Saturday, May 29, 2010

WEEK 6: "Like a 747 taking off..."

"You can sleep when you're dead.  Or when you go home!"  - Diane

Now I understand why so many teacher training blogs only go up to week five!!

There's just no describing it.  This last week was busy, fun, tough, stressful, tense, relaxed, everything.  There were postures clinics where everyone was stressed out and pissed off, and then there were postures clinics where one after another, we got up there and NAILED it, and NAILED it, and NAILED it.  It's different from hour to hour.  Some hours are kind of lame and pointless, and some hours are absolutely transcendent.  Just like in class, we go from maximum effort to maximum relaxation in half a second.  Yesterday's evening posture clinic was phenomenal - the breakthroughs are coming strong and fast.  Sometimes I just sit there with my mouth hanging open or with a big stupid grin on my face.  I can't believe how GOOD we are getting at this dialogue stuff!

I'm just rereading my notebook right now, and it's amazing to read Monday's entry, because that day feels like it was a year ago.  Really.  I was TIRED by the end of this week.  By Friday, the hardest posture in class was savasana (dead body pose, lying on the floor) because my eyes started to close every time I lay down on the floor!  I actually fell asleep, had a DREAM, and woke up during the 2-minute savasana in one of the classes.  It was just a quick dream, where I was standing outside the lecture tent, in the parking lot, at night, looking at the moon.  Then I woke up and was lying under the bright lights in the yoga tent.  WEIRD!

Posture clinic round-up: This week I did Wind Removing, Cobra (for Diane!), Locust, and Full Locust.  We didn't have posture clinic every day, because we had some lectures with Bikram and we had the fascia guy all day on Thursday.  Don't get me started on him.  I'm feeling great in posture clinics.  At some point in the last week or so, I've stopped thinking about how the dialogue sounds to the "audience" - instead, I am only thinking about how it sounds to the students.  And I'm not just thinking about "how does it sound?" - I'm thinking about "how do I COMPEL them to follow my words?"  I'm thinking about TEACHING.  What a concept, right?

Classes: Despite being pretty tired all the time, my practice is starting to resemble my "normal" practice again.  For the first few weeks, it wasn't even CLOSE to normal.  Rajashree told us at the beginning that the flexible people would get stiffer but stronger.  I got stiffer RIGHT away, which has been hilarious, but I am finally starting to feel STRONG... AND I'm getting some range of motion back.   Of course, there's still plenty of time for all of that to fly out the window in the next 3 weeks!

Myself:  I am just happy all the time.  I can't believe 6 weeks are gone and only 3 are left.

A few things from the first week have really stayed in my mind.  One is Jim Kallet's orientation lecture, when he told us that these 9 weeks just get us to the starting line, and then the real journey starts.  I like that, because it makes me feel less sad about the end of training.  (Though I will still be heartbroken when this time is over!)  The other is something that Bikram said in HIS first lecture: he told us that these 9 weeks will be Bikram Yoga torture chamber.... OR... heaven.  "Pick your choice."  I made my choice before I even got here, and it's served me well.  I've been happy this whole time.  Tired and sore, but totally happy.

Some favorite Bikram-isms:

"I smell so good.  There is no man in whole world who smells like me."

"Close your legs, save it for the right time.  Don't go opening your legs here and there."

"... I forgot my dialogue!!  JUST KILL YOURSELF!!  Push you knees back, lock the knees... *cracks up laughing* "

"This song is a country western.  But try not to dance, just relax."  *plays track 10 from Bikram Love during final savasana*

"Your smile is like a million donkeys farting at the same time."

"Is it 'fuck the shut up' or 'shut the fuck up'?  I never remember..."

And because a picture is worth more than a thousand words, here is a picture of my posture clinic group that we took after this morning's class.  I can't look at this without laughing... it just says it all.  I think we have collectively lost our minds.  (We replaced them with dialogue, though.  Eventually in the future!  Come up halfway ONLY until ONLY your belly button is touching the floor!!  Yeah!!)

(Just click on the image to see the full thing)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

WEEK 5: "Stayin' Alive"

"Jesus Christ!!!  That's what Jesus said!  'Get me out of here before I lose my virginity!'  THIRD SET!" - Bikram teaching balancing stick on Monday

End of week FIVE... WOW!!  

