Friday, June 25, 2010

"The Process is Still On!" - 7 classes down, a bazillion more to go...

Or: "There and Back Again: A Yogi's Tale by Juliana"

At this moment, I am hanging out at my favorite coffee shop, just up the road from my house.  Just finished eating a nice avocado and tomato open-faced sandwich - very California.  They have great music here.  I used to come here to study all the time.  Eight months ago (really??), I was sitting in almost exactly this spot, staring blankly at research papers, realizing that I was totally done with that path, trying to figure out how I was going to get out of the grad school gig and make my way to teacher training.  And now here I am.  Back.  Done.  Made it.

And now, of course... everything starts.

Monday was Day Zero.  I taught my first class at 7am.  It was weird and surreal.  I went into the studio early so that I could get myself situated.  That turned out to be a very good plan, because when I stepped up on the podium (or rather box) for the first time, I just started crying.  I don't know why.  There are a million reasons why.  So I cried on the box for a little bit, then I just started saying the pranayama dialogue, and by the time I got to the 6th or 7th breath, I felt more normal again.  Kept going through the end of the first posture.  Dialogue was intact.  Then I went back to the desk, opened up the studio, signed people in, and taught the class!  There were a couple familiar faces, which was nice.  I remembered to say most of the dialogue, I think.  It just felt weird.  Where am I?!  What is happening?!  Still reeling from that last week in Vegas.  I'd been back home for maybe 12 hours at that point and had spent most of that time asleep!  Hah.

So that was number one.  I felt so lonely after!  ("I am lonely... I feel so lonely... baby come soon..." - Bikram Love CD, track 2.)  I mean, it was 7am - the few people in the class who knew me just had time to say "good job!" before they ran off to get ready for work.  I don't know what I expected.  Trumpets?!  Confetti?!?  Bells and whistles?!?  Maybe a HUG would have been nice?  Oh well... I got a nice phone call from one of my friends after class, and once I stopped crying (again), she convinced me that the class had been really good...

I loved the yoga bubble.  It's strange to be outside it again.  I'm having this weird kind of Stockholm syndrome where I just want to eat shitty Pizza Hut food and watch Bollywood movies all night.  I feel like I've just emerged from a parallel universe.  I had to remember how to drive my car again.  I'm still trying to remember what I used to eat every day, how often I should go to the grocery store, when should I do my laundry.  It's coming back to me.  Mostly.  I just keep thinking of the kids in the first Narnia book.  They disappear into the wardrobe and find themselves in a completely different country, and they have whole new lives there.  They have adventures, they have struggles, they have victories.  They grow up.  They become kings and queens.  Then one day, quite by accident, they go back home.  And no time has passed at all, since they left.  Everything is the same there, and they are expected to be the same kids as before.  But they're not, of course.  They've just lived a whole lifetime, in the space of half a second.

It's kinda like that.

But let's talk about teaching!!  Oh.  My.  God.  I'm a teacher!!  It's great!!

So class number one was weird and freaky, which I guess is pretty normal.  But class number two was kind of FUN!!  There were more familiar faces, I felt a little more confident, I got through more smoothly, and I started thinking "heyyyy.... I kinda know what I'm doing up here!"  Woo hoo!

I've been lucky enough to teach 7 classes in the past four days, since a couple of teachers have been out of town or sick, and it's been GREAT.  It's a fast learning curve!  I've got the dialogue in my back pocket (metaphorically speaking), and I'm SO glad I learned the pranayama dialogue a few weeks ago, because it's nice to feel solid and confident from the very beginning of the class.  I had trouble with timing for most of the week, because I kept on trying to say ALL the dialogue for EVERY set.  After a few classes, I realized that some parts don't need to be said EVERY single time.  Like for standing bow, there's a whole paragraph that describes how to pick up the foot.  By the time you've been through this once or twice, you can just say "pick up your right foot, same position" for the third and fourth sets.  Aha!  Nobody ever told me about this!  So dialogue-wise, my big challenge so far has been figuring which bits I only need to say once, or which bits I can move to the second set, so that the pacing works better and the whole thing is more streamlined.  I finally got it right last night: finished the final breathing right at 88 minutes, leaving 2 minutes for final savasana.  Hooray.

