Me and Bikram

Bikram Yoga is one of the most intense, punishing physical workouts you will ever experience. Each class is 90 minutes long in which 26 postures are performed in humid 105+ degree heat. The format of every Bikram class is the same no matter where in the world you go.

I joined a Bikram Yoga studio in January 2014 and have quickly progressed from knowing little about Bikram Yoga to being a dedicated six-day-a-week practitioner and completing my teacher training certification in April 2015. If you're ready for a mind-body fitness regimen like no other and are willing to give Bikram Yoga a try, please stop by Bridge Hot Yoga and check out one of my classes. Namaste!

My yoga journey:
Opinions expressed are solely my own. Please consult your physician for medical advice before starting a yoga program.

March 5, 2015, 7:00am - class 301 with Noelle Burgoyne - It's been a long journey to reach this point yet it oddly feels like yesterday that I stepped foot into my first Bikram Yoga class. My near-daily practice has made me stronger, more flexible, more focused, and has increased my stamina. I still have some quirks in my postures, but when I look back at the days in which I couldn't even twist my legs and get my right foot behind my left calf muscle in Eagle or grab the outsides of my feet in Standing Separate Leg Stretching, I realize that I've really come a long way in a relatively short period of time. In any class, I never sat out of a posture because I felt a little dizzy, tired, or unmotivated. It would take total exhaustion for me to sit out of a posture and even then I made up for my weakness by performing the posture after class. I simply kept pushing myself forward like The Little Engine That Could or David going up against Goliath. If you train like an athlete, you will become an athlete... or a pretty good approximation of one.

March 6, 2015, 8:00am - class 302 with Justin Riley - In perhaps my final class before flying off to teacher training, I examined the totality of my Bikram Yoga practice. My Pranayama exhibits a solid exhale. I love it. I can tire out after too many breaths, but if a teacher ends a set with ten to fifteen, I'm fine. My Half Moon looks strong. The first set is all about the posture, so I don't bend much. The second set is where I get as deep as I can get that day. My arms can stretch really high now. Awkward and Eagle look good. I want to be known for my Eagle. I can extend my right leg out in Standing Head to Knee and begin to bend my elbows. My left leg needs some work. I held Standing Bow on both sides today. My Balancing Stick still looks like a broken umbrella. My legs are straight in Standing Separate Leg Stretching. Triangle looks good. I kept my hands in prayer the entire time in both sets of Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee. Tree and Toe look good. If I'm wearing capris, I can put both hands in prayer. It'll take a few years to get my spine straight in Wind Removing. Cobra looks better and feels much better now that I'm using my lower back muscles more. Locust is something I don't think I'll ever do right because my implants are in the way. I'm starting to lift up more in Full Locust. My Bow looks good on some days and crooked on others. Fixed Firm is easy except for creating the human bridge. I can't touch my forehead to the floor first in Half Tortoise. I don't have my thighs perpendicular to the floor in Camel. Rabbit looks good. How far my leg stretches in Head to Knee depends on the day. I could lift both of my heels up today in Stretching. I view this as a "major minor achievement." Spine Twist and Kapalbhati Breathing look good. Overall, I'm pleased with my progress and effort. I hope I will learn more and get stronger in teacher training.

March 7, 2015, 9:00am - class 303 with Joel Pier - I gave Joel and Sandy a big hug before my trip out west. "Thank you, Sandy, for everything. You've been a great inspiration to me," I told her. "Awww, thank you! You've been a great student," she said. Preparations were underway for the studio's Black Tie Formal event this evening, so class was held in the smaller studio. We were packed in there - all 45 of us - all bending to the instructions of Joel Pier, the master yogi who brought Bikram Yoga to Philadelphia.

March 8, 2015 to April 5, 2015 - Evolation Yoga teacher training - Click here to read about my journey!

April 8, 2015, 6:00am - class 338 with Sandy Robin - It felt good to be back at my home studio today. Sandy, Darrin, Jeff, Ajay, and others welcomed my return. Sandy and I chatted for a bit. She noticed I looked thinner. "I now weigh what I used to weigh after losing water weight from sweating in a class," I said. That's actually a dangerous point for me. When I weigh more, I can actually do every posture. Today I dropped right after Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Janushirasana. My heart was pounding and I felt nauseous. I sat on my heels and then laid down during Tadasana and Padangustasana. In the past, I'd feel really terrible and disgusted with myself for doing so. Today I had nothing to prove. I did every posture up until then to the best of my ability and that's all that matters. Once I rested, I did the remaining postures to the best of my ability. I let go of my ego and had no attachments to the outcome of my postures. Sandy straightened me out in Half Moon, pushed my tailbone to the floor in Wind Removing, and stretched my leg out further in Locust.

April 9, 2015, 7:00am - class 339 with Noelle Burgoyne - I completed the entire class without stopping for a break. I was very mindful in doing all of my postures, especially Eagle. Noelle introduced me to the class as a new teacher training graduate. I taught Ardha Chandrasana and felt I did okay. Noelle was very encouraging and said it'll get better over time.

April 10, 2015, 6:00am - class 340 with Justin Riley - Another good, complete class with no posture corrections. As a new teacher training graduate, I have a fresh memory of the dialog and can tell what words a teacher missed or what key points are important to a particular teacher. I was a little hard on myself for missing a couple of key points in teaching Ardha Chandrasana yesterday, but I did emphasize all of the points that were important to me. I like how each teacher brings his or her unique personality into his or her dialog. I don't teach like Sandy, I don't teach like Noelle, and I don't teach like Justin. I simply teach like me.

April 13, 2015, 6:00am - class 341 with Sandy Robin - Before class, Sandy and I talked about my teacher training in Santa Barbara. I showed her as many pictures as I could of my teachers, my classmates, and what went on in the posture clinics. We talked about how different teachers seem to be disseminating different information for the 26 postures. In Dandayama Janushirasana, for example, some teachers say you should kick against the interlaced fingers while other teachers tell you to keep the kicking leg as light as possible. Who is right? The answer is it depends. Both answers are right, but it depends on the person and how they are built. What works for some people, even most people, might not work for everyone.

April 14, 2015, 7:00am - class 342 with Joel Pier - There was a slight chance I wouldn't make class today. I didn't know how I'd feel after a couple of drinks with my fried chicken dinner at Juniper Commons last night. I woke up tired and woozy from Benadryl and ibuprophen tablets. I took a bus for two blocks before I realized I got off the bus way too early. The buildings look similar from 16th to 20th Streets on Market. I walked the rest of the way without being too self-critical. When I got to the studio, Joel greeted me at the front desk and I told him all about my teacher training experience. In class, I did better than I thought I'd do. I ate all vegetarian meals today and got my nails done after work. I went from Shellac's Electric Orange to Beckoning Begonia.

April 15, 2015, 6:00am - class 343 with Sandy Robin - Sandy liked my pictures of Eagle pose during teacher training. "Eagle is your baby!" she said. Eagle is just one of those poses my body naturally falls into. For many women, the pose they usually do well in is Standing Bow, especially if they can do a leg split. I think that's why Sandy and I are a good teacher-student match. Locust is her favorite pose and that's not one that's typically on anyone's favorite list. If my abilities were more in line with flexibility, then Thayne or Robyn would be great mentor choices. I drank water only before Savasana today. In the past week, I drank a lot more water during class. Hopefully, I'll return to my no-water form soon. I had another all vegetarian meal day.

April 16, 2015, 7:00am - class 344 with Katrina Bauer - Katrina had a good presence in class today. Her class reminded me of one of the first classes I took with Stella. Like yesterday, I drank water only before Savasana. We held some postures a little longer than in Sandy's class. My legs were burning in Eagle. Katrina has a good sense of timing because her class ended in exactly 90 minutes.

