Friday, October 29, 2010

In the Middle! (BKTT Fall 2010 Visit)

"Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am!  
Stuck in the middle with you..."

Hello blog, I've missed you!

I spent the last week and a half - Oct 16th to 25th - in San Diego visiting the Fall session of teacher training.  And whew, it was quite a trip!  I won't even try to tackle the whole thing in one post.  I guess I'll just start in the middle and go from there...


It was equal parts cool and weird to come back to training as a visiting teacher.  I mean, I really liked being a trainee.  I liked having a room number and having a group and having a line to stand on.  There wasn't much thought involved in the whole process; someone tells you where to go, and that is where you go!  Being a visitor, especially as a new baby teacher (as opposed to an important senior teacher) is totally different.  You just kind of float in and out whenever you like, and occasionally wave your arms around saying "Hey, does anyone need anything?"

I spent most of my time floating in rather than out.  I did every single class with the trainees, double classes Monday through Friday.  (Next time, I think I might sleep in once or twice.)  I went to all the lectures and took notes.  I even... yes... stayed for an episode of Mahabharat.  (It wasn't until 2am rolled around and I was the last visiting teacher standing that I realized that it was time to exercise my free will and go to bed "early.")  I did enjoy going out to dinner at P.F. Chang's and coming back to lecture "late" (i.e. after the end of sign-in).  I did enjoy having the freedom to walk around the back of the room and sneak out to the bathroom any time.  I enjoyed practicing at the back of the tent, where I could basically spy on the entire teacher training class at once.  (Forget about "focus one point in the mirror."  Never even saw a mirror.)  I loved seeing familiar faces from my training and spending time - as a teacher! - with some of my other favorite teachers who were there.

But it took me a while to get a handle on the whole concept of "you are not a trainee ANYMORE."  I got in trouble with Bikram when he lectured on Monday night.  It was the first time I'd seen him since I left California.  He was giving one of his usual yoga lectures, asking lots of questions to the audience, and I couldn't help answering them (to myself!) in the teacher's section.  But naturally (this will surprise NO ONE), I managed to answer a question a little too loudly when no one else was talking, and Bikram was like "Who said that??"  I tried to look around and look innocent (never works!) but the girl next to me waved her arms around and pointed me out.  (Thanks Jo.)  Bikram found me and pinned me down with his 100-yard stare for what felt like a very long time, while I sat there beaming up at him with my best shit-eating grin.  Finally he said, "You are not in the training.  Idiot!!" and went back to his lecture.  Hehe, oops.  I got a big hug from him at the break...

I sat in on posture clinics every day, and in that situation there is NO confusion about who is who.  The teachers are on one side of the room, sometimes on a couch, holding notebooks, and the students are on the other side of the room, muttering dialogue and looking nervous.  Actually, these guys didn't seem too nervous - a lot of them were really good!!  I had the chance to give feedback in all of the posture clinics (sometimes only a little bit, sometimes a lot), and that was a big learning experience.  Here is a big secret about posture clinics: occasionally, the person giving you feedback is just as nervous as you are.  Giving feedback is weird and uncomfortable at first, just like saying the dialogue.  It reminded me of learning to teach (which makes sense).  The first time I taught, I couldn't get past the weirdness of being on "the wrong side" of the podium and I didn't enjoy it very much.  Once I got over that, it became really fun.  Giving feedback is kind of the same way.  The first time I sat in posture clinic, I was acutely aware of mind-numbing weirdness of being on "the wrong side" of the notebook.  Once I got over it... it became fun.  It's just like teaching the class; it's just one more opportunity to help other people.  The biggest difference between giving dialogue and giving feedback is that the dialogue is set ahead of time.  So for me, saying dialogue is very easy.  But when you're giving feedback, you've got to think on your feet!!  Very, very interesting.

And just when I felt like I was getting the knack of it, it was time for me to leave!  Whoops.  Next time, maybe I'll try to save up extra cash and stay for two weeks...

The whole "visiting teacher" thing is such an open-ended process.  So different from training.  (Did I mention that yet?)  I mean, training is so finite.  It has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  You arrive, you get oriented, you go through your weekly schedule, week one through week nine, you get a graduation certificate, you take a picture with Bikram and you leave.  "Bye!  Nice meeting you!  Have a nice life!"  Visiting is the opposite.  You just kinda plop down in the middle of everything, after it's already started, and then you leave before it's over.  It's such a tease!!  It's like... like re-reading the Harry Potter series by only reading the 4th book.  You vaguely know what happens in books 1-3 and 5-7, but you only get to read that one book!

