Monthly Archives: July 2008

Hot Yogi in the City

There are such an outstanding number of facets to yoga and the idea of trying to submerge myself in the practice has become increasingly daunting the more I read and learn about it. Laura seconds my stress when she said that when she reads Yoga Journal she feels like she needs flash cards to remember all the new terms that are stuffed into one issue (always thinking like a teacher!). I have come to terms with the fact that there is no crash course in and am taking small steps in understanding the bigger picture of the stretches and poses. I’m confident in my beginner practice and flexibility, so I decided this week to take it to a different level. I took my first bikram yoga class.

Bikram yoga is a specific yoga practice that is done is a room that is headed to 105 degrees. I did it originally because it’s the closest yoga studio to my apartment and the reviews of it rave about when it does to your body and how you sweat out toxins and stretch deeper, etc. Cut to my first class the other night. Sweet baby Shiva, this was like a 90 min tour of the 6th circle of hell (I say hell only because this type of yoga is actually very anti-yoga and goes against a lot of the core principles of the practice. More on that later) I walked in prepared for the heat and sweating but this was no normal sweating. I have run 10 miles in the middle of August through Hell, MI (literally) and I know sweating. But this, this was not normal humane sweating. This was water coming out of every pore in my body. Within 15 min I had stripped off my tank top and my sports bra was soaked through. I actually think the only thought in my brain that got me through the first half of the class was being completely enthralled with the amount of “toxin” coming out of my skin. Unfortunately, after the phenomenon of my secretions had subside, I realized with shock, that I was actually in yoga boot camp. The poses forced you to freeze your muscles for up to a minute, it was fast paced with the instructor clapping every time you had to come out of your position, always changing directions and bending at the waist. Anyone that has woken up hungover on a hot summer day knows that the last thing your body wants to do jerk up and down and side to side. After 60 min of freezing and twisting and stretching, my eyes gave up on focusing and my head went into a fog. I pride myself in all I’ve learned and am able to do in my normal yoga classes after a year of practice, but I couldn’t get through this without stopping for water after every pose and towards the end I had to skip a few, something I am never proud to do. At the end I was ready for Savasana when I can lay flat on my back and let my body unscramble and take in everything it just went through. But no, class was over abruptly. I opened my eyes and looked around as everyone was rolling up their mats and talking to their friends. Nothing like a normal class when it take you 10 min to get up and you want to stay inside your head as long as possible without talking to people. You also don’t normally look drunk as you struggle to stand, roll your mat, and make it across the room into the air conditioned lobby. I felt like I had taken a wrong turn on my way to my happyland afterwards. I wasn’t calm, I hated my body, I was a mess of sweat, I was walking down Clark St in a sports bra, all social norms out the window, and convinced I was going to have my chance run in with Johnny Depp at that moment (It’s inevitably going to happen. Someday.) I was, above all, pissed off. It shock me that something related to yoga, my release, my relaxer, my core, could mess with my emotions and my body so much. Never again, I said.

The unfortunate lesson behind this story is never buy a month-long pass to a yoga class you have never tried before. I spent $30 for an unlimited first month of classes. I had never seen such a deal for yoga classes before so I jumped at it! HA. But I had to make some good come of this experience. Asside from a newly formed try-before-you-buy philosophy, I am now determined to see where all these rave reviews of the class come from, why people are addicted to it. So I am going to continue to go to the class once or twice a week for the next month and see where my experience goes. But I am also going to get myself back into my safe haven asana yoga classes to calm my mind from this military style bikram yoga.


A spoonful of comedy

After a long weekend of tasting Chicago and dancing to Stevie Wonder and practicing my beach volleyball skills, this rainy Sunday turned into a couch-sitting marathon. And coincidentally an “I Love the New Millennium” marathon. The VH1 “I Love….” series is as addicting as Sudoku, and even more so when the commenters are talking ABOUT Sudoku. Initially I thought it was obviously too soon to roll out this series; the signs are pretty clear when you can’t even make it a clean 10 part series because the new millennium isn’t coming to a close yet! But two hours into the marathon, Kate, Doc, and I had failed to move or attempt to change the channel yet. Four hours into it and we were committed. At the Sixth hour we could predict the next event before the clip even started, yet still we couldn’t fathom changing the channel until the bitter end.

