… to Maryland

As you may or may not know by now, I am a certified Bikram Yoga Instructor. I spent 9 weeks in Acapulco, Mexico training to be able to teach this yoga that I love (and sometimes hate) so much. I was lucky enough to be assigned to the most amazing roommate during that time, Leah.

I am fully convinced I would not have survived Mexico without Leah. We each had our own friend groups and did our own things but at the end of the day, we would vent and laugh and cry with each other. We got closer as the weeks went on and as much as I wanted to be alone sometimes, I was so thankful to share a room with her and have her ear to complain to and her potato chips to snack on. Anyway, I will try not to bore you with our friendship but you can read about it in past posts if you feel so inclined.

Training was 2 years ago but let us flash forward to present day. Leah and I text every few months to catch up but had not had the opportunity to see each other again. It was probably May or June of this year when we were texting and I just decided, “screw it, I am going!” and booked my flights. I had a ton of miles with United that I had been saving up for nothing particular so I figured this would be a wonderful use for them. Booked! I was so excited that we were going to get to visit again! We needed to plan what we were going to do but the trip was still a few months away; there was no rush.

I contacted her studio, Bikram Yoga Works, and told them I was coming to take Leah’s class and wanted to know if it would be possible for me to teach a class so she could take mine, too. Ty, the studio manager, called me and we spoke for a little bit. Ty said they were a DIALOGUE studio and wanted to be sure I used the dialogue, too. I assured that I was 100% dialogue and Leah could vouch since we had studied together so much. Ty said if Leah vouched for me, then everything was good to go. She was so nice and accommodating; I liked the studio already!

The weeks went by and Leah and I planned almost 0% of the trip! Shocking, I know. I picked a random hotel near the studio (which ended up being perfectly located near the studio, her house, and her friends’ houses) and we talked about things we could do but we never really put together a plan. For once, I was okay with that. All I knew was that we were going to do yoga, teach yoga, and have an all-around yoga weekend. I had been absent from the hot room for a few weeks/months (a class every now and then) between being swamped at work, traveling for work, and a clinging to a struggling relationship so I felt like I needed a nice kickstarter to get focused again. Bikram Yoga is so wonderful and amazing but when I am feeling stressed or depressed, I get scared of it and tend to avoid the studio. I know the yoga will bring out the truth in my life and sometimes I do not feel strong enough to face it, so I hide from it. I hide from one of the few things that I genuinely love; how insane is that? I needed our yoga weekend. It would not be the yoga “bubble” I had for 9 weeks but it would be a perfect mini bubble to help me breathe for a minute.

Friday, August 30

I said goodbye to my boyfriend of almost 6 months knowing that we would likely break up, for the 3rd and final time, upon my return. He knew it, too, but neither of us were willing to say it in that moment. We had pretended long enough; what was a few more days? I did as I usually do and cried during the drive to the airport, cried at the airport, and cried on the plane. I loved him more than I have loved any other guy I have dated; I knew the coming weeks would be insanely difficult so I NEEDED this weekend. It would be nice to leave or return from a trip without tears and heartache. I look forward to that day.

My flight was scheduled to land with BARELY enough time to Uber to the studio and be able to take Leah’s 6pm class. The schedule had been discussed when I first reached out months prior but it had been so long that I think we all just… forgot… and Leah had to make some last minute trades with other teachers to get us both on the schedule for the weekend. Unfortunately, that meant she was only teaching Friday evening so if I did not get there in time, I was not going to be able to take her class at all. One of the main reasons of the trip was to be able to teach each others’ classes so we kept our fingers crossed and hoped for the best.

