… BYTT (Week 5)

We have completed 53 classes and 5 weeks! Week 5 was probably one of the fastest weeks I have had here. We made it through so much dialogue in our posture clinics, Bikram finally came back, we hit the halfway point of training, and ended the week with a much-needed pizza and dance party!

 

Monday 10/16/17 – Day 30
Monday kicked off with a morning class from Tom after Manali asked why I looked say during her pre-class speech. I was not sad! Tom was teaching, how could I be sad? Eddie had everyone squeeze into the middle of the room initially and people were not comprehending how to do that. Yoga brain, I am assuming. Tom led a great class and I did pretty well considering it was a Monday morning. He made us laugh, encouraged us, energized us, and gave us enough breaks. Between one of the sets, he said, “Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. You are allowed to breathe on your own from here on out.” That made me laugh because it was a clever way to remind us to keep breathing! Tom also reminded us, “no matter what, never skip Camel.” Wise words, Tom. His savasana song was “Hot in Here” by Nelly: classic.

I had a quick breakfast then reviewed my anatomy notes and studied dialogue on the mezzanine with Maryla. The lobby was still too full from all of the other hotel events – I miss the lobby! She kindly reminded me that people tend to give their attention to others who need it and neglect the ones who are okay. I do not remember how that got brought up but I am sure I was probably frustrated about something and she was putting it into perspective for me, as always.

Our afternoon posture clinic was incredibly productive. We took some fun group pictures (minus Alonso who was running late), took our last anatomy test, and made it through nearly 3 postures: finished Standing Head to Knee, started and finished Standing Bow Pulling, and started Balancing Stick.

Eddie was quite the talker which sometimes slowed our pace but he and Robyn gave us valuable feedback. Robyn had a very positive attitude and was really encouraging for people who needed it. You cannot always beat people down and give them negative feedback, even if they are not doing well. Some people respond better to encouraging words and she did a good job building those people up. They also reminded the class about proper “teaching costume:” hair tied back, yoga clothes (pants/shorts, tank top, etc.). I was glad they finally said something because we were told that on the first day of clinics but people must have forgotten. People in the group have been doing so much better at memorizing the dialogue than the previous weeks so it was really exciting to see their improvement.

Robyn also recognized me from the Spring graduation (she sat in front of me and we talked about yoga mats for a few minutes) which was surprising. I talked to her during our break and Eddie admitted he recognized me, too. Spotted! Eddie and I talked about the Houston studios (he knows the owner of the Sugarland one) and about my first class.

Y’all know I can talk fast, right? Well, Eddie wanted everyone to talk faster when delivering Balancing Stick (the posture is only supposed to be 10 second but there is at least 60 seconds worth of dialogue – everyone knows that in a real-life situation, you’d cut almost all the dialogue out but for the sake of posture clinic, we had to say it all to prove we knew it). Some people prefer to go first while they still have the words fresh on their mind so after a few people went, I hopped up there. I wanted to go while we had Eddie and Robyn because I knew if we had a different teacher later in the evening clinic, there was a chance for inconsistent feedback and they would not want me to talk as fast as Eddie was suggesting we talk. I had to go while we had them! I went and said the entire dialogue in probably 2 or 3 breaths, without missing a single beat. Eddie said I did great and that I did not miss a word but that he was worried I was going to pass out. My feedback from them was to learn how to breathe from my diaphragm. I made a joke that it was the only time they were going to let me talk fast so I had to advantage of it! We were let out of clinic just before 4pm.

When I got back to the room, I noticed our toiletries near the sink had been reorganized and there was a towel under our stuff now. At first I thought Leah had gotten bored and done it but when she got back, she said it was not her. Housekeeping had done it! I was okay with that, it looked nicer this way! P.S. We wear our robes to and from class so that we do not have to dirty our actual clothes.

I had some snacks before the evening class with Anurag. Before class, Robyn reminded me that I am not responsible for other people and their dialogue. I finally accepted that information over the previous weekend when Tom and Jonalyn whipped me into shape but it never hurts to remind me, especially since I have a tendency to make other people’s problems my own. Anurag’s class was good; I did well and I felt good even though the class was not very hot. Class went by incredibly fast, too, which is always nice. I enjoy Anurag’s classes because he has such a soothing voice and is so encouraging but every teacher has their little quirks and his were making me laugh. He says “just a few more seconds” at the end of almost every posture!

Dinner was nice but I decided no desserts this week so that was a bummer. Earlier in the afternoon, I did finish off the caramel chocolate Andrew had left me. But after that, no desserts! I was so exhausted though that I just wanted to rest so I went back to my room and watched Netflix until posture clinic.

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We had another posture clinic in the evening. Ulesis and Jolinda were our facilitators. We had not met Ulesis yet and when he walked in the room and introduced himself, my stomach dropped. He was the ONLY person I was ‘warned’ about before coming here! I had not actually heard any details, though, so I did not know what to expect. He was a little crazy and all over the place but I really enjoyed him. He said he would not spend a lot of time on feedback so our group could catch up on postures (we were a little behind) but then he proceeded to give a lot of feedback to everyone and talk a lot. I liked what he had to say and learned a lot about teaching and the postures but I wished he had not gotten our hopes up that we would be moving quickly! It is great that we have different teachers each clinic so that we can get to know different people and different people can get to know us but I think it makes it very challenging to give consistent and valuable feedback across the board. Every new person we meet has to start from scratch with us. They do not know what we have already been told or how we have been doing so clinics can really drag out. For example, almost everyone asks “who have you been studying with?” We should not need to answer that every time. Some teachers say to do all of the dialogue, some are okay with just part of it. Etc. None of us know what to do half the time when the message is always changing. I am happy to play the game but it is tough to play it when I do not know the rules. Does that make sense? Ah! I was glad I finished Balancing Stick earlier with Eddie.

