Monday, September 15, 2008

First Class

SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have slowly started to discover that I am going to get caught up in all this crazy yoga stuff and go through a period of temporary insanity while I am here. I remember saying before that I would not let it happen, but it seems that no one gets out alive without losing it a bit and emerging with a higher 'self' by the end of the 9 weeks.

Today felt like a long day. We woke up around 7am and studied dialogue until 9:30, then went to orientation Pt. 2 where Rajashree opened again and told us we need to make sure we're having fun during training because without fun, your life will always be missing something and that is passion, which will lead us to find out purposes/interests. I thought it was kind of an interesting thing to say and was grateful they are reminding us to enjoy ourselves since I'm sure it would be easy to get carried away with taking yourself too seriously. She also gave us a lecture about drinking enough water, we're supposed to have around 5L per day but maintain a balance between hydration and electrolytes, if we are dehydrated we need to lick some salt then drink water.

After about an hour Bikram came out. He was dressed in white shoes, pants, kind of a mesh dress shirt and also white baseball hat. His voice was a bit hoarse since I guess he has been giving a lot of lectures in the past week. He talked for 1.5 hrs and the main gist of his lecture was to tell us how lucky we are to be here, we have made a hard choice to put life on hold for 2 months but we're breaking boundaries of discrimination and committing to becoming more enlightened so that when others hurt us we can forgive them... it was a meandering lecture with a lot of funny examples and I think it was primarily for us to get to know him. He seemed to have a lot of energy and be old and young at the same time.

There were many funny parts of his speech but two stood out - he talked about the fact that he was now going to be with us for life - he's going to take care of our health and make sure we stay disciplined, honest and happy with his yoga and he also thinks we will be coming back as future teachers to conduct teacher trainings over the years. He got so worked up at this point that he was telling us even if we die, he would not let us go until we could do his postures 100% correctly. He said they don't let limpers with weak knees into heaven and we were yogis so not going to hell, he promised he would be jumping up and down on our coffin yelling 'lock the knee!!!' if we peaced out before his work was done. A little morbid, but it illustrated his point that he was not letting anything get in the way of making us strong yoga teachers.

The other example was a man from California who was ill with cardiovascular disease, his doctors told him to take some peace in a church for a few days as he would soon die. His family sent him to Bikram to get a few laughs and Bikram propped him against a pillar in the room to do the poses. The guy ended up living to be around 90 - 10 more years - but the funny part was seeing Bikram act out the guy doing standing bow while leaning against the pilllar. Then Bikram told his doctors that he took a fire engine, unhooked the hose and blasted the man's heart so the disease was gone. He has a pretty funny way of telling stories that is totally unique only to him.

After Bikram was finished we had lunch in the ballroom again and it was really nice, lots of beans, rice, veggies - healthy but filling stuff. Everyone was nervous because it had just been announced that after lunch posture clinic was going to start, with Bikram. Posture clinic is where you need to recite each posture verbatim and you get critiqued for it. In the second week we will be split into groups of 40 but for the first post, Half Moon, we are all saying it one at a time, on the stage, in front of Bikram and 350 other people!

Luckily when we returned for lecture it was announced that the posture clinic would begin tomorrow. Jim, the owener of a studio in San Diego and a very senior teacher, spoke for a while about meditiation. He pointed out that the next step in human evolution is taking place in our consciousness and that the more you concentrate by meditation, the more the world around you expands and the more you become aware of. Basically they are setting us up for success in the course by telling us what to expect and how great it will be when we 'turn the corner' and become more in control of our mind, body and emotions through practicing yoga. There was a lot said about Bikram's first class and the majority of people, including Bikram told us to take it really easy the first week. We're all getting used to a new kind of stress, a new location and most of all the hot room! We were told to forget everything we know about yoga and start from scratch while we have the opportunity to learn the correct way from the source, Bikram.

