It has been too long. And I have thoroughly missed writing and sharing my life and new experience living in Cleveland. I’ve been inspired by watching others writing and sharing their stories. I was thinking to myself, I should write more and put together a platform, when it hit me – that I already have a place to share my stories and thoughts. So Nappy Sweaty and Broke is back in action. I’ll mostly be covering natural hair topics, working out, and money problems – cause three years later and I’m still nappy sweaty and broke.
As many of you know I traded in the corporate lifestyle and the politics that go with it for a life as a yoga teacher…unfortunately, I still find myself navigating politics but in the yoga room. I guess I can’t be surprised I do live in a battleground state and politics matter here in OHIO but I’m not talking about Trump’s brashness or Obama’s current ratings or even Clinton’s emailgate – I’m talking the politics of working at a yoga studio…
I’ve been teaching at the studio for four months and it has been a great experience. I received a warm welcome and loved coming to the studio to teach and interacting with the students…but recently things have felt a bit off. I don’t always feel welcomed in the studio not by the students – the students are great but mostly by the teachers (not all the teachers but a few). As if me deciding to take the plunge to go back into corporate (more on that later) is a travesty of sorts. When I was trying to figure out a potential job offer I was forthcoming with the studio about my inability to commit to August and was given a deadline. The time I got the deadline I was told that the class schedule would be changed and I would maybe only be able to get 1 – 2 classes a week.I was surprised but I understand and felt that if the studio needed to go to less classes for the business I totally understood but it seems that wasn’t the case.
My deadline came for committing to August and I sent the studio owner an email stating that I hadn’t heard back from the job but I wouldn’t be able to commit to the month of August because I thought I had the job in the bag. That was my mistake – I shouldn’t have put all of my eggs in one basket but I really thought I had nailed the interviews and was expecting an offer. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive an offer and told the studio that I would be able to teach but lo and behold they had found another teacher.
I was honestly upset about this because I thought the schedule was changing (for business reasons). I know that I put myself in this pickle but still I was hurt that I was so easily replaced in less than 24 hours and that they couldn’t reach out to the new teacher and explain that she wasn’t needed (yes i know that is quite egotistical of me!) because I could continue teaching. I was also annoyed that the studio manager and I had talked about a particular weekend of me covering her classes but shed didn’t put me on the schedule – instead she put herself down and then asked me if I could pick up the classes even though I had already told her in July that I could. I felt that was a bit passive aggressive and I felt a bit slighted.
I’m not entirely sure how I can navigate this particular scenario especially since I’ll most likely be relocating to this city and would like to teach at the studio – one to times a week. So again I feel myself in a bit of a conundrum trying to manage politics of a yoga studio. I don’t want to beg for classes and I’m happy to pick up classes but I also want to have set classes as well.
I’ve navigated the office politics and I guess I’ll learn to navigate politics of the yoga studio as well.
As human beings we anticipate everything. And I do mean everything – we anticipate that call that we’ll get everything nailing a final interview, meeting the love of our life, or even a great night out with friends. It’s in our nature. We always want to know what is coming next and with Bikram you know what’s going next every single time.
Bikram is the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises every single time – no matter where you go in your city, the country or the world. It’s hard to not anticipate the next posture or second set. As a practicing teacher I do it all the time. All the time. I have to make a conscious effort to not repeat the dialogue in my head while practicing so that I can stay present with the teacher (or Bikram’s recorded dialogue) and the class.
I noticed that students were anticipating what I was saying after only a few weeks of teaching at Bikram Yoga Cleveland. Students were anticipating when the posture would end especially in balancing stick. Balancing stick is one of my favorite postures, it’s so beautiful to see when students lock both knees and bring their bodies down parallel to the floor like a T as in The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!). There are benefits to holding this posture including increase circulation (flushing out your heart and arteries), stretching lung capacity and heart muscle, flexibility improvement, stregthen and tone your shoulders, upper arms, spine and the hip joints. Not only that but balancing stick is a therapeutic and preventive posture for heart conditions – got a heart problem get in the hot room. Want another reason it also burns the most calories from the other yoga poses plus you’re sending rejuvenating flood of fresh blood to brain!