Anyway, Ulesis told us we have to build trust with our students by being honest and sticking to our word so he kind of broke my trust by not doing as he had promised (to not give a lot of feedback and then by giving a lot of feedback). It made me worried for when we would have to take his yoga class!

I did genuinely like the guy, though. He really, truly listened to our dialogue delivery (some teachers talk during) and had his hand over his heart for the people that struggled, as if he was trying to send them love. He was sweet.

I did my dialogue for Standing Separate Leg Stretching and got great feedback. I always worry that I will forget the dialogue when I am up there but everything (so far) has been okay and flowed naturally. When you know it well enough, you can say it without thinking and this was one I knew well enough. Ulesis was the first teacher to give me positive feedback without a catch. Others have said, “that was great… but…” and he did not do that which I appreciated. It was nice to just be told I was doing well with no strings attached. He said I was great and asked me when I was moving to New York to teach at his studio in Manhattan. I said I would come visit and he insisted that I do. Who knows if that will play out or if he will remember me but it was nice to know he thought I could be good enough.

I noticed that people in my group who used to struggle were starting to do really well and gain the confidence to stand up and say their dialogue. Their memorization has gotten so much better and it is awesome to see everyone grow so much in such a short time. We all have something to be proud of! On the flip side, people who were doing amazing at first were starting to struggle a little more. We all have dialogue “banks:” a queue of postures we already have memorized and I think our banks were starting to empty because we were moving so quickly through everything. My bank of postures was almost drained so I am about to be right there with them, staying up late to study new postures and whatnot. We will all get through it, no matter what, so we just need to hang in there.

We were out a little after midnight but Leah, my roommate, and I always stay up a little extra longer to talk about what happened in our groups and how we did! We are different but we have a lot of the same opinions on things and it is nice knowing I can come back to our room and we can both just be open and honest about our thoughts of the day without judgement.

 

Tuesday 10/17/17 – Day 31
Leah and I slept a little longer than usual – the beginnings of a bad habit. I woke up feeling like we would be running late but we were fine and got to class at the same time we always do. Tyroon (spelling?) murdered us in the morning class for nearly 2 hours. He spent 40 minutes on the warm up which is typically 25 minutes so, yeah. The class moved in slow motion and I was so hungry since I did not eat my protein bar. Each posture has a sequence of events within it and he did so many out of them out of order. It was particularly noticeable in Standing Head to Knee when he had us lift our foot up before rounding down to grab it and in Standing Bow Pulling when he had us lift our arm up before grabbing our ankle. We were all confused. All I could think the entire class was:

  1. You are supposed to kill our bodies, not our spirits.
  2. Savasanas exist in between postures for a reason.

Class was a struggle but even so, I did alright. I managed. My left shoulder bothered me during Floor Bow and Camel but it was fine. He did not have a savasana song but instead talked to us. I had no idea what he was saying but it was incredibly relaxing and I almost fell asleep. A nice little bonus there at the end.

I got to talk to Tom and Jonalyn a little more at breakfast while waiting in the omelet line. They had skipped the morning class and had asked me how it was. I told them my 2 thoughts above and that they were lucky they had the option to skip! I also showed them the time lapse video of Bailey and I doing yoga. Cue the awes.

Jana’s table was leaving but she was nice enough to stay back with me while I ate and we had a nice chat about the morning class and our posture clinics/groups. We are in different groups but I know she is kicking ass!

On my way out from breakfast, Manali stopped and talked to me by the pastries. I may or may not have been grabbing a cinnamon roll to go when she approached me and called me out for my sweet tooth. We talked about that and other things when out of no where she said, “You do not have any tattoos, right?” UGH! I told her that I did and her face dropped and she responded with a very upset and disappointed, “oh no!” She asked me where (on my left ankle) and said she was surprised she never noticed it and implied she probably had not seen it because she liked me.

Sidenote: Every training has a Demo Team. The Demo Team is made up of around 15 people, all chosen by the staff towards the end of training, to demo the postures in unison during graduation. They have extra practices to prepare and are given matching costumes, etc. You cannot be on Demo Team if you have a tattoo. When I saw the Demo Team perform at the Spring graduation, I thought it would be cool if I could be on it if I ever went to training but that was quickly squashed when I learned that tattoo rule.

I told Manali, “I know, I know” and she asked what I knew. I said that I knew it meant I could not be on Demo Team and she nodded. I told her I had unfortunately and reluctantly accepted that fact back in June. She said I was on her “list of people” to be considered! Now, if you read last week’s blog, you know that I have trouble believing the staff when they say things so she may or may not have been pulling my leg but damn. It was nice to have been thought of and potentially considered though. There are plenty of amazing people here, with and without tattoos, and I am certainly not a stand out but that was nice of her to imply that and it made me feel a little good.

I reviewed dialogue for Triangle and Standing Separate Leg Stretching with Maryla. She and Lidia had bought me chocolate covered pretzel sticks at Walmart last weekend so I snacked on those while the 3 of us laid on their floor for 5 minutes to center ourselves before posture clinic. They are the best!

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Posture clinic went really well. Tom and Micael were our staff and we finished Standing Separate Leg Stretching (I volunteered to demo because that posture is awesome and it is better than sitting on the cold, hard floor for so long), made it through Triangle pose, and started Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee. Tom and Micael both believe in only giving a little feedback which helped move us along (finally). You either know the dialogue or not, everything else will come with time, practice, and experience. My dialogue for Triangle went well even though I mixed up a few words in one of lines. It was not too noticeable though. Tom made an example of me: that there is no magic formula to knowing dialogue, it just takes saying it over and over and over again until you know it to your core. Demoing Triangle 3 times was significantly MORE difficult than delivering the dialogue though. Torture.

I was also able to do my dialogue for Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee and when I finsihed that one, Tom said, “Damn. You did not miss a single word. Damn.” I rarely, do Tom. *jokes* Everyone should have gone while we had Tom and Micael! I was surprised more people were not jumping on the opportunity to deliver dialogue in front of guys who already admitted they do not give a lot of feedback. Also, during one of our breaks, Tom snacked on Cocoa Krispies and I respected that. I finished off my chocolate covered pretzel sticks but definitely considered offering a trade with him.

