Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bullet Proof (Week 9 and beyond)

It’s been two months since I graduated from Teacher Training, so this blog post is long overdue. I started a draft the week I returned home but just couldn’t get around to finishing it. Maybe deep down I was afraid to because it would signal the end of the incredible journey I’ve been on. Or maybe I'm just lazy. Who knows!

A ton has happened over the past two months and I’ve made some monumental changes in my life, but before I get into all of that, let’s revisit that final week of training.

Now I figured the last week would be a sort of a party week. You know, like the last week of school always was. Boy was I wrong. Week 9 of Teacher Training was probably the most intensive of them all. Lots of late night lectures with Bikram, tough and very hot classes never seemed to end. It was the one week I wanted to pass quickly, which of course meant that it didn't.

The last class on Friday evening with Bikram was the best one we had the entire training, although it was exceptionally hot and I felt like I might have passed out. At the end, everyone got up and hugged everyone. It was one big, huge sweaty love fest. People lined up to shake Bikram's hand and even though my feelings for him had soured over the nine weeks, I too found myself in that line and I graciously thanked him for the experience.

The following day was graduation. The ceremony itself was uninspired and rather disorganized, but it was great to see everyone dressed up. After wearing yoga gear for nine weeks straight and not bothering to do my hair or makeup, many people didn't even recognize me! The ceremony was followed by dinner and dancing. I left the party at 11:30 pm to prepare for my morning flight home. As I was saying goodbye, I broke down into tears and cried for a full hour once I returned to my hotel room. It was the first time while at Teacher Training that I had an outwardly emotional reaction. It was a great release!
Me proudly holding my Bikram certification at graduation.

On November 24, 2010 at noon – two days after arriving home – I taught my first class. I had about 20 students in the class and four teachers. It was the most nerve-racking experience of my life. I had no idea what was going to come out of my mouth, having never strung more than two postures together before. I can’t even remember that first class – it’s a complete blur. I got through it and students later commented that they couldn’t tell it was my first time teaching. The class ran 105 minutes and I was almost completely verbatim dialogue. I did struggle with my lefts and rights quite a bit. My solution for the classes that followed was to write an “R” on my left hand and an “L” on my right as a visual cue. I did that for a couple weeks and eventually got the hang of it.

I have since taught a total of 43 classes. The first 10 were all about nerves, the next 10 were about finding my voice, and the rest have been fantastic! I absolutely love teaching – more than I ever thought possible. Sometimes I’ll go and teach a class after a day at the office that has completely drained me and by the time I finish delivering Pranayama breathing, my mood has completely changed. I’m happy and having fun and the concerns of the day are gone!

For the past two months I’ve had a hectic schedule – work full-time, teach four times a week, and practice five times a week. It’s been challenging, so I’ve made some changes that will allow Bikram Yoga to play a more prominent role in my life. I’ll be leaving my full-time job in mid-February for a consulting gig that will give me the flexibility to teach more. In addition to the studio I’m at right now, I’ve been approached by two others and have been added to their schedule.

Teacher Training also gave me the opportunity to reflect on what I really want to do in my life. Once upon a time I was a doctoral student with a promising career as a health researcher. I left that behind when I decided I'd make more money in the corporate world. While at training, I had so many dreams of those days, which made me think that it’s time to go back. Last week I submitted an application to resume my studies. It's been nearly a decade since I left, but everything came together to support my application and I have a thesis topic that I'm really jazzed about. Fingers crossed!

I’m so excited about all the changes in my life and for the first time in a long time, the future seems full of possibilities! I feel like I'm finally living my dream!

PS: Even though it took me two months to post this blog, I promise to continue to be an active Bikram Yoga blogger. Stay tuned for more!