We are now past the halfway point of training, and I am definitely NOT ready for it to be over!  I feel like it's going to slip away so quickly now.  It's crazy.  However, I AM starting to look forward to life post-training, because I just checked my studio's teaching schedule for June and I am teaching 7 classes in my first week out of training, starting with the Monday 7am right after I get back!  And let me tell you, that really lit a fire under my ass.  As soon as I read that schedule, I thought, "WHOA, time to learn pranayama!"  (That's the opening breathing exercise that we don't quite get to go over in training.)  So I was wandering around Walmart all afternoon today going "Inhale, head down... Exhale, head up..."  Part of me is still totally amazed that I'm actually going to just walk into a studio in 30 days, stand in front of the room, and teach a whole fricking class... and get PAID for it!  What alternate universe is THIS?!

Anyway: Week 5.  I have no idea how to describe this one.  It was all over the map.  Had some miserable classes, some euphoric classes, fantastic posture clinic, sleep and uninspired posture clinic, brilliant lectures, another long night of Mahabharat, and a LOT of HOT classes.  Not insane Acapulco hot, but pretty hot.  Classes are definitely getting tougher.  "Week five: it's not week four anymore."  That was my little slogan.  I had a really obnoxious head cold for half of the week, which didn't help matters.  Tons of people here were getting congested.  I blame the gross air in the hotel.  If I could change just ONE thing about teacher training... I would like to have a room with a window that can OPEN!  None of the windows in the hotel open.  I miss fresh air.  The only way to open a window in this place is with a BRICK.  (I've entertained a couple of fantasies about doing that.)  Tough times.  I am adapting, though.  The new strategy is to spend as little time in the room as possible - many things like studying, writing, eating sandwiches, etc. can be done outdoors by the pool or by the lecture tent.

Yoga Update

Let's see... Bikram taught Monday and Tuesday nights and really laid down the law, as you can see from the quote above.  Those were good classes, in a brutal kind of way.  We DID do three sets of balancing stick on Monday night.  When he asked us, "Should I give you a fourth set?" I honestly had no opinion, which was interesting.  If he'd told us to do it, I would have done it, and I wouldn't have been upset.  If he'd given us eight sets, I would have done eight sets.  And this is my LEAST favorite posture.  I don't LIKE doing it, by any means.  It's just that I was fully prepared to do whatever was asked of me, no matter how uncomfortable.  That's pretty much how I've felt about this whole process: I just relax, breathe, go wherever I'm told to go, and do whatever I'm told to do.  It makes life SO simple.  Lots of people struggle when they start trying to take control or anticipate what will happen next.  (Will we have posture clinic?  What time are we going to sleep?  Who's teaching tonight?  How long is CPR?  Etc etc)  They stress themselves out that way.  I wish everyone could understand: just stay in the moment and do whatever you need to do, in THAT moment.  Then there is no struggle.

ANYWAY.  That was kind of a tangent.  I was talking about yoga classes, right?!  So after Bikram left town, we had a great rotation of visiting teachers on the podium.  Current champ Brandy and former champ Sarah both kicked our asses with great command and style.  Diane taught on Thursday night and it was probably the best class of my LIFE.  (She kicked our asses, too.)  At the end of class, she told us, "This moment is the peak experience of your life," and I believed her with all my heart, for more reasons than I can explain.  Incidentally, I am pretty impressed with Diane's level of celebrity here.  I mean, I knew that everyone falls in love with her at teacher training... but geez, when people spotted her heading up to the teacher's the podium on Thursday night, everyone started screaming like they were at a Beatles concert!  So THAT'S what they mean by "yoga rock star."  I always thought that expression was an exaggeration?  Apparently not.  Way to go, Diane!

Here's the best way I can describe my experience of the classes this week: on many nights, the hardest part of the class was lifting up my wet towel at the end and throwing it on top of the wet towel pile, because at that point I felt like I had used up EVERY piece of strength in my body.  And hey, wet towels are pretty heavy once you sweat half your own body weight into them!

