Monday, November 15, 2010

Last chance -- twist (Week 8)

Week 8 was the first week that went by slowly. I've written a lot about how time here seems to be on warp speed, but not this week. The difference is due to a shift in my perspective. It now feels like I've been here a very long time and that I've gotten everything I can out of the training. The incidents from week 7 also changed the atmosphere around here. Things went from being fun and celebratory, to somewhat gloomy. I wouldn't trade the experience for the world and feel I made the right decision in coming to training, but I'm ready to go home and start the next leg of the journey.

We finished posture clinics this week. I delivered Head to Knee with Stretching and Spinal Twist -- the only two poses I didn't have memorized before I came here. I wasn't as confident with them and stumbled more than usual, but made it through just fine. I am so relieved that posture clinics are over! It was difficult to sit for hours and hours on the floor each day listening to people recite the same words over and over again. Now I need to spend some time on my own reviewing everything and starting to string postures together. Only a week to go before I teach my first class! Yikes!

This weekend I spent a lot of money on yoga outfits for my new job as a Bikram Yoga teacher. Now, I had already bought tons of yoga gear prior to this weekend and even before I got to training, so I definitely didn't need anything. But as I blogged about back in the spring, I've got a yoga wear shopping addiction! As soon as I see new styles and colours, I need to have them! While I've been at Teacher Training, several vendors have been onsite and I've bought items from each and every one of them. I've bought so much that I might just have to buy another suitcase to carry it all home. The good thing is I now have different stuff to teach versus practice in. We were told to keep our teaching and practice outfits separate -- which was simply an excuse for me to buy more and more and more and more!

Week 9 is about posture clinics with Bikram, where he'll go through each of the 26 postures and two breathing exercises and explain in detail their proper form and benefits. And of course we still have our daily doubles! I'm crossing my fingers that late nights are a thing of the past, but I wouldn't be surprised if another one is thrown our way before graduation. Speaking of graduation, it's on Saturday afternoon. Not sure how the event will unfold, as the details for most things at Teacher Training are sketchy, including the timing in this case. All I know is that the ceremony is followed by a dinner and I'm catching a cab to the airport at 9am the next day.

I can't wait to be home! I'm sure I'll miss Teacher Training and all the friends I've made here within a couple of days of settling back into my routine, but right now I'm so excited to go home! I'm really looking forward to seeing my niece and nephews, sleeping in my own bed, drinking wine, eating chicken shawarma, driving my car, and -- most important of all -- being on my own schedule. No more signing in four to six times a day! Absolute freedom!

Only a few days to go... I'll see you on the other side!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Welcome to Bikram's Torture Chamber (Week 7)

Week 7 was the hardest week of Teacher Training. Every trainee here would agree. We were pushed beyond our limits both physically and mentally.

The week started off on a high point. I did a bonus class on Sunday morning at Jim Kallett's studio in Old Town. The fabulous Jo from London, England taught. She had led my posture clinic the Friday before and I was able to see in her teaching many of the things she spoke about in the clinic. She was verbatim dialogue but was really able to inject her own personality and style into the class. She called me out by name several times to offer me corrections and commend me on my postures. It felt really good to have that individual attention again. I've missed practicing in a studio!

The advanced seminar took place this week, which meant an extra 200 people were practicing in the hot tent. It also meant that Bikram taught the morning classes, as he led the advanced seminar immediately afterward. I practiced beside the podium on Monday and it was a killer class that ran past the two-hour mark. I had to start rationing water two-thirds of the way through the class to ensure I didn't run out. The class exhausted me and I experienced pain and discomfort in the classes that followed. I retreated to my old spot out of Bikram's line of sight for the rest of the week.

We had double posture clinics every day this week with the exception of Friday. So in total, we spent over 25 hours sitting and listening to people deliver postures. I got through five postures: Bow, Fixed Firm, Half Tortoise, Camel, and Rabbit. I continued to have strong posture clinics and was given a couple challenges that pushed me out of my comfort zone. After Camel, I was asked to deliver the first three sets of Pranayama. I admitted to not knowing any of the dialogue but was encouraged to give it a try anyway. Amazingly, the words came out of my mouth and it felt comfortable and effortless. It gave me a boost of confidence, especially since my first class is only a couple weeks away. For Rabbit, I was given lots of distractions -- all of my demonstrators did something to throw me off. I handled it relatively well and was forced to veer away from the dialogue to offer corrections. My homework for the next posture is to not be so distracted by the distractions. Hmmm... we'll see how that goes.

