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Be fair, be Justa

Becoming a Bikram yoga teacher is one of my11824007_10153593133942268_40702278_n
dreams. A dream that I have been thinking for a couple of years since I started practicing. But I also have another dream, an ultimate desire: to combine in some way or another my profession (As I metioned in my first post I am a political scientist specialized in  conflicts and peace processes) with Bikram yoga.

And lately I have been doing just that, designing my yoga clothing line: JUSTA

11249091_1615292628745108_8007124708516224715_n“But how are both related?” you might ask… Well, this yoga apparel has some characteristics that explain this relationship. Conflicts are not only provoked by political/racial /religious reasons, but also due to economic interests. Particularly in Asia, and some countries in latin-america like Guatemala and Mexico, a particular model of textile production has been imposed. As these countries have a considerably large population of undereducated women, caused by gender inequality, many companies see this situation as a business opportunity.
Because of lack of social responsibilities to foreign textile investors, clothing firms have been taken advantage in many ways: extending working hours to very long days, cutting their lunch break and “descanso”, paying very low wages and deplorable working conditions, even using child labour, to mention some.

In a few words, this economic model, that unfortunately is also reproduced in other industries, is creating conflicts. Population is discontent, poor, exploited and unhappy. Countries with better conditions also suffer the consequences. Chile, for example, has become a big importer of clothing as its own clothing textile industry can’t compete with the low prices from other markets. Many women who sew for surviving before are now struggling for jobs. Tailoring in Chile is a a tool frequently used for women to support their families.

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Ana, Nadia and Johana, Justa tailors

Justa (fair in Spanish) promises to have a fair price for the costumer, but more important, a fair wage for tailors. Justa is so far sewn by three women, hard workers, with a single sewing machine, who maintain their families. In a not so far future Justa’s idea is that these three women could become hundreds. The obtained benefits shall help their families and improve their social condition. Justa’s dream is to create a fund for their children’s education.

We are just starting, the first collection is already in the making! If you want to contribute please become a costumer 😉 or if you like yoga have a look, you might find something you like…

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Another week of shocks and shakes

The nice 5 start hotel we are staying at is a completely new complex and was reconstructed after the tsunami in 2004. Even if 11 years have passed already there is still a sense of alarm all over, including the yogui community. Actually, the first question one of our classmates made was about the procedure in case of a tsunami. Hopefully we safe, but many are be scared, specially after the earth movement we had on Tuesday and Wednesday night. As a chilean, I didn’t worry so much, earthquakes are part of our daily life, we even name drinks after them, but it is true that at least it makes you think about the possibility of a natural disaster.

After the tremors this week the rumor says that there is a tsunami alert in the region… That adds to the general panic. I think however that the sensation is worsened by the fact that we are under a great amount of stress, specially because of the dialogueIMG_0235 and many others due to stomach problems. I’ll explain:

In the last post I mentioned how great the food is. And it is true, it was quite nice, until you find yourself eating the same food day after day, every single day; exactly the same. Looks like the country-related-food-days are over, maybe they have run out of countries to choose from. Non vegetarians can still have some variety within the menu. Vegetarians however, or vegans for that matter, are struggling to get a complete diet and the necessary vitamins and minerals. I am grateful I was able to visit Linn and get the right nutritional IMG_0234supplements I needed to survive the Teacher Training Course. Some are already becoming weak and spending the weekend in their rooms recovering from the hard training and lack of nutrients instead of enjoying the hotel’s facilities, or studying the dialogue with friends out in the beach (or swimming pool, or lounges, or massage table… so many to choose from 😉

Not sure if everyone thinks the same about the diet, but up until now, those who I have spoken with, the are of the same opinion. Thankfully tomorrow is the weekend!!!!!! Yeah!!… free time!… to study the dialogue…

A week of shocks

That’s right, that is what the first days here have been, a collection of shocks: weather shock, cultural shock, mind shock, body shock, food shock… I am not saying it as a negative experience, on the contrary, this week has been wonderful! Now I know that I have taken the right decision, it is the best option. Even if the first day, especially after the first practice with Bikram, I regretted signing up for this and asked myself what I was doing here. It has not been easy to leave my wonderful and comfortable life in Norway and start sharing a room with a person I have never met before, invest every single free minute learning an endless dialogue or sweat, sweat and sweat the whole day, not just when practicing in a hot room with 80% humidity, but outside as well!

