Saturday, April 24, 2010

TT WEEK ONE - Best week EVER.

Here I am!  Hello from Bikram Yoga Teacher Training, Spring 2010, Las Vegas Hilton!!

So far, this is the best thing I have ever done.  Period.  Even during the times when the Process is very weird and exhausting, I am absolutely thrilled to be here.  This week has been giddy and delirious and hilarious, I've learned tons already, and it feels completely right.

We’ve been asked to not blog too much or spend too much time communicating with the world outside the yoga bubble, which I totally understand and respect.  During the week, there’s not even TIME!  No time for anything extra!!  I want to blog a little bit, of course… but I will try to be selective and not give everything away.  (Gotta leave some surprises for you guys who are coming in the fall!)  So here are just a few highlights from the week...

Fairy Tale Beginning

As I drove up to the Hilton, my only reaction was HOLY SHIT!!  I'm going to LIVE in this place?!  It’s huge and sprawling and very VEGAS.  It took us about 15 minutes just to drop off my luggage, figure out where to park, and find the way to the front lobby.  There, I met up with a woman from my hometown who I’d talked to via phone and email a bit.  Right away, she said, “You have to see this!!”  She took us to these fancy elevators in the center of the lobby that could only be opened using a specific room key.  On the way up, she told us that the hotel had been full when she came to check into her room the night before, so they’d given her and a bunch of other yogis a “little upgrade.”  To the PENTHOUSE VILLA on the 30th floor.  When we walked into that suite – HOLY SHIT!! 

It was literally a fairy tale palace.  The place was about 10,000 square feet, on the top story, with a full view of Vegas.  It was decorated with marble statues, Greek art, tapestries, carpet, everything, you name it.  We counted 7 bathrooms, with three steam saunas and a Jacuzzi.  There was a courtyard in the center, open to the sky, with a heated pool and an Astroturf lawn.  There were giant flatscreen TVs in pretty much every room, two bars, and several huge living rooms with couches, armchairs, and a baby grand PIANO.  We basically just ran around like little kids, laughing our asses off.  The place was absolutely unreal.  Dazed looking yogis from the United States, Canada, Argentina, and Australia were milling around getting to know each other.  One older gentleman sat down and played the piano for a while.  He was really good.  Unreal.

When my roommate Anna arrived, a bunch of us piled into my car and drove to Trader Joe’s.  (I bought half the food in the place.  I filled my cart to the top.)  We were all giddy and getting along great, and we got completely stocked up for the week before it was even noon.  Then we had registration and orientation, and thing really got rolling.  Between the orientation and the welcome dinner, we moved all our stuff out of the villa and into our bedroom, which is smaller, but still quite nice.

Everybody Together!!

On Monday, I was awake at 6am.  I studied people’s names, read my dialogue, read the first chapter of How Yoga Works (I am reading one a day), went down to the pool and made a new friend, then came back up to my room and showered. We had “Bikram’s orientation” at 10:30am, where Bikram made his first appearance and gave his opening lecture.  He introduced pretty much all of his major themes and told a couple of jokes for good measure. 

Then we were free until our first class at 5pm, and we made awesome use of our free time.  I sent messages to a bunch of trainees, inviting them to come study half moon with me and Anna in our room.  We ended up with a group of nine people studying together, and it was a blast!  We had one guy in the group who had just opened up the dialogue for the first time ever, we had people who were solid but needed review, and we had everyone in between.  We did a lot of “round robin” style practice, going around in a circle with everyone saying a paragraph or a line.  We also had people practice delivering the whole posture on their own, with three people demonstrating.  The person saying the posture had to stand up on our footstool and hold a banana as a microphone.  It was awesome!  We spent a lot of time laughing our asses off, and it was really productive for everyone.  At one point, one of the guys just flung his arms up in the air and hollered, “Everybody together!!!” which is the first line of half moon.  I loved that.  Study groups are FUN.

I was floating on air for the first class with Bikram.  I hung back and definitely took it easy (which everyone, including Bikram, told us to do).  But it was such a rush to be in the big tent with everyone for the first time.  We weren’t actually all there on the first day, since some of the European students were still stuck in the airports in Europe due to the volcanoes in Iceland.  But all together, there will be THREE HUNDRED FIFTY EIGHT of us.  Largest training ever!