Our evening class was with Ulesis. It was a long class, clocking in at almost 2 hours. It was incredibly hot, hotter than usual, and I was drenched. He held us in Half Moon for what felt like an entire lifetime. The class started off really tough and I was dizzy for most of the standing series but it got better as it went on. My abdomen was hurting so badly and my left shoulder was hurting during Camel still but I made it through. Bikram told us later in the week that if your abdomen was hurting, take a deep breath and do a backbend: that would have have come in handy! He reminded us that sitting down and/or leaving the room is contagious: when one person does it, everyone starts to do it. It really disrupts the energy in the room (exception: if someone is actually dying).

Noteworthy quotes:

  • The only way to let something go is to give it your 100% so you know you gave it all you could. It is complete. You left nothing pending.

I swam with Maryla after class. The weather was nice but overcast and it was nice to relax my muscles. We talked about our posture clinics earlier in the day and studied Tree Pose. I did not have a picture yet for my Instagram picture-of-the-day and the black swan looked comfortable on our way to the pool so he (or she?) was lucky enough to my subject. Congrats, you are a famous bird now.

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The lobby was finally empty of the extra hotel guests so I studied there after enjoying an awesome zucchini dish at dinner.

Our evening lecture was with Ulesis. He gave a great lecture on breathing, teaching, energy, and our own practice. He had us do a few breathing exercises and they were very, very cool. I was smiling like an idiot during one of them because he was saying that you should feel tingling and feel the breath go around your body and that weird sensation was making me laugh, mostly out of discomfort and feeling stupid. Not that I did not enjoy the breathing exercises, I completely did! I just normally think that stuff is not real and then when I started to feel it, I could not help but laugh at myself. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. I loved everything he said to us and was not sure why I was warned about him. Maybe his tough classes? Tough classes do not make him a bad teacher!

Noteworthy quotes:

  • “Offer the beauty within yourself, the victory within yourself, the glory within yourself. Destroy the enemy.” -Ulesis’ Savasana song that I do not know the name of (and that Manali sang to us at the beginning of lecture)
  • “We came from God and our ultimate destination is to return to him. The end, and the means to that end, is yoga.” -Yogananda
  • “Breathing is your life. Your life starts with a breath and ends with a breath. They don’t count your fingers first!”
  • “Life is a series of breaths.”
  • “If there is life, there is prana.”
  • “Life is simple, just breathe.”
  • “The harder you practice, the harder you breathe.”
  • “When I speak, I move the earth.”
  • “Your spine is the source of all energy in your body.”
  • “Welcome to the Bikram Yoga torture chamber, haunted house in Disneyland… no windows, no doors.” -Bikram (Ulesis quoting Bikram)

The worst part of the night was that right before the end of the lecture, he wanted to share a chant with us. While they were getting ready for it, I checked my phone to see the time. Worst. Mistake. Ever. I saw a message from someone at my studio back home and I let it put a damper on my whole evening. The content of the message was only 25% of what upset me though, 75% of my frustration was the fact that the message was sent at all. It was hurtful, selfish, and confusing. I was so distracted by it and so upset that I did not hear what the chant was about and could not focus during it. Instead, I held back tears for the entire thing and got so mad thinking about if or how I should reply to it. You know what the worst part of the whole thing was? Bikram always says that if you let anyone steal your happiness, you are a loser. Even the person who sent me the message says in their own class when they teach to not to let anyone steal your peace. Yet, I still let someone steal my peace for the evening. I was mad at myself for having an opportunity to put into practice everything I have learned here and I failed. It was a test and I did not do well. My night was rough and I had so much trouble sleeping and calming myself down that I had to take my anxiety medication so I would not have a full blown anxiety attack. Even having to do that made me mad. Thankfully, a friend from back home was up late and was able to help talk me through it and help distract me and calm me down until I fell asleep. Spoiler alert: I was 100% fine the next day so maybe I have learned something here. Normally, something like that would have upset me for days and days but it only lasted one night. Baby steps.

Lecture was out a little after midnight but I was up until probably 1:30am.

 

Wednesday 10/18/17 – Day 32 – HALFWAY!
I did not sleep well (see above) and tossed and turned a lot. I woke up a few times, too, so I ended up getting out of bed a little later than I planned. I knew the morning class was going to be with Jonalyn though so that helped get me up and moving. She and Tom had mentioned they brought some shirts from their studio so when I came down the stairs to the studio, Tom handed me a shirt. A few people got different ones. That was so nice of them to bring them for us and for them to give me one! Tom designed them and the one I got is the camel cigarette logo but it says ‘A Camel a day keeps the doctor away’ and instead of cigarettes or whatnot on it, it has a picture of the Camel pose. I cannot wear it here because it is green (and we are not allowed to wear green) but I love it! Jonalyn’s class was awesome, tough, and entertaining, as usual. She says all of the same things other teacher say about leaving the room and not sitting down but she does it in a way that is kind and compassionate that makes us want to follow her. She is good. My standing series was a bit rough but I did better over time. Karl left at one point and she jokingly said, “Karl must have explosive diarrhea” (implying that there is no other reason to be leaving the hot room during class) and we all laughed. We love you, Karl! She also said that Camel pose is like giving birth because it “hurts like hell and I yell at you to push, push, push!” Tom and Manali were in the back of the room playing around and causing a ruckus too. It was a good time. It was also her final class with us as she and Tom were heading back to California afterward. We are lucky to have had them come visit us and get to know them more. I think we all want them to adopt us.

Maryla and I went swimming again after class and practiced dialogue for Tree pose and Toe Stand before breakfast. After breakfast (I am going to miss this breakfast when I go back home!), we studied more on the mezzanine. I kept saying “Tree Stand” so that should give you an indication of how my brain was operating at the time. My dialogue bank was getting lower and I was not feeling as confident with these postures, even though I knew them. It was tough to focus. Plus, the two are so alike that it was easy to mix them up.

