10 yoga classes and 2 earthquakes later, I can proudly say I have survived week 1 of Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Acapulco, Mexico! Whew.
Saturday 9/16/18 – Day 0 (Prep)
I spent most of Saturday running around the city. My suitcases were packed but there were still a few things I had to do. I did my last Bikram class at my home studio in the morning and after class we all celebrated my trip with a small party. Mauri put together some snacks for everyone and it was nice to have everyone’s support and love!
After class, I hurried home to change for a party and to load up the car. I got a little teary-eyed locking my apartment door and walking away. I know 9 weeks is not a long time in the grand scheme of things but leaving my home for that long made me a little emotional and I think that is normal!
My brother dropped me off at my friend Lindsay’s house so I could attend the gender reveal party for her and her husband’s baby! It is a boy! I cannot wait to meet him!
After the party, we headed over to my dad’s house to celebrate the September birthdays in the family. We ate, drank, and had a great time. I had so many “goodbyes” during the week and it was overwhelming to now say goodbye to my family. I know it is not forever but again, it is hard to leave for 9 weeks!
Sunday 9/17/17 – Day 1
I kicked off the trip with a 3am wakeup call to catch my 6am flight. As you can imagine, I barely slept at all that night. Dad and Suzette were kind enough to drive me to the airport and wait with me to check my bags in ($155 in baggage fees… oy) before sending me on my way. Shout out to them for taking care of Elliott while I am away and for always taking me to the airport!
When I arrived in Mexico City, I was pretty emotional (again). Last time I was in Mexico City… well, see my last blog post. Being there and at the airport brought back a lot of memories and I was not ready for that! Luckily, when I got off the plane, there were 4 other Americans so I swallowed my feelings and together the 5 of us figured out how to get through immigration, get our bags, go through security, and find our next flight. The 4 of them were all heading to Cancun so we parted ways and I boarded my flight to Acapulco.
We landed in Acapulco just before noon and there were several Bikram people on the plane. I had been friends with Jana on Instagram for awhile so we recognized each other and stuck together. I did admit that I had already been here once before so I was asked a lot of questions about different things but I was happy to answer them. The bus ride to the hotel was short and checking in was easy. Being back at this hotel was a bit overwhelming (again, see last post) but having people around and being so occupied and focused on my own thing was helpful. I was also really excited to just finally be here and get going! My roommate, Leah, was already here so we got to know each other while I unpacked and got settled.
Orientation was at 3pm. It was a quick welcome and introduction to training. We met the staff (but not Bikram yet… yes, he is a real living person!) and went over basic rules and schedules. Everyone got to know each other a little bit and we became fast friends. Some people were still arriving later that night so not everyone was there yet.
After orientation, they took us to Walmart. My new friend, Andrew, and I partnered up and went around the store getting water, snacks, etc. I brought snacks so I really did not need much.
Everyone had dinner after Walmart and then a few of us walked around the property, checked out the studio, and watched the sunset on the beach. We even got to see a hotel staff member carry out a bucket of baby turtles to the sea! It had been a long day so I went to sleep pretty early, anxious and ready the next day!
Monday 9/18/17 – Day 2
Somehow I managed to sleep 10+ hours! I felt like I new person waking up. There was no morning yoga class today so we had a late breakfast and I studied some dialogue by the pool before our noon orientation with Bikram. Orientation was an experience! Bikram welcomed us and got us pumped for our first class later that night.
After orientation, Andrew and I studied dialogue for a couple of hours and grabbed a late lunch in the cafe so we would not starve in class. Waiting for our first class with Bikram was torture! I was so anxious and because people had already started to friend each other on social media, I was seeing how AMAZING people were and I was worried I would be horrible compared to them!
Class was at 5pm and I have never, ever, in my life been in a room that hot and humid! It was ridiculously hot. It was so hot it was unsafe, in my opinion. When Bikram walked in, even he said it was too hot. (After class, teachers and other staff even said it was too hot. It was rumored to be over 100% humidity and around 140 degrees but I do not know where people got those numbers. They did say it was the hottest on record, though.) 2 people were taken out by staff before class even started because they were starting to pass out. Nobody wanted to be the first person to sit in the first class, especially when Bikram was teaching, but at any given point, at least half of the class was sitting, myself included. I was so dizzy. The room did not start to cool off to normal temperatures until about Triangle pose and felt mostly normal again/in my zone by the floor series. It was an over 2 hour class and we all survived, somehow. The bright side is that none of us will ever experience a room that hot again… so it should be all downhill from there! A few of us jumped in the ocean after class and watched the most beautiful sunset. We had dinner and no evening lecture class so it was another early night.
