I went down to Bikram's class yesterday morning, and I'm so glad I made it, cause this was a GOOD one. An epic two hours of laughter, sweat, and tears! (Not that I cried... but the dude with the body cramps in the back of the room didn't seem too thrilled.)
Let me back up a bit.
Bikram was in a great mood. Tons of energy, even for him, which is saying something. He came in and told us that he'd been teaching at teacher training every day this week and "killing them," so "I am in a killing mood! There is no insurance! You have your warning!" I said oh shit to myself and just started cracking up. I couldn't tell at first whether he was really out to get us. He was having a great old time making fun of us in half moon: "This is a real pussy class! None of you is locking your elbows!" Totally in good humor - in the first set, he said, "I know what you are all thinking! You are thinking, Bikram! Go fuck yourself!" Wahooo! I had a friend in class who was visiting from NYC. He'd practiced to Bikram's CD a lot, but never practiced to Bikram. After class, his comment was, "Wow, the CD is the G-rated version!"
Knew it was going to be a really fun one when he hopped down to help a girl in her half moon backbend. In the first set, he singled out a girl in the front row and said, "You! What are you doing? You're not even trying! Not even doing anything! Posture hasn't started yet!" She came out and looked at him with a little bit of a deer-in-headlights expression, and he said, "It's ok, I'll show you." After padahastasana he had her do it again by herself. That time she did it better, and he decided to help her more. He hopped down and stood about a foot from her face and said, "What country you from? Korea?" She said "Japan," and he instantly started speaking to her in very fast and intense Japanese. The look on her face was priceless. I have NO idea what he was saying to her, but she started giggling hysterically! Great image - Bikram right up in this girl's face with this hardcore serious expression on his face, and this girl just dying laughing. Then he helped her with the backbend. First time I've seen him do this in person - he holds under the back with one hand, taps on the sternum with the other hands, and says, "fall on my hand, fall on my hand!" Girl ends up basically hanging off his arm with her knees totally bent and everything - BUT - she went back about 2 feet farther than before. Now she knows what it feels like!
Class continued with high energy. And I have to say, he totally was going easy on us. A 2 hour Bikram class is an easy Bikram class, because it means he is talking a lot. He gave us short postures and long breaks, which was fine by me, since I was getting TOTALLY light-headed! Probably the combination of a hot humid room with about 150 people in it and the fact that I missed several days of practice this week. So I sat down on my knees during a lot of the breaks between postures, but I did not miss any postures at all, and my postures actually felt really good.
There was some drama in the opposite corner of the room when some guy went down with full-body cramps, or something. He was practically the length of a football field away from me, so I didn't see much of that, but Bikram was all over it. Saw the guy go down, knew what was going on, told him to go out in the hallway and take a break. When the guy didn't go anywhere, Bikram was like, "Why don't you go out?" and the people around him said "He can't get up!" so Bikram told them, "Why don't you carry him out?! Take his arms, take his legs. At teacher training I have 25, 50 people every day 100% unconscious, we carry them outside and put some water on their head." So this guy was more or less dragged out into the hall to recover. Drama!! It wasn't psychotically hot in the room, but it WAS really really hot, and also humid with all those bodies.
But speaking of teacher training, Bikram bragged to us a bit about how great the current trainees are doing. "They improve SO MUCH! You have NO IDEA!" He is impressed with their ability to get through class without anyone sitting down or puking. Says that he started off teaching them 2 hours classes and now they can do class in 88 minutes. Hee. Awesome. Go trainees, go!!
Taking Bikram's class is a little bit like drinking from a firehose. There's such a constant flow of information and chatter thrown at you that it's hard to hold onto anything. In maybe 50% of the classes I've taken with him, I have absolutely NO recollection of ANYTHING he said once the class is over. It just flows right through you. You hear it, but you don't hold on. You remember his comments later, once you're doing the poses, once they're relevant, but when you walk out of the room, you have NO idea what just happened.
A pattern does emerge, though. You are going to hear about Richard Nixon and the phlebitis thrombosis in almost every class, guaranteed!
There were a few things he said yesterday that I wanted to remember. One was the taxi/bus/train driver analogy (which some of us are very familiar with... yay....) He says, "you want to go somewhere, you don't know where you're going, you get in the car, the driver takes you there." Same thing with the mind: he says that we can just step out of our minds (for class) and let him drive. He says, "I know the path. I've been there already. I go back and forth every day, taking people with me." I like that idea: the yoga teacher as a ferryman, carrying loads of passengers every day from one shore of consciousness to the other.
He also made a neat distinction: "Before you can do yoga, you have to learn yoga." And, "Once you've learned it, you don't need me anymore." I'll let that idea just sit.
The car analogy of the day was related to traffic. He says, all your life it is like you are driving in Santa Monica during the "work hour" at 10 miles an hour. You have no idea what that car can do until you take it out at 3am when the streets are empty and hit the gas pedal. And that, I guess, is yoga class.
He also bragged about his speeding tickets, told us a story about how he passed out doing yoga practice in a sauna, and gave advice on masturbation techniques. Yep, you read that right. Sometimes I'm not sure whether I should laugh, roll my eyes, or start throwing tomatoes, but usually I just laugh. He is incorrigible - incurably himself.
When I got home from LA, my roommate asked me, "Did you have any life changing conversations today?" and I said, "Not THIS time!" But I did have lunch with a few teachers, AND I discovered that a girl I know at HQ is also going to the Spring TT session! So we were very, very excited about that, and exchanged numbers, and are planning to start meeting up to study and practice. And she knows one OTHER person who's going to training, a guy who's practiced at HQ for ages, so the SoCal teacher training posse is starting to take form. We are so totally gonna be the cool kids. (Which will be the opposite of my grade school, middle school, and high school experiences. Hah.) So exciting!