Friday, April 29, 2011

The Art of Being a Teacher

We had a lecture today with Lynn a teacher from San Fransisco on how to think as a teacher and the importance of having compassion for your students. It was really really interesting and changed some of my thinking about my approach to discipline in the class etc.

Part of the rationale behind making TT so tough is that they hope it will teach us to be compassionate with our students. When we're having a tough class and / or struggling with a posture she said to think about how you're feeling, how you're breathing, what is going on in your head and how you get through that - and to remember those feelings when you see students struggling in your class.

Granted we want everyone to "kill themselves" and work hard but there is also a need to recognise when someone has maybe hit the wall and is having a hard time in class and to respect that. And that means, that if they need to sit down, if they need to drink lots of water, whatever it may be that we should NEVER make assumptions about what someone is capable of. We don't know what is going on in there lives and what kind of day they might have had etc, so we should respect that as adults we are all capable of making the right decision about how to look after ourselves. We need to empower our students to make the right choices about what is right for them.

She spoke a lot about the fact that in her opinion, someone doing some yoga is better than them doing none at all. Therefore if they are late to class (she will allow yogis to come in at any stage through Pranayama breathing) or need to leave early then that is ok. She said we are yoga teachers not prison guards and we should make the yoga room a safe place for your students not a prison cell. A lot of things are non-issues and so don't worry about them.

On the flip side she said we need to learn how to get the best out of our students and recognise when people are responding positively to corrections or being pushed. And that as a teacher when we are practicing we should lead by example and be the kind of student we want to teach. E.g. We can do this by teaching our students when to drink water. Don't tell them NOT to drink, but tell them when it is time for a water break and they will then learn when its appropriate to drink.

So all in all a much more relaxed approach to whats going on during class and I hope I remember to take that with me into the hot room. Much as I like having the discipline and work really hard to not fidget, drink water, and get distracted etc, I realise that is how I like my practice but may not necessarily work for everyone, and yeah sometimes you just have a crappy practice for seemingly no reason at all, and to just let that happen :-)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

First Milestone Completed!

This afternoon we finally finished listening to everyone deliver their dialogue for Ardha Chandrasana, Half Moon Pose which is the first posture in the Bikram series. That means we have heard it a total of 430 times! Oh my lord. I could die happily without ever hearing that bloody part of the dialogue again........... Words cannot describe the mind numbing boredom that came with that exercise. As I've said before, I understand the reason behind it, and I think its brilliant that Bikram puts the time in to meet every single one of us individually, and its a lesson in patience etc etc but ......oh my expletive expletive expletive!

I couldn't post yesterday as there has been problems with the wifi internet in our rooms and so it mean't we couldn't get access online. Which is probably just as well as yesterday was probably my worst day to date and so it would have just been a post of bitching and ranting. Hmmm, only took 10 days for me to get the shits with all of this. Oy!

It didn't help that the night before we were up till 4 a.m. watching a Bollywood movie. I actually really enjoyed the movie but I struggled to get by the next day on only 3.5 hours sleep and so my temperment and frame of mind was not good.

I am starting to understand why some teachers said to me that though its an amazing life changing experience they would not choose to come back here. There are a lot of what I call "following like sheep" exercises which is just a necessity when trying to manage a large number of people like this, and you have to have the mentality of just "playing the game" and being where you need to be when you need to be etc etc.

Its a mind set and a great lesson in being present and just learning to deal with things as they are because thats what "is". E.g. We have to prepare our own meals and there is only one (repeat ONE) working microwave for 430 peops to share. Now you don't have to be a mathematician to realise that getting your food cooked at mealtimes is going to be a mission, so you just learn to prepare your meals in other ways. NO amount of complaining is going to magically make another microwave appear, though some people want to give it a good go!

Anyway, today is a different day and after a full night's sleep I'm feeling human again. I knew that for me the sleep deprivation was probably going to be the most difficult thing for me to cope with. My practice is coming along well and I have had a number of really strong classes which always feels good :-)

Emmy taught this mornings class and apparently will teach reguarly on Tuesday and Thursday mornings so that is something to look forward to. She is the only teacher who doesn't teach on the podium - its so high she says she feels like she is going to get a nose bleed up there. lol And she doesn't say the dialogue in the way we are to learn it, which keeps you really present as you can't predict when to go in and out of postures.

She said that when teaching a class she feels like a conductor leading an orchestra and the energy from all of us in the room dictates how to lead us. A nice thought, except we were all SO tired from the late night before I would imagine the energy we were giving off would not have made for very nice music at all..........yawn.......sigh..........

Some notes from this afternoon's class, that is class # 18 (Thursday) which Jim taught and I really enjoyed:

Eagle - to keep you hands / palms together and pull the elbows down BEFORE you interlock the fingers if you need to. This makes you use your shoulders to pull the elbows down rather than your hands. Also, which ever leg is on top after you've "twisted like ropes" that, that is the direction to twist your legs towards to get everything in one line. e.g. If your left leg is on top then you would twist your knees to the left.

Standing head to knee: That you have to bend forward even a few inches rather than just standing straight up and holding the knee (if you can't bend all the way forward). Its a forward bending posture and you have to get your body to start doing it to gain any improvement.

The same for camel, you have to keep your knees together at the start of the posture and go into it that way so that you don't create a habit of spreading the knees always thinking you are unable to do it.

He stressed that it is very important that we don't modify the postures to suit the body and any injuries / inflexibilities we might have. That we have to change our body to be able to do the posture. Therefore even if you can't do the posture fully you have to go as far as you can even if thats just going a few inches in the right direction.

Apparently if you took a dead body you would be able to put it into any yoga posture regardless of how inflexbile that person might have thought they were. This just shows how much of it is mind over matter and how our mind holds us back. Interesting eh? Not that I want to be doing yoga with dead bodies to prove it!

Well I think thats it for today. I'm having to come down to the lobby for wi-fi access so need to get back up to my room and organised for tonight's lecture. Lets hope its not a late one. Hmmm I think that may be my new mantra as I say it at at the end of every post!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ardha Chandrasana Kiwi Style

I finally got my chance to go up and deliver the dialogue for Ardha Chandrasana in front of Bikram and the class today. Apparently I sounded very natural and did well but it went by in a blur and was over before I knew it. The words just seem to come out of my mouth without me having to think about them. (A good thing I hope) Bikram said afterwards, "no comment" which is equivalent to a compliment from him. i.e. It at least meant there was nothing bad he needed to say. So I send a little prayer of thanks to my Angels of communication whom I asked to come up with me. :-)

We only have about 60 yogis to go now so this part of the dialogue will soooooooon be finally over. Yay! I understand the reason behind having to hear everyone do it etc but its getting harder to stay present through the endless hours of hearing the same words repeated over and over. And the peops are getting restless too which means there's lots of under-the-breath chatter etc which makes it harder to concentrate.

Anyway, we had another class with the lovely Emmy this morning. I just love her classes as I learn so much from her.

The points I wanted to note from her class today:

There are 4 things we must have in our practice:
1. Frequency
2. Intention
3. Precision
4. Mindfulness

Awkward posture - She spoke about the position of the feet and how if they tend to flare in it equates to weak pelvis muscles, and if they flare out then your pelvis muscles are too strong. If its natural for them to be a perfect letter "H" then your muscles are in balance.

Triangle - step out wide enough from the start so that when you bend your knee to sit down you don't have to shuffle your feet which often throws your alignment out.

Sit up - to roll like in Rabbit posture, tuck your chin in and look at your stomach on the way up. Its about rolling in and compressing rather than a stretching posture.

Some notes from other classes I had forgotten. I think it was Miranda's class on Saturday morning when she was stressing the importance of Savasanah and how you must learn to lie still. She said, when in your life is doing absolutely nothing the correct thing to do? Make the most of it! What is more important your hair / costume / water bottle or your spine?

This afternoon's class was taught by Bikram who was in a great mood and so he was bopping around on stage and dancing etc. Which is really funny so long as you're not IN a posture while he's having a little boogie. Oy!

I am really enjoying his classes and so long as you don't take anything he says too personally his sense of humour really cracks me up at times. He has great energy and gets away with saying things nobody else could. i.e. Who else is able to shout at someone, "do you understand fucken English? What the fuck are you doing?" Baaahhaaaaahhaaaaa. It totally cracks me up and only Bikram can carry that off. Mind you I haven't yet been the one he's yelling out, so it may feel completely different then!

Tonight its back for a lecture with him. No dialogue clinic. Yee friggin ha! I'm looking forward to hearing what topics will be discussed and what he has to say. Will fill you in tomorrow :-)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Into the 2nd Week

So Monday is here again already and we're into our 2nd week.

Class this morning was ok. I felt totally ready for a class after having had some time off but paid big time for having eaten all that junk food over the weekend. As I well know, what I eat has a direct correlation to how I'm going to feel in class, and fries, coke and processed food means I'm going to feel like I'm trying to stretch concrete. Ugh. To make matters worse the room was not very hot at all and so I didn't feel I got hot enough to stretch all those toxins out.

Anyway, its was a stunning day so after class I managed to squeeze in an hour by the pool before heading to posture clinic for more, you guessed it, Ardha Chandrasana dialogue. Oy! We have been at this for days now and I still haven't managed to even get my name on the list of people waiting to go up in front of the group and Bikram, so who knows when I will get my turn. Needless to say its hard to stay interested and motivated considering we must have heard over 300 yogis get up and say the same piece now, but I CAN say it will be imbedded in my brain 4 EVERRRRRRR!

Bikram took the class this afternoon and is definitely starting to push us a little harder and has less patience with people who aren't listening and making the necessary corrections. Which is to be expected and I don't feel he is asking us to do any more than you would expect from a teacher's practice, which is what we're all here to become!

I am suprised at some of the bad habits some people have and realise how well the teachers at our home studio have taught us basic discipline - so I thank you all as it has mean't there are things I just don't have to worry about (like wiping sweat, adjusting my towel, unnecessary moving around during and between the postures.)

Then after class it was back to the lecture room for more dialogue clinic. Bikram only kept us till midnight so it was an early night by TT standards thankfully as I'm feeling really tired. Seems I still haven't caught up on sleep from last week.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Venice Beach

After a lazy start to the day my roommate and I headed to Venice Beach. We parked a few streets away and then walked up around the canals to get to the beach. It was such a lovely area, nice and peaceful - until we got to the beach that is.

The change in energy hit us like a tonne of bricks and it was just sensory overload. It doesn't look it in the picture but it was crowded, noisy and full of street vendors all looking for business. Very touristy and hard to get a true sense of what the area and local culture is like, though I'm guessing locals probably just don't go down there (much like Surfers Paradise at home which we rarely ever visit for the same reasons - too touristy and far more beautiful less crowded places to go).

We lasted maybe an hour amongst the hustle and bustle and then had had enough. If one week of living in the yoga bubble makes us feel like this I can't imagine what its going to be like after nine?

So now I'm making the most of the rest of our time off and just catching up on things and getting organised for the week ahead. I am SO glad I put the effort into learning dialogue before I came as it has taken the pressure off now and means I can cruise for a few weeks yet. Insert BIG smile here! :-)

Bikram's Bentley which was parked outside our hotel today. Who said you can't make money teaching yoga?

Notes from Emmy's Class

Finally have time to copy the notes that I quickly scribbled down after taking from Emmy's class. I learn't SO much in her class. I tried to remember it all, and would have loved to have been able to just sit there and take notes :-)

First thing was that she got up and announced that she wouldn't do the class saying the regular dialogue as she didn't want us practicing on auto-pilot and so that gave us such great focus. Something we should be able to do anyway, but it was amazing just the way she was able to talk about each posture.

- Standing bow: When you put your L arm up (in first set) to look at your fingertips in the mirror (tho dialogue says knee) as this will help get your head/ chin in line when you charge forward.

- Camel: When you first drop your head back, consciously take a few breaths to release your fear / angst.

