Sunday, October 26, 2008

Good Vibrations (Week 5 - Week 6 to come!)

This week was a continuation of more hard work from last week. However I think the trials and tribulations of last week forced me to accept that I am really going to have to do the hard work here and so I was in a much better place, mentally.

However, the hard work this week ramped up as we went through dialogue a lot faster than last week, even doing 2 or 3 postures some days. Sometimes we only had 2 hours to memorize the posture. Now that we are getting better at teaching the postures, the teachers marking us are expecting more - strong pronunciation on the important parts, command on the hard parts and clarity on the setup - 2 hours is nowhere near enough to memorize a full page word by word and perfect how you will say it on top of that.

Then there is also the small problem of the brain not wanting any more postures crammed into it, I spent many late nights this week trying to convince my mind to get just one more posture in there, and not mix it up with any of the other ones I have already said The rest of my free time is spent trying to ground myself and calm my mind as it feels split into a million different pieces or perhaps has completely taken a vacation at some point? Either way it was really tough to focus this week but there were also a lot of great moments which made it a good one, I can safely say not nearly as rough as the last one!

Monday I did 2 postures in posture clinic including the hardest (Triangle) and got amazing feedback, I practiced Triangle a lot on Sunday night and I needed to practice saying it in a commanding voice so I put on my deepest voice and it somehow worked and the teachers liked it. It felt so strange to get up there and say it like that but I got used to sounding strong by the end of the week and I feel now like I have a new tool I can use when teaching class. For the yoga classes on Monday I was able to continue the trend of not sitting down in postures even when I'm tired and overall it felt good to just get through more and more full classes and do all the postures to the best of my ability.

Tuesday we had more posture clinic and we had a really cool teacher named Lisa from Texas, she was so positive and direct and had so much energy. She took everyone who did a posture and was able to pinpoint exactly what they needed to improve on and she had some pretty hilarious techniques for people to try out. She made quite a few people shake out the hair, or run out of the room and run back in while everyone clapped for them, little things to get them excited about giving the dialogue and teaching. She gave everyone the suggestion to use 'jazz hands' while we're talking which really worked and just made you more open and confident when you stepped up to the front to teach.

That night we had a senior teacher named Mike do the class and he came in to 'Eye of the Tiger' playing, wearing a robe and escorted by two female yoga teachers, when he whipped off his robe he was wearing tight tiger yoga shorts on underneath! He started out the class by telling us we needed to have fun and anyone who wanted to leave the room at any time should feel free to. He had some really funny jokes and I laughed through the whole class. For the first time I was able to only drink water about 3 times during class, when he allowed us to and suddenly I realized why they try to get us to stop drinking water in class!

In yoga you use deep breathing to warm your body from the inside out and create energy and focus right throughout your core, which allows you to meditate and put everything you've got into every posture. When you drink water it disrupts the flow of your breathing and also cools down your insides which means you have to work hard just to get back to the state where you are focused and controlled enough to be working hard in each posture, it's a huge waste of time and energy. The class was just what I needed as I was already starting to stress out from dialogue and the atmosphere was getting a bit heavy with everyone anticipating a tough week in posture clinic so it was a welcome change!

Wednesday was more yoga, more posture clinic and more dialogue. In posture clinic I started getting up a bit earlier to present my dialogue instead of waiting until the end and stressing out the whole time and it was a lot better. The rest of the week went by well and I found myself thinking near the end of the week about coming back home. I am really looking forward to coming back and teaching yoga and living such a healthy lifestyle. I am also excited to start a new step in my career since I have not working for quite a while now, but I guess I worked so much in England I hopefully can make up for the time off ;)

I was also thinking about some trippy things that have happened in yoga class:
1. A feeling of being high during one of the yoga classes in week 2. I can't explain it other than the whole yoga room seemed to get brighter and I felt like I was kind of floating and part of the energy of the room.
2. I have been having random memories come into my mind when I am doing certain postures, especially back bends where the muscles and tissues are compressed. Things like a specific day I had when I was 10 years old or a time I spent with my family when I was 13.
3. I sometimes have inspirational dreams for some of my writing, I have a dream that is almost like a movie then it always ends with my closing a book or writing in a journal. These dreams are vivid and I can always remember them to write them down when I wake up. They usually only happen once a year or so but I have already had two since I've been here.
4. In one class that Bikram taught, my '3rd eye' opened, which is essentially your 6th sense and it means the middle of your body is completely open and in harmony. I got a sense of how intense a yoga class here really is - and I felt overwhelmed by the power of the room and the practice and had to stop for a minute.

So yep I am pretty much having some weird experiences and no, I'm not having drugs or alcohol but I'm not really trying to make sense of them right now and just go with the flow. A weird thing that has happened this week is that energy has been flowing out and all around of my body like crazy. It feels weird. The only way I can describe it is like you can actually feel energy particles kind of moving around and bumping each other inside your body, almost like you are vibrating. It has made me feel really unfocused because it's a new feeling and I am also not sure if it's negative or positive energy.

