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Kino MacGregor Led Primary Series in Vegas, December 2013

2 Jan

Yes, my pretties: I did it, and I lived to blog about it! My lovely sister-in-law gave me the Xmas gift that keeps on giving: a led primary series with my Miami Yoga Goddess of All Things Ashtanga and Hawaiian print, Kino MacGregor. I really wish that we could have done more of the rest of the workshop, but funds were very tight as I had to move unexpectedly at the end of the year. The most surprising things, other than the fact that I did not die or perish in flames? How incredibly tiny she is! And also how much she channels Jois in the way she teaches. She came over and said to me, “You do!” and believe me, I did. She kinda scared the crap out of me! It’s odd to hear the voice of a 90-year-old Indian man coming out of a tiny, very young woman.

As always, I enjoyed her very clear instruction and the way that she helps you to understand the asana from the inside out. Kino is just an amazing teacher, and I can’t wait to do more workshops in the future with her!

Another surprising thing about this workshop: I didn’t spend most of it body-checking everyone and obsessing about whether or not I was the fattest person in the room or not. I was too busy praying to the Dark Gods of Ashtanga, Heavy Metal and Whatever–desperate pleas that I would not embarrass myself and/or not be able to finish! My practice has been non-existent over the last 4 months, and I was dreading the ass kicking that I was sure was going to happen. I felt very proud that I finished, as I have only ever done the full primary three times. It made me realize that fear and my own doubt are my worst enemies in this practice. Kino did, in fact, say to another student, “Why fearing?”. I felt like she really meant it for me!

The benefit of having to move unexpectedly is that I now have a practice space, hell yeah! I practiced this morning, and while it was short and kind of not the greatest—it was practice. It feels good to be back in the AM Ashtanga groove again.




Leaving Las Vegas

7 Dec

In a surprise move, I am relocating to Austin, TX next week! Honestly, I have no idea how this happened. Definitely not my intention to leave Las Vegas and this all happened very suddenly. However, I am beyond thrilled to move back to Austin—it has always been my favorite place out of all of the places I’ve lived…la ciudad de mi corazon. And there’s a hell of a lot of Ashtanga and heavy metal in Austin! I found two Mysore programs already—the idea of actually being able to practice Mysore-style with a teacher is so thrilling to me.

There’s something utterly wonderful about getting rid of almost everything I own and leaving with only what fits in the back of my truck. I’m calling it Operation Lose My Shit.

With that being said, it is tough to leave Las Vegas and my family and friends here. Although Vegas has sort of been a trial by fire for me, it is also the city of my heart in a strange way. This city has been part of my transformation: catalyst, midwife, swift kick in the ass. I love this dusty, glittery, ghost-filled mystery town. Las Vegas, you are beautiful–no matter what they say.

August 2011 versus August 2012: Ashtanga and Transformation

4 Sep

Smile, you’re on Candid Ashtanga Camera!

I had to backtrack and look at my old blog to review something that I did last year. Right around this time in 2011, I went to a Baptiste Power Yoga class that nearly killed me. I almost threw up like five times. I had to get up and go sit in the corner and take a break. No one else took a break. It was either take a break or throw up or pass out or all of the above. My normal MO would have been to leave the class and be pissed off and humiliated. Instead, I stayed and finished. And didn’t go to another class for almost a year! I stayed at home and practiced alone with DVD’s until I started the Ashtanga experiment at the end of March 2012.

Fast forward to August 26th, 2012—I went to my very first yoga workshop ever. It also happened to be my first official Ashtanga class with a teacher. I just have to jump into the fire! It was me and three other women (two of whom were Ashtanga teachers!) and it was two and a half hours long. My home practices just recently increased to 45 minutes.

The yoga studio holding the workshop is called Blue Sky. The owner is a former showgirl who is a Jivamukti instructor. The space is in the Arts Factory in downtown Las Vegas, and all of the walls are covered in art from local artists. There’s also a bar next door to the studio and they happened to have a bluegrass band playing for the duration of the entire workshop. Hearing banjos while I was sweating and cursing and crying was at the very least amusing. It made me feel instantly at home, like I was back in Austin, TX.

Me, after two and a half hours of Primary Series

Wall at Blue Sky Yoga

My first thought after I stopped ooooing and aaahing all of the Catholic-themed art and giggling about the banjos was: I am going down in flames. Tapas barbeque. There is no way that I am going to be able to do this. My second thought: of course, I am the fattest person in the room, goddammit. Luckily, there was not much time to think about my fatness once Jen Knox got rolling. I plunged into Primary Series and just tried to stay alive. I’ve never even truly looked at the entire Primary series, never mind tried to actually do it. It seems so daunting that I just focus on one asana at a time and don’t look at any of the ones beyond that unless I am forced to (like while watching Kino MacGregor youtube videos or something).  I used to watch just the beginning of the Richard Freeman Primary Series VHS back in the day and then I would panic and turn it off.

