Saturday, June 27, 2009

Week 9: Bursting Out of the Yoga Bubble

Week 9 ended just a few hours ago with the annual Teacher Training Talent Show. More than 30 acts proved that we have many gifted and creative yogis among us and a good time was had by all. Bikram, unfortunately, left early and did not get the opportunity to witness another side of many of his students. We're so conditioned around here that many of us, myself included, asked where the sign in tables were. Even after our last day of two classes and lecture, I wanted to make sure to sign in because there was still going to be a make up class Saturday morning and I certainly did not want to have to take it.

I started our last week on a shaky note when I woke up on Sunday to back spasms. During Week 8, I could feel my lower back getting more and more tired, and I tried to take it a little easy. I found that difficult to do here with two yoga classes a day and hours upon hours of sitting in uncomfortable chairs or sleeping on the floor. On Monday my back muscles calmed down but were now so tight that I did not have very much mobility in my back. I went to class Monday morning and for the very first time through training, I had to sit out a couple of postures. I made it to class 88 and the last week (my goal during training was to do every posture of every class!). Oh, well. What can you do? Stretching in the hot room felt great and doing extra Cobra and Wind Removing postures (per Bikram's lecture on the 26 postures and how to relieve acute back pain), helped my back muscles relax. By Wednesday, I was fine and eager to complete the week on a strong note.

Craig Villani, the Director of Teacher Training, showed up on Wednesday and we enjoyed two of his classes and an evening of lecture. We were all disappointed that he showed up so late in our training, but grateful to have his expertise for at least a couple of days. His classes were two of the best classes we had and he firmly treated us like the teachers we were soon to become. Basically, he emphasized that we lead by example in the yoga room and that we teach with compassion and understanding.

We had been told repeatedly the last couple of weeks that Week 9 was going to be fun, but it proved to be our most challenging week yet. It felt like the staff was running behind and they tried to cram more into one week than they really wanted to. We, unfortunately, were on the receiving end of that and had four very late nights (or early mornings) in a row. Once, we were dismissed when the sun was already up and I crawled into bed for a nap at 6 AM. Sign in for morning yoga class is at 8. By Wednesday, everyone was exhausted and we looked like the walking wounded.

One highlight was the Advanced demonstration and having Emmy lead it. Her son passed away last week and it was wonderful to see her doing what she loves to do and being with those she loves. She is truly an inspiration to all who know her.

On Friday, we had our last two classes with Rajashree and Bikram, respectively. The last class was very emotional for me and I kept thinking about the fact that it was my very last class as a student. The next class I take, I will take as a certified Bikram yoga instructor. It still sounds strange on my tongue, but I'm looking forward to getting used to the sound and feel of it. The room was packed with extra people - friends and family members visiting for graduation - and Bikram surprisingly managed to tone down his language and his caustic corrections. Maybe there should always be a child in every one of his classes? Before Final Savasana I was already in tears, but not tears of sadness. I was relieved that training was over and I survived the process.

One of my very wise trainees compared training to childbirth: over time, the memory of the pain will subside and I will only enjoy the end result: being a Bikram teacher.

Graduation is at 3 PM today and it's time to celebrate! Yeah, I'm ready.

(Yes, that's Bikram surfing on my back while I was in Paschimottanasana. I tried to get a number, but without a warm up I couldn't quite get my forehead to my feet. I had a lot of fun trying, though!)

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