Tuesday 9/19/17 – Day 3
Tuesday was our first day of double yoga classes. We kicked off with an 8:30am Bikram class (at the correct temperature!) taught by Laju, Bikram’s daughter. This was a MUCH better class for me and for everyone else it seemed. I did not need to sit once, a big improvement compared to the day before. I had a quick breakfast after class and then tried to study a bit more with Leah and Leslie. We were supposed to start doing our dialogue for Half Moon in front of Bikram during the afternoon lecture and I wanted to do mine to get it over with!
Afternoon lecture started at 1pm. Bikram talked for a little bit and just as I was starting to get antsy in those uncomfortable lecture chairs… EARTHQUAKE. The room started trembling and we all looked at each other, not realizing it was an earthquake at first. Manali (head BYTT staff member) came running back in and told us it was earthquake and we needed to leave the building. We ushered ourselves outside and waited about half an hour and practiced some splits with Johana and Jana before heading back in to finish lecture. Unfortunately, we did not have time to start our Half Moon dialogue!
Our second yoga class started at 5pm (similar schedule every day), again with Bikram. He teaches all of the evening classes and a staff member or visiting teacher teaches the morning ones. It was a great class! We all looked so pathetic on Monday because of the heat so this was his first time really seeing us and what we are capable of. He did start picking on people a little bit but admittedly said he was being easy on us this week and was going to be nice. I did well (did not sit down)! I put my mat in the front row because I figured he could see us anywhere in the room and would call us out regardless, so I might as well be as close to the mirror as I can so that I can at least see myself (it helps with the balance). Luckily, I did not get called out.
I chatted with my mom for a bit after dinner and then with my dad and Suzette. Everyone wanted to know about the earthquake and how things were going. Our evening lecture at 10pm. Yes, that is a late start! 2 classes and 2 lectures a day… oy! I was able to do my dialogue in front of Bikram. I was 5th to go and pretty nervous. He stopped me halfway and told me that I knew the dialogue too well and that I needed to add personality and not sound like a tape. This was the same feedback every teacher who had heard me do it in the past said so I was not surprised. My instructor friend, Katy, had told me that personality comes over time so I mainly focused on getting the words out and staying calm. I think it went well overall! After lecture I found out that Laju had live streamed my dialogue delivery on Facebook and one of my instructors back home, Jerome, had watched it! That was pretty cool. I was so excited to be finished with it and my adrenaline was pumping! I saw Katy was on Facebook chat so I called her and got to tell her about it and that was fun. I definitely did not fall asleep easily that night!
Wednesday 9/20/19 – Day 4
We had our morning class with Anurag, Bikram’s son. He was pretty easy on us and did not offer corrections but was very, very encouraging. He had good energy and I had a great class again. The morning classes are tough because my body is still so tight but I still have managed to do pretty well. I am no super-star yogi in that room but I am doing my best!
After breakfast I tried to study but ended up napping on a couch in the Mezzanine area instead. It is an open air, secluded space in our building so it was pretty quiet and comfortable. Oops! By the way, all of the food has been great. We have had a really good variety every day.
Afternoon lecture consisted of listening to people deliver their Half Moon in front of Bikram. It was definitely a long process but everyone is so encouraging to each person that went up there. We always clapped and cheered for everyone and helped them if they were struggling. We all are in the same boat and we all know what it is like to be up on that stage so we might as well work together! Bikram let us out early and I helped a few others study their dialogue and snacked on one too many vegetable chips before heading to our 5th class at 5pm.
I was really dreading going. I was started to feel sore and sick (see the ‘too many chips’ comment above) but as soon as class got started, I was in the zone and it was definitely my best class so far! I stayed in the front row but Bikram noticed that just about everyone was sitting in the same spot as Monday and Tuesday and he told we needed to start rotating around the room. Argh! Y’all know how I like my comfort zone! After every class, the instructor plays a song during final savasana. When Bikram teaches, it is usually one of his songs OR he sings a song to us. It is oddly relaxing and dare I say, slightly moving? I cannot explain it!
I relaxed on the patio for a bit after class and just watched the rain. It had rained all day but thankfully we had no aftershocks from the previous day’s earthquake. I went down for dinner (it is funny, it is always the same people who are down there first) and afterward caught up on my EveryDollar budget and work emails. I made it all of 3 days before checking work email… shocking. I tried to watch the AGT Finale but the WiFi was not strong enough to stream video. I can have a video chat but not watch TV. What is up with that?!
During our evening lecture, we learned about the history of yoga. I have a feeling we will be learning more and more about that as the weeks go on! It was definitely interesting. We do not need to take notes during class or anything but Bikram drops little gems of wisdom every now and them so I would write them down. Plus, doodling or writing helped me stay awake. He let us out “early” again and I was in bed and sound asleep by 12:45am.