The rules of posture clinic became stricter this week. On Wednesday we were told we could no longer clap and cheer for our group members before or after they delivered their postures. This really changed the mood of the clinics -- they went from fun and celebratory to serious and gloomy. The reason for the change is that in real life your students won't clap for you after you teach a class. While I agree with that, this isn't real life -- it's the yoga bubble where we should support and encourage each other while we can. In Wednesday's posture clinic there was a tense and emotional situation that actually brought several trainees -- including myself -- to tears. I won't get into details, but it created a negative vibe that carried through to the end of the week.

Friday morning's class pushed many trainees over the edge. Some things were said in the class that were rather contentious. People reacted by shouting and getting up and leaving. I chose to lie down, close my eyes, and bring myself to a happier place. After class people were incensed. It had already been a very difficult week and many felt this was done purposely as a test. Just before the evening class, we were told we had the night off. The crowd roared with excitement. It was a good way to end a week where many of us came to appreciate why they call it "Bikram's Torture Chamber."

I spent the weekend with Heather, Jane, Jana, Jayna and Bettina -- the Fabulous 5! We headed over to Fashion Valley Mall for some much needed retail therapy Friday night and then did our usual laundry and grocery run on Saturday. Saturday evening we checked out the Gaslamp Quarter and had a fabulous dinner at the Red Pearl Kitchen. The Gaslamp is by far my favourite part of San Diego and I'm sorry it took me eight weeks to discover it! Sunday we went to Ecinitas, which is a coastal beach city in northern San Diego. We had lunch at a local Mexican eatery and then sat on the beach and enjoyed the crisp, clean ocean air. I'm so thankful for my weekends and the company of my new friends. It's what keeps me going and what I'll miss most.

Week 8 is here and I have only 14 days left in San Diego! It's scary to think of going home. I've been here so long that I can hardly remember where I came from. I'm ready to start the next chapter of this incredible journey though and am certain this experience will inspire many more positive changes in my life.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hold it there, freeze (Week 6)

Another week past in the blink of an eye. We are officially two-thirds the way through training and the remaining three weeks will undoubtedly be over before we know it. I'm enjoying this experience more than I ever thought possible and am starting to think that my breakdown will happen once I leave the yoga bubble and have to integrate back into the real world. I'm trying to hold on to each moment as much as I can. Just like in Cobra pose, I want to "hold it there, freeze."

Week 6 was all about posture clinics. We had them everyday and on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, twice a day. I delivered four postures: Wind Removing, Cobra, Locust, and Full Locust. The latter was my best yet -- I finally achieved the right balance between dialogue and energy. Felt great!

Spending so much time in posture clinic meant that my group really bonded. We're quite an eclectic bunch -- each of us coming from different places and stages in our lives. The one thing that unites us is our love for Bikram Yoga and our desire to share the yoga with others through teaching. Regardless of where we are with the dialogue, we support and cheer each other on and it's amazing to see how close we've become over the past several weeks.
Group 3! Best group ever! (I'm on the bottom row, second from the left.)

On Friday evening we had a dress up Bikram Yoga class to celebrate Halloween. With little time to prepare and a lack of imagination, I simply wore a black and orange yoga outfit. Other trainees, however, went all out. There were the Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, Miss Piggy, and the usual suspects -- devils, witches, and zombies. Even Bikram dressed up! Kudos to the trainees who kept their costumes on throughout the class! Later that evening we had a pizza party and danced to Bikram's Lounge CD. A fun time was had by all.

Halloween dress up class.
Bikram's Halloween Costume
Halloween dance party!
One last thing that helped make Week 6 memorable is that I got my teaching schedule for when I return. I'm teaching seven classes my first week back! I wasn't expecting so many classes, but am thrilled that I'll be able to get up on the podium that many times. I'll be feeling my groove long before Christmas rolls around.

66 classes down and 33 to go. What an amazing ride!