- Fixed Firm: If you have trouble sitting back with your knees together, to start the posture standing on your knees with your knees together. Then sit down keeping your kness together. This will help you get into the posture correctly much quicker rather than having to wait for your knees to open. (Will have to ask someone who can't do this posture as I'm able to do it no trouble so can't comment on the diff it makes.)

- Locust: Single leg lift - to think about kicking your leg up like you do in standing bow so that you activte from your hip.

- Triangle: When you turn your foot to the side in the set up to keep your hips in the centre rather than letting your weight shift to the back leg. Something that I wasn't conscious of doing but think I was.

- Floor Bow: Knees together to start in set up.

She made a great comment in Locust that cracked me up. In the single leg lift peops must have had their leg moving around. She said, "why do you have your leg waving around? No-one is coming to help you! Keep your leg still". Baaahaaaahaaa. Maybe its the lack of sleep, but that really appealed to my sense of humour.

She also said that when you're practicing twice a day, that if you're easily flexible then to work hard in the A.M. class to gain strength and take it easy in the P.M. class. And that if strength was your positive then to take it easy in the A.M. and work harder in the P.M. as your body is more warmed up then and would give you better chance to improve your flexibility. Good tip.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Food Obsession

Saturday! Mmmmmmm the start of a weekend :-) Not a particuarly interesting pic but just wanted to record the first time I got out of the hotel!

Only one class today at 8:00am and then the rest of the day was ours to do as we wished. The class was taught by Miranda a visiting teacher from Montreal who is working at Headquarters for our training. I had another great class and eased through it as the humidity and heat were really temperate. Not something I expect to last :-(

Then, my roommate and I decided to hire a car and stock up on food and bulky items that are too heavy to manage on a bus etc. There are some fabulous huge warehouse style food markets here that sell natural / organic / healthy food. You are spoilt for choice in terms of variety - which is just as well as we are all OBSESSED with food!

It is the most talked about topic so far. Forget about how well you did or didn't manage the class; random cravings, food obsessions, whats working and whats not are the hot topic. I am craving things I haven't eaten in years. i.e. bagels with cream cheese! I wouldn't have had one of those probably since I lived in Canada which is 20 years ago, and yet I couldn't think of anything else I wanted to eat more?

For some reason none of the things I would eat at home appeal anymore and my cravings are like someone with split personality disorder as they constantly change from sweet to savoury and everything in between. And just when you think you've got it figured out, your tastebuds go totally the opposite again. E.g. Just the thought of the peanut butter sandwich I had yesterday (What the...? Again, something I NEVER eat) made me feel sick this morning. Oy...............

It reminds me of a Billy Connelly scenario where he talks about a woman's / or minority groups' demands: "I want this! I want that! I want some of that! A little bit of that! And all of that! And its all going to change tomorrow, so you'd better fucken stay awake!


Anyway, as you can imagine it made for an interesting shopping trip and we have enough food to feed a small African nation. But hey, I am happy to shop a little more now and have all the variety and options at hand rather than be trying to get through without - God forbid!

I was about to say, alright enough about food, I'll tell you about the rest of the day, when I realised that it involved going out to a restaurant for dinner. Ha ha... what did I tell ya! Even though our room looks like a corner grocery store, we decided we would revel in the luxury of having time to get out of the hotel and go out for a leisurely meal.

We went down to Manhatten Beach which is less that ten minutes drive from here. It was so nice to get out and see the ocean....sigh......though made me feel a bit homesick as you can imagine. My roommate who is from Seattle was delighting in how warm it was and toyed with the idea of going back tomorrow for a swim but I was bloody freezing!

We had dinner in a restaurant near the beach and caught up with some other yogis. (Pretty hard to go anywhere within a 20 mile radious and not see someone from our group) One of the girls was Paula from Chille, who used to practice at our studio on the GC and has since moved to Auckland. It was her birthday so it was nice to celebrate that with her. Photo is to show the food we ordered; Buffalo wings, fries, garlic bread, pasta and then dessert. Granted I barely touched the pasta, but the rest was divine and eaten without any thought to the amount of calories it all contained..........Mmmmm Mmmmmm. :-) I'm beginning to see how peops can come to TT and actually put ON weight.

Friday, April 22, 2011


We've made it through the first week! You can't believe how good it feels to know we have only ONE class tomorrow and then the rest of the weekend is free. What pure bliss. Everything through the week is on such a tight schedule that it will be so nice to just sit down and not have to be somewhere.

Its Easter Friday and so as a treat Bikram has given us the evening off and we don't have to back for a lecture and / or movie tonight. Honestly that was the best news we had heard all week. Free time is SO precious here! Its a long weekend at home and so everyone will be enjoying 4 days off. OMG You can't imagine how jealous I am. Not that I don't want to be here but that I would love 4 days off in a row!

They have started making us sign in for all our classes and lectures now (which means you are signing in 4 times a day). All are compulsory and if you miss one or even forget to sign in for one you have to do a make up class on Saturday morning. My goal for TT is to NEVER EVER EVER have to do a make up class. Thanks, but NO thanks. Eleven classes a week is going to be well and truely enough.

So as you can imagine getting 430 people anywhere takes bloody ages. You line up and wait for an elevator (and hope when if finally does get to your floor that its not already jammed full with yogis :-0) Then you line up to sign in, then line up to get a towel, then line up to get into the yoga room, line up for that last toilet break, etc etc you get the idea. And its like that all day whenever you go anywhere.

So far I'm coping with it all ok. My roommate is lovely and we have got our little routines worked out etc so we manage to eat and get everywhere on time. What is strange is that I haven't even stepped outdoors in nearly a week. These pics are the view from our room, my only contact with the outside world. Otherwise the view is the inside 4 walls of the yoga room or the lecture room.......

Needless to say I am hanging out for the weekend and some time to even just get out and feel the sun for a while and breath natural air rather than A/C. Its amazing how its the small things like that, that we are already starting to really appreciate. There are all the big obvious "buzz" things like all the people you get to meet, the amazing teachers we get to connect with, Bikram himself and the whole TT experience, but its the little things that you take for granted out there in the real world that we now really appreciate. Some of the more random ones that make the difference between a good day and a bad one:

1. Still finding ice in the ice machine (I don't know what time people start getting up around here and getting ice for their water botttles for morning class but the ice machine is ALWAYS empty on our floor? Which then results in having to go up and / or down to other floors to raid theirs)

2. Catching the elevator to class or lectures and having it arrive empty or still with enough room that you can actually get into it. With 430 yogis over 6 floors you can imagine the rush hour traffic jam in the elevators.

