Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another Studio Beckons

I have been asked to teach at another nearby studio! Needless to say, I am thrilled and SO honoured that the studio owners have asked me to join their team :-)

So I went and taught my first class there last week which was really nerve wracking but I was able to settle in and find my "groove" fairly quickly. It was strange just working out how loud to speak and hearing my voice out loud in a different room and seeing how people would respond to the dialogue and to me etc.

By that I mean that although we all say the "same" dialogue everyone has their own style and when you practice at various studios you will see different ways that some of the postures are approached, different techniques and rituals etc. Balancing Stick / Tuladandasana is a good example of how teachers have different timings for when they clap and how to get the class into the posture. (I wont bore you here with my detailed analysis of each part of the pose but perhaps just keep it in your mind when you get a new teacher or go to a different studio for a class.)

Anyway, my feedback on the class was really good and the Owners said it was clear I knew my dialogue really well (including the Left sides - a direct result of you guessed it - more study!) and that my timing for 2nd sets was good etc. Which was SO great to hear because I have worked really really hard and STILL spend hours studying the dialogue. So it was great to have that hard work recognised.

And I have to say, that I feel my confidence growing with each class. Yes, I still get my Left and Rights mixed up and make mistakes but I can recover much quicker and don't get a sick feeling of panic when my mind goes blank. Yikes! It really helped that I sat down and planned my 2nd sets. That is, as there is no "definite" way to do these (its just left up to us as Teachers to break them down from the 1st set) I took the time to plan them out and work out what lines I need to say and what I can leave out. Ever the Perfectionist eh! You would have thought that Yoga would have beaten or at least sweated that out of me by now huh? No such luck.

Something else I have been working on is starting to read / write up notes for additional information I want to add between the postures (while in Savasana) in an effort to help the yogis in the class understand the posture better. I know that for me as a beginner, that I was eager for any information that was going to help improve my practice and often I found that I didn't really understand where the effort for the posture needed to come from etc. I.e. I can remember the first time I realised that Standing Bow Pose is a back bend?! It made a HUGE difference to my posture once I figured that out and went into the posture thinking of it as a back bend rather than just trying to balance on one leg and kick the other one up behind me. :-)

So my learning and teaching journey continues.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Month On....

Firstly, thank you so much everyone for your continued support and interest in my teaching journey. I have been out of the TT yoga bubble and home back in the real world for just over a month now and so this post is well overdue.

So it is with a glass of wine in hand, (hey some vices even yoga & 9 weeks of TT didn't stop :-) that I settle down on the couch and sign back into my Blog with the intention of sharing my thoughts about my teaching experiences to date. Which actually feels a bit weird I have to say. I guess because while I was at Training "blogging" was a way to record the day's events and maintain contact with the outside world it seemed so normal, but now seems almost a little narcissistic. In saying that, so many of you "on-line" yogis took the time to follow my Blog, shared your thoughts and offered words of support, and have asked me to continue writing so I feel I would like to maintain that contact with you. And who's to say that we might not find ourselves standing together with our toes on the line in the same hot room somewhere someday :-)

So, here goes.......in the past month I have;

Started my new 9-5 corporate job and am teaching one class a week at my home studio - which makes 5 classes to date. Though I would love to have more classes I have to say that between work, my own practice and studying the dialogue (yes STILL!) my life is pretty full. Also, as there is an abundance of experienced teachers in our area, and all the four studios in the city (Brisbane) had students at Training, there are plenty of eager fresh teachers vying for work so I am lucky to have the classes I get :-)

In saying that a fair number of my fellow Trainees are teaching full time and I have to admit to feeling a little jealous of their new careers. Unfortunately for me the reality of having a mortgage to pay and the cost of Training to be paid off its just not feasible for me to only teach yoga as a means of earning a living. Unfort but true, and something that is really discouraging and heartily debated. Considering the cost of Training and the "weight" being properly Bikram certified carries, the pay is pittance. When you add up the time you are at the studio, at least half an hour prior to class and half an hour afterwards, the hourly rate is pretty crap. Lets just say I could take a 6 week course and become a "Personal Trainer" at the local gym and make more money. Which just seems to be an accepted fact in the Bikram world. So teaching is definitely a labour of love - and something I knew ahead of time and as a new teacher don't have the power to change.

Anyway, in spite of that, I am LOVING teaching. Granted, I am still just trying to get the dialogue out as best as I can, get everyone in and out of the postures safely and finish the class on time, (Insert anxious smile here) so I am not ready yet to add my own personality to the class. And it may not happen for 3-6 months yet. Oy! Depending on how long it takes me to get an "as close to" verbatim dialogue class out. Then I can officially start making corrections and adding my own style / comments to the postures etc.

So, how can I describe the experience of standing on the podium and actually leading a class? First it is weird in that no-one looks at you and you get very little response from anyone other than their movements. No-one maintains eye contact with you, no-one smiles and it looks like no-one is enjoying themselves. I have to constantly remind myself, that its Bikram yoga! No-one should be looking at me, no-one ever smiles (or rarely) and its bloody hot hard work, so no-one is enjoying themselves! Therefore if all of the above is (or isn't as the case may be) happening then it means you are doing your job :-) That, and maybe my jokes just aren't all that funny?

Though I am feeling much more relaxed about teaching a class I am suprised at how hard I am finding it to keep the dialogue fresh in my mind so that it comes out naturally. I am still struggling with the floor series. The postures in the Spine Series are all very simliar and for some reason just won't stick in my poor wee yoga brain. i.e. Is it Go up, much more higher, more up, or Come up, look up, go up, Vs, Come up, everybody go up, come up, everybody come up???????? Argh! Now while it all asks for the same movement, the ever perfectionist in me isn't happy to "wing it" and just say, "come up, come up, come up, change" and wants to get it right. Which is a good thing right?

So I have a copy of the dialogue in my briefcase, a copy in my car and a copy at home and pick it up and study a random posture whenever I can. Ah, the life of a new Bikram yogi eh? Certainly if I was teaching more often it would probably be a different story and I would imagine the dialogue would become more ingrained but for now it is what it is.

In terms of timing, I am starting to manage it better and finish the classes on time. Whew! I have to admit that some of it is pure luck, but I have my time markers ie. when "party time" should occur, what time you should fin the standing series, etc but a lot of it is a fluke and I have no idea if each side of the 2nd set is the same length of time or not? While the first set is pure dialogue it is up to me to "cut and paste" the dialogue and make up the 2nd set as I see fit. WT ???????? So in saying that, I need to tape my class, and then take it so that I get a feel for how I am doing. Oh dear................yeah must get on to doing that eh!

Another thing that is really interesting is the different energy a class can have. Now I know from my own practice that each class can be SO different and more often than not it has nothing to do with whomever is teaching, but rather with how I am feeling, what I have eaten, my own mindset etc. But I do know, that having a teacher who can motivate you and help you forget how crap you might feel, how hard you might be working, how tired you might feel etc, is a god-send and so I aspire to be able to do that for yogis in the class.

For now though, its baby steps for Moi and I just have to concentrate on getting the basics right before I start adding my own thoughts and insights.

I find each class an honour and a pleasure to teach and I am thankful that people put aside 90 minutes in their day to come and spend time in our studio and I can only ask that they enjoy their class with me and want to come back again.

Namaste Yogis


Sunday, July 3, 2011

My Teaching Journey Begins

So after 2 years of dreaming, after countless hours spent on my own practice, countless hours spent studying the dialogue, and 9 weeks full time at teaching training, my yoga journey has come full circle and I have taught my first ever Bikram Yoga Class on Saturday, July 2nd, 2011, 4pm.

I have to say I absolutely LOVED it! I am still buzzing. It made all the tears and frustration of TT worthwhile (dare I say it).

I was so anxious beforehand and have to admit to having spent the last week prior to the class with that bl**dy dialogue ever present in my hand (to which my Mother who was over visiting from NZ can attest to), but have to admit that was more to my being a perfectionist and wanting to teach the class as near to perfect as I could rather than being anxious about the actual teaching of the class. After 9 week of training it was SO frustrating to realise that nothing - nothing! - of the dialogue that I had learnt at TT had stuck in my brain. It seems my short term memory was only good for that. Short term. That is to say, that the Floor Series which I learnt day to day while in LA (i.e. generally read twenty or so times over before I presented it in dialogue clinic) did NOT stick in my brain for anything more than the few minutes required to step up and recite it.

Anyway, in spite of that, I felt as prepared as I could possibly have been for the class. There was nothing else I could have done, no more hours I could have possibly crammed or re-read the dialogue.

