Monday, July 26, 2010

The balancing series

Last week I was feeling really bad. I thought a flu was coming on as I had several of the classic symptoms: nausea, sore muscles, cramping, headache. But it somehow felt different. Like I was off balance. And Bikram Yoga, which usually cures all my ailments, was actually making me feel worse. Halfway through class I'd get dizzy and nauseous and my feet, hands, and calf muscles would start cramping. By the end of class, I'd have a pounding headache and my muscles would spasm for hours after. I was also highly irritable and was having trouble concentrating and focusing on simple tasks.

After a few days of this, I hopped onto Google and started doing some research. All the symptoms I was experiencing pointed to one thing: an electrolyte imbalance.

The condition is not uncommon among Bikram Yoga enthusiasts, as we lose excessive amounts of fluid during class. But I wasn't dehydrated: I typically drink 2.5 litres of water before I practice, a litre during, and another litre after. Plus I take an Emergen-C after each class and often treat myself to a coconut or vitamin water. So no dehydration issues. Quite the contrary: All that water combined with all that sweating was flushing out the minerals my body needs to maintain balance; hence, the imbalance.

As I'm heading out to San Diego in September for Teacher Training, I was particularly motivated to find a solution… and fast! Some people recommended adding sea salt and lemon to my water, others told me to eat bananas (which I loathe) and other potassium-rich foods. I didn't think any of these were viable options for training. I mean I was symptomatic doing one class a day -- what would happen when I was doing doubles five days a week?

I paid a visit to my local health food shop and purchased a bottle of Essential Electrolytes. A Bikram Yoga Teacher Trainee before me had mentioned taking these during training and never falling ill. So I figured I had nothing to lose.

The bottle says to take one to three pills before and after “athletic or strenuous activity,” which I did that very day. The Bikram class that followed was a dream! I was full of energy, my head was clear, and no cramping or spasms during or after class. The next day I did a double -- both classes were a pure joy.

I think I've been suffering from an electrolyte imbalance for a while, but have just come to view my symptoms as the new normal. Sometimes when you feel bad for so long, you become numb to it and accept it as part of life.

I've found my solution to help me get through Teacher Training, well a part of it anyway. If only there was a pill I could take to help me memorize the dialogue!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Making a List, Checking it Twice

It's the summer time: Scorching days, warm nights, patios, beaches, tank tops, flip flops... It's the best time of the year! The only bad thing about summer is that it comes and goes so quickly. In a couple weeks we'll start to be bombarded with "Back to School" ads. This year, those ads will have relevance for me again as I'll be heading to yoga school in September!

Bikram Yoga Teacher Training is 60 days away. And while that still seems pretty far off, time will fly by (especially since it's summer). So this morning, I started my BKTT Packing List. Now, I'm not usually one to make such lists. Often you'll find me packing for a trip an hour before I'm suppose to be at the airport. But teacher training is a big deal for me, so I feel like I need to be uber prepared. That, and I'm just so darn excited about it; the more I can think about and plan for it, the better!

French Press, Brita, kettle, and water bottles top my list -- hydration! Then comes a can opener, cutting board, and knife -- food preparation! Followed by cleaning supplies and yoga gear. Oh and earplugs are somewhere down the middle -- need to protect myself from the Bollywood movies blaring at 3am.

My list is already two pages long and will likely continue to grow over the coming weeks. I'm very thankful to the bloggers from trainings past for their helpful tips on what to bring. (Check out Yoga Boot Camp for a very comprehensive list!)

Please feel free to share your lists... would love to know what others are planning to bring!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Let's resume the dialogue!

In May I travelled to Naples, Florida to visit my parents who live there half the year. Each day, I'd sit by the pool and study dialogue until noon and then head out to practice at Bikram Yoga Naples. I was able to get a good grasp of postures 1 to 4 (Half Moon to Eagle). The teachers at the studio down there were really dialogue driven. It helped reinforce what I was learning.

Five months before I would leave for training and I had a head start on the dialogue. I was thrilled!

Then life took over. When I got back, work was busy, my social calendar was full, and I no longer had the time to devote to the dialogue. So I put it on the back burner.

And now...

Teacher training is only two months away! My dialogue studying must take centre stage. I'll need to learn at least two postures a week if I want to know the dialogue fully by the time I board the plane to San Diego.

Yesterday, one of my teacher friends gave me his copy of the dialogue (bound and laminated!) that I can use to study. Starting tomorrow, I will concentrate and mediate and think very deeply about the dialogue. It'll be my one point of focus over the summer months.

I've found that studying the dialogue line by line and repeating it until it's committed to memory is most effective. I'm also going to record myself saying it and listen to it continuously on my iPod. Do you have any other tips or tricks to share?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Destination Bikram Yoga Teacher Training

After a two and a half month hiatus, I thought it was time to re-launch into the blogosphere. Not sure how committed I'll be to writing regular entries, but this does provide me a space to share my thoughts and feelings as I prepare for my nine-week stint as a Bikram Yoga Teacher Trainee this fall. Yup! It's official: Yesterday I mailed in my application. (See photo of me in the post office, holding said application just before I dropped it in the mail.)

While I had my paperwork in order a month ago, I held on to the application in case I changed my mind. My leave of absence from work was approved and I pretty much told everyone about my plans, but I still had reservations. A couple weeks ago and after months of rumours, the location of the training moved from Las Vegas to San Diego. To be honest, I found the idea of studying to be a yoga teacher in Las Vegas to be oxymoronic. San Diego on the other hand, is the perfect spot! So the decision was easy once the new location was announced. It just felt right for me to be going. And everything has since fallen into place. The stars are aligned!

Between now and September 19, I need to memorize the 26 postures that make up Bikram's beginning yoga class. While I don't "need" to go to training with the dialogue fully memorized, I want to. This is because I value my sleep (which will already be compromised at training) and can't imagine having to pull all-nighters at this point in my life. It might be a feasible solution for those who are younger, but I no longer fall into this category. My university days of staying up all night cramming for exams are ancient history. So over the next 11 weeks, I will be spending a lot of time immersed in Bikram's dialogue. People will think I'm crazy as they hear me muttering to myself, but it's all for good.

Very excited about what lies ahead. Leaving the comfort of my home and job to become a yoga teacher is one of the crazier things I'll have done. But I'm really looking forward to the experience and the changes in my life it's sure to inspire.