Saturday, May 30, 2009

Week 5: Still Alive With Congestion and Flow

Week 5 started with congestion and ended with flow. Reflecting on the week, it again was more difficult than the last and I can't help but wonder if and when our time here is going to get any easier. Each week in the yoga blender seems to be more challenging than the last and by now we're all anxiously awaiting the rebuilding phase. Bikram's approach of breaking us down to rebuild us into stronger, better people is truly unique and as a Western thinker, I find some of his approach difficult to understand. I'm ready to be rebuilt any time now. Will it take place while we're here, or after we leave? I'm afraid I know the answer to my own question, and the full impact of this training will probably not become apparent for many months to come.

I caught the cold that's been going around here and was pretty miserable from Sunday until about Wednesday morning. I knew it was inevitable that I got sick because we spend many hours a day in a giant petri dish - from the yoga room, the lecture hall, and the posture/dialogue clinic rooms with 325 people. Fortunately, I only had a cold and managed to participate in everything. I think I killed the cold with Zicam and high doses of Vitamin C because my cold didn't last very long. I've heard of many people who've come down with the flu and that sounds pretty miserable. Haesook had flu symptoms on Thursday and Friday, but since she didn't have a temperature she still had to take both classes each day and participate in everything else. At least the staff allowed her to get out of her line assignment and take the yoga classes from the back of the room where she could do what she could and mainly rest. I'm glad to say she's doing much better, too.

We didn't get much sleep the first three nights of the week (which made being sick even that much more unpleasant!) and Bikram kept us up until around 3 each of those nights. His usual M.O. is to start lecturing around 9:30 or 10 and then treat us to several episodes of The Mahabharat. On Wednesday night the staff was sent out in full force to make sure everyone stayed seated in their chairs and no one was allowed to sleep. Sitting in a straight-back chair for six hours until 3:30 in the morning was numbing. I've heard that in regards to the sleep deprivation, Bikram is trying to show us that we're actually capable of dealing with more physical adversity than we think we can. By Thursdays, we're not dealing very well. We've noticed that people are grouchiest and the most intolerant by Thursday and Friday. The end of the week is also when the most people sit out postures or have to leave the room. Fortunately, after just a single night of good REM sleep, I usually feel like a human being again.

We're progressing through the standing postures in our dialogue clinics. I only delivered Balancing Stick and Standing Separate Leg Stretching this week, though I was prepared to do more. They warned us that the pace of the clinics would pick up this week, but that didn't turn out to be true. Between Bikram's lectures, Emmy's lectures, and a guest speaker who talked about the importance of fascia (connective tissue), we didn't spend a lot of time in clinic. Each time I get up to deliver dialogue, I'm a little more comfortable but I'm no where near where I want to be as far as being comfortable in my own skin in front of a class. My yoga American Idol "judges" tell me I'm good with the dialogue itself, but that I need to be more confident and own the words. I know exactly what they mean, but I also think it's pretty ridiculous to expect novices to feel confident and comfortable after only having delivered dialogue in front of students just a few times. I'm finding it difficult to own the words when the words are a script written by someone whose English is his second language. Now I understand why the strongest person in my dialogue group is a professional actress. I take what the teachers say with a grain of salt because I know the confidence will come with experience and time.

Before we leave each of us will receive a Bikram Yoga Spring 2009 Yearbook. Very fun. We had to get our headshots taken this week and next week we have to submit our small group photos. The theme has something to do with laundry (maybe because we've had to be very creative in doing our laundry here at a hotel without a coin-op laundry facility?) and each group has to submit a picture related to laundry and a line of dialogue. Our group's theme is: Before air drying, twist like ropes. I think we're going to pose in Eagle posture with some rock climbing rope intertwined around each of us. There's also going to be a Talent Show and the staff already has people signing up for that. I think I'm going to be an enthusiastic audience member and enjoy the show.

I've heard of many roommate conflicts and I'm so grateful that Colleen is such a wonderful roommate. Claudia and Haesook are also wonderful neighbors through the adjoining door and I honestly have no complaints. Everyone is supportive of one another and considerate. What more could we ask for? It would be very difficult to be here without them.

The yoga has been pretty good this week. Usually for the morning class I'm in survival mode and I don't push myself too hard. I'm too stiff and afraid of injuring myself. This week I noticed that I had more strength and stamina in the afternoon classes and was able to go further into the postures. Yesterday morning's class, our 11th and final one for the week, was tough as usual. By Friday my body is pretty tired and my muscles are going on strike. Instead of letting my tiredness win the battle in my head, I tried another approach and gave it my all. I had a day and a half to rest, so why not? It felt great during class because I had something else to focus on instead of my own fatigue. During camel, the woman next to me started bawling (it's not unusual here to hear someone sobbing) and of course this got me going. At the end of class, the teacher put on a Bob Marley song and that was the trigger for me to really let the waterworks going. I had a good, cleansing cry that I knew needed to get out - I just didn't know when it was going to happen.

What were the tears for? I don't really know. It was probably a combination of a lot of things and a result of all the conflicting feelings I've been dealing with since I got here. I think that perhaps if I had gone through this experience when I was younger and didn't have a family, I would have enjoyed it more. I feel like I haven't fully enjoyed being here because I'm always thinking about the people who depend on me at home and everything I'm missing. My children's lives are very full and I chose to be a stay-at-home mom to enjoy being around them for what seems to be the very short time they're with us. Our family is very close and we never quite feel right when one of us is missing. Dan is wonderfuland is doing a great job of being mom and dad, and though he never complains, I know that my absence has been very taxing on him. The kids are holding up well, but Julia still cries when we say good bye on Saturday nights. On the brighter side, we only have four weeks left, I'm more than halfway there, and we will probably all appreciate each other more when I return home.

At the end of Week 6, we will be 2/3 of the way through. It's nice to have something to look forward to. Speaking of things to look forward to, Rosario emailed each of us this week to inform us of when we will be teaching our first class. I've been assigned to teach the 11 AM class on Thursday, July 2nd. That news makes this all worth it!

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