We got out of lecture and had about 1.5 hrs to change and rest before the first class! I can't tell you how nervous I was but I just listened to some music and thought of home and tried to remain calm and channel my energy into excitement, which I am actually getting better at! Speaking of home, you are all in my thoughts and thank you so much for your words of support! They put the biggest smile on my face before class when I got a chance to start my computer. I might not be as accessible as normal since there's a lot going on here but your messages give me strength!

Finally the time rolled around to go to the yoga studio - once we stepped into the building the heat was already elevated from the warm Mexico air and there was a huge line for signing in (their only way to keep track of us attending). We got into the room, which is massive, and everyone had to really squish in next to each other. I have never practiced so close to people and it was a bit weird, but I guess it's necessary. There is a huge throne at the front of the room which is at least 10 feet off the ground so there is no hiding from the teacher, which really sucks. I found that the heat in the room was not so bad, I have to admit I have suffered through some scorchers in Richmond, but the humidity was ridiculous. I literally felt like someone was pushing down on my body, it was quite stifling.

Bikram came in and took the stairs to his lounge and we all stood up. The first posture was Standing Deep Breathing and that is when it hit me how powerful the room was, when we were breathing it was all you could hear, even louder than Bikram over the mic system. The energy was so tangible that even though I was sweating buckets already, I felt energized and compelled to breathe even deeper, just to be a part of what was going on. They explained to us we would feel the energy and that it will pick us up when we are falling, like instead of crawling up a ladder and stepping on others, you crawl up the ladder and help the person behind you up, while the person in front of you has their hand out to you. I am proud to say I made it through the whole class fine, although I had to sit out second set of the floor bow because I had a cramp in my right calf. With all the talk of dehydration I panicked a bit but I was fine for the next pose. There were a lot of people going down though, when I first started out I could not see myself in the mirror but by the end I had a perfect view because everyone in front was lying down. However, it doesn't mean I am awesome or will breeze through, you have to hit a wall sometime so it's just a matter of when.

I felt a bit hungry in class so tomorrow morning I will make a protein shake and that will help. One big problem I forsee is that the carpet is brand new and really slippery. I'm used to a nice wooden floor in Richmond so when we did any feet apart poses my feet just slid until I was pretty much in the splits. For Triangle I had to use all my strength to flex my upper thighs which is good because they were being worked but bad because it hurt like hell!

It was funny to have the class taught by Bikram. It's what I have been waiting for and have essentially come here for so it was a big moment. He spoke really slowly and he kind of sounded like the Big Friendly Giant if you can imagine!! I know he was taking it very easy on us since the class took a full 2 hours and for some of the poses he didn't make us hold them the full time. He got us involved a lot by asking us the next line for a lot of the poses and got pretty excited when we were able to shout out the answers! He sang in between some of the postures to give us a rest too. I am sooooo scared of what is going to happen when we pick up the pace and he becomes mean but now is not the time to think about it and like they say, we will get through it! After the class we lay on our mats for Savasana and they played one of Bikram's songs, it was actually very soothing and relaxing but at that point it was enough and I wanted to run out of the room, I have never stayed in there for 2 hrs before! We went back to our room and ate and then went for a nice swim.

When we walked through the lobby we saw a gigantic party going on, there must be 200 people there yelling 'Viva Mexico', today is Mexico's Independence Day and they have dancing, mariachis and tons of food. We went down after the pool and ate corn soup with chilies, plantain chips, coconut candies and this amazing melted chocolate with cinnamon drink. We got into it a bit with the Mexican flags and noisemakers but now it's time for bed, I have to get up at 6:30am! The Mexican yoga teacher told us today that they celebrate holidays for 2 days in Mexico because they like to party so late so no one will go into work tomorrow. I can hear the band through my door right now as if it's in the room and am so grateful for earplugs. So tomorrow is 2 crazy yoga classes, then the big speech in front of Bikram! I am excited but still can't help but look forward to lying on the beach on Saturday to study. Hope everything is well at home and you're in my thoughts!

x Ju

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