But students know this posture ends with “stretch, stretch, stretch, stretch…” so by the time I get the second stretch out of my mouth most of them have come up from the posture! But I’ve figured out a way to trick them into staying the posture longer! I want my students to stay in the posture for the correct amount of time and I also want them to be PRESENT in class not just ANTICIPATING the posture – I want them to really listen to me as a teach. (I’ll tell you a story about one time a student really listened and I made a mistake next time! It was funny!)
Sometimes I’ll add more stretches and sometimes I’ll only say one stretch! The first time I added four stretches you should have seen the look on their faces as they started coming up and I was still yelling stretch stretch stretch stretch! I got them good on the right side. A few of them even smiled at me and I just winked back. One the left side I only said one stretch but I prolonged the posture with more dialogue focusing on the alignment so when I said “stretch, inhale breathing come up!” They were shocked! Couldn’t believe it.But in both instant they held the posture for the required 10 bikram seconds (which is more like 30 human seconds!).
What I’m trying to convey here is don’t anticipate your class – don’t think if you’re going to have a good class or a bad class, if you’re going to have a good day or a bad day, if you’re going to everything that you want out of your life. Just make the decision that you’ll have a good day, a great class, and you will get everything you want out of your life and you might just pleasantly surprise yourself and get exactly what you need!
See you in the hot room!
I am amazed and quite honestly flabbergasted by my hair growth over the past 11 months. Last June, I cut off all of my hair in anticipation of attending Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Thailand. I figured with all the classes that I would be taking plus lectures, studying and the heat (inside the room and out) I wouldn’t have the time (which I didn’t) or the focus to really “do” my hair. So i big chopped – cut off four years of hair growth and was ready to start fresh. In all honesty, I had been dying to cut off my hair for years, I was always jealous of folks rocking little TWA’s (teeny weeny afros) but I didn’t have the guts to actually cut off my hair but last year I finally found it.
June 2014 Hair Cut: I was so happy in this pic! Just felt to free!!!
Anyway, back to the hair growth, my hair is almost back to the growth of last spring in just 11 short months. I can’t believe it and I started thinking why exactly has it grown back so fast this time. Have I started taking better care of my hair? Has my diet changed? What’s really different this time around?
You know what the difference is? WATER.
I spent nine weeks in Thailand, taking 97 hot (and I do mean very very hot) bikram classes, sweating in the room, lecture room, and outside which lead to me drinking A LOT of water. I was probably drinking one to two gallons of water a day, actually it was probably more. I needed to stay hydrated to survive training and I always had my hydroflask full of water and I was chugging before, during, and after class. Everyone has always said that drinking lots of water is good for a clear skin complexion but it’s also great for maintaining healthy and happy (nappy!) hair too. Think about it? If your body is dehydrated than your hair is also dehydrated. It needs the water has much as your body does…so give your hair what it wants lots of water!
I wasn’t always just drinking plain water while at training, I also would take two (2) Emergen-C packs every day like clockwork – one after class and one during lecture (or posture clinic). Emergen-C was great for putting back in the good stuff that my body was losing from sweating so much…vitamins C, B, Calcium, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Zinc and a whole slew of other nutrients I needed. One key nutrient for hair growth are the B complex vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12 which are all in Emergen-C.
B Complex vitamins are essential micronutrients that assistn in optimal health and well being. B Vitamins have a minimal risk of toxicity and are water soluble whilst promoting overall health to the body. The combination of these vitamins helps promote hair growth as they assist with conditioning and strengthening hair.
B1, B2, and B3 nourishment of hair follicle cells.
B6 – dandruff prevention (as someone that is prone to drandruff this makes me very happy!)
B12 – hair loss prevention; it also helps produce red blood cells which helps to deliver oxygen to your hair follicle assisting in healthy hair.
In a nutshell B vitamins are a blessing for your hair so as Porsha would so “go get you some!”
The last thing that I think was key in helping my hair grow – I wasn’t in it all the time. I wasn’t combing, detangling, twisting, etc I was just simply washing, deep conditioning, oiling my hair on a weekly basis. That’s it. For the first time in about four years my hair routine was simply simple.
Hair After Training (no manipulation)
First Twist Out: December 2014 – Australia
April 2015: Curls Popping – twisted hair!