Short Hair Rocks

At this point in the training, posture clinic is all about the first posture, half moon.  The dialogue for half moon (the right side bending only) is about one page long, and every single trainee has to deliver that page of dialogue on stage in the lecture tent, in front of all the other trainees, and get feedback from Bikram.  As you can imagine, this process takes some time.  We actually got through 89 half moons on the first day (Tuesday), which was some kind of record.

And yes, I DID get up and deliver my dialogue in the first session!  I was the 20th person or so.  I was just SO ready to get up there and DO it.  I’ve wanted to do this for such a long freaking time.  I’ve actually had dreams about being on stage, doing half moon for Bikram.  (Dork!)  So yeah, I was just ridiculously excited and had tons of adrenaline in my body.  The anticipation was crazy.  But doing it... that was the best.  I can’t even describe the feeling.  My body was actually shaking a little bit the whole time, but I felt totally confident and in control, and I had SO.  MUCH.  FUN.  I sped up, I slowed down, I went louder and softer, I milked every single word for meaning, and I grinned like a fool the entire time.  Before I even finished the last line – I was still on the last “push” – this huge SCREAM of applause went up around the room.  I guess everyone really liked it!!  Thank you, guys!!  Bikram just grinned, turned around, and said “What you guys think?!” and everyone clapped some more.  Then he said that I have a very charming personality, and there is “only one thing.”  He had me turn back around and said, “From the back, doesn’t she look like a high school boy?”  (My hair is super short right now.)  I cracked up laughing, spun back around, and started joking back and forth with him, taking the teasing, tossing it back, and threatening to my hair off altogether.  It was FUN.  Then we broke that off, I stepped back into the line, and he gave me a smile and said “Wonderful.”  It was perfect.

Of course, now I finally have a nickname from Bikram, and it’s “high school boy.”  He’s called me by it at least four separate times now.  I kinda love it!  It’s a huge compliment to have a nickname, plus I always know whether he’s talking to me or not.  I answered a tricky question right in class and he said, “Give a big hand for her, the high school boy!”  Haahahaha.  Fantastic.  I’m sure he’ll “get me” later, but I’ve gotten nothing but compliments from him so far.  When a second girl went up with short hair, who also did really well with her dialogue, Bikram said, “When the women cut their hair, they become powerful!  They look like high school boy, but they all do perfect job!!” 

Also, my fabulous fellow trainees have all felt the desire to reassure me about my hairstyle, which means that I got maybe 50 compliments on my haircut in a single day.  My across the hall neighbor from Poland says, “You do not look like boy, you are beautiful woman!”  I find this all hilarious.  Thanks guys!  I can assure you that I wasn’t feeling the least bit insecure about this, but your support is totally awesome.  I’ve never had so many compliments on my appearance in my life.  Thanks, Boss!

Diversity and Balance

I’d kind of dreaded the never-ending half moon recitations, but these posture clinics have been WAY more interesting and entertaining than I ever expected.  For one thing, the posture clinics are a great way to get introduced to everyone in the training.  We are such a diverse group.  The youngest is 17 years old, and there are a least half a dozen people over the age of 60.  People are here from all over the world; there have been times when the five people on stage have been from five different countries.  It’s so much fun to hear the same words in all these different accents!  It reminds me very strongly of watching the yoga championships.  Everyone who gets on stage is doing the exact same task, but everyone performs it so differently, and you see so many different personalities shining through.  It’s so much fun to see us taking these very first baby steps towards becoming teachers.

And BIKRAM has impressed the HECK out of me with a lot of his feedback.  He can be blunt and he can be ridiculous, but he’s also been more subtle and professional than I’ve ever seen him.  It’s like he’s finally taking us behind the scenes and showing us the first steps of how to construct a class.  He’s talked over and over about balance, saying that you have to balance what your students WANT with what they NEED.  He really looks for personality, energy, and variety.  Not too nice, not too mean, not too silly, not too serious.  He really is a master of his craft, and it’s so cool to be learning from him.

Who Needs Sleep?!

We watched the first of the Bollywood movies on Wednesday night.  (Bikram’s waiting until Monday to start the lecture curriculum, because he doesn’t want to start without the students who are stranded in Europe.)  The movie was loud and hilarious and we were all completely delirious the entire time.  I mean, half the room was clapping along to the opening credit montage.  Much more fun than expected.  I was laughing hysterically for much of the movie.  We were all running around singing the theme song (ironically/badly/enthusiastically) for days.  LAAA, laaa…. La la LA la LAAAA, laaa….