Thursday 9/21/17 – Day 5
Against my will, I sat in a new spot in the morning class. Manali taught it and everyone was excited to finally take her class. She is our main point of contact for everything so we see and talk to her a lot. You can think of her like our group Mom, essentially. She was firm with us but it was a great class. My mind was totally not in the room but I did well anyway!
After breakfast (which is really more like brunch/lunch if you have not noticed), I helped some friends study their Half Moon dialogue. The afternoon lecture consisted of more people doing their dialogue in front of Bikram. None of us will have an excuse to not know Half Moon after how many times we had to hear it! I would say it is exhausting to sit there and listen to it over and over again (which it is, to some degree) but because each person is different and we are all still getting to know each other, it really was not that bad. I did try to capitalize on some time though and start reviewing the dialogue for another posture but it was difficult to stay focused when I wanted to still hear everyone go.
Bikram let us out early again and the sun was finally back out so Lidia, Maryla, and I went to the salt water pool to relax. We swam, took yoga pictures, and soaked up the sun before our evening class. They say salt water baths are supposed to help you with muscle aches so we decided swimming in the salt water pool was a good equivalent!
Our evening class with Bikram was another good one for me. I moved my mat again (sigh), this time close to the podium, and ended up getting my first correction from him. He spent a lot of time picking on the girls to either side of me so I knew it was only a matter of time until he got to me! He used my actual name (our names are in large print on our mats so teachers can see them from the podium) instead of a nickname and very quickly told me to take a bigger step during Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee. I fixed my posture and we moved on. Whew. After class, he sang to us in the middle of the room. It was kind of a cool moment. As much as I want to resist fan-girling over him, I will admit it is pretty neat to be able to take classes and learn directly from the guy who created something I am so passionate about!
I spent time checking work emails after dinner and commenting on support tickets (sorry, guys). I truly cannot help myself! I am sure I will have less and less time for those kinds of tasks as the weeks go on but for now, let it happen.
We watched a documentary during our evening lecture. It was more interesting than I thought it would be and I kind of liked it. I do not really know what to take away from it but I did not hate it. The movie mentioned a book that the main subject wrote and I actually jotted down the title so I could go read it one day after this. Yogi status = 100%. I was in bed by midnight!
Friday 9/22/17 – Day 6
We had a guest teacher, Ana, teach the morning class (I feel horrible but I forgot her name already). She taught mostly in Spanish which was REALLY cool. It was my first time having a class not in English and I really enjoyed it. If you are familiar with the practice, you really only need to know words like: right/left, inhale/exhale, up/down, push/pull, stretch, relax, change, and savasana! 🙂 I had a great class again, too, but man, Rabbit pose is SO difficult in the morning for me. Luckily, it helps warm me up for the afternoon class.
I was not as hungry as I had been so I had a light breakfast and then Lidia and I went to the pool and took some more fun pictures. People were watching us from the restaurant but we did not care; might as well enjoy it and take as many pictures as we can while we are here!
We finished everyone’s Half Moon during the afternoon lecture – whoop! We have a few non-English speakers here and I really felt for them as they powered through it. They definitely had the most to overcome to do it so everyone cheered quite a bit! We ended lecture a little early again and because Andrew had been sick the past few days and no one had seen him, I went to check on him. He gave me the run down of what was going on and basically, he had been really sick. He had gone to the doctor several times, had IVs, was on all sorts of medication, was not eating, was not sleeping, etc. It was the perfect storm of all things horrible for him. Everyone had been asking me where he was and what was going on since we had not seen him (and apparently I was his official spokesperson which was fine with me) so I just felt like I had to check. We had exchanged numbers earlier in the week but my phone would not receive his texts so it was a pointless effort. He did not have a roommate either so we were all really worried about him! After checking on him, I went back to the pool. There really is not much else to do here during our free time besides be at the pool!
The evening class was another good one. I got called out again, this time during Wind Removing pose, for not having my arms low low enough on my legs. I know I do not go low enough so it was only a matter of time. However, when Bikram says do something… you do it. So, I forced myself to move my arms lower and we moved on. Again, could have been worse! I have already noticed improvements in several of my postures which is kind of insane after having been practicing for as many classes in a row as I have. I think part of that is from Bikram correcting other people and me just trying to listen/soak up that feedback before he says the same thing to me, but also part of it comes from me just wanting to do well and pushing myself more than I have before. I do not feel like I need to show off in front of Bikram but I definitely do not want to stand out for the WRONG reasons, if that makes sense.
