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I am really going to miss all of these people.  Their faces have become so familiar to me, even if we haven’t had the chance to meet. This weekend was the Asana Championship so we did not have Friday night or Saturday class.  Because we had the weekend off, Wayne bought me a last minute ticket to come home for the weekend.  So I hopped on a plane at 6:30am on Saturday morning and spent the next 40 hours at home in Seattle. It was really, truly, an exercise on being present. No cleaning (hard for me not to do), no organizing, straightening, placing, replacing, fixing, doing, kaputzing, or kabitzing.  It was just me, my honey, and hot fudge sundaes from Molly Moos!

I was very excited to go home, but a part of me felt as though I would be missing a lot by going away over the last weekend. However, something unexpected happened. Leaving made me appreciate the bubble and I think it has given me the opportunity to completely appreciate my last week. I took a yoga class on Sunday with my sweets.  It was SO fun doing a class together (aside from the teacher training room where we were separated by 6 rows and about 200 other people). This time we got to be side-by-side and make faces at each other (yes, so present). Being away from the Radisson, and all my 400+ new friends, gave me a bit of perspective.  I actually felt a little homesick.

Here are a few of my thoughts from the outside:

  • Outside of the bubble, no one else really cares that you are in teacher training.
  • I will miss the people I haven’t even talked to yet. I will miss their faces everywhere I go.
  • The connection to the people here is very, very special. The world is little bit colder and you will use the focus and serenity you learned in here, out there.
  • The energy of 400 people from all over the world, from all different ages and backgrounds, practicing yoga together in one room, is a one of a kind experience. You will wish for this feeling you may not have even known you had, and I believe, you will search for it, as I will. This will likely be the thing thst brings me back to training year after year.
  • Hotel towels are a HUGE luxury.
  • Living 20 ft from the yoga room is an enormous convenience.
  • Spilling water all over you and your mat and the floor around you is frowned upon.
  • No one drinks water as much as you do, and you will feel a little weird about killing 64 oz of water by the floor series.
  • Be prepared: You will push yourself a little bit harder because you are now a “Bikram Yoga Teacher Trainee graduate”, which will make your class unexpectedly harder. You will think the room is extremely hot, you will feel your heart beating harder than you think it should, you will wonder what you’ve been doing for 9 weeks, and you will question your abilities. You will look at Deborah next to you who is not breaking a sweat and then come to the conclusion that you must be pushing yourself harder and that is why your towel is completely soaked after Half Moon. You will then realize that you have to wash your own towel. You will then realize that you will have to wash 7 towels a week. You consider renting towels from the studio from now on. You refocus on Awkward pose and wonder how you are going to get through class. Is it extra hot in here? You wish for the bubble. You wish for the hottest class, the coolest class, the longest class. You wish for Emmy! You (ah hem) miss Bikram! You want to go back to the bubble. People understand you there.
  • Out of the yoga room, you have a lot more energy than the people around you. It’s a little annoying that you’re not ready for bed. Ever.
  • You require less sleep and return home eating weird things. Your sister will suggest that you cut back on your pints of ice cream. You ate one pint in two days. She doesn’t know you can eat one pint in 3 minutes.

In the bubble, yoga class is the only time to be alone. With 400+ people next to you, mat-to-mat, this time becomes the only time you are suppose to be doing nothing. Not dialogue, not taking notes, not crying, laughing, high-fiving, clapping. It becomes really easy to be alone. At first that was really hard to deal with. After 8 weeks, you feel like it is the most peaceful alone time you have ever had. And Savasanas feel like the best nap you have ever taken.

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Week 7

3 more weeks until I see my sweets!  Wayne left for Haiti this week, and had a layover at LAX on the way.  It was only a short layover, but he ran all the way from his terminal, to the Radisson just to be able to say hi.  He ended up having to take a cab back to the airport to make sure he made it on time.  It was the best 20 minutes since my birthday weekend 🙂

Overall, this was an odd week.  Monday was memorial day so the staff gave us the afternoon off.  Everyone was ballistic! But, Tuesday came and we weren’t able to have afternoon class.  Bikram came to tell us that one of the trainees had called the Fire Department and that they needed to fix the heating and other building code violations before we were granted a permit to use the room again.  We did not have class again until Friday night at 7pm.  Because we missed so many classes, Bikram decided that we would have classes over the weekend (and for those who had a make-up class, would have to do 3). Lots of people did, and then some people did 3 classes voluntarily because it was an opportunity to test their limits. So for some, it was 6 classes in 48 hours!  I did the usual. 2 classes. That felt right.  I came down with a really bad bug on Friday- body aches, soreness, congestion, earache, sore throat, sweats- the works!  I saw the nurse but she did not excuse me from class.  She said that I was peeling back the layers.  Lots of people are peeling back layers right now because almost everyone is coughing, sneezing, dripping, oozing, fevering, aching, crying, whining, laughing, melting, freaking.  It’s good stuff.  So I attended class on Friday night, just a few steps away from my death bed.  I pretty much stood in one spot for the standing series, and laid on the floor during the floor series. Before I got sick, my roommate and I played in the pool.  Played!  We swam around and said dialogue while we were treading water, and then I told her to do a bunch of yoga poses underneath the water to see if she could stay under and not come up.  We tried to figure out which poses would look best underwater.  For no reason! We laughed so hard and it felt like were 11 years old.  It was so much fun.