April 18, 2015, 8:30am - Namas Day Philly 2015 - I met lots of really cool people at this one-day yoga festival, including yogis Corina Benner, Natalie Levin, and Dana Trixie Flynn. Corina taught my 8:30am to 10:30am "Yin/Vin: Harnessing the Power of Stillness to maximize Your Inherent Mobility" class. During the flow portion, I somehow shot myself up on all four limbs in Wheel. Combining Yin and Vinyasa Flow was pretty cool and there were three assistants walking around giving posture corrections where needed. I felt a good vibe from Corina. I want to take her Yin training someday. Mariel Freeman of Dig Yoga taught my 11:00am to 12:30pm "Backbends for Everybody" class. This class wasn't what I expected. It turned out to be another yoga class! I thought it would be more like a workshop where we'd focus on Ardha Chakrasana, the Bikram-style backbend. Instead, we did poses like Bridge and Wheel. We had less time for lunch than I had thought. The 12:30pm to 1:00pm lunch break wasn't long enough given the lines of people for the two food trucks, Foo and The Happy Pita. When I finished my grilled tofu with cucumber, carrot-daikon slaw, peanuts, and jasmine rice sandwich for lunch and walked back into the building to take my next class, it was already too late to enter my 1:00pm class with Faith Hunter. Darn! I had two hours to spare, so I spent my time perusing the many vendors that sold everything from jewelry to yoga mat bags to essential oils. It was a little shopping spree for me. Almost an hour and a half later, I was bored with shopping and walked by Joe Longo's table. He was the event photographer whom attendees could also hire to do photo shoots. As luck would have it, he was available early, so I seized the opportunity. We walked around Independence Mall and I did various poses - Eagle, Triangle, Balancing Stick, Warrior, Cobra, and Shoulderstand - in various locations. I met Natalie Levin and Dana Trixie Flynn towards the end of my photo shoot. They were scheduled to have their photos taken next and I seized the opportunity to be in a picture with Dana. Natalie asked me if I wanted to glitter on me and I said yes. The cars cleared on the usually busy Sixth Street so Natalie and Dana did handstands in the middle of the street. I walked back into the building and looked for another class to take from 3:00pm to 4:30pm. Hmmm... "Kundalini Yoga"... that's going to be frickin' hard... "Creative Transitions in Vinyasa Flow"... yikes, that's an advanced class... aha, a lecture... "Upsetting the Table: How the Right Way to Eat According to Yoga Might Be Wrong"... perfect. How easy and wise is it to just eat one way - vegan, gluten-free, paleo, or Ayurveda? The answer, of course, is it isn't. It was the perfect class to take because I would've died taking another yoga class before my final yoga class with Dana. As soon as I finished the lecture, I walked over to a rapidly forming line for Dana's 5:00pm to 6:30pm "LOVE BOMB" class. Dana is a rock star in the yoga world. She has a very unique way of presenting Vinyasa Flow that incorporates philosophy, meditation, music, and dance into a theme. These thematic classes are almost like going to different parties with different vibes in a dance club. Before class started, Dana walked around and greeted everyone. She remembered my name as she held my hand. I was surprised she remembered. "Of course I remember! You're not easy to forget," she said. I quickly seized the opportunity for another picture. This time, she held my iPhone and took some pictures of the two of us. She continued walking around the class, never shying away from photo opportunities with anyone who wanted a picture with her. "Wow," I thought to myself, "she really wants to connect with everyone!" I could feel her authenticity and liked how she connected with me in class with encouraging words. Her assistant, Leo, and others walked around giving posture corrections where needed. At times, everyone seemed like they were doing their own thing, but the key to enjoying her class is to not be too super serious and to let loose and have fun. In between the lighthearted moments were some serious yoga postures, some of which she invented as transitions between classic postures. At the end of class, we did a group picture and she called me over to sit next to her. I felt very blessed. I had a phenomenal time at Namas Day. Yay, three yoga classes in one day! Robyn and I went to Pizzeria Stella where I had the black truffle, egg, and fontina cheese pizza. Absolutely delicious! We went to Gran Caffé L'Aquila where we had cannoli-flavored gelato. So yummy! At the end of the day, I weighed myself and saw that my weight was exactly what it was this morning before breakfast. Life is good. I am yoga.

April 20, 2015, 6:00am - class 345 with Sandy Robin - Sandy mentioned that a student in one of her classes didn't feel comfortable being adjusted in class. "You won't get that complaint from me. Adjust me all you want!" I said enthusiastically. It's disheartening when a student won't let a teacher push her in the right direction, especially in a yoga class. Why come to class if you don't want to learn? Today Sandy helped me reach higher heights in my Standing Bow, elevated my legs higher in Locust, and showed me just how far my upper body can physically go in Full Locust. Here is a woman who can train you to be the best you can possibly be. Why not trust her to do so? Some newer students just don't know how valuable a teacher like Sandy is. It's like having a personal trainer right there in class with you!

April 21, 2015, 7:00am - class 346 with Joel Pier - Joel had to step out of the class today to talk to a new student who left the room. "Keep at it until Clare tells you to come out of the posture," Joel said to the class in the second sets of Locust and Full Locust. I found myself giving the middle and end parts of the dialog to both postures while doing the postures myself. This gave me a chance to define the type of teacher I wanted to be. Would I be the type that quickly zips everyone through a class? No. Would I be the type that "kills" everyone slowly but surely? Yes, that's what people come to a Joel class for. I gave everyone the gritty, tough girl who kills herself every day to get the best Eagle pose she can make. After class, a pretty brunette, who reminded me of a girl I knew in college, greeted me in the locker room and said, "I really like the instructions you gave in class today." I thanked her and mentioned the days and times I'll be teaching this week.

April 21, 2015, 5:00pm - I taught my first Penn Hatha Yoga class today with 3 students. The class was held in a large conference room and lasted almost two hours because the three students were new to yoga and I answered every question.

April 22, 2015, 6:00am - class 347 with Sandy Robin - It's one month into spring and summer is around the corner. More students are coming to the 6:00am classes. The increase in people means more body heat, which makes the hot room feel hotter. I still feel like drinking water right before the first Savasana.

April 22, 2015, 4:00pm - I taught my first 90-minute class at Bikram Yoga Philadelphia today, subbing for Noelle. Malea asked me if I wanted to use a headset. I didn't know the answer to that, since I've never used a headset before, so I nodded and said yes. I walked into the studio and turned the lights on, but strangely I didn't manage to flip the switch on for my headset. Apparently, I didn't need it. My voice projected to all four corners of the room. There were 16 students. Three students gave me nice reviews after class. One wanted to know the poem I recited at the end of class. Noelle thought I was confident and forceful in my voice and that most beginning teachers aren't so confident teaching their first class.

April 23, 2015, 7:00am - class 348 with Noelle Burgoyne - "Did you think I sounded too harsh yesterday?" I asked Noelle. "No, I thought you sounded confident," she responded. "I played back the recording of my class last night to Robyn and she said I gave her anxiety because I sounded like Sandy, Joel, and Chris," I said. Robyn expected to hear a kinder, gentler way of teaching that wasn't so militaristic. "That's your style of teaching and your voice is your voice. You can't change that," Noelle said. She reiterated that sticking to the dialog is more important than the teaching style.

April 23, 2015, 12:00pm - I taught my first 60-minute Bikram Express class today at Philly Yoga Factory. It was a small class of 6 students. Katelynn liked my class and said, "You have a great presence and a powerful voice. I would love to have you teach here." Yay!!! Ed Silver was in my class, too, and said, "That was awesome!" Yay!!! Katelynn asked me to look over the Bikram dialog for Ardha Chandrasana. She felt confident that I could pick it up quickly. "Most people have trouble projecting their voices. It's a lot harder to learn that than to learn the dialog," she said.

