Saturday, June 12, 2010

Week 8: The End of the Beginning

After I delivered camel posture on Monday night, I said, "I have no idea what just happened."  That kind of sums up this entire week.  (It probably was my best delivery of the whole training, by the way, but I'll get to that.)

Last weekend was low key and deeply uneventful.  There was actually an "excessive heat warning" in Vegas, so I didn't go far from home.  (By "home" I mean "Hilton.)  I split the whole weekend between three places: Starbuck, Thai Pepper (the Thai place across from Starbucks), and the pool.  Oh, and I stocked up on Gatorade and got a new pedicure.  It was a good, relaxing, productive kind of weekend.

Week 8 started off with a BANG on Monday!  First we had class with Marlon from LA - I'm sure some of the teachers know her - who was just a riot.  She's been around for ages and doesn't teach by the dialogue at all, but her class was fun because she pretty much said whatever she was thinking.  For example: "Camel pose.  You guys are studying this dialogue right now, right?  Unfortunately for you, I don't teach dialogue."  Or my favorite one, when people started getting up and leaving the room (yes this is a problem out here sometimes): "You guys are all leaving like it's a bad movie!  'I have to pee, and this movie SUCKS!' "  It just cracked me up.

Anyway.  Our group hit the posture clinic jackpot, because we had Lynn Whitlow for the morning session and Lisa Ingle for the evening session.  I'd been hearing about how excellent both of them are as posture clinic leads, but I hadn't been with either of them yet, so I was psyched to finally get them both!  I did half tortoise for Lynn, and I think it went well.  I've been given permission to practice giving corrections, using only the dialogue, so I did a lot of that.  For some reason, when she asked me "How do you think that was?" (which is a pretty standard question), I was TOTALLY stumped.  I guess no one's asked me that before.  I was like, "Ummm.... it.... could have been better?!"  I don't know WHY I thought this was a trick question.

Anyway, she told me that I could work on changing my tone and emphasis when I give corrections.  (This was a very good point - I did not do this at all.)  So that was all good.  But then we had Lisa in the evening for camel pose, and apparently the note that Lynn actually wrote about me in the book was "needs distractions" or something along those lines.  Lisa is very, very, VERY good at giving distractions.  So I went into camel pose just expecting to work on my delivery of corrections... but after about 3 lines, Lisa (who is this tiny powerhouse from Texas) crawled up to me and started playing with my clothes, grabbing my legs, patting me down a bit... then she took my wrists and started flailing my arms around to go with my dialogue.  I was like "WHOA, what is this!?!" but I just ignored the heck out of her and kept giving the dialogue, with all the emphasis and timing that I'd been practicing.  I'm pretty sure there were even some corrections in there - I remember fixing the distance of someone's knees and fixing someone else's grip.  So that finished, and I turned around and said, "I have no idea what just happened!"  And she said, "You taught!"  Turns out, it was my best one ever.  Cool!  And thanks Lynn and Lisa, both your posture clinics rocked.

Geez, this is getting way too long - that was only Monday!  Let's see.  What were the highlights on Tuesday?  Ben, one of our staff members, taught the class that morning, which was excellent.  He's our official sound guy, which means that he takes a lot of shit from Bikram and gets fired at least 3x a day, but we all love him.  He's such a sweetheart.  And he graduated from training just 2 years ago, in Acapulco, so it was really inspired to see him up on the teacher training podium so early!  Yay, Ben!  Then we had more posture clinic, which was kind of routine.  Then Letitia from New Mexico taught the evening class.  She made me laugh AND cry.  Also, there's a guy in our training who had the word "courageous" tattooed across his stomach, but it's kind of easy to misread from a distance.  Also, he never locks his knee.  Letitia was giving him corrections, but she kept misreading his tattoo as "outrageous."  (It really does look like that!)  So when we got to standing head to knee, she uttered the funniest sentence I've ever heard in my life: "Outrageous tummy, your knee's not locked!"  I'm pretty sure that those words have never been put together in that order in the entire history of the English language.  I literally just stood there laughing for the rest of the first set.