Posture Clinic Update

Standing series = DONE!!  Unbelievable.  The highlight of the week was definitely triangle pose.  Triangle pose is the "peak" of the standing series, which comes right around the midpoint of the yoga class.  We did posture clinic for triangle on Wednesday, which was the precise midway point of teacher training, so I thought THAT was cool.  We had a GREAT team of teachers working with us that day (including Johnny Sal, AGAIN, because we are super lucky like that).  That meant that posture clinic was high energy and fun.  I rocked out my dialogue with no problems, got great feedback, did some fun vocal exercises with it, and basically just had a terrific time.  The words of the day were "love" and "fabulous," because that's what happens when a fabulous and loving gay theatre guy from NYC runs your posture clinic. <3

"I am a registered CPR!  Can I help you??"

Shout-out to the CPR staff: we had a mandatory CPR course this week, and I thought it was really well done and worthwhile.  I was completely clueless when it comes to first aid, so most of the information was news to me.  I no longer feel like I would be completely useless in an emergency!  Go, me!  We went over basic CPR and choking, we practiced saving each other from choking (which was a totally entertaining Friday night activity), and we went over the different medical situations that might arise in our classes.  "You WILL have a student faint in class at some point in your career" - good to know.  (It's not because of the heat - it's just what happens when people aren't taking care of themselves and come to yoga without eating, without hydrating, without sleeping, etc.)  We also learned that the correct tempo for CPR compressions is the same as the tempo of the BeeGees song "Stayin' Alive."  "Ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin' alive, stayin' alive..."

Ok, that is more than enough blogging for today.  I need to go find some Thai food and study pranayama!!  By the way, since when do I have NINETY followers?!  Jesus.  Hello, new people!!  I hope you all are educated and entertained... If not, well then, as Bikram would say, "Eat shit and die!  Excuse me for living!"  I've got more important things to worry about... ;-)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

WEEK 4: "Make long story short..."

The post title is a Bikram quote, of course.  He says that all the time, and usually follows it with a long story.  Hehe.  "Did I make my point?  Yes or no?!"  "Point is - I change the subject."  "Last one hour and twenty minutes, I make only ONE point."

Every week here feels like an entire month, at LEAST.  But then on the weekend, I'm like, "Where did it GO?  How can we be finished with FOUR out of nine weeks already?!"  In a few days we'll be past the halfway point!  I find this tragic.  I would love to be here longer.  But it is what it is!!

Here are a few things that apparently happened this week.  (I can only remember because I wrote them down.)

Massachusetts in the house!!

I was VERY excited at the beginning of the week when a few New England studio owners made an appearance.  My peeps are here!!!  (Just for clarification: I live in California right now, but I grew up in Massachusetts and that is where I originally learned Bikram yoga.)  Teri (from BY Merrimack Valley) came around a bush and surprised me on Sunday afternoon, and I spotted Diane (from BY West Roxbury) outside the lecture tent on Monday afternoon.  I sprinted outside and attacked her with a hug - she smacked me on the butt and sent me back into the tent.  It was great.  (Just missing the Koontzes from Boston - hi Jilly! - wish you guys could have made it!!)

Diane taught our Tuesday morning class, and it was the best morning practice I've had yet at training.  We've been studying the nervous system in anatomy, and I'm convinced that my sympathetic and/or parasympathetic nervous system actually knows the sound of her voice.  Normally I'm super stiff in the mornings, but on Tuesday my whole body just relaxed.  Cool!  Magic!  I love her class!  I also had Teri for posture clinic on Tuesday and Diane on Wednesday, so I was a very happy camper.  They both give AWESOME feedback.  I didn't even deliver a posture on Tuesday, but I got tons of out that session.  The stuff that they tell us about different learning styes and techniques REALLY helps ME when *I* am trying to help other students!

I'm also having fun stalking Diane after class, because she always hangs out in the back of the room and lets students come to her with posture questions.  It's a whole fricking posture clinic session back there, for free!  My lovely fellow trainees: if you have any burning questions about any of your postures, don't be shy!  Get in there sometime!  She's here for two more weeks and she is a great resource.  Go get your cobra check-up.  I think she's done like half the trainees already.  (Busy lady.)  I am back there just watching, listening, watching, listening, watching.  I finally did MY cobra for her yesterday, and fortunately it was fine.  (I would have been kind of embarrassed if I was doing it wrong after all this time!)  She had me do full cobra, too, to show the difference.  Good times.

