Silver City Yoga

Lotus Center

Silver City has a new yoga studio and it’s so pretty! This city deserves a quality yoga studio and I’m so pleased it’s finally happened.

Lotus Center

I took the Align and Refine Vinyasa class with Melissa and we worked through some complicated poses like Eagle and Upward Bow by starting with less complicated stuff and transitioning into the complications. This kind of work is incredibly helpful for me as a relatively unpracticed yoga practitioner because I rarely know what I’m doing. In any class. Ever. But Melissa broke down the complicated poses into components so we could work on our alignment in the simpler poses and when we transitioned into the full poses, they made so much more sense.

My yoga lesson of the day: How you get somewhere is as important as where you go.

Funny how all my recent yoga lessons are about slowing down and paying attention to the particulars, my intent, my breath, the method in which I do things… This particular lesson has a much wider application than just yoga. It’s like that saying “how you do anything is how you do everything.” The How matters. Deeply. Relationships, jobs, politics, yoga poses… they’re all built on small uncomplicated transitional choices and if the choices aren’t solid, the end result falls apart too.

Focus and going back to the basics, right? Good practices for yoga and for life.

If you’re in Silver City, visit the Lotus Center. The interior is a gorgeously appointed oasis of calm and beauty fully stocked with mats, blocks, straps, scented eye pillows and anything else students might want or need. There are no additional fees for equipment. It all comes with the cost of the class, which makes it so easy to stop in. There are yoga classes every day of the week as well as meditation, qigong, tai chi and even some Buddhism basics. Lots of options, lots of times and a beautiful space.

So go forth and do yoga. Namaste.

Yoga Vida Tucson

Yoga Vida Tucson

It’s strange to come back to Tucson because I have a lot of history here. I moved here in the mid 90’s on a whim and stayed for a decade, which was slightly longer than was good for me. In hindsight I only stayed long enough to do everything I needed to do, it just took longer than I thought. By the time I left I practically ran out of town.

Since 2006, I’ve been back to Tucson (usually reluctantly) every year or so to visit my friends and my storage shed. Normally I only stay for a brief few days but for one period of time in 2011, I moved back to Tucson temporarily to write a book and during that time I started going to this yoga studio regularly.

Being on the road all the time, I enjoy the familiarity of Bikram studios all across the nation. I know what I’m getting into and yet I have a different experience in each class. Bonnie and Yoga Vida are directly responsible for my love of yoga studios that teach the Bikram method without the dialogue. I can appreciate the need for dialogue and the emphasis on certain Bikram-specific practices (LOCK YOUR KNEE!)  but there’s a yoga spirit that can be lost in a Bikram class because of the stridency of the speech. What I really enjoy is doing a familiar sequence of poses with instructors that extemporize verbally, correct postures, tell stories and don’t talk about Japanese ham sandwiches. Plus I always come away with something to think about.

In class this weekend Bonnie started by saying “Let’s go into this slow. Work as hard as you want, but let’s start slow.”

That is pretty much the exact opposite of everything I hear in my normal life. Everything around me (including the drill sergeant in my head) says move fast, hit the ground running, catch up, you’re getting left behind. Nothing says “Go slow. Think about the work before you do the work. Easing in is ok…”

She followed this by saying “Let’s pretend we don’t know what these poses look like and focus on what they feel like.” In other words, lifting out of the arch of my foot doesn’t look like much but it feels gigantic. Shifting my gaze from my knee to my navel might not change anything about my posture but it changes everything about my intent. If I’m always depending on some exterior source, like a mirror, for corrections, I won’t ever know what it feels like to do it correctly because sometimes the changes are too small to be seen.

Interestingly, both of these sentiments can be flipped around. Some days are about starting fast, moving more and visually correcting myself. Pushing harder than I want to but getting further than I expect.

The trick is knowing what day it is.


Hot Yoga and Brunch in Albany

The Hot Spot Yoga

I had some good looking plans this morning. My friend Ryan McAlpine called me last week and after confused schedule swapping we discovered we were going to be an hour an a half away from each other while I was stopping over in Albany. He offered to drive up for brunch and I told him to come up around 11ish so I could do yoga before he got there.

I wanted to do Bikram, since I’m on a roll this week, but Albany doesn’t have a Bikram studio. However, they do have a few hot yoga places and I found one called Yoga for All Seasons that offered the Bikram method but then I got in my car and programmed the wrong yoga place in my GPS and ended up at the The Hot Yoga Spot. I spent a frustrating 15 minutes realizing that I wouldn’t make it to Yoga for All Seasons in time and I would have to wait an extra hour for a hot yoga flow class at Hot Spot, which meant changing brunch times on Ryan plus I had already checked out of my hotel so I had nowhere to go. It wasn’t even 9am and my whole morning had gone sideways.

It wasn’t the best way to anticipate a yoga class. But I waited an hour and then did the 10am Hot Yoga flow class and it was pretty hideous because I don’t do yoga, I do Bikram. Bikram is 26 yogic poses, always the same ones, whereas real yoga classes can be any one of a trillion poses in any combination. When I do real yoga I want a class where the poses are held and corrections are made and I can periodically look around at what everyone else is doing and then do something that approximates it. That is not how a flow class works. Flow classes are constant movement, changing poses with the breath more or less continuously for an hour. There’s no real time to look at the other kids papers and figure out how to cheat. This means that for a solid sweaty hour I attempted to use my peripheral vision to figure myself out and again remembered how stiff and inflexible I am right now.  Plus the only spot in the room was right next to the heater – HOTHOTHOTHOT – and the class was full of lithe young college students who clearly do yoga flow every day like it’s no biggie after which they wipe the light sheen of sweat off their foreheads and then go drink their skinny vanilla half caf lattes on the way to psych 101 classes. Not that I hate them but I’m pretty sure I’m smarter.

