Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dialogue Daze - Breathing matters!

Here is a dispatch from the wonderful world of Bikram yoga dialogue studying...

First of all, I am a geek.  Big time.  I love studying the dialogue, especially with other people.  My Monday routine right now goes like this: 9am class in LA, then spend about an hour helping Balwan with his dialogue (who is improving SO much! I am so proud!), then 12:15 advanced class, and then an hour or two working on MY dialogue.  I've also been learning floor series postures from audio in the car.  I learned all of spine twist on Sunday night between Santa Barbara and LA.  (I am working backwards now, for some reason.  This is basically because I don't feel like studying wind removing pose, so I decided to attack from the other direction.)

But anyway, this past Monday afternoon I met up with a teacher and another spring trainee to go over half moon after advanced class.  Being the super-patient and mature person that I am, I'm kind of thinking, "UUGGH I don't need to work on half moon, I know this one in my SLEEP!"  (I can, literally, say it in my sleep.  I learned this posture on the sly a couple years ago, when I was alone in the Boston Chinatown studio doing some late night work-study vacuuming.  Vacuum in one hand, studio dialogue in the other hand.  Already knew I was gonna need it some day.)  So I have no trouble with the actual words to half moon, and I'd rather be practicing something tricky like spine twisting posture or the second side of triangle.  (Quick, right arm stretch up, you're going to touch the ceiling pretty soon!!)  However... half moon pose is the one posture that everyone gets to say in front of Bikram and all the other trainees, during the first week (and a half) of training.  (Yes, this is a process that takes a long time.)  So if you're going to perfect ONE page of dialogue before training, this is the page to work on.

And guess what!  I learned a whole bunch!  I learned that, for now at least, I should stand with my feet apart instead of fidgeting all the heck over the place.  (I get over-excited.)  It's ok if I talk with my hands (hooray!), but I shouldn't clasp them behind my back like I am reciting the daily specials back at Houston's (because it makes me look like I am a bored waitress reciting the daily specials and trying not to talk with her hands at work).

AND... here's my favorite one... I learned that I should try to BREATHE.  What a radical concept!  You mean I DON'T have to say every paragraph in just one breath?!  Again, I think I get sort of overexcited, like, "Ooh, look at me, I totally know this one, let me tell you all of it all at once!"  Whoops!  No good.  (I'm sure those of you who have met me in person have no trouble picturing how this could happen.)

When I delivered the posture a second time, I focused about 90% of my mental energy on breathing between lines and pausing between paragraphs.  When I got to the last line, I realized, "Whoops, I forgot all about inflection!  I didn't think about dynamics at all!"  But then my teacher said, "That was much better, J!  You used a lot more inflection and dynamics!"  Huh.  Whaddaya know.  Remember to breathe, and the rest just follows.  (Does this remind us of anything else?  Like this advice that *I* wrote less than a week ago for yoga practice!?  Too funny.)

I shared this new insight with the owner of my local studio yesterday morning, and she said, "Oh, yeah, that's a good one.  Just wait 'til you learn to breathe through your NOSE while teaching."  Hah!  What a concept.  I am not that advanced yet.  I feel like I am breathing through my mouth like a fish in between lines - it's the only way I can remember to do it!  Clearly, I have plenty of things to practice.  But I had the opportunity to go through all of my dialogue (and then some) with a couple of other teachers after class yesterday, and I think that the breathing made a big difference!  This teaching stuff is feeling better every day.

39 days til teacher training!  (Holy shit.)

P.S.  New header text... you guys like?!  (Or notice?)


KatieO said...

Of course, this all makes sense. It's like trying to speak into a microphone, even when you know exactly what you are going to say, I know I can get winded. Breathe? Oh damn was I supposed to breathe AND speak? But when? The words take up all the space!
Like mother, like daughter. I can't even speak if I am sitting on my hands. Glad to hear that hand waving is permissible.

Lady J said...

J, I love this post! I can feel your excitement and energy through the page!
It's funny you bring this up today because in class this morning we had a newer teacher and I could hear her catching her breath sometimes. I was thinking it must be tough to say ALL those words, breathe, make corrections, breathe and make sure your throat doesn't get too dry.
Glad to hear you can talk with your hands! I am sucha hand talker, I don't know how I would express myself preperly if I didn't talk with my hands!

thedancingj said...

OMG, lady J, my mouth gets soooo dry when I try doing the dialogue in the hot room! I think it's harder than practicing in that sense!

And hooray for hand waving. I can't say "touch the ceiling" without pointing at the ceiling. You should see me when I'm walking down the street practicing dialogue - I look like I'm doing a John Travolta disco impression. Embarrassing...

Yolk E said...

Oooh, don't stand with your hands behind your back. Don't fidget. THOSE are the kinds of tips I would LOVE to take teacher training for. Very interesting details that touch, I think, on human psychology and what makes people tick. I dig the hand motions. Yay for energetic teaching!

Catherine said...

You are such a nerd. I learned these lessons for work as presentation skills to present to important managers and customers. You learn them to give dialogue while teaching yoga.

At least you don't have to force yourself to not say "umm" or "like." No room for those in the dialogue.

Also, there is an awesome girl named Maggie who practices in Hermosa who is going to teacher training. I found you a new friend.

Anonymous said...

I understand the urge to point to the ceiling, but PLEASE, I beg of you, do not talk with your hands. Do you realize how hard it is to balance when teacher is doing the hand jive? Or when we are practicing stillness or savasana and teacher is doing a Keith Lockhart impression? No fidgeting. Asana, savasana. Stillness in the posture, stillness not in the posture. When we are still, teacher should be still. As one teacher says, "This is savasana, not pick the shorts out of your asana!"

Anonymous said...