Dear everyone who told me to bring earplugs: THANK YOU.  The earplugs bring the volume down to a normal level, where I can actually watch the movie without jumping for cover everytime there’s a gong or a high-pitched noise.  I brought them on Thursday night, when we watched another movie.  This one started at midnight and seemed to be the longest movie EVER.  Something about an adopted son and his father and mother and brother – ring any bells?  Lots of famous Bollywood people in it.  Anyway, we finished the movie and then Bikram made “one point.”  Got back to our rooms at 4am.  Didn't really care.  Apparently this is part of that "Process" I've heard so much about, and I am just going with it!!

WHOA, Free Time

On Saturday we only have one class, and it was SO weird to be done for the day at 10am this morning!  I spent most of the day at the pool, hanging with yogis and studying dialogue, and then I moved back up to my room, where I hung out with more yogis and practiced more dialogue.  Tomorrow we have NO class, which will be REALLY strange!  I'm planning to hit the Sunday brunch buffet, then Anna and I are going to take the shuttle van to do our laundry and grocery shopping, and then - you guessed it - more hanging out with yogis and more practicing dialogue!!  I've finally, just today, found a couple of other people who are way ahead in the dialogue and want to practice spine strengthening series with me. Good!!  I'm having a blast helping everyone else out, but I REALLY don't need to spend any more time on half moon with hands to feet!  Hehe.  They are both ladies who I know from this blog, actually, and we are meeting tomorrow night.

It's 8pm, I'm in Las Vegas, I have nowhere to be tomorrow morning, and all I want to do is crash on my nice fluffy bed with a journal or a book!!  What a crazy week.  Crazy and amazing.  I'm so excited for the next one!!!  By the end of next week we will be in our posture clinic groups!  (I am in group 11.)  It'll be fun to get broken down into smaller groups, get to know each other better, start getting more feedback, and start moving through the dialogue faster.

I love teacher training!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day Zero

Hello, world.  Here I am in Vegas.



Death Valley was fantastic.  Spent the last few days completely away from civilization with two of my favorite girls, sleeping outside in a tent under the stars.  We saw some amazing sights, did a lot of hiking and climbing, took a lot of pictures, and drank a lot of water.  (It was almost hot enough to do a Bikram class outside.)  That park is one of my favorite places on earth.  We didn't want to leave!  I'm keeping my tent and sleeping bag with me in hopes of getting out on another camping trip this spring.  There are a lot of cool places to go that aren't too far outside the city.  Death Valley is only a couple hours from Vegas... but it will be REALLY hot out there soon, so that might not be the best plan for a bunch of heat-exhausted yogis.

Arrived at Michelle's place in the afternoon, and we all had fun taking our first showers since Wednesday night.  It felt pretty great to wash my hair!!  Then we went out to this great Thai place, where we met up with Greg aka Big G and had a fantastic long and leisurely dinner.  Hot food also tasted GREAT after a few days without it.  I think we spent hours just talking shop, telling yoga stories, and laughing our asses off.  It was a perfect little reintroduction to the world of yoga and other people.  It was a good idea to ease back into things with a couple of buddies, before plunging crazily into the world of full-time yoga tomorrow!!  Overall, I couldn't have planned this trip better if I'd tried.  Haven't practiced since Tuesday, and I think I will be happy to take class on Monday night.  After sleeping on the group for a couple nights, I'm starting to get kinda stiff.  The hot room will feel good.

Off to the hotel first thing in the morning to check in and stock up on groceries!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Holy CRAP!

WOW.  This week has FLOWN.

I've been having all these great ideas for these big long eloquent pre-teacher training blog posts that I wanted to write, but guess what?  Time's up!  Ding ding ding!  My suitcases are packed and loaded into the car, and I'm hitting the road at 7am tomorrow.  Today.  In 5 1/2 hours.  Whatever.

I've been so impatient all week - I do NOT want to pack right now, I want to ARRIVE!  Let's get this fucking show on the road!!!