April 24, 2015, 10:00am - I taught my third 90-minute class today, subbing for Chris Fluck's 10:00am class. There were 20 students. "You have a really powerful voice that's strong and commanding, but it's clean. I didn't feel like I was being yelled at," Chris said, "and then at the 15-minute mark, you softened up and that was nice." After class, one of the students told me he appreciated the fact that he could hear me from anywhere in the room and he learned some new things about the postures through my dialog. I made sure that much more of the words of Bikram's version of Ardha Chandrasana were in mine. "You're going to be an awesome asset to the teaching community," Chris said. Yay!!!

April 26, 2015, 8:00am - class 349 with Sandy Robin - The studio I normally practice in was closed today for maintenance, so my kids and I went to Bikram Yoga Northern Liberties for Sandy's morning class there. On weekends, there's ample parking in the neighborhood and we were fortunate enough to get a spot right out front. We entered the newly constructed building and climbed the stairs to the second floor where we were greeted by Sandy and her son Chris. Oh. My. God... the space was gorgeous! Bright sunlight filled the lobby. A large table and seating area allowed my kids to sit comfortably and wait for me while I was in class. Other amenities were a coat rack for coats and bins for mats. There was even a bin filled with toy cars for kids. The restrooms were spacious and brightly lit with cubbie shelves for your belongings, showers with seats for the elderly, and even a hair dryer. The hot room was beautiful with its exposed ceilings and two walls of mirrors and two walls of windows. The floor-to-ceiling windows allowed copious amounts of sunlight into the room and gave you an unparalleled view of the neighborhood. The entire studio reminded me of something lifted right out of California and transplanted here in Philly. The heat felt very different from other studios. The heat got you from the inside out rather than the outside in. The room was much more humid, causing me to sweat more. In fact, it felt very similar to the studio I did my teacher training in. From speaking to the owner, Chris Robin, I could tell that a lot of thought went into designing the studio and no expense was spared to make this a first-class Bikram Yoga experience. "I listed you as a reference in my teacher application at the studio," I said to Sandy. "That's fine. I'd be more than happy to be your reference. I'm here for you, Clare," she replied, enthusiastically. I smiled. She introduced me to her son as a teacher.

April 27, 2015, 6:00am - class 350 with Sandy Robin - "It's so different teaching nowadays because all of my classes are small," Sandy said. She recently gave up her large 40-plus people weekend classes at Bikram Philly to help out her son at his Bikram Northern Liberties studio. I feel Sandy's skills really shine in a smaller classroom because we all get individualized attention. Not everyone wants this kind of attention, however, but I welcome it. I'm convinced it's the only way to get better. Most of the Bikram veterans who take Sandy's classes know about the value of posture corrections. That's why I let Sandy drop and center my hips lower in Triangle, lift and curve my entire upper body off the ground in Cobra, or turn my upper body almost 210 degrees in Spinal Twist. I'm curious to see what my body is capable of.

April 28, 2015, 5:00pm - My second Penn Hatha Yoga class had 5 students. The class was held in a large atrium space and lasted almost 90 minutes.

April 29, 2015, 6:00am - class 351 with Sandy Robin

April 30, 2015, 7:00am - class 352 with Noelle Burgoyne

May 2, 2015, 8:00am - class 353 with Sandy Robin

May 4, 2015, 6:00am - class 354 with Sandy Robin - "We're going to twist you today..." Sandy said to me. Another 210 degree twist! I relaxed and expected to hear cracks and pops along my spine, but didn't. I heard them earlier in other postures. Perhaps Spinal Twist is meant to be the one final wringing of the spine after all of the other spine manipulating postures.

May 5, 2015, 7:00am - class 355 with Joel Pier

May 5, 2015, 12:00pm - My second 60-minute Bikram Express class at Philly Yoga Factory had 5 students. Malea thought my class was great. We are our own worst critics because I didn't feel that it was my best class. When I played back my recording of the class, it wasn't bad at all. I got all the major points out. I always lose confidence in myself when I pause in my dialog and my mind convinces itself that I missed something when, in fact, I didn't. The proof is in the recording. My timing was actually near perfect at 1:00:46. My greatest asset will be my voice. My students can hear the passion and fire in it. This is how I can distinguish myself as a teacher. Teaching classes has actually enabled me to become more comfortable with my voice, which I've always felt was a bit deep. There's a reason for everything, I suppose, as I've been told in teacher training that I have the perfect voice for teaching Bikram Yoga.

May 5, 2015, 5:00pm - My third Penn Hatha Yoga class had only 2 students, but they were very dedicated. I should have at least four more students next week. I asked the two students to show me the posture they hated most. They both chose Tree Stand, so I gave them a posture clinic on Tree Stand.

May 6, 2015, 6:00am - 15 students. Sandy was out today, so I was the emergency substitute. If ever there was a test, a trial by fire, this was it. Some people started panicking. "If Sandy doesn't show, can you teach class?" they asked. I nodded. It was a few minutes before 6:00am. I got everyone to write their names on a sign-in sheet. I proceeded to teach the class at 6:00am as if it were my class. In honor of Sandy, we did the "Sandy Sigh" after our first Locust pose. Every student was an experienced practitioner, so I didn't need to make many corrections. I found myself using my words rather than my hands to make corrections. I only made a physical correction once for a student in Spinal Twist. When class was over, lots of people thanked me for my class. One student said, "I've never taken your class before. It was great!" She especially liked the meditative quotes I included. What made teaching easier for me today was I believed in myself and I believed in what I was teaching. I taught from my heart. Teaching is a physical workout in itself because I sweated buckets like the rest of the class.

May 7, 2015, 7:00am - class 356 with Noelle Burgoyne - I woke up with a sharp pain in my left hip like I had bruised it by falling out of bed. It affected a few of my postures. Noelle noticed I was bending my legs towards the left in a few Cobra series postures.

May 7, 2015, 12:00pm - I practiced teaching my Bikram Express class in the studio today.

May 8, 2015, 6:00am - class 357 with Justin Riley - Justin didn't feel he deserved to be shown in the same light as the other gurus in my guru bubbles chart. What impresses me most about Justin is he remains humble as a teacher. "I'm just a student," he said. "Yes, but you teach differently than others," I said. "I just teach the truth," he said. Even if he or any other teacher refuses to be called a guru, it's not his choice. The student picks the teacher and if the teacher speaks about something that's profound and makes it easy to understand, that kind of thing resonates with the student and brings the student closer to realizing the Self. The best teachers are the ones who keep learning and developing their craft and teaching things that resonate with their students.

May 11, 2015, 6:00am - class 358 with Sandy Robin

May 12, 2015, 5:00pm - My fourth Penn Hatha Yoga class had 4 students. Four more students have promised to come, but are making weekly excuses not to. One of my students asked me, "Why are you doing all of this for free?" I answered, "I want more people to learn about Hatha Yoga and its health and healing benefits. Plus, it's good practice for me to be doing these classes so I can be more effective teaching my classes at Bikram Yoga Philadelphia." As a beginning teacher, the best way to practice your craft is to create your own class and get people to come to it.

May 13, 2015, 6:00am - Sandy was out again today, so I was the substitute. There were 14 students in class, including a couple of people who've always wanted to take my class. I got my students out on time (88 minutes) with no rushed postures towards the end. At least seven students, including people I've never seen before, gave me appreciative thank you's for class. "Your class flowed like a Vinyasa class," one student said. I learned about how a good class flows in teacher training. I didn't give any meditation quotes this time, but I made sure to include the Sandy Sigh and my motivational push during Bow pose.