The drive was so beautiful. Maryland is so green. I love how every place I visit is so different. The yoga Gods must have heard us because I arrived at her studio just before 5:30pm. I jumped out of the Uber and hauled my suitcase up the stairs to the studio entrance. Leah was sitting at the front desk and leaped up to greet me! Neither of us understood how I got there in time but we were both excited. There was not a lot of time before class and Leah was doing double duty and working the front desk so she quickly gave me a tour and I got ready for class. Her studio was amazing! It was so spacious and welcoming. Leah introduced me to everyone that came in and everyone was so kind. I loved the vibe there. A lot of the studios I have been to have drama and bad vibes but her studio was special; I could tell. I hope everyone who goes there knows how lucky they are to have such a great space with great energy and that they never take it for granted.

Leah’s class started promptly at 6pm and it was exactly as I had imagined it would be. Like I said, we were roommates  and studied together so I had a sense of how she would teach but you never really know. She is an amazing teacher! It was my first class in a few weeks and she absolutely kicked my ass. That studio was H-O-T. I was drenched. I was dehydrated. I was emotional (yoga does that when you are already feeling some-type-of-way). Leah – you are an outstanding teacher and I glad I was able to get there in time to take your class! I love your passion, enthusiasm, encouragement, and knowledge! You exceeded all expectations.

We socialized with everyone after class then got cleaned up for dinner. Her best friend, Yazz, was joining us. They chose a nearby restaurant, Busboy’s. It had a cool vibe and the weather was so nice that we sat out on the patio. We decided to split a bottle of wine and share a few appetizers as our dinner. I had completely forgotten Leah was vegan so I was glad she reminded me when I suggested meat options. I was down for whatever so I had no issue with vegan options; vegan food can be delicious, y’all.

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Yazz is a yoga-pro and has considered going to Bikram training before so I did not feel bad that we spent most of our dinner discussing yoga. I usually try to avoid it as to not leave people out but Yazz knew just as much, if not more, than me so it was great. We could all probably talk about yoga forever. Leah caught me up on all of the latest in her life. When we text, we usually do not go into great detail about things but she was saving her juiciest stories for when I was there. Thank goodness because they. were. juicy. The drama was unreal. Leah is such a champ! Whether it was the wine or her entertaining stories, I will never know but we had a great evening. Eventually, they dropped me off at my hotel for the evening. It was only then, did I start to feel crushed again about the impending doom of my relationship.

Saturday, August 31

Leah picked me up bright and early the next morning so we could take the 7am class. Oy! We had grand plans to do a double (back to back classes) but neither of us really wanted to. Ambiya was teaching and I was looking forward to her class. She was Leah’s mentor and had visited Leah at training so I already knew her a little bit. Her class was great! Sometimes, I wish I can record a teacher and say the things they say but then it would not be “my” class; it would be a clone of theirs (womp womp). I loved Amiya’s class though. Leah and I both died at least 3-4 times during class and towards the end, gave each other a look that we both understood to mean “we are NOT staying for another class.” Hell. No. I was so happy when class was over and very ready to be out of the hot room; did I mention that studio is HOT? Whew. Somehow during the 30 minute break between classes, we talked ourselves into staying for the next class. We put ourselves in the back of the room and did our best; the second class is always easier in some ways and more difficult in others. We survived. I am glad we stayed to do a double! I was proud of us for sticking it out and committing to the original plan… even if my body was exhausted. The more frequently my brain could be distracted from the issues at home though, the better.

We cleaned up after class and picked up her friends Yazz and Danni to go to brunch. We chose Busboy’s again since they have a variety of vegan options. Danni also practices yoga and works at the studio so again, we talked all-things yoga among other things. I shared with them my relationship problems and they shared their crazy relationship stories with me. It is always a little scary meeting new people, especially when those people are all best friends and you are the odd woman out, but I felt like I had know them all for years. All 4 of were different in so many ways but we all got along great; very easy and natural. Having only really known Leah in a limited capacity before, I was thankful that everything was so smooth not only with us, but with her friends, too. That might sound silly but it helped make the weekend all the more enjoyable. Leah was very self-protecting at training and even though we were friends, it was obvious she did not open up fully. I had learned more about Leah in less than 24 hours than I had in 9 weeks!