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I needed to just go lay down so I went back to my room and then Leah and I ran through the dialogue a few more times while snacking on chips. We have a chip problem!

Eddie and Nancy led my group’s posture clinic for the afternoon. They had us do attendance by saying our favorite birthday gift and all I could think about was when my best friend, Kelsey, send me Tiff’s Treats for my last birthday so I said that! Yum. We finished Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee, Tree, and Toe Stand. They had us delivery Tree and Toe together, back to back. Talk about confusing. Luckily, I did not say Tree Stand when I was up there and while I did fumble a little bit on Tree, I did not miss anything. I also wanted to say “Stand tall and stand proud!” at the end of it because it is my favorite part of Jerome’s class (from my studio at home) but I held back. Eddie called me the Dialogue Queen but told me to keep focusing on emphasizing bold words (which I did… and other people told me after class that I had…) and sarcastically said I might have missed an ‘and’ or a period. Knowing the dialogue is only half the battle. Delivering it confidently and whatnot is the other half but I know that ability will come with time. I was confident in the first postures because I knew them so well. One day I will know these (and the floor series) well enough, too, and it will all be okay. I was also so tired that I was nodding off and trying so hard to stay awake while other people delivered theirs. I cannot stand when other people talk while someone is delivering dialogue so it would probably be worse for me to fall asleep!

Posture clinics are a great place for us to practice giving dialogue and I wish people knew that. It is all PRACTICE. It is not about being perfect in there. Sometimes people make excuses or justifications if they do poorly or apologize if they mess up but all of that is not necessary. Thinking you have to be perfect just adds stress and is what causes you to mess up. The instructors will ask people who are struggling with the dialogue to simply describe the posture: get them into the pose, explain what is happening, and get them out of the pose. Even then, people put so much pressure on themselves that they cannot do it and they KNOW the pose! You cannot help but just want to hug them because if they cannot explain a posture in their own words, you know they must really be nervous. It is heartbreaking to watch and hear about over and over again (all groups have this struggle it seems).

Not surprisingly, Leah and I had more snacks in the room before our evening class. She was nice enough to share her potato chips with me as I was craving something salty and crunchy.

Our evening class was with BIKRAM! Finally! He had been gone for 2 weeks and I cannot speak for everyone but I genuinely missed having him around and his classes. Whenever there are orange towels on the podium, we know Bikram is teaching and it was so nice to walk down the stairs and see those orange towels again. It almost felt like the very first class all over again because of the nervousness and anticipation of it all. He had not seen us for 2 weeks and what if we were not “developed” enough in our practice? What if he did not think we made enough progress?

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It ended up being a great, great class, despite me having to go back to the 3rd row because we had to restart our line rotations (it was my group’s turn to be in the front but no such luck) and the insane heat/humidity. I was drenched. I got corrected on Eagle pose (for my hands not being in front of my face, something Maryla had brought up with me the day before) and for not doing the last breathing exercise correctly. We finished it and he looked at me and said, “You must have been distracted because you didn’t do anything.” I just said that I was and he dismissed it and then class was over. Yep.

He was tough on us but he made class enjoyable and made us laugh. I truly learn more in 1 class with him then I do in all other classes combined but that makes sense because he is Bikram… the creator of Bikram yoga. We needed his reminders and encouragement.

His class marked the official halfway point of training, too! In class, they say that class is all downhill from Triangle pose. Not surprisingly, I had to celebrate with a picture of Triangle pose before swimming with Maryla after class. Anurag was there but left shortly after our arrival. I guess we ruined his post-class spot!

I video chatted with Dad and Suzette (AND ELLIOTT) after dinner for a little bit. It was great to see and talk to them. Of course I loved seeing Elliott’s cute little face, too. Apparently when he heard my voice, he came over to the iPad and then when he saw me on the screen, he kept trying to find me behind the screen and look around for me. Heartbreaking! They asked me if I was getting enough food and water: yes to both. We get plenty of water at the hot room and lecture room so I do not need to buy it at Walmart anymore. My water bottle is big enough! I eat more than enough, too. Y’all, when I post a picture of my food… that is usually just the first plate of it! Plus, I never post the dessert pictures (but no desserts this week!). Aaaaaand you never see the pictures of extra cinnamon roll I walk out with in the morning or extra piece of bread I grab on my way out from dinner. I eat! Still always hungry though!

I told them about the incidents of Tuesday night and the message I got. If I was going to continue to be associated with Laos from here on out at my home studio, then I did not want to continue to go there. My dad told me not to make any emotional decisions which I promise I will not, but it is something weighing heavily on my mind. Imagine you wore a dumb shirt in 3rd grade. Now imagine that the rest of your life, everyone always associated you with that dumb shirt you have not worn in 20+ years. You would get sick of it, correct? That is how I feel when people still think Laos and I have ties to each other (except “the shirt did not break your heart” as my Dad said). As weird as it is, I have almost NOT known him longer than I have known him… it is time for the rest of the world to move on, too. Period.

Anyway, Dad discovered video chat filters so I grabbed a screenshot of them. They make me laugh! I also admitted that I have had “a few sips of the kool-aid” (meaning, the brainwashing is working… maybe like 10%). At least I am aware of it!

Our evening lecture was with Bikram. He had no agenda or plan and just talked about random stuff and answered our questions. We actually were only able to ask 2 because he talked about each of them for so long. We all have a million questions (I know I do) but when it is midnight and he says, “okay, any more questions?” you just do not raise your hand. Do not be that person! It was good to have him back, even though he “beyond repair” as Manali always says. Plus, he sang to us and that is always nice. I was so, so tired that I fell asleep almost instantly when we got back to our room a little past midnight.

