Monday, October 18, 2010

Keep your eyes open, breathing normal

I usually keep up on my week as it happens, but I didn’t this week.  We’ll see how much I can remember because it’s a lot like Groundhog Day here.  Same thing every day, over and over!  It’s very monotonous.  I easily forget who taught the last class, what day it is, and sadly enough sometimes I’ll get into the elevator and don’t know whether to push floor 8 or floor 1.  I can’t even remember if I’m going up to my room or down to the tent, it’s bad!
Anyway, the week started rough.  I have really been struggling with my yoga practice.  My body is tired and I am just both emotionally and physically drained.  I was eager for Monday classes thinking the weekend of rest would do me good.  WRONG!  Both Monday and Tuesday classes were definitely low energy.  I was surprised to find my strong, solid practice decided to join me here in SD on Wednesday.  I’ve been doing well, not leaving the room and overall feeling OK, but I really felt like I’ve been half-assing it lately.  Wednesday was the first day since week one where I had the energy to do every single posture fully in the entire series.  It felt great and I finally felt like I was back to where I was at home.  Thankfully the energy stayed with me through the rest of the week’s classes.  We’ve been told over and over this isn’t the time where we notice our practice improving, its just about learning how to teach.  We’ll notice all the good changes after we’re back home, but it is still discouraging to not be able to do what you could a month ago.
We had some really great staff and visiting teachers this week.  We started with Mike from Chicago.  He taught Monday and was also in my posture clinic that day.  Turns out he grew up in the Detroit area too and his home studio was the Farmington Hills studio (mine!).  He now owns two studios in Chicago, which is awesome.  I’d love to go take a class there when I visit Danny and Emily next; he’s amazing with the dialogue.  We also had Diane Ducharme visiting from the Boston area.  She is amazing!  She knows the postures so well.  She’s been kind enough to stay after each class with us and help those interested with their postures.  Most are minor corrections, but make a world of difference! A lot of us have bad habits we need to break and the small corrections make all the difference in whether or not we are receiving the full benefits of the postures. We ended the week with some of our volunteer staff members teaching!  They too are here for the 9 weeks, so it was fun to see some of them teach.  The staff has been playing some music for us after class.  Lately it’s been dark when we get out of our evening class.  As we settled into final savasana on Friday night, they played Michael Jackson for us. It was a great way to end the week.  Everyone got up and was dancing.  The energy after an already energized yoga class was amazing.  Ben, a staff member was dancing around with a mini strobe light. Still quite confused as to where that came from and how it made into the yoga tent and into use so quickly!  It was such an awesome way to end week 4 (well, minus the Saturday morning class!). 
Posture clinics are going well.  I’ve been solid with my dialogue.  I’m still struggling with my stern commands.  On Friday I delivered my pose with a teacher growling at me the whole time. Not growling like a facial expression, actual growl noises the entire time!  He thinks I still need to be meaner!  I did it a second time and noticed the difference.  The dialogue is all commands, so I understand why it’s important to be stern and forceful.  I’m not too sure how to add more, but I’ll try today. I don’t really see myself yelling at the students like they want me to.  I think by the end of the 90-minute class I will be drained!  I understand and respect the feedback I get, but I also understand how we all evolve into different teachers.  It’s important to be yourself when you teach; it’s the only way you’ll have the energy to talk for 90 minutes straight!  I’m open to trying it their way while I’m here because I know it will bring me out of my shell a little more, but I also know I want to find where I’m most comfortable to teach!  I’m confident that’ll happen while I’m here!
On Tuesday Emily, her parents and baby Jack came to take me to lunch.  I had a little over an hour and a half, and it was so great to get out of the resort and spend time catching up.  It was just what I needed, a little dose of familiarity and family.  I really enjoyed it.  I teared up a little when I got in the car with them.  It was just so overwhelmingly comforting.  It meant more than I thought it would and I’m so thankful it worked out she was able to visit on her very short trip!
This was also our last week of anatomy.  We had a test Monday, which went well.  We finished the rest of the information/ systems of the body, and will have our “final” tonight.  We’re making progress here.  Boss is back this week, and will be until the end (minus a couple days here or there).  So the pressure is on for the remainder.  I am still enjoying the yoga and time I get to focus on myself/ my practice, but there are still times where I’m past ready to go home.  It’s amazing.  One day I’ll wake up loving everything and having the best time, then I’ll wake up the next day so mad and frustrated I’m still here and barely half-way done.  All part of the process I guess…

So, hopefully week 5 will be a SOLID week, with a strong practice and hopefully not too many late nights/ bollywood movies!

