Tu is a new teacher who is passing through town for only a week or so. He taught in Australia, then New Zealand, is stopping Houston now, and will be going to Vancouver next week for a couple of months. It must be really cool to be a vagabond Bikram teacher in your early 20s.
Amy needs to do whatever she can to bring him back to Houston. He was a really fine teacher. He had great energy, connected well with the class, and had the ability to motivate people past their limits. He was also charming and had his own style (or at least a style I have not encountered before.) And he brought a new slant to several of the poses.
First, pranayama has never been so hard before. He held each inhalation and exhalation longer than any other teacher. And he paid much more attention to people's posture during the pose. Twice he corrected me for having my stomach not pulled in enough. I would have thought that it was tucked in, but I was wrong. He was able to get me pulled in tighter, which in turn got my chest to open a little more, which made my whole body straighter and taller. Oh, and by the way, it also made the whole thing much harder to do. But it felt amazing.
The whole standing series was good. But there was a problem with the heat. The room never got over 96 today, because the heater was broken for some reason. This made for my second cold class in a row. A few weeks ago, I don't think I would ever have guessed that I would be disturbed by a class being too cold. And before I started Bikram, I don't think I could have imagined 96 degrees as a bit chilly. To compensate, Tu turned the fans off and made us work harder, and I think that worked to some extent.
The next big revelation in class was in Cobra. Tu said that we talk about firming the butt and keeping the legs locked, but really everything in the hips should be solid. This means the butt, the side of the hips, and especially the muscles in the front from the navel to the hips. If all of this tightens up, it frees the spine to stretch upward. I tried thinking about it this way, and I did get what he called a "floating" feeling above the belly button, and there was a much different feeling of support. Also, I think he helped me to find some new muscles down there.
Between Locust sets, he showed us how it can be done. He went all the way up so his legs were completely vertical. Then, he dropped his legs so his heels came down to touch his shoulders. I saw a woman dancer do this once, and that was amazing enough. This is the first time I've seen a guy do it, and it was sort of dumbfounding. It's so different from what I can even think about getting, that its hard to say that it was inspiring. But it was very impressive all the same.
Tu took some time with me in the final spinal twist, showing me how to keep my back straighter in the set up. This small correction added a bunch to my range of motion. It's something I hope to be able to repeat.
My knee was worse than its been in weeks today. Fixed firm was back to square one, or maybe even worse. My hips were sore going in, but have felt better since. I'm still pretty sure that I should be able to work through this. I think the key is to take it easy even on the days when I feel really good. What happens is that I feel good, so I push hard again, and that sets me back again.