Skipping way ahead: on Thursday night we finished posture clinics!!  Our room was the first one done: we finished at 11:58pm.  I can't believe it's over.  It was a great feeling.  I actually cried a little bit when we were getting kicked out of the room - not ready for it to be over!  But it's not over, it's only just barely beginning.  Anyway, my final posture - spine twist - came out kind of fantastic.  Up until this point, I had never forgotten any of the dialogue or fucked any of it up.  To my knowledge, I've made two "mistakes": once I said "losing" instead of "lose," and once I added an extra "now."  So spine twist was really my last chance to fuck up the dialogue - and I did!!  It was NOT intentional, despite what some people suspect.  It was going perfectly until the last paragraph, and then I left out a few words, which surprised me, so I started thinking about the dialogue instead of just saying it.  And right at that moment, I was trying to say the part that goes, "Total spine is supposed to twist, top to bottom, coccyx to the neck."  So go ahead and say that sentence out loud.  Do you see how if you switched ONE syllable at the end there, you would end up with something completely different and horribly wrong?  Well, that is what I did.  I did not say the word "TOP."  I kept talking, but then I started thinking, "hmmm, that didn't sound exactly right... something is amiss here..."  Then I peeked around the room and saw a few people cracking up, and I knew that it wasn't right.

So here was my feedback for my final posture clinic:
Dom: "Did you just say cock to bottom?"
Me, cracking up: "I think so..."
Dom: "Was that your first mistake?"
Me, laughing hysterically: "I think so...."
Dom:  "NEXT!"

All things considered, I think it was the perfect way to finish posture clinics.

After we got let out, there were TONS of people running around screaming downstairs.  Hey, we're in Vegas.  But you have never seen a happier group of people!!  You would have thought we were all completely drunk or that we'd just won the jackpot on the slot machines - but nope, we just finished our dialogue clinics.  Good times.

Friday was weird.  Life after posture clinics?!  I heard people that morning saying, "I'm so happy, we're done with the dialogue!"  I thought that was ridiculous.  Posture clinic is only the beginning of learning the dialogue.  The real work starts when you go out and teach!  But this was the end of the beginning.  As Manali says, "The process is still on!" but we are moving to the next stage.  Anyway.  (Bikram says anyway" a lot, and I have picked it up.)  The pacing of the day felt all weird, since we didn't have any posture clinics anymore.  We had afternoon lecture with Dr. Chaudhuri (no idea if that's the spelling), and it ran until about 4:30.  Normally lecture ends at 4:00, because sign-in for the 5pm class starts at 4:30, and people like to go back to their rooms to get ready for class.  So everyone was wondering, "hmm, why are we still in lecture?"  Then Manali told us that class would start at 6pm, not 5pm.  Ok, that's weird, but fine.  So we went to our rooms, grabbed some snacks, came back down, and waited for Bikram's class at 6pm.  Make long story short, we milled around for an hour getting cranky and then Bikram showed up at 7pm.  He says that he thought we were starting at 7pm.  Who knows what happened?  I don't know.  Or care, actually.  But that was the weirdest class ever, because all the yogis were kind of cranky and "over it," not in the mood to hear the same joke for the 10th time this week, and there was a strong wind going which made the tent really cold.  (It was also cold because it was night.)  So yeah, everyone was in a weird mood and it made for a strange class.

But!  But!  Highlight of the class!  Bikram actually called me up onto the podium for standing bow!  He was looking around the room to see who was locking out, and he was like, "miss orange is doing it... she is almost doing it... the high school boy is almost doing it... lock the knee!  Lock the knee!  Lock the knee!!"  It almost locked, but not quite.  (Cold room, tight body, enough said.)  So he was like, "I think you need my help, come up here quick," and I ran up onto the podium.  Here's the thing about the podium: it's like 20 feet off the floor (you have to take stairs), which pretty disorienting!  I couldn't figure out what to do with my top arm cause it kept getting stuck in the drop ceiling.  I was like "whoa, yikes," but Boss was holding onto my arm and my leg, so he did all the balancing work for me, which let me seriously crank into the posture.  Weird, but fun!  Haven't seen a picture yet, but I know there were lots of cameras out, so it'll probably turn up on Facebook or somewhere.