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Little Blip

            Week 3 is done, and it definitely had some highs and lows to go along with it.   The week started well.  Rajashree was back and taught two classes so the energy was a good way to start to the week.  We also dove right into posture clinics.  I delivered 3 postures this week.  It is so extremely nerve-wracking.  You get up in front of a group of about 40 peers and deliver the dialog to the panel of visiting teachers that give feedback on how to improve delivery, energy, personality etc.  They also help with study tactics if need be.  They are full of great information and tips, but the pressure is so high when you step up to deliver! My postures all went better than expected.  I remembered my dialog and was able to look at the students when I delivered. I’ve noticed I’m looking at the students’ bodies when I give a command, but I’m not really registering what I’m looking at.  When I say right leg lift up, I look at the leg but don’t really see the flow of the posture or what’s next; I’m just looking at the leg.  Hopefully this week I’ll be able to watch the bodies and see the flow of the posture in them as I would in my own practice. The timing and flow of the postures went well, but I did have one slip up on one of them.  I got my right and left confused, believe it or not.  I look at the students so everything is opposite, and I said left leg instead of right. I caught myself and corrected it, but that’s something I have to get used to!  Overall the feedback was good.  Their only complaint was I was “being too nice”.  They want me to be more stern and commanding in the dialog.  I’m working on it, but that isn’t really my personality.  I’m not stern or loud, so it’s really taking a lot of work!
            Anatomy also started this week!  We have a visiting anatomy teacher from Las Vegas, Dr. Preddy.  He’s an E.R. doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist, anatomy guru, etc. etc….  The information he is giving us is amazing.  He really relates it well to what we feel/ students will feel while practicing.  I’ve been having lower back/ hamstring issues so it was so beneficial to learn about those muscle groups and what may be causing it and what postures will fix it.  The anatomy of this yoga is something I think I want to continue to learn about when I get home, I find it so fascinating.
            On Wednesday morning there was a noticeable turn in the energy around here.  The lack of sleep, 25+ yoga classes we’d completed plus endless hours of dialog was noticeable in the yoga tent.  It just didn’t feel the same.  The yoga energy in the tent wasn’t as high as usual and I struggled through class. Wednesday night snapped me back into it.  It was by far my favorite class of training (minus Bikram’s of course!).  We had Jacob, from NY.  He was funny, witty, and sarcastic, everything needed to keep me focused and interested in continuing with the class.  The class was amazing.  The energy was so high and everyone was laughing and really enjoying it.  The room erupted when he finished.  It was amazing, hopefully he will teach us again.  His class got me thinking about me as a teacher.  He inspired me to work to have that energy when I teach. This yoga is both mentally and physically challenging, so having that energy to keep the students laughing while they do it is awesome.  I definitely paid attention to what I liked about that class and hopefully it’s something I can take home with me.
            I’m bummed that such an amazing class was followed by such an awful day.  I had my first little breakdown on Thursday.  I got a little homesick.  Well, little might be an understatement.  I don’t know what caused it.  I was in the morning class and home popped into my mind.  I got really sad and unmotivated to finish my class.   I came back “home” to find I had a package from my brother and sister-in-law. So, thank you Danny and Emily, it seriously could not have come at a better time.  I opened it up and read the note, which of course made me cry, but was so nice to have something so familiar and encouraging.  That is what I’ve been struggling with this week. This is the longest I’ve ever been away by myself.  I’ve gone on trips alone, but I’m usually visiting friends or family.  The yoga is going good and I’m enjoying everything, but I just miss my life.  I miss home, my family, Jeremy.  I’ve met really great people here, and it’s somewhat comforting to know we are all going through the same thing, but I just want something familiar and comforting to me. Someone who knows me outside of the yoga bubble.
            I’ve been better since the tear fest on Thursday.  The end of the week went smoothly and I’m amazed at how much I enjoy Saturday morning class.  It’s the only thing we have to do until we’re free, and the energy is always so great.  As much as I’d love 2 full days off, I’m enjoying the yoga and there is nothing like that feeling of accomplishment afterwards when you know you’ve done 11 classes and you’re off until Monday! Ah freedom!
            On Saturday I received my package from Jeremy!  He wanted to get me some stuff to help out and make everything easier for me.  He bought some new yoga clothes for me, plus went and got random things like emergen-c, trace minerals and luna bars.  He also got some stuff from my mom and sister! I now have an operating camera so I’ll be able to take lots of pics this week!
            Saturday afternoon I studied by the pool.  No matter where you go here, there is always someone to study with.  It’s great.  I did a little shopping in the afternoon to get myself stocked for the week.  Today I went and saw some of San Diego.  Minus the grocery shopping I’ve been doing, I haven’t really been out of the yoga bubble for 3 weeks.  It was so great to get out and see San Diego beyond the Town and Country Resort.  I went to Sea Port Village, The Gas Lamp district and Old Town. I did a TON of walking and my legs are so tired, but I’m so happy I was able to go out and explore San Diego a little. Hopefully week 4 will be strong.  We’re almost halfway!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bend It Like Bikram

            We are a very lucky training group.  We had senior, principal teacher Emmy Cleaves all week long!  Emmy has been with Bikram for decades.  She’s in her eighties, but a prime example of what this yoga can do for you.  She looks years and years younger and still practices and teaches regularly. She taught Monday-Friday morning classes and stayed to lecture/ do posture clinics in the afternoons Monday- Thursday.  She is a wealth of knowledge on everything, not just yoga.  She is one of the few/ possibly the only teacher who will walk around while we practice yoga (usually teacher stands on podium in front).  She is full of good technique and posture corrections, which helped me to understand how to adjust my postures to progress further. She told us not to go all out in every class, which made me feel a little bit better about struggling in my morning classes. I’m struggling with a really tight lower back and hamstrings.  I’ve taken about 10 steps back from where I was when I got here.  I’m taking my morning classes easy to loosen it all up, then in the evening classes pushing to my max in hopes of keeping it loosened up for good.  I know it’s normal for your body to tighten/stiffen up with all the yoga (and sitting endless hours in lecture/ bollywood) that we are doing, but it’s frustrating not being able to do what I could 2 weeks ago.