So um, that was boring, unless you're a dialogue geek like me.  So here's the fun part: I have students!!!  And they are so great!!  My teachers always warned me that I would be freaked out when I saw a normal room of people doing yoga for the first time.  Bikram warned us about this, too (complete with some awesome demonstrations).  And they weren't wrong - people do some crazy shit in there.  But they're not hurting themselves, and they're trying so hard, so it's all good.  :)  At this point, I pretty much just tell them exactly what to do and hope that they'll figure it out for themselves eventually.  I've had a total of 12 first-time students so far, and they rock.  Some of them were really good listeners.  It's the craziest thing to just stand there, saying verbatim dialogue, and watch them do the postures right!  The dialogue works!  OH GOOD!!  I was kinda counting on that, but it's a whole different ballgame to finally see it in action.  And hey teachers... if you actually say "mama give me money" in standing bow, they actually get the grip right!!  Omigod, I couldn't believe it.

There have been some great unexpected moments this week.  Like in one morning class, a new girl piped up (very innocently) and asked "can you bend the leg that you're standing on?" after the first set of balancing stick.  (Normally no one talks in class, but she didn't know that!)  It was so great!  I had to pause for a second, and then I said ".... No.  Good question. .... Second set!!"  In fixed firm pose, the same girl asked, "Can you open your knees?"  As it happened, the very next line in my dialogue was "As a beginner, or if your knees or feet hurt, you can open your knees."  So I said, "Yes!  Actually, I was just about to tell you!  As a beginner, you can open your knees."  Man... these moments are priceless.  You could never invent this kind of stuff.

I started teaching the evening classes in the second half of the week, which are hotter and more crowded.  In one of them I had 6 new people at once.  One of them bailed and went out to sit on the porch, but the rest made it!!  That was a class where I worked on my multi-tasking skills - had to open the doors to let in some air!  And we have two doors, so I'm going podium -> back door -> podium -> front door -> podium, while keeping the dialogue moving.  Sweet.  Again, I'm so glad I practiced saying the dialogue so many times, because when I need to think about something else, like "where's that guy going?" or "should I crack the door?", I just go to the dialogue recording in my head and press PLAY, and it comes right out of my mouth.  Hooray.

This week has been quite the experiment.  Yesterday, I decided that I needed to ease off the gas pedal a little bit and let the dialogue do this work.  This actually... worked.  I mean, I still worked my ass off, but I didn't have to strain as much.  It was like the difference between riding a horse bareback or driving a chariot.  The chariot driver is still totally in control, holding the reins, but he also goes along for the ride and lets the horses do the work.  Does this make sense?  It felt right.

I got in touch with one of my favorite teachers yesterday, and she reminded me to BREATHE.  Good call.  I've been figuring that out myself, too.

Anyway.  It's all about the students.  Sometimes in the savasanas on the floor, I just stay totally quiet, and then I can hear and see the whole room breathe.  It's the most amazing thing.  The other amazing this is seeing people's faces when they leave.  They get the yoga glow!!  It works!!  I had a couple of brand new students last night, young college girls, who were not really "into it" at first, but they kept plugging through.  One of them was really uncomfortable at the end and wanted to bail.  I got her some extra water, but she still ended up leaving the room about 15 minutes from the end of class.  I told her that it was ok, and she could still come back when she felt better!  Then at the end, instead of announcing to the class that we were on the last posture, I opened up the door, saw her sitting on the patio, and called out, "Hey, wanna come back for the last posture??"  She said "yeah" and came back in, finished the class with us, made it to the end, had a success.  I had everyone clap for the new people at the end.  When she and her friend left, they were glowing, shiny.  Smiling happy faces.  They wanted to know how long their intro packages were good for.  I told them "see you tomorrow" and they said "yeah!!"  They floated out the door.  I floated home.

This is a great job...


Random extra photo - this goes with the Week 8 post, I think.  Bikram's expression is hilarious.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Week 9: "Make Sure You Have Talent!"

Just like summer camp, teacher training ended with a talent show.  Dom's rule for the talent show acts was, "Make sure you have talent," and someone was clever enough to have those words projected on the screen throughout the show.