Noteworthy quotes:

  • “Bikram yoga is the turning point in your life.”
  • “Your mind is your best friend.”
  • “The best food is no food.” (This took him over an hour to explain. His logic made sense but there is no way we can stop eating under these conditions!)
  • “I’ll say hi, sing, and go.” (When explaining how he thought his first class back with us would go since he was tired from traveling. Obviously, the guy cannot just run a simple class, nor do we want him too, so it did not go like that!)
  • “If I can discipline Raquel Welch, I can make the Statue of Liberty do 26 postures.”

 

Thursday 10/19/17 – Day 33 – Diwali 
Thursday continued our routine of waking up later and later. We have developed quite the bad habit. We are still one of the first people there at 8am (class starts at 8:30am) but we just have less and less time to get ready for it.

Our nearly 2 hour morning class was with Ulesis again. When I unfolded my towel (that the hotel provides for us – I will take a picture of the table towel next week!), there were ants in it so I should have taken that as a sign of how the class was going to go. I tried my best and my hardest but I had a horrible class and it could easily be called one of my worst. I did everything (never skipped a posture or sat down) but I did not do it well. It was like I had never done yoga before. My body was not cooperating. I knew that if I did make myself do the postures though, the evening class would be just as difficult, if not more. It was a complete mental beat down. I hated feeling like I could not do it when I knew I could. I was literally screaming at myself internally to just get my act together but my stubborn body was giving me the middle finger. It did not help that I felt like my ears were clogged all class but that was the least of my problems.

Earlier in the week he talked about trust between students and teachers during class but he broke that when he said the Standing Separate Leg Stretching dialogue out of order. He said the last 3 lines of the dialogue and half the class came up, including some staff, because we knew it was the end but then he kept going with the dialogue from the paragraph above it. He then got on to us about coming out of the posture early. Shame on us for not listening but shame on him for tricking us! He would also get upset with us for falling out of posture when he held it too long. I felt like I could not win. He did not ever call me out but with my performance, he had every right to. I somehow dodged that bullet. I like Ulesis, I really do. Just maybe not at 8:30am on a Thursday morning. His savasana song was really cool though: Deva Premal and Miten: The Gayatri Mantra Made Visible.

I had a fast breakfast and because of Bikram’s advice the night before to not drink before eating a meal, I skipped the orange juice and left my water in my room. I also skipped my cinnamon roll. Sigh.

I went back to my room to rest and blog a bit before studying with Leah. The upcoming postures in posture clinic were ones I was definitely, definitely less confident on and the only way to get better is to actually saying them out loud so we said them out lout over and over and over again. The view from my posture clinic room was great!

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My group had Jolinda for posture clinic. She was great at giving very tailored feedback for each individual and asked us how we felt after we went. She had helpful advice and really took the time to get to know us and how we were doing. Other groups had apparently told her they were intimidated by her so she gave us an opportunity to ask her any embarrassing question we could come up with but we told her we did not feel that way about her so we got started instead. We only went through Wind Removing Pose (an awesome and easy posture to demo, whew) and we did not have to do dialogue for Savasana or the Sit-Up. I added a few extra words to one of the lines because the people that went before me had said and even though I knew it was wrong, it had gotten stuck in my brain. Oh well. Jolinda told me to breathe more, pause more, and to focus on the bodies. I probably rushed through and looked around more because I was not feeling confident but that was valid feedback. I knew I could do it better and knew that it would get better once I was more comfortable with it. However, I do not believe in making excuses for myself or so I thanked her for the feedback and told her I would keep working on it… which I of course will. She also said she recognized me from the Spring training as well. She was with Robyn sitting in front of me at graduation and was one of the people I had spoken too. Spotted, again! She should be the last person to recognize me though as I do not believe I spoke to any other people at graduation and I do not know of any of the trainees coming. We shall see!

Leah and I had more snacks before the evening class. She had muscle cramps again (she had that the very first class in the hot room) so that was pretty scary. She ended up missing the evening class to go to the doctor instead and she unfortunately had the same experience Andrew had during week 1: left alone with a doctor who does not speak English and who tries to fix things that are not actually wrong. Disappointing.

The evening class, class #50, was with Bikram and it sure did kick my ass. Bikram seemed like he did not want to be there but he killed us anyway. Maryla, Lidia, Elsa, and I all showed up in matching shorts so we put our mats by each other near the podium to help boost our energy but I got called out a 5 times, a personal record:

  1. Back bend: I have a bad habit of coming out of posture early to catch a breath and then going back into it. He busted me and said there were no second chances, just like an “Indian marriage.” This, coming from an Indian guy who has been divorced! Hmm. But, valid. I should try harder to hold the back bend the entire time. I have a decent one but it has been tough to do since being here but I should keep trying.
  2. Eagle: Again, for my hands not being in front of my face enough and then for my palms not being completely aligned. This is a tough one for me. I try SO hard every time I do this but it is so difficult. I try!
  3. Triangle: This one was not bad. I was in the proper position but I relaxed when he started talking to someone else and then he caught me with my arms not back enough. My fault for being lazy.
  4. Spine Twisting: When I twist to the right (first set), it is not as straight as when I twist the other way. I know that though and I actually learned at the 1 class I took with Bikram in the Spring that I needed to lean back to straighten up. So, he reminded me to lean back and I did and he said, “great job, babe.” Thanks, boo.
  5. Final Breathing: I got called out for this the day before so before we started he said, “who was right here (pointed to where I sat Wednesday) who did nothing?” I proudly raised my hand high and he thanked me for my honesty and told me how to do it properly. I know how to do it! I swear I do. Him calling me out had me second guessing myself though.

In all honesty, it could have been a lot worse. 5 times was not great but it was never a beat down and he never really focused on me so I got lucky. I had decent, strong class and even though my ears were still hurting, I felt good.

After class, we took a picture of our matching shorts and because Bikram was sitting in the grass after class (he normally does not), we interrupted him and asked him to join us. Ulesis was there and jumped in too. Bikram took one look at the photo and said he looked the best in it! True. He has 50+ years of yoga on us so that makes sense.