3. Finding yourself alone for any period of time.

4. Going to bed on the same day that you got up. (Has only happened once so far)

5. A space in the hot room where you can lie down without anybody's feet on your head, or stuff in your space.

6. But the best of all: Finding that your water is still cold at the end of class! Heaven. Yes after going 2 years with pretty much never even taking water to class I have already resigned myself to taking water WITH ice into the class with me! Mind you its just one regular water bottle, I haven't got a "water tower of shame". Some people look like they are prepared to spend a week hiking in the outback with all the supplies they bring in. lol

Well, I think thats all my thoughts for today. We're searching the TV channels in hope of a good movie and going to settle in, eat some popcorn and prob fall asleep within minutes. Enjoy your Easter weekend everyone ;-)

P.S. This morning's class was taught by Brandy, who is the current world champion. I loved it and had a strong class that made me feel like I was finally getting into my groove with things. Lets just hope it lasts! :-) She had some comments I wanted to record but they have totally slipped my mind for now? Lets hope they come to me later :-)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thirsty Thursday

So we are starting to get a taste of what life for the next 9 weeks is going to be like. Bikram kept us up till 4 a.m. this morning watching a Hindu movie. Oy! It was obviously a movie he really enjoyed and afterwards he had some really insightful comments about yoga and its place in the world and the beautiful way that it doesn't discriminate against anyone no matter what colour, sex or race etc which is a rarity these days.

I would have liked to have taken notes as some of the things he said were so eloquent but honestly at 4 a.m. my brain just was not functioning. We will have plenty more lectures with him so hopefully the topic comes up again - and hopefully at a more reasonable hour.

The class this morning was taught by Emmy who is a reknowned teacher and adored by many. She was fabulous, looks stunning for her age (86!) and had such energy. Unfortunately for me, it was my worst class to date as I felt totally nauseous through the whole class and spent most of the time just trying not to throw up. I couldn't even drink water - hence the "Thirsty Thursday" title for this post.

(I have a heap of notes from her class I want to write about but will have to wait till Saturday as simply don't have time tonight. Along with more pics to upload but the internet service runs so slowly with everyone using it all at once in what little spare time we have.)

I came back from class and lay down until it was time for the posture clinic to start by which time I started to feel marginally better and could actually get some food and liquids down. My food of choice? Peanut butter sandwich. How random considering I never eat it at home but my roommate had some and it as the ONLY thing that didn't make my stomach turn at the thought of eating it. So the random food cravings everyone warns about have started already.

Then it was back to the lecture room where more yogis delivered their half moon dialogue. We are over the 200 mark but there are still 230 to go so we'll be doing it for a few more days yet.

Bikram took this afternoon's class and I rocked it and felt the best I had all day. I nailed all the postures, did what felt like my best standing bow posture since arriving here, AND got my appetite back. This time I had an unrelenting craving for french fries - so thats what I got. Disgusting greasy fries - upsized, with a burger and coke - upsized. And I devoured EVERY bit of it. Heaven!

So now we're about to head back to the lecture room where I will sit back and digest and watch the show...... :-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hump Day

Well I've made if half way through the first week! I'm trying to just look at that as an acomplishment in itself and not think about how many more classes, lectures and late nights are to come because that all feels a little too daunting. i.e. I am counting the number of classes we have done to date but I can't quite bring myself to add up the number of classes we will do in total over the 9 weeks! Maybe when we're in week 5 and I know I'm safely over the halfway mark.

At the same time I don't want to wish my time here away as if there is one thing that everyone agrees on it is that the 9 weeks will fly be and we will all be back in the real world before we know what has hit us. Certainly to be able to take 9 weeks from our regular lifestyles to go and do something we love is an invaluable gift and opportunity and so I want to try and relish every moment (some obviously more than others).

So last night we were only kept up till midnight doing Posture clinic - early by Bikram's standards. Then it was up and ready for class by 8 a.m. this morning. I certainly did not feel like class at all when the alarm went off, but I have to admit that afterwards I did feel revitalised. A reminder of how well this yoga works.

It also helped that I had my first reasonably strong class since we've been here. Yay! The class was taught by another one of Bikram's first Teachers, Marlee who has such great energy. It helped that the heat and humidity were far more within what felt like a normal range and she was purposely kind to us so that we had energy for our 2nd class later in the day. You can't imagine how much we appreciated that :-)

She called the Half Tortoise Pose / Ardha-Kurmasana her "Thank God" pose. Now I'm sure she means thanking God because we are bowing in the posture, but I think there will be plenty of times when I'm in it and say, "thank God" because it means we're 3/4's of the way through the class. lol

For the first time since I've been here I managed to get my forehead to knee in both sets of standing head to knee and didn't fall out. Always a nice achievement. In fact I felt strong in all the standing postures and wasn't just going through the motions which is all I have managed in the previous classes.

So then the day was spent in posture clinic again. With 430 yogis having to deliver their Half Moon dialogue its going to go for days. We're not even halfway yet, and are going back after dinner tonight at 9:30pm for another session.

Our 5pm class was taken by Waan (sp?) and again it was a great class. By no means easy, but I got through it really well and was able to get into full extension of all the postures again.

He had a wonderful insight about the art of complaining where he said that "complaining is a sign of life" and that as a teacher if there is one thing we can count on its that students will ALWAYS find something to complain about. So I apologise now to all my teachers :-)

I had another strong class that I felt comfortable in (well as comfortable as one can be in a hot room) and I managed to do all postures to the full extent without too much trouble.

So now we're on a dinner break and then its back at 9:30pm for some more dialogue clinic and then a Hindu movie so who knows what time things will finish up tonight? Lets just hope its a short movie!