I thought about the way I teach compared to the way other teachers teach. Every teacher studies the same dialog, but every teacher delivers the dialog differently. In some cases, very differently. Some teachers emphasize certain features of their favorite postures. Others omit details of other postures. With rare exception, if we carefully listen to the dialog of any teacher with very critical ears, we can certainly pick apart his or her dialog and say "You omitted this!" or "You omitted that!" The important thing I've come to realize about teaching is how confident the teacher is in what he or she is teaching. If what a teacher is saying is effectively motivating students to form the best postures they can form on a particular day, it doesn't matter if the words that come out of the teacher's mouth are the Bikram dialog or a recipe for creating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The intention is to serve students by delivering the right words and cues to bring them into a posture, hold it for the right amount of time, and safely bring them out of the posture with control. It's up to each student to push him or herself as hard as possible and it's up to the teacher to provide the mental push to help students with that goal. This is why I always tell my students to think of themselves as The Little Engine That Could because we're all little engines that can push ourselves to be the best damn engines we can be in every Bikram class.

May 14, 2015, 6:00am - class 359 with Noelle Burgoyne

May 14, 2015, 7:30pm - I taught my first candlelight yoga class today. I placed little electric candles and a few real ones along the front and back walls. The lights were off, so by 8:00pm it turned from dusk to dark in the room. The mood was much more relaxed than in a usual Bikram class, so I toned down my voice a lot and didn't push my students as hard as I normally do. In fact, I got everyone out on time with minutes to spare. In the end, I believe I delivered the kind of class that students expected candlelight yoga to be.

May 15, 2015, 6:00am - class 360 with Justin Riley

May 18, 2015, 6:00am - There were 12 students in class today. I got everyone out on time (89 minutes) and even included a joke about Bikram's 747 dialog. Best quote of the day from one of my male students: "I love it when a woman kicks my ass!" Another student told me my class was "awesome!" with a big smile and an exclamation point. Even though I'm not doing any physical posture corrections in many of my classes, I feel that perhaps it is my energy and enthusiasm that helps motivate students to push themselves further.

May 19, 2015, 7:00am - class 361 with Joel Pier - I missed a posture today - Toe Stand - probably due to dehydration. In the past few weeks, I've worked myself up to a point of not drinking water during class again, but today I had to just give in and sip my water after Tree. I can't be Wonder Woman every day. Joel cracked my back after Cobra. Ahhh... feels good! The girl next to me was amazing. She did an awesome Locust and then a Scorpion! After Joel's back crack, I feel I could always kick up higher in Bow.

May 19, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 3 students. One student was new, so I got to do some posture corrections on him for toe stand. Even though he was new to Bikram, he was very strong and agile and I felt he could do Toe Stand with a little more practice. I believe the 60-minute classes are actually harder to teach than the 90-minute classes because you need to get all of the dialog out in one posture, especially if there are newbies in class. In the 90-minute class, if you miss some dialog during the first set, you can always say it in the second set for completeness.

May 19, 2015, 5:00pm - My fifth Penn Hatha Yoga class had 3 students. Much props to the dedicated students who've appeared consistently each week.

May 20, 2015, 6:00am - I subbed for Sandy again. There were 12 students in class. I got everyone out on time (90 minutes). We did two Sandy Sighs after Locust. I helped Ajay push up a little higher in Bow. Everyone worked really hard in class, which is always great to see.

I want all of my students to have an awesome experience every time they take my class. I hope people can feel my passion for Bikram Yoga from the way I speak and deliver my dialog. I teach from my heart and you can hear it in my voice. I'm the little girl with the big voice, a strong, commanding presence with a gentle and kind side. I have always wanted to heal people and help them become better versions of themselves and, through yoga, I have another set of tools to do so.

May 21, 2015, 7:00am - class 362 with Noelle Burgoyne. No problems with dehydration and I didn't need to drink any water during class, either. The temperature in the room was much more bearable today. I'm going to miss Thayne on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Her presence always kept me honest in all of my postures even when I felt hung over from dinner and drinks with friends on Monday nights or exhausted after visiting my kids on Wednesay nights.

May 21, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 4 students. One student had never taken the Express class before and was turned off by the fact that it was only 60 minutes with one set of each posture. "Oh, you don't have to worry about that. My classes are always intense," I assured her. She and the other students thanked me for my class afterwards.

May 22, 2015, 6:00am - class 363 with Justin Riley

May 23, 2015, 1:00pm and 4:00pm - My first class had 10 students. My kids and partner were waiting outside the studio for me while I taught. I wanted my family to be there because I wanted my kids to see that anything is possible if you are willing to devote your heart to it. Susie, one of my classmates from the Mt. Hood retreat I attended last August, said afterwards, "That was an awesome class!" My second class had twenty students. I walked into the room with a renewed sense of energy and got everyone sweating and pushing themselves real hard. Every time I saw someone stop and rest for a pose or walk out of the room, I made sure he or she was okay. I monitored the room temperature and adjusted it up and down during the course of the class. I received a loud applause after the end of the final breathing exercise. "You're all warriors," I told them. I'd like to be known for my intense classes. "That was a great class!" a new student said to me after class. "Thanks! They call me the little girl with the big voice," I said with a smile. "Little girl with the big voice, I like that," he replied with a nod and a grin.

May 26, 2015, 7:00am - class 364 with Katrina Bauer

May 26, 2015, 5:00pm - My sixth Penn Hatha Yoga class had 3 students. Two are really dedicated. One has knee issues, so I need to be extra careful with her. I helped her do a modified version of Camel since she couldn't stand on her knees.

May 28, 2015 to May 31, 2015 - Yin Yoga Teacher Training with Corina Benner - I was so very happy to have discovered this 30-hour teacher training course right here in my hometown. The training site, Wake Up Yoga, is a cute little studio on East Passyunk Avenue and Corina is a fantastic instructor with a thorough understanding of Yin Yoga as taught by Paul Grilley. In this four-day course, we learned almost 30 poses that followed the Yin method and were given an opportunity to teach a Yin Yoga class. We learned about the unique anatomical differences between people and how to provide individual-specific alignment guidance to our students to achieve the maximum benefits of a pose. We learned which energy channels are being stimulated with each pose, which chakras correspond to those channels, and the potential emotional release that may result. Corina draws upon her vast knowledge gained from informed readings and her training experiences with Anodea Judith, Paul Grilley, and IHYT (Integrated Health and Yoga Therapy). What I like about her is you could tell she basically poured her heart out into this course. She managed to pack a large amount of information into a relatively short time. My classmates were all amazing people and I met a new friend named KInga who happened to be in pictures with me at Namas Day back in April. I ordered all of Paul's educational materials and hope to incorporate more of the Yin method in my Bikram classes.

June 1, 2015, 6:00am - class 365 with Sandy Robin - Perhaps it was dehydration, the humidity, or my conditioning. I am the proud warrior - the Asian Wonder Woman - the girl who doesn't drink any water during her practice. I hold myself to the highest standard every time I step into the hot room. Today I gave in and sipped my water. Today I sunk to my knees in exhaustion. The shameful part of it all was I was doing great. My abdominal muscles haven't looked so good in years. I finally saw the formation of the once-defined six-pack below my ribcage that I saw in my bodybuilding days. I've read that once you become a yoga teacher, your practice suffers because you're trying to balance your free time between classes you teach versus classes you take. Some students see teachers as people to be respected and revered. I can only hope that what my classmates saw in me today was someone who lays her heart on the line every single day and pushes herself as hard as possible in every single pose. I rested for one pose after Balancing Stick, did Triangle, and then dropped into Savasana afterwards. I was able to do the spine strengthening series with no problems, then an extended set of Fixed Firm, an extended set of Half Tortoise, one Camel, and an extended set of Rabbit followed by the remainder of the class. I believe holding those three postures in extended sets is basically performing them in a Yin fashion. Sandy pushed my back down in Half Tortoise. I was able to get to a point where I simply surrendered, let go, and felt my back getting flatter.

June 2, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 3 students. One was new to the studio and had bad knees. In Camel, I offered her a modified version of Camel so she could experience the backbend. She and the other students thanked me for my class afterwards and said it was a great class.