I have also had energy releases where I have physically felt a weight come out of my body when I release an old emotion I have been hanging onto, like regret from a past occurrence or sadness for the way something went. The left side of my lower back stretched out one class when I was doing a backbend and I suddenly felt a release in the lower left side and I could feel it spreading down my legs and it hurt, it felt like negative energy had been stuck in there. I am sure there is a more scientific reason for this and I think it was my kidneys getting fresh blood but whatever it was the weird feeling staying in my lower back and leg for a few days then suddenly it was gone and I felt much better.

The energy that has been running around my body has been pretty strange but this week we talked about the energy we should be feeling from working out so much and channeling it into a positive way by thinking and acting positively and identifying and changing negative thought and behavior patterns. I realized that this is true because the energy was neither negative or positive and it was interesting to learn that I had the power to change it in either way that I wanted. Think of what a huge impact this could have on your life, your body... Anyways.
I have also noticed a lot of senior teachers and tougher teachers have seemed to roll in and I think the next few weeks could get pretty interesting, as in I am going to get killed even more so keep tuning in.

Miss you guys soooooo much. x Ju

Monday, October 13, 2008

Week Wonderful

Well this is week 4 and it has been TOUGH, the hardest week yet, that is for sure. And I thought week 3 was bad! I knew it would be a conglomeration of the previous 3 weeks; tough classes, struggling with the dialogue in the daytime and then staying up late with Bikram. What I didn't expect were the emotions! Emmy told us this program is designed to put just enough pressure on us so that we will release all of our old and negative emotions and she is right.

You don't go through this training without peeling off the layers of your personality like and onion until more than 300 people get to see the true you - vulnerable, nervous, sad, scared, childlike and beautiful. The weird thing is that I have been getting really good feedback on my dialogue, but every time I go up there I get so nervous and want to cry, thoughts are rushing through my head and I don't know if I will be able to perform. It's like I am back to being a little shy kid and have to relearn how to speak and stand up for myself - it is something you have to do and it's really tough, the fact that you can't get away with not doing it is even harder.

I have noticed at the end of class this week that when I lie in class in savasana you have to let your thoughts flow through your head and simply observe them. A lot of the time I hear 'yeah yeah yeah, this is awesome, it is so good, I am having so much fun, what a blast, pineapples! Woohoo I'm in Mexico etc' but sometimes weird thoughts cross your mind and it makes me wonder how I can get by in life with those thoughts stuck in there! Things like, reliving past mistakes, blaming myself for something that went wrong that was outside of my control, or just generally taking an incorrect negative view of a situation that happened previously. I was not aware I was carrying these thoughts in my head and like I said, it makes you wonder how you can function and concentrate in a day-to-day situation, with those kind of things going on in the background!

Luckily yoga is so amazing for becoming aware of those things are once you are aware of your weaknesses, they are yours and you have control of them. I have been carrying around a lot of guilt over leaving my job in the UK but have been able to come to new insights about why it positively was the right thing to do and as a result I am not carrying around that negative energy and I am feeling a lot lighter.

Today at breakfast I had another one of those moments. I was sitting at a beautiful table near the window in the restaurant called Veranda, having a nice breakfast and staring out at the beach and surf, talking to my roommate when I suddenly went quiet for a bit. I felt kind of down and I didn't know why but when Malvika asked me what was wrong I started crying!!! I was thinking about the dialogue and I realized I had a voice in my head saying 'you're not good enough' and it just made me so upset that I would say that to myself!!! I think it's something a lot of us do and learn to do when we are really young. I realized it's something I need to fight against and change my thought pattern to 'you can do it!!!!' (I can hear the Happy Gilmore guy saying it). It's hard since it's a thought pattern but if I am learning one thing it is that most things in life are hard and you just have to do them!

Speaking of hard work, that has definitely been the theme for this week. I started out on Monday feeling great but as is the case, I use all my energy up on Monday classes and just struggle to make it though the rest of the week. It's almost impossible to stockpile energy here by sleeping and resting up on the weekend, you are usually just able to replenish yourself from the energy you have put into the last week, you are THAT drained by the time you get to the end of class on Saturday morning. On Monday Bikram was back with us, he was really sick last week so we didn't have him teach class all week. Everyone greeted him enthusiastically with a round of applause as he strode into the room and he seemed happy to get down to business, telling us he heard no one had thrown up in class last week. His next sentence was 'we'll see how you do with me'.

