Archive for June 2008

Yoga Classes Remaining = 0

June 7, 2008

Wow…I don’t even know where to start. It’s hard to believe that this whole experience is coming to an end. There were times throughout the training where I felt as though I was so far in, yet had so far to go (hence the Yoga Haze) and that I would never finish. Each day played out exactly the same that I got lost among the yoga and the dialogue and the studying in the nine weeks, but now that we are done, I’m daring to say that it all kind of flew by.

 

During our last six classes of Teacher Training we had some of the best, most experienced teachers lead us through class. On Tuesday morning, Emmy taught us for the final time, and she was followed by Jason Winn on Tuesday afternoon. Jason was certified in 1997 and has been teaching the Beginners’ Series since then. He also is certified to lead the Advanced Series – a flow of 84 advanced postures. His teaching style is different than any of the other teachers we have had throughout training. He demands that his students work their hardest, yet he does so in a calm, almost passive aggressive way. During one of our savasanas he told us that making friends or developing relationships with our students is never a good idea; we are there to teach and instruct, not be anyone’s friend. He taught so effectively that without a doubt I had my best class on Tuesday afternoon up until that point. I maintained my focus, which I feel largely depends on the teacher, and my strength, balance, and flexibility all seemed to work together.

 

Jim Kallett, a senior teacher from San Diego, flew all night to be able to teach us on Wednesday morning. Towards the end of class he compared the training to running the Boston Marathon. While both extremely challenging, I think that this training is the most difficult experience I have ever had – even more so than running Boston. I’ve thought about this comparison quite a bit throughout Teacher Training, and one aspect of the Boston Marathon that comes to mind is the fans. During the marathon, there were times when I didn’t think I would be able to take another step forward but the crowds and spectators kept me going. Here at Teacher Training, I have felt solely responsible for keeping myself going. There are no crowds cheering. There are no spectators. We take instruction from the staff and follow directions precisely. I’ve found that I have had to depend on myself to keep me going more so here than during the marathon.

 

Of course we couldn’t escape Teacher Training without Craig teaching us one last time. During the Wednesday afternoon class, instead of holding both sets of awkward pose for a ridiculously, ungodly, painful amount of time, he had us stay in the first set (second part) for as long as possible. When we fell out we fell out, we just had to sit down. The last student standing ended up holding the pose for a total of 3:28. My legs hurt and shake just thinking about that! For his awkward pose prize, he then got to take the podium and teach the second set to all of us…Craig included! The guy who won was so out of breath but managed to deliver a solid dialogue for awkward. This by far was one of the best moments of Teacher Training. We that student took the podium, we could feel how close we all were to becoming teachers.

 

As expected, Rajashree taught our final morning class and Bikram taught the last class of Teacher Training. I know for a fact that I have never worked as hard in a yoga class as I did in those two classes – I knew I had to finish strong. I think my adrenaline was running the entire time because I did not feel weak or exhausted until the very end of each class; I wasn’t temped in the least to come out of postures early. When I realized the kind of balance and concentration I was able to maintain, I was frustrated with myself for not working that hard in every class. Then after about a split second I came to my senses, realizing that in almost every posture in Rajashree and Bikram’s class I was saying to myself this is my last set of (or second to last set of) triangle pose, tree pose, bow pose, camel pose, etc. of Teacher Training. That sort of mentality would never have worked in the midst of Week 5. When class ended everyone ran around the room hugging each other and giving congratulations. We returned quickly to our mats for the final savasana, and the overwhelming feelings I had were relief and accomplishment. I don’t know how I – how all of us – took two classes a day for the past nine weeks straight, but however we managed, we completed this journey. Now, as the staff has told us, the real journey begins.

4 Classes Down, 4 To Go…

June 4, 2008

In the final week that is. I think in total we have done about 93 classes and have four to go! Emmy is back for the final week of training, and she has taught us this morning and yesterday morning. She seems disturbed and annoyed with how inflexible our hamstrings are – not much improvement from the second week when she was here she tells us. GREEEAAAAT. Although I’m not too concerned with the inflexibility of my hamstrings at this point (again, I’m just trusting this process) ending the training with a bit of improvement wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing either!

 

Speaking of improvement, the postures in which I thought I would have improved over the course of nine weeks I think I have regressed. For example, I was convinced I would be able to lock out my right leg in standing bow which is far from happening. I also thought my hamstrings would just become more and more flexible; I never considered that they would shorten entirely and leave me wondering whether I actually have those muscles. Spine twisting is the one process that I have noticed a large improvement, and one that I never really think too much about. I can just feel myself twisting further and being able to grab more of my thigh.

 

I can’t believe this nine week training is coming to a close. When high school, college, summer camp, vacations, even big one-day events end, I’m always sad and nostalgic – not for this. I don’t doubt that when I go home I will miss certain aspects of training, although I’m wondering which one: Double yoga classes? 4 a.m. lectures? Feeling sweaty all day every day? Hmmm… But in all seriousness I think that I will miss the energy of practicing in a room with 300 people all working towards becoming teachers. I have gotten the impression that most people here do what to teach once we graduate, so to practice among that desire every day, twice a day is pretty powerful.

 

As for right now, we have fewer than 72 hours until we graduate and that moment cannot come any sooner!

Yoga Haze

June 2, 2008

From about the middle of week 6 up until now, I have been in the thickest yoga haze of my life. All we do is eat, sleep, breathe, dream, think, and talk yoga. Each day is exactly the same – class, lunch, posture clinic, class, dinner, lecture – so the days blend together and create this yoga fog. Everything is yoga. For a while I felt as though I was so far into this experience, yet the end still seemed beyond reach, hence the “yoga haze” that manifested. Only now I finally can catch a glimpse of the end, probably because we only have one week, eight classes, four week days remaining – however you want to look at it!

 

Bikram has been teaching us most afternoons since he returned back from India. Lately he has been calling several people up to his podium who have remarkable postures and having them demonstrate in front of the 300+ people in class. In addition to seeing a great posture, we also get a slightly longer water break, so I don’t mind when he does that. 😉  His classes still are never easy by any stretch of the imagination. This past week the heat has seemed more intense; I’m not sure if the room actually is warmer, or if it’s just me. In any event, classes have certainly not been getting any easier the deeper we get into training. As far as lectures go, we haven’t had any 4 a.m.-ers lately, that certainly doesn’t mean we won’t, but for the past week he has not kept us past 2 a.m. once.

 

Posture clinic wrapped up in the beginning of week 8. Since we finished so early, we’ve had a chance to take some time to have some mock classes. With these, we break up into our posture clinic groups and one person acts as the teacher by giving the dialogue, essentially teaching, for three or four postures in a row. The staff and other instructors keep telling us that we are so lucky to have the time to do this because most times during teacher training, regular posture clinic does not end until right before the graduation. When I’ve been the teacher for these mock classes, it definitely feels a lot more like teaching, probably because we’re not getting judged or graded on our memorization and delivery, and I’m surprised at how much dialogue I have retained from earlier postures, even from the first few weeks of training.

 

I expect that in this coming week – THE FINAL WEEK – we will have quite a bit of lectures from Bikram. I also know that we will see a demonstration of the advanced series which is a flow series of 84 “advanced” postures. I’ve been saying the dialogue in my sleep, as everyone said I would, and I’m ready to teach! Good thing my first class is two days after I get home…!