Emmy giving posture clinic

            This week started rough.  I was just clearing the final stages of my cold, so I was a little out of it Monday morning class.  I found it difficult to focus on everything Emmy was saying and all I wanted to do was roll over and go to sleep.  My previous post recaps how the rest of Monday went… High temp was 112 degrees, I think.  So Monday was fun.
            On Tuesday we finished the first posture dialogue in front of Bikram! We watched old interviews of Bikram from as early as the 70’s.  It was so amusing to watch. Bikram still says a lot of the same analogies as he did back then!
Bikram was gone on Wednesday, which meant it wasn’t going to be a late night!  He had two T.V. interviews to do.  One was for a local San Diego news station, and one for Las Vegas. Bikram did the San Diego interview in our “Bikram Village” and even came in to the tent.  The reporter got down and did the last 20 min. or so of the class. He struggled, but I definitely give him credit!
that's him on the floor by the cameraman. 

Here's a link to the news cast.  It shows in the yoga tent and a little into our "village"

  Wednesday Night we were split into our posture clinic groups where we will complete the rest of the postures. We got half way through the next posture. I haven’t given mine yet.  The posture clinics will pick up this upcoming week.  Bikram will be gone for the next two weeks.  This means we will be kept no later than midnight (yay!), but we will be knocking out a huge chunk of postures. There will be endless hours of studying. Our early dismissals from posture clinic/ lecture at night might result in late nights cramming the dialogue!
Thursday night Bikram was back.  He had some friends visiting him.  One was a huge musician/entertainer from India who was releasing a CD in L.A. He sang a little bit for us.  Bikram then played one of his own songs….  This one a particularly eclectic, techno style.  He has a very broad range of music.  Soothing, to caribbean, to techno apparently!  Very entertaining to say the least!  Bikram left with his friends and we were left in the tent to watch Bollywood alone.  Until 2 a.m. 
            Friday I was exhausted.  I guess that’s what the 9 yoga classes so far and 4 hours of sleep the night before will do to you! Bikram lectured in the afternoon, and it took everything I had not to fall asleep.  He likes to talk.  He starts on one topic, and ends up 2 hours later finally making his point.  It literally takes all of your energy just to follow what tangent he’s on and where the conversation is going.  He makes quite a few detours en route to the point he’s making!  Today, I did not have the energy.  I unfortunately missed a chunk of it by zoning out, but I couldn’t help it.  I was worried how the afternoon class was going to go, being so tired, but I had a pretty strong class.  The class ended as Bikram said goodbye for two weeks and we were given the night off!  They really have the training process down.  Just when you think you can’t make it and you’re so tired, they go and give you the night off.  The BEST words you can hear at training!
            The week ended on a much higher note than it started.  I am continuously amazed at what I am truly able to accomplish here, especially with very little sleep. The energy in and after yoga really seems to get me through.  I haven’t gotten to the point yet where I need to go to class on Sunday, our only day off.  And yes, there are quite a few here who take classes willing on Sunday!  I hope by the end I do get to that point.  The point where I’m craving yoga everyday, regardless of how much I did the day before.  Both my practice, and myself, have changed noticeably each week I’m here.  Most change has been for the good, but some for the bad.  I still struggle in the morning classes.  I’m stiff, tired, weak etc. I find myself getting frustrated with poor yoga etiquette in the hot room. Everyone here has been practicing a while, why would you put your mat right in front of mine with your feet in my face?! (Proper etiquette in the room is to stagger mats of those in front and behind so you do not directly line up.) I hope to snap myself out of it in week 3, we’ll see.  My evening classes have all been amazing.  It’s my own little redemption for my lacking morning classes.  I overcame the heat wave Monday and managed to have a decent class.  I have yet to leave the yoga room, which is great.  I’ve been doing a ton better with sleep deprivation than I thought.   I am finding out I can get by with very little.  I may not have full attention sometimes, but I can do it.  If I went to bed late at home, I felt like I couldn’t do yoga in the morning and I wouldn’t go.  I now understand what the yoga does to my body.  I am tired when I get up, and it’s difficult, but when I get in that hot room and get moving, the energy is amazing and lasting.  I know my breaking point will come in this training, that is the point of the crazy hours.  I hope that when it does come, I can continue to practice mind-over-matter and take it as it comes. 

Here are some pics- more to come
View from my balcony

Getting settled for class

Ahh I love final savasana!