Happy 2011 everyone!
I am so stoked to introduce to you Nick Criscione. He practices at the Park Slope studio here in Brooklyn.
MH: What's up, Nick? Tell me-- how did you hear about Bikram Yoga?
NC:Two years ago, when I was working at an architecture firm in in Boston, a friend told me about a hot yoga studio in Cambridge. He told me it was really intense, the whole time chugging water, sweating so much, and just trying to get through. It wasn't until a few months later, after I had started practicing vinyasa yoga and was interested in learning more about the subject that I called him to ask him about the hot yoga.
Do you remember what your first class was like?
I left 2/3 of the way. I couldn't stand still. It was so overwhelming. When I went outside, the manager of the studio came over to see if I was okay. He told me to take my t-shirt off. Then he said to me, "Go back, lie down. No one gives a shit if you can't do the postures. Besides, being out here is not good for your body. Just go back in." I listened to him and returned to my mat. The only posture I could do after that was the final stretching.
That manager is brilliant. You did so well by listening to his advice. It is always 100% better to stay in the room, even if you're sitting out a lot, rather than go outside--it's such a shock to the body. What made you come back for a second class?
I played sports growing up, all of which had their own physical and mental demands. Bikram was no different. The #1 reason i came back was because of the physical and mental reward-- the way you feel after class. I was sleeping better, I felt more rested and refreshed. I also felt lighter, like each time I released all this stress. I realized that there was something to this.
And now, here you are in Brooklyn completing a 30 day challenge. What happened between Cambridge '08 and Brooklyn '11?
I moved to New York in February of 2010. I partied a lot, and it was this lifestyle that eventually forced me to re-evaluate my health. It turned out that there was a Bikram yoga studio in my neighborhood, and in March I decided to go check it out. By April, I was hooked once again, and decided to do the work-study program. I worked through the summer and accumulated a bunch of classes, but my practice was not consistent. Then one day all the workstudies got an email saying that our classes will expire if we don't use them by a certain date. So I picked up my pace and started practicing a lot more in August. It just didnt make sense to me to earn these classes and not use them. So I went from practicing 3 to 5 days a week, then from 5 days to 7 days.
I kinda see where this is going...
Yeah. It was a gradual buildup, to the point where i was curious to see if i could do the 30 day challenge. I was curious to see if I could do it.
That's pretty cool. Was there anything else that added to your curiosity?
A few things inspired me. By the late fall, I wanted to avoid the cold and flu that was going around. I wanted to keep the holiday-stress levels to a low. And also, I kept hearing about a teacher from San Francisco who was coming to do a seminar in January, so I wanted to sign up for that and prepare for it as well.
Mary Jarvis! Of course! I am still in awe of all the knowledge and wisdom she shared with us. I'm so glad you decided to sign up for that. She continues to amaze me with the beauty and truth she has found after experiencing a life-altering injury. What about yourself? Are you working with any injuries?
I was in a car accident that fractured my right shoulder/clavicle. So the pain in that area is starting to surface.
I've often heard from senior teachers that when it comes to old injuries, if they didn't fully heal at the time, there will be pain sensation that resurfaces when you start practicing seriously. They say, "it will get worse before it gets better." So just take your time and let it heal :)
Yeah, I am enjoying the process.
Good. Tell me, do you have any favorite/least favorite postures?
Yeah. I really enjoy the 2nd part of awkward, standing bow pulling pose, camel & rabbit, and savasana. I have a love/hate relationship with the 3rd part of locust. And I am not so crazy about half moon and eagle. Basically, I have new favorite postures when I learn something new about the posture that helps me nail it. The ones I don't like are the ones I haven't figured out yet, the ones I haven't mastered how to breathe in yet.
It's interesting to note this, because as your body changes so does your relationship to your postures. You're a muscular guy, which makes it hard in eagle to wrap up like a pretzel. And half-moon can be challenging no matter what, especially if your spine is not very flexible. But you're so on the right path. Understanding the series takes time. Be patient and compassionate to your body! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I'll see you in the hot room!