Well, I did every asana in the entire freaking Primary Series, albeit severely modified. There was no begging off and no backing out. There were straps and bricks and bolsters going on like crazy. Jen was amazingly kind and made me feel like I was where I belonged. By the end of it, I was wrung out/high/delusional/severely dehydrated from sweating like a beast. I’m not even sure how I got home. For the next three days, I felt like I got run over by the Ashtanga truck. However, now I am hooked. I want more. I can do this.  Even though on a daily basis I frequently feel like an Ashtanga failure, this workshop made me see how far I have come in a year.

Pattabhi Jois was right, Ashtanga is for everyone, even old, fat, busted up desk jockeys. On Labor Day I am going back to Blue Sky for their beginning Ashtanga class, since I looove to do things backwards. Different teacher, so wish me luck!

My First Ashtanga Workshop…

26 Aug



…actually my first yoga workshop ever, period. It’s today: Sunday, August 26th, at Blue Sky Yoga here in Vegas: 3:30pm-6pm with Jen Knox, whom I believed studied with Tim Miller. The Tim Miller. Pray for me, Asthanga brothers and sisters. I’m posting this so that I commit to leaving the safety of my home practice at the Slayer Shala (AKA my yoga room downstairs) and actually go practice in public. In yoga clothes. With other Ashtanga practitioners. And no heavy metal.

Noodle ChaCha: Restaurant Review

26 Jul

Profile Picture

One of my coworkers told me that there was a new restaurant around the corner from our office that was pretty yummy. I took the plunge and went with our Lab Director and IT guy to check it out.

Our Lab Director is Korean, and we are both always on the lookout for Korean food. We decided to order the Korean Kim Chi Ramen Noodle Bowl. I asked the server if it could be made without any animal products and with veggie broth. They were very accomodating!

The portion was HUGE and it was very light and filling with tons of veggies. I wish it had more Kim Chi (I’m a certified KimChi-a-holic) and was maybe spicier. In an surprise move, it looks like they didn’t use oil AND they also had green smoothies on their menu! That’s not something you see every day. Hopefully they will add more veg and vegan options to the menu if we pester them enough. They don’t have a website, but here’s a link to their Facebook page:

I went back again this week and the bowl was actually even better this time.

Sin City Yoga

2 Jun

Last night I tried a Yoga 1 Vinyasa class with Angelica Govaert at Sin City Yoga, a new study that just opened up about a month ago here in Las Vegas. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been struggling with sheer *terror* about going to a studio yoga class, especially anything Vinyasa/Power/Ashtanga based. The last Baptiste Power yoga class I went to almost killed me!

The studio is right off of Rancho and Alta in a little house. The studio space itself is small and cozy and sort of set off toward the back of the property. There’s a nice garden next to it. I immediately liked it and felt eager to go inside, which is rare for me when it comes to yoga. I’ve been sitting on a two month unlimited pass to Bikram Summerlin since Thanksgiving or so and every time I think about using it, I want to puke.

The good news: I didn’t die. I faced my fear AND I even wore form fitting yoga clothing that I can actually practice comfortably in (not Lululemon, though—don’t get it twisted, OK?). This is a huge deal for me, as I am extremely self-conscious and weird about my body still after all of the weight loss. I am always convinced that I will be the fattest and stiffest person in the room and I work myself up into a frenzy of anxiety about it.

Sometimes being in my body feels like I am driving a rental car with all sorts of gee gaws and gadgets that I don’t know how to operate. I am used to hiding underneath lots and lots of clothing. I had a moment when I saw myself in the mirror and almost had a panic attack. I still see a 320 pound or 275 pound person in the mirror. I will continue to stay the fuck away from that mirror until I am a little more settled down in my practice and not in such a weird place about inhabiting my body. Yeah, that should be, um, never…!

The even better news: the class was excellent. I could pretty much “do” all of the asanas and there was lots of hip opening going on, which I desperately need. I liked Angelica’s teaching style and she is very approachable and warm. She told me before class started that she was from Florida, and also that she studies Ashtanga but does not teach it. She said she really has a lot of respect for the lineage and structure, and she feels that if you are going to teach Ashtanga you need to go to Mysore and do the whole deal. She got to study once with Jois right before he died, which I was excited by. Angelica gave me some great adjustments and was very encouraging. I am going back on Saturday for another level 1 class.

Interestingly, she reminded me of my very first yoga teacher, Michelle—also from Florida. I have a good feeling about this.

Update: I ran into Angelica randomly on my lunch break  in Whole Foods today, which I took as a positive sign from the powers that be. She gave me a big hug and was SO nice. I am excited to have a teacher again!

Sin City Yoga website:


515 Rose Street, Las Vegas, NV 89106– just East of the intersection of Rancho and Alta. Close to the 95 and not too far from The Strip.


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