Monday, June 29, 2009

Week 9 – And… CUT.

We were originally told that the final week of this journey was sort of a “party week”. All the hard work (dialogue and studying) was over, and this week we’d just coast thru. Well, I think I speak for everyone when I say it was one of our hardest weeks, if not the hardest. At this point, it all seems like a big blur of classes, lectures, postures, Bikram, late nights and the Mahabarhat. I don’t think I could tell you what happened all week, and in what order. I just know that we had a slew of very, very late nights, with absolutely no reprieve. I think it really affected everyone, since we had such high expectations for the week. We all thought that we’d have some free time to spend with each other. But the free time we did have (at least for me) consisted of 20 minute naps and trying to snap out of the funk of sleep deprivation.

Throughout the week, we ended up going thru each of the postures in the series with Bikram, where he dissected what we might see with beginners, what the benefits are, and how we can personally improve. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the Cobra series, I could simply no longer process any information. I feel a little bit jipped by the week, I have to be honest. Actually, at the time, I was ok with everything. I knew that it was almost over, and quite frankly, I could handle anything they were going to throw at me. Walking out of the lecture hall at 5:30 in the morning, with the sun coming up was not going to steal my peace. But the more I think about the week in general, the more I feel like I was robbed of some good knowledge. I am trusting that there are reasons for the week ending the way it did, and maybe it will be clear to me eventually, in the future. But right now, not so much.

I don’t want to end this on a sour note whatsoever. I mean come on! It was WEEK NINE! This was it! The grand finale. Spirits were up throughout the days, and there was such a buzz of energy between all 320 of us. We could taste the bitter-sweet end to this long journey of self. I felt excited and anxious and happy and sad to know that this chapter in my life was coming to an end. Excited to get HOME. Be home. See my amazing husband. Be in my living room. Anxious to get back to reality. Anxious to see how much I may have changed, while everything at home has stayed the same. Happy to get back to my studio and TEACH. Happy to wrap my arms around Tim, see my family and friends, and to spend a couple of weeks digesting what I’ve just been through. And sad to know that I am never going to be with my fellow trainees (now teachers!) again. I am going to miss the wonderful friends that I have made. But am so thrilled to have made them. What an amazing thing to know that I now can travel anywhere in the world and have a home to go to. It is quite settling to know that I will be welcomed with open arms into people’s homes and hearts. This Bikram family is such an amazing community of people and I feel so blessed to be a part of it.

I am currently about 40 minutes from landing in Boston. I will be home. I feel like I was just packing and crying and saying the hardest good bye of my life. I realize now that I was saying hello to this new life. I don’t know exactly what it will bring. I just feel like I can now do anything.

I can do anything.

And I’ll do it with a smiling, happy face.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Week 8 (Can you believe??)

What an amazing week it was. I started off a little rocky. Monday night’s Posture Clinic, I had to teach Half Tortois Pose. First of all, this is a fairly short, relaxing, easy pose, where you don’t necessarily have to bring a TON of energy. There is nothing complicated about how it is delivered to the students, and I felt very comfortable with the dialogue. But I got up in front of my group during posture clinic, and suddenly I felt like I was back on stage on week 2 with Bikram. My heart started thumping thru my chest, my knees were sweating, my back was dripping, my chest and face were blotchy and my voice was trembling. I made it thru the dialog without a problem, but knew without a doubt that the nerves were so close to the surface that everyone could feel them, see them, and hear them. One of our staff members, Ester, was leading the clinic, and I’m not even sure what she began telling me, but I began crying. Yes, me – can you believe??!? I became the first person in our group to have a crying meltdown during posture clinic. I felt as if I took 15 steps backwards in my progression… like everything I had been working at for the last 7 weeks was stripped away from me, and as if I may never be able to control this fear of mine.