This is where my head goes in the heat when I’m trying to perch on a yoga block, balance my knees on my triceps and figure out crow pose.


Other than my incompetence it was a great yoga studio with two different work spaces, beautiful hard wood floors and those icy cold wet lavender towels as a reward for surviving class. And seriously, I’m complaining about a yoga class? I have no real problems. Let’s move on.

Cafe Madison

Brunch at Cafe Madison was good. Actually, the company  – Mr. McAlpine and Lady Allie Lin – was fantastic and the food was good. My broccoli fritatta – lower right corner – was light on broccoli and heavy on cheese but there were lots of different homemade breads and Allie’s bacon looked scrumptious. It’s a cute place with a patio. I bet in the summer time it’s gorgeous. I love Ryan and Allie for making the drive to see me. They’re good people and I’m lucky to know them.

I do have to give a shoutout to the Ala Shanghai Chinese Cuisine, a place from which I ordered takeout and expected very little and had my expectations blown to bits by the incredible food. I should have known from the menu, which looked very much like menus I encountered in China, offering things like “sea cucumber” and “lions head” and something called “yan-du-xian casserole.” I ordered the chicken and baby bok choy and it was delectable and perfectly cooked in a buttery white sauce. I wanted to go back with a bunch of people and order all the things I didn’t recognize so I could try everything.

If you’re in Albany, try the Chinese food at Ala Shanghai Chinese Cuisine and if you’re up for it, do a little yoga flow. I bet you’re super smart as well.

Bikram Yoga in New England

It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a Bikram class but I’ve thought about it often in the last couple of months. I injured my ankle last Christmas and it’s taken a long time to heal during which time I’ve been lifting weights and doing Crossfit. I was good about rehabbing my ankle and didn’t push it hard for several weeks but after just one Bikram class, I wished I’d been doing yoga in addition to Crossfit.

Crossfit is great for muscle building and I’ll talk more about it later but yoga, especially Bikram with the heat and extended pose holding, gets more deeply into my joints. My ankle HURT during poses like fixed firm and bow pose but the pain feels stretchy and elongating instead of impactful.

There’s no Bikram in Kennebunkport, Maine. You either have to go north to Portland, Maine or south to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. So, in the course of the last few days, I did both.

Maine Hatha Yoga

Maine Hatha Yoga in Portland offers a Bikram method class without the dialogue that they call the Hot 26. My favorite yoga studio in the country also offers Bikram method classes without the Bikram dialogue and I really love it. It’s Bikram with yoga talk. Fantastic.

The Maine Hatha Yoga studio is small, low ceilinged and carpeted and they run the heaters and humidifiers to get the space SUPER HOT. I went to the community class on Saturday where you pay what you can afford, a lovely offering to a yoga community given how pricey Bikram can be, and the class was pretty full and REALLY INCREDIBLY HOT. My best guesstimation is somewhere around 120-130 degrees. I spent most of the class just enduring the heat and telling myself it would be over soon. Which it was. I’ve gotten better at leaning into the discomfort of heat, reminding myself that I won’t be burning up in this humid hell for all of eternity (even if it feels like it) and pushing myself to do all the poses and breathing, breathing, breathing.

Non-Bikram people are right now asking themselves why I bother if it’s so awful and to them I say “because a really hot Bikram class that takes it all out of you produces an endorphin rush afterwards like no other.” It’s the most satisfying, wrung out, high flying feeling in the world. Like I climbed Everest or finished a marathon. Delicious. I feel like I’ve done something impossible that was also good for me. Deeply satisfying.

I would definitely recommend this Portland studio. Good teachers and good prices. The bathroom/shower area is communal for men and women with some curtained off changing areas but everyone using all the same facilities. I thought it was very yoga spirited but if stripping in public is a deterrent for you, be warned.

The Portsmouth studio is a certified Bikram Studio

Portsmouth Bikram Studio

The studio is on the small side of average but in both classes I attended there were 50+ people in the class (!) definitely the most crowded classes I’ve ever been in. Despite that crowd the heat level was tolerable, the thermometer said 108, and there was a nice range of people from beginners to yoga competitors. The teacher, Sara, was easy on the dialogue, told lots of stories and had a lot of wise things to say. Here are a few that I’m still thinking about.

1. What kind of tone does the voice in your head have? Not what does it say, but what kind of tone does it use?


And yet, I’ve thought about it a lot. The voice in my particular head is a drill instructor. Lots of yelling and commands and very little mercy. For anything. I have to continually remind myself to be patient because I can get wrapped up in the internal yelling… I don’t think I’ve ever realized before how judgey and bossy my internal voice is.

2. Unless you’re dying, don’t skip camel. Calm in camel, calm in life.

I usually skip camel the first class (or two) back to Bikram. I hate the nauseous feeling and by that point in class everything else has been so hard that I give myself a break on the last really hard thing. But this time back, I didn’t have trouble with camel. Even in the really hot Portland studio. I don’t know why this might be but I’m hoping for the “calm in life” part.

3. The kidneys can only process 24oz of liquid in 90 minutes. If you need to drink more than that, you’re just using water to make yourself feel better mentally. Trying breathing instead.

4. Challenge yourself to do hard things. That’s how you grow.

Isn’t that last one the truest statement ever? So there you have it, a little science, a little encouragement and a little food for thought. The perfect Bikram happy meal.