After brunch, we made the short drive over to D.C. to be tourists for the afternoon. I mentioned my blog and they insisted we take touristy photos. It did not last long because we are adults and we forget.

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We started at the National Garden. It was hot as hell outside and humid AF inside but we are all hot yoga lovers and managed just fine. The gardens were lovely and we did our best to get some fun yoga pictures.

We snapped some pictures in front of the capitol.

Our plan was to walk around and wander into random museums until we were tired. We went into the National Museum of the American Indian but did not last long in there. It was too frustrating that there was not a lot of acknowledgement that colonists stole everything from them and the established government treated them like garbage. We got too political and had to go for our own sake.

We debated going into the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum but since Leah’s dad works for NASA and I am from Houston, we skipped it. Fun fact: Leah did not know there was NASA in Houston. I reminded her of the very, very famous phrase, “Houston, we have a problem” and she legitimately responded with, “Oh, I thought Houston was a person.” *facepalm* (Sorry, Leah. This was too funny not to share!)

The next stop was the Hirshhorn Museum. The one very cool. It had a lot of interesting artwork and experiences. The most insane one was a room full of large screens playing short videos. Kate Blanchett aws the star of each video but was in such disguise/character that she was not always noticeable. The most INSANE part of the thing was that as we were walking through, suddenly all of the videos synced up and were on a close-up of her character and saying the same thing. It was spooky and gave us all chills. I cannot even explain it.

It had been a long day and our parking was expiring so we decided to be finished. They dropped me off at the hotel so we could all go our separate ways and rest for a couple of hours. I tried to nap but once again, was alone and suddenly consumed with grief and sadness. I had a fun day so it was unfortunate that every moment I was lone left me feeling horrible and depressed.

Leah and Yazz picked me up a few hours later and we went to dinner at Sticky Rice. The service was awful but the food was delicious! We ordered way too much. The dumplings were probably the best ones I had ever eaten and for some reason, the restaurant served tator tots so we chowed down on those and the amazing sauce that accompanied them. Everything was so good. It had been a long day, though, so we kept the evening short. Remember, Leah and I had already taken 2 classes that morning and combined with the amount of walking around we did all afternoon… yikes. It was time to rest.

That night, I pushed him and we broke up over text (the first time was in person and the second was over the phone so this seemed like a natural progression). He insisted on waiting for us to talk until we were both back in town but I did not want to wait. I did not want it to happen ever but if it was going to happen, I did not feel there was benefit in having another face-to-face conversation about it. Maybe that was wrong, maybe it was right. I do not know. Neither of us actually had to say/write the words ending it, but we knew. It was a rough night.

Sunday, September 1

Leah picked me up bright and early again. Neither of us wanted to go to class; I was physically and mentally exhausted from the day before. We powered through! Poor Leah had to do another double because it was finally my turn to teach. We both took Maggie’s class and proving that the world was small, Maggie knew the owner of the studio I taught at in Katy. She went to teacher training with the owner’s daughter! Maggie taught a great class. Ty was not lying when she had initially told me the studio was a dialogue-only studio. I was nervous for my class and how the students would receive me.

Leah introduced me to everyone who walked in and some people looked a little apprehensive about a different teacher (which I completely understand). I was nervous! Her studio did not have a podium and I had never taught off a podium before. They also did not have microphones (which I hate using anyway) so I was nervous about “yelling.” There were 2 large columns in the room I was nervous about not being able to see around. The room was not carpeted which meant for 3 of the postures, the students would have to turn sideways and be on their mat instead of straddling it and I was nervous I would not set them up correctly. I did not know how to use the heat or the fans. Everything was different but I wanted the students to feel like nothing was. Not to mention, I was not feeling 100% present in the moment because of the breakup. I had not told Leah yet and it was weighing pretty heavily on my heart. I was worried I would not be able to give my all to the students because of it. My mind was elsewhere.