I was so happy to have Ester there, because back in the beginning of this process, she mentioned that she had a fear of public speaking. So she was able to relate to me and to give me EXACTLY the encouragement that I needed. She related some of her stories with me, and helped me to believe that it wasn’t some regression that I was sinking into. Everyone has their days, and maybe this was one of mine. And the next day, I came back stronger and in more control, more confidence, and more ease than I have ever had. I can’t say that I know if that night was the supposed “breakthrough” that they talk about people having. But I do know that I went up the next afternoon knowing that I could not let that feeling come back. There was no way. It was almost a “F*&% THIS” feeling. I’m not here to stress myself out. I’m here to teach yoga. I’m here to help people. I’m here to learn how to have the beginnings of a good teacher. And suddenly things just clicked. And for the rest of the week, my postures weren’t the stress-factory that I created for myself. I think I may have actually started teaching.

The week went on with little sleep, even less free time, and lots of aches and pains. My body is no longer mine. I don’t know whose it is. Perhaps some 78 year old man with bad knees has taken over my body. In the morning classes, I morn the postures that I once was able to do. I morn the loss of my knees, my back and my hamstrings. I miss my poor, sorry Triangle, and just pray that while I am in it the teacher won’t call me out because of how pathetic it looks.

Ok, so maybe I am exaggerating a little. (But only a little!) I am looking forward to getting back to a normal yoga practice, where my body can have some time to recover from this intensity. Granted, I can’t quite knock my evening classes as dramatically as the mornings. I do have some positive things that I can talk about with my postures. I no longer have a super-wobbly ankle in the one-legged balancing series. And my Standing Head to Knee is SOLID. My strength has definitely improved, whereas my flexibility has dwindled. I supposed that is what happens though.

We finished our last posture, Spine Twist on Thursday. What a feeling! It was a combination of relief, elation, accomplishment, and even sadness. We’ve all worked so hard in these posture clinics to be the best that we can be, and the finality of them being over was something else. We no longer have to spend all of our free time studying and talking to ourselves and stressing. It was as if a huge chapter in this training came to an abrupt close. It means the road is going to come to an end very soon. It means that I am going to go out there and teach this yoga to people who need it. It means I am going to have the power to change lives, just like mine was changed. The anxiety and feelings of “Will I be good enough?” “How is this 90 minute class going to flow out of my mouth?” And “Will I be the teacher I know I want to be?” are all arising in my heart. Deep down, yes, I know it will all happen in time. And I know that the moment I step onto that podium, the person who I have become here in these 9 weeks is going to unfold. And there I will be. ME. There for you. There to give everything back that was given to me.

One of the visiting teachers this week said something that struck me so profoundly. She said, “Think of all of the thousands of things that had to have happened to make all of us 322 people be here in this training.” I realized that it is so much deeper than just finding the money and the time to physically get here. What is the thing that made each of us walk into our yoga studios for the very first time, however many years ago? What are the obstacles that we went thru to get here? Who are the supporters that had to be behind each of us, and what was it in them that they saw in us? All I know is my own experience. I know that there are at least a dozen particular things that all happened in my life to be able to lead me to this Spring 2009 Teacher Training. I’m so thankful for the hurdles I had to go thru, because I wouldn’t want to be here any time other than now, and other than with the particular teachers-to-be.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Week 7 baby!

I can’t believe that week 7 is over. Yet another week flew by. It was nice this week that we got to vary things up. I think we are all getting a little bit tired of Posture Clinic, so it was great to have some good lectures and guest speakers this week. Bikram wasn’t around this week either, which means we were done with the day by midnight every day, enjoying a steady flow of about 6-1/2 to 7 hours of sleep a night.

Rajashree lectured about yoga therapy one day, and went thru each of the postures another. We had Dr. Choudhury give us an overview about women’s health issues (which the men absolutely loved). And we were graced with a Friday afternoon lecture by AnnMarie Benstrom. She was awesome, an 82 year old woman with oodles of energy, charisma, and humor. We learned about the Chakras, along with a bunch of other things that I may or may not believe, but I’m happy to be exposed to. To say the least, she was very entertaining, and full of life, so it was definitely a big highlight to hear what she had to say.