Class ended at 9pm and we were back at 11pm for lecture, which basically consisted of Mahabharat.  We got to watch the Bhagavad Gita portion of Mahabharat, and it was actually really good.  I mean, the acting and the subtitles still sucked, but if you paid attention, you could get a lot out of it.  Of course, lots of people chose to pass out asleep on the floor rather than pay attention, which got Bikram pissed off.  Too bad.  I'm looking forward to reading the Gita when I get home - this was kind of a crash course.  But the gist of it is that you are put on this earth as a human to do your duty or your work, which is called your Karma Yoga.  And you have to do your duty to the best of your ability, without desire for reward or attachment to the outcome.  And you have to let go of your personal preferences for happiness or sadness and look at the bigger picture, the good of society as a whole.  Really cool.  A lot of it really resonated with me, because it is so consistent with everything we've done and learned here so far, and everything else that I was studying and thinking about before I came to training.

Was pretty tired this morning, but hey, it's Saturday!  And there was an impromptu drum circle that happened in the parking lot after class, which was so cool.  There's no place like this anywhere else on earth.

In the comments on my last blog, someone asked me about the "pain and suffering" part of teacher training.  Sorry to disappoint, but I have not suffered.  Really.  I'm just going to put this bluntly.  Discomfort is a reality, but suffering is a choice.  So far, I've been angry once, I've been bored or impatient a number of times, and there have been plenty of classes where I thought I was going to go up to see Jesus, but I wouldn't call any of this suffering.  I mean, it's just yoga.  And if there's one thing that you learn in Bikram yoga, it's how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  That's what we do every day for 90 minutes in the hot room.  So there have been many days when I wake up exhausted and my hamstrings are killing me and I really don't feel like sitting on the hotel floor for 4 hours in the afternoon... but do I mind?  No.

I know that the teacher training experience is a very personal thing, and it's different for everyone.  I have been totally over-prepared at pretty much every step of the way, so I haven't had to struggle very much.  Which is too bad.  Struggling is good for you.  But I've just been trying to do my karma yoga out here - I wake up and I do my job.  And seriously, I feel that the reports of "torture" are exaggerated.  Like the whole sleep deprivation thing?  First of all, some of the people who moan the most about the sleep deprivation are the ones who are always sleeping during the lectures and movies!  Why are you sleep deprived?!  You just slept in a chair behind me for 4 hours while I was watching a Hindi movie!  (I don't mind so much if you sleep, actually, just don't sleep AND complain.)  And second of all, if you actually watch the movies, especially Mahabharat, you find out that they often have a point.  With the Bhagavad Gita last night, Bikram wasn't showing it to us because he wanted to torture us with sleep deprivation.  He was showing it because he sincerely wanted us to see it.  Because it's important to him.

So having said all this, I guess the worst pain I've had during this process is my occasional frustration with the people around me who just aren't getting it.  Occasionally when someone asks a question or messes up a posture, I just wonder, "have you been asleep for the last two months?"  I mean, cobra pose has been explained a hundred times by Bikram, Emmy, Rajashree, AND Diane, and there are still people asking, "wait, so are you supposed to have weight in your hands?"  How is this possible?!  (By the way, the answer is "body weight on the hands" and "come up until your elbows are a 90 degree angle.")  See, there I am, frustrated.  It IS frustrating!  Especially now, when we're just a week from graduation.  We are all about to be teachers, and there won't necessarily be anyone out there to hold our hands, so we need to understand this stuff and know what we're doing!  Time is over!!

But for the most part, I let that stuff go.  It's not my problem right now.  I just do my work, and smile.  :)

Longest blog ever.  Starbucks chair is very comfortable.  Off to grocery store for apples, bananas, pickles, and Gatorade!!

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