June 2, 2015, 6:30pm - class 366 with Jane Collaso - Today was my first time ever at Elkins Spark Fitness, also known as Scorpion Fitness. The hot room was small and intimate and provided the type of environment that allowed for a lot of one-on-one adjustments. The main fitness area included a variety of weights, circuit machines, and treadmills. Today's class had five students, including myself. Jane instructed me to try to blend in with the crowd and then teach Standing Head to Knee at the appropriate time. She told me that a couple of her students decided to come today instead of yesterday in order to meet the new instructor. "You look great! I think they'll figure out who you are because you look like an instructor," she noted. I proceeded through the practice as usual. Everyone was in pretty good shape and enthusiastic. "Whoa, Clare! Can you sit down a little more? That's a good Eagle!" Jane exclaimed during Eagle Pose. I smiled. I could, but I didn't want to let my thoughts get the best of me for the pose to come. By now, everyone in the room probably knew who I was. After the water break, Jane stepped aside and I stepped into the role of teacher reciting the dialog to Standing Head to Knee. After class, Jane and I talked. "You have a great command of the room and a lot of confidence," she said, "but you don't need all that stuff about spreading the toes. Just teach it the Bikram way. People are creatures of habit. They don't want to hear something different from what they're used to." I nodded. Evolation Yoga teaches the poses in a more complete way, but I understand that the seasoned Bikram practitioners might want to hear straight Bikram dialog.

June 4, 2015, 7:00am - class 367 with Sandy Robin - I was devastated when I heard the news about Noelle's passing on Monday afternoon. I will miss Noelle's beautiful smile and lovely aura and the calming way in which she delivered her dialog. She was a good soul and her words of encouragement helped me throughout my development as a student and teacher. I am a better, more complete person for having known her and I am proud to have known her as a mentor and a friend. I once encouraged her to reach out and talk to me about whatever she wanted because people tell me I am a good listener. She never did. From speaking to others, she never reached out to them, either. She helped me become the teacher I am today and I wish she could have watched me grow as a teacher in the same way she watched me grow as a student.

June 4, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 3 students. All three were seasoned practitioners and responded to my instructions well. One student held his postures for longer durations than my instructions called for.

June 5, 2015, 12:00pm - My seventh Penn Hatha Yoga class had 2 students. One of the students was new and from another department.

June 6, 2015, 10:00am - My Bikram Express class had 10 students. Two were seasoned practitioners and the other eight were in a group that originally came to the studio to do a Detox Flow class that is normally scheduled at this time. "We came all this way, so let's just do the Bikram class," one of them bravely suggested. These women were true warriors. They were able to learn a new type of yoga and endure the intense heat. A few of them thought the class was too hot. Most of the others thought the class was great.

June 6, 2015, 12:00pm - class 368 with Jena Blackwood - Jena is a veteran Bikram instructor who holds certifications in Bikram yoga, Yoga Works Training, Functional Movement, and personal training. She holds a BS degree in sports medicine and is currently working towards her Doctor of Physical Therapy at LIU in New York. She has participated in the Yoga Asana Championships as a judge and a participant. As a Bikram yoga instructor, she assisted in Bikram’s teacher training program and has taught at over 40 Bikram yoga studios. Her yoga classes focus on alignment through applied anatomy and physiology and the belief that yoga can be fun and challenging. I found this two-hour class to be packed with useful tips and techniques, many of which I had studied at my teacher training. "I just taught at evolation recently and, wow, if I had only gone to Evolation Yoga for my teacher training, I would've saved years and years of learning all of what you had learned," she said.

June 7, 2015, 3:30pm - I drove an hour to Doylestown to teach at Bikram Yoga Doylestown studio located at the Shoppes at Blueberry Hill. There were 20 students in my class. The hot room got hella hot with 105 degree temperature and two little humidifiers. Many of the students were new so I had to go back to basics and describe Pranayama Deep Breathing at the very beginning of the class. After class, lots of people thanked me for my class. I really liked the vibe of the studio and I hope to teach there again soon.

June 8, 2015, 6:00pm - class 369 with Joel Pier and Chris Fluck - Bikram Yoga Philadelphia's silent candlelight memorial class for Noelle was a beautiful way to remember this amazing woman. As the jam-packed, mat-to-mat upstairs studio will testify, Noelle has touched so many lives, including mine. I was a mess before I started Bikram Yoga. Her weekly class helped guide me on a journey towards a better connection with God. She believed in me and was instrumental to my development as a teacher. I will miss her energy, enthusiasm, and encouragement. I will miss the way she carried herself with reserve, dignity, and grace. Over ninety practitioners sweated their brains out to Chris' one- or two-word dialog, most of which was the word "change." We all knew what to do. Throughout the practice, I heard Noelle's voice in my head as she expertly guided me through all of the postures.

June 11, 2015, 7:00am - class 370 with Justin Riley - "I know I'm never going to teach the class like Noelle, but I'm going to do my best to teach you the truth," Justin said in class today. Although Justin and Noelle's styles are almost on opposite ends of the spectrum, their common ground is their impeccable timing and their ability to get students into and out of postures safely. A ten-second posture lasts exactly ten seconds with them and they will never hold us for a minute in a grueling posture. I try to tailor my classes to the way I like to practice, to the way Sandy teaches class with the wisdom of Joel, Chris, and Noelle injected in them. Today was about letting go of my ego, to stop looking so damn frustrated whenever I fall out of a posture. In the past few weeks, I've learned to laugh instead of feeling irritated or angry when I fall out of Standing Bow and y'know what? I held my pose for far longer because of it!

June 12, 2015, 6:00am - class 371 with Justin Riley

June 12, 2015, 12:00pm - My eighth Penn Hatha Yoga class had 3 students. I injected a little bit of Yin into the usual 60-minute class. All three students were very happy and grateful for my class, so it looks like I served them well.

June 15, 2015, 6:00am - class 372 with Sandy Robin

June 16, 2015, 7:00am - class 373 with Joel Pier

June 16, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 1 student. I was able to tailor the dialog to better meet her needs.

June 17, 2015, 6:00am - class 374 with Sandy Robin - Here's the difference between me in Standing Bow my first 50 classes and me in Standing Bow now.

What I'm thinking while doing Standing Bow in my first 50 classes: "Right hand out, elbow against the body, drop hand down, pick up right foot... okay... left arm up... whoaaaaa I can't balance... shit... reach higher?! I can't reach any higher... arm back a little? Argh!!! I lost balance... knees together? Argh!!! I lost balance... charge forward and kick up... wha?!!! Lost my balance again. Try again... right hand out, elbow against body, drop hand down, pick up foot, arm up, charge forward... good, didn't lose balance this time... probably because I didn't stretch up all the way. Can't see my foot over my head yet, but I can go down more... ohhh... I went down too far... YIKES!!! Lost balance! Falling forward is good, she says... dizzy... want to vomit... want to vomit..."

What I'm thinking while doing Standing Bow now: "Right hand out, elbow against the body, drop hand down, pick up right foot, left arm up, reach higher, knees together, whoa, a little wobbly today, better last week, charge forward and kick up, REACH forward... STRETCH!!! KICK up... KICK and STRETCH!!! Drop body down an inch, reach and stretch. Drop body down a little more, reach and STRETCH!!! Drop body down a little more to my lowest point... arm trembling... kick leg up... losing balance... regain balance... kick leg up... arm hurts... kick leg up... look forward, wobbly, no, don't look forward... foot way up over my head now... go back to that calm place BUT DON'T LOSE YOUR FOCUS! Hold it... hold it... hold it... hold... shit, lost balance, unlike last week. Maybe tomorrow will be better."

I hadn't seen Penny in a while. She asked me how teaching was going and I responded positively. "That's great," she said, "you teach a great class." I thanked her. Katelynn was excited to hear about the possibility of me wanting to teach a meditation class as a Philly Yoga Factory offering. During my evolation training, I felt that my meditation classes were the most spiritually healing classes I took. Perhaps the final graduation ceremony at teacher training - a meditation in its own right - was the most spiritually healing.