I am so lucky and blessed to have many yogi friends who made the effort to come to the class - some travelling from other studios, so I thank you all for your support. It made the class all that much more special for me to have you all there. There were 40 yogis in total for the class which for our studio meant it was very full. Nothing by TT standards of course (you could easily fit perhaps another 10 yogis in there by TT standards) but I have to remember that for most peops having someone else's sweat flicked over you and having no room in front, behind or on either side or your mat, actually freaks a lot of people out. :-) Another note for anyone considering going to TT - loose ALL sense of personal space, get used to having NO space either side of your mat, get used to feet on or very close to your head in Savasana, your feet on or very close to someone else's head in Savasana and being up close and personal with yogis you don't know.

So prior to the start of class, I asked my Angels of Expression to be with me, took a few Pranayama deep breaths before I walked into the studio and then stepped onto the podium and said those infamous words that I had worked so hard to have the right to say - "Hello. My name is Stephanie. Welcome to your Bikram yoga class".

And then went from there...............

I have to say I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! Yes, I messed up a few times. I didn't always get my lefts and rights correct. When you're facing peops its the opposite to your own L&R which you get the hand of pretty quickly but when peops are in postures and all twisted around I found it bloody near impossible to figure out sometimes. So my apologies because if it was confusing to me it was prob more so to anyone listening and trying to follow (especially the beginners). (Which gives even more influence to the question - why didn't we bloody practice this at TT?)

Yes, there were a few moments when I had brain farts and couldn't think what the hell came next. It was so different just "saying the words" for the postures than doing them and so a few times I couldn't remember if we had done 2 sets etc. And in the floor series had to "quietly" ask one of my fellow teachers if we were up to Fixed Firm? But all in all I felt really good about the class and certainly the applause at the end confirmed that. I managed to get them on the floor in 55 mins (the recommended time is 54 mins) and we were in final savasana in 90 mins. Not bad considering I had never "practiced" the dialogue for a full class and just fudged my way through the 2nd set of each posture in terms of timing.

I want to extend a big THANK YOU ALL for your positive feedback and comments. For Sean and Jodie, the studio owners for letting me teach my first class at your studio and to my friends and fellow yogis. For those who didn't even know me but made the time to come up after class and thank me and tell me how much you enjoyed the class. I can't tell you how much it all mean't to me. It has been a dream of mine for so long to teach Bikram yoga and so was such a wonderful experience to be able to fulfill that.

So my next class is Satuday week. I am now back in the "real world" working full-time so that is soon enough for now. It gives me time to polish my dialgoue and get a better feel for those 2nd sets. I have to add that I can't wait. This feels so "right" for me and I hope that it is the beginning of a long wonderful journey. :-)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Finally I am home. It is the best feeling in the world! Never before have I wanted to get home so badly. Usually I want my travels away to continue endlessly and dread coming back. Needless to say, not this time.

My Partner greets me at the airport and we head off to the Surf Club, one of our favourite haunts, as we had planned. So much to say and yet I am unable to find the words. After weeks of sleep deprivation, sleep finally comes. I sleep away countless hours for days and days until I don't feel exhausted anymore. He sits with me in silence often, over the next few days and just gives me a hug when I get that "lost look" as he calls it. Slowly the words come and I start to feel alive again.

I feel so different and yet nothing here has changed in 3 short months. I catch up with friends and fellow yogis, but struggle to find the words to surmise my experience in reply to their questions of "how was it?".

Now a week on I am starting to feel ready to re-join the real world. Eventually I fire up my laptop. There are heaps of messages from all the Trainees now out there teaching or about to. It seems we all felt the same afterwards and have spent a lot of time sleeping and studying dialogue.

My first class is on Saturday. I am excited and anxious about it. All those floor postures I learnt while at Training only stayed in my short term memory and so I am having to re-learning them. It takes hours and I feel more and more anxious and frustrated that they aren't sticking in my long-term memory as quickly as I would like. Ever the perfectionist, I need to learn to chill! It is frustrating though when I think of the countless hours wasted that could have been put to better use.

But onwards and upwards. I don't think I will ever make sense of my whole TT experience but I hope to at least be able to make peace with it. Not so easy when I look at the mounting credit card debt and the floor postures still unmemorized. Sigh.... Grrr..... Sigh. I try not to have too many expectations about my teaching journey, but hope that it makes it all worth while. That it confirms, always, what I held on to so tightly through training, that the yoga works and that I love it. I hope that I always feel what an honour and privilege it is to be able to share that with other people and change their lives in some way as they move through their own journeys as mine has been changed.

Next step - my teaching journey begins...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The City of Angels

So I have spent the past few days staying in downtown LA. Needless to say it feels SO good to have moved out of the "XYZ" Hotel. (I don't want to name it for obvious reasons) Living near any airport was never going to be a pleasant experience and the "XYZ" LAX was no exception.

It feels strange to be back in the real world. I still feel a bit dazed and numb, like I haven't woken up properly yet. I wear street clothes and put on make up for the first time in weeks. My clothes hang a bit looser than they used to. I look in the mirror and notice that the woman in the reflection looks older. Her face is thinner, there are more wrinkles and a sadness in her eyes. No sign of the infamous yoga glow that Bikram yoga is supposed to give you.

I feel exhausted but sleep doesn't come easy. After 9 weeks of staying up till 2:00 a.m. my body has adjusted to this time clock and I can't sleep until well after midnight.

I can't wait to get home and sit in my lovers arms on the beach and let the ocean soothe my soul. My Mum is coming over from NZ and we will have a week together. I can't wait to see her and talk about everything and nothing. Till then I am walking around The City of Angels. I have been to Chinatown, Little Tokyo and the historic district. The architecture of the buildings is beautiful and I take tonnes of photos feeling romantic and whimsical, until I nearly trip over a homeless person sleeping in the street. A reality check.

I should be out celebrating and my friend from NZ comes to take me out. I find it hard to connect with the "real world". I want to drink wine, a lot of wine. But at the same time I am scared to "let go". to start feeling, to let the tears come. I fear I won't be able to stop them.

I still feel soul-less and unfeeling.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Post Grad Musings

Some people have asked me to share in more detail what it is that I found so disappointing about my training. Now while I don't want to continually just point out the negatives about everything here, in light of the fact some of you are considering coming to TT I will share my thoughts. In doing so, please take the following with a grain of salt and before making any decisions I would talk to other recent graduates to get their perspectives also. :-)

A bit about me and my background so that perhaps you can better understand where I am coming from. I have been practicing Bikram yoga 5-6 times a week for 3 years now. The studios I practiced at, both in Auckland and the Gold Coast, are hot, disciplined, and dialogue driven. That is to say, no-one leaves the room, we are encouraged to loose our "distracting" habits and I am blessed to have practiced under the guidance of some brilliant teachers who recognise how and when to push me and inspire me to improve my postures.

I regularly do doubles, and for the month leading up to training I practiced 11 times a week so that I could get my head around what that was going to feel like and how my body would respond, what I needed to eat, how to stay hydrated enough etc.

Certainly in the initial years of my practice I had many emotional / mental break-throughs both in and outside of the hot room that I feel the yoga helped me handle. That and I put aside time to "work on" some specific issues I felt I needed to change and so I feel that the past few years have been a real turning point for me in terms of personal, emotional and spiritual growth.

Perhaps because of this, I didn't have any major break-downs or break-throughs while being here at TT. Certainly there were times that I would come out of Camel posture with tears but I feel they were a result of the immediate situation and exhaustion rather than anything major I had to work through.

I found the physical challenge manageable. Yes, some days I felt like I had been hit by the yoga bus and there were the occasional classes that were incredibly hard but that was mostly due to the cranked up temperature rather than my physical capabilities. Again, I came WELL prepared for this. Some yogis came having only practiced 3-4 times a week and never having done a double. Also, I listened to my body. I didn't "freak out" about the fact we were doing 11 classes a week and ate what I needed to stay fueled and hydrated but did not stress out about it. I kept my diet simple, ate only when I was hungry and did not make any radical changes.

I was able to practice with no attachment to any particular spot in the room, and only took water with a squeeze of lemon juice into the room with me. It quickly became a well known fact that the left side of the room was hotter than the right side of the room and so you can well imagine the fight for mat space on the right hand side. That and some yogis agonised over the exact mix of water / Gatorade / Coconut water / Juice / Ice etc etc, and took extra towels, tissues etc etc into the room with me. I felt exhausted just watching them set up and arrange everything "just so". Some advice for potential trainess - practice non-attachment at home, stand in the hottest corner of your studio and try a few classes at the back of the room where you can't see yourself in the mirror (you will go weeks without seeing a glimpse of yourself in the mirror while here).

