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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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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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Babes back home

They say that everyone breaks down at some point during these 9 weeks.  Mine happened just at the beginning of week two.  I was riding on sheer exhilaration for finishing the first week, strong, and in one piece. The air was taken out of my sails when reality hit on Monday morning; there would be 6 more days, 10 more lectures, endless movies, and a bazillion more yoga classes, before the next weekend…. and then another 7 weeks.

And I was feeling pretty homesick for my babes back home.

I managed through Monday okay, but I fought a slight edge of negativity that was inching into my positive attitude.  Then, movie night. We had already been up late from Monday night’s movie,but Tuesday’s movie showing sent me over the edge. It was started at 11:45pm, after a 3 hour lecture. We were not allowed to fall asleep, or put our feet up, or sit on the floor, or stand against the wall, or stretch on the floor. There was nowhere to go but the bathroom. I went many times. Attendance is mandatory. I cried in the bathroom stall.  Yep. In the stall.

There are good, valuable lessons in all of it.  A short list includes; faith, self-control/discipline, determination, concentration, patience, and respect. But it is one of my biggest challenges to keep this in the forefront when exhaustion sets in. I have been on a pendulum of sleep deprivation and mental distress, to feeling rested and filled with energy: sometimes from minute to minute.

Room set-up

Roommate

Having an awesome roommate has made this whole experience so positive.  She is very dedicated to memorizing dialogue, and strict on making sure that I get it right, so she gets all the credit for any of the postures I have memorized so far. I anticipated one of the biggest challenges to be eating well since we are living out of a hotel room for 9 weeks, but we have managed to make sure our tiny fridge is stocked with fresh vegetables and have used every possible resource available to make sure our nutrition is a priority.  Cooking appliances are not allowed in the hotel rooms, but we have managed to eat well, and our system is bullet-proof.

Coralie cleaning "something" off of her foot at Manhattan Beach.

I hadn’t seen sunlight in a week, so my old roommate from New York, Coralie, who now lives in L.A., and came to pick me on Sunday.  We walked around Manhattan Beach, got some sun, and window shopped (okay, shop-shopped).  It was so nice to catch up, relax, and get some salty, sunny air.  Coralie stepped in something near the Manhattan pier, which was the only unpleasant point of the whole afternoon, but thanks to handy wipes, crisis was averted!

Everything that we have learned about Hinduism and traditional Indian culture is so fascinating and I have developed a brand new appreciation for the practice of yoga. We are learning to embrace our weaknesses and make them our strengths. Learning to love what we hate, and learning the make our biggest challenges, our biggest achievements. It is belonging to a community, and understanding how to belong to a community.  It is learning the meaning of discipline, motivation, dedication, and faith.

This is a personal journey, a group effort, and a global challenge.

In the Friday night yoga class, we were reminded to give thanks and appreciation for the forces that got us there, reminding us that we did not get there alone. There is always some reason, some way, some element that made us fortunate enough to get to this place, now.  I had a long list of thanks to give.

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To plan effectively, and efficiently, for your 9 week Bikram Yoga training, it is important to do a lot of thinking about it beforehand.  Think hard. Think of everything there is to think about.  And then come to the realization that you need a few details.  For instance, it will be helpful to know what sort of accommodations are being provided for you with the million dollars you just invested to attend this thing. To make your research simpler, I have included a few details here.

  • You will be staying at the Radisson LAX hotel located adjacent to the airport.  No need to stay somewhere where you will be able to explore the city.  There will be no time for that.
  • For a few million more dollars, you can get a room to yourself, otherwise, you will be paired with a roommate. Earplugs may be of use unless you are certain that your future roommate does not snore.  If you inquire, and the response sounds something like, “I don’t think so, no one ever tells me I snore,” bring earplugs.
  • You will be provided with a mini-fridge. Assuming you have a roommate, you will need to share this appliance.
  • Microwaves are provided in the “designated cooking area.”  There are two (2), for all students to share, so your best course of action is to stock up on highly processed, unrefrigerated foods that you can eat straight from a can/bag.
  • Four (4) washer/dryers are provided in the hotel for 500+ students, so your best bet is to pack enough clothing to last you 9 weeks.
  • You are not allowed anything green.  So although you have already spent a hundred bazillion dollars to attend this training, you may not bring anything you currently own, including your mat or yoga clothing.  You will have to buy new.
  • Make a friend 1-2 years earlier that you can encourage to move to L.A. so that you will have someone to take you grocery shopping on the weekends. I have made 2 such friends.
  • It is recommended that you memorize the dialogue before training. Give yourself several months to stare at the text.  Take it with you wherever you go. Look at it from across the room. Read it over a few times. Make a laminated copy to bring with you on vacation.  Several days before you are to leave for training, decide that no one else will have it memorized either, and stop freaking out about it.
  • It is required that you do yoga at this Bikram yoga training.  Twice a day as a matter of fact.  For that reason, do not feel pressured to attend one single class for at least 4-6 weeks before the training.  The 8 days in February where you went every single day, should be sufficient.
  • Get on the Facebook event page early, and snag the best roommate.  This will be one thing you will be glad to have done because then you can text and Skype each other for a few months up until training and share each other’s anxiety.

Think about all these things for 3-4 months. If you plan well, you may be able to work a few of your training needs into Christmas or birthday gifts.  Relatives and friends will be relieved to have an idea what to get you, and happy that it is something they can likely order online.

I will let you know, at the end of 9 weeks, how well this strategy worked.  I’m going to guess now, pretty well.

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Hands-palms touching,
Feet together at the line,
Arms over your head from underneath,
Heels and toes together,
Lick the back of of your knees,
Everybody nice and straight grip,
Ears always touching with the thighs,
Maximum body weight from coxcyx to the neck,
Do not even breathe.
Do not move a muscle.
Come down and push, and push, and push,
Last chance, breathing only through the nose,

Change.

Yeah, I’ve got this.

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