June 18, 2015, 7:00am - class 375 with Justin Riley - One of the wonderful things about Justin's class, or almost any of the teachers whose classes I take at Bikram Yoga Philadelphia, is the fact that they stop and talk to us practitioners as people. "I remember when I suffered an injury from a car accident a couple of years ago," Justin recalls, "and doctors told me it would take six months to recover. With Bikram Yoga, I recovered in two months!" It was a heartwarming, inspirational story, but from everything I've read, some Bikram studios don't appreciate this kind of teacher to student interaction. To them, I say it would be an ultimately sad day in the yoga world if a yoga teacher can't relate his or her life experiences in class with his or her students! I certainly wouldn't want to go to a sterile yoga class with just the instructions and nothing else. That would be so boring! Justin noted that my Half Moon looked good today. Perhaps it's because I didn't push as deeply as I usually do. I can build on that.

June 18, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 1 student. He liked that I was performing the postures along with him. "You have a very strong voice. I like that," he said during Savasana. "Are you teaching any other times? I'm here for another few days." At first, he didn't believe that a 60 minute class would be intense enough for him, but in the end my intensity often makes a 60 minute class feel like a 90 minute class.

June 19, 2015, 6:00am - class 376 with Justin Riley

June 19, 2015, 12:00pm - My ninth Penn Hatha Yoga class had 3 students, one a professor!

June 21, 2015, 2:00pm - class 377 with Donna Rubin, Jessica Lobo, and Rajashree Choudhury - For years, I've tried to get a ticket to attend Solstice in Times Square and, finally, this was my lucky year. Tickets are awarded on a first come, first served basis. The minute I received my invite, I popped onto their web site and signed up for the Bikram class taught by Rajashree. Donna and Jessica, co-owners of Bikram Yoga NYC, taught the Standing Series. Rajashree taught the Floor Series. The class was a bit of a letdown because I thought Rajashree would've taught the entire class. Supposedly, Rajashree was out in the crowd correcting postures, but I didn't see her in my section. I later discovered that she was in another section a block away from my section. Damn! I did get a paparazzi picture of her afterwards as she was being interviewed by two reporters. If anyone saw the live webcast of the class at Times Square, the teachers made everyone stand forward the entire time, even after Balancing Stick. There wasn't enough room in Standing Separate Leg Stretching, so when Triangle came, I turned sideways. This had a domino effect because everyone else around me turned sideways, too. I figured, "Why be a lemming? Let's just do it the right way!" My trip up to New York was very quick and included just an hour in between the bus stop and Times Square. I had an extended conversation about yoga with a foreign cab driver who was interested in healing his back problems. He wanted my business card, but I told him I lived in Philadelphia so there would be no way he could take my classes.

June 22, 2015, 6:00am - class 378 with Sandy Robin - Sandy helped me with Cobra today.

June 23, 2015, 7:00am - class 379 with Joel Pier - "Don't cup your hand. Curve your fingers outward," Joel advised in Standing Bow. He also wanted me to stretch my arms farther apart in Full Locust. "Stretch your scapulae away from your body, not inward," he said.

June 23, 2015, 6:30pm - As luck would have it, a big rainstorm hit my area, but that didn't prevent 8 very dedicated students from practicing in my class today. Three of them were nursing serious injuries in their pasts, so I recommended that they take it easy and not aggravate their injuries. I helped one woman with her Standing Bow. Another had knee issues. I helped him with a modification to Supta Vajrasana where he could still experience the back arching but without the need to sit on his knees. A third student had a hip replacement. He also couldn't do Supta Vajrasana, so I asked him not to proceed further than the first stage of sitting in the pose. I taught a little differently today than I usually do in that I stood in front of everyone rather than pace around the room and I taught Pranayama Deep Breathing from the very beginning for the new students. I also demonstrated a lot of the poses. I won a few new fans.

June 24, 2015, 6:00am - class 380 with Sandy Robin - Sandy helped me with Half Tortoise and Head to Knee today. My back has a tendency to round rather than stay flat.

June 25, 2015, 9:00am - class 381 with Leo Eisenstein - Leo helped me with Toe Stand. I just started getting my hands in prayer recently and he recommended that I take a step back in order to take a step forward. "Put your left hand up and use your right for balance," he advised. For lunch, I ordered a secret sandwich not on HipCityVeg's regular menu: the Chicken Club. It's basically the Hip City Ranch sandwich with grilled barbecue sauce instead of ranch sauce and four pieces of smoked tempeh "bacon." It's the same price as the Hip City Ranch sandwich.

June 26, 2015, 6:00am - class 382 with Justin Riley

June 30, 2015, 7:00am - class 383 with Joel Pier - I prematurely wore myself out and couldn't do the second set of Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee or Tree Pose. I've been eating very badly over the past few days and that probably contributed to my poor performance today.

June 30, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 2 students, a woman with a wealth of Bikram experience but nursing a herniated disk in her neck and a man who had never taken a Bikram class before. "Is it over yet?" the man asked, exhausted after three quarters of the class. "Not yet, but soon," I replied. I thought I could carve a niche for myself by being the best drill sergeant I could be, but some people just don't want that in a Bikram teacher. Today's class was all about care and compassion. Maybe it's the way I should've taught all along. evolation gave me the tools to be a great teacher, not Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS! "Go as far as you can today," I said during Half Moon. "Try to touch your forehead to your knee. It may not happen today, but just try," I said during the head to knee poses. "My 60-minute classes are known to be as hard as any 90-minute class, but I toned it down a lot," I said during Final Savasana. "I liked it," the woman said smiling. The man asked me if I was teaching again on Thursday.

July 2, 2015, 7:00am - class 384 with Justin Riley - After class, Leo asked me about the format of my Bikram Express class. "Two sets of breathing, one set of each of the 26 postures, and two sets of breathing," I replied. Leo taught his Express class with two sets of each posture, removing Savasanas between postures in a series. "That way, students will appreciate Savasanas more," he said. Whatever the format, we agreed that there should be consistency in how we all teach the Express class.

July 2, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 5 students. We breezed through the Standing Series at full speed ahead so I offered my students two sets of many of the Floor Series postures: Cobra, Camel, Rabbit. and Head to Knee with Stretching. I felt that this was a good thing to do as Bikram tells us the Floor Series is "when class really begins." My students looked more exhausted today than in any of my previous Express classes. A couple of students faltered and I was concerned about them. I asked them how they were. They were thankful for my concern. Compassion is the most important quality to have as a teacher. My class ended right on time. "Thank you, that was an amazing class!" one of my students said to me.

July 6, 2015, 6:00am - class 385 with Sandy Robin - What the hell is wrong with me in the past few classes? I've been losing too much energy before Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Janushirasana. I could barely stand in Tadasana and Padangustasana. I didn't give up and go into Savasana like last time, but it was a lot cooler in the hot room today than usual. Sandy was trying to get me to lift in Padangustasana, but all I could do was try to keep myself from passing out. I might be experiencing a humidity fatigue like last year.

July 7, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 8 students. One of the students told me she liked my class the best of all the classes she's had so far. "You have a calming cadence to your voice," she said. We discussed some steps to take when you're feeling the heat in the hot room. I mentioned the humidity as a major factor in being able to finish a class and recounted a time last year when I was struggling with the heat as well. She asked me if I'll be teaching a regularly scheduled class and I said, "Yes, someday, but check the schedule because I substitute for other teachers."

July 7, 2015, 5:00pm - My tenth Penn Hatha Yoga class had 1 student. This student sweated through every posture like a warrior. He thanked me for class and said it was awesome.