He started the class and almost immediately people were dropping, people were running to the back to puke, and people were going outside because they couldn't stay in the room. It was bloody hot! He was getting extremely agitated, yelling that if we could not get through the postures and complete class with a smile on our face, none of us were going to graduate! I was scared to death and managed to perform most of the postures, but I was going slightly mental and by the time we finished the strenuous standing series and were on the floor in savasana, weird thoughts were going through my head. I was thinking 'I don't need to go anywhere, the cool outdoors in inside me, everything is inside me, everything I need is in here' in order to try to control my internal breathing, I alternated those thoughts with 'Vancouver is raining right now, I am so happy to be in burning heat, omg I am getting a nice tan, I'm on the beach, it's not hot it here, it's raining in Vancouver' in order to try to cool down my skin and body, which was on fire.

Truly nutty stuff but I was fighting the urge to throw my mat and towel at Bikram's podium and actually run through the glass at the back of the room to get outside where it was cooler. Finally camel pose came, where you have to lean right back and put your hands on your heels for a deep backbend. I remember thinking I had no idea how I was going to do this one because my energy and willpower had completely been exhausted. Suddenly Bikram yelled 'Stop, stop, everyone sit down on your mats.' It was a welcome break but what came next was not, he started ranting about how awful we were, 1/3 were puking in the back, 1/3 were outside and the other 1/3 were dying in our postures, he didn't care if we went back to our rooms, why were we even here???

Then he told us we made him not want to teach anymore, which is a lot coming from a yogi who's life has been dedicated by his guru to have to teach the world yoga... then he suddenly threw down his microphone and stormed out!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were stunned and some people tried to call him back, some tried down the camel pose but to no avail, he was gone and we were in a lot of trouble. They turned out the lights and we were forced to leave and get ready for lecture at 9pm.

When the time came for us to attend lecture, we sat like little mice in the hall, waiting for the wrath of Bikram! Luckily, he came in with a smile on his face. He always tells us that if there is a problem in life, we need to check with ourselves first to see if we are creating it and he had done the same thing. During the break he checked with the senior teachers, past graduates and the engineers who built the yoga room at the hotel and found that the conditions we were in were actually unbearable. The humidity had gotten higher since the spring teacher training because it is now rainy season and also there was not enough fresh air so we were all breathing carbon dioxide. He said he did not blame us and has gotten the man who built the room on the next plane to Acapulco to fix the room for us asap. It was a very noble move on his behalf and I won't forget that part of his character.

I also know that we were to blame a little bit. After a week of no Bikram I know I had slacked off a bit in my practice so I realized that he was going to a great length for us to fix the room, and we better go to a great length for him to work our asses off going forward. I think he kept us up until around 2am that night, he was talking and talking and talking and showing us movies. Everyone was falling asleep in the movies which made him even more mad. At around 1am he yelled at everyone to sit up in our seats with our spines straight and everyone who was on the floor in the back was getting woken up by the teachers. Finally at 2am when the last movie was over he turned around and asked 'did you enjoy your sleep?? I have been doing this for 50 years, not sleeping, you have no idea.' He sounded so mad and also sad, it just made me feel upset, like he had no faith in us at all.

The next morning our teacher for the class gave us a lecture about always trying hard but putting 110% in when Bikram was teaching. He also said that none of the senior teachers had ever seen Bikram storm out of a class and it was not just a show. That is a bit embarrassing! Either way, the message was that we need to pull up our socks.

That day I had Esther in my posture clinic! I was really nervous to do my dialogue in front of her so my first few words came out a bit jumbled but then I pulled off the rest of the pose and got good feedback! It is sooooooooo nice having her here, I am so honored to be learning from her and also just knowing she is there and seeing her smiling face reinforces that there is someone here pulling for me!

The rest of the week was a blur of late nights, 5 hrs of sleep, long hot yoga classes and long Bikram lectures. Suffice to say I could not move all day Saturday but I continue to get good feedback on my dialogues and also on Friday we got the night off! Bikram made us a deal that if no one sat down, puked or ran out of the room all class we wouldn't have lecture, and we did it! I think everyone was so scared that they would be the one to disappoint 300 people, but just pulling through and actually getting some much needed time to rest really gave us a morale boost and as I start this week things just keep getting better (more on that soon).

Love, Ju

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Horror...

Yesterday morning I woke up, drank the protein then went to morning class at 8:30. Lynn was teaching us, she is the head of the posture clinic program, so she really knows how to say everything correctly. I thought she was kind of strict the first time I met her but after having her for my posture clinic on Monday, I found she is actually incredibly kind and laid back. I was looking forward to taking the morning class with her and it went ok. I was feeling a bit more tired than on Monday and I was holding a lot of tension in my back and lower stomach, it is stress from posture clinic! I managed to do most of the postures fine and it was a nice warm up for the day.

After breakfast we had lecture with Dr. T about anatomy and then he started talking about heart attacks. Apparently there are several things you can do to avoid heart attacks but the most important is to get Omega 3 vitamins, so start chewing everyone! At 3pm we quickly ran into our group rooms and had posture clinic for an hour.

