Saturday, October 9, 2010

Solid, Concrete, One Piece, Lamppost, Unbroken (Week 3)

The third week of Teacher Training was the best one yet. Bikram is away until the beginning of week 5, which means we were dismissed by 11:30 each night. Never underestimate the power of a good night's sleep! It's amazing what it does for your mental and physical well-being.

This week was all about posture clinics and anatomy lectures and of course yoga -- a double daily dosage of it.

As I mentioned in previous posts, there are a total of 16 posture clinic groups, each made up of 24 people. The composition of the groups is based on last name, so I'm in group 3. Two groups are put together for each session and the pairings change each time. Two or three "judges" also sit in each posture clinic to provide feedback. They are typically visiting teachers or staff members.

This week I delivered three postures: Awkward (all three parts in one go), Eagle, and Standing Head to Knee. I was the first one to do Awkward and the judges were impressed with both my dialogue and delivery. My homework was to work on being more "dramatic" in order to step outside my comfort zone. I dialled it up for Eagle and once again managed to impress the judges (a new set this time), who asked how much of the dialogue I knew. I admitted to knowing all but the last two postures and so my homework for this one was karma-focused: Help another student who is struggling with the dialogue.

As an aside, the vast majority of people arrive at Teacher Training not knowing any dialogue. Memorization is no easy task -- I put in a lot of effort beforehand to get as far as I did. It's paying off now, as I don't have to cram it all in and can focus on my delivery instead. Many of my fellow trainees are struggling, though. Some are ESL or don't have any public speaking experience, which adds to the pressure. I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I can help others.

Back to posture clinics: Standing Forehead to Knee is my favourite posture to say, given all the exclamatory sentences. Each time we move to a new posture, there are a handful of keeners in my group who want to go first -- I am part of this crew. I really wanted to get this posture out of the way before the weekend and with only 45 minutes left in posture clinic, I knew I had little time to spare. So I rushed past the others and gave my best delivery yet. I punched all the bold phrases -- "YOU DON'T HAVE THE KNEE!" I was rocking the dialogue when one of the judges jumped in and tried to distract me. She started doing the pose and falling out, huffing and puffing along the way. I ignored her and continued with my delivery -- "Solid, Concrete, One Piece, Lamppost, Unbroken." The judges couldn't identify anything I need to work on, so instead presented me with a challenge: Deliver the next posture, Standing Bow Pulling Pose, while performing Triangle. Now saying the dialogue on its own in front of a group of 50 people is hard enough, but doing it while performing a different posture altogether is INSANE! A challenge I readily accept!

Other students have been asked to step outside of the room and scream the dialogue from the hallway (to work on projection), or to say the dialogue while doing jumping jacks (to energize them), or to hold water bottles in their hands (to focus their nervous energy). The tactics have been on the outrageous side, but they work! We've gone through four postures and already I can see marked differences in people's ability to delivery the dialogue. It's amazing to witness the transformation.
Trainee delivering Awkward Pose while performing jumping jacks.
Time outside of the hot tent and posture clinics has been spent in anatomy lectures this week. The material is being taught by Dr. Jim Preddy, or "Dr. P" as he's affectionately referred to in the Bikram Yoga community. Dr. P, an ER physician from Las Vegas, started teaching anatomy at Teacher Training in the spring, after he performed some miracles on Brandy Lyn (2010 Bishnu Ghosh Champion). He is an awesome teacher and has the power to make a relatively boring subject come alive. He is also very entertaining, especially when he's answering superfluous questions posed by trainees who like to hear the sound of their own voice. Another interesting tidbit about Dr. P: He use to be a cheerleader for UNLV.

So far we've covered the skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems. Much of the material has been over my head (cranial bones?), but Dr. P keeps assuring us that the tests are very easy. Our primary focus should be on learning the dialogue. Still, I find myself a bit concerned about anatomy. We have our first test on Monday, so I'm devoting most of my Sunday to colouring my anatomy colouring book.

Dr. P. His t-shirt says "98% Chimp."
The yoga classes have been great this week. The temperature in the hot tent has fluctuated quite a bit, with some rather cool classes followed by a couple of real scorchers. All classes have been 90 minutes and my practice is strong again, like it was back home. I'm able to do the classes without falling asleep or having to sit out entire series of postures. It feels great. Of course all of this will change when Bikram returns in a week.

This is me, getting into Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose.

We completed 32 classes in 20 days and are one-third the way through training. Six weeks and 66 classes to go!


  1. Yahoooo Chrissy, delivering Standing Bow Pulling Pose while performing Triangle !! Crazy !! I love reading about all these "distracting" techniques. Must be very difficult. Who are the judges? Senior BY teachers? Fellow trainees? Good luck with your test on Monday !!

  2. You are my hero, you dialogue-memorizing yoga goddess, you.

  3. way to go!! You rock! so sad that I can"t see you delivering the next posture!

  4. I see you've met my mentor, Jakob! :D