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.
I’ve been going hiking, whenever I can find an hour or two, for the past few years. Initially, I looked at hiking as an extra calorie burn to my already intensive, daily kung-fu training. After a couple times of going to the various spots around me, I started to realize that hiking was more than just another physical exercise. The first thing I noticed is how inviting and peaceful everyone is that I come across when I’m walking by. The sad thing is that I only see people smiling at one another, being somewhat civil , when I’m out doing some hiking.
Throughout my entire twenty-eight years of living, I think I’ve seen more hellos, smiles, and friendly gestures in the past couple years hiking than I have ever seen at any restaurant, store, shopping center, movie theater etc. That is why I love hiking so much because, for me and most of my friends that hike as well, it’s an escape for us in one way or another. An escape from the everyday struggles, hardships and things like monetary stress, relationship issues or anything else that your mind is seemingly consumed by. I can remember once walking through some trails, with two of my good friends, and telling them to stand still for a minute. I told them to just listen and hear what is happening around us. After about twenty seconds or so, my one friend said he couldn’t hear anything at all. I responded by saying you’re exactly right, that is the point. All you could hear is the leaves blowing around and birds chirping in the distance. The rest of what you could hear was absolute stillness, nature at its finest. That is why I say there is nothing quite like a hike….
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,