Hair prior to the 2nd Big Chop: This is a pic from my last trip to Maine where I decided to go to teacher training – June 2014
Hair 2015 – Super Stretched! But look at the growth! CRAZY
Greetings! I’ve made it back to Ohio…it’s so crazy to think I went all the way around the world to just come home. If you want to know if god has a sense of humor just make plans – someone famous wrote that and it couldn’t be more true.
When I first had the idea that I would be quitting my job, traveling the world, and teaching yoga I never in my mind thought that I would end up right where I started in Warren, Ohio. I remember having a conversation with a dear friend in her apartment about my upcoming travels and she said “this is the perfect time…your parents are healthy, you have no real commitments.” How untrue her words would be a seldom seven months later.
My mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2000 – I’ll never forget the moment I found out about her cancer. There is nothing that can prepare you for realizing that at 15 1/2 your mother isn’t invincible. I was a brat that day – I believe I had said “i wish you would die” and my mother simply replied “you might get your wish – I have breast cancer.” Yup. That was a turning point in our relationship…I stopped being a brat. I can’t even remember why I was upset but no matter what the issue whatever I was feeling didn’t warrant wishing death on my mother. I remember sitting on our steps and just crying – not understanding, how does this happen and why but my mother (even though she must have been scared, frustrated and pissed since I just told her I wish she died) told me that she would be just fine and she would beat this. She did. And we’ve lived a very happy existence since them. Our relationship has improved tenfold, not just because of the cancer but because I grew up and stopped being a bratty 16 year old. You get perspective quickly when the most important person in your world gets sick.
About six weeks ago, I was speaking with my mother and she sounded a bit off. She just didn’t sound like herself and I was immediately alerted that something was wrong. I asked what was up and she said she’s tired her neck has been hurting her and they were doing a test on her lymph nodes the next day. That would be a terrifying conversation to have if I had just lived in NYC a short 50 minute flight or an 8 hour drive away…but being on the other side of the world (literally – used correctly!) it was earth shattering. Once again, my mom reassured me that things would be fine but this time she was wrong. Things weren’t fine and we quickly found out that her cancer had not only returned but it had metasized and found her bones as the perfect place to take up residence. As the daughter of a cancer survivor, I’ve had the remission dream time and time again but I was always able to wake up – call my mom and know that it hadn’t returned. I didn’t get to wake up this time.
I spoke with her doctor on Saturday March 21st and a week later I was back in the states. That last week in Melbourne was unreal. I didn’t do much besides practice, teach and start packing my clothes. I had friends coming to visit in July and we had talked just earlier that week about booking rooms and flights but something in my gut had told me to hold off. I made calls to my studio owners on Saturday letting them know that I wouldn’t be able to teach after the 28th and I’ll be sending my final invoices. I wanted to give myself a week because I wasn’t sure about flights back to the states that quickly and I needed time to find someone to take over my apartment, buy my furniture, close my bank account, etc. Looking back, it’s funny to see how quickly I was able to do everything – within 24 hours my roommates had found someone to take over my part of the lease and buy my furniture and the studio owners were more than gracious about my leaving so abruptly. It reminded me of when I left NYC – everything just fell into place which made me feel like I was doing what I should be doing. By Tuesday, I was ready to go but my flight wasn’t until Saturday…again I thought there is something more than just my mom’s cancer sending me home. I’m meant to be here at this point in my life.
During this time, my very good friend Brian created a gofundme page to pay for my ticket back to the states and other travel expenses. I am beyond grateful for the 44 folks that graciously donated so that I could get a flight back to the states and not have that financial burden. As I saw the donations coming in and the sweet messages from college friends, sorority sisters, friends of friends, co-workers, and the anonymous I felt incredibly loved. If you know me, you know that I’ve been looking for love for a long time and finding it in my friends and family that have rallied around me in this time of need is unbelievable. For the first time in a very long time I realized that I am loved. And I will be forever grateful to each and every one of you. Thank you so very much.
I started reaching out to yoga studio’s in the area because I would need a job…I had previously reached out to the studio in Cleveland about teaching in December 2015 but they were full up on teachers so I figured nothing would have changed since my last email in February. Boy was I pleasantly surprised – one of the teachers wanted to cut back on classes and that had availability for me. I couldn’t believe it- again it was so clear that I was supposed to be home.