Well, now it is finally time to hit the road.  I don't think I've laid out my plans here yet, so here they are.  I'm driving out to Death Valley National Park tomorrow morning with my sister and my other California roommate.  We're aiming to get there just after lunch tomorrow, and then we'll camp there Thursday and Friday nights.  Hooray!!  I love that place so much.  Then after this nice desert retreat, we're heading into Vegas on Saturday morning and crashing with the fantastic bikramyogachick, who lives 30 minutes from the Hilton where I'll be staying.  We'll tear up the town on Saturday night (read as: we'll walk down the strip, maybe see a free magic show or something, and then pass out at 10pm), and then we'll drive over to the hotel on Sunday morning.  There I will meet up with my teacher training roomie (I can't wait to meet you Anna!!) and another great girl who practices at my hometown studio (Northampton represent!!)  We will use my car to make an early morning run to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and then the Cali girls will head home (driving my car, because I'm a very generous person who lets her sister use the car for 9 weeks), the Vegas girls will try to shove all their fresh produce into their mini-fridges, and then at 3pm, teacher training orientation BEGINS.

And then that will be THAT!

I just can't believe this is IT.  It feels totally weird, and nothing this month has been the way I imagined it would be, and that's all totally fine, because in a few days I will be checking into teacher training, and 9 weeks after that I will come out as a teacher.  Amazing.  I'll believe it when I see it.

Too late to be eloquent.  This is probably a pretty accurate representation of my state of mind, at any rate.

And this is my last chance to sleep in my own bed for a couple months, so I guess I'd better get to it!  Next time I write, it will be from Vegas... :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Little Plastic Castle

"You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific?"  "No."  "They say it has no memory.  That's where I want to live the rest of my life.  A warm place with no memory."
- The Shawshank Redemption

Bikram yogis have a lot of character traits in common.  We are determined, we are focused, we are interested in improving our health... these are all great things.  But I've always suspected that we have one other thing in common: short-term memory loss.

I mean, how else do you explain it?  One minute you're exhausted on your mat, wishing the teacher would open the doors and cursing the yogi who invented locust pose.  You think, "Uugggghh, why am I doing this?!"  But then as soon as class ends, you don't say, "Uugggghh, why did I do that?!"  You say, "When can I do that again??"

It's phenomenal.  We feel so good at the end of class that we forget about all the discomfort we endured while the class was actually happening.  I've heard more than one person compare it to childbirth: the experience is kind of horrifying sometimes, but then the end result is so great that you end up thinking, "Gee, that wasn't so bad, I think I'll do it again!"

And we do this every.  Single.  Time.

There have been plenty of times when I've laid in a puddle of my own sweat, totally spent, and thought, "Okay, there is no frickin' way that I'd want to do this stuff twice a day for nine whole weeks."  But then as soon as class is over and I've felt a little bit of cool air, I hear myself thinking, "Yeah, teacher training, sign me up!  When can I start?"

(I start in seven days.)

I've had this great song lyric stuck in my head all day: "They say goldfish have no memory/ I guess their lives are much like mine/ And the little plastic castle/ Is a surprise every time/ And it's hard to say if they're happy/ But they don't seem much to mind..."

I actually like the "little plastic castle" approach to yoga class.  If you are really "in the moment," then every sensation will be a surprise every time, even though you've done it all before.  On one hand, this means that the unpleasant moments will always be a little bit startling.  But on the other hand, it means that you get to rediscover your practice every day.  For one hundred days in a row, every time you do a backbend, you get to think "WOW!  Backbending!!"  It is forever surprising and it never gets old.

Hooray for memory loss!  Without this selective amnesia effect, I suspect that there would be far fewer returning students to Bikram yoga...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Not a Pretty Girl

I am not a Pretty Girl.
That is not what I do.
I am no damsel in distress, and I don't need to be rescued
So put me down, punk
Wouldn't you prefer a maiden fair?
Isn't there a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere?
~ Ani D.

What can I say?!  I chop my hair short, and then next thing you know I am listening to Ani DiFranco again like I'm back in high school in Northampton, Mass.  She has written some great songs, though.  :)

Now that I'm a heartbeat away from launching into my career as a Bikram teacher, I've started remembering the real reasons I got interested in this practice in the first place.  I've brought this topic up on this blog before, in bits and pieces, but I haven't really delved.

