86 classes and 8 weeks complete! Week 8 flew by so quickly. We had 30 new faces join us for re-certification week, several visiting teachers/families/friends, more posture clinics with Bikram, and another dance party. The week also brought new emotions as our time here starts to come to an end. It is so crazy to think that we have spent 8 weeks here but it is even more crazy to think that we only have 1 left!
Monday 11/6/17 – Day 51
Monday was the completion of my 365 Day Challenