Category Archives: Bikram Yoga

Good vs Bad

Hello and welcome to another version of “Good vs Bad” with you loooovely host, Mei!

*applause

Now let’s take a look at what some of the GOOD and BAD things that happens in a Bikram Yoga teacher’s life!

GOOD : Students asking questions after class

BAD : Students asking if teacher is single

Oooooh! But wait. THERE’S MORE!

Good : Students talking after class

BAD : Students talking about teacher’s WEIGHT/WAIST SIZE after class

[42-43KG and currently sitting on a 24-25inch waist. Happy now? πŸ˜€ ]

GOOD : Students asking which posture is good for their sex life

BAD : Asking how would I know as I’m not married

[“Because I like… HEY. Is this a trick question?! BAD GAME SHOW HOST!”]

GOOD : Drinking water during class

BAD : Expelling it out on your teacher

GOOD : Students commenting on the condition of my face. “Oh, you have a zit”

BAD : Aren’t you supposed to look at yourself during class?!

AAAAAND there you have it!

Tune in next time, or next month, or maybe NEVER AGAIN for another episode of … A DAY IN A BIKRAM YOGA TEACHER’S LIFE!

M*

The Ego, Self & Compassion

Threw my back out once again. This year has been a rather testing year for me, what with that immune problem [shingles], an aggravated hip tendon/muscle/thingymajig and now, my lower right back hurts. I don’t know what the hell I did, but it is sure not the result of having one too many Margaritas and ending up on the wrong side of someone else’s bed.

So I sought the advice of the always fabulous Mrs.23 aka Juicy, of Mission Yoga [in San Francisco]. She then gave me the advice I needed to hear at the right time “When u r killing u’rself/ego, don’t forget the compassion for u’rself. Be loving. :-)”

I then went back to all the times I have practiced with students. As a teacher, my practice has now changed NOT JUST because of Teacher Training, but hugely because of, how should I say … expectations. Gone are the days where I would sit out a pose of I felt dizzy or if I started cramping out too early. I do not allow myself to sit out of the postures simply because I know the students are looking at me and my practice. As a teacher, and a young [in age and in tenure of teaching] lady in Asia, I know of the concept of having ‘face’. That means, maintaing a proper image and doing the wrong thing just to please everyone and maintain a facade.

2009 International Yoga Champion (Women’s Division) Courtney Mace once said, “[Competition] happens every time you step into the hot room, and it’s a competition between the ego and the soul. And the soul always wins.”. Unfortunately for me, my ego has always won. Not the ego that says “Yes, I am BETTER than you”, but the ego that is the fear of not doing well. Essentially, 2 things always hold us back in life, and that is fear and ego, and ego is really FEAR of not doing well. Coupled with my Type A personality and ferocious tenacious attitude for perfection, I sometimes don’t know how to back down when I really need to.

I admit, some days before I step in the room and I know that I’m not feeling well, I start to get worried whether people will judge me when I opt to sit out of a posture.Β “But you are a TEACHER, how can you NOT do it?”

I then realised that like what Juicy said, I should kill my ego but above all, have compassion for MY self. Having compassion doesn’t mean being LAZY – it simply means knowing how to take it down a notch when I am not feeling it. I can count the number of times I nearly blacked out [3] but I still carried on through class even though I was already swaying and looking 5 shades paler than Edward Cullen.

Ego, Compassion and Patience. My 3 things I have to endure this year πŸ™‚

M*

And yada yada, it’s not the destination, but the journey πŸ˜‰

Missing My Other Half

When I was at Teacher Training, one of the most consistent advice constantly dished out was “Come back to the Source [Bikram]” and “Trust the process”. Unfortunately for me, due to me being unable to take a week off of teaching, I have not been back at Teacher Training, though I sorely want to go.

I want to be killed by Boss again [TOUCH your forehead to the floor! Chicken shit!].

I want to remember how it was to feel like I was dying in the room.

I want to touch my neighbour next to me, to feel comforted all over again, that I am not alone on this journey of suffering, joy and melancholy.

I want to get yelled and screamed at, because nobody but Boss knows how much farther and further we can go.

Succintly : I want to get my ass kicked big time.

Watching the Spring 2010 training video just brought back memories, with me laughing when Bikram said “COME DOWN MORE BOSS, 6 INCHES, 5, 4, 3, 2 … CHICKEN SHIT”.

M*

Britney Spears

Today’s class was like a very sloppily put-together “BEST OF” Britney Spears CD.

First track : Toxic

All the damn toxins in my body accumulated from 4 days of non-practice and eating all the lovely oh so delectable goodies that will make me die a farting death in class.

Second track : Blackout

Need I say more?

Third track : Baby, One More Time

Even though I have suffered enough for 90 minutes, I’ll still come back tomorrow to die on my mat.

M*

I Give Up.

While scrolling through my Tweetstream yesterday … this came up :

@ninieahmad BANNED from #projectalpha on Astro as she’s a Malay yoga teacher.

Quick background for my non-Malaysian blog readers :

@ninieahmad : Famous yoga teacher in Malaysia. Sponsored by Adidas and Stella McCartney. Link to her blog here

#projectalpha : Reality TV based programme of sorts about bloggers and their lives

Astro : Cable TV network

Malaysia : In a sum, consists of 3 major races – Malays, Chinese and Indian

WHY was she banned? Was it because she’s MALAY [and hence, a MUSLIM]? After last year’s fatwa [decree] on Muslims being BANNED from yoga [which incidentally, has been lifted but I have since blogged about it here], there has been furor, uproar and confusion on the whole of Malaysia as to whether Muslims can do yoga.

To me, yoga is a form of exercise. Again, I am speaking from my point of being a certified Bikram Yoga teacher, so my comments and opinions based herewith cannot be compared with say, an Iyengar teacher who has had a different method of training / schooling. I have been practicing Bikram Yoga for 2.5 years and teaching it full-time for 6 months, and if the Malaysian Fatwa council has deemed yoga as being religious,I cannot fully comment on this matter as I am not a Muslim nor do I profess to have fully read and understood the Qu’ran.

However, I can say with absolute certainty and confidence that Yoga is NOT a religious experience. It is an experience allright, but it’s more of an exercise. Never before have I seen people of different backgrounds, races, creeds and nationalities together, in ONE room, for 90 minutes, staying absolutely silent and bending, twisting, compressing and sweating [some more profusely than others!]. And the sight after class absolutely warms my heart. Everyone sitting around, joking, saying ‘hellos’ or ‘goodbyes’ and doing some catching up, and the occasional banter / tirade / questions that come my way.

Hmm. Come to think of it, maybe Yoga really IS religious. See Exhibits below :

#1 : Oh God Mei, the room was so hot / humid!

#2 : Oh GOD Mei, I can’t get my knee locked / suck my stomach in! [precisely how I was when I first started]

#3 : Oh GOD is she ever going to get us out of [insert posture] ?! I can tell by the looks on your face. Seriously πŸ˜‰

Jokes aside, it really seems to me that it is really a lack of understanding and tolerance that has led to this fiasco. Already Malaysia is dealing with brain drain of young professionals to other countries, international headlines of us sentencing a woman to whipping Β for drinking beer and RM8billion [US$3billion] of our taxpayers money going to build a new national palace, when our current national palace is PERFECTLY FINE.

Some days I truly wonder WHY I bothered coming back to a country that already feels alien to me. If doing what I like in my country may soon result me in being banned due to some preexisting fear / judgement, why the hell should I even pay tax and be treated like dirt?

If my job allows me to travel the world, than travel I shall. Perhaps I will settle down eventually, in the future, somewhere where I will not feel alienated and ostracized just because I am doing what I love.

M*

Missing You

Looking around nervously, I tugged my tank top down. I didn’t feel comfortable in my body once more. Am I too fat? Am I too bony? Why are my arms and legs bony but my hips as wide as the Ganges river? How can it be remotely possible for someone to have anorexic limbs but a belly that rivals a Sumo wrestler’s? How is it possible that I see my hip bones protruding out of my skin but I still have muffin tops? Can I eat dinner tonight? Am I allowed to feel full? Is eating bad for me-though I feel no hunger? Are my [nonexistent] boobs going to burst out of my tank top that’s already riding too low? I asked myself as I pulled it down once more.

I sighed again, internally this time. This is the mental hell I have to go through after not meditating/practicing for nearly a month.

I really, really, really am starting to dislike myself. Or my Self.

Taking a tentative step towards the podium, I began my little speech. “Start with Pranayama Deep Breathing…”. My students were getting into the zone. I was starting to get in to the zone as well. The familiarity of the Dialogue is back. I missed saying “Arms over your head sideways, hands palms together …” and the little idiosyncrasies that come with the dialogue.

I looked on in envy as my students attempted Standing Bow Pulling pose, one of my favourites to teach [and to practice]. My heart had a little twang of sadness to it as I saw everyone trying their darndest in Triangle and for a moment I felt absolutely sad by the end of teaching Spine Strengthening series, the class was about to end not for me, but for them.

I tried to remember what it was like to practice, what my last class was like before I fell ill [and was thus ‘banned’ from practicing]. Did I die in class? Did I absolutely love it? I tried to remember what it was like to stand up with a straight spine, to feel all the muscles in my body sigh and move along as I pulled, stretched and how wonderful a feeling it was when I managed to kick both legs in Bow [and saw my own 2 feet]. I tried recollecting the happiness and lightness I felt after every class, how I’d congratulate myself for improving just 1mm in Stretching pose [I know I’ll never get my forehead to my toes- be damned body proportions, but it’s worth a damn try till I’m 85!].

Every time I stepped in the hot room to teach, the feeling of familiarity just comes rushing back, like a long lost lover’s embrace. A little pool of sweat collecting in the small of my back, the trickle of sweat from my scalp all the way down my neck, my spine to legs feels strangely erotic yet comforting. My body felt happy once it was in the hot room, but yet felt strangely cheated that I didn’t do my required 26+2.

I can’t wait to practice again.

M*

The Day I Forgot I Was A Teacher

After a week and a bit of not teaching and 2 weeks of not practicing, I am ashamed to admit that I’m totally out of shape. If physically I’m mouldy, think emotionally, spiritually, and… dialogue-y. Yep, my dialogue, after 1 week of not being in use, has gone to the sharks.

Goodbye.

So long.

Adios.

Getting up onto the podium brought “First Class Nerves” all over again.

“Oh holy SHIT mother of GOD MARY MAGDALENE … I am supposed to tell 13 people what they’re supposed to do. Oh hooollyyy craaaaaap” before I dusted off my metallic balls. Ah, back in business. Sure I sounded shaky, and sure I totally forgot what bodies are supposed to look like / do while in a posture [I blame the nerves] but I am relieved to say I got my groove back after teaching the first set of breathing.

Till I got to padahastasana and forgot my dialogue.

“Continously… keep pulling.. just pull harder, push your knees back and lock your knees!”.

God I wanted to jump off the podium and break my neck, making it my final fall off that damn thing.

Off to read my dialogue once again!

M*

Annoyed

I am home quarantined. Hobbling around is ridiculous.

Tried doing Standing Bow Pulling[on my good side] Β but I fell out miserably, couldn’t even BALANCE and HOLD my foot for 20seconds!

I have never felt so weak and so debilitated in my life.

What do you do when you fall? You get right back in! I always tell my students, “When you fall right away, you get back into the posture, doesn’t matter maybe there’s 5 seconds, 50, 20, seconds, just get back in”.

Why? Not only do you build determination but you’re burning neural pathways, making you stronger than ever. The majority of battle in the room is in your mind, not your body.

Except now that I’m fighting with my body, more than my mind. OK, maybe my mind 90% of the time.

And so now, I pick myself up, and try to pick up my foot again. And again. And again. Until the day I no longer can pick my foot up [that will be the day I’m on my deathbed], I will keep on picking up my foot and trying again.

Afterall, what’s a small little setback in my practice? πŸ˜‰

M*

The Great Fall

Very dramatic title, but that’s how I roll. Drama!

Sooo, I fell down. On concrete. Whoop de doo!

My problems began on Wednesday right after I fell down. It started getting uncomfortable standing / sitting for long periods. On Thursday my hip / pelvis / groin started swelling. On Friday a great big RASH appeared on the area of swelling, which I attributed to a food allergy, but the damn rash didn’t go away even after I applied anti-rash powder on it religiously like a zealot possessed. On Saturday my hips started clicking when I walk. My femur bone hurts, my lower back hurts, and if I were to push my hips forward my whole leg goes numb. On Sunday I couldn’t even walk, watching Toy Story 3 brought tears to my eyes [in part due to the movie and my damn hip].

I know, I should’ve immediately checked myself in to the Sports Clinic, but I had to teach. Yah, I know, it’s not about me, it’s about my students. In fact, I had some newbies and demonstrating a locked knee and bending forward just pretty much hurt like a bitch on steroids.

That was it. I am going to see a hip doctor. If there ever is such a thing! [Shakira’s Hip’s Don’t Lie is playing in my head now!]

Booked my appointment with the “Hip Specialist”, but as the next slot was at 2:15pm I decided to see an orthopaedic surgeon at the private hospital just 15minutes from where I live.

La di da, booked myself in for a 1040am consultation. So I registered myself, proceeded to get my details in order “WOW you’ve been a patient here since… 1986!” and happily plonked myself in the corner. A few minutes later, the nurse sheepishly tells me that the surgeon is in surgery. WHAT? I booked my appointment and she tells me that the surgeon is in surgery?! Why bother with a booking?! At this point I figured I had better luck getting knocked over by a bullock cart than seeing a surgeon. OK. Chill the fuck out. Out came my feminine wiles [it’s deeply hidden under my macho manly exterior]

M* Uh, so, no possible doctor? I came all the way, and I have been in PAIN since Thursday, please could you get me another doctor? *SMILING through cracked lips

Nurse : Ok Madam [MADAM? WHAT THE EFF? I AM 24 25 24! ROAR!] … do you want to see a Chinese or Indian doctor?

M* : … I. Don’t. Care. Chinese, Indian, Malay, orang putih [Literal : White Man, Caucasian] … I just want to see a doctor. Preferably NOW. I don’t want to come back at 1pm. Please. I’m not fussy. Man, Woman, as long as the person is qualified, I don’t care.

Nurse : *dials away.

HISS. 1Malaysia my ass.

After getting a substitute doctor, hobbled my way down to the 2nd floor… to see… the… Gastroendologist. WTF? Apparently she got the room wrong. Sigh. Hobbled to the next clinic, the ORTHOPAEDIC doctor. Honestly, I didn’t feel bothered one bit, I was just amused! I said my hip hurts and she refers me to a digestion doctor! LOL.

FINALLY, I get to see the doctor. A Dato’ [kinda like a Lord of some sort, we’re absolutely crazy about giving people titles here] Doctor with a bad hair dye job and by bad, I mean, seriously, I know you’re 60+ but please embrace your salt and pepper hair and not resemble a wretched politician at that.

After much prodding and examination [the rash surprised him], off he sent me for an XRay and MRI. WOOO! I get to pretend that I am in an episode of House / Grey’s Anatomy! BRING ON DR. KAREV AND DR. CHASE. Ahem. Except this is real life and there are no hot doctors / radiologists. In fact, I was the YOUNGEST patient in the orthopaedic room. Yes, I even tried LOOKING for a hot doctor or intern. NONE, I TELL YOU, NONE. What? I know I’m sick, but can’t I just amuse myself? :p

Before I got my xray done came the usual barrage of “Are you pregnant / Do you suspect you may be pregnant?” questions. Again, I found it hilarious that the attending had to pull me to one corner and ask me [before he got too embarrassed to continue the line of questioning and got a female nurse to help me out].

Nurse : So you’re single? Not married? And 25?

M* : Yes.

Nurse : Have you had SI before?

M* : What’s SI? You mean, STI?

Nurse : Er, no no, SI … *whisper Sexual Intercourse.

At this point I had to surpress a giggle and a laugh, though I’m sure the attending and nurses thought I was crazy.

Got my xray done [JESUS THE ROOM IS COLD], and since my MRI was scheduled in 2hours’ time, I decided to hobble around the hospital to look for food. And my hobble, I literally mean, HOBBLE. I must say, the curry noodles at SDMC is pretty awesome! Coupled with chocolate milk I was in absolute bliss. Hobbled back to Imaging and waited. And waited. And waited. While watching.. XMEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE !!!! Oooh Hugh Jackman… the only decent looking person I’ve seen the whole day and he came in a small little black box, not exactly the package I was looking for πŸ˜‰

Did my MRI and slept through the process. If you’ve ever done an MRI, it’s actually quite … noisy. When the magnets are being fired up it sounds and feels like I’m in a pod [woo Dollhouse!] and someone’s banging on plastic bucket repeatedly. When the images are being taken it almost sounds like the middle C, D, F, B note being blanged on repeatedly [in that order].

After my report was done [it was already 3:35pm by then …] I hobbled back up to see the surgeon, who is supposed to leave at 4pm! ROAR! I made it a fast hobble [think Frodo the Hobbit hobbling like his feet became dainty little size 5s] … JUST IN TIME!

Diagnosis : Hematoma [blood clot / bruise] on my groin/pelvis, around the size of my palm. Not a torn ligament / tendon, thank kitties and ponies.

Prescription : Acroxia 120mg [the same stuff they use to manage osteoarthritis / rheumatoid arthritis / gout pain]

Treatment : Rest, don’t aggravate the area, or I’ll have to go for surgery to drain the blood out. YEEECK!!!!

As for now, more rest is in order along with lovely episodes of True Blood and Dollhouse [OK OK I’ll get a book to read!].

I guess this had to happen before I knew how to take a fucking chillpill the size of China and… REST. πŸ˜‰

My return to the hot room should prove interesting, disgusting foul medication aside.

M*

SURPRIIIISSEEEE!!!!

I know I know!!! It’s nearly a week away from my birthday! I’m turning old!

*shameless smirk and silly grin

Ahem, aside from announcing my grand ol’ age to the world wide web, no I’m not looking for gifts of anything in particular.

Except that I got myself a very very very expensive present because I felt I deserved it for being a good little squirrel teacher person. And I really liked it.

Well maybe bigger tits, a router and a keyboard protector for Fluffyana, but that’s besides the point.

Arrived home after a dreary long day to find a PACKAGE FROM THAILAND. FOR ME.

Now who’d send me an awesome package from Thailand? πŸ˜‰

Little Miss Jolinda!!!! WOOO!!!

LOOKEY WHAT I GOT

Upon closer inspection …

It Says "The Everything Vegan Cookbook by Jolinda Hackett" for those of you who can't read reverse text πŸ˜‰

And yes, I was fully clothed and wearing a strapless dress, in case you filthy minded creatures and thinking that I’m sullying Jolinda’s awesome book with my anorexic body.

Can’t wait to make Tahini dip this weekend. What an awesome way to break in my blender and the book!

M*

p.s : Yes, it was personally signed and sealed and delivered with a kiss. LOL!