More on that later, but first things first: week nine kicked my ASS.  I suspected from the beginning that this would happen.  Every time Manali told us that week nine was "just the winding up week," I was like "Mmmmhmmmm... right... we'll see if that's true or not."

It turned out to be a ridiculously busy week for me.  So busy that I didn't even write in my journal (which I had religiously updated every single day up until that point), which means that I don't even know exactly what happened.  If I don't write that stuff down, it all turns into a blur!  But anyway.  On Monday night, I was picked to be in the graduation demonstration.  There were 30 of us, and our job was to all get up on stage and do the whole series together, nicely, in synch, to music.  Brandy and Ida rehearsed us, which was great.  But we were supposed to rehearse for an hour (at least) after every class, which cut down our free time to ZERO.  And on TOP of that, I somehow wound up being in charge of the Bollywood dance act for the talent show on Friday night.  (We got very last-minute approval for the talent show from Bikram.)  So I ended up with less sleep and more stress than most people, and that was probably good - if you don't get your ass kicked at SOME point, you can't really say that you've been through the fire of teacher training!  But it was tough going for a little while in there...

Fast-forward to Friday.  On Friday night, we had the last class of teacher training with Bikram.  I squeezed into a spot near the podium and had less than an inch between my mat and my neighbor's mats.  On the last day, everyone finally wanted to be up front!  It was a fun and surreal class.  At the end, right before camel, I suddenly realized that the class was almost over and thought "Oh no!  That was it!  It's ending, right now!"  After that, class was so weird, because I could feel that the last minutes of class were disappearing and there was nothing I could do to slow it down...

After class we listened to track 3 of Bikram Lounge (the BEST song!!) and it was basically a giant disco party in the room.  There were at least 600 people in there, so for a while I couldn't find my friends and I was wandering through the crowds like a lost puppy, but then I started finding everyone and we all were hugging and jumping around and taking pictures.  Lots of hugging, lots of pictures.

Then, that same night, talent show!!  There was quite a LOT of talent.  The show started with a nice guy who sang "The Impossible Dream" - of course.  Thanks for trying to make me cry right off the bat.  One of the girls from my group sang the most beautiful, fitting song.  Another girl played this gorgeous Canadian folk music on her violin.  Near the end, our two professional opera singers got up and sang together.  Measha and Fenlon, both amazing.  Measha sang "Summertime" as a solo, which is one of my favorites.  There's this one part that I love: "One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing/ Then you'll spread your wings and you'll take to the sky/ But 'til that morning, there's nothing can harm you/ So hush, little baby, don't you cry..."

The Bollywood act closed the show, and I was afraid that we were about to make total assholes of ourselves, but the act was a huge success and everyone loved it.  Hooray!!  The song that we used is from the first Bollywood movie that we watched with Bikram, back during week one.  (Kaho Naa Pyar Hai was the title.)  The movie has this really distinctive theme that was used many times during its FOUR HOUR run-time.  The theme goes like "Laaaaa, laaaaa.... la la LA la laaaaaaa, laaaaaa."  So we opened our act with a little skit where my friend Susannah uses her newly acquired CPR skills to save a guy named Wyatt from choking, and then they looked into each other's eyes, and the music played, "Laaaaa, laaaaa... la la LA la laaaaaaa, laaaaaaa...."  This was a huge hit.  And then this happened:

This has got to be one of the most absurd things I've done in my adult life, but it was seriously one of the biggest accomplishments of my teacher training, because I did NOT think I could ever get it done! (Huge shout-out and thank you to EVERYONE who was involved and helped me out!) At the end, when we called everyone up on stage to dance, I jumped down and tried to get Bikram to join us. He shook his head no, but he smiled at me. Everyone had fun. It was great.

The next morning, Saturday, I had planned on going to the optional 8am to warm up for demo, but I totally overslept. Sad! So I went to plan B: stretched in the steam room, then did some postures in the yoga room after the class was done. Then we had a demo rehearsal, then my sister got into town, and then I suddenly had only an hour to get ready for GRADUATION! Fortunately, my hair dries quickly. Hehe. I was running around my little hotel room like a chicken with its head cut off. So nervous for demonstrating in front of hundreds of people, with Bikram and all the senior teachers in the front of the room!! I know it was among friends, but I just didn't want to mess up my final duty of teacher training!