You will find your own style...don't freak about that too much! Laura is right, though, too much hand jive is like too much of anything else. With every posture clinic and teacher who gives you feedback at training, they will all have their own take. Some will say NO hands. Be prepared for feedback to be different from what your teacher is telling you now. :)

Are you practicing with bodies (as they say at TT)? Or are you just memorizing? Bodies make all the difference - you can see them move and connect that to the words coming out your mouth. I think it helps the inflection and pacing.

So, are you excited or what????! (I'm excited for you)

thedancingj said...

E - You are so cute.

Catherine - Yay! I will have to meet up with her sometime, and with YOU again, too! Maybe a Sunday afternoon?

Laura - Hehe - yep, I've taken a few classes in my time, too. Like everything else, too much is no good! But so far, I have never fallen out of half moon pose because a teacher was moving her hands, or ever her legs... ;-)

Leona -Thank you!! Yes, I am TOTALLY practicing with bodies, every chance I get. That's ALL I've been doing lately (except for when I'm learning new postures in the car). It definitely makes everything more natural. I've been making my friend practice with bodies, too - my body, in particular - which means I've done lots of half moons in front of the La Cienega Coffee Bean!

And yeah, I've been warned that EVERYONE at TT will have a different opinion. Talk faster! Talk slower! Don't use your hands! Why aren't you using your hands? Move around more! Stop moving! Haha. I'm looking at the whole thing as a big science experiment/workshop where I can find the teaching styles that are going to work best for me (with the knowledge that what works NOW might be totally different from what works LATER).

Yeah, I'm excited!!!!!!! Can you tell?!? :-D

Anonymous said...

Good approach! I listened to all the feedback in posture clinic...even though I really struggled with posture clinic, it was the most helpful part of T.

And for the record, I had to pay attention this evening when I taught, and indeed I use my hands...not wildly, more like for emphasis...I had to laugh at myself when I caught myself pointing at the ceiling in triangle...

aHappyYogi said...

Breathing as a teacher, is that really needed? ;-)

I am so glad that you are soon going to become a teacher, you will be such a great one.

Johan said...

So basically you're saying teach as if you're doing the yoga. Sounds like solid advice. Which brings me to one of my teacher pet peeves, teachers that drink water before party time. What you think I won't notice. :-)

hannahjustbreathe said...

Whenever I am doing a presentation or gearing myself up for a big talk that I'm all nervous for, I have to write on my notes/slides/etc. "BREATHE!!!" Seriously. It's hilarious. Five lines of work-related info or statistics and then the random "BREATHE!!" jotted into the margins.

I've noticed a lot of clapping in my classes lately. I wonder if it's because the teachers don't know what to do with their hands and so throwing them together seems like the most logical option??

Anonymous said...

I ran through the first 3 postures the other day and felt pooped! how the heck do ya do it for 90 min straight??? oh, breathing probably helps! I'm in such an early stage of learning the dialogue though that if I pause too long to breathe I forget what I need to say next! I'm thinking this is easier to deliver when you have a person in front of you awaiting instruction and it'll be more natural that way. here's hoping!

add to this attempt at speaking to my wandering mind poking me, reminding me about keeping to the timing...has it been a minute? oh gawd,it's probably been a minute and a 1/2!

wait...add in corrections!?! aaaahh ha ha ha! ~ Heidi

KatieO said...

I agree about stillness during savasana! I teach that to my facilitators of Small Group Ministry. We do a silence. If the facilitator uses that time to check her notes, or fidgit, it is NOT setting the right tone! However, when I am speaking, I often intentionally speak animatedly, with hands, to perk people up! See? Lots of yoga stuff relates to other stuff.

bikramyogachick said...

heh heh, 'breathe while reciting dialog'. I would've never really thought about that consciously, but talking for 90 mins straight I guess that's really important!

thedancingj said...

Hehe... that's right guys... breathing is needed as a teacher. it turns out that the same things that we practice when we DO the yoga are important in all SORTS of other things!! :)

Leona - Yes, for emphasis, exactly! And how could you NOT point at the ceiling in triangle? ("You're going to touch the ceiling pretty soon!") ;-) Thanks for the encouragement re: feedback.

Hannah - So cute. Doesn't surprise me.

Johan - Oh man, but talking not-stop in there makes you SO thirsty! I never get thirsty when I practice, but I'm dyin' after like 10 minutes of talking! Practice, practice, practice, I guess. :)

Heidi - Hi babe!! Yes, it is WAY easier with bodies. As soon as you get the words more-or-less down, the next step is to grab hapless friends and start practicing on them. Breathing DOES seem to help quite a lot!

Oh, and about the timing? My advice is DON'T think about the timing at this stage, that's one of the last things you need to worry about. I still haven't timed ANY of my postures, but the people who I practice on say that my timing already seems good. It's basically built into the dialogue (for everything except balancing stick) - if you say all the dialogue at a reasonable pace (not too slow, not too fast), you end up with good timing. So forget the clock, just think dialogue. :)

Corrections?!? Yeeeaaaah.... we'll get there.... ;-)

Mei said...

BREATHE, and talk SLOW - students need time to hear and then "adjust" according to dialogue! [learnt this one few months back!]. Ultimately you'll find your own style within a few months! :D

HMMM dry throat? Maybe your studio's a little dry?


thedancingj said...

Yep... always going for CLARITY. It also must help that the dialogue says everything about 10 times, right?? My favorite is: "Touch your exactly forehead to the knee. Forehead should touch the knee. If your forehead is NOT touching, bend the knee a little bit, but you have to touch your forehead to the knee!" Hehe.

Oh - and it just occurred to me that I've been doing dialogue practice right after taking class, and not really drinking water in between. DUH, Juliana!