The biggest saving grace and the one thing I can not stress enough for anyone preparing to come here - I studied the dialogue and had learnt the Standing Series BEFORE getting here. That was indeed a life saver! It meant I got to sleep when others didn't - pure and simple. More sleep = less stressed. Many people did not even learn beyond Half Moon before getting here.

So in light of all this, I arrived here in the best possible physical and mental condition that I could. Also, by nature I don't tend to be a drama queen. I choose my battles and so long as it doesn't compromise my personal values am more often than not happy just to let things lie, rather than waste too much energy fighting something that isn't going to change.

So, what did I come here expecting to learn and gain? A deeper understanding of the postures, how to de-construct them and really understand how they are to be performed. To learn how to deliver a well constructed, professional, motivating class that would push the regulars to grow in their practice and inspire the newbies to come back again tomorrow.

So what did I learn?

Out of 9 weeks we only spent 4 hours on the very last night going through the postures with Bikram. Out of all the postures he only had Half Moon & Triangle demonstrated for us. I expected all of the postures to be broken down for us and to go into depth about why we do them the way we do etc, what to look for, how to improve them. I expected this to be the basis of our learning and still have many unanswered questions. Why do we do Triangle the way we do it rather than the way others practice it? In Cobra my shoulders don't stay on the floor. Does this matter? How can I improve this or is the intention enough?

In dialogue clinic we only ever did the right side of a posture. We did not practice delivering the dialogue for the left side of a posture, did not practice two sets of anything or put any of the postures together. The timing of each posture was explained to us in about 5 mins at 2:30am on the very last night. Now granted none of this is rocket science but we were constantly told to go out and teach a class asap after graduation and yet we have not even come close to practicing the delivery of the dialogue for a full class and how to get students in and out of the room in 90 mins?

Instead we got hours and hours and endless hours of Bikram's view of the Western lifestyle versus the Indian way of life. All I will say, is it is not a very nice viewpoint. And after hearing it time and time again over 9 weeks it became increasingly hard to stomach. When he would keep us up till the wee hours of the morning to share stories of his shopping trips of how he would drop over $40K on a diamond watch and choose to buy Bentleys on a whim, versus sharing his incredible knowledge of yoga with us, it was again hard to stomach. When you had to stay up till 4am to watch a Bollywood movie versus learning dialogue or anything of value, it was........you get the idea.

Some people have said that his intention is to push our buttons and to try to get a reaction out of us, to see what would upset us the most etc. After all, they say what annoys you about a person is a reflection of yourself. Now while I agree that often we don't like in another person what we don't like about ourselves I just found his comments racist, sexist, chauvinistic and incredibly offensive (and I've spent the past 15 years working in the building industry and have come across plenty of chauvinistic sexist men on building sites so am not easily offended anymore). And delivering them in the style he did just made you switch off and tune out after a while.

If he wanted to push people's buttons and see how they would react why not have an organised debate over a topic close to people's heart (religion or politics) and let people argue both sides and then see how heated and passionate they get and what reactions are invoked. Instead we got a dictatorship style lecture where it is a single sided view point with no chance for rebuttal.

It all seemed such a senseless waste of time, and to quote my roommate, "uselessly hard". All I can say is thank god for the yoga.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Name is Stephanie. I Am A Yoga Teacher

Why I love my Mum;
Namaste x

Hi there

By now perhaps you'll have that certificate in your hot little hand - what an achievement sticking it out.

I've followed your blog closely and have been very impressed by your words, and you should be proud of the revelations of your thoughts and processes. Your insightfulness, maturity, compassion, and learnings will make you the most fantastic teacher and guide for others.

It's definitely not the way you would like these values you have to be exposed - being taught by a totally dysfunctional human being - but you have had to dig very deep to survive as many others do to survive their nemesis. This process will have given you the life skills to understand and help others way beyond the functional teaching of yoga.

Kia kaha

lots of love Mum

Kia kaha is a Māori phrase used by both the Māori and Pākehā (European) people of New Zealand. It means forever strong and is used as an affirmation. The phrase has significant meaning for both the Māori and Pākehā people of New Zealand.

Linguistically, kia kaha consists of the desiderative verbal particle kia, which is used here as 'an encouragement to achieve the state named',[1] that is, an encouragement to achieve kaha or strength.

Friday, June 17, 2011

To My Readers

So with graduation upon us it means like TT my blogging journey is about to come to an end. While I started Blogging some with apprehension about baring my private thoughts for the world to see, it has infact become something I am now much more comfortable with. I think it would be fair to say it was my daily therapy. A way at the end of the day to put my thoughts down. Looking back already there are things I had forgotten so I am really pleased I made the time to post each day (internet depending) so that the days didn't just blur into one as the weeks rolled by.

And while there are obviously some thoughts I haven't shared, I have remained totally honest about my experience here and kept things as raw as they felt on some days. I hope that anyone reading this and considering coming to Teacher Training understands that this is a record of my journey and my journey alone, based on the thoughts and expectations I had prior to coming here and the daily experiences I had. I am sure there are blogs out there of these same past 9 weeks that read very differently (though I intentionally did not follow any off them so that I didn't feel influenced as to how I wrote).

So to those who have followed my posts and let me know your thoughts whether privately or through Blogspot, I am truly humbled and flattered by your comments and that you made time in your own lives to read about my journey. I will write a last post from LA after grad and then probably another one after my first class to let you know how it goes.

To you all,

Graduation Day

Its the morning of graduation day. My roommate has left early. Unable to hide her disappointment she felt she couldn't bring herelf to "celebrate" our graduation and so she changed her flight and flew out this morning.

I watched her pack early this morning with envy. I don't fly home until Wednesday. Having booked my flights 3 months ago it was impossible to know how I would feel at the end of this journey so I had allowed a few extra days here to relax and unwind, and had the thought I might be able to teach my first class at a local studio. (Unfort 430 other yogis had the same idea and it has been impossible to get a class anywhere.) It will cost $700 to change my flight. A cost that needless to say after 3 months of not working I simply can not afford.

So my dear wonderful roommate is gone and I miss her already. A stranger just 9 weeks ago, and someone so different from myself, yet who I believe will now be a life long friend. Often we would lie here at night in the darkness talking about the days experiences and trying to make sense of it all. We shared laughter, tears, moments of hysteria, and luckily the same dark sense of humour. You helped keep me sane and I will forever be thankful to the Angels who arranged for us to room together.

And so I sit here, alone for the first time in 9 weeks. And the tears come. Tears for the disappointment, for the expectations and hopes that were not met. For the times that this all felt "uselessly hard". For the times it was so challenging, not because of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and forcing growth but for the endless hours it was so mind-numbingly uninspiring.

And so though I can now fulfill my dream of becoming a yoga teacher it is bittersweet. Would I do it having known ahead of time it would be like this? I think because teaching this yoga is something I want so much to do, that I would say yes. But I would have come with a different mindset, maybe more prepared for the bootcamp style of journey that it has been.

I find it so sad that instead of coming away feeling empowered and inspired it has simply been a task that I have completed. Is my greatest lesson from this just going to be to learn to accept that "it is what it is"?

We had our final lecture last night. It finished agonizingly late. Bikram seemingly keen to relish in our last hours together while we were eager just to be be done. How ironic that his last words to us were about how disappointed in us he was.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Final Yoga Class Spring TT 2011

I think the smiles say it all!

But whats with the coke you ask?

Because Bikram drinks Coke through class, this time we all took in Coke of our own to drink at "party time" the first official water break. He joined us of course but later wondered why we didn't have more energy?

To be honest warm Coke isn't particuarly appealing. But I have to admit to having drunk tonnes of it since being here. After class when its straight out of the fridge its like liquid gold! :-)

I have to add, that one of my goals was to never leave the hot room and I am proud to say that I achieved it. Though I can't say there weren't days when I didn't want to run from the room screaming, that was generally when we were in the lecture room not the hot room. LOL!

Rajashree's Last Class Spring TT 2011

Pic at top: The beautiful Rajashree, Bikram's wife for those who don't know her. A world yoga champion in her own right. She is without doubt the saving grace of this organisation and I wish we could have seen more of her.

Gemma, Nazreen and I - girls from my group who I shall miss dearly :-)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Monday Night Movie

1:00am Movie Starts

I am an unwilling Pawn in an over-grown child's game.

