30 March 2011

Road Trip, Part II

Last time, I was writing about our little getaway to San Antonio. While there, I was able to take a class at one of the three Bikram studios in town. Luckily, the class was led by Lisa, one of the owners and a teacher trainer. One of the best classes I have ever taken. First, a little background.

The studio I visited is located in Alamo Heights, about 10 minutes north of the downtown-riverwalk area. It is set in a small shopping center. The lobby is small but inviting. After filling out my sign-up card, I took my mat into the room to set up. The room is almost square, with dark carpeting and 5 white lines or rows. There are mirrors to the front and to the right, while two large picture windows give one a view outside to the the left. The ceiling is dark brown, with six fans hanging down. The back wall, as well as the wall above the mirrors, is painted a pale yellow, giving the room a Southwestern feel. Around the three walls, on top, are stencils of each of the postures and breathing exercises. I thought that the coolest part was on the back wall. There, one will see where students have signed their names. These are students who have completed a 60-day Bikram Challenge (60 classes in 60 days). Really cool to be able to put that mark on the wall to inspire and encourage others!

Now, to the class itself.

With all six fans on, there was a constant breeze, which was refreshing. The room just didn't feel hot at all. Warm? Yes. Did I sweat? Sure, but not anywhere near like I would here at home. Then, Lisa opened the doors not once, not twice, but three times during class. (Some of my classmates here would be jealous of this!!)

When class began, it became very apparent why Lisa has taught new teachers. Her class is well-paced and her dialogue is impeccable, as one would expect. Here are a few observations:

Lisa was seemingly everywhere. She spent a lot of time moving around the room giving corrections and tips. I knew this class would be different in the Hands-to Feet pose. I have never been able to get both hands behind my heels at one time. So, imagine my surprise when, as I'm trying to get my right hand behind my right heel, when Lisa knelt down behind me, and said, "Bend your knees three more inches." I did my best to comply, and she took each hand and turned them so I was actually doing the posture correctly with both hands directly behind my heels. When she instructed the group to start pulling, it felt completely different than ever before. I was shocked that she would do that, and even more shocked that, yes, I can get my hands there. It hasn't happened since, but now that I have seen and felt the proper setup, I can envision the goal far better.

Most of the class was like that. As she gave dialogue, she would occasionally say, "Inhale", then would actually take a deep, measured inhale. She gave tips on water, diet ("Your body tells you what it needs, am I right?"). She even had two students demonstrate Standing-Forehead-To-Knee. These two students had obviously been practicing for sometime,and to my untrained eye they were doing the posture almost perfectly. Lisa gave them small corrections about their extended leg and how their weight was resting on their other leg. With small movements, they now had achieved that "upside-down L like Linda" that we work for. Each of the ladies reported just how they did feel a cramp in their extended leg. When finished, they received a rousing ovation from the class. Never seen an exhibition like that in class, and it was cool.

Another nugget from class: Lisa talked about attachments. She said that she where she would always set up in one area, she now just tells the instructor to just "put her anywhere". As she was saying this, I realized where I was in the room: right side of the room, second row, three mats from the right side mirror. Exactly where I take most of my classes here at home. Since coming home, I have tried to take class in different spots in the room. I even set up in the front row one night, something I am usually loathe to do. It went OK, but I always feel more pressure when I am in the front row. I feel like I have to lead the way, and I'm just not that good at this. Yet. I have to keep working at being unattached to a certain spot in the room, or a certain time of day to take class, or having the right water, etc.

When class was over, while in Savasana, I took stock. I have now taken class in a different studio, in a different city, under different conditions. I felt really good after class. It was a great experience. I hope to go to one of the other studios next time we are in San Antonio, and if time permits, it would be fun to try a class closer to home. I hope that if you are in San Antonio, you take class there. If Lisa is teaching, pay very close attention. You will be rewarded.

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