July 8, 2015, 6:00am - class 386 with Sandy Robin - Today was a better day. It didn't feel as suffocating in the hot room today as it did on Monday. I completed every posture without a loss of energy. I even avoided tapping water on my forehead before Savasana. Sandy checked on my five year old who was waiting for me in the lobby to see if he was okay. It can get pretty hot in the hot room and sometimes in the lobby as well. My five year old's cheeks were starting to turn red.

July 13, 2015, 6:00am - class 387 with Sandy Robin - The heater was not functioning today, so we started class at 98 degrees. "I think we'll be okay once we close the windows," I assured Sandy. We couldn't figure out why the heater wouldn't kick in. Some of the students wanted to practice upstairs, but the majority wanted to stay in the smaller room since time was running out. Chris Fluck taught us that even if the room temperature were not optimal, we could build the heat we need internally, especially during Pranayama Deep Breathing.

July 14, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 3 students. One of the students was new and thought my class was great.

July 14, 2015, 5:00pm - My eleventh Penn Hatha Yoga class had 1 student, the same one from last week. I presented a Yin pose - pigeon - after the Primary Series and he seemed to enjoy this additional pose.

July 15, 2015, 6:00am - class 388 with Sandy Robin - "Although exercise might be the last thing you want to do when you're fatigued and tired, Bikram yoga may help boost your energy levels, at least temporarily, helping you get through your day with increased vigor" says a healthy living web site in Arizona. Bikram Choudhury also states this in his book, Bikram Yoga. While I have felt this temporary energy boost on occasion, perhaps due to a slight increase in endorphins, I've felt extreme fatigue many other times. Pushing your body to its limits "and beyond" takes a physical toll on your body, causes you to sweat buckets, and makes you really, really tired. There were times when I'd be so tired from my 6am yoga classes that I'd start dozing off at noon. The only thing that would keep me going back for more yoga was convincing myself that yoga was good for me. I don't think yoga is designed to affect everyone the same way. Perhaps if you were the ideal type of person a specific system of yoga was designed for, you'd reap all of the benefits of that system, but if you're not quite what the yoga doctors had in mind, you'll gain some but not all of the benefits. Perhaps we should be satisfied with the "some but not all" philosophy, but we might also try to find a system of yoga more suitable to us. The problem is we won't know if a system of yoga is suitable until several years of daily practice. By that time, some of us might have moved on to a different system of yoga or not even wish to continue practicing yoga at all. Some of us start looking to our teachers for guidance. The better teachers draw upon their non-Bikram and, in some cases, non-yoga experiences to help us better understand some of the difficulties we face as we practice. I believe these are the best teachers because they can combine their physical fitness knowledge together into a more substantial whole.

July 16, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 5 students. One of the students told me after class that she thought my class was great. "I've been trying to find that nice balance between between being too hard and too soft," I said. "It was perfect," she said. I want to be the kind of teacher who is inspirational and motivational without sounding too forceful. God gave me this beautiful, commanding voice. I have to continue learning how to temper it, especially if I want to teach other styles of yoga.

July 18, 2015, 1:00pm and 4:00pm - My first class had 14 students and my second class had twenty students. "Your class was great. Very clear, easy to understand instructions," one student said. Another student wanted to know if I was on the regular schedule. "I really like the way you teach. It's calm but commanding," she said. "You looked great out there," my partner commented, "and I like how you demonstrated the postures for the students. How many teachers can do that while teaching?" "I want my students to know that I'm with them in their struggles every step of the way," I said. I garnered a lot of fans from my first class. The setting was a lot more intimate in my second class, but I still managed to walk around the crowded room. I monitored the temperature in both classes to make sure the heat wasn't too crazy. I'm learning new bits of the Bikram dialog every day, such as "Use 110% strength to create 360 degree angle backward bending against gravitation" in Floor Bow and "I want 360 degree angle backward bending with gravitation" in Camel. I think Bikram meant to say "gravity."

July 20, 2015, 6:00am - I substituted for Sandy today. There were 13 students in my class. A couple of minutes into Pranayama Deep Breathing, I noticed one student waiting outside the door peeking in. I welcomed her in to join the group. Another student came in after her and I got a mat for him. I followed the advice of one of my mentors, Chris Fluck, on teaching without the need to demonstrate the postures. Understandably, I had a lot more energy to teach throughout the entire class. I was a lot more relaxed today than usual and focused on improving two postures, Dhanurasana and Ustrasana, by including the "360 degree angle backward bending" phrase in my dialog. "If you want to be great, you have to improve your dialog," Chris advised. Practitioners expect to hear the "Bikramisms," no matter how crazy they sound, found in almost every posture's dialog. Maybe that's why I like Eagle so much. It's no-nonsense, straightforward, and Bikramism-free. Best of all, it's a tough pose to do. "That was a really great class. You're a really great teacher!" one of the students said to me after class.

July 23, 2015, 7:00am - class 389 with Justin Riley - Justin gave us a valuable tip on how to suck our bellies in properly. It's not just flattening our bellies, but seeing the concaveness and shadow underneath our ribs.

July 23, 2-15, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 5 students. "Thank you for a wonderful class," one of my students said after class. Another student said she liked the intensity of my class and how it resembles a 90 minute class done in 60 minutes. "I like how you emphasize the inhales and exhales in certain postures," a third student said. "I basically incorporate a little bit of Yin into the Bikram series," I said, especially when I tell my students to "inhale, exhale and pushhh your forehead into your knee and allow yourself to completely surrender to the pose." Isn't this better than belting out the words like a crazy dictator? By breathing through the motions of the posture, you're allowing your students to move into the pose at their own pace. You're empowering them. My kids are studying Aikido and I am thinking about doing the same. No other martial art is as much like yoga as Aikido.

July 24, 2015, 6:00am - class 390 with Justin Riley - For the first time in a while, I felt good about my class. It felt complete. I wouldn't say I'm anywhere near my best yet, but I'll get there again eventually.

July 25, 2015, 1:00pm - My class had 10 students. A newer student with four Bikram classes under her belt said, "Thank you for a wonderful class," and she enjoyed it very much. I monitored the room temperature to make sure it wasn't too hot or too cold. Unfortunately, I was a little off today so that affected my timing on some of the postures and I'm missing phrases. I know what's wrong with me. I fear giving the complete dialog and running over 90 minutes. I also fear seeing the seasoned practitioners perform postures ahead of my words. These are my two biggest fears that I will need to overcome.

July 27, 2015, 6:00am - class 391 with Sandy Robin - I dropped to Savasana after Standing Bow. I felt real dizzy and couldn't get up. I tried to get up for Triangle, but couldn't. I did one set of Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Janushirasana and then dropped again. I couldn't see in front of me! I dropped to Savasana again during Tree and left the room feeling nauseous after Tree. I drank a lot of water in between postures. I returned during the two-minute Savasana and continued the rest of the class. The only explanation I have for my nausea was a combination of the extreme pushing I did during Pranayama Deep Breathing, the humidity in the room, and the head meat tacos I ate for dinner last night. After a long day of rest, I decided it was time to take my first Aikido class at Aikikai of Philadelphia.

July 28, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 6 students. After class, one of my regulars thanked me for class and said, "You're a very good teacher." Four other students also thanked me for a great class. After class, I visited one of my usual lunch spots where the owner and I were chatting at length about hot yoga. "You're quite a beauty," he said matter-of-factly. I'm glad he thought so, because I was sweaty and had not a lick of makeup on!

July 27, 2015, 6:00am - class 392 with Sandy Robin - Considering it's the same heat and humidity as Monday, I'm happy to have survived my entire practice today. I pulled back in Pranayama to about 90% of what I did on Monday. I started feeling dizzy during Standing Bow, but I persevered. The class was filled with teachers and teachers-to-be. Secretly, we all push each other by maintaining good practices and inspiring others with our better postures. With Thayne gone, Emily has taken the mantle of "Holy cow! She's horizontal!" in Half Moon. In spite of my achy left knee, I could still hold a reasonably good Eagle. Alex, a former regional yoga champion, has a great Standing Bow. No need for water during class today.