A game of manipulation, full of power trips and mind games.

Instead of war, the threat is that I won't receive my certification if I don't comply and carry out my orders without question.

I do what is asked of me........... unthinking........... unfeeling.

I feel soul-less.

4:00am I have lost the plot.............................

Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie

With Maree from Brisbane, Dale from Capalaba, and Ben from the 'Gabba (that's Woolongabba for you non-Australians). Some of you yogis from home may recognise Ben (Maddy's partner) He taught the class today and I have to say it seemed so strange to be hearing the Ozzie accent on the podium. Loved his class and so hope to catch up again once back in sunny QLD :-)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tell Me Why I Don't Like Mondays

Its the start of the final week, only 4 days, 8 yoga classes to go. This is the week they promised us they would "put it all together" and so we had to "stay focused". That we would be getting those last few invaluable skills and those pieces of essential knowledge that would help us come away as teachers.

So we should all be on a high right! Well, it started off that way as we settled in for our first lecture of the day. Everyone sitting at attention in their seat, ears pricked, eyes forward. Notebooks in hands, pens hovering over paper eager to record those essential key pieces of information that were going to "put it all together" for us so that we could step into our home studios with confidence.

Alas, it was not to be so. Instead we were met with yet another agonizing display of poor presentation. Just when you thought the bar couldn't possibly be set any lower, it dropped down yet another rung on the ladder of disappointment.

What I did learn in the 4 hour afternoon lecture today:

- that the veins on my left wrist stand out a lot more than the veins on my right wrist
- that my girlfriend's earrings came from a shop in London
- that if you eat cherry tomatoes straight after a Tic Tac they don't taste so good
- that an acronym for the 7th set of Pranayama breathing is D's Fete
- that the 6th set of exhale breathing in Pranayama is the same as the 3rd
- that there were 116 ceiling tiles in the portion of the ceiling above me
- that there were 2 light bulbs out in the portion of the ceiling above me
- that I need a pedicure

I think you get the idea. We are due back there at 9:30pm for another "lecture" with Bikram. Which reminds me, I must remember to take my dialogue with me so that I can learn the 2nd set of Pranayama breathing.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday July 2nd, 4pm

This is the day I will step onto the podium in our home studio and teach my first ever official Bikram Yoga class.

I will be responsible for leading yogis through their 90 minute meditation. For getting them in and out of the postures safely and without killing anybody! LOL.

This is my chance to pull it all together, to put my money where my mouth is, to dare I say it, "trust the process" and fulfill a dream I have had for 3 years now.

I am SO excited! Though I have to admit to getting a knot in my stomach and a feeling of angst at the thought of it also. Needless to say as soon as I got the email from Jodes, our studio owner, and had a confirmed date, I have been studying the dialogue with much more vigour!

Suddenly, after wishing the hours, the days away for so long, time seems to be going too fast and I want the hours to last longer so that I can get more studying in. There still seems to be so much that I don't know. I haven't practiced delivering the left side of any postures, let alone a 2nd set. What is the timing for the postures? Have I said it out loud enough times so that it flows naturally? Is there enough inclination in my voice? Is my class going to be too easy or too hard? Is.....? Do I............? What if..........? Have I................................? Oh dear.............................

Steph, just breathe! And go get that dialogue out...... :-)

Sunday Musings

So this is the infamous yoga room. When its empty you get an appreciation for its size. By graduation trainees will have practiced 95 classes in here if they have attended every class. That's a minimum of 142.5 hours - though I want to stress minimum because a lot of classes ran over 90 minutes.

Of course for me this number is slightly less due to the time I had to take off. I will have done a total of 78 classes - 117 hours. Still a substantial amount.

It seems such an oxymoron that a room where people would usually be celebrating weddings and birthdays etc, all dressed to the nines and drinking champagne has for the last 9 weeks invoked so much sweat and tears. To lie in Savasana under a chandelier, heart pounding, body totally spent with sweat running off you (and sometimes tears) is such a strange feeling. Sometimes I don't notice them at all. Sometimes the chandelier is a good distraction and I just look at the lights and crystals through exhausted blurry eyes and drift away. Other times I notice which light bulbs are not working or where some of the crystals are missing..............(there's that monkey mind which NEVER gets tired, sigh).

I wonder what the energy in there will be like once it has been converted back to a ballroom for our graduation? Or whether we will even recognise it? They will be changing the carpet thankfully. It has that unmistakable smell of a Birkam yoga studio that you would recognise anywhere. Some days it hits you about halfway down the hall as you're walking towards it. Just be glad I can't post a scratch and sniff picture! LOL

Home Is Where The Heart Is

By this time in two weeks I will have left the City of Angels and be just about to land back in Australia. Pic is of the beach where I live incase you needed encouragement to come visit :-)

Now while I am looking forward to spending some time with friends after training finishes and seeing a bit more of California I am eager to get back Down Under. I will have been away for almost 3 months in total and I have to say I am ready to get home.

Ready to get back and resume my life. To start my two new jobs, one as a yoga teacher and the other one back in the corporate world. But mostly to be back with that very special Australian cowboy with whom despite our being apart for 3 months and the difficulties we had to face during that time, or perhaps because of them, I have grown so much closer to.

At least for me I have been somewhere new and been kept so busy that I don't have a lot of spare time to think and feel homesick. For me its all been new and different and there is no "space" in my life here where he should be. But for him, he walks on the beach at home, like we always did together, as I now sleep in LA, and watches the moon at night as I get up and head to my first yoga class of the day. Things that make the world seem a very big place at times.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

12th Class for the week

So today I decided to take the 12th class that is offered on Saturday mornings after our regular class.

This is known as the "make up" class and you HAVE to take one for every time you forget to sign in to a lecture or yoga class, or if you are late, etc. They are held over our head as a threat for anyone who steps out of line and is basically deemed a fate worse than death. After all, by the end of the week having done 11 classes in 6 days the thought of having to spend another 90 mins in the hot room is hardly appealing.

So why would I volunteer to do this class? Because of the teacher! A very special person here who gets a round of applause every time he simply walks into the room. and yet still remains so humble and genuine. He is Balwan, and is by far the most loved staff member here. Because he has only been teaching for a year (?) he is not allowed to teach our regular class (despite his popularity) but when I found out he was teaching today's make up class I jumped at the chance to do it.

So that meant doing two classes back to back, no easy feat when you've already got ten under your belt! But you know what, I went in with no expectations and ended up having one of my best classes to date. Firstly because there was only about 100 people in the room we could all spread out (and still we only covered the first 3 lines or so) and actually see ourselves in the mirror. Something that hasn't happened since our group was on the 1st line back in week 3 so it was a welcome change to actually see my whole body in the mirror as I practiced.

And as I'd done the 8 a.m. class it meant I felt so much more open and was able to go deeper into the postures as a result. And Balwan is so nice it just makes you want to work harder for him. A nice way to round off my last Saturday here :-)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Its The Final Countdown!

Insert the Van Halen song here (Showing my age I know).

But the final countdown is officially on! Today we started the first of our "lasts". That is to say we had our last Friday yoga classes and our last ever Friday lecture. What a feeling :-)

Then as if that wasn't great enough we were given tonight off - no lecture, no movies. Oh man, around here that is the best news ever and was met with thunderous applause when Bikram announced it before this afternoon's yoga class. You'd think we'd all just won lotto!

I'd like to say that we went out for a night on the town, but my priority at the moment is sleep, sleep and more sleep. So my roommate and I ordered french fries through room service and ate them in bed while watching tv. Exciting stuff eh! But EXACTLY what the body ordered. An early night is worth its weight in gold here after a week of late night lectures and movies.

Following are some random notes and musings that I had written down over the past few weeks but not managed to work into a post.

- The dialogue is synoptic. That is to say it is written as commands so that the brain doesn't have to think about whether or not to do the posture. There is no question, no thoughts, just commands to "do". Which we only had explained to us in about 7th week by a teacher in Posture Clinic who just happened to mention it. But it explains why the dialogue is written the way it is and what we all thought was just bad grammar has actually been written very specifically that way.

- A line to use while in the set up for Standing Bow Pose: "Put your hand up if you like bow pose / or Bikram Yoga " For those non-yogis this is funny because you have to put your hand up to do the posture. Hee hee. Small things I know, but trust me anything that brings a smile to your face while you are in that room is a god-send.

- Set up the podium for yourself with water & towel etc prior to start of class. When you're ready to start, walk onto the podium, take a breath & settle yourself and then introduce yourself (rather than starting to talk from the back of the room as you walk in).