To be honest I have got used to the weather very easily, how can you not when you can wear shorts all day and we can jump right into the tDSC_7981 copyurquoise sea after class! Full of jellyfish though… and as the lucky one I got stung three times already (!) .

I have read from blogs and heard from former students that the first and second weeks of training are the easiest. I really hope they are wrong… So far these few days have been the most difficult ones, not physically, but mentally. Adaptation has been a battle, but as Bikram says, “we still have to win the war”. Up to this point what I have learnt is, as he keeps reminding us, to “do something or get the fuck out of here”.

So there you go, two weeks, it has been two weeks already! The weeks have gone and I have experienced everything from happiness to hatred, I am well into my intense training of 2 classes per day, endless workshops, dialogue studying, Bollywood movie watching… which leaves only a few hours for sleepinIMG_0228g. So far I feel well, a bit tired but very happy. I have also noticed that my alternative treatment is already working and I can maintain my energy levels. The food is just amazing. However I am still struggling with the fact that we get only two meals per day. Thai food is sooo good! The hotel is also preparing different Asian specialties, Thursday was Chinese and Japanese day and Friday Mexican.

And what about Bikram? Not sure if I want to talk about this just yet… I think the topic deserves its own blog entry… You will be the first to know when that happens 😉

The Diet Journey

I have discovered  Natural Medicine. Natural medicine, is that right Linn? I have heard so many different appellations for alternative medicine that I am now confused: integral or complementary medicine, biomedicine, natural medicine, naturopathy, herbal medicine, holistic and body medicine, Chinese medicine, and so on… probably there is a difference between all of them, right?

I am not sick at all, at least that’s what I think. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to go to Thailand and train more than 8 hours daily. However, as everyone, I do have some disorders and discomfort with some part of my body. Like many, I am a regular rider of the weight roller-coaster. In a year I can lose 5 kilos, gain 7, lose 5 again and gain another 7. Every single year. So if you do the maths… I have been getting stronger and stronger, as I like to call it… or getting new muscles.

Being a regular rider, combined with the fact that sunlight hours in Oslo vary dramatically between winter and summer, has caused the roller-coaster to increase its velocity lately. I started feeling very tired some mornings (and the whole day or week) but with lots of unexpected energy some others. I remember that I could sleep 17 hours in a row, waking up and still feeling exhausted. My stomach also started misbehaving. I also discovered that I was infected with mononucleosis, quite normal here in Norway I heard? I therefore payed a visit to my general doctor (fastlege).

In Norway the health system is very complex and most of the time is slow, however it’s free. My doctor didn’t wanted me to make any test for mono. But since I didn’t have to pay for the exam, just a few coronas, I insisted.  It turned out that I had mono. The cure: rest and sleep. My cure: Bikram.

My journey to become a Bikram teacher worries me a bit: 2 x 90+ minutes practices plus 2 x4+ hours of posture clinics, 4 liters of water, 1000 calories, 40+ degrees per day for 9 weeks. Where do I get the necessary minerals and nutrients? My doctor didn’t know (he was a bit concerned also). But Linn did. She is a therapist in biological medicine. Most traditional doctors think that alternative therapies lack scientific validation and that are usually based in religion, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energy, bla, bla, bla. Last tuesday I experienced myself that alternative medicine is far away from being a god’s science or a quackery. I totally recommend an appointment with her (I can put you in contact if you are interested).