So.  I found Bikram yoga (or rather it found me) when I was still a ballet dancer.  When I took my first Bikram class at 19, I was still a pretty gung-ho ballet dancer.  A couple years later, I went into a ballet company full time (after graduating from MIT, which is another story).  This company turned out to not be a great environment for me (understatement), and I turned into a very burned-out ballet dancer.

The thing that really sucked all the joy out of the dancing was the way someone was always judging you.  It was so fucking relentless.  Any time I made a move, I felt like someone was watching.  And not just watching, but critiquing.  And not in a nice way.  (There were some jerks in the company.  Also, some bitches.)  It just wasn't cool.  It made it hard to just practice, because it felt like someone was always watching, ready to analyze any fuck-up.  And of course, even when someone wasn't watching, I would still be judging myself, ready to beat myself down over any fuck-up.  Pretty discouraging.  But I think the most discouraging thing, in all of this, was knowing that no matter how hard I tried, even if I tried my absolute hardest, it wouldn't make any difference.  I would try so hard, and I would still get shot down.


But during all of this, I was wandering in and out of Bikram yoga classes in Boston, just for the extra exercise... and as I listened to the instructors, I heard something really great: "As long as you are trying the right way, you are getting 100% benefits."  This was like the best thing I'd ever heard.  I just thought, are you guys serious?  I just have to follow your instructions and try my best?  This stuff will still work perfectly even if I don't really know how to do it and I'm falling over and fucking up all over the place?! Sign me UP!!

I remember when I had just started practicing in Harvard Square, one of the studio owners was taking a survey of the newbies in the room before class, and she said, "Oh, and there's J.  She's only just started, but I wish I had her practice!"  It was a sweet comment, and this is a woman who I really grew to love.  But I remember that at the time, I totally recoiled from that comment.  Did not want to hear it.  Because number one, I knew that I was was a brand new baby yogi and I had no idea what I was doing yet.  And number two, my (somewhat misguided) thought process went something like this: "She thinks my postures are better than hers?  Great, so that means she's thinking about how 'good' she is compared to how 'good' I am, which means she is watching me and making value judgments based on how my postures look, and fuck that shit!!  No thank you!"

See, I really took that whole "trying 100% the right way" thing to heart.

And beyond that, I understood right off the bat that yoga wasn't about having "pretty" postures or making attractive shapes.  Because that was exactly what I went there to avoid.  Ballet was all about making the prettiest shape possible, and it didn't matter what it did to your body in the process.  (One of my friends had hip surgery when she was 19, for Pete's sake.)  Yoga was exactly the opposite.  Yoga was about creating the posture that would give you the most internal, medical benefit, and the fact that some of the poses happen to be pretty in their full expression is just a side effect.  An anatomically correct pose is very beautiful, but in an organic and natural way.  As my Mom can tell you, because she's heard me give this little speech more than once, an art like ballet acts on your body from the outside in.  But yoga... yoga is the only exercise that works from the inside out.  ("Practicing Yoga Asanas is the only natural physical activity in the world, because it is scientific."  Dialogue.)

So as far as I'm concerned, this whole concept of having a "pretty practice" is pretty much irrelevant.

That's not to say that the yoga isn't beautiful.  Oh my god, it's the most beautiful thing ever!  Healthy bodies are beautiful.  Great technique is beautiful.  Healing bodies are beautiful.  The practice is beautiful - not the perfection, but the practice.  There's nothing more beautiful than seeing someone who is trying the right way and executing a posture to the best of his ability, regardless of strength, flexibility, age, or injury.

Okay, I think I have exhausted my writing ability for the moment.  I have also packed my first suitcase!  My entire portable hotel-room kitchen is now packed away, along with a giant tub of OxiClean and some earplugs.  How exciting.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Just for the Record...

Two things.  Both self-centered.

First of all, as most of you know, I've been taking part in this 101-day long Bikram yoga challenge (101 classes in 101 days) that started on January 1st.  If any of you have been watching my little counter thingie on the side of the page, you might have noticed that I have stopped counting up.  Yep!  Last Friday, I decided that I was done.

I've had tons of fun encouraging everyone else in this challenge.  I think it's hilarious that I decided to end my own challenge 10 days before the official "end."  Go, me!  I hope no one is disappointed or anything.  But last week, I came to the very clear realization that it is high time for me to go into "slacker mode" in preparation for teacher training, where I will do 11 classes a week for 9 weeks, whether I like it or not!  My most trusted teachers have told me, in no uncertain terms, that the weeks before teacher training are not the time to try to "get in shape" or "kill yourself" or anything like that.  So as of right now, I am "only" practicing 5 times a week or so.  I am using the extra free hours to spend time outside, go shopping for teacher training supplies, and sleep.