Posture Clinic - "If you're late, it's over!"

Posture clinics are speeding UP, though we haven't hit turbo speed yet.  We had posture clinic every day this week and got up through Balancing Stick.  I am impressed by all the people who are memorizing the dialogue here.  That is a lot of work.  I would be a whole lot busier around here if I hadn't learned the whole thing at home!  I am still studying and practicing all the time, but it is just fine-tuning.  Lucky me.

I had a great time with my dialogue delivery this week.  I did standing head to knee on Tuesday for David Buckner, who I'd had a couple times before.  I like him, and it's nice to get feedback from someone who's seen you before, since they actually know what you're like.  David thought my dialogue was great - "a pleasure to listen to" - thanks!  He's seen a lot of me, and I am always smiling, so he told me to see if I could "be more bitch" a little bit for the next posture.  I thought this was fair; I have no intention of being tough all the time when I teach, but it's good to have the ability to lay down the law when needed!!  It's all about adding tools to the toolbox.

So then, for Standing Bow, I had Diane (yay!), Johnny Sal (yay!) and Misha (yay!), along with like 5 other teachers who were hanging out with our posture clinic group.  I was like, "uhh, I'm supposed to be more bitch?" and they thought this was hilarious and couldn't wait to see it.  I was like, "eek," but I gave it a shot and I really kinda got into it!  Actually, I think I had too much fun, cause I was still smiling!  So my homework for the next posture was, "Don't smile AT ALL," which was Johnny Sal's idea.  He said it would add more range to my voice, which is true.

That ended up being a really good exercise - I had to practice it a LOT, in front of the mirror!  I practiced with this hysterically cute Korean girl named Bunny from my group, who said "be like you are from hell."  Since she is the cutest and sweetest person in the world, this was one of the funniest things I have ever heard.  So I delivered that dialogue on Friday, and it was really fun.  Balancing Stick is a very short and intense posture, which makes it a perfect posture for busting out some intense dialogue delivery.  I made a big effort to NOT smile (I swear, I am the only person who gets this kind of feedback), and it WAS really different, but it seemed to work really well for the posture.  Like I said, a good exercise!  Now I know have an idea of how to put a little more OOMPH into my voice, which should definitely come in handy.  Variety is the spice of life, right?  I will definitely be smiling again in my next posture clinic, though.  :)

Bikram's Back!  "Sleeping is a disease"

Boss was back in the house on Wednesday night.  Hooray!  For the most part, we were all weirdly excited to see him again.  (It's not like he was gone for THAT long...)  His classes this week were great and sweaty.  He has been trying to kill us a little bit, but we are pretty resilient.  BUT... the classes are getting hotter.  Up until now, it's been very easy, "blueberries cheesecake."  That era is coming to an end.  On Friday night, there were tons of teachers visiting for recertification, and there were over 500 people in Bikram's class.  Yep - FIVE hundred.  Might have been closer to 600.  I don't have the count.  It was a great class, but it was a fight to the finish.  I had already been in the heat all day and I was feeling pretty droopy.  I downed a Pedialyte before class and that was the only thing that got me through!

Bikram's been lecturing in the evenings (pretty briefly, for him) and showing some movies.  We had optional Bollywood on Wednesday (I stayed for half the movie, but got bored/tired), old school Ghosh College videos on Thursday ("That's Incredible!"), and Mahabharat on Friday.  Friday night's Mahabharat was the best one yet, because Bikram just wanted to show us the highlights, so when a song went on for too long he shouted, "That's enough, we get the picture!  Fast forward, please!"  And there was much applause.