Spending this time with my mother and grandmother has been wonderful and terrifying. My mother cancer is at stage four and that won’t change but luckily she has a great oncologist who has put together a wonderful treatment plan for her. At first we were so worried that we were looking at months, maybe a year at best but we’ve got YEARS on YEARS on YEARS! I know that my mother (and myself as well) is very lucky. Stage four cancer doesn’t always have such a happy diagnosis and for that I feel very blessed.
I do believe that blessed is the new humble. 😉
I’ve had a few students comment on the heat in the past few days, actually move than a few. I’ve had one that point blank threw a temper tantrum (at least that’s what i call it ) because the heat wasn’t on prior to the class (there was a slight hiccup with a heating program). I was teaching on Friday AM and another student asked how hot the room was – I simply replied that it was 42 ‘ C (For all my American friends that’s 107 F plus the humidity was 40%), she wasn’t impressed with my response. “Oh really? It didn’t feel that hot”. Interesting.
That brings me back to title of this post – it’s not about the heat. The heat is an element and yes, it is something that separates Bikram from other practices of yoga but it isn’t the entire point of the yoga. The heat is an element that allows your body to go further but it isn’t the most important part of the class. I feel that students get so caught up on the heat and if the class is hot enough or not that they can’t focus on what they should be focusing on which is them!
As a student, I’ve never come out of a class thinking it was really cool in there. Usually, I just felt rocked but a really good rocked. Coming out of the hot room is one of the best feelings – it’s a feeling of joy, accomplishment, knwoing that I’ve worked every bone in my body over the past 90 minutes. I’m so elated that thinking about the heat isn’t even on my mind. I’ve just spent the past 90 minutes focusing on myself in the room and I’m not going to ruin it by being worried about the heat. The heat is something that I as a student can’t control. What I can control is my focus and my breathing.
I just wonder if a student is spending so much time on focusing on the heat how can they be focusing on themselves in class? How can the student be present in a 90 minute class when all you’re concerned about is the heat? You’ve got only 90 minutes to strictly focus on yourself for the first time in your day and you want to spend it on worrying about the heat. I can find something better for each of my students to focus on in class – themselves.
Beacuse it isn’t about the heat. It’s about you.
A regular thing that I say throughout my class is “eyes open. breathing normal.” This is probably the most important thing in class – eyes open.
When you walk into a Bikram class there is a mirror where you will face yourself, good, bad and ugly for 90 minutes. I haven’t taken a lot of other yoga classes but when i have I don’t recall having a mirror to focus on myself so I’ going to say this is unique to Bikram. It’s an important part of the practice because how often do you get to look and focus on yourself for a full 90 minutes – just you, your issues, your insecurities, your flaws, your strengths, your beauty, you for 90 minutes.
It’s hard to really look at ourselves and be accepting of what we see and who we are or who we’ve become. It’s easy to just close our eyes and not be present in our lives but you’ve got to keep your eyes open and really focus on yourself (also because when you close your eyes I think you’re going to pass out and that’s no good!).
Not only does keeping your eyes open allow you to be fully present in class you’re also able to see your posture from start to finish and you can make adjustments as needed – is my hip aligned, are my elbows locked, is my chin up? When you close your eyes you can see yourself and make adjustments as needed. And this isn’t just for when practicing yoga – this can be in your life outside of the hot room too. Are you complacent in your love life, work life, etc? Do you need to make changes in your relationship (romantic or otherwise) but you’re afraid to make them so you just close your eyes and pretend things are fine….or in your career.
If you can’t keep your eyes open in the hot room for 90 minutes…what do you do outside of the hot room? Eyes open please.