I'm barely going to practice at all during the final days leading up to training.  Instead, I am going to go hiking/camping in Death Valley with my sister and one of my best friends for a couple days.  I am very happy with the way I planned this trip; it will give me a little oasis of calm, quiet, and natural beauty in between the chaos of packing to leave and the chaos of arriving!

Second thing: I almost missed this, but yesterday was the one year anniversary of the day that I resurrected this blog!  I originally set up this page in 2007, but I only wrote a handful of entries before I went back to writing by hand and forgot that the thing existed.  I picked it up again and started blogging in earnest on April 7, 2009.  I wasn't much good at it in the beginning, but I was having fun!

I don't know how this happened, but I've managed to write 158 entries in my first full year of blogging.  (I guess this one is number 159.)  Holy crap!  I had no idea that I was going to have so much to say.  I also had no idea that anyone would ever read this thing.  I think two people knew about its existence in the first weeks: hannahjustbreathe and themissus.  The lovely bikramyogachick was on board pretty early on, too... and duffy, whose blog has been quiet since he got bit by that dog!  :(  So to all the people who have started reading and following since that time... I have no idea where you guys all came from, but you absolutely ROCK!!  You make me so happy.  Thanks for reading.  :)

I suspect that I'll get a whole influx of new readers this Spring while I'm at teacher training, just because everyone loves to read the TT blogs!  (I was always such an addict.  I read Jenn's blog every single night after work.  I can't believe that was two years ago!)  So here we go.  Welcome, new people!!  And buckle up, because I have a feeling this will be an interesting ride!!  Through teacher training, to infinity, and beyond...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Can't Control a Rollercoater

These past couple weeks have been strange.

Lots of little things have been happening unexpectedly.  And none of them are catastrophes, but they're not the sort of things that make you jump up and say "yay!"  There have just been a lot of surprising little disappointments.  The people who were supposed to look at my room didn't show up, someone I thought I'd see at teacher training can't make it, someone said some mean things that took my by surprise, etc. etc.    They're all things that I can totally deal with, but they're things that I didn't see coming.

I'm not writing to complain.  I really don't feel bad for myself.  I just have this uncanny impression that the universe is testing me, just a little bit.  I feel like I'm up at bat, and the universe is the pitcher who's tossing me easy warm-up pitches and saying, "Okay, can you hit this one?"  "Okay, now how about this one?"  "Are you sure you want this?  Are you really sure?  What if I throw this?"  Apart from one shocking fastball yesterday afternoon, it's all felt almost gentle.  Teasing.

Like I said, it's weird.

There's a law that I've heard and read from a couple of different sources which basically says, "when important things are about to happen, bigger problems come to try to stop them."  (That's from How Yoga Works, by the way, page 40.)  That's kind of the impression that I've been getting.  Because leaving grad school to go to "yoga college" was kind of a big thing for me, and this is a big commitment that I've made.  It's important to me.

I'm feeling profoundly aware of how little control I have over the events in my life, including all the things that are about to happen.  I can control my breathing and my reactions, and that's about it.  Everything else is just going to happen, and I am going to be a passenger.  I don't get to drive this car, not even as a "back seat" driver!

And that's okay.

I've been thinking of the roller coaster analogy a lot.  Right now I feel like I am in this roller coaster that's climbing the first hill, and it's really cool and exciting and scary and amazing, and I'm not going to be able to control this ride at all.  I'm not driving this thing!  The only choice I get to make - and the only choice I have to make, how nice - is how I'm going to react to this ride.  I could cling onto the safety bar with white knuckles going "ohshitohshitohshit," or I can fling my arms up in the air ("armsovertheheadsideways!"), scream "WOO HOOOO," and enjoy the heck out of the ride.

I'm gonna try for the second option...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Teacher Training Coming Up!! (Obligatory Explanatory Post)

Whoa.  It is now APRIL, which is crazy, cause it means that teacher training is right around the corner!

This seems like a good time to talk about exactly what I am about to do.  This will all be old news to all the Bikram teachers and TT blog readers out there, but I've realized that there are tons of people who have no idea how the Bikram Yoga Teacher Training works.