My yoga practice started off outstanding this week, then with no warning, my knee and IT band started acting up. I was so bummed out Wednesday morning. It wasn’t a gradual ache that seeped in. I went down in the 2nd part of Awkward and literally yelped out. I had to baby it for a good portion of class because there are a lot of postures that it really hurt in. I wish I knew where these pains came from. Knowing that everything in my body is connected, it could be anything. My afternoon classes have been a little less painful, but still not 100%. I got into class early on Saturday morning, and really just stretched and bent my knee for a good 20 minutes, which helped me out a lot. I also plunked myself in the front row, which also helps to keep me focused and honest. So all in all, it felt better. The pain was still there, but taking that extra time in the morning was probably a smart thing for me to do. And now, I’m blessed with a full day off, so I’m hoping to be back up to par Monday morning!

Posture Clinics have been good. I’ve had a couple of brain freezes, but have been able to recover fairly quickly from them. I just finished up Fixed Firm, which means we only have 5 postures left!! We’ll likely finish them up this upcoming week, and then the hard work is over!! We’ve been told that Week 9 is kind of the “party week”, and that once week 8 is over, we are pretty much done. It is hard to believe that we are wrapping up. I am looking forward to getting home and teaching as many classes as I can before going back to work. I want to get in my studio and see what comes out of me!! I’m definitely nervous about the left sides, because we only practice teaching one side here, but hopefully it won’t be too hard for me. I don’t know what time I am teaching on Tuesday when I get back, but I talked to the studio owner and am down! I cannot wait!!!

So as this week comes to a close, and the last “real week” begins, I’m going to take in every moment as best as I can, because it is going to be over soon. Bikram will be back this week, which I am really excited for. Looking at our curriculum, we still have a lot to cover, so I’m sure we’ll get lots of face time with the boss. For now, time for me to hit the books for the day and get myself ready for week 8! WOW!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Week 6

(Unofficial Photo for week 6 - Sorry folks!!)

The week started out with a bit of a THUD. Tim left right before Monday morning class, which obviously had me a little bit weepy. And class that morning sucked major ass for me. The room was hotter than I’ve ever experienced and it totally kicked my ass. For the first time, I actually had to leave the room. It was a huge disappointment for me, that I let my mind take over, but at the time, I had no choice. I was overwhelmed with emotion and heat and just had to GET OUT. But the week only went up from there. And it actually was a good one.

There were a lot of little unexpected great moments throughout the week, looking back on it. The visiting teachers hosted a little pizza party for us on Tuesday night after class. We all kind of just figured that we’d get some free pizza and get to socialize a little, but it turned into this amazing dance party, where everyone just got up and busted out dancing to some Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, and oh yes… Lionel Richie. A conga line was formed, and we were all in really great, high spirits. We all seemed to have a lot of pent up energy, whether it was good or bad, and sort of got it all out there. It was so fun to see and to be a part of.

Rajashree was back this week, too, which is always a treat. She only taught one class, but she is back all next week, so hopefully we’ll get to have her in the hot room a few more times. The classes this week have been really great. I’ve had some of my best classes simultaneously while I’ve been here. I feel like I am starting to have my body back. I felt more in tuned with myself and focused and stronger than I’ve felt all thru training. Last week and the beginning of this week, I was really feeling like my practice was at a steady decline. I couldn’t hold postures, I was getting really fatigued, and I was actually doing a lot of comparison to those around me. It kind of sucked. However, I’ve kicked it into high gear and feel like these next three weeks are really going to catapult me into a new realm in my practice.

This week was all about posture clinic. I think we may have done about 22 hours of posture clinic, because supposedly we have fallen behind schedule. (No fault of our own, we just had a lot of lectures early on.) So in order to get back on track, we had to kick it up. It’s been really fun… I think I’m getting into a good grove. Little by little, I’m feeling more and more comfortable up in front of people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still nervous and have my fluttery heart, but I’ve learned how to take better control of it. And guess what? It is all about BREATHING. Hey, go figure! That is exactly the feedback that those damn teachers had been telling me!! Who would have thought??