Thanks for all your messages everyone, and Sean for sending us love and energy from the Gold Coast studio. It means a lot when you're so far from home. Namasate xx

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Two for Tuesday

Today was our first day of double classes and posture clinics. A taste of things to come.

The 8a.m. class this morning was lead by Jim Kallet, one of Bikrams first ever teacher trainees. He has a lovely energy about him and I really enjoyed his teaching style.

They room was at a better temp too which made a HUGE difference. I think in light of the mass exodus in class yesterday afernoon they realised the heat and humidity needed to be adjusted and so the class was cooler. Which by NO means, means it even NEAR cool, it was just less hot. It still felt as humid as some of our days on the Coast and so was a fairly tough class none the less.

I took it really easy, and didn't push in any of the postures so was able to make it through without having to sit down at all. A small measure of success in the Bikram TT World :-) And after yesterday's insane class my goal was going to be just to not run from the room screaming!

So there are a few things that are done differently here. In the 2nd set of Pada Hastasana there is no moving the hips to relax the back, its just straight into hands underneath the heels. He said the reason being, that the body has already been there before so is warmed up enough already.

In Standing Head to Knee / Dandayamana Janushirasna they really emphasize that the grip is just below the toes not in the arch of the foot, so I feel l need to move mine up a little which in turn will help me flex the foot better.

Finally in Head to Knee with Stretching / Janushirasana with Paschimotthanasana (whew!) when you are in the final position with both legs out in front of you, your head has to come down in line with your feet so that there are no wrinkles in the back of your neck. It made a huge difference to how far down I could get my body and it is something I have heard in class before but for some reason didn't register until today?

After class we had posture clinic with Bikram and starting going through Ardha Chandrasana. This is where you have to stand up in front of Bikram and all the 430 yogis and present the first posture. Needless to say its probably going to be the most nerve wracking part of this whole training experience - and no I haven't volunteered to go up yet.

Its amazing just listening to everyone's different styles, personalities and accents. And Bikram, despite all his (sometimes not so funny) jokes and piss-taking, is really very compassionate and seems to know instinctly what each person needs to hear. He said the reason he gets every single trainee to come up and do this is not so that he can see if you know the dialogue or not but rather to get to meet us and see who it is that is going to be out there representing his brand. You've got to give him points for that I reckon as I don't know if any other worldwide business owners could say they know ALL their staff?

When the trainee from Christchurch in NZ came up he asked how their studio was after the earthquake. As it turns out it needs to be totally rebuilt and so Bikram said to tell the studio owner to call him so that he could arrange to help out with funding the re-build so that the studio could re-open as soon as possible. Cool eh! He also spoke of various other charity events that he is contributing to around the world in light of all the recent natural disasters.

So we were in posture clinic all aft until the 5pm class which Bikram took. Again it was pretty hot and humid so I took it really easy. I didn't feel like I had any energy at all and wasn't practicing even close to my full potential. But hey, at this stage I'm still taking it very easy (maybe a little too easy?) and not trying to proove anything to anyone. There is still a long way to go, so I'm really pacing myself.

I need to figure out what is going to work for me the best in terms of getting a quick energy fix though as we only had half an hour between the end of the posture clinic at 4:30 and the start of class so no time to digest anything and I hadn't eaten since lunch at 11:00am. I can see my diet rapidly filling up with pills and various packets of mixes rather than actual food! :-)

Now its 9pm and we're about to head back down to the lecture room for our 2nd posture clinic for the day which is due to start at 9:30. Yes that 9:30 PM folks. Oy! It looks like this is where the sleep deprivation begins.........

Pics are of the Hot Room, and me after class this morning with my water bottle. Something I haven't taken to class in over 2 years but there is NO way I am going to class without it here. Its already a distraction though and I find myself drinking even when I'm not thirsty but rather as something to take my focus of how friggin hot it is!

Monday, April 18, 2011

First class, of the first day, of the first week!

We met with Bikram for the first time today. He arrived without any fanfare and just casually walked onto the stage and said hi! Not at all the grand entrance I had expected of him. Perhaps another reminder for me in not having preconceived ideas about how this TT experience is going to go?

He welcomed us to LA and gave us an overview of what to expect through our Training, about how much it was going to change us and how we had to come here with an open mind and be preprared to start learning from scratch.

He also emphasised, as all the other staff members have, that we are to take it EASY for the first week! He said to consider this first week a "Bikram Vacation". He won't kill us until the 3rd (Hmmm ... I bet not so funny by the 3rd week!)

We then had the afternoon free to do whatever we wanted until yoga class at 5pm. Of course any spare time at TT is not really spare time, as it is spent studying dialogue or getting ready for class - which is exactly what we did.

Then the class was upon us and we all walked into the Hot Room for the very first time. What can I say except HOT and HUMID, HOT and HUMID! You could SEE the humidity in the air as you walked into the room. OMG. A big change from the Studios where we've been doing classes for the past few weeks.

Did I mention it was HOT and HUMID?

So Bikram was definitely very kind to us and didn't hold the postures for too long and gave us nice long Savasanas inbetween, but there were still yogis dropping like flies all around. I took all the advice from earlier in the day and just eased into class. Even so it was still pretty tough and though I felt strong it was more getting my breathing calm in the intense humidity that I struggled with. I found once I opened my mouth and took a few breaths that way instead of through my nose, that it was then very hard to regulate it again - which is exactly why we are told not to do it, (and usually its not an issue for me but today it was, so it will be something to be aware of in the next class).

Anyway, I made it through without any dramas and good to have that first class under my belt (or should I say yoga shorts?) but makes me feel a bit daunted about what is to come. My mantra is going to be to just take it one posture at a time. And sometimes that may even be broken down to just the first side of the first set.........

Me after class. I look a lot happier than I felt before the ten minute Savasana I took at the end of it :-) Its amazing though how 15 minutes after being out of class the torture is forgotten!

We were lucky enough to then have the evening free (a one-off as most evenings are filled with lectures or the infamous Bollywood / Hindu movies Bikram insists we watch) So we are relishing the extra time and cooking up a storm so we have meals organised for the next few days. Cooking in a hotel room without a kitchenette is an art form in itself so we are applying the K.I.S.S. principle and eating very simply! And it may become even simpler still as the weeks go by and sleep becomes a priority.