The yoga truck hit me for the first time on Friday evening.  My body felt like a sack of bricks!  I was trying SO hard to stay awake for Bikram's lecture, but it was a struggle.  I was up in the third row, right in his line of vision.  At one point I let my eyes drift closed - just for 4 seconds, really!! - and right away I hear "THE HIGH SCHOOL BOY IS SLEEPING!"  Oh, crap!  I sat straight up, and of course everyone was like "OOOOOO" and 300 people turned around to see if I was awake.  Haha.  Bikram was like, "You lost your reputation!!"  He was totally laughing at me.  I had a very sheepish grin on my face.  Then he held up his soda bottle and said, "Have some Coke, have some Coke!  I'm serious!  It will help!"  So I actually went up and had a drink from the Boss's Coca-Cola.  Ooooh.  He said "I know you guys are working hard," and then he said that physically we are all a piece of shit, cause you know, he can't lose HIS reputation.  So I was wide awake for the rest of THAT lecture, and then Mahabharat came on and I spent a portion of it passed out on my roommate's shoulder.  I was awake long enough to see an 8-year-old Lord Krishna standing on someone's shoulders eating stolen butter from a pot on the ceiling.  This movie is the weirdest thing I have ever seen.

"And that's called LIFE."

I've picked up one of Bikram's speech patterns: I now say, "And that's called ____" ALL the time.  (He uses that phrase a lot.)  When someone asks me about my giant water jug, I tell them that I use it to refill my water bottle during lectures, "and that's called PREPARATION."  When I got to the laundromat with my student buddy, so that we can fold laundry and practice dialogue at the same time, I say "that's called MULTI-TASKING."  I am saying this all the time!  And that's called BRAINWASHING.  (And that's called a JOKE.  Ah!  See what I mean?)

And that's enough of THAT.  Time to go make some anatomy flashcards!  I forgot to mention that we covered a shit-ton of material in anatomy this week - nervous system, cardiovascular and circulatory system, respiratory system, and endocrine system - and we have a test tomorrow.  And that's called Yoga College...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

WEEK 3: Emmy, Anatomy, and Bodies... Oh My!

Whoa!  Third week over!  How did this happen?!

This week was totally different from the previous two weeks in a couple of ways.  Bikram was out of town for the first time, and Emmy (the most senior and principle teacher of Bikram Yoga) came in from LA for the whole week.  We also started our two-week long anatomy course this week, which met every day for like three hours.  So instead of crazy high-energy evening classes with Bikram every evening followed by circuitous philosophy lectures and 3am Bollywood movies, we had these great physiologically-grounded, tough-grandma-love classes every morning with Emmy, followed by afternoons of solid science-based lectures, some GREAT dialogue-driven classes in the evening by visiting teachers, and then MORE lectures (or postures clinics) finishing at 11pm.  It was like a completely different training!  (Just as good as the first one.)

Anatomy - Introducing Dr. *P.*

Big news: we have a NEW anatomy teacher for this session, and he is AMAZING.  Absolutely 100% fantastic.  His name is Jim Preddy, and the staff has sort of re-christened him as "Dr. P." (the previous anatomy teacher went by Dr. T), but I think "Dr. Jim" fits him best.  Anyway.  This is a guy who has worked as a massage therapist and a cheerleader (which is a story that you HAVE to hear from him in person), and he currently works as an E.R. doctor, but teaching anatomy is his vocation and his passion. He knows his stuff, he knows how to connect it to the YOGA in a totally straightforward and scientific way, and he is a GREAT public speaker.  Like, really great.  He's hilarious, dynamic, clear, and fun to listen to.  This is a quality, university level course.  He actually teachers a version of this same course at some of the local universities over a span of 9 months.  We are getting it in two weeks.  Naturally, we are not expected to know NEARLY as much as the med students who take the long version, but we're still getting lots of information.  This week we did the skeletal system, the muscular system, and a bit of the nervous system.  I am totally geeked out and taking like 15 pages of notes at every lecture.  I need to spend some more quality time with my anatomy coloring book this weekend... I will do that after I call my mom.  (Happy Mother's Day, all moms!!)

Triangle - You're Doing It Wrong!  (Or Not)

In addition to teaching our classes, Emmy gave us a couple of lecture sessions this week.  One was on pain and the body's response to it.  I won't spoil that one for anyone - those who have heard it know that it is quite great.  The other was basically a posture clinic/demo session, where she invited people to come up and get help with their postures.  The main posture was TRIANGLE; everyone who went up on stage had to show her their triangle and get it fixed (if necessary).  Then the student could ask about another posture, if she or he wanted help with something specific.