I came to Linn for help with weight control, energy levels and on and off stomach problems. After taking an extensive medical history, analyzing my blood under the microscope and using reflexology, iris analysis and auricular acupuncture as further diagnostic tools I was set up with a nutritional and supplement plan. Since I am taking the Bikram teacher training she decided to focus less on detoxing and instead on giving me customized nutritional guidance to support me during my stay with focus on the right fats, vitamins, minera2015-04-18 02.21.14ls and herbs that will work on replenishing my body, stabilizing my blood sugar as well as creating digestive symbiosis. Linn also gave me advice on local produce and protein sources for a vegetarian diet as well as other tips for forming healthy habits. With this initial treatment she expects me to feel more energetic, with less cravings, a more stable weight and improved digestion.

After my appointment, now I understand why is it also called holistic medicine. A follow up treatment after I return from Thailand will address some more of the underlying causes of my condition. However, I’ve already started taking the medicine and at today’s Bikram class I didn’t felt tired and I even didn’t sweat as much as I’ve always done. I just drunk 1 liter of water instead of the normal 2!

Tomorrow my journey starts (wohoooo!) and I will keep you informed on how my diet and body reacts.

The Study Journey

It is just 5 days before leaving to Thailand and the single thing that I have been thinking about is to learn the dialogue.

Learn the dialogue before you go.
Learn the dialogue before you go.
Learn the dialogue before you go.

Learn the dialogue before you go is what I have been advised. Learning the dialogue has been however an extreme experience and a very difficult one. I actually need to learn the dialogue and remember it, to be able to deliver it in front of everybody and Bikram.DSC_7912

I received by e-mail the first dialogue postures in March and the whole document about two weeks ago by regular mail. Since then I have been cramming it into my head long enough to spit it out when I am in Thailand. Did I mentioned that I am supposed to learn 24 positions by heart? that is about 40 pages that I have to remember!  Never in my life have I had to memorize 90+ minutes of words. Word for word. Including all the incorrect grammar.

Going back to how I successfully studied at  the university, memorizing was a tool I hardly used. As a “reading comprehension” and somewhat academic type of person, it is totally essential for me to understand the process and mechanism behind the text. Unfortunately I haven’t found it yet. Actually, I don’t think the dialogue has one. So verbatim, there is no other way out.

The experience around the dialogue is already intense all around. Even if my teachers are insisting a bit on memorizing the dialogue before I go, there is some kind of internal pressure that makes me nervous. Tina, the owner of the amazing studio where I practice Bikram (Raw Yoga Oslo) asked me several times if I want to teach half moon pose, and I am pretty sure she will continue to ask. But I don’t feel prepared yet. I think I will never feel prepared.

I have tried different methods  finding a way to study the dialogue that will allow me to retain it. I started recording myself and listening to my voice while I have breakfast, lunch and dinner, take a shower, brush my teeth, do or remove the makeup, on my way to everywhere, at the sofa while having a rest, and so on. I am rDSC_7917epeating the words and saying them out loud almost everywhere. I made a list of the first words of each posture and use those to jog my memory of the lines that I had learned. I have also been improving my drawing abilities making some king of depiction for every part of the human body, verb or action.

My ultimate creation is a plasticized dialogue I could use inside the hot room during postures clinic. Just love it! It has already became like my personal Bible. The two of us will rarely separate the two upcoming months.DSC_7908

The consequence of all this is that I have been associating every movement of my life with Bikram postures and its dialogue. At home we even started joking about it. We now say that when tired, we should practice the sofasana pose, at parties the Danceyamana-Cheershirasana, or the Drinkingyamana-Cavahaktapada-Piscomotthanasana (referring to the chilean pisco sour), and when hungry the soupasana. Ca….asana is one of those we love. If you speak spanish maybe you will get it. You did it??