I wore my Texas flag leggings and introduced myself to the group. Danni secretly took video and posted it on Instagram later (sneaky). Class was great, though! I felt frazzled but because I had the dialogue to lean on, I do not think the students noticed anything different. Leah helped me run the heat and fans and I told the students to thank her because otherwise, I would have left it alone and they would have “died.” It was very bizarre not being on a podium since I am so short; it was tough to see everyone. I thought it was a great class though; the students there are obviously very disciplined and dedicated. I received compliments after the class so hopefully those were genuine and they enjoyed it! I was glad Leah got to take my class even though she had to do a double to be able to. She had the same feedback to me as I had to her: it was exactly how she expected it to be. All that studying together! We might not have known every detail about each others’ lives but we absolutely knew each others’ teaching style. It is funny how that happens.

I cleaned up after class and because the studio offered other services besides yoga, I decided to take advantage of them. They had Cryotherapy and PEMF and Ty offered both to me at a discounted rate (thanks, Ty). I tried Cryotherpahy first and wow, what an experience. It was 3 minutes in a -125 degree tank. I had to strip down to a sports bra and shorts and wear protective socks/shoes and gloves. I was used to being in a hot as hell room but this was… cold as hell! Freezing. Terri was operating it for me and she stayed and talked me through the whole ordeal. The 3 minutes went by fairly quickly; she was talented at distracting me via conversation. She was also very good at explaining to me all the ins and outs of Cyrotherapy and the benefits of it Y’all, it was cold. Terri gave me my robe before opening the door to free me. It was the most bizarre sensation leaving that tank! I am not sure I would do this regularly but I am glad I tried it at least once. I hate being cold. I recommend it if you want to try something new or have chronic pain but I cannot say it changed my life (although she told me stories of people who swear by it).

 

Next up was PEMF. Now THIS was something I can get behind. I absolutely recommend this because it completely healed my neck/shoulder issues I had been having for months. All I had to do for this was lay on a table. Seriously. Terri and the table did the rest. The table released electromagnetic pulses that are meant to heal the body somehow. If I thought the Cryo was a bizarre sensation, this topped it. She could control the pulse level and increased it until I felt it was uncomfortable. It was not painful in any way, just a bizarre feeling that I cannot quite put into words (I am not THAT talented of a writer). It was weird. She asked if I had any particular areas that were bothering me and I mentioned the issues with my left shoulder/neck. She placed an extra “pad” on that side to treat it. Normal treatment lasts an hour but because my flight was later that afternoon, I only did 30 minutes so Leah, Yazz, and I could get in a few last minute shenanigans before takeoff. If I knew it would be that amazing, I would have done the full hour. I am writing this post a full 2 months later and I still have not had any shoulder/neck issues since. 10/10, would recommend.

I said goodbye to the studio and thanked everyone for letting me practice and teach there all weekend. Leah, Yazz, and I went grabbed some Thai food for lunch before our next step.

On our way to the Baltimore Pier. On the way, we found some cool graffiti and decided to be basic yogis and snap photos.

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The pier was fun to experience and the weather was nice. We did not have a lot of time before I needed to get to the airport but I could imagine someone could spend the whole day there. It reminded me of Kemah Boardwalk here in Texas; a lot of random things to do, eat, and see.

The airport was nearby so they dropped me off after. We all said our goodbyes and I had an easy flight home. It was great to see Leah again and be part of her world for a little bit. It was great to embrace yoga again. It was great to get away. It was a fun mini vacation and I dreaded going home. I cried, per usual. I knew what was waiting for me (hint: nothing, anymore) and I wanted to run away from it.

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Thank you, Leah, for allowing me to visit and showing me around! Thank you to Bikram Yoga Works for the traditional classes and unique extra experiences (particularly for healing my shoulder/neck). It was nice to be back in a mini bubble. Leah, you and your friends are welcome to Houston any time!

Until next time,

Jillian

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