Holy Flying Yogi Batman!!

So, I know you all are wondering when I’m going to write something about working out…which I spend most of my waking hours doing. Well…drum roll please…I have decided to kick off the physical health portion of my blog with a personal review on a class I just attended. As you know, I had a birthday recently, which I celebrated for a week+ with many outings. One of the events I scheduled to celebrate life with my friends was a trip down to The Standard Hotel in Miami Beach. They do this amazing thing called H2OM every Friday night, which consists of 2 hours of yoga (om) and 2 hours in their spa (H2O). Being a yoga lovah, this is pure bliss to me. So, you get where the name comes from…H2O is water and Om is that thing people chant at the beginning or end of a yoga class. Om, pronounced AUM actually has a super cool meaning…it’s like, the all encompassing sound of the universe, the sound of God manifest, the first physical thing to appear….ever. It’s kinda a big deal. So, when I looked at the schedule of who would be teaching on my birthday weekend, I was thrilled to see that Ricky Tran would be our guide for the evening!! I was stoked, since I had taken a class with RT (do you mind if I call you that?) the last time he was in town, a year ago, and had a blast. What stuck out in my mind from last year were 2 things: 1. his ridiculous ability to stand on his hands, as if they were his feet and 2. the breath work he had us do.

“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” ~ Lao Tzu

Going to The Standard is always exciting! After practicing yoga for 2 hours, you get to enjoy sauna, steam, cold showers, hot marble slabs you lay on to relieve sore muscles, then there’s the amazing heated pool on the intracoastal water way under the stars, hot tub with super strong waterfall for some hydrotherapy and a freezing cold salt water plunge pool!!! Yes, all there for your pleasure 🙂 So, naturally, on my past trips to The Standard, I could not wait for the class to be over so I could get to the spa! This time though, was different. With all the knowledge RT had to share with us, I actually thought 2 hours was not enough.

“Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.” ~ Mr. Miyagi (Karate Kid yo!!)

The class started out with an open floor to ask questions. RT shared with us how he found yoga. His path progressed pretty quickly after finding this ancient healing practice, transforming his life from one of destruction to one of service. The practice of asana (the postures), and mastery of most, lead Mr. Tran to what yoga is all about, really, pranayama (the breath). He told us about how he started doing “yoga crawls”, which are similar to pub crawls…just without the bars, beer, greasy food & drunk people…as a way to share his message with more people in his visiting city.

“What if the hokey pokey is what it’s all about?”

We began the physical practice of asana with a strong emphasis on the breath. He warmed us up good with sun salutations and then immediately gave opportunities to invert or practice arm balances…you know, the fun stuff! Any variation of vinyasa – handstands, floating, stepping, knees to the ground, whatever – was not only acceptable, it was encouraged. There were all levels of practitioners in this class and everyone was having a blast! RT took us through a flow of hip openers, side body openers and some standing, balancing poses before letting us go “freestyle”! You could use the asanas he just instructed, do your own flow or play with some crazy balances…all to the masterpiece “Creep” by Radiohead. I know there are many people who practice yoga and disregard the music; I am not one of them. “Music is my LIFE!!” ~ (C&C Music Factory) So, yea, I like my yoga to have good music! We not only got Radiohead, but also heard some MC Yogi, WAH, a cool, sexy version of “Dust in the Wind” and this funny handstand song, which were all perfectly choreographed to the flow of the class. RT’s instruction and teaching style are very friendly yet super focused on alignment. We found ourselves laughing at, “Drop your crotch” in Warrior II pose…to which a friend added, “Drop it like it’s hot”…which instantly made it into the flow, and soon we were all dropping it like it was hot, while laughing and repeating…like children. LOVE IT! We finished the class with 20 or 30 minutes of pranayama. We were invited to sit, but if you needed to lay down, that was not frowned upon. I sat on a block. We did some breathing in and out to a count of 6, building up to a count of 10. At first, inhaling and exhaling for more than 6 felt impossible, but when building up in this way, it was amazing how much stronger your breathing became. He spoke to us about diaphragmatic breathing, the natural way to breathe, since it’s the breath we used from birth. We finished with savasana (corpse pose)….ahhh. As we lie there, RT asks us to count our breaths…in and out = 1. “Controlling the mind by controlling the breath”, he told us. We were encouraged to count all the way to 10, and if we lost control of our mind – like if we started to think about anything else, besides the breath number we were on – we were to start over from 1. I got to 3 once…and got to 1 a bunch of times. We Om-ed at the end of class…or was it before the breath work??? Idk. What I do know, is it was beautiful.

“The mind is harder to control than the wind, but if you can control your breath, you can control your mind.” ~ Ricky Tran

Ricky Tran’s message is simple, “Yoga is a life long practice. A journey of 1,000 miles, begins with a single step. Each time you roll out your mat, you take a step. It’s not how long you’ve been practicing, it’s how often your roll out your mat.” His playful way of teaching is encouraging for all levels of yogis (boy yoga peeps) and yoginis (girl yoga peeps). RT explains the “why” behind his teaching style, throughout the practice, which brings a confidence to the practitioner. Coming from a lineage of Bryan Kest, David Swenson & Dharma Mittra, Mr. Tran allows the “guru inside” to lead his practice. My only complaint about the evening with RT is it just wasn’t long enough…(that’s what she said). I know there is so much more to learn from this wise, young master, and I’m super excited for his return to South FLA! So, I encourage you all, beginner, intermediate and advanced yogis & yoginis, if RT comes to your area…GO to his class! Super fun, super inspiring and crazy energizing!! Thanks Ricky Tran, for your fun, loving, energetic spirit. South Florida loves you 🙂

“Yoga isn’t for everyone; it’s for anyone.” ~ RT (aka Ricky Tran)

PS You’ve gotta check out this SICK video of RT in action….