I had a quick dinner and then enjoyed an hour and a half in my room, writing my blog and resting. The faster you eat, the more break you get!

We celebrated Diwali before our evening lecture with Ulesis. Diwali spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. Everyone came a little more dressed up than usual and we lit candles around the pool to represent that light and make wishes for ourselves and our families. It was so humid outside and we were all soaked. You would think that as yogis who practice hot yoga regularly, we would be fine with this but we were not! It was beautiful to see and I am glad they gave us an opportunity to do that. Apparently Diwali is also celebrated with Indian sweets but because we are in Mexico and Walmart has a limited selection, we got chocolate instead. Y’all know I like chocolate so that was perfectly fine with me. Shout out to Henrik for giving me his!

After our celebration, Ulesis lectured again. Everything he had to say was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. He had us laughing, he had us (well, me) crying. It was perfect. At the end of it, we did an exercise where we stood up and closed our eyes while music played and then Ulesis narrated us through this amazing story line of us transforming into our perfect selves. It was indescribable. It was moving. It was everything! I had tears coming down my face. I hated that I was ‘checked out’ during the chant on Tuesday night so I was happy to have experienced this and been fully present for it. I loved it.

Noteworthy quotes:

  • “If you breath is right, your thoughts will be right, and therefor your actions will be right.”
  • “You are what you eat. But you eat what you think. Therefor you are what you think. You are the result of your mind. So, control your mind. How? Through meditation.”
  • “It takes 3 things for Bikram Yoga to work: 1. Show up to class. 2. Try to do it the right way. 3. Do it to your maximum ability.”
  • “Thinking about the past and reliving things is like living in a dream. It is not real. It does not matter.”
  • “Be here now. You cannot be here if you are thinking.”
  • “Life is not the way we think it is going to be. Don’t waste so much time trying to make it a certain way.”
  • “Usually, an expectation is a limitation.”
  • “Life is the way it is and it is perfect.”
  • “Whatever happens is supposed to happen. Why? Because that is what happened! If not, it would not have happened.”
  • “Your class will be a reflection of your practice. Your whole life is a reflection of your practice.”
  • “If a baby cries, you let them cry. If someone is dying in class, let them die!” (obviously not real death… in this situation, dying would mean “suffering”)
  • “The sky can have a lot of clouds but behind the clouds, it is always blue.”
  • “The universe will give you a shake until you listen.”
  • “The hardest part of your day should be your Bikram Yoga class.”

We were out just after midnight but because Leah missed the evening lecture because she was not feeling better yet, I stayed up to tell her all about it.

 

Friday 10/20/17 – Day 34
I slept horribly and woke up later than preferred again. I had an awful headache which I only later attributed to the fact that I may have been grinding my teeth that night, something I have not done in forever, because my jaw was also hurting.

Our morning class was with Uelsis, his last one here before heading back to New York. I think he might be coming back again towards the end though. It was unclear. It was a very, very tough class for me. He spent so much time the night before preaching about not quitting in class, controlling your mind to keep you focused, telling yourself you can do it, practicing like a teacher, not giving up, going into meditation, etc. and I tried SO hard to implement all of those but it was a struggle. My head was killing me, I was dizzy and seeing stars, and my body hated me. It was tough to hear him, too. Not sure if that was because I was near the fans, the mic volume was low, or because my ears were still feeling clogged. I did not skip anything or sit out but I wanted to so badly. If I could survive that class, I should be able to survive anything. He got onto Alonso a lot, pretty aggressively. Alonos dances to the beat of his own drum and every teacher gives him a hard time but I guess Ulesis was just fed up with it. There is a time and a place to be a free spirit… the hot room with Ulesis was not one of them.

I had another quick breakfast so I could go study in my room alone. I needed to say Cobra and Locust out loud to get ready for posture clinic. I knew the dialogue but had not said it enough so I paced around my room saying them a million times. Then I laid down and said them. Then I went to the balcony and said them. Seriously, the only way to memorize these things are to SAY THEM. I practiced them with all sorts of inflections and speeds, too. WWTKPS: What would Tanja/Katy/Paul say? I always hear them when I practice but it always comes out sounding like me and that is probably a good thing. 🙂

I needed a change of scenery so I went to the posture clinic room early and studied on the patio there until it was time to get started. I was feeling better about them but still not 100%. Karla was our facilitator and she was great. She was incredibly honest with us and took no shit: she called people out for talking and ripped into some for not knowing the dialogue at this point in the training. It was intense. One of her stern lectures was all in Spanish and even though I had no idea what she was saying, I was taken aback. We have so many Spanish speakers in our group so I am always glad when we get someone who speaks the language so that they can have a fair shot at fair feedback, too.

I did my Cobra and got good remarks even though I had thought I missed an entire paragraph. She calls me Jill and said my setup was too fast (fair) but otherwise was good and to keep working on my pacing. I needed to give them time to do what I was asking them to do. Holly (from my studio at home) gave me the same feedback when she heard me do dialogue before training. I think I have it figured out for postures I know like the back of my hand but am still sorting it out for these newer ones so it was a good reminder. She said I sounded a little sing/song at the end of some phrases, which was new feedback for me, so I need to be watchful of that.

We finished Cobra and moved on and even though I did not want to do Locust, I went ahead and got it over with. I knew it enough to stand up and say it but I was nervous. It was shaky but I did not miss anything. Karla had me do the first part again, this time SLOWER. Are you seeing the pattern? When I am nervous or not confident, I speed through it! Ah. Just as the days before, I thanked her for the feedback and said I would keep working on it. Excuses do not hurt anyone except yourself. We are all in the same boat: tired, exhausted, having no time to study, etc. Do what you can, own it, and move on.