My group was on the stage on Friday, which I had been dreading. But Friday came along, and actually felt excited about it. I got to do two postures on the stage on Friday, and feel really, really good about them. I did Wind Removing Pose (which isn’t the most high-energy or exciting posture) and Cobra Pose. I absolutely love doing this! A cool thing started happening while I was practicing with actual people, too…. It got easier. I think things are starting to click. I don’t necessarily think I am ready to start giving corrections or anything, but I’m definitely starting to see what needs to be fixed with students. I know this, because while practicing Cobra, one of my demonstrators had their feet apart, and it sort of threw me for a loop. That is going to be a whole new challenge. I look forward to it!

Week 6 is done. It is totally surreal. I’m slowly starting to understand why people have been saying we are going to miss this when it is over. As much as I look forward to getting back home, being back in my house, seeing my husband on a daily basis, and reconnecting with my family and friends, I know that this time right now will never be relived. This experience, with these 320 people, in this exact moment of time and space will never happen again. I’m taking it in a little more now than I was before. I don’t know why that is. Probably because we are in the downward slope, and the end of this journey is starting to come into my sights. But for now, I’m gonna keep looking right here, right now.

(After last class of Week 6! Fellow Group 3-ers, Ashley, Reawin, and Tom)
(Group 3 dinner Saturday night, Phil, Ashley, me and Joe)
(Me and Reawin in Posture Clinic)
(Locust Pose - My knees should be a bit more locked, I think?)

(My backbend. Well, I really thought I was back further than that!!)
Just plain funny...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Week 5 Still Alive!

We hit the halfway mark this week. After Wednesday’s morning class, Natasha and I busted out Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”, belting out “Ohhhhh, we’re halfway there…” as loud as possible in our room. It got out some much needed energy.

Last week is a little bit of a blur for me, due to the fact that I came down with a pretty nasty bug. I was ok on Monday and Tuesday, ready to take on the week with some gusto. But I began to feel the scratch in my throat on Wednesday. Then Wednesday night, we were up watching the Mahabarhat until 3:30 in the morning, where I couldn’t breathe, could stop blowing my nose, and generally felt fevery. Getting only 4 hours of sleep certainly does not initiate our immune systems.

Emmy was back this week. I think our group has improved quite a bit since she was here on week 2, because she didn’t give us quite a hard a time about our postures as before. That is awesome to see. We did get some good hands-on time with her during lecture, where people could go on stage with particular postures that they had questions about, and she would give them steps for correcting them. It is great to see this, because you learn a lot about all of the different bodies and ailments out there and how to cope with them as a teacher.

I can’t say I have much to talk about for this week. The sickness that overcame me, unfortunately put me in a crappy place. Feeling like shit and being forced to practice yoga two times a day is just not fun. It’s the first time that I really wanted to get the hell out of this whole situation. I wanted to sleep and be on my couch and eat chicken soup with tissues up my nose. I desperately tried to not let it overcome me, and I guess I really only let it on one day. But with practicing twice a day, I guess it actually helped to sweat out whatever bug was in my system pretty quickly… and I was on the upward swing by Friday.

Oh… and Friday (as if I would forget), Tim came to visit me!! It was absolutely amazing to see him. I got the biggest, bestest hug of all time. He came to class with me on Saturday morning, which I am so happy about. He got to feel what it was like to be in that room with 350 people. It was a really intense class for a Saturday… the heat was cranking and a lot of people struggled. When it was over, I was just so full of emotion with having Tim there, and so happy to be able to have some time with him. We had a great weekend just being together. It was exactly the boost that I needed to get me through the rest of this training. I feel completely revived, and ready to take on these next 4 weeks. It’s going to fly!!

I’m a little late getting this posted, and already halfway thru week 6, so I’m cutting this one short… more to come next week!