So.  The basics.  There is Only One teacher training, and that's the one you have to go to if you want to teach at a Bikram Yoga studio.  Since the training is an intensive course run by Bikram Choudhury himself, this strikes me as an eminently reasonable requirement.  If you're gonna do something, you might as well do it right!

Teacher training happens twice a year.  It used to be held in Los Angeles, but it's since moved around to Hawaii, Acapulco, and Palm Springs, and at the moment it is based in Las Vegas, which is where I'll be going.  (Why yoga in Las Vegas?  Think "convention center."  Also, "cheap airfare."  Yay.)  It's a residential program, so all the 300-something trainees live together at the hotel, which is also where the classes and lectures are held.

The program is 9 weeks long.  (Nine weeks hotel living, woo hoo!)  And they are not easy-breezy, do a little yoga, sip on a coconut, work on your tan kind of weeks.  The day starts at 8:30am with the first Bikram class.  After lunch, we have posture clinics and lectures all afternoon, then another Bikram class at 5pm.  Then, after dinner - this is the best part - we get more posture clinics, lectures, movies, or whatever, until they decide to let us go to sleep.  And every teacher training has stories of nights spent up until 4am, 5am, or 6am with Bikram.  So basically, it can be a 20 hour day.  That's Monday through Friday; on Saturday there's just one yoga class in the morning, and on Sunday we get a day off.  (Woo hoo!)

In between all these scheduled activities, everyone needs to learn the Dialogue.  That's a 40+ page document with instruction for each posture that is supposed to be memorized verbatim.  This leads to a lot of 3am study groups.  This is part of why I'm happy that I've learned the Dialogue already.  I'll be able to take in more information, I'll be able to help the other students, I'll have a little less stress, but also... I might be able to get a few more hours of sleep!

Things I'm not looking forward to: 

Sleep deprivation!

Things I am totally looking forward to:

The other people!!  This is practically the top of the list.  I'll be spending this time with about 300 other dedicated soon-to-be teachers from all around the world.  There will also be visiting teachers - some of whom are the best of the best - flying in from around the country and the world to help us out.

The yoga bubble!  I am so obsessed with this stuff already.  It'll be pretty great to just live, sleep, and breathe it for more than two months (even though I'm sure there will be times when I think I'm losing my mind).

Becoming a teacher!!  I want to teach.  Period.  My only goal is to take in as much as I can so that I can become a good teacher.

There are also a few pieces of advice that I'm keeping in mind.  First of all, I am not going to go balls-to-the-wall in week one and burn myself out halfway through.  I seriously have nothing to prove to anyone here.  I want to do well, but I'm not going to freak out about it.  I'd rather start slow and finish strong.

Second of all, I want to take advantage of being at training and use the whole experience as a laboratory where I can experiment and figure out how I want to teach a class.  In posture clinics, I'll be able to deliver my dialogue and get feedback on my teaching.  But I also want to pay attention to how other people deliver, pay attention to everyone's feedback, pay attention to how all the different visiting teachers teach their classes, and generally just get a feel for what works well (and what works less well).  It's also a great place to experiment with different delivery styles and see what's going to work best for me.  Ultimately when I teach, I'm just going to be myself.  (There's not really any choice in that matter.)  But this will be a great place to play around and see what that actually means.

And finally, no expectations.  Don't expect it to be perfect.  Don't expect it to suck.  Don't expect it to be super easy.  Don't expect it to be killer hard.  Don't expect to be a rock star (which means that it might be good right about now if people would quit telling me what a rock star I'm gonna be - haha).  I'm just gonna go there, go with the flow, do my thing, work hard, make friends, sweat, and laugh often!

Oh!  And I almost forgot to answer the most important question: Yes, I will blog it.  ;-)  You can expect to hear from me once a week, probably on Sundays.  I'm planning on keeping a pretty strict radio silence during the week, but I will post updates and stories on the weekend so that you guys can all follow along!


By the way, if you're thinking about teacher training or just want more info, you can find all the official stuff at the Bikram Yoga website here.  Also, if you check out my sidebar to the right, I have a list of "Oldies But Goodies (Completed Blogs)" with links to the blogs of many TT graduates.  Just watch out when you dive into that rabbit hole, cause there are a lot of TT blogs and they are addictive...