It's good to be home, though.  Back in the real world!  Back to teaching and taking class, doing laundry, paying bills, going to the grocery store, buying Halloween candy for the trick-or-treaters... all that good stuff.  :)

I'll probably write more about training later, but I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout-out to all the great people who I saw in San Diego!  First of all, many thanks to Cira, who let me crash at her guest room all week!  Many thanks also to all of the visiting teachers who let me use their hotel room showers after class - phew, you guys are lifesavers.  It was awesome to see my fellow Bikram Yoga Boston alums, Heather and Mary, along with Aaron and the other future BYB teachers!  And all the bloggers... Josie (with her happy smiling face!), Johan (who gave me a Cheezit as soon as he saw me), Brandy (I really do want to come visit!), Jane (of course I would come find you!), Chrissy (total rock star of course)... Also, I saw Henri from my studio (I can't wait to take your class!), and Phil, Katie, and Becky from some of the other area studios - they were all rocking it out.  And class of Spring 2010, very good representation!  There were at least a dozen of us floating around that week, which is a great showing!  We are the best class.... so far.  These guys will hopefully be even better, which is as it should be.

Happy Halloween weekend, all.  Bust out some good costumes for your classes on Sunday... I will be teaching in costume for sure...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I need this shirt....

My friend Tomek from teacher training just made a website to sell T-shirts that he designed.  All I can say is, WOW.  I cannot stop laughing at his artwork.

Here is a teeny version of the design that Tomek made for his first shirt.  (You can see a bigger version by clicking.)

I have so many questions about this picture!  For example, why is the second guy wearing a party hat?  (Because he locked his knee.)  Why does he look like Lord Voldemort?  (Not sure.)  Why does the first guy have a black eye?  (Maybe somebody punched him because he didn't lock his knee.)

The last shirt that made me laugh this hard was one that I saw on the bargain rack at the LA headquarters (the old one on La Cienega).  That t-shirt featured an unhappy stick figure doing the kicking-out part of standing head to knee - the part where you make your legs look like a "perfect upside-down L like Linda" - and the text above the picture said: "See you in HELL, Linda."  I stood there and laughed at that for about 5 minutes.

In any case, I think I like Tomek's shirt even more.  It says "Lock the knee Lock the knee Lock the knee" on the back.  I want one immediately.  You can giggle over the artwork and order a shirt for yourself at, if you are so inclined.  These would make fun Christmas presents for the special Bikram yoga teachers in your life!  (But Mom, please don't buy me one, I've already ordered it myself.)

Incidentially, the "yogavangelist" term is totally up for grabs if anyone wants to make that idea into a t-shirt.  It'd be a good one!  (Just give me 75% of the profits after you do all the work.  Just kidding.)  Who wants it?  Teri, you want to go into business with me?

I'm still in love with Teri's t-shirt idea from ages ago.  She said that someone should make t-shirts for teacher training graduates that say "See you in the back row!"  (Because when you're a trainee, you practice in the middle and the front of the room, but when you go back to visit as a graduate, you practice in the back row.)  I thought this was totally clever and I ran around trying to tell everyone "See you in the back row!" but they told me I was a total dork because I hadn't even gotten to training yet.  "No, J, you can't say that right now, you're not going to be in the back row!  We're going to see you in the front row!"

And though this is a very fluffy blog post, that thought does lead me into one piece of news: I will be in the back row at teacher training next week.  Hooray!!  I'll be there for all of Week 5.

A lot of people (or maybe it was just Hannah, repeatedly) have asked me, "What do you do when you go back to visit training?"  Well, to tell you the truth, I've never done it before, so your guess is as good as mine!  Ha ha.  No, but really we just go to help out and re-live our glory days.  We can take all the classes with the trainees (and Bikram, hooray), we can go to lectures (and Mahabharat, or maybe not), we can sit at the sign-in desk looking moderately important, and we can help out with posture clinics.  Since I am a lowly new graduate, residing at the bottom of the totem pole, I will probably be "helping out" in the sense of "sitting around listening and taking notes while other people give feedback," but that's totally cool with me.  That's where you've gotta start!  Oh, and I will be saying hello to a bunch of old friends who are now trainees (hi Mary! hi Heather!), attempting to meet all the bloggers from this year (who have been keeping me very entertained for the last few weeks), seeing friends from my teacher training class, and spending time with the awesome senior teachers who go to training to help out.

I am very excited.  Still-awake-at-1:30am-on-Sunday-night excited.  Or maybe that's just the effect of teaching 3 classes today?  Who knows?!

More stories soon...