Lectures were a bit odd for me this week, and I believe that I might be in the minority on this.

I have met some amazing people here.  Being social is sometimes a challenge for me, and one tool that I am really happy to take home with me, is learning to be present. It is very tough for me to fully engage in social activities, mostly because I don’t feel I ever have the energy to do it.  I have the energy to think about doing it, and I always really want to, but it is very draining, so I find it hard to commit to plans because I worry that I will feel anxiety from needing to recharge, not talk, need space.  I truly love people, but it is very hard for me to be around people. I often have to rest up for big outings (an afternoon at the beach with a friend, or going out to dinner with friends), or I get really drained and have to rest a lot afterward. For this reason, I shy away from plans or don’t commit to plans.  It is hard to keep strong friendships this way. Part of what I have learned about myself is that I think too much about the future, and how I imagine I will feel, or being able to establish boundaries (e.g. I am having fun, but it’s time for me to go).   I am trying to be present. In the moment. Not imagine how much energy it will take me to do what I’m doing, but realize that the energy is there, so not to worry. And if I feel that it is not there anymore, then to do what I have to do to get it again.  If it is go home and be by myself, then that’s an easy solution.  If it is to stop talking, and be the listener, then I probably should have been doing more of that anyway.  Every moment requires a different action, and planning for all the various possible scenarios, is what’s draining.  I will try to do less of that.

Onto week 8! In two weeks I will be with my honey and my sister will be unpregnant! Yay!

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I am long overdue for a post, so here is a quick overview of how the past couple weeks have gone:

Week 5

Bikram returned. Wayne was excited to be here and to take a class from Bikram on Monday night, but Bikram did not end up teaching.  Since his return, Bikram has not taught more than 1 class a week.  Bikram finally taught the recertification class later in the week. Almost 200 Bikram teachers returned for the weekend for their 3 year recertification. The class was VERY hot and over 2 hours. All the teachers crammed into the first three rows and the teacher trainees fit mat to mat in rows 4-10. It was a cramped class of almost 600.

Now that anatomy is over, we focused on dialogue full time from week 5 until just last week, sometimes going through 3 postures a day. That was a LOT of memorizing, because I, as I mentioned, did not memorize the dialogue beforehand. By the time we got to the floor series, it pretty much evened out among the people who had prepared before, and those that had not.  Most people that memorized before training, managed to get the standing series, and need to review the floor series.  And for those of us who were memorizing for the first time, it was coming very quickly. Having the dialogue already memorized makes it much easier to make it stick for posture clinic. But, I did not, so what I did do was spend a lot of time memorizing in the shower, during meals, on breaks, in class; just about every second of the day. My roommate began setting her alarm for 6am to start practicing.

At this point, I have 5 more weeks until I see Wayne, and I really miss him.

Week 6

4 more weeks until I see Wayne.  It is pretty hard.  Some will not be able to see family, husbands, children, for the full 9 weeks.  At this point, I can’t imagine that.

The yoga room has cooled down significantly. I would almost say it’s cold.  It feels warm when you first walk in, but then once you start to sweat, it isn’t hot enough to keep you warm, so you begin to feel cold.  I definitely do not prefer this to a warm class.  I feel nervous to pull or hurt myself when I am not warmed up, so I don’t push as hard. Bikram taught one class this week, and showed a Bollywood movie until 2:30am during the week.  I stayed awake for the entire movie- watching the movie, and reciting my dialogue.  It has become a lot easier to memorize the postures quickly.  I try to memorize 3 ahead on the weekends, and this weekend, I memorized 4.  The trick for me has been to become familiar with them over the week, and then go over the posture for the 2 hours during the meal breaks right before posture clinic. That way you have it right before you have to deliver it.  This works for the short-term, but there is a lot of reviewing and memorizing still to do to get those postures into the long-term memory.  I decided to go over full dialogue this weekend, and after Half Moon, it felt like I had not memorized the postures at all!  I don’t know where they went!