Greetings from the land of Oz! 28 is a special number for me – not only did I just finish writing my 28th post but I also taught 28 classes in the month of December. Can you believe it? Just after graduating from teacher training six short weeks ago I’ve managed to teach 28 classes ranging from 6 – 24 students per class in one short month! I’ve been so lucky to be welcomed into the Bikram Yoga Community here in Melbourne. Everyone has been so friendly and the feedback I have received has been nothing but absolutely constructive. Let’s talk about the classes –
So I wrote about my first class but let’s revisit that class again – I taught a 6am class in the northern Melbourne suburbs at Bikram Yoga Ascot Vale. It was my first class and I had 7 students (all regulars and pros!) who kept giving me dirty looks which is really a sign that I’m doing a great job. The more dirty looks you get in class the better job you’re doing – killing your students. That’s what you want – you want to kill them for 90 minutes so that they can live for 90 years! I was pretty nervous that first class but you know what somehow I got all the dialogue out with no problem. It just sorta came spewing out of my mouth word after word after word.
My first day teaching I taught a double and I must say that class also went pretty well – I was still an absolute ball of nerves but I felt a bit more relaxed while up there and the support from the students was wonderful. I did freeze a bit during balancing stick. I basically forgot what to say and had everyone in the first part so their right leg was forward arms over their head and blank…nada. But I had a chuckle to myself and just let it go and then the dialogue came rushing out of my mouth. It also helped that the owner just went right into the posture so I could see what was supposed to come next! Mind you it was probably only about 3 – 4 seconds that I froze up there but it felt like it was longer than that and the thoughts that ran across my head made it seem like it was at least 5 minutes but it was at most 5 seconds and probably more in the 1 – 2 second range.
After teaching for about 7 classes I started to feel really comfortable on the podium and started playing a bit more with the words and by that I basically mean during wind removing pose in the second set I said massaging your ascending colon (right side) and descending colon (left side) and transverse colon / intestines (both legs). Now this is a pretty big deal because I’m adding in some “additional” dialogue into the class but it’s great because it helps the students understand why they need to pull down harder and create maximum pressure in the lower abdomen.
I also started playing a bit more with my voice which has been quite fun. I was a worried about my voice because during posture clinic at training i had one of our senior teachers tell me that my voice was too high and I needed to drop my voice down to Mr. T. Uhh okay but that piece of “constructive” criticism really had me worried about how my voice sounded when I was teaching and made me a bit more conscious of it. However, once I started teaching – all of the owners told me that I had a really nice voice that was calming and made them want to work out. It also helps that people generally like me so when you have a teacher you like you’ll work harder for them! (this is a 100% true – I’ve had classes back home where I’ve felt like crap yet my favourite teacher was teaching and all of a sudden I’m a rockstar). Students have also told me that they like the sound of my voice (having an American accent probably doesn’t hurt either) and the pace that I set for class! In terms of the range for my voice – I’m making sounds to match a few of the key words in the dialogue. For example, we say push a lot (like a lot!) so when I say push – I make a pushing sound and the with stretch – I’ll “stretch” the word out while I’m tell students to streeetch their bodies down from the lower spine towards the floor. I found that when I was just simply a student it made the class more interesting when the teacher varied their voice so I’m trying it now too!
As I’ve continued to teach I’ve gotten really positive feedback from students class after class – I taught a pretty big class with around 17 students and a student from my very class came up to me after and said “Brittany I was a little worried because there were so many people…but you did a great job!” why thank you and thank you also for being worried about me! I appreciate that – my students like me and want me to succeed.
I had another student who I had on my first day also tell me that he can see that I’m getting more comfortable on the podium and I’m not just a complete bundle of nerves as I was on my first day. Granted, I’m still nervous every time I step on the podium but it’s not like it was for the first class.
Anyways, I’m super pumped to have taught 28 classes in the month of December! And I’m looking forward to teaching more in January – right now I’ve got 34 classes scheduled!!
I love love love teaching Bikram Yoga. A lot. It’s so great being up on the podium and seeing my students working hard through the heat and whatever other challenges that they’ve brought into the room with them but what about my practice?
During training I was taking doubles Monday – Friday and one class on Saturday. That’s 11 classes per week. 97 classes in just 9 short weeks and now that I’m teaching I’m lucky to practice three times per week. It’s not because I don’t want to practice it’s because I’m always teaching. I can’t take and teach a class. As a teacher my role is to stand on top of the podium and guide my students through their class it isn’t about me – it’s strictly about them and how they connect their body to the words that I am saying.