- Record your class and then you can check later to see how accurate your dialogue was. Gulp.......ok.............I'll let you know how that one goes :-)

The Power of Water

So I did a little research on water and hydration. (Its after 10:00pm and my brain function is def impeded by my lack of sleep over the week so this is as much as I can handle tonight.)

Here is a link to a page I found most helpful but I will summarise my findings:


Like Joel said yesterday:

Your body absorbs only 4-6 oz / 250ml of water every 15-20 mins.

That equates to 32 oz / 1 L per hour - so drinking any more than that through the class is not going to increase your hydration. This stresses the importance of hydrating prior to class rather than relying on the water you are drinking while you are in class.

The best way to work out how much water you need is to weigh yourself before and after exercise and to see what the difference is. You need to drink 2-3 cups of water for every lb lost.

To work out how much water in total through the day you should drink you can use the following formula:

For moderate exercise -your body weight in lbs divided by 2 = # of oz of water required per day.

For strenuous exercise with excessive sweating - thats us folks! - your body weight in lbs equals the # of oz of water req'd per day.

For those in metric 20 oz = 600ml.

Hope this helps :-)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

No Whining, No Water, No Worries ;-)

This was the intention I set for my class today. Reading back over my last few posts I def see the need to stop whining, (and to start using spell check!) and as the morning classes aren't that hot I figured what better time to start getting back into the discipline of not drinking through class. And I managed both, hence no worries :-)

This morning's class was taught by Joel from Philly and we got to see a glimpse of a sense of humour that he didn't display in posture clinic. In Standing Bow Pose instead of saying, bring your right hand out, you're holding the money in your hand, he said, "put your hand out if you want your money back". Needless to say, it def got a laugh from me! (And one I will save and pull out in a really bad class where I've totally lost all sense of the dialogue - gulp)

He also got us to clap anytime we put our arms overhead with hands together and had us work on it until we all got it in time together. Quite an awesome energy when 430 people raise their arms overhead and clap in sync. He suggested we try it tonight and surprise Bikram with it. So lets hope we can pull it off, because if 430 of us end up clapping at different times Bikram is going to wonder what the hell we are bloody doing!

At the end of class Joel said that the body can only absorb 250mls of water every 20 mins so those of us who drink more than a litre of water in a class aren't rehydrating anyway. I want to do some research on this because there are so many diff opinions on this subject (I'm such a geek I know). But NOT drinking water has been something I worked really hard to achieve and we get a lot of different information about how long it takes the body to absorb water, how much it can absorb etc so I'd like to get some info for myself to back up this argument when discussing it with others. Certainly there are the obvious reasons for not drinking in class in that it helps you stay focused and often we use taking a drink as a distraction from doing a posture we don't like or because we are feeling uncomfortable etc but I'd like to also have some facts about the physical aspect of it.

This afternoon we had Rajashree go through the Standing Series with us and give all the benefits of the postures. I wish I could say the pic is of me but alas this posture still eludes me. It is instead, Nicci the East Canadian yoga champion - you can see why) Rajashree is in the background, she is a wealth of knowledge and it was all so interesting to hear that the four hours went by in a flash (unlike other lectures....................oops that right I was not supposed to be whining today). She has such a lovely energy and I wish we had more time with her but we've hardly seen her at all :-(

So we were up till 1:ooam last night watching movies. Its been so long now since I've had a full nights good sleep that I have forgotten what its like to NOT be tired. I've certainly learnt to function on a lot less sleep than I would ever attempt at home so it will be interesting to see how my sleeping habits change when I'm back out in the real world.

Anyway, its time to head off for the 5pm class with Bikram. I'll let you know how our "clapping" efforts go.

A few hours later.....

Well as it turned out we didn't have Bikram for this afts class after all. Instead we had Jim one of the senior staff members from here who always teaches an awesome dialogue driven class. He worked us hard but keeps you focused so that it doesn't seem like you won't survive the class. It took us a few postures but we got our "clap" down pretty good and we were all mostly in time. There's always one tho that is late eh :-)

He commented on how our practice and focus had improved so much from the earlier weeks when he first taught us and tried to get everyone to stay in the room just this once (to no avail unfort). There are still plenty of yogis leaving the room and this is something that he and many other teachers are trying to stop. I have to admit there are some people you see leaving EVERY class and so you have to wonder if they really need to or whether they have created that habit of doing so.

We have been told countless times, that as "teachers" (wow its freaky to even think about calling myself that!) we have to set an example for our students and become the students that we want to teach. So first and foremost is being able to stay in the room. How can you teach a 90 min class if you can't even stay in the room during your own practice? Then there are all the other disciplines like not drinking between 1st and 2nd set of postures, not wiping sweat, not moving in Savasana etc. Things which to me have been ingrained from the beginning from practicing in disciplined studios both in Auckland and on the Coast so its not something I even have to think about, but you see a lot of it here still.

Now I used to agree 100% with the thought that everyone had to have a disciplined practice the way I like my own to be, and while I still agree pretty strongly with this I have softened my thoughts about it after having listened to some of the teachers here. While there is still a need to stay focused and aware of unnecessary movements in your practice I realise too that I don't know what might be going on in anyone else's life, what kind of sh*t they may be dealing with that I am not aware of and so I need to respect their need to look after themselves and do what they need to do to get through the class. And like they say, better to teach people by example and then they will learn how to do things rather than you having to tell them what not to do. Which I think makes for a much better environment for everyone. :-)

P.S. Following is my reply to your comments Glenda. For some reason I can't post my reply and I know plenty of you are having the same prob and have emailed and left msges on FB instead. I am not familiar enough with Blogger to be able to figure this problem out, but please know that I read all your messages and am always thrilled to hear from you (though don't always have time to reply sorry). But do keep 'em coming folks :-)

Hi Glenda and Gerry

Thanks for your message and your kind words on FB. I am thrilled you are enjoying my inside perspective of Bikram Teacher Training! (And Glenda I will certainly refrain from asking you any open-ended questions in class :-)

There is at times a strange culture here and as with anything there are always a few extremists who spoil the general energy but I think the majority of trainees share a genuine love and absolute belief in this yoga and a desire to share that with the world.

Certainly I believe that the more people who are getting onto any kind of yoga mat, anywhere, anytime, to practice ANY kind of yoga the better place the world is going to be!

See you both back on the Goldie soon ;-) xx

Want to Lose 3lbs in 90 Mins?

I weighed myself before class today and then again after. Not that I have any interest in what the scales said to start with but to see how much I loose in sweat during a class. The result, a whopping 3 lbs - this is after drinking a Litre of water straight after class. That just astounds me. It just stresses the importance of hydration when practicing Bikram yoga - and believe me hydration and what you are eating is a full time obsession around here!

While we practice twice a day, the rest of the time is just endless hours of sitting so I can't say that my body seems to have changed much at all. I should add that those hours of sitting are interjected with plenty of junk food snacks as a way to relieve the boredom.

I couldn't tell you either what my practice actually looks like as the strategic rotation of group placement on the lines in the yoga room supposedly so that everyone gets their share of time in front of the mirrors seems to have failed miserably and some groups have spent days on the front 2 or 3 lines and others like ours have only been up there once in nearly 8 weeks? It certainly makes you concentrate on "feeling" the posture but you have no way of checking your alignment. But hey if you can hold standing bow pose from the back of the room where you have several hundred bodies falling out around you then you can hold bow pose anywhere!

So since being here we have had a huge array of teachers taking the yoga classes and it has shown us many different teachng styles to learn from. You hear lots of different ways to use your voice to create impact with the words etc and its been great and I hope I manage to take it on board and develop my own skills. It has also shown us some things you want to make sure you don't do!

Yogis at home, if I start talking in a high pitched voice you have permission to throw your water bottles at me because listening to that for 90 mins is really hard to take.

If I talk so fast thatthewordsallruntinoeachotherandidon'tstopforabreath throw your water bottle at me so that you get a chance to at least catch up to me in between breaths. Again, hard to get into the next posture when you're still coming out of the last one.

And the one I promise to try my best to refrain from - waving out to friends in class! Yes you read it correctly folks......... and we witnessed it today................can you imagine.

(While In Tree Pose)
Bring your right hand up to the centre of your chest in Namaskar.
Oh hi Vera, wave wave. Hi! Hi Vera! Wave wave.
Glenda, oh I didn't see you back there, hi! More frantic overhead waving.
(Confusion? Why aren't you responding? It looks like you're in a mediation focusing on yourselves in the mirror or something?)

