My name is Megha, and I'm stoked to have the opportunity to start teaching capoeira at Hyper Active Monkey Fitness. I've been practicing capoeira for almost 10 years at Stanford with Mestre Beiçola (Capoeira Narahari). Before I write anything else, I would like to first express my gratitude for having such a solid mentor and teacher, in capoeira and in life. I will continue my own training with him, and with his blessing, I'm now taking on more teaching opportunities.
So, who am I?
Don't we all ponder this question? Ok ok, without being too philosophical, this is the short story...at least, my capoeira story.
I first saw capoeira while I was an undergrad at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, taking an Ethnomusicology course. It blew my mind. I was working too much at the time, and I ended up never taking a single capoeira class. I soon graduated and left the country for 6 months, but the regret of never having tried capoeira kept gnawing at me. The Universe set me up with a job at a research lab at Stanford, and in the fall of 2007, I found myself in Palo Alto, CA. A few months later, riding my bike back from campus, I saw a tall guy walking in capoeira uniform playing a berimbau. I practically ran him over I got so excited to see a capoeirista. His name was Shaun, and he told me to come check out Stanford Capoeira Club training sessions. I went that week and never looked back.
Barely a year later, I decided to spend 3 months in Rio de Janeiro to find out more about this new culture I was slowly getting immersed in. I had begun to learn Brazilian dance as well as percussion and cavaquinho, all taught by Mestre Beiçola. I wanted to see the source of all this magic. I was hooked. I'll save the stories from this adventure for future posts, but it was so awesome that I went back to Brazil the following summer for another 3 months. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to teach capoeira to kids and adults at local schools and community centers, public and private events and fairs, at academic conferences (Seoul, Korea) and in other sports clubs (Ultimate Frisbee team in Bangalore, India).
Now a slight detour...
In 2010 I began my doctoral program at Stanford, and seven looooong years later, I earned my PhD in Biology. My thesis is titled, "Glabrous skin regions as thermal portals for human temperature regulation". If you want to learn more about what I did, you can watch my public defense presentation here. In a nutshell, mammals (like us humans) have specialized regions of skin that help transfer heat with the environment. These areas are found on the palms and foot soles, among others. We can mechanically enhance our ability to remove excess body heat generated by exercise by placing a cooling device on these areas. This presents a major advantage for athletes - fatigue is actually a result of over-heating, or elevated core body temperature, not lactic acid buildup, as is commonly believed. Cooling the body core prolongs both anaerobic and aerobic exercise.
Anyway, as of this summer of 2017 I'm a free bird, trying to combine my dedication to capoeira, movement, and the arts, with my scientific training. I'm hoping to integrate special "science-enhanced" training features in the near future, but first I need to snag some devices from the lab!
I'm really looking forward to working with Coach Jon at Hyper Active Monkey Fitness and growing a team of spunky capoeiristas...our first workshop will be on September 25th, 2017 at 8pm (RSVP here). The cool thing about this workshop is that I will be co-teaching with Professor Marcelo Medusa, who is here from Rio de Janeiro. You can learn about him here. He's got tons of tricks up his sleeves and is a crazy acrobat, fighter, dancer, and drummer. It's gonna be crazy fun. Don't miss it!
Let's get moving!