I love watching her correct everyone; she is really in her element that way.  Pretty quickly, I started anticipating her corrections and figuring out how the different bodies needed to be fixed, so that was a REALLY good exercise for me.  And I picked up a couple new pieces of information that I can apply to my practice.  (I have a whole new wind removing pose now, and um... this is probably TMI, but it seems to have actually had some effect.  Yogis - you know what I mean.)

Bodies Exhibit - Oooh, Look, I Found the Supraspinatous!

The super-cool Bodies Exhibit is in town in Vegas, at the Egyptian themed hotel which is shaped like a pyramid.  (I have to admit, I'm really getting a kick out of Vegas.)  Check out the link if you haven't heard of it before; my description would not do it justice!  Anyway, about 50 of us got discounted group tickets and went to go see it last night.  This was a GREAT choice, because I cannot think of a single better way to review this week's anatomy classes!  I went around with one of my friends, and with the help of the signs and labels, we managed to find and identify pretty much every single muscle and bone that we learned in our classes this week.  It helped a LOT to see them all in 3D, on real bodies.  I finally know where the supraspinatous is - hooray!  And now we are ahead of the game for next week, when we will be working on digestive system, respiratory system, endocrine system, and all that juicy stuff.

Posture Clinic Update

With all those lectures going on, it was a light week for posture clinics.  We only had a few sessions.  I delivered awkward pose on Friday of week two, and then I didn't get to do anything until Friday of THIS week, when I went up for eagle.  (Most groups are few people into eagle now, which is technically the 4th pose.  The pace is gonna pick up a LOT soon, I think.)

I got some really cool and helpful feedback about how to use and direct my energy.  I'm good at being psyched ALL the time - energy is never gonna be a problem for me - so now I'm getting really specific and trying to figure out the right energy, intensity, tone, and pace to use for the different postures (and different students).  I've got my dialogue solidly under control - today I'm going to nail down the next few postures from standing series and then spend some review time on a few of the floor series postures.  (I was kind of "outed" on Friday night as someone who knows the whole dialogue when the posture clinic lead asked me how far I'd studied and I said "spine twist," the last posture.)

I've got a good study buddy for myself (someone who's at a similar level in the memorization) and I've spent a LOT of time helping other people learn their dialogue.  And I am now the official leader of a study group - yippee.  David Buckner and Jakob (the guy who taught Mei in Malaysia) held a nice study session thingie yesterday where they went over study techniques and then broke us into smaller groups.  My group went through eagle, round-robin style, and then at the end they decided that they wanted to ALL say the posture together while *I* demonstrated.  Let me tell you, that was the BEST eagle dialogue I have ever heard.  They REALLY got into it.  We are meeting again this afternoon.  :-)

The Rest is Silence

I'm leaving plenty of stuff out... but that's on purpose.  (HA.)  There's so much about this experience that just doesn't translate, because I have NOTHING to compare it to.  It's not like anything else.  I have plenty of analogies that I can use, but still... if I tell you about it, you have no reference point that lets you understand it.  It's weird.  The people who have done this will know what I mean.  But I love it and I am PSYCHED for Monday, when Bikram returns... along with a couple of other familiar faces, which I can't wait to see... let's go, week 4!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

TT WEEK TWO - "Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be..."

"There's nothing you can make that can't be made
No one you can save that can't be saved
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
It's easy
All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love, love is all you need..."
- The Beatles!!

Okay, let me start this story from the end.  Last night, a group of us trainees went into Vegas and saw the Cirque du Soleil show "Love," which is set entirely to music by the Beatles.  I've seen a lot of cool dance and theatre productions in my life, but this was the MOST amazing thing I have EVER seen.  EVER.  The first ten minutes ALONE were worth the entire price of admission.  I've just never seen anything like it.  These guys did the most amazing, nail-biting, gravity-defying tricks I've ever seen, and they combined it with great music, awesome storytelling, and some really beautiful dancing.  To my fellow trainees, or anyone else who happens to be in Vegas, you should NOT miss this show.  We got our tickets at the discount booth at the Fashion Show Mall on the end of the strip (which is walking distance from the hotel and opens at 10am every day.)  They sell you vouchers there, and then you take the vouchers to the box office to exchange them for tickets.  We went to the Mirage box office at about 2pm, and we were able to pick out 4th row seats, right by the stage.  There were 9 of us and we had the entire row to ourselves.  (The theatre is circular, with seats on all sides, so there really are NO bad seats in the house, but these seats were simply amazing.)  Hooray!  Suddenly, I like Vegas!!  There are 4 other Cirque shows in town, and I definitely want to see "Mystique" before the end of training.

