Driving around most major towns, you will come across a wide array of signs, buildings and advertisements. There was one place that stuck out in my mind; this place is called “HOT”BIKRAM YOGA. Over the years, I must have passed by this building a million times without even batting an eye. I’m starting to think the reason I became more aware of this particular yoga spot was because of my martial arts training. I’m also starting to think that because I already had the tai chi, kung-fu, qigong, meditation; there really wasn’t any valid reason for me to pay any extra money if I didn’t have to. Not only would it have been an added expense, to sign up for classes, but I wouldn’t have the time to dedicate myself to it either.
I was getting the complete package, so to speak, with my martial arts training already. I had somewhat of an idea of the basic premise of what yoga was all about…stretching. I already stretch, before any kind of workout, to get the muscles all warmed up. My thinking was why would I go there to stretch even more than I already do? When I thought about that question, I remembered something very valuable that my martial arts instructors told me; my techniques are getting better but I’m still lacking in the overall flexibility department. To be successful in any martial art training, you need to be flexible and limber and I needed that added boost.
So, I got to thinking and I decided to take my first “hot” yoga class, at the place I passed by for the past ten years or so. I went on a Saturday morning and I luckily had a friend that was willing to try it out with me. When we got inside of the place, we were told that one class was ten dollars; which included a mat, water and a towel. We took our shoes off and walked right into the “HOT” room, where the class was going to take place. I do not lie when I tell you that the room felt like going right from Antarctica, the outside, to the Sahara Desert, the inside, within a matter of seconds. I’ve been to Florida in August, at its hottest level, and never felt anything quite like the heat that was developing in the room.
After a few minutes of getting used to the transition in temperature, my friend and I started to stretch on our mats before the class officially began. I have to say that I was a little intimidated, initially, because the other students were putting their legs around their head and just lounging. I was lucky if I touched my toes and held it for a second or two. I kept telling myself that this person probably didn’t start out wrapping their legs around their head at first; they were probably in the same boat as my friend and I were when they started out. Like Bill Murray said in, “What About Bob?”, it’s all about taking baby steps!!!
At this point, the class had just begun and the teacher walked in the room. Before I got started in the various poses, I was a little distracted on what the instructor was wearing; he had on beach flip flops and a classic, B.U.M. Equipment tank top. As you can plainly see, it was hard for my friend and I to stay focused while the teacher’s wardrobe choice was actually taking place in real life. After about ten minutes or so, I finally started to focus on what I was there for in the first place. It wasn’t too bad for me, at least initially, because I’m used to hardcore, rigorous training at my martial arts school anyway. The more the class went on, my friend and I looked at each other like we were about to pass out, right on the floor. We kept stopping for sips of water and to get rid of the river of sweat coming down our faces.
After an hour and a half class, it was finally over. The teacher really put on a great class and kept us motivated throughout. No joke, it took about ten minutes for my friend and me to finally get up off the floor from pure exhaustion. I got back home and took a shower and felt very, very, I repeat, very relaxed afterwards. I will now do Hot Yoga from time to time, to get a great workout and most importantly, a quality stretch. It has also helped with my Martials arts training as well and I actually see how flexible I’m becoming, little by little. I definitely suggest anyone and everyone to get out there and checkout your local Yoga spots. You never know, you’re teacher might be wearing similar clothing as my instructor was. That is all the more reason to get out there and do some yoga.
We all get worked up, or anxious, from time to time. There is no definitive way of escaping this but how we go about making it better is the question that needs answering. When I was in school, I never really knew how to deal with my temper tantrums, rapid hearts, shakes etc. Whenever there was a situation, considered awkward in my mind, I would do everything to avoid them at all costs. It only took me one time and if I felt totally uncomfortable, I would tell myself to never get involved in those situations going forward. Awkward situations for me included things like being around highly attractive girls, a lot of people at one time, or even when I had to answer a question in front of my fellow classmates.
Whatever the reason was for my nervousness or anger, during those times listed above, I didn’t know how to calm myself inside and out. A little over five years ago, when I started practicing Tai Chi, Qigong, and stillness mediation, I finally learned how to channel my nerves. It was all through a simple technique that keeps all humans functioning…breathing. It’s kind of funny because my parents and friends would always tell me to “take a deep breath” , when they saw me getting somewhat agitated. When I was younger, I had a tendency of being hard-headed and stubborn. I never truly understood the importance of taking a breath and how it could truly calm me down. Who knew that doing some simple breathing could give me that momentary relaxation I needed to handle most “nerve-wracking” situations. It has also helped in the past couple years, especially when I worked in a sales job. Anytime the customer would get angry, I would remind myself to “just breath” and that two or three deep breaths helped me stay absolutely calm. There is nothing truly like a quality breath:))))
I wrote extensively, throughout my autobiography, about one particular place where my life started to change. My life did change and let me tell you firsthand, it was definitely for the better. The name of this place is Shaolin Kung-fu, located in Holtsville, NY. It has helped me in all avenues of my life that I have been going there for almost six years now. The other added bonus is that not only are you learning traditional kung-fu but you’re also getting the internal aspects as well. The internal martial arts that we train in are Tai Chi, Qigong and meditation. You’re getting a balance that is isn’t so common with other martial art schools. This school is very close knit as well so there is no internal problems or conflicts going on. Before I started training there, I dabbled with some other schools around Long Island. Going to only about three or four different schools, I noticed that they had certain things in common with one another. Nothing against how the instructors were teaching or anything, it was more how the students were conducting themselves. They were all sectioned off in little groups and it almost seemed cliquey, kind of how high school operates. Everyone is welcoming, friendly and humble with one another so you don’t have to worry about not fitting in at this school.
Now, I would like to go over a little about the head instructor, Shi Gung Gregg Zilb. He has been doing these particular forms of martial arts for over thirty years. That alone should tell you that he has a genuine love and understanding of what he does. The one thing I picked up about him, right off the bat, was that he wasn’t just trying to take your money and water down the classes. He makes you earn everything by pushing us to our limits. When he is teaching his classes, you can tell the passion he truly has because he is always motivating himself and everyone else to go above and beyond. If you just come down to a class you can see the things he is capable of doing that you might have once thought was humanely impossible but he makes it possible. He also breaks everything down to show how certain techniques can be utilized in real life or death situations. On the other side of the spectrum, he is very easy to talk to and always welcomes questions. I couldn’t ask for a better person and instructor to teach me the way to a better life.
I would strongly suggest to come down and at least view a class, or take one, and be open to the possibilities of changing yourself in a positive manner. You can find out more information about him on his website that I listed below;
http://www.shaolinlohan.com/ or stop by,