During our break between Cobra and Locust, I checked my work email and saw an email from my boss. Subject: Hurry up. Body: “Things went more smoothly when you were here. I hope you are having fun but please come back soon.” I totally needed that. I am still trying to keep up with work stuff and stay up to date but it was nice to hear that I was missed and valued! Good news, Eric; I will be back in less than a month (and I miss y’all too). Shout to Kathi and Rose for sharing their snacks with me. I could not get enough to eat for some reason.

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I rested for a brief moment before the evening class. It was my group’s turn to be in the front row and after the 5 corrections Thursday, I was nervous. I did not want to get called out for the same stuff, especially Final Breathing. Bikram already got me twice for Eagle and twice for Final Breathing this week… a 3rd time would not be good. The last things I wanted was to get called a “fucking idiot” and names of that nature (yes, he does that) or be known as the girl who cannot do Final Breathing for the remainder of training. Manali caught me before class and I told her that I knew Final Breathing but that I was psyching myself out now because I was so aware of it. Her advice? “Just do it right.” That was the plan!

Class was great and I did spectacular in comparison to the morning class. It is crazy how in the morning I can feel like I have never done yoga before but in the evening I can feel like a yoga goddess. What is life?! As we finished each posture that I got called out for the day before, I mentally checked them off and celebrated for not getting another comment. I passed 5 out of 5: he did not say a word to me all class. Win. He did admit to being in a mood the day before but he was definitely on us during class. He did say it was our overall best class as a group though, so that was a good sign. It seemed like everyone was laying in the grass outside of the hot room after class so we all must have pushed ourselves to our maximum ability! It was another nearly 2 hour class. Brutal.

Tina had made comments about feeling left out of all the beach pictures and fun which was funny because I had felt the same way. I had been having FOMO for missing out on some of the things the first few weeks but I just never vocalized it so bless her for feeling the same way and being shameless enough to admit it! All that to say, we decided to head to the beach with Kirsty after class and take our own pictures. Simple solution.

Bikram had announced during class that we did not have an evening lecture but instead would have a pizza and dance party. YES. It was not until 9pm so I had a snack after class to tie me over and then did nothing until the party. Everyone came dressed up and looked so great. We only really see each other in the hot room where we look like absolute messes or in lectures/clinics where we are too tired to care what we look like. The party started off like an awkward high school party with everyone standing around and no one dancing. It was fabulous. I had 4 slices of pizza (no regrets) and enjoyed dessert. I fulfilled my no-dessert rule for the week so it only made sense to celebrate that accomplishment with dessert.

Once people started dancing, the party got real. The music was crazy and most of us danced all night, just letting loose and enjoying the break. I love to dance even though I am horrible at it but who cares? Sometimes you just have to let loose and not give a single shit and that is what we did! It reminded me of the fun dance parties we used to have at camp when I was a camp counselor. Bikram was quite the dancer, too… no words. It was so nice to see people being free and happy. Some people that I would have never expected to be big dancers were dance machines and it was awesome. The staff let loose too! Plus, there seems to be a budding romance happening between two people here and it was adorable and beautiful and I hope they invite us all to their eventual wedding because we have all decided they are already in love. ❤

They played one song 3 times in a row it seemed and Tina made a joke they were trying to hypnotize us. Kirsty said we were turning into Bikram zombies walking around just saying “lock the knee” over and over again and I could not stop laughing! When I tried to take a dance break, Manali basically told me and a few others to go back on the floor and keep dancing. Yes ma’am! It was truly such a fun night and it came at just the right time for us. What a good way to celebrate being over halfway through training! Some people left early but most stayed until the end at midnight.

 

Saturday 10/21/17 – Day 35
Have you ever felt hungover when you woke up after a night of NOT drinking? That was how I felt waking up Saturday morning. Actual torture. I think dancing for 3 hours at the party the night before made me more sore and exhausted than 5 weeks of two-a-day yoga! Seesh. I rolled out of bed and used every bit of energy I had to get myself down to that hot room. My group was in the back row so you would think that means no one can see us but no, the back row is almost more dangerous because you are directly in front of the staff!

Manali taught the morning class and I did well for a morning class. She had us, in unison as a class, recite the dialogue for the second set of Half Moon and first set of Awkward WHILE we were doing the posture. That was a freaking disaster. We were all off and some people were not even saying the right thing. Worth a shot though! She was quizzing us on the sanskrit names for the postures and I know some of them but not all of them. Or, I can match them up you gave me the list of them but I have a difficult time pronouncing some. I plan on learning them… I just have not done it yet because I would rather work on the dialogue first. Anyway, all that to say that she was asking us the sanskrit for Standing Bow Pulling and right as everyone was saying it, I yawned. She caught me and said “Good morning, Jillian. What is the sanskrit name?” Argh. I knew and could pronounce the first part but could not pronounce the second part so I tried and then she said it correctly for me. Not embarrassing at all. She also had people get up and deliver dialogue again: Ali did the first set of Cobra, Polina did the second set of Cobra, and Nicky did the first set of Locust. I practiced Full Locust to myself just in case she kept going! Thankfully, she did not. Always need to be ready! It was a long class but it did not feel long. Anyone who signs in late to a class or lecture has to do a makeup class after the morning class on Saturday (back-to-back classes) and I could not imagine getting stuck with that. I have done those at home and sometimes it is easy and sometimes it is not but after 11 classes all week and a tight schedule, I do not think I would be able to. If I had to, I would… but my goal is to make sure I never have to.

