What Bikram Teaches : Humility

Love & Life, Yoga

This is my first post in a series titled, “What Bikram Teaches” – a personal reflection on lessons learned in the hot room

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Lets all try a relatively simple exercise.

Stand up out of your chair

Touch your toes. And don’t bend your knees.

Easy ‘peasy right? Go ahead. Try it. I’ll wait.

….

allposes About Bikram Yoga

In theory – most of the postures in Bikram look easy – especially for those of us who have had some basic athletic training. In other exercise classes (I’m looking at you Zumba), I’ve even done Spine Twisting Pose to warm up. Granted – Awkward Pose is called that for a reason – but looking at these simple outlines doesn’t seem daunting.

And while many are turned off by the idea of the “hot” room – we all go to the beach every summer. In the throngs of a New York City winter, we long for the days of 98, 99, 100 degree weather – with short shorts and cold showers.

From the outside – Bikram isn’t as scary as CrossFit. (It’s just as addictive – but no where near as scary). It’s not as insurmountable as biking across the Swedish Alps. It’s not as improbable as winning the New York City marathon.

From the outside.

I was an outsider once. I thought I could easily handle these 26 postures.

  • Triangle pose? – No problem.
  • Standing head to Knee – Simple!
  • Cobra pose? – Easy as pie.

Then I actually tried Bikram….

The more I practice, the harder the poses become. The pose isn’t a singular pose – it disguises it’s self as the singular – but in reality – it’s comprised of multiple poses, in multiple parts of the body.

It’s not “Half Moon”

It’s suck the stomach,

push down

center the hips

raise the chin

push down

look up

arch your upper body back

weight in the heels

push and push and push and push.

 

The more I think I know – the more I realize I don’t. And Humility joined me on my mat.

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“Cherry on Top of the Vegan Ice Cream” – A Recap of the 2013 Oscars

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This post originally appeared on One Green Planet.com on Feb 25, 2013 –  https://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/cherry-on-top-of-the-vegan-ice-cream-2013-oscar-recap/

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Excuse me while I rub the glitter from my eyes – I haven’t yet recovered from the glitz and glamor of last night’s Academy Awards!

The Food

Perhaps Hollywood is finally catching on! No starving vegans at the Governor’s Ball (aka the after party!) this year. For the 19th year (in a row!) world-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck was serving up dinner, taking special care that those of us who live-by-the-veg were well taken care of. In addition to a full menu for carnivores, Puck’s menu included;

vegetable spring rolls, rosemary spiced nuts, edamame guacamole, Japanese baby peach salad, Chinese mustard dressing kale salad with grilled artichokes and lemon vinaigrette, lentils with cauliflower and baby vegetables, and for dessert shaved espresso ice

Now – I’ve had my fair share of vegetable spring rolls. Sometimes they come from restaurants, sometimes they come from the back of my freezer when I’m feeling particularly lazy. But I’m going to venture a guess that Puck’s are probably better. And “shaved espresso ice” – can I get that at my local farmer’s market?!

Over 1,300 staff members were brought in to help make the Governer’s Ball as delicious as it was fun! (although my invitation got lost in the mail, I’m guessing it was fun)

The Fashion

You know who we have to discuss first, don’t you? Anne. Our dear girl Anne Hathaway… who should immediately fire her stylist as NO ONE should be allowed to walk out of the house without the proper…ahem… undergarments. I don’t care if you’re Lady Godiva – pasties are about $5.00/pair – invest! Although – we will give her a shout out for the fabulous vegan Giuseppe Zanotti strappy sandals

I’m a firm believer in, “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it”, and clearly so is vegan-diva Jessica Chastain. Slinky fitted gown + sparkly diamonds + soft, “Old Hollywood” curls = Red Carpet Royalty! Looking stellar in an Armani Prive gown and Christian Louboutin heels girlfriend is flawless. Not only do I think she knocked it out of the park – but an entire awards season of stunning choices, and she is my choice for  Best Dressed – 2013 Award Season!! Thank you for proving that vegan is beautiful!

Your favorite (and mine) Worst Dressed goes to Real Housewife of Beverly Hills – Brandi Glanville – while Glanville has her moment in trashy TV (and no judgement here – I will watch any/everything Real Housewives) – what the heck was she doing here? And with her lady-bits all out?! According to sources, she designed this mess of a gown herself – but apparently she forgot to order enough fabric!

A special nod to fashionistas of the night  goes out to omnivores Naomi Watts, also wearing Armani Prive and Halle Berry in Versace. While I wouldn’t normally have chosen Berry for one of my “Best Dressed”, at around 8:15pm last night my parents called to say, “Did you see Halle Berry?! She looks so great! She’s sill a Bond girl! – Are you going to put her in your article!?”

The Fun

Cue a moderately amusing opening monologue from funny-man Seth McFarlane. Potty humor galore, his “We Saw Your Boobs” number was met with mixed reviews, although I will forgive him that ridiculously sexist performance as he did have Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum do a little soft shoe. You can read his best/uber-forced one liners here

Jessica Lawrence unceremoniously stole the “Best Actress” award from my choice, Jessica Chastian, and immediately face-planted going up the stairs to collect her award. Just goes to show you, don’t send a girl to do a women’s job! 🙂

And what would an awards show be without the world’s most awkward acceptance speech! This probably has to be one of my favorite moments in Oscar history; “Life of Pi” won for “Best Visual Effects” and VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer launched into a rather long, and very bizarre “thank you” speech. He started talking about Rhythm & Hues (the VFX folks who worked on “Life of Pi”) bankruptcy  – and managed to get played off the stage to, what else, but the JAWS theme song. How appropriate for a movie about someone being stranded in the middle of the ocean!

While I may not have agreed with her last minute fashion choice – the line of the night goes to Anne Hathaway, “this has just been the cherry on top of a wonderful, wonderful dish of vegan ice cream.” And nothing is better than vegan ice cream!

The Beauty of the Blurry Mirror

Love & Life, Yoga

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of Bikram.

“A lot” is defined by me as 3 – 4 times per week. While I realize many yogis would scoff at my measly 3 day practice, but let me assure you – it’s hard work.

Very hard.

One would think that after a month of regular practice, I’d be able to “lock the knee” – i.e. the most important thing in Bikram besides breathing.

Nope. I am a wobbly, gel-like mess. Most of the time. Occasionally I see glimpses of brilliance – but only sometimes. Like – my fixed firm pose,

is getting much better – I can actually rest my shoulders on the ground now! 

And the other day – I actually smiled after rabbit pose – my forehead touched the knee!

But one of the best parts about Bikram is something so much simpler – I have to take my glasses off.

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You don’t sweat in Bikram – you rain.  You are soaked to the skin – meaning there’s no way my plastic frames are going to stay on my face. Since each practice is the same 26 postures, and the teacher talks you through each position step by step – you don’t have to have 20/20 vision. I’m near-sighted, so standing in the back row of the class (really – did you think I was one of those front-rowers? psssh….) I can see myself, but I’m very blurry. I can see all my limbs, my general shape – but no eyes, no specific features, I can’t even tell what my hair is really doing.

And it’s wonderful.

I don’t have to worry about fixing a fat roll.

I don’t have to worry about taming some unruly fly-away cowlick

I don’t have to worry about my face looking like a wet tomato

I don’t have to worry about if I forgot to shave my legs

I don’t have to worry.

I just have to breathe.