Which suits me fine. I make it no secret that I didn't even put a lot of effort into cooking when I was at home with a fully equipped kitchen and I'm already of the mindset that eating food while here will be primarily an energy source rather than for pleasure :-)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring Training Orientation: Radisson Hotel LAX

Today was Orientation Day, our first official day at Spring Training. Basically it was a day of waiting in line to then wait in another line. Getting 430 yogis checked into the Hotel and registered took some time.

So after queing in various places for nearly 4 hours they finally got everyone sorted and we have our info packs and have been assigned our rooms and roommates etc.

We had a brief introduction with the Bikram Headquarters Staff and some of the visiting teachers and then it was time for dinner, which of course, we had to all line up for. :-)

One of the comments made by one of the Bikram staff was that we had to get used to the different way things were going to be done as some things were done in more Indian tradition rather than western style we may be used to. I think I'm beginning to get the gist of what he meant by that! lol.

Of course learning to just take things as they come and not have expectaions is going to be one of the many lessons to learn. You can imagine though that when things are not running to schedule and no-one really knowing whats going on, that with 430 yogis talking its like chinese whispers with all the different views on whats happening etc.

Anyway, the pic attached to this post is of the double doors leading into the infamous Hot Room. Where all the magic is going to happen! Supposedly its two ballrooms with the dividing wall taken out to make one large room measuring 16,000 ft, making it the largest Hot Yoga Room ever. We're not even allowed in there yet for a peek as its all top secret and they are still testing the heating system and getting the room ready. The rumours are rife though about how hot the room is going to get to. When we first got here peops were saying it was set for 100 degrees F but by this aft that number had been raised to 120 degrees! Don't know whether to laugh at the absurdity of it or cry incase its true?

So tomorrow will be our first chance to spend some time with Bikram and take our first class. The staff today emphasised how in the first week are NOT to kill ourselves and to take it easy and just aclimatise and get our routines / eating etc all sorted. Hey, you don't have to tell me twice. I'm happy to ease into things for as long as possible! Though isn't saying "Bikram Hot Yoga" and "taking it easy" in the same sentence an oxymoron?

Anyway, in light of that thought, I shall finish this post here as its late and I want to make the most of getting sleep while I can. Looking forward to tomorrow and finally really getting into things :-)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Stepping Stones

Our lives are made of stepping stones, one experience after another in perfect and divine order.

With only two days now till TT starts, I thought this message from Neale Donald Walsch that I received was quite fitting. (I will write his words in italics)

Imagine the future stretching out before you and try to notice if you feel any tension or overwhelm at the propsect of the journey still to come. Maybe you have started a new job or made a lifestyle change and there is an undercurrent of anxiety about your ability to suceed.

Ah, yeah! Just a little tension and sense of overwhelm

If you can shift your focus from what may happen years down the line and return it to the day that is before you right now, you may find a measure of calm and renewed confidence in your capabilities. You may also discover an inner faith that the future will take care of itself.

I was going to write about my thoughts on having faith when the lines, "Faith, gotta have Faith" just popped into my head. Oh my lord........ talk about a monkey mind :-)

The way we show up for our lives today and tomorrow has an enormous affect on who we will be and what we will be experiencing years from now. If we can remain full engaged in the day at hand, enjoying all it has to offer and putting our energy into making the most of it, we will find that we are perfectly ready and capable to handle any future when it arrives.

Now I've often taken giant leaps of faith and trusted that the universe will look after me and it always has. Not always the way I thought or wanted it do but things have always worked out and that does leave me with a sense of calm - and a George Michael song running round in my head. :-)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Back in the City of Angels

We're back in Hollywood today. I just love saying that! Only 2 days now till Training starts. I have to admit I kind of just want to get into it. Getting to LA early was great and have seen some amazing places, but now I'm ready for the yoga.

Mind you in saying that, today we went and did another class at the Bikram studio in Silverlake and I came out feeling like I'd been hit by the yoga bus. Ugh. The room was extra hot (as the outdoor temp has risen a bit) and I wasn't properly prepared i.e. had just been sitting in a car for 3 hours and was probably not hydrated enough nor had had any food.

So the thought of feeling like that twice a day 6 days a week doesn't exactly thrill me. And if what previous teachers have said is true, then coming out of class feeling smashed is EXACTLY how I'm going to feel. Oh dear, why am I doing this again? Did I not just write, that I want to get to Training?!

It all drives home just how important proper eating and arriving to class hydrated is. I think because the last few classes have felt relatively comfortable (well as comfortable as spending 90 mins in a hot room can be!) I was probably a little cocky....... not any longer!

Anyway, after a massive salad and a sit in the sun for an hour I'm feeling back to my old self. Though I certainly can't even entertain the idea of going back and doing a "double" (a second class in the same day). Oy!

I am looking forward to getting settled in and unpacking. Living out of a suitcase is driving me mad. Gosh, I am such a creature of habit. I like having a routine and everything in its place. You could call it "anal-retentive", but I prefer "organised" myself and even 3 years of yoga hasn't changed that about me!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yosemite National Park

Today we drove through Yosemite National Park. My Grandparents have been here and so I found myself thinking of them while I was there :-) To the point that I bought a postcard to send back to my Grandmother in NZ.
Remember the days of postcards? They're the cardboard printed photos we used to buy and ACTUALLY write on in the days before Blogging and mobile pics etc .
Its an awe inspiring place and words can't describe the breathtaking views and these pics certainly don't do the place justice. The view from the top looking back over the valley is stunning and it would be an amazing place to sit and do any soul searching. Looking up at 6000 feet of granite that has been around for 1000's of years would be sure to put things into perspective for you!

The day started off nicely but then as we drove higher up the through the park, the rain and fog set in and at the peak that turned to snow. Not something someone who is coming to do hot yoga for 9 weeks has the clothing for hence the pic of a very cold Kiwi. I can't even pretend to show it wasn't cold. I had about 5 layers of clothing on, my yoga pants on under my pants, and only jumped out of the car very briefly to take pictures.