This time we had another teacher marking us, actually today it was 3 teachers watching our dialogue. I had been stressing about it all morning and feeling really upset that I hadn't gone up on Monday to do it. Bikram talks about the point where your mind, body and soul are aligned and I feel like I was more prepared on Monday, I felt more aligned and in tune with the dialogue and my energy, but I didn't seize the moment.

So they asked for volunteers and I put my hand up, I was #7 in the lineup. As I was sitting on the floor waiting for my turn and watching the others say their dialogue I was getting really nervous, I was feeling waves of dizziness and I couldn't remember the words! I tried to do some deep breathing to calm myself down and it worked for a while but then as my turn came up it all went downhill, I was feeling really lightheaded when I stood up and basically crept up to the line to introduce myself. My dialogue started out really strong, I made everyone laugh by pronouncing some of the good lines in a funnier way and things were going fine for the first pose, Backward Bending.

The second pose started out fine too, I was leading the 3 people in front of me into the pose and they had bent over when suddenly I was aware of the teachers' eyes on me, I forgot a line and then there was just a long awkward silence!!!!! My head was literally spinning so much and I couldn't think of the rest of the pose to save my life. At this point I was about 1/2 way through and I literally just started making up words, throwing in sentences, anything to get to the end of the dialogue. I wasn't even looking at the 3 students I was supposed to be teaching! I stumbled through to the end, I couldn't even put any enunciation on the words since I could barely remember them.

It was seriously bad and I waited for the feedback, feeling pretty embarrassed but at the same time accepting that I hadn't done the best job possible. The three teachers basically told me that I had really fabulous parts and my energy was strong but then when I forgot I just stalled and they said I needed to really keep it even and keep my energy up. They also asked if I had practiced on bodies (ie leading my friends through the pose) and told me it would be 100x better if I tried that before. They also said it was really good that I had smiled the whole way through the dialogue, and also that I have a sweet persona but need to be a bit more firm. I was feeling pretty upset!!!!!!!!!!! I took my place in the line of 3 students and had to get taught the pose 3 times then the hour was over and we had to get ready for the evening class.

On the way there I told my roommate what happened and she reminded me my first posture that I did in front of Bikram was really good and I told her that this one must have been really bad because not one person told me after that I had done a good job. I was feeling so upset and sitting on my yoga mat in the burning heat, waiting for class to begin when another student leaned over and told me I did a good dialogue! I had to look around to make sure she was talking to me but she was, and she told me she really liked the way I did it and thought the teachers were unnecessarily hard on me. It was so nice to hear that since I did put effort into it and I felt a lot better. I did vow to work really hard from now on memorizing the poses though.

The evening class was taught by Jim and it was really good, I was seriously dying, alternating between panicking because of the hot room or panicking because I still have to do another posture by the end of the week and haven't memorized it yet. Also my body was feeling all tired, it really hit me that my body is not always under my control and I need to control my mind first in order to make my body do what I want it too. I was struggling a bit and feeling useless when a thought came to me that I just kept using for the rest of the class and it worked - the only way out is through.

Even though my lungs were burning and my muscles were feeling weak, I just pushed my muscles harder than I wanted to in each pose because I knew that if I rested I would fall behind. Most of the poses really hurt and I wanted to give up but some of them were not so bad! I made it through the class and relearned and old lesson, it is best to face your problems head on, they don't go anywhere but just keep adding up if you don't. The only way out is through them but once you get through there is always something much better on the other side. Also some of the might not be as bad as they seem.

That evening Jim gave us a lecture about owning a studio and how great it is. It seems like a cool thing to do but for now I think I am mostly interested in teaching part time while working full time in my field. We'll see how things go but I know that will be the best way for me, to start out at least. There are also lots of options for traveling and teaching around the world so I am looking forward to hopefully dropping into a few different studios if I am traveling. Bikram came in at the end of the lecture and it was fun to see him, he has been gone all week and none of the other teachers can duplicate his energy and enthusiasm, they don't even try because they're not trying to fill his shoes. He left pretty quickly and we ended lecture around midnight.

I stayed up until 2am studying for my next dialogue and I had a shaky grasp on 1/3 of it. I need to finish and present it by Friday at the latest so I'm stressing but I just need to take every second I can to study it - after class writing doesn't count, it's chill out time :) I woke up this morning at 7:30am with a song in my head I have never heard before, something about go go go and don't give up - I think I made it up. I am seriously cracking up and I can only hope I pull off this crazy dialogue thing and that it's worth it! But the only way out is through and the more I study the dialogue the more I see its' power and the more I am motivated to be a teacher so wish me luck and hopefully the words will stick in my head somehow!!!!!!!!!!!!

x Julia