Holy sh*t man!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

10 days, 15 yoga classes, 13 lectures........

and hopefully not as many movies to go.

But that's it folks! I have officially started my countdown! Today we started prep for our graduation ceremony and the teacher tonight spoke about the end of our yoga journey being within sight, so I thought I might as well join in and start counting down. To date I have been really reluctant to do so, as the end still felt a little out of reach and not something I could hold onto just yet, but as tomorrow is Wednesday and means we are halfway through our last full week then it certainly is starting to feel the end is within reach.

Somebody asked me today, if I knew it was going to be like this would I still have signed up? I am still unable to answer that question with any certainty. While it has certainly been an interesting journey for me with some unexpected twists and turns thrown in, it is no secret it has been nothing like I expected or hoped for. And I am sad that I didn't ever reach that "sweet spot" in my time here that would make me not want to leave as this was all I dreamt, ate and talked about for the past two years :-(

Part of our "Karma yoga" is to come back and volunteer at future Trainings and there are some people who come back every year and do that. Oy! Most of the Training is "run" by volunteers which just astounds me considering what we pay.

So in light of the fact that my Karma Yoga is due, I will instead be going out and adopting ALL the children from an African village, I will rescue orphaned Orangutans from the snake infested Amazon jungle, I will fight fires in the Australian outback....... you get the idea. But I will NOT be coming back to TT as a volunteer. There is plenty more random weird sh*t that goes on here that I haven't discussed and couldn't come back and even pretend that I believed in to be able to enforce it upon the next group of unsuspecting trainees. Enough said.

Anyway, we had a lovely class tonight with Lisa a visiting local teacher. I really enjoyed her class, it was straight up dialogue, she got you into the postures and got you out of them no messing around. Then she finished the class with some mantras which was really great. She explained their meaning to us but we said them in Indian so though iI didn't know what the words meant being in a room with 430 yogis all chanting mantras created an awesome energy. Thank you Lisa for sharing that with us. Namaste.

This was all followed by a "lecture" with Bikram about .....? ah...........? ...........um?...........??????
He let us go just after midnight which was about the best thing to come out of it.

Lock the Knee

This afternoon we had a lecture from a visiting teacher on the need to learn how to properly lock the knee in our postures as this is the foundation of our practice. It was really interesting and I have to say I can't wait to get into the hot room to put into action the things she mentioned and to see how it affects my postures.

Essentially it was about focusing on contracting the muscles around the knee rather than the knee joint itself - that is the quads, the hamstrings and especially the glutes which are often forgotten about. You can try it just standing up and feel the difference when your glutes are included in this action versus when they are not.

It was SO refreshing to have a lecture on something relevant, to feel that I learnt something and was gaining insight into why we do things the way we do. Insert super happy smiling face here. THIS is what I came for!

Unfortunately, my happiness was short lived as this was then followed up by a long winded drawn out process in an effort to get things ready for our graduation ceremony. An exercise that could have taken 10 minutes with a little forethought instead took over an hour and a half. Seriously, these guys couldn't organise themselves out of a brown paper bag. And its not like this is the first graduation ceremony they have had, they have been doing this for over 10 bloody years. Sigh............ yeah yeah I know, I can put it down to another lesson in patience, but to be honest I am bloody sick of lessons in patience as a result of incompetent management.

Anyway, I am off to the 5pm yoga class. Needless to say I will try and dump my frustration at the door and instead focus on locking the knee! :-)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Let Week 8 Begin

We have two weeks to go!

Can I see the light at the end of the tunnel? Well, yes, but rather than the end I fear it is another train coming! Two weeks is a long bloody time that you can still fit in a lot of really hot yoga classes, a lot of really long Hindu movies and a lot of late night lectures. And as Bikram is here everyday for the next two weeks I fear that is what we are in for. We have been quite lucky to date in that he has been away a lot of the time so we get a bit of a reprieve then.

So every year the trainees put forward ideas for a t-shirt and one of them is chosen and then printed up for us as a souvenir of our training. The pic is of ours - in lovely battleship grey (what the F?) and with the slogan, "trust the process" - God help me. So I added my own slogan - one of Bikram's favourite lines. Which I think is a MUCH better expression of this training experience :-)

So today passed rather uneventfully. Class this morning was a regular class that was taught by a visiting teacher in 90 mins, within normal temperature range, which was just as well as I still haven't recovered from last week and I feel tired and sore. We then had our last official Posture Clinic so that everyone got through their delivery of Spine Twisting, the last posture. It was all kind of an anticlimax really. I think the reality that we have to string it all together and teach a class (for some within days of Grad) is starting to hit people and making them a bit subdued.

To date we still have not ever done the left side for any postures or had any guidance on how to deliver the 2nd set, or our timing etc so we're hoping that we get some of that kind of information in the next two weeks. Not to say that I couldn't figure it out myself, or that I would not have instruction from the teachers as my home studio but it is something that I would fully expect to get here. But we are totally ignorant as to what happens from here on in terms of what information we are going to get, what lectures etc ........ after all information is power and god forbid they gave us any of that! LOL - not really. Too close to the truth to be funny.

So Bikram came in and taught this afternoon's class. The difference in his temperament and personality was like night and day. Which further confirms some thoughts I have but feel I don't need to go into here. Those who have read previous posts can draw their own conclusions and we can share our thoughts over a very large bottle of Savy blanc at the Surf Club when I get home.... :-)

There was a slight hint of tension in the air as we wondered what the hell kind of class we were in for, and his behaviour was almost like that of a naughty child trying to win back the approval of his parents, or like a partner who knew they'd f*cked up and was trying to win back your favour. He showered us with compliments and told us we did the BEST Triangle posture EVER and the BEST Cobra EVER! Hmph W-H-A-T-E-V-E-R-R-R-R!

I'm not sure if it was real or just my imagination, but it seemed that no-one laughed quite as loudly at his jokes and antics and that the peops weren't clapping quite so enthusiastically after class. Sorry, Bikram, but the memory of Friday night is still too fresh in our minds for us to forgive you just yet.

Some of you who have been reading my posts have sent messages of disbelief, some of horror! I tell you if I wasn't here myself to witness it I would have put it all down to those infamous "stories" we hear about Teacher Training but never really quite believe.

I can tell you people it IS real. While I don't want to influence other people's opinion about Bikram, or their decision about whether to try this style of yoga or to come to TT, I have at the same time remained totally honest in my thoughts of what it has been like here. I don't know if my experience has been that different to others here, but certainly prior to my coming here NO-ONE told me to expect anything like this. It is almost like there is an unwritten rule that you just shut up, take your cert, move on and forget all the BS because to rock the boat means you may just be blackballed, and ultimately Bikram still holds power over this worldwide network of studios and is able to do just that.

That is not to say that there aren't others here who are loving it and already sad about the thought of leaving - unlike moi who is already half packed and calling the airline to see if I can fly out straight after I get my hands on that one piece of paper that is going to make this all worthwhile.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Thoughts from the Laundry Room

Sunday, Mmmmm MMmmm :-) It is the one day of the week we get to sleep in. When you can luxuriate in the delight that the whole day stretches before you and is yours to do as you wish. Well until the reality of the week ahead sets in, and you realise you have to get your washing done, get food for the week, and get that damn dialogue out again.

This pic is of me and Gemma, a lovely lovely girl from England who is in my group. A group of us went up to Malibu yesterday and then into Santa Monica for some shopping and dinner. It was so nice to get away for the day but it meant that today it was back to reality.

So down to the laundry room I went this morning with washing and laptop in tow. Laptop? Yes, laptop. Because something as simple as getting your washing done is of course not going to be simple here. How can doing your washing be hard you ask? Because we have only two, yes count them 2! washing machines for 430 yogis to wash 11 hot sweaty yoga outfits a week in. Oy! Insert eyes rolled skyward here. Now while you can put your stuff in the "line" and come back at an assumed time, the honesty of the line order depends entirely on the people in the room. So its sometimes better just to settle in and wait in the room.

Which is where I spent two hours this morning. It gave me a chance to update my blog and emails etc so which was great as the internet signal is much stronger there than in my room. Go figure?

It also gave me a chance to chat with some other peops and share stories about our TT experience to date. It was really interesting to hear other people's perspectives and thoughts about all of this. I always make an effort to choose my words carefully so as not to influence the conversation too much on this topic, but there seems to be a definite underlying sense of disappointment and disillusionment about our training over the past 7 weeks that a lot of people share.

