laura's letter

My Top 10 Entirely Personal & Audacious Opinions about Warmth.

 By Laura Chamberlin

You may or may not know that I used to be a very dedicated Bikram Yogi for 5 years. And after a 4 years hiatus, I’ve recently returned. I am back. I am happy about it, and I am motivated to share why. Only now Laurie is Laura, just going back to my given name, yup, hey it’s Nevada County, it’s what we do.


Opinion No. 1:

Really sweaty, hot yoga in a room full of other hot stinky people rocks. My god how I’ve missed it!

My first class back, I walked into the lobby, a little trepidatious. (aka scared to death). But I was immediately put at ease by all the exclamations of “Welcome Back!” from Kelly, Justine and fellow yogis.

Opinion No. 2:

I LOVE this yoga community! I heaved a huge sigh of relief (in and out through my nose at a count of 6) the moment I realized, I did it. I had just done the hardest part of Bikram yoga – bringing myself to class. First step done. The warm welcome teared me up and I was immediately filled with a huge sense of gratitude and relief.

Opinion No. 3:
I love being told what to do. (Wait, what?) Here’s how I see it: From the moment the teacher walks in, slips behind the entrance door and adjusts the heat, humidity and whatever else is in that secret panel, for the next 60-90 minutes our lives are no longer our own. We are now property of Warmth and we do exactly as we are told. Right? Case in point. I went to listen to fellow Yogi Catherine Scholz perform her music a few weeks ago and before she went on stage she teased “If anyone yells “Body Down Leg UP!” in the middle of my act, I will instinctively drop into the pose without knowing what I’m doing.” Yup, we’re well trained.

Opinion No. 4:
There are three voices to each pose. Example: Pre-Camel Voice says, “What are the teachers talking about? I do not feel ‘loopy’ after Camel Pose. I don’t have ‘feelings’ come up. It’s just a yoga pose sheeesh.” 2 seconds prior to Camel Pose Voice: “Please don’t make me do this pose, how can I get out of having to do this, let there be a fire in the building, somebody help me, I’m about to die!” After Camel Pose Voice: “CRAP, my back feels great, can we do three sets today?”

Opinion No. 5:
Kelly owns that room like nobody’s business. Wait, it is her business. She is a freaking smooth teacher and studio owner. Her classes start and are timed so well and seamlessly it’s over before you know it. And she is so funny, laughing yoga classes are the best. And, of course I like the fact that she once called me a rock star. What do I love about this studio? Two Words: LAVENDER. TOWELS. More words: Maggie. The studio cleaners. The click before the fans are turned on. Oh yes, I love that click. The after class iced tea and the way you can relax and trust that everything will be the same because Kelly provides structure and organization, hey, there is always a Q-tip if you need one.

Opinions Nos. 6, 7, 8: About the Intro Class Teachers.

Meg – Taking class as Meg’s student is like a lovers stroll through the park on a summer evening. You love her utterly sweet voice so much that you forget she is tricking you into doing triangle at the pinnacle of the class and sweat is dripping off your chin and running into your bottom eyeball and burning.

Kamala – Taking Kamala’s class is like getting your ass kicked by a tall lithe Yoga Goddess, who makes you feel so good about the fact that you want to die during class that you enjoy every minute of it!

Vanessa – Taking Vanessa’s class is the biggest magician’s act of all. I mean how can this tiny lovely creature torture anyone!? I’m convinced she is actually Chewbacca covered in translucent skin and perfectly proportioned limbs and not the monster of a class she gives.

Opinion No. 9:
The teachers are amazing giving, caring human beings who know what they’re talking about, I trust them even when my mind resists. On my first day back Vanessa said not to worry, my body would remember. She was right. I felt my muscles tighten before she instructed, I lightly burped just before inversions (how did my body know?), and my hands went to the right position without my mind telling them what to do. Booyah!

Opinion No. 10:
I get it now. Way back, when I was attending regularly, and having a particularly very emotionally difficult day. I was really in no mood to attend, but the words were buzzing in my ears: “Bring. It. To. The. Mat.” The teacher, who knew my practice well, saw that I looked raw, and could tell there was something heavy on my mind. Did she leave me alone? Nope. Standing behind me she stared at me in the mirror during Eagle Pose:, “Go Lower, You can! Don’t give up, Dig in, You have the Strength, Just do it,” she commanded. My eyes dropped to the floor as the weight of the world lay on my shoulders: “Make eye contact with yourself in the mirror,” She said to me….TO ME…and I obeyed. The moment final breathing was over, my head hung low and my friends on either side of me reached out out to touch my shoulders to show support, whispering: “Are you okay?” I could not hold it in one second longer and in the middle of the room I cried like no one wants to cry in public. (Yea, it was a very bad day.) Back then I didn’t understand why the teacher was so hard on me, but today I do. She was giving me one of most powerful gifts and life lessons that I carry with me today. It is true what you learn in yoga, you bring into your life, and on that day I was taught, when things are tough, that if I focus, I am strong, I can do it, to never give up, to dig in, and to keep trying over and over and over until I get it right, little by little over time progress happens and we become who and what we intend to be.

So as not to be left out, I have made a list of my favorite 10 things about Warmth:

  1. The camaraderie.
  2. The coconut water after an especially hard class.
  3. The satisfaction of working your ass off.
  4. The way I’ve learned to control my breathing no matter how hard I’m working, in and out of class.
  5. The way I crave back bends when I’m standing in line at Briar Patch.
  6. Standing Bow Splits, OMG, I want that back!
  7. Corrections during class, even though I’ve heard it a zillion times when the teacher adjusts me, it clicks into place.
  8. Watching people around me in class get better, stronger, more focused, more flexible.
  9. How specific poses are rehabilitating my left knee and the way I wobble because it motivates me to get stronger.
  10. The true meaning of the phrase, “Bring it to the Mat” however you feel, doesn’t matter.

10a Birthday Classes!

10b Suzanne Hamilton Holmes, my bobsie twin.

Thank you Warmth, I’m back and I’m more motivated and excited than ever to regain the strength and flexibility you once gave me, I want it all back BAAAAAD!


Laura Chamberlin