Most of the studios here in Melbourne are currently on a reduced holiday schedule so there are at a minimum two classes per day at a maximum three classes. If I’m teaching the classes for the day (i.e the 9:3a and the 4p or the 7p) that allows me no time to really practice myself. It’s a great start to the week when I get to practice two days in a row.
Please don’t think by any means I’m complaining – I’m just making an observation that my own practice has suffered a bit since teaching. It’s been really hard for me to find the time to actually get on the mat and be a student. I love teaching but I also need to continue to strengthen and deepen my practice. The best teachers are the teachers that practice as often as possible.
Luckily, since the holidays are starting to wind down most of the studios are coming off their reduced summer schedule and I’m able to practice a bit more. I also lucked out with not having to teach as much (I’m still teaching plenty) but not as many doubles which allows me the chance to practice more.
I had mentioned this to a student that gave me a ride to the tram (Thanks!) and she had said that was one of the reasons that she didn’t want to go to training because once you become a teacher it is hard to find the balance for practice and teaching. I couldn’t imagine how my practice would suffer if I still had my full-time corporate job. I would never be able to find the time to practice!
I found a solution for allowing me to practice in between my doubles – it was a suggestion from one of my studio owners. I had mentioned that I was going to go for a run and she said why don’t you just practice after class has finished? It had never dawned on me that I could put in the Bikram CD (okay, really it’s on an iPod) and press play – and lo and behold it’s the boss’ voice over the speakers yelling at me to lock my elbows, chin up, upper body back and push and push and push. Honestly since I’ve started practicing with the recorded voice of Bikram I have felt amazing. I never thought that I would actually miss how he teaches (and training!) but I do. When I take that class it puts me right back into the yoga bubble, I can practically smell the funkiness of the yoga room in Thailand and it makes me happy! I actually find myself talking aloud to him when he’s asking question – shouting “Yes I’m ready” for a posture or whatever else he says or laughing when he talks about Indian Marriage (no choice!).
The fact that I’m practicing with this tape has helped to reinforce how much I absolutely love love this yoga and the power that it has to change my life on the mat and the podium.
I’m so lucky that I get to spend 90 minutes teaching and practicing every day for the rest of my life!
Hello! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Hope everyone has had a fantastic holiday season – I have been in Melbourne for three weeks and it has been great so far. I’ve been teaching lots, exploring St. Kilda and South Yarra but mostly I’ve just been sleeping and eatings lots of avocados.
After 9 crazy weeks in Thailand for teacher training and two weeks trekking through Vietnam with 40 kilos of luggage I am tired. Just absolutely tired – luckily, I now have a job that allows for afternoon naps on a regular basis. I generally take a nap between 1 – 4 sorta like a toddler, daily. Sometimes if I’m teaching both classes (9:30a & 4p) I’ll take a mat into the hot room and pass out on the mat on the floor or if the studio has a couch I’ll sleep there. I need my daily nap! It really helps! Teaching is very tiring 🙂
So it’s been three weeks since I landed in Oz and I haven’t actually seen much of the touristy stuff that Melbourne has to offer. What I have seen is the tram! a lot. I’m teaching at a fabulous studio that is about an hour and half outside of the city by tram (by car it’s a measly 30 minutes but i don’t drive stick! so I’m on a tram!) The tram isn’t too bad – it’s convenient. The places where I’ve stayed thus far have been decently close to connecting trams and I feel like I’ve mastered them. The other day I helped someone figure out how to get to Luna Park (take the 96 or 16 or 3 (if it’s a weekend!) to the Luna Park stop!
The other great thing about riding the tram is that I’ve been able to find restaurants or alleys that I would like to try or venture down. Don’t be scared about the alleys (apparently the best treasures in Melbs are found down random alleys, unlike NYC!) and I also have a better understanding of where things are (kinda). I’m still trying to navigate the various neighbourhoods and inner suburbs.
Now that I feel like I’ve caught up on sleep after being self deprived for nine weeks in Thailand and Vietnam I’ve decided to become a tourist. I’m going on a walking tour on New Year’s Day! I think it’ll be fun and everyone I’ve talked to has recommended it as the best way (besides the trams) to get a feel for the city, the CBD and each distinct neighbourhood! Looks like I’ll need to invest in a good pair of walking shoes 🙂