Where “I Love the 70s” was a history class for Gen Yers and hippie wannabes (myself included), and the 80s series was a challenge to see how far back into your toddler years you remember, and the 90s was an embarrassing parade of all the bedazzled memorabilia of our childhood, the 21st century series is an “in case you forgot” play by play of current events. So what was it that drew us into the pop culture explosion of products and events that we had already lived to see? Not nostalgia, not history. For me it was the underlying truth to the outlandish statements of the commenters. This goes back to my profession of love to John Stewart. The only way to survive this over stimulated, opinionated, babies-laughing-are-controversial 21st century is humor. It may be an avoidance tactic to buy more time before having to think about real issues like an economy slipping silently into a recession or being on the brink of make-or-break-the-state-of-the-union election in a few months, but why is that so bad? I watch and listen to enough vh1 clip shows and stand up and comedy central and last comic standing to see the humor in pop culture and newsmakers today. I don’t think it makes the nature of things lose importance, but gives things a spoonful of sugar twist of Mary Poppins, helps it go down easier, puts things in perspective. News is not so end-of-the-world scary and LA starlet aren’t so this-is-the-state-of-our-youth when you can laugh at them and be happy that your life does not involve paparazzi or Ann Coulter. If you listen to right comedians, they actually have great brush-your-shoulders-off views of America. Ellen has taught the world that sometimes all you can do is dance. And THAT is the greatest message of all.

Woodstock 08

I spent the last 5 days trying to wrap my mind around the lack of red, white, and blue of my 4th of July and readjusting to civilized life after getting back from Rothbury, MI for the 1st annual Rothbury music festival. Finally the music gods opened their ears and their hearts to Boutit and my pleas for a Michigan music festival. The only glitch in my almost flawless weekend was that Doc and I spent so much of our time trying to figure out how to put this experience into words when we got back (mostly for that sake of helping Boutit visualize and embrace the hippie music and lifestylez.)

Me and this whole festival thing didn’t get off on the right foot Friday morning. After a thunderstorm Thursday, I drove our rented Honda Element right into a deep mud puddle in the middle of the camp grounds Friday. This initial glitch turned out to be my first encounter of the other kind. Hippies. Out of the tents and canopies around the car came 10 or 15 people ready to push and pull the car out of the muck. Refusing to give up and make us pay $60 for a tow truck, they would not give up. Someone drove up with their 4 wheel drive SUV, another took the heavy duty rope from his hammock, and yet another guy brought a shovel over from his fire pit. They pulled us out of the mud and onto the grass hours before the tow truck arrived. We all sat down for a celebratory beer in the hammock. I was in awe of the stereotypes that were destroyed in that one hour before I even had time to put on my tie dye skirt.

Another stereotype that you can throw out with yesterdays cat litter. They aren’t lazy. See aforementioned Element of mud tale, as well as the plethora of washboard stomaches of the shirtless dudes (NOT that I was looking Doc. Nope.), and the fact that these people waste no time sleeping in or lying around where there is music and dancing to be had. When the sun shines in the tent at 9am and the car next to you turns up Umphrey’s McGee at 9:30 you really have no choice but to escape the sauna that your tent has become and venture out for some clean drinking water. There is yoga every morning at 9 and 11 and the turn out was always larger than any class I’ve been to. The whole scene was so normal and inspiring that I actually got Doc to join me for a class on Sunday (but I had to promise not to take any photographic evidence of his practice). After a morning of walking the 2,000 acre grounds, swimming in the dangerously murky lake, and shopping amongst the tie dyed vendors, its time for the music to begin and the crowds don’t seem to cease or even thin until well into sunrise the next morning. With this schedule, a person has got to be in top physical condition to dance for 12 hours straight. No slacker hippies here. Here’s a shot of one of the yoga classes at 9am:

The crowds are broken into a few general groups. There are the people like me and Doc and the boys that will go back to Chicago/Detroit at the end of the weekend to our 9 to 5 jobs and wish the rest of the world could be as carefree and happy as this little commune of music. Then there are the hippies for life, the original Deadheads here to see Phil Lesh at Sunday’s headliner show. They are distinguishable by their knee length dreads showing years of care and bees wax and the baby carrier on their backs. They are getting older, starting another generation of flower babies and music lovers as they tot their tots around the grounds. As awesome as it is that they are educating their kids to timeless revolutionary music, it was still a little weird to be drunk dancing around a 4 year old and knowing the kinds of drugs most of the crowds were on. Then there are the groupies that spend the summer festival hopping. You can pick these people out by their cardboard signs looking for a ride to the All Good festival and wearing their Bonnaroo 08 shirt. These are the ones that perplexed me to no end. Their looks fall somewhere between the dread locked hippies and the weekend warriors like myself. But what do they do for a living? What do they do that they can take the summer off and can afford the $200-300 tickets and gas and food money. My best best is temp jobs in the winter and Doc was probably close by saying they make their money working at ski shops at resorts in the Rockies and snowboarding contests. Must be nice. Here is a picture of a next generation Dead head at the Phil Lesh show and a true Deadhead with his Grateful Dead tattoos.

After getting over the lack of showers and required strong stomach to use the pot-o-potties, I started to embrace the camping and generally dirtiness of the experience. When 45% of the population has knots for hair and its acceptable for people to walk around with nothing but body paint on, I stopped putting any effort into what I looked like. Letting myself go like that without a care made me realize just how much of my regular day is dedicated to personal maintenance. I was ready to throw my razor and lotions away when I got back to Chicago until I realized just HOW dirty I was, or more so, how clean everyone else was. I had dirt still caked on my feet from trying to get the car unstuck 3 days ago and Doc’s sweat was actually starting to smell like herb…

I actually forgot it was even the 4th of July until the fireworks started going off at the end of the Widespread Panic show Friday night. Other then the odd red, white, and blue bandanna, there was no American Pride. And it was refreshing. Instead of making sure everyone knows your pride by the color of your star spangled shorts, we got together to celebrate our country for the peace, the love, the music. No need for outlandish confederate flags or singing of the national anthem. We not only celebrated America, but also the music from all over the world that shaped the rock revolution of our time and of times before us.

The Roth Lineup

I didn’t want to overwhelm you with one huge post, so I split it between the music and the culture of the festival. Here is my play by play of who I saw over 4 days.

Thursday – After an excruciating 8 hour drive from Chicago, stuck in Indiana traffic for 3 hours, we finally arrived around 8pm. Checked out Disco Biscuits and Railroad Earth after we set up camp in the open 750 acre field of cars and tents.

Friday – After a late start on Friday after the stuck car incident, we checked out the last half of Snoop, who was both totally out of place and at the same time right at home with the pot smoking, life loving people of Rothbury. Snoop was followed by Keller Williams who proudly announced between songs “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULY!”, 311, and Modest Mouse who closed their set with “Float On”. The Friday night headliner was Widespread Panic, a jam band who’s jamming status is only surpassed by the legacy of Phish. We weaved in an out of the crowd to get as close as possible for the show. This was the reason Doc was here, his favorite band that he had yet to see live. We made 2nd row. Another sign of the great positive vibe of the crowd was the lack of pushing and jumping as people push towards the front. We made friends with everyone around us and even the security guy guarding the stage. The band was accompanied by an incredible violist Ann Marie Calhoun. She couldn’t have been much older than 30 and was a great contrast to the old rockers of Panic.

Saturday – Saturday was MY day, the day of all the bands I know and love. The day started with a solid set by State Radio, Chad from Dispatch’s new band. He’s got a great sound, intertwining reggae and rock without losing the tribal bongos sound of Dispatch. We made friends with some fellow frisbee players and threw the disc around in the massive field while Chad played. Good chill start to the day. We needed the relax before the next line of shows. State Radio was followed by Gomez. Anyone that knows me knows that I love this band more than most. They don’t have a huge US following and are a slightly older band but none the less they had a great time on stage for their small yet supportive crowd. I swear Ben looked right at me and smiled. I also learned that they are in Chicago for the summer recording their new album. My next mission will be to get into the studio!! Citizen Cope was after Gomez, followed by the much anticipated Black Keys show. Next was Derek Trucks and his wife Susan Tedesechi, who played an awesome version of Hey Jude for us. I fell in love with her voice forever and ever during this song. The Saturday headliner was Dave Matthews. Despite the preppy connotation with the band in Oakland County, I was psyched to see him for the first time. And he does not disappoint. He played classics like Jimi Thing, Gravedigger, and Satellite. He had dance moves to die for. And one of the best encore songs ever. Sly and the Family Stone’s “Thank You” with more sick dance moves.

After heading back to the camp site to rest and pull myself back together, we headed back into the festival for the late night shows. Little did I know the place transforms into a psychedelic glow in the dark night tripper party after the headliner is done. It was like Girl Talk meets Radiohead on ecstacy. At first I was ready to turn right around and climb into my sleeping bag away from all the crazy drugged out people of the night. But Doc assured me these were all the same people I was dancing with at the Dave show, just more pink and green lights illuminating them. I trusted his word and took his hand into the crowds of the STS9 show. But as I got used to the pulse and skat beats of the music I started to realize these people really were not on a bad trip and going to start licking my hair or anything, they were just still on a high from the music of the day and aren’t ready for it to end. My tiredness slipped away as I watch people let the music take over where their bodies left off. We walked through the trees (which went on a trip of their own after dark. Nothing will ever really describe the Sherwood forest, and I don’t plan on attempting) to see Crystal Method as well. We walked and sat and listened and watched until 4am when tired finally caught up to me and we called it a night. But the party continued for an uncountable number of hours after.

Sunday – Sunday morning brought bright new shiny things. The first was a new yogi when I took Doc to his first yoga class. The other new was something I was really hoping to take away from this week, a new band! We started our last day in paradise by checking out JJ Grey & Mofro. I fell in love with their head boppin soul tinglin swamp funk rock. You can feel the New Orleans roots and the smoky vocals remind me of The Wood Brothers. I cannot wait for July 26th when they play again block from my apartment at the Taste of Lincoln. God don’t you love that feeling when you find a new sound?! ANYways, after JJ and Mofro we stopped by to see a few minutes of Beth Orton, then headed over to see Trey Anastasio on stage for the first time in 2 years, after taking some time to get through rehab after the finale of Phish. With just him and his guitar, you could see a calm in his sound and presence after the epic run of Phish. I left Doc and the boys with Gov’t Mule (I sadly missed one of my favorite songs “Soulshine”) and headed over for some girlie time with John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston. In between radio acoustic lullabies he played some of his blues jams. I love that John Mayer keeps his blues side a secret even though he was born to play at Kingston Mines with the best of them. After John was the headliner for the night, Phil Lesh from the Grateful Dead. I wish I had more insightful comments about Phil Lesh, but I don’t know much about the Grateful Dead. But I do know I danced and moved with the music into the end of the weekend.

The whole experience was like living inside your iPod on shuffle. It’s amazing the giddy feeling you get when you realize you are part of something so centered around music. Knowing that 45,000 people traveled to this small town in Michigan for the same goal of soaking themselves in music for 4 days, and seeing that nothing could bring us down off this musical high, makes the butterflies in my stomach start dancing. I now know what music feels like.