It is just 5 days and the only thing I am thinking is about the dialogue. I will let you know how it goes, and hopefully you can take a class with me, however just in english please. I read in a blog that english speakers have great admiration for the non-native English speakers who must learn dialogue in English and after training, go back to their countries and re-learn it in their native tongues. I also would be admired of myself if I could ever learn it again in Spanish or Norwegian… So for now just be content with the English version! 🙂

The Yoga Journey

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My yoga journey started some years ago, maybe about ten or more, during high school, but I don’t want to be more precise and tell the world how old I am. Just quoting a friend, I am …ty-something…twenty, thirty….

I have tried so many types of yoga trying to like any of them, but I didn’t success. I understood Yoga as a cool sport which my friends practiced and helped them cultivate a beautiful and young body.

Not long ago, I tried a very singular and unusual type of yoga… Bikram. I took my first class on the 29th of January, during winter. Even though it wasn’t very cold outside, coming from a relatively warm country, a -5 degrees Oslo was pretty chilly to like the idea of going into a +40 degrees yoga class. But, what was that smell? Upon entering the studio, I was smacked in the face with a horrible odor, nonetheless just thinking about a Caribbean experience in Scandinavia pushed me to enter the class.

Before the class began, the teacher told me and the newcomers in a very strange Norwegian (at the time my language skills were even worst than todays), that we should lie down if we feel dizzy or faint, but that we should not leave the room, ever… At this point, I was getting a little nervous.  I really didn’t want to faint onto the sweaty carpet. Oh, yes, Bikram studios are carpeted. Even if I was worried about the smell and asking myself if I could tolerate it for 90 minutes I was enjoying the heat …I was feeling like at home.

When the practice began I saw most of the people very focused on their own… very concentrated, nobody seem to even briefly take a glance to their neighbors, but me. I could not fixed my eyes on the mirror, postures were too difficult for me and I needed to look how the poses actually were. Didn’t I told you that the teacher is not showing them? Is just dialogue.  Overall, I felt good about what I was able to do. I sat down few times, I was extremely tired and because I drunk too much water I was feeling stuffed, but I did manage to last the entire 90 minutes.

After the class, I felt exhilarated, relaxed and with so much energy. I could manage not to over sleep the following days and stop overwintering!  Bikram was my solution to make normal activity and survival in Norway easier. Time passed and I could saw how my regular Bikram practice helped me to increase my flexibility and fitness. That was from the outside. But from the inside I was feeling happier and balanced. Even if many, and also my husband, still thinks I am over-willed, is just because I will like to do so many things, like this blog for instance. My mom always told me “Dani, el que la sigue, la consigue”, a spanish proverb which in other words means: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And that is what I am trying to do right now.

Success may mean so many different thing depending on your goals: attainment of higher social statues, profesional or academic succes, prosperity, victory, triumph, reward, etc. For me to considered myself a successful woman would be to do something I like, something that I love to do and that gives me fulfillment. I am a historian, political scientist with two masters, and I love my career. But I haven’t succeed.  I haven’t been able to find the way of feeling peaceful or finding the right job that makes me realized as a “scientist”. However, when my imagination soars and I envisage myself involved in my yoga projects, a whole spectrum of joy and opportunities come up to my mind. That is why  I have decided to make a trip, a long one, from Chile to Norway and to Thailand to become a Bikram teacher.

Yoga has changed the way I look at life, to understand things from a different angle, much better. In few days I will experience TheYogainMe during 9 weeks of teacher yoga training in Phuket! yeah! it will be awesome, but I am as scared as I was the first time I stepped inside a Bikram studio, or even more. But the scariest moment is always just before you start! So lets start this adventure together, I want to make MyYogaExperience for every bunny and everybody. I want my family and friends from many different far away parts of the world to share my trip to somewhere, my journey to success.

Just to finish this my first post I will like to mention again my inspiring ty-something friend who have made hers a quote from Pippi Langstrømpe: Det har jeg aldri gjørt før, så derfor klarer jeg helt sikkert. And I am sure I can make this!

Namaste.