The one thing that everyone seems to be hanging on to and what keeps them here is the fact that this is the ONLY way to get the opportunity to teach this yoga and ultimately that is what we all really really want to do. Other than that there is not much else we will take away from this. Which I find quite sad. This must be what its like as a child when you find out Santa isn't real or that the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist. Instead of feeling inspired we are dreading the next two weeks when our so-called Guru will be here everyday.

We are all so passionate about the yoga and how it changes peoples lives, and the opportunity for what we could have learn't here should have been amazing and yet so much of it has been wasted in mindless drivel. The media constantly challenges the "facts" we are fed, and often disproves a lot of the stories we hear. And yet here it goes on unchallenged both by the staff and us trainees?

Certainly if you paid for a lecture or course out there in the "real world" and got this calibre of presentation you would have walked out weeks ago. Yet we all sit there, and sit there, and sit there. No-one raises their hand to dispute anything or to argue any of the "facts" and stories, even though we often sit there in disbelief at what we are hearing. Its almost like no-one wants to mention the white elephant in the room. Not that I think the "white elephant" would stop long enough to listen anyway.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bikram's Torture Chamber

WARNING: This post uses explicit language that may be offensive to some readers.

So this Friday we had 120 teachers who are here for re-certification join us for the 5pm class. Now they usually cram us 430 trainees and then prob an extra 20 or so staff members into the ballroom we have come to call the yoga room and you can't move without touching someone in "inappropriate places" so you can imagine what it was like putting another 120 yogis in there along with us.

You can see from these pic that most of us were mat to mat with no space between. If you didn't already know your neighbours it was time to introduce yourself as you were about to get probably a lot closer and personal with them than perhaps you would have liked. Note: After this experience, be warned yogis at home, because if you feel you don't have enough space around you, or you don't get your favourite "cool" spot in the room and complain because you can't see yourself in the mirror you won't be getting any sympathy from me! (And they said I was going to be too nice...........)

It was clear from the start that Bikram was determined to remind the teachers of their own TT experience and make them (and us) work hard. (I should remind you that this was the day after he had kept us up till after 4 a.m. watching a bleepin movie so us trainees were running on only 3 hours sleep.)

To start the room was heated to 120 degrees F (at least 10 degrees hotter than usual) - I'll convert that to Celsius for those who are metric - it was Fucken HOT! And that was 120 BEFORE you even put over 500 yogis in the room. If you had any doubt about whether this was going to be a hard class or not it instantly dissipated the second you walked in that door and the heat hit you like a tonne of bricks. Most of us were dripping with sweat before we even started...................... I can tell you that is not a good feeling.

We started with umpteen Pranayamas. This is the breathing exercise that warms the body up and usually we do two sets of 10. I don't know how many we did but by halfway through the 2nd set and my shoulders were already screaming and still Bikram didn't stop. A sign, that Sh*t I was going to be in trouble in this one! Gulp.

The class proceeded from there with Bikram delivering the dialogue excruciatingly slow so that we were in the postures for a really long time. There were the usual corrections and berating of students and in particular the teachers who were there for re-cert and had the misfortune of having to stand in the first 3 rows. Some of whom he threatened to take away their certification because their postures were so crap. (I have to admit there were moments when I thought if it meant I would never have to come back and take a f'n class with him EVER again then I would gladly give up my certificate)

This was all punctuated with Bikram's mindless antidotes about random topics (usually himself) and him perving at himself in the mirrors (thats what they are there for didn't you know?) all done while you were in the posture so that he held you there even longer still . And of course I can't forget his favourite Hot Room party trick - to leave us in a posture (often halfway through Awkward) while he stops and takes a swig of his ice cold coke and then sees how loud he can then burp for us. I swear I am not exaggerating here - you couldn't make this sh*t up!

It was by far the hardest class I have ever done. I don't know what the final temp would have been but by the first Savasanah at the end of the standing series halfway through the class half the yogis were walking out. He asked. "Why are all these people leaving? Is there was a flea market or something outside? I love flea markets!" Groan.......FUUUUUCK!

By the end of the spine strengthening series yogis were being carried out as fast as they could find capable bodies able to do so. Note by this time we are already on the floor so its not a good sign. I heard afterwards that 25 people got carried out and that countless others walked or stumbled out of the room under their own steam. Still the hot air blasted with unrelenting force. Bikram joked that he needed to call more ambulances. What the .......? He asked if we felt like we were going to die? You are not lucky enough to die he said! Oh how friggen true and probably the most sane thing he said all night.

And still he talked and t-a-l-k-e-d. The pauses between paragraphs of dialogue grew longer and even the Savasanahs grew longer - normally a good thing right? But when it feels like a thousand degrees, you're drowning in pools of your own sweat and you ran out of water half an hour ago, lying still is the hardest thing in the world to do.

The final nail in the coffin, for those of us still in the room was that even once the class had finally finished he insisted the doors be kept shut! That no one else be let out and we had to stay in savasanah and listen to a song off his CD. (Geez I've just realised as I write this that I haven't mentioned Bikram's CD before! Think 70's bad elevator music) If you were looking for a definition of insanity this was it!

The class ran for over two hours - torture even under normal circumstances. Though I don't know how to define "normal" anymore? This whole training and that class in particular is almost impossible to put into words that seem sane. What was I supposed to gain from this experience? Is it necessary to make people faint and throw up to become better yoga teachers? Something about that goes against my thoughts of what yoga is all about.

Certainly for me the ONLY way for me to get through that class was to re-direct my absolute exhaustion and frustration into anger. Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of doing yoga? And I won't write here what I was thinking, but I will tell you I was determined I was NOT going to leave that room and nothing that he - expletive expletive expletive too appalling to even write here - was going to do would make me leave. So I stayed in the room and actually managed to do most of the postures though have to admit to not even attempting Camel. ( The yogi next to me got up to do it and then said, ugh maybe not, as he very quickly sat down again. Hey you were a braver soul than moi!) But I can't say I feel richer for the experience.

So days later we're still talking about the infamous Friday night class, and what drives someone to teach a class like that? My smile in the pic afterwards is fake and only barely covers my absolute disbelief at what I had just witnessed. Certainly it took me to a new head space and there were some interesting conversations going on in there, but am I a better person for it? I think the Universe has thrown at me far greater challenges while I have been here that are going to better define who I am, that built far more character and strength and will make me a better yoga teacher than that class will.

Friday, June 3, 2011

And The Final Posture in the Series, Spine Twisting.

Today I delivered my last official dialogue in Posture Clinic! Spine Twisting which is the final posture, and so now I'm done. What a strange feeling it is - relief that I got through all 26 postures but also angst about the fact that I now have to put them all together and actually teach a class. Oy!

While I have really enjoyed the posture clinics and getting up and talking in front of people has felt surprisingly comfortable, the notion that I will be responsible for leading people through their practice does make me rather anxious.

I know for myself, how much I do or don't enjoy a class depends a lot on the teacher leading it. Now while I also know that is NOT how I should approach a class, as its up to me to determine what kind of practice I am going to have blah blah blah, I think its only human nature to have people that you connect with and who resonate more with you than others.

So the thought that someone might come and take a class with me and not like me as a teacher is a bit disconcerting. While that is not an easy thought to sit with (and I guess part of my journey as a teacher will be learning to be ok about that....Oy!) , I hope that my absolute love for this yoga comes through and that people see that and even if they don't like me as a person, that I can reach them in some way and inspire them to come back and take another class.

The one thing I have heard consistently in my feedback from other teachers and the trainees in my group is that I have an open and friendly personality and come across as being very compassionate, maybe even a little too nice (Ha! They obviously haven't read my Blog :-) and that people with warm to this and trust me as a teacher. Certainly that has been really nice to hear and so that is something to hold onto.

The toughness is something I will have to work on - so that I can get you yogis to work hard and "kill yourself" in class!

Perhaps though I will surprise you and kill you will kindness..... :-)

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Lecture .... and .......movie ..........till............................ 4:19 a.m.

SOOOOoo............... T..............I..............R..............E................D

What the hell am I doing here?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Well its Wednesday.......

.... and thats about all I can say about it.

Bikram is back after being away for 4 days and so he taught this afternoon's yoga class. We then had to endure a 4 hour lecture (I use the term loosely) until after 1:30 am from which I have

....... NO notes

....... NO further comment!

Pic above is of Lisa who wrote comment below. Its hard to explain how you can make irrational things seem SO rational in that bloody Hot Room!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back to Balancing Stick!