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I skipped breakfast and had to double shower, too, because I realized I forgot to shave my right leg during my initial shower… yoga brain. I got started on my blog, dropped my laundry off at noon, grabbed a sandwich from the cafe, and then headed back to my room to video chat with Alex, my shift partner at the Ronald McDonald House/my soul sister. We talked for about an hour and caught up on everything. I miss our Thursday night chats as we eat cookies and frustratingly take extra soap out of the baskets in the rooms! She is going to hate me for taking this screenshot but I love it. Sorry, girl! 🙂

After our chat, I blogged. I blogged, blogged, and blogged some more. I blogged from 1:30 to 5:30. I also finally finished the Gossip Girls series on Netflix. I started the series before I left for Mexico but watching it has kept me entertained since I have been here while I blog or on the rare occasion I have a few extra moments of silence and rest time. I intentionally took the day to catch up on the blog but mostly just to be alone for a little bit. I am a bit of a homebody and with all the people here and constant activity, I needed some time to myself to enjoy some silence. It was nice. Plus, I wanted to make Sunday a full day of studying with no interruptions.

I went to the beach with Maryla for a little bit to take a break before dinner. I had already decided I did not want to leave the room all day but then I figured a beach break would probably be a good thing.

After the beach, we headed to Tavola again at 7:30pm for our annual Saturday night dinner. Our group expanded from 3 people last weekend to 5 people this weekend and then to 8 to 9 to 11 to 13 people in just a matter of minutes! Just when we thought we had enough tables pushed together, more people would appear. The more, the merrier! I was somehow sitting at the head of the table, which I hate, and the chaos of it all (ordering, paying, so many conversations and talking over each other at the long table) was a bit overwhelming at some moments but it was a nice evening with fabulous company and food, as always. Plus, we were allowed to wear green so most of us did. We rebel when we can.

We tried not to talk about yoga things but Kim made a great point: yoga IS our life right now. We are in the yoga bubble!

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Dinner was over around 9:30pm and some of the group went to find others to start karaoke but I went to my room with the hopes of going to bed early so I would be well rested to study on Sunday!

 

Sunday 10/22/17 – Day 36
As much as I did not want to get out of bed, I did. I had to get moving, go to Walmart, and study, study, and study some more. Leah shared her chips with me all week so at a minimum, I needed to replace her chips (even though she said it was fine). I finally got up and studied in the lobby for half an hour before the 10am shuttle to Walmart. The lobby was so quiet and had the most perfect cross breeze!

Walmart was a success. Our bus was surprisingly packed for 10am on a Sunday. I did not expect to see everyone that early. I bought Leah new chips but also bought way too many snacks and junk food for myself. I should be set until the end of training! No more. Maryla bought the entire store and Alicia was the best of us and only got a few things. She is the youngest one here and clearly the most responsible!

Walmart also had a ton of Halloween/Day of the Dead decorations and it reminded me of Kelsey and John. John loves Halloween so, so much and I wanted to get them everything on the shelves. I will have to go back next week and get them a little something though!

We got back from Walmart around 11:30 and I studied in the lobby until the laundry guy came to drop off our clothes at noon. Mine was 112 pesos but he only charged me 100. Win!

Afterward, Lidia and I went to lunch at the Beach Club. We decided it would be better for our stomachs if we split a sandwich because each time we eat there, we leave feeling so full and disgusting. We also tried the crab cakes (more like crab tots) and they were delicious! We had a good talk about all sorts of things: Bikram, Ulesis’ lecutres, etc.

I was going to head to my room to study because I did not feel like being outside but I decided to hang out by the pool for an hour and a half instead. It is important to take advantage of our little paradise while we can. It was overcast so the sun was not too brutal which was nice. I studied a bit more and even fell asleep before caving and heading back up to my room to finish this post and study the rest of the afternoon! 

After snacking on Oreos and sour gummy worms, neither of which I needed but had bought at Walmart, I was in desperate need of a mental break. Luckily my BFF Kelsey was available and we video chatted for a little while! 

My mom and I video chatted after I studied a bit more before I finally called it a night. 
Weekly Summary
As I said before, week 5 flew by.  Swoosh. I swear, if I did not have my birth control or my daily journal, I would not know what day it was half of the time. It all is going by so quickly and blurring together! The tops of my feet are raw, my knees are raw, my and my knuckles are raw but my body is hanging in there. Last week it was my right knee and my right lower back bothering me and this week it was my left hamstring and left shoulder. My body has never snapped, crackled, and popped so much in class before. But, I am alive and actually feel good for the most part. In the morning class, I feel like I have the most awesome 6-pack of all time (I actually do not, I just FEEL like I do) but by the evening class, I feel like a dang potato. Ulesis told us that we are what we eat so that explains that phenomenon.

Mentally, I feel good. Some people have expressed being ready to go/feeling trapped or over this whole process but I have not felt that way yet. Some people have made comments about never teaching but I have not felt that way either. I am starting to miss home a little bit but overall I have been alright. Not knowing the remaining dialogue has made me feel a little more pressured than I would like but at least now I know how everyone else has felt this whole time. I knew my time was coming but I keep reminding myself that it is all going to be fine and work out. Life works itself out perfectly! 

As far as lectures and clinics go, everything is still chugging along. People still struggle with basic instructions like not wearing green or halter tops in the hot room, not wearing/bringing anything green to classes, not wearing teaching costume to clinics, not going to demo after delivering dialogue in clinics, etc. which continues to blow my mind but such is life. Common courtesy would be nice too. For example, not talking while people deliver dialogue or while Manali is talking before classes/lectures. We cannot complain we get treated like children and then act like disobedient children! We are 5 weeks in and it just makes me laugh at this point.

I also came up with a Bikram App idea this week. Not only could it include the 26 postures, how to do each, and the benefits of each, but it include a map of Bikram studios and with a special code or something, access to the dialogue. The dialogue could be interactive where you can read it, listen to it, click on words to learn meanings (great for non-English speakers), or even take notes on it. It would be cool if it had the dialogue in other languages as well. I messaged Anurag about it and he said to come talk to him but I have not had a chance yet!

You have also probably noticed that I have fewer and fewer pictures as the weeks go on. I am trying to continue to take a lot but sometimes it just slips my mind. Heck, doing my picture-of-the-day is tough enough as it is! I think next week I will try to take more pictures of what the resort is like and where we spend our time, etc. We will see!

Until next time,

Jillian

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