Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Advanced seminar report - PART 1

Soooo... went to advanced seminar last week!!

I loved it. Absolutely loved it. Would definitely do it again. It was so priceless to spend the entire week practicing yoga with just Bikram, Rajashree, Emmy, and 300+ super-dedicated all-star yogis. The schedule was basically yoga class from 8:30am until maybe 1:30pm, with a break between beginner's and advanced, and then on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday there were lectures in the afternoons, and then in the evenings we had some movie nights, a dinner, a "hot chocolate" night (which was my favorite!), and some more talking from Bikram. We only had advanced classes scheduled for Mon-Fri, but check-out wasn't til Sunday morning and Bikram was in a GREAT mood, so by popular demand we got to do beginning and advanced AGAIN on Saturday! Six days in a row!! Actually I missed the classes on Monday, didn't get there until 2pm Monday because I was at a wedding, but I still got five days of beginner/advanced in a row! That's a lot of yoga...

My personal practice: it started off awesome and then slowly and steadily deteriorated throughout the week. Ha! Ha! Just got more and more sleepy and stiff at the end of the week!! Happy, but tired. Spine kinda bailed on me. Wasn't too distressed by it! Doing that many days of advanced will do odd things to your body for sure. I think the payoff will come the NEXT time I practice advanced series... and in the months to come, because I definitely came home with tons of motivation and inspiration. I'm hoping to evolve again. :)

Bikram was in an amazing mood the entire week, the happiest I've ever seen him. One of my friends, who's been teaching and practicing for years, said she couldn't get over how positive he was about everything. He kept saying that we were all sooooo good, that this was the biggest advanced class ever (300+ people!), and that there was nowhere else in the world where you could see so many people in one room doing perfect postures!

On Monday I went to the judge's clinic where they talked about the future of the yoga championships, and there was a lot of cool information. We heard about some changes that they're going to make to the competitions, such as: transparent scoring on a 10 point scale! Just like at the Olympics. Rajashree talked about the main goals of the competitions, which are to raise participation in yoga with the younger generation, encourage yoga as a legitimate form of healthcare, and to promote and establish our group identity. Then Bikram came down and talked for a bit about some of the cricticism of the yoga competitions, and why we do them in the first place. Everything he says makes so much sense... I always feel like none of his critics would last more than a minute if they ever actually SPOKE with him and HEARD what he is saying. He says, "the world improves because more good people compete with each other. Then you demonstrate on the stage how good somebody can do it. What is wrong with that??"

On Wednesday we heard a LOT about the future of the Bikram yoga franchise, which is being launched SOON - they said next Monday. So in less than a week, the "studio freeze" will be lifted, all questions will be answered, and everything will start moving forward. The franchise lecture was more than 3 hours long, and it was 5 minutes of Bikram talking, 10 minutes of his franchise lawyer talking, and the rest was ALL questions and answer from the studio owners and teachers to the lawyer and Bikram. Everything sounded really good and I am excited to see how everything unfolds!!

On one evening (I think it was the hot chocolate party), Bikram said, "To teach 26 and 2, you don't need me anymore." It knocked me over. He said that he used to worry about the future of Bikram yoga, but "I'm not worried anymore," because all his staff are so good, and he sees students always improving, and the teacher trainings are going great... It made me so sad to think of a day when we'll do Bikram yoga without Bikram at all (though hopefully this is very far in the future), but it was so beautiful to see his happiness that after 51 years, Bikram yoga is alive on its own, and his faith that it is going to keep getting better and he doesn't need to be responsible for everything anymore.

Then he hopped on stage with a famous Bollywood singer and gave us an EPIC disco dance performance!

Very exciting news: Bikram says he's working on his advanced series BOOK and wants to get it out this year (which he used to say he would NEVER even consider doing), AND he is talking about starting a TEACHER TRAINING for teachers to be certified to lead the advanced series! Oh man. This is awesome news.

Let's see... this is not a very chronological report...

Emmy's classes were so wonderful. We had her ALL day on Wednesday, for beginning and for advanced. She says: "You guys could teach me a lot of things." A pause. "Not about Bikram yoga, but about other things." The whole room burst into spontaneous applause. 84 years old and she still kicks our butts. We were all wrapped around her finger.

I love the dichotomy between Bikram and Emmy. Here are the quotes I have written from them in my notebook, side by side.
Emmy: "Precision, frequency, intensity."
Bikram: "I saw a boy mastrubating in a walnut tree today..." Proceeds to tell long and dirty story.

One day - I don't even remember which one - I definitely found my absolute fatigue point! It was so funny. First we did a long beginner's. Then a little break. Then a long advanced class, where we left out a couple of the beginner's postures in the beginning: awkward, eagle, head to knee, standing bow. By the way, for those of you who know advanced - we did THREE sets of plow series. And the first one was incredibly long and slow. But I did learn a whole lot about plow series. Then - they did warn us about this - some camera guys from the CBS news came in after class, and as a demo, Bikram wanted us to do the opening sequences of the advanced class again. So we went BACK TO THE BEGINNING, and that was pretty hard, but at least he had warned us. So we do the three opening sequences for the camera - salute to the gods and goddesses, salute to the sun, half moon - and the Bikram says, "ok, awkward pose!" At that point, for the first time ever in my life in a yoga class, my brain said "you have absolutely GOT to be shitting me right now, he is TRYING to KILL us!!!!" Oh my god. I couldn't believe it. That awkward pose was one of the hardest things I ever did, and then he says, eagle pose! And then... standing head to knee! Just one set. First side. I'll never know how, but I f-ing NAILED it - got right in, held the head on the knee for a while until he said change, and then did a step by step dismount. Then standing bow, one set, first side, my bad side. Nailed it. Then one set balancing stick, then I think tree (I really don't remember), and then he said "ok guys, great job, thank you, see you at 9 for hot chocolate" and I literally just FELL to the ground and laid there for a little while. It was so awesome. Beyond the body, beyond the mind, just pure technique, pure yoga.

I have more to report but that's enough for now. Let me know if there's anything in particular that you want to hear about! Here are a couple of pictures for fun. (They're on facebook, too.)

Full standing bow, me and my friend Maria. I'm in the purple top.

Me in pregnancy pose - help, I'm stuck!!

The best picture of my friend EVER!!

My happy, smiling face...


waylon said...

thanks for the update!! very cool! congrats on a great seminar. my teacher was there too. she said it was awesome!

hannahjustbreathe said...

Wow... Such a great report! Sounds like an amazing week. I still need to hop on FB (can't access it at work...grrrrr) and check out all of the pictures.

Definitely interested to hear more about the studio freeze lifting. Are they relaunching the Bikram Web site, too?? Giving all the updated info via the Web?

The Missus said...

I heard from D&D here in Toronto that Bikram wants to start training teachers to teach teh advanced series.


YOU need to be teaching us too!!!! Damn you and your scholastic aspirations! Why do you have to be so good in school and so inspirational in your yoga practice!?!?!

Ellen in Hawaii said...

So awesome! I just LOVE your accounts of Bikram, especially. I have both of his books and his audio cd - which I practice with at least a couple times a month. Cannot wait for the day when I can drive up to LA and take classes from the man himself. I am also thrilled to learn that their will be advanced teacher training in the future. I am nowhere near ready for advanced yet, but it makes me happy to know that he will be sharing more of his vast knowledge with us. THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!!!