback is generally the same – I need to stop using my hands so much when I talk! I feel for some people though as they get so nervous standing up in front of people. I’m so grateful my presenting work has prepared me for me this. Some people cry and one guy even got angry last night. I think the cracks are starting to show.

So the yoga is tough but good. Wednesday night was my best class yet. I’d never been so hot in my life but I had my new found friends around me and I was determined to not give up. A lot of the training is teaching you to be in control of your mind and not the other way round. By ignoring the niggling thoughts in your head telling you to get the hell out of the room, you can cope and as long as your conscious of breathing, you can carry on until the end and do every posture. It’s not easy and this week I’ve struggled but I am determined to master it. I love full locust when we’re all helping eachother lift our arms up. Usually I’d avoid touching other sweaty bodies but here it keeps the energy going.

The person who teaches the class makes a huge difference. Some are absolutely inspirational and can make me laugh and cry. Others are slightly irritating, especially when their stories go on for ages in between savasana. I understand they have a lot of passion and advice for us but when you’re struggling to just stay in the room, you just want them to get on with it! Dealing with this is yet another test for me though.

One last thing. Dr T. He’s teaching us anatomy and nutrition. He knows everything about keeping healthy – the secret is your diet. Food is a hugely important part of how you feel. He has so many interesting stories and he really knows what he’s talking about. He says Vitamin C is the most important thing for strong immunity. Sugar is the worst thing for immunity. If you have kids please read this. Glucose challenges phagocytes (which are our body’s defense against infection). By feeding infants glucose it severley hinders their immunity. This is why children get so many colds/ear and throat infections. Even apple juice can have a negative effect. Caffeine also works in the same way. Sorry for the lecture but I found this so interesting. I have so much information is spilling over onto this blog!!

OK – summary.

Things I love...parcels, letters and emails from back home. It is the most joyeous thing in the world.

Things that irritate me...people drinking in between postures. It’s rude and I hate the noise of ice cubes rattling in water. Not sure why.

Best picture painting in a posture...John Salvadore who says to imagine you’re a giant piss dispenser when you’re exhaling during pranayama breathing.

Best explanation of how to get a mind body connection. Jim. The only way is through the spine (CNS). This is why it’s so important to do yoga.

Food I’m craving...salt and vinegar anything. Dark chocolate. Pizza Express pizza and oranges.

Phrases that don’t make sense. English Bulldog determination (it’s BRITISH!), whole spine stretching like a pearls necklace (it’s not plural!).

Final special message: Happy 27th Birthday to my Harry. Love you, miss you, slf xxx

Saturday, 9 May 2009

The first two weeks

Finally I get to write something! My first challenge has been to live without my computer for the last couple of weeks. Long story. Week 1 came and went. It was tiring, my back was sore and I was totally homesick but it seemed to glide by. The one thing I’m trying to deal with is the heat. It’s roasting from 7am until evening lectures. It’s unbearable sometimes and seems so cruel that we then have to go in to an even hotter yoga studio. Really struggle with the humidity some days. I haven’t walked out yet but I’ve wanted to so many times. A few people have fainted but the real drama will come in week 4...I had inside information that it will get extremely hot from then.

On the plus side, my practise is really good, especially the evening classes. My back really is sorting itself out and I have yoga to thank for that. I’m learning so much and understanding how yoga is essential for wellbeing. The spine controls everything – physical, mental, emotional. Yoga strenthens and realigns the spine hence less physical and mental problems. No other exercise does that. And it doesn’t matter how old or fit you are. The only thing that is important is that you go regularly.

Bikram took some time to get used to but he is amazing. He has so much energy and I love his classes. He sings, he dances and he calls people ‘chicken s**t’. But he’ll only say it if you’re doing the posture wrong or being lazy and I’m quickly learning that it’s for your own good because precision is everything. He does keep us up until 4am in the morning though. That’s the hardest part because it’s so tiring. Sleep deprivation is part of the process I’m told.

The whole ‘American’ way took some time to get used to. Everyone claps after everything. The classes, the lectures, the announcements, the toilet being flushed. It's a good way to keep energy up though.

In terms of how my body is coping, I’m getting pretty chunky– eating slightly more but most of it is water retention or something?! I constantly feel bloated, not too sure whether it’s too much salt, sugar or yoga! Any comments/suggestions on how to cure this would be appreciated. I don’t exactly want to go to the nurse with this problem.
Just want to stress again how incredible Bikram Yoga is. I’m learning why and although in time I will explain everything (in small stages), you just have to trust that it works. It strengthens your body and helps you to control your mind and they are the only two things that will bring you peace. I thought the hardest part of this would be the yoga but that’s the thing I look forward to the most and lifts my spirit. It makes me laugh and cry but when it’s over, I feel balanced again.

Quote that I heard today; It's not about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself. That's what yoga does - sculpts your body and brings your mind into the present moment so that you can do anything (just keep listening to the dialogue!).


The sweat pit before class

Glorious Palm Desert. The mountains are so beautiful, this is what we can see from the studio window...

Bikram and Emmy Cleaves - she's in her 80's still practises

My sanctuary!

A handful of new friends

Make up class (the aftermath)...we'd all been naughty and forgot to sign in so this was our second class of the morning. It went surprisingly well.

Me and my lovely roomie, Shirlyn from Singapore - who is actually 33!!

Rajashree, Bikram's wife

Bikram having a stretch

The Boss

My temporary home