I can't even remember the last time I would have seen snow? I'm thinking maybe 20 years ago in Canada. My life since has been carefully orchestrated to include only summer hoidays to warm exotic places like Fiji and Australia!

Regardless it was still a remarkable place and I would love to go back in the summer and spend several weeks there exploring. Being mindful of the wildlife tho of course. The need to lock up your food and to not leave any rubbish behind because of bears was familiar, as I have been camping in Canada and so the same rules applied there. But it was the comment that "if you had small children and saw a Mountain Lion that is was advisable to pick your children up so that they appeared larger", which made me gasp aloud! Oy! Note to self, don't go camping in Yosemiti with small children. :-)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yoga in SF

Got up and did the 6am class at Global Yoga in San Fransisco this morning. The location of the studio dictated which hotel we stayed at, so it was within walking distance - tho at 5:30am in the morning it made for rather a cold walk!

It was a great class. Hot with far less humidity than we're used to, which is like all the others studios we have been to over here so far. Though I am under no illusion that the classes at TT will be like that. I'm sure they will figure a way to get that humidity cranked up! It just makes such a difference to your ability to breathe.

The Instructor was great, gave us a lot of individual detailed instruction and the class had a nice rhythm. There were some noticeable differences which are similar to the postures we do in the Advanced Series.

That is, no warming up in Pada-Hastasana, just get straight into it. For Dhanurasana /Bow they put their L arm straight up first and then grab the foot with the R hand and get into the pose. Then hold the posture for as long as possible, which was great for getting out of that comfort zone of only holding for 20 seconds!

Also, no towel in Sasangasana / Rabbit, which was the same at the Monterey studio and is an Advanced posture. Very hard to do with moisturizer on. Oy.

San Fransisco

We spent this afternoon driving up to San Fransisco. What a truely beautiful city! It is a Sister City with Wellington in NZ and you can see why. There are a lot of parks in the city along with the hilly streets of course which provide amazing views over the harbour. It has a great energy about it and the streets are filled with people so the city feels alive (sonething that LA didn't have?).

The famous Golden Gate bridge is visible from miles and so it was an easy landmark to find. We have planned to take pics of different yoga postures in front of all famous landmarks we visit so this is the first.

It is very poor excuse for a Bow pose but I had been sitting in a car for 4 hours previously, it was freezing outside so the bod wasn't warmed up at all, I had jeans on, it was very windy.....enough excuses, but you get the idea. lol

We walked around the city for a bit before settling on a place for dinnner. The area we are in reminded me of Ponsonby in AK and is full of trendy cafes and restaurants etc. I have to admit it feels great to be in a bustling city again and if I had to live in the States it would definitely be a city on my list.


Spent another stunning day in the beautiful city of San Fransisco today. Woke up early and went to the Global Yoga studio for a 6 am class (which I will write about in a seperate post so that those of you who are non-yogis aren't bored with my blow by blow account of each posture :-) We then went down to Fishermans Wharf (in pic) and walked along the waterfront. Its very much a touristy area but still lovely all the same. The Wharf is alive and bustling with fresh seafood stalls and all the vendors try to out do each other for your business.

I'm amazed at how clean the city is. There is NO rubbish, cig butts, or graffiti anywhere and it would certainly put a lot of our cities to shame.

We then headed to Pier 33 to catch the ferry to Alcatraz. We couldn't have picked a more perfect day to be out on the harbour as there wasn't a cloud in the sky and we got 360 degree views of the harbour from the ferry (though temps are still a bit cool for us Gold Coast residents).

The Tour around Alcatraz was really interesting. I didn't know but the place was originally built as a fortress to protect San Fransisco in the Gold Rush in the early 1800's. It was then converted to a prison until it was deemed too expensive to run and upkeep and it was closed in 1963. Little history lesson there :-) It also didn't have the "heavy" energy I expected it too. I'm wondering maybe if its because it is open to the public and so has had so many people through? Mind you I didn't feel too keen on hanging out in anyone's cell for any length of time!

Would have loved to have had time to stay longer as there is so much to do here but unfortunately the day of reckoning will soon be upon us so we have to start making our way back to the City of Angels.


Monday, April 11, 2011

The Big Sur - "The Greatest Meeting of Land & Sea"

Today we drove up The Big Sur (The Big South Country), which is the scenic highway approximately 300 miles north of LA and 150 miles south of San Fransisco (our final destination).

It is 90 miles of rugged, beautiful coastline and the views were stunning. Some if it was as I had imagined CA but I did think it would be more sandy. (I guess if I'd spent more time updating my American geography I would know to expect more than palm trees and sandy beaches!)

Each corner gave way to even more spectatcular views than the last and there wasn't a cloud in the sky, so it was a perfect day, though still pretty chilly.

Along the way we saw a colony of sealions, and of course at each rest stop were the ever present Squirrels - always fun to watch.

We finished today's drive at Monterey Bay (just south of San Fran) and went for a look around the Penninsula which is famous for the golf course where the US Golf Open was held in 2010. (I say that like I knew it, but I have to admit to reading it in the brochure :-)

The Pennisula is also a playground for the rich and richer and the drive around their homes is a tourist attraction in itself. Its hard for me to even comprehend what life with that kind of wealth would be like....... Maybe next time around? I wonder if it would only prove that money doesn't buy happiness?

Plan is to start tomorrow with a Bikram class and then head up to San Fransisco. Really looking forward to looking around there as have heard great things about the city.

Less than a week now till TT. Oh man..........

Yoga in Monterey Bay

Got up this morning and did a 9am class at Bikram Monterey Bay. A nice relaxing start for the morning as there are no 6am classes available. Oh bummer...... :-) We were warmly welcomed by William the Studio Manager and instructor for our class who gave us complimentary passes which is always nice for travelling yogis on a budget like us. Again, the room was really hot, but no humidity which just makes breathing SO much easier. I had a really strong class and didn't feel too stiff considering how many hours we've been sitting in the car for the past few days. I got complimented on several of my postures which is always nice, and after my Standing Head to Knee William asked if I had competed in the last comp! Something I had never considered as have enough on my plate with getting my head around TT etc, but what a wonderful compliment.
Now, I know your yoga should be just about the journey and staying present with each posture as it happens. About not having any expectations, and especially about not comparing yourself to others or practicing with ego etc, so it shouldn't matter whether anyone notices any of your postures or not, but I have to admit to being pretty chuffed about it. Its nice to have someone recognise your hard work.