This morning's class was taught by Santiego from New Mexico. I had a really strong class and I got a compliment for my Standing Head to Knee Pose! Not easy to stand out amongst 430 other peops so I was thrilled. Mind you, I have to add that both my neighbours were sitting out the posture and I think several yogis around me had fallen out, so I think quite literally I stood out because I was the only one in my area who was standing at all! But hey, I'll still take the compliment :-)

The room didn't feel that hot again and so I made a concerted effort to not drink water throughout the class and I think that is really helping me get back my focus and discipline in other areas too. I felt less inclined to move unnecessarily between the postures and to wipe my sweat (the sin of all sins!)

Now thats not to say that I didn't want to drink but I made sure I was well hydrated before class and so I knew from experience that I could actually survive the 90 mins fine without taking a drink and in all honesty I feel a lot better through the class when I practice that way. The times I do drink in class, all that water rolling around in my stomach actually makes me feel worse and so then you're battling the thirst and nausea. Ugh.

Those peops who are drinking water, Gatorade and Coconut water in class - I just don't know how you do it? Actually in saying that, I just remembered that yesterday the teacher made a comment about how someone had a yoghurt in the room! OMG can you imagine how nice that would taste after being heated up for 90 mins.........

So onto Dialogue Clinic for today - OMG my best to date! Not only did I deliver Pranayama, a sit up and then Rabbit posture, but then the teacher asked everyone (along with the 3 yogis doing the demo) to stand up and I had to deliver Balancing Stick (which I must add I have not even looked out since I had to deliver it over a week ago. Its posture # 7 and Rabbit is #23). No time for me to worry about being perfect, to worry about whether I knew every word of every line etc, I just had to pull it out of the hat and get them into the posture for 10 seconds (yeah right!) and then back out.

And you know what, I did it! Somewhere deep inside my wee yoga brain the dialogue was there and I managed to get it out and have it make sense. It wasn't word perfect, I don't have a clue if it was anywhere near 10 seconds and you know what, it didn't matter. It was such a confidence boost to be able to do it.

Dare I say it, but the (goddamn) "process" works. Well who would've ever guessed.........?

Monday, May 30, 2011

And So Week 7 Begins ...

A short and sweet post tonight as I need to get on and study some dialogue. Tomorrow I have to deliver Sasangasana / Rabbit Posture which is the next in the series but prior to that I have to start off with Pranayama Breathing, and a sit up to get them into position for Rabbit Pose.

Now while I am thrilled to have been asked to do this, as its a testament to where I am at with my dialogue etc, its also the first time I have looked at Pranayama breathing - the understanding to date being that it is something that Bikram goes through with us all once everyone has completed all the other postures.

Its over 4 pages long, so needless to say feeling a little pressured by said request and will be up late tonight learning it. There are a few others in our group who have the same homework so we're going to rally together and study up.

Today has been a pretty cruisey day, and considering its a Monday I've felt pretty good. Shock, horror, I know! Usually it takes me at least till Tues / Wed to settle back into the routine after the weekend. Our class this morning was taught by Darren, who owns a studio in Sydney. Dare I say it, that after having mostly American teachers for the past six weeks it was nice to have a teacher with a familiar accent.

Also the room wasn't so hot so it made it a nice class to ease into Monday morning with. NOTE: Now when I say the room wasn't SO hot, that is in terms of TT standards. So it means the heat of the room still hits you when you walk in, we were still sweating etc etc, it just didn't feel the Australian outback!

So because of this I decided it was time to try and cut back my water drinking habit. I never used to take water into the studio at home when I practiced but since being here and having to do doubles every day I thought that was one habit I would let slide. And while some days I know I haven't been hydrated enough and so felt that drinking was necessary I am aware that it has definitely become a distraction that I use when I'm uncomfortable and don't want to do a posture. Oy! So now I am trying to undo this. And I managed fine today, though it took some doing. When 400 peops around you are having a drink at "party time" it took ALL my will to just stand there and just breathe.

From now on it will be something I continue to concentrate on but I am not putting myself under any pressure to go "waterless" every class. Call me chicken, but there are still too many "doubles" to go yet and still plenty of opportunities for them to turn up the heat!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Yoga Class Espanol

Today's class (Sat morning) was taught by Ulysses from Mexico who taught the first set of each posture in English and then the second set in Spanish. It was awesome!

I only wish I had been feeling better as I had plenty of "sparkly" moments through all the Standing Postures, as in that feeling when you stand up too fast. Ugh..... so needless to say I was very pleased to get to the floor series.

Anyway, regardless I still enjoyed the class as Ulysses was so passionate and enthusiastic and even when he was speaking in Spanish you could tell by his energy when to push in the postures etc.

He spoke about how we need to get to a place in our practice where we learn to trust that our breath is all we need. Not water, not having the exact mix of this and that in our water, having the mat in a specific spot etc etc. That so long as you can breath properly during your practice that you will get to a place where you can let all those other things drop away.

He also spoke about how its easier to do the postures than to sit them out. Hmmm, probably debatable at times eh? But I have to say I do agree with him. Like he said, if you're sitting on the floor you have WAY too much time to think about how uncomfortable you feel, about how hot the room is, how about many more posture to go etc etc. Whereas if you're doing the postures no matter how much you're struggling it at least gives you something else to focus on.

Those days when you're in "the zone" this is easy to do, but its finding a way to get to that place when you're having a tough class that takes mental strength. On those days when you just want to run from the room screaming, when camel posture makes you want to burst in tears and / or throw up, when the yoga bus comes into the room and runs over you and then beeps and f*n backs up to run over you again. UGH UGH UGH and somehow you have to find a way to "just breath". THOSE are the days I feel that amongst all the angst I gain SO much.

Whew..... excuse me while I go outside for some fresh air.... :-)

So, notes from our Posture Clinics this week:

There are 3 things you need to build your practice:
1. To come often
2. To practice hard
3. To acknowledge your mistakes and make the necessary corrections

Don't say, "I can't". Instead say, "how much of this posture CAN I do?". (I like that one, as there are certain postures I am convinced I will never be able to do.)

Lean to switch between commanding and being kind so that you can show compassion for your beginners and yogis with injuries, but still keep pushing those who are your regulars and working hard etc.

You will build a level of trust with your students through the class, and so they will do everything you ask them to (particularly beginners) so you have to give them permission NOT to do something if it hurts etc.

Instead of asking someone why they didn't do a part of the posture, instead say I noticed you can't do X, Y, Z and then let them reply. They will open up better this way and not feel you are accusing them of not doing posture.

Stick to the dialogue so that it becomes a tool that is ingrained in you. Then if something happens in the room, like someone fainting, then the dialogue will automatically come from you (yikes hopefully!)

Watch your regular students and notice week to week if they miss the same posture, sit out the same posture, always grab their water at the same time etc and equally to see when they make improvements, when their injuries heal or happen. This helps you learn something about your students and become aware of how the yoga is changing their bodies.

So in terms of how my progress with the dialogue is coming, I feel I have finally got to a place where I'm a bit more relaxed about not being perfect. Note: A "bit" more. I still have miles to go but have stopped "fighting it" and it has all come so much easier to me and I'm actually enjoying it (this could be said about everything I'm doing at the moment too - God forbid eh! LOL).

I would say that Wednesday was a break through point for me. I had to deliver Full Locust which is the posture where you get to "fly" and I was so pissed off and frustrated with everything, disappointed in the two previous days posture deliveries and so I decided I had to channel that somehow and just friggen get over it! So that is what I did, and I nailed it! By far my best delivery to date, cos I TOLD those yogis to GET INTO the posture and FLY home! What a buzz and a relief to feel like I was finally "getting it" in terms of starting to feel like I was teaching, and also a sense of peace by being able to let go and just be.... :-) Sigh

Then we had Caroline from NY take our clinic Thursday evening. She was in Oz earlier this year and did a class at our studio so it was cool to see her again. And she was just SOOOOO nice to me. She said that she loved my personality and felt people would really warm to me and trust me as a teacher (awwhhhh xx) but that they might not behave in class because I might not be commanding enough. I told her I had finally found my commanding voice last night (lol) and so would try and bring that too so that I had both styles - so look out you naughty yogis!

Friday's clinics both went well too. In the aft class I delivered Fixed Firm and as there were heaps of Ozzies in the other group we were working with, I said to "lift your chest and stomach up to create a perfect Sydney harbour bridge" hee hee (instead of perfect human bridge). A bit naughty because we are NOT supposed to divert from the dialogue at all, but I couldn't resist and it got a laugh from the Ozzie peops.