We were fortunate enough to have no evening lecture for having the “best 1st week of training ever” (which I am sure he says every time) so after dinner I talked with dad and Suzette so they could catch me up on Elliott’s teeth cleaning ordeal. Shout out again to them for watching him and taking such good care of him! I miss my little nugget!
Because we had no lecture and there is not much to do here, Tom, Mandi, Kiley, and I hung out in the Mezzanine area and talked for a couple of hours while listening to the thunderstorm. The mosquitoes out here are top notch biters!
Leah and I visited Andrew again just before bed to get an update. I will not get into it here but basically, he told us he was going to have to go home. He was very sick all week with no improvement and the next step was going to a hospital which he did not want to do in Mexico, especially alone. I was very disappointed to hear how he was treated during this and how alone he was through it all. I cannot imagine what he was going through with his physical pains but also his emotional ones of having to make a tough decision to potentially go home. It takes so much effort to pause your life for 9 weeks and to have to go back after just a week is hugely disappointing and I am sure it caused him a lot of stress. They say over and over again to trust the process here but when something like this happens and it is handled the way it was, it makes me not only not trust them, but not feel safe. If something were to happen to me, would I be taken care of? It does not sit well with me.
Saturday 9/23/17 – Day 7
We are supposed to have a single morning class on Saturdays but we woke up to the news that the hot room had flooded overnight. The carpet in one corner of the room was wet in the evening class the night before but somehow something went wrong and the whole room was soaked. Obviously, class had to be cancelled. I was actually looking forward to class so it was kind of a bummer. We went down anyway to see the damage and make sure class was actually cancelled and a lot of people looked disappointed. We do not know what caused it (the storm the night before, the earthquake earlier in the week, something else?). I am sure the staff knows but they do not tell us a lot. We usually find out what is going on right before it happens. I count my classes as part of my 365 Day Yoga Challenge and it had worked out that my final class at training would be class #400. That number was assuming we did 11 a week as planned. Now, because there was no morning class on Monday and no morning class this day, it will not land on such a nice number! If more classes are not cancelled, I might try doing the makeup classes on Saturday (if you miss a class or a lecture or even forget to sign in on time for them, you have to do a double on Saturday mornings) to catch up. We will see how it goes.
There was also another little earthquake in the morning. I was laying in bed at 8am waiting to walk down to class and I definitely felt a little rumble. It felt and sounded like there was an elephant walking around upstairs and lasted for at least a minute or two. I looked it up and sure enough, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Oaxaco.
With no class, I tried to go back to sleep after doing some laundry but had no luck. Andrew did make the decision to leave so we said goodbye to him and he was nice enough to give us all of his water, drinks, and snacks. It was a sad moment! I still cannot believe how everything played out but the show must go on…
After breakfast we were able to make another Walmart trip. I was not planning on going since I still had plenty of water and snacks of my own and now also had Andrew’s but there was not much else to do so I went anyway. I figured while I was there I might as well get even more water and snacks but somehow I also ended up with a swimsuit cover-up and matching “Power” shirts with Lidia and Maryla. *facepalm* Luckily, since they feed us over the weekends (which they did not do last training), I had room in my budget. It helps that everything at Walmart is cheap, too. Walmart is attached to a mall so Lidia and I walked around the mall to see what else there was to offer – answer: not much, stick to Walmart.
When we got back, it seemed like everyone had the same idea: sit by one of the many pools and study. You can only study for so long in one sitting so of course yoga shenanigans occurred and we took yoga pictures. Alicia and I went down the water slide and explored a small cave in the salt water pool. The lifeguard was super awkward and followed us there but it was funny. For all we know, he was telling us to leave the cave but we were just smiling at him and swimming around. I was out there for a few hours and it was really relaxing and just a good time hanging out with people, studying together, correcting postures together, etc. Will every weekend be like this?!
I took a break from the sun in the afternoon before dinner to check email, organize my pictures from the week, and get a jump start on writing this post. It was pizza night for dinner!
Maryla, Leah, and I went on a walk after dinner. We walked down the beach and around the hotel a few times before calling it a night!
Sunday 9/24/17 – Day 8
Sundays are always a 100% free day for us. No class, no lecture, no anything. I decided to capitalize on this and stay in bed until breakfast at 10:30am. I had woken up a lot during the night and tossed and turned so I stayed in bed to get as much rest as possible. After breakfast, I got to video chat with Kelsey for a little bit and catch up!
I am heading down to the pool now to study and perfect my tan! We all need to get as much rest and relaxation in as we can before kicking off week 2 – our first full week (assuming the hot room is dried out in time for tomorrow morning’s class!).
Until next week,