Group 2

By the end of week 6, we were finished with the standing series and fully onto the floor series in posture clinic.  Even though posture clinics felt a bit stressful, especially in the beginning, they became fun and it has been really awesome to get to know the people in my group. Group 2!  One girl from my class, Tziana, has grown so much.  She is from Zurich, and her first language is Swiss-German.  It has been very challenging for her to learn the dialogue in English and to present the postures in English in front of the class. Everyone is so supportive and she is doing so well.  She is going to be an amazing teacher. During one posture clinic, one of the visiting teachers asked her if she could say the dialogue in Swiss-German, just to see more of her personality when she is not so worried about the language and saying the words right.  She was amazing! She completely exploded!  Everyone was cheering and yelling and then some of us (yes me) cried 🙂 We don’t speak the same language, and most of the time we have no idea what the other one is saying, but we have fun I hope we stay good friends. (side note: today Tziana and I sat by the pool for a few hours practicing dialogue.  We reviewed Standing Head to Knee pose, and doing dialogue with her really helped me to get it! I will miss being around so many amazing people)


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We delivered 7 postures last week.  I have never learned to memorize so fast in my entire life.  I started off week four with a HUGE wake-up.  We actually DO have to do this dialogue after all, huh. Oh yes, you very very very do.  And correctly.  No pressure.  No, not at all, so why do yourself a favor and prepare before the teacher training?  That would be too stressful.  Oh yes, too stressful.

This is probably a good week to develop something like, say, an ear infection. Something I haven’t had since I was 12-ish.  It’s been a while, but you know it immediately.  That dull, throbbing, ache.  It radiates out the front of your ear, reaches around your neck, and grabs onto your face.  Apparently ear infections are quite common during the Bikram teacher training.  All the moisture from the humidity and the sweat make your inner ear a sweet little petri dish for bacteria. YUM!  I felt it creep up around 11pm during posture clinic, but I thought maybe it was from all the clapping and cheering (I sort of knew it wasn’t from that though, because I’m kind of a loud talker anyway, and I would have given myself a million earaches by now, and I don’t). By the time I got back to my room, I was sure of it, but I had to wait until the morning, because I knew if I went to urgent care that night, I wouldn’t get any sleep and I would still have to take class in the morning.  I was able to fall asleep and saw the nurse first thing in the morning.  She excused me to go to urgent care and I got meds right away. Phew!  All better! Aside from that, I’ve been solid as a rock. Physically.  Crying during every Savasana through week 4 is a separate thing 😉

What have we learned from this?  Use your time wisely on the weekends to update your blog and check Facebook. NO! Memorize your dialogue! and preferably before teacher training!

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I’ve noticed a pattern.  Maybe living out of a 100 sq foot hotel room for 9 weeks with a roommate will do that.

In particular, I’ve noticed that these behaviors follow me wherever I go.

Exhibit A:

My clothing finds itself in organized piles around the room.  There is, actually, an organized system in place, where items are placed either in the drawers (clean), on the bed (already worn but will wear them again, probably today), or on the floor (good for one more use but also I just shoved everything off the bed because I’m going to sleep now and I know which items are pretty clean and will reorganize everything back onto the bed in the morning). I now realize that this particular habit is not a function of my living space, awkward furniture arrangements, or lack space, but that I implement this same sort of system everywhere I go.  Anywhere that requires clothing, wearing of clothing, taking on and off of clothing, I will eventually designate separated piles of clothing articles based on their frequency of use, accordingly.  This has a funny way of playing out at home because Wayne and I have similar habits, but different systems.  His system goes something like, I’ll wear it until laundry day, and not put it back in the drawers until its clean again, and then I’m not totally sure it will make it back into the drawers, I might just put it back on.  My way is a bit more systematic, so as a household, we’ve defaulted to my system and I organize his clothing piles accordingly.

Another pattern came to my attention only today when my roommate left for the weekend. Almost immediately, I started leaving my things about, and not cleaning up after myself!  I told myself, I’ll do it in a little bit 🙂  After practicing dialogue with my neighbor, Anna, down the hall, I returned to dishes in the sink, food out on the… dresser (ha!), and clothing all over the room. It hit me, I do the same thing at home while Wayne is working.  I slob up the apartment all day and clean up right before he comes home.  I think, in some way, it gives me a sense of accomplishment, to clean up after my own messes 🙂 Like adding an item to your to-do list that wasn’t there before, but you’ve done it, and it feels good to have items on your list that are crossed off.

Exhibit B:

  

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I turned 31!

And to celebrate, my sweets came all the way to L.A. to be with me for my birthday.  We had a delicious dinner in Manhattan Beach, walked around town, practiced my dialogue together, a lot, ate hot fudge sundaes, drank special coffee drinks, laid on the beach, got my bangs trimmed, practiced more dialogue, and kept careful watch of the Manhattan Beach citizenry from the pier. It was the best weekend!