So that was my Saturday, and it was a fantastic way to spend a day outside the yoga bubble!!  

Now, back to the teacher training... I can't believe the second week is already finished.  We're all kind of stunned by the way time moves around here.  The weeks are so packed, but when they end, you sit there saying, "Holy crap, where did that week go?!?"  I really don't want this to end!!

The Yoga Classes

We had a lot of time with Bikram and Rajashree this week, which was great.  Raj taught three of the morning classes.  Bikram was supposed to teach four of the evening classes, but two of them were cancelled because of 85+ mph WINDS that made it too risky to practice in the tent!  Sheesh!  What a bummer.  On Tuesday night when we missed class, I got a big mac and cheese dinner and then took a nap.  On Wednesday, I got a ride with one of the local girls and took class at the Summerlin studio, which I LOVED.  This is the trouble with practicing in a TENT - we are at the mercy of the elements!  Lots of cold morning classes this week.  But it looks like Vegas will be heating up next week, so we will be cooking pretty soon.  I'm not worried!  The classes that we DID have with Bikram and Raj were a little bit cold, but fantastic.  Bikram said that our Thursday night class was our best one yet.  He has been SO fun and positive with us so far.  (The claws have only come out once or twice.)  It feels good when he is proud of us!

We had a couple of guest teachers on Friday: Jennifer W. from Texas and John Salvatore from New York/Vegas.  Jennifer recognized me from Facebook - HAH!! (You know you spend too much time on Facebook WHEN...) - and she taught a sweet and straightforward Friday night class, just what the doctor ordered.  Johnny Sal had us on Friday morning after a very late night of movie watching - more on that in a sec - and he taught an incredible fast-paced class, one of the best ones we've had yet.  He used TONS of dialogue, verbatim, but at the same time he had the MOST personality, energy, and humor that we've seen (besides Bikram).  By the way, his personality is that of an incredibly gay man from New York City.  He's in Vegas performing in the show Jersey Boys right now.  We ADORED him!  Then yesterday morning, one of our staff members (Michon) taught, and it was nice to see him on the podium and find out what his class is like!  (It is excellent.)


We had some fantastic lectures from Bikram and Rajashree this week.  I took 9 pages of notes at Bikram's Monday night lecture, which was the beginning of the curriculum.  I am not going to recap any of that - you have to come to teacher training and learn it for yourself!  The topic was "what is yoga?", and I'm sure that the TT graduates all remember the answer to that one.  ("So far, 1 hour and 40 minutes, I made one point!")  Rajashree lectured on the following day, and she added her own perspective and followed up on a lot of Bikram's points, which was really cool.  We had a couple of really solid lectures from each of them.  Also, Monday night marked the introduction of...

The Mahabharat!!!  (and other films)

Oh my god, I was so psyched to see Mahabharat, just because I have heard SO many (horror!) stories of it from the Palm Springs training, where they were up until 6am watching Mahabharat episodes.  For those of you not in the know, the Mahabharat is an ENORMOUSLY long Indian epic about the history and mythology of India.  You may have heard of the Baghavad Gita, which is sort of a Hindi equivalent to the Bible?  The Gita is ONE small chapter out of the Mahabharat.  

The film version is basically an Indian TV serial, which was wildly popular in India when it was aired.  It consists of 92 episodes, each 45 minutes long.  Bikram, of course, has all of them (though we won't see them all.)  Bikram himself is a GREAT storyteller, so one of the best parts of Mahabharat is hearing HIS rendition of the story before watching the episode.  Anyway, there are two things that make Mahabharat hilarious: the production values and the subtitles.  Both are spectacularly bad.  The special effects are like something out of a very early Atari video game, and visually, the quality is somewhere in between Monty Python and Troll 2.  I love it.  My favorite part is how they shamelessly recycle the same footage over and over within the same 10 or 15 minute span to make a scene longer.  Like when Lady Ganga is walking down to the water holding her 8 babies, one by one, they basically shot the scene twice and then used the same clips over and over.  (She alternated between holding the Cabbage Patch doll with the full head of hair and the one with a weird Mohawk.)  I also LOVE it when they "go hunting," because you'll see a shot of the guy leaving the palace, and then they show some shots of lions and deer that are BLATANTLY in a COMPLETELY different location at a completely different time of day.  It's probably stock footage from some kind of nature show.  This is just beyond great.

We got through the first disc of Mahabharat (6 episodes) on Monday and Tuesday, and then we had Bollywood movies (one optional, two required) on Wednesday and Thursday.  When Bikram's in town, we stay up LATE.  (Like 4am late.)  I have totally surrendered to the ridiculousness of the Bollywood song and dance, and now I am enjoying the heck out of them.  A bunch of us are dying to learn some of those Indian dance moves and throw a big Bollywood dance party.  I actually stayed until 4am on Wednesday to watch the OPTIONAL Bollywood movie, and I was wide awake for all of Joddha Akbar on Thursday (midnight - 4am), which I think was the best movie we've seen yet.  The sleep dep (short for sleep deprivation) gets a little trippy, but it's all good.  I'm proud that I haven't slept through anything yet.  Teacher training will only happen once, so I want to be alert for all of it!

Posture Clinics Begin!

We finished all the half moon recitations on Wednesday afternoon!!  This called for a pizza party, so they threw one for us on Wednesday night.  We listened to the Bikram Lounge CD (epic), some talented people did an improvisational dance performance, we stuffed our faces, and a good time was had by all.  Thank you, staff!!

Then on Friday, we finally broke into our posture clinic groups and got down to business.  There are 16 posture clinic groups, with just over 20 people in each group.  I am in group 11.  Every time we do posture clinics from now on, we will be separated into 8 rooms (2 groups in each room, different combinations every time).  Every room has a panel of teachers and staff, and our task is to go up on stage and deliver the dialogue in front of those people and get feedback.  We started with backbending/hands-to-feet pose, and by the end of the day, everyone in our room had delivered that pose, so we moved on to the next pose, which is "awkward pose."  (Hehe.)  Four people in our room were able to deliver awkward, and I was the last one to go.  I did all three parts of the pose.  (We had the option to do all three parts at once or just the first page.)  Yippee!!  It feels good, and incredibly WEIRD, to be checking postures off the list.  I'm done with four pages of dialogue now!  

Also, I love my posture clinic group.  It's so much fun seeing all the different personalities up there, and we've definitely got some rockstars.  And we had some feedback from Dom and Johnny Sal, both of whom were encouraging, constructive, and hilarious.  One of my favorite moments was when my friend Chris blanked out and forgot the middle of the backbending dialogue.  Dom very drily told him, "I'd love to take your class, but you left out most of the backbending dialogue." Chris was like, "Oh, what did I leave out?" and Dom told him "The backbend."  Everyone was dying laughing (including Chris.)  These moments alone are worth the price of admission.

My feedback has been basically good, and it's been along the lines of "WOW, you know the dialogue."  Hehe.  I haven't really had trouble with nerves, and I definitely haven't had trouble getting the words out.  So far, I have gotten all the postures verbatim.  They told me to beware of overconfidence - don't worry!  I am still studying all the time!!  I love studying.  DORK.  As soon as I finish writing this, I'm going to go review up through standing bow with some friends, and then work on nailing down fixed firm and half tortoise a little better.  (Damn that half tortoise!)  Johnny Sal said that I was very much myself when I was saying the dialogue for awkward, which I really appreciated, especially coming from him.  (Thanks!!)

Okay, that's enough of that.  These updates may get shorter.  I thought that THIS one was going to be short, but as soon as I start writing, it seems that I just keep going until I stop.  Hah.  All good.  I still LOVE teacher training, beyond words, and I'm really excited for next week.  Bikram and Raj will be away, but we will have EMMY here to kick our asses, we will start our anatomy course, and we will get a chance to burn through some more posture clinics.  And hopefully we will SWEAT!

I'm not replying, but I'm still reading all your comments, so keep leaving them for me.  I love them.  :)