July 30, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 6 students, four of them were regulars. "I've been doing more of your classes than the 90-minute classes and I've been telling everyone to come take your class," one of my students said.

July 31, 2015, 6:00am - class 393 with Justin Riley - Despite my bad hip and knee, I managed to hold my posture in the first set of Standing Bow for the entire duration. Good stuff. I finished my entire practice without any problems. One student noticed I wasn't drinking water during class and found that to be inspiring. I told her that water upsets my stomach in class.

August 3, 2015, 6:00am - class 394 with Sandy Robin - I left my practice physically and mentally exhausted. I discovered that my severe itching problem may be due to heat rash. Strangely, I didn't suffer from this last year at this time.

August 4, 2015, 5:00pm - My twelfth Penn Yoga class had 4 students, including two regulars and two new people. This month I'll be teaching Yin Yoga classes. I created a floor series sequence I call "YINSIDE YOUR SPINE." I played a musical soundtrack throughout the class and spoke over it. Based on the feedback, my class was very well received.

August 5, 2015, 6:00am - class 395 with Sandy Robin - I was so sore from Monday's yoga and Aikido class that I had trouble walking, but I persevered and fought my way through today's yoga class. I was really gimpy going into Awkward and Eagle. I wasn't sure if I could do Standing Head to Knee, but I managed to kick out. I was right in the line of Sandy's vision in several poses, so I wanted to make sure I was giving her my 100% effort. It wasn't until Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee that I finally felt normal again. "I'm back!" I said to myself. In the middle of the day, I felt aches in my legs again.

August 10, 2015, 6:00am - class 396 with Sandy Robin - I dropped after my first set of Standing Bow. I got up again to do one set of Balancing Stick, then once set of Standing Separate Leg Stretching, and then dropped again. I left the room dizzy and gasping for air. I returned to the room during Wind Removing Pose and completed the rest of my poses with lackluster effort. I'll have to stand in the back row from now on until I return to form. Just when I think I'm back, I'm not. This kind of yoga demands almost daily practice, which is not something I've been doing. The good news is I'm back down to 130.6 again after two weeks of bad eating habits.

August 10, 2015, 8:15pm - My class had 9 students, 4 of them newbies. I started the class doing the poses with my students, but I stopped after Eagle. I felt too wobbly and tired after Aikido class. The Iron Lady is not so invincible after all. I had to rely on my words for the rest of the class. After the Standing series, I was a minute fast. "Slow it down, girl. The rest of the class will flow better," I said to myself. I felt good about my Floor Series. The good thing was I was making corrections with my words. After class, my students thanked me. I always tell them that it's a pleasure and a privilege to teach them and I hope they know I mean it!! Hopefully, I will get to teach more often so I get the benefit of repetition.

August 11, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 7 students. My students thanked me for class. I like that the same students are returning to my class as it shows I must be doing something right. During Pada Hastasana, I said, "From the side, you should look like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich," which I think the students took well. I haven't said the sandwich line in a while and I see how useful it is to help students who are familiar with the dialog stay focused on the shapes they need to make their bodies resemble. Whether it be peanut butter and jelly, Japanese ham, or Italian panini, students want to hear about that sandwich!

August 11, 2015, 5:00pm - My thirteenth Penn Yoga class had 2 students. We practiced my second sequence of "YINSIDE YOUR SPINE" to a slightly different order of songs. My students felt refreshed and enjoyed their class very much.

August 12, 2015, 6:00am - class 397 with Sandy Robin - I stood in the back row today and completed my practice without any complications. I felt good about my practice. Sandy helped me straighten my back in Head to Knee with Stretching pose.

August 13, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 3 students. I don't know what happened today with my regulars not showing up. I did see a couple of familiar faces, though. Unfortunately, I ended class with a sad vibe. I know that as yoga teachers we have to leave our personal feelings and issues at the door. It was just a sad, frustrating moment for me as I received news today about an abnormality found on my mammogram. I remember one of my teachers saying, "As yoga teachers, we're often put on a pedestal when in reality we all have our problems, too." Like our students, we have to learn to keep our personal issues outside the yoga room.

August 17, 2015, 6:00am - class 398 with Sandy Robin - I stood in the back row again today and completed my practice without any complications. It was especially hot and humid today at 96 degrees and 35% humidity. Sandy helped me straighten my back in Head to Knee with Stretching pose. While it may not seem like I'm doing much yoga these days, I'm supplementing my fitness regimen with Aikido classes.

August 18, 2015, 7:00am - class 399 with Joel Pier - The Meaning of "Happy, Smiling Face" - Class was in the upstairs room today. I couldn't do one set of Cobra, both sets of Locust, one set of Full Locust, and both sets of Camel. "What happened?" Joel said during Locust. What happened was it was brutally hot in the room. The open windows didn't help. A lone breeze entered the room from time to time, but it was more of a whisper than a true breeze. My jaw started tingling and freezing up again. I think I know why Joel and Bikram always says to do the poses "with a happy, smiling face." It's to prevent your face from totally freezing up!

August 18, 2015, 5:00pm - My fourteenth Penn Yoga class had 2 students. We practiced my first sequence of "YINSIDE YOUR SPINE." My students felt refreshed and enjoyed their class very much. One of them said that the postures made a lot more sense now that I've sequenced the Hatha and Yin poses together.

August 20, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 2 students, but I felt it was a solid class with solid instruction.

August 21, 2015, 6:00am - class 400 with Justin Riley - The Meaning of Yoga - The biggest scare of my life was getting recalled for a second mammogram on Wednesday. When you get recalled, you get to sit in a different waiting room than the first time. It's filled with very miserable-looking people. Some of these people are in wheelchairs. Everyone looks woefully depressed after getting their bad news the first time. I had an ultrasound appointment and doctor waiting for me if the second set of images didn't look good. I sat and waited for what felt like the longest 90 minutes of my life. Thankfully, the second set of images revealed nothing wrong. Yayyyyy!!!!! If I'm a cat, I've just used the sixth of my nine lives. When the doctor told me the good news, I walked to the changing room, closed the door behind me, locked it, and slumped down on the ground crying. The only thing I could think of was, "God gave you another chance. Don't blow it." I felt alive! I felt a renewed sense of urgency. I entered my Aikido class later that day with fresh eyes. I taught my class the next day with fresh eyes. I entered today's yoga class with fresh eyes. Throughout class, the heat was getting to me again and I felt my mind getting fuzzy and filling with doubt again - the same feelings that have affected me over the past ten classes - but I'd stop myself to refocus. "Stretch with them... bend with them... kick with them... fly with them," I said to myself. "Their energy is your energy. Your energy is their energy. You inspire them and they inspire you. Because we're all in this together. We're all one. We are all yoga." After 400 classes, I think I've found the true meaning of yoga.

August 25, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 1 student, Emily Jane. I practiced with her. She's an amazing yogini and teacher with a nice Standing Bow and Floor Bow. It was truly an honor to teach her today because she was instrumental to my development as a yogini. I hope more of my regulars will return to class soon. Laura surmised that the summer months can be a turnoff for some.

August 25, 2015, 5:00pm - My fifteenth Penn Yoga class had 3 students. We practiced an impromptu version of my "YINSIDE YOUR SPINE" sequence based on my second sequence. I felt that this was my best Yin class yet because I successfully combined Hatha with Yin. My teacher Corina Lynn Benner would be proud of me! I'm placing my yoga classes on hold for a few weeks until after a group meeting at Bikram Yoga Philadelphia. One of my students admitted that my yoga class was something he looked forward to each week.

August 27, 2015, 12:00pm - My Bikram Express class had 6 students. I made some corrections without pointing anyone out and felt very good about my dialog today.

My yoga journey:
Opinions expressed are solely my own. Please consult your physician for medical advice before starting a yoga program.

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