Anyway, incase I let it go to my head too much, I then feel out of both sides of Bow which is the very next posture. LOL Nothing like being grounded again eh! For the Seperate Leg Stretching / Head to Knee Poses and Triangle they had us turn and face the side mirrors so that we were standing length ways along the mat. Something we don't do in Oz or in AK but the studio in LA did it also. It means you can't see yourself in the front mirror to check your alignment so you have to really feel where you are in the posture. An added bonus is that you don't end up dripping sweat on your neighbours mats which is prob something newcomers freak out about but after years of sweating together with fellow yogis for 90 mins every day I have to admit you fail to even notice a bit of sweat.

For Triangle they had us turn our heads first so that the profile of our face was visible to the side mirror, THEN move both our arms. (hmmm, maybe some of that dialogue is sticking in there after all?) That felt really different but did help to get your chin to your shoulder. The class finished with a very quiet subtle Kapalbhati breathing which I found very calming. Then a short prayer of thanks and several hits on a large gong which made a lovely tone and was a really nice way to close off everything.

So then it was back into the cold and time to get out onto the road to head for San Fransisco.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Have Arrived in LA

I've made it to LA safe and sound with no dramas. Yay!

A fellow Yogi from my home studio in Burleigh is here also and so it has been nice to have a familiar face around. I must admit that I would have felt a little daunted arriving here and having to find my way around totally alone. Not that I couldn't have managed it of course, being the Nomad that I am. Packing up my life and moving to another country is something I've done several times now. I think perhaps its the added pressure of Training that added to the nerves I felt when we landed here.

So have been here a few days now. The day I arrived was raining and very windy, but since then we have had stunning clear blue skies. Which unfort have been accompanied by freezing temps and cold winds (well ok, not freezing by world standards, but after two years on the Goldie, day temps that only get to the mid teens less windchill feels very cold.)

Spent the first day going on a Tiki-tour (Kiwi for sightseeing) of some of the main attractions - Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, Bev Hills etc. Pic above is of me standing in front of the famous Hollywood sign. Unfort didn't get the zoom on the camera right and so the sign in barely visible in the distance. But by the time I realised this, I decided it was too bl**dy cold to go back out there to get another one! Will have to try again on a nicer day.

Have managed to get in a couple of yoga classes. The first one at a regular yoga studio in Hollywood (how very LA of us!) which was in a beautiful old building, and so the room was large, sunny, bright and airy with timber floors. Not something you tend to get in Bikram studios! It certainly gave the studio a beautiful energy and I really enjoyed the class. The instructors (1 leading the class and 2 trainees) were incredibly knowledgable and I learnt SO much in just that one hour class. It made me realise just how far I have yet to go on my joga journey.

Also got in a class at a Bikram studio in Silverlake, near Hollywood. It was a Saturday morning class, so very busy (at least 60 yogis) and the room was really hot but with very little humidity which makes a HUGE difference and so it was really manageable. I had imagined that after being on the plane and not having eaten properly, that my first class here I would surely be hit by the Yoga Bus, but I had a really strong practice.

So a nice start to our venture, and I don't feel any jet lag which I'm sure is due to the yoga. Looking forward to get out and about and seeing some more of the sights.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

24 Hours Till Lift Off

Well, with less than 24 hours until I fly out I'm starting to feel some angst. Mostly excitement, but there is a growing knot in my stomach that I have been carrying around for a few days now.

I feel like its the end of summer and I am about to start a new school. I'm moving to a new town, and going to a school with 450 other students. I wonder, who will be my new friends? Who will be in my class / study group? What will the teachers be like? Will I like them? Will they like me? More importantly, will I survive?

So to everyone who has helped me get here; all the friends and family who listened to me for the past two years, talk endlessly about my dream to go to Bikram Teacher Training and always believed I could make it happen (often with more certainty than me), I say, thank you.

To all the yoga teachers with whom I have had the joy of crossing paths, I say thank you. Thank you for your inspiration and motivation, and for sharing your love of yoga. For taking the time in class to notice my postures and offer words of correction and encouragement, which has helped me improve in so many ways.

A special word to Sean and Jodie, and the fellow yogis / yoginis of what has become my home studio in Burleigh. Thank you for welcoming me so warmly into your studio when I first moved here from NZ two years ago. My life wouldn't be complete without Bikram Yoga and so it has been wonderful to continue my practice here on the Goldie.

To you all, a most heartfelt, Namaste.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Bags Are Packed

For the past six months I have had the luxury of living on my own in an old 2 BRM bach (house) in North Kirra at the Southern end of the coast. The beach has been my backyard. I can sit in my lounge and look at the ocean and walk out the front door straight onto the sand. Needless to say for a beach lover like Moi, this has been absolute heaven.

However, I'm giving up my lease on the unit while I'm away so that I'm not paying rent etc. So while this makes financial sense I hate the thought of leaving the beach pad that I have been lucky enough to call home.

This has meant of course that besides packing what I will need in LA I have to sort and pack everything else so that it can be put into storage.

Ugh what a job. This is what I've spent my first day off work doing. Hardly the day of leisure I had envisaged for myself.

So the contents of this one bag will be my life for the next 3 months. Enough yoga outfits to get through the week without having to do any laundry. (A hint from one of our teachers who said your time is so precious through the week that not having to find time to do washing will be a bonus.)

Can I say though, its amazing how much yoga clothes weigh! I have had to re-pack several times to get my bag under 20kg. I can see the guys rolling your eyes here, but hey its just a girl thing.

Another hint from Luke who used to work at TT, was to just buy everything in black that way you didn't even have to waste any time, energy or brain power co-ordinating outfits. Sorry but I just can't bring myself to do this! I'll take the chance that I will still have enough energy to at least co-ordinate my clothes. :-)