Wayne Spotting

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Ok, so I need to revise the advice of my previous post on how to prepare for Bikram yoga teacher training.  The heat is ON, in a big way, and I’m here to tell you that staring at your dialogue from across the room, and carrying it in your purse wherever you go, are not the most successful ways to get ahead.  In fact, it turns out, they are exactly the things you want to do if you want to be behind and then have a panic attack.

It was so easy to believe we would go through all the dialogue with the same ease and pace as we did half moon, which took us….. about 1 week and a 1/2.  I was sadly, sadly, mistaken.

Last week, week three, they turned on the heat.  We began posture clinic and broke up into groups where we delivered the poses in front of Bikram staff. Opposed to the previous weeks, where Bikram allowed several people to read from the paper if they couldn’t recall the words, the staff insisted you just keep talking.  You are teaching a class, and during a class, we cannot stop and say, “oh, shoot. Ok, wait. Ohh, ok, ok. Can I start again?” (I can tell you the answer will be no).  We delivered Backward Bending, Hands-to-feet, 3 parts of Awkward Pose, and Eagle.

I was very nervous to go up for Backward Bending and Hands-to-feet, and whatever I said up there, was definitely not impressive.  I can’t remember what I actually said because I sort of, blacked-out, but it wasn’t coherent I’m assuming because my three mock students didn’t move a whole lot at first.  I suffered through Backward Bending but pulled it together for Hands-to-feet, and managed to say something that got my mock students to do something that brought their hands near their feet.  Success!

I shed some of the nervousness and stage fright for Awkward pose, and found a voice in there that somewhat resembled a yoga teacher.  After this, I decided to go to the pro (to complain) and see what she can suggest. Thank goodness I got smart.  Shirley helped me so much! For just 10 minutes before the 9pm lecture, she helped me to begin memorizing Eagle pose. We met again in the morning before yoga class, and within 25 minutes, I could give the whole posture a good go.  She suggested I imagine the posture while I’m saying it, break the paragraphs up into groups to identify the main action, and then repeat the sentences over and over and over again. It worked!  She also suggested I imagine that I am talking to my niece, Mackenzie, kindly but sternly.  This helped me to not be so silly and to be more clear on my commands.  Over the weekend, Shirley and I met up at the pool and then walked to the park down by the LAX runway.  We yelled the dialogue over the noise from landing jets!  It helped!  I made it all the way to Balancing stick over the weekend.

Bikram was out of town so instead of movie nights and lectures on Indian philosophy, we began Anatomy.  Anatomy.  Yes, your yoga teachers know a few things about what’s going on in there.  At least they should.  We also listened to a fantastic lecture on pain; identifying pain, understanding the difference between pain and stretching, and how to properly perform the postures to avoid pain, prevent pain and injury, and modify poses if injury exists.

The highlight of my week was that my sweets came to visit 🙂 He even came to yoga class twice! He helped me to memorize dialogue and practiced dialogue with my roommate and I too, acting out the postures for us as the other person delivered dialogue.  He ran to the grocery store and helped make meals while I recovered from class and studied. On Friday night, we ordered room service, 3 desserts! Let me offer some very good advice on this: should you find yourself fortunate enough to make your stay at the Radisson at LAX, and also in need of something sweet, it is well worth it to take the 1 mile walk to Ralph’s for a pint of ice cream.  Wayne left on Saturday morning, which is fortunate, because it is very likely that I would have dragged him to the morning yoga class, which was the worst yet.  The heat was unbearable.  Many people had to leave the room, and a woman passed out on her mat. The nurses were able to stabilize her and remover her from the room.  I wasn’t able to finish the final 3 postures and it took me quite a while to recover.  After class, tons of people were laying outside of the yoga room on their mats.

I learned this week that the limit always changes. It changes with each challenge, and it changes day-to-day, minute to minute.  Taking those challenges one moment at a time, enables those boundaries to be met, and sometimes crossed.  Knowing when to make that move, and when to be comfortable just as the edge, is a skill.  It needs to be practiced and refined, and it requires the cooperation of body and mind. Let your body tell your mind a thing or two, and listen. Then, there is a chance of beginning to work on the soul.

Five Principles of Yoga:
Faith
Self-control, self-discipline
Determination
Concentration (without concentration determination is reckless)
Patience (without determination, patience is laziness)

A quick note on memorizing dialogue for those who are crazy enough to attend teacher training: Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.  Say your dialogue. Memorize it. Read it. Over and over and over again. And then over again.  This is the only way to memorize it. And despite how much you wish that it will just go into your brain somehow and then just be in there, take it from me, it won’t. Practice!

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