Next thing you know, all of us demo kids are hanging out at the back of the auditorium stretching out, and then we see Bikram come in on the arms of two Vegas showgirls. (They were both Bikram teachers, I think.) There was also an Elvis. It was hysterical. Only in Bikram yoga.

Like the talent show, the demonstration turned out to miraculously be a great success! It was terrifying at the beginning - I have NO idea how I held that standing head to knee with my body shaking around so much - but then it got really fun when everyone started clapping and cheering for us. Bikram himself actually helped us out a lot - when we got to standing separate leg stretching, he said (on the microphone), "Woooowww, look at that, amazing!" and he started clapping, and then everyone in the audience realized that they should be clapping and making comments, too! Also, Rajashree was doing our voice-over, and for some reason she turned into a Bikram yoga infomercial (in the sweetest possible way), and started saying stuff like, "Are you still trying to lose weight? Getting bored at the gym? You should try a Bikram yoga class!" This made me giggle, a lot. And I didn't fall out of ANYTHING!  I was so relieved. Here is a picture (I'm in the blue):

After demo, we all ran and got changed in the bathroom, and I got back to my seat just in time to hear the awards. Which was good, because I got one! Best Dialogue!! And it was presented by Diane!!! Yay!!!! What a ridiculously perfect moment. It was like watching a movie of someone else's life. It didn't feel like reality at all. Here is a picture of that happening:

It looks like we're at the fricking Oscars!! Diane looks great and I look totally freaked out. I think I need to get this picture framed. After that there was some talking - Bikram looked more like a mobster than ever - and then we got our diplomas. Here is the picture that says it all:

Huge kudos to the fantastic Bennie Shapiro from Vegas, who took all these pictures! Thank you so much, Bennie!!

After all this craziness, there was a lot of picture taking and hugging, which was really all that I was capable of at that point. (I got emotional at the weirdest times on that day. I didn't cry at all during graduation, but I cried before it and after it. I cried when the cleaning lady came to my room with new towels and said, "Is this your last day? Are you happy to be leaving?") After the ceremony finished, there was a nice buffet dinner for us. I had dinner with my roommate one last time, everyone wandered around trying to take pictures with everyone, and then we just sort of slowly dispersed. It was so weird to see the group breaking up, knowing that the 360 of us will never be together like that ever again. It only happens once... On Sunday morning, I packed up the hotel room, got in the car with my sister, and drove back to California, and that was the end of that.

The rest... well, I'll tell you about that later...

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!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

WEEK 7: "YEE HAW" and "WOO HOO"!

Ok, you have two options this week.  I can either skip the blogging altogether, or I can write a kind of random blog with scattered pieces from this week.  Pick your choice!

Yep, that's what I thought.  Here goes option number two!

WEEK SEVEN.  Done and done.  Unbelievable.  Only two weeks left, and we have been told many times that week 9 is "just the wrapping up week."  (I don't believe a word of that.)  The end of posture clinic is in sight - we'll be done by the end of next week.  Life will be so weird without posture clinic in it.  I'll have to spend the last week working on second set dialogues to console myself.

We had Monday OFF this week for Memorial Day.  Just one class at 8:30am, and then free.  This was unprecedented.  Some say "uncalled for."  (HA!)  I was quite disappointed to "miss" a day - we don't have many left! - but it turned out to be a nice weekend.  I had time to do all my errands AND hang out at the pool.  With the dialogue, of course - I did some very productive studying with one of the guys from my group.  Lying by the pool on Memorial day, with amazing people, looking at the sunny sky, listening to the pool guitar guy (he's there every weekend playing the same classic rock cover music), snacking on chips, I just thought: this is a GREAT life.

Back to normal on Tuesday, and classes got HOT this week.  Some of the staff told us that we had finally reached Acapulco level heat.  We heard that it was 130 degrees on a couple of nights.  It felt like it, too!  And the temperature in Vegas is just going up.  It's in the triple digits this week and shows no sign of going down.  It's kind of hilarious: before class, we're like "OMG this parking lot is soooo hot" and then after class we're like "Yesssss, it is so cool outside!"  (It does help when the sun goes down, too.)  Bikram taught Tues, Wed, and Thurs nights and I had a couple of great classes.  There were some classes where I sort of dragged myself through the postures by my fingernails, but towards the end of the week I started to feel really strong.  Lisa from San Antonio taught an AMAZING high-energy class on Friday night that was mentally effortless, even though physically it was still a lot of work.  She had us shout "YEE HAW!" during the first sit-up (it's a tradition).  She played Bob Marley at the end and we all sang along: "Don't worry about a thing... Cause every little thing is gonna be alright..."  Then she played "Celebration" and we all danced around and shouted "WOO HOO!"  Only at teacher training.

Manali was also one of the stars my week.  Have I talked about Manali?  She is Bikram's niece, and she's the one who is basically in charge of us.  She has the task of simultaneously managing us (the trainees) and Bikram.  I have no idea how she does this, but she pulls it off in great style.  I think she is the glue that's holding this whole operation together.  This Thursday was her birthday, and she finally taught our class that morning!!  It was great.  I was going through my roughest patch of the entire training that morning, and she turned me right around.  Every day is a new day.  Thank you, Manali!!  She also led this beautiful meditation on Friday night.  She sang a chant from Mahabharat that she'd learned when she was 5 years old.  It was really amazing - I don't know anything about meditation or chanting, but that chant sure did SOMETHING to me.  My breathing got so slow and so deep, and I felt all this energy circulating through my body.  It felt very ancient and very strong.  I had this weird moment where it felt like sparks would come out of my hands when I separated my fingertips.  Cool.  I loved it.

In other news, we watched some absolutely HILARIOUS episodes of Mahabharat this week.  No, really, it was SO good.  I was laughing my ass off.  There's this one part where the royal family has gone into hiding, and Arjun (the big-shot Bhagavad Gita warrior guy) is incognito as a female dance teacher.  So he's completely in drag, but it wasn't until halfway through the episode that we realized that everyone was supposed to believe he was ACTUALLY a woman, which is ridiculous, because he looked like a larger and more Indian version of Nathan Lane in The Birdcage.  Maybe the other people thought he had one of those X-Y chromosone disorders that we learned about with Dr. P in anatomy?!  There was also this jerk who was sexually harassing the princess, and we all got excited and yelled "Kick him in the balls, kick him in the balls!"  (This was an echo of Bikram earlier during lecture: "Is he sleeping?!  Hit his head!")  There was also a wrestling fight scene that lasted for about 15 minutes.  It was just epic.

Bikram gave his "no food is good food" lecture.  The point was basically: "I can only speak for myself, but I don't eat all my life.  I feel fine!"  He did make some good points.  He was really on a roll that night.  "Listen this very very carefully.  Stop burping."  "This is my subject.  Don't confuse me!  I tell you in a minute."  I love this guy.  I'm gonna miss him when this is all over!!

There was something else I wanted to say... Oh yeah!  I wanted to say that while I am really sad that training has to end, I'm getting excited for the next chapter.  I finally started getting a little antsy in posture clinics at the beginning of the week - enough of the fake yoga classes, I want some real yoga students!  Then towards the end of the week, we started working with more realistic situations.  Now, if the person delivering the posture is pretty good at the dialogue, the people demonstrating will do the postures wrong, drink water, cry, and generally cause all kinds of distractions.  It's WAY more realistic!  It'll be cool to launch into teaching for REAL.  Also terrifying.  Yes.  I'm an ace at posture clinics, I listen to all the lectures, I'm paying attention, I've done every posture in every class, I'm learning as much as I can... and I still feel like, to a large extent, this is all going to be irrelevant when I step into the room for the first time.  Because it's ALL theory.  No experience.  Once I get out of here, things are REALLY going to get started.  I'm as well prepared as humanly possible, and I'm completely unprepared.  Yikes.  Cool!

Niki, one of our permanent staff, taught the class this morning, and she said something great during balancing stick.  "Don't look down!  You have so much to look forward to."  That was a great correction AND a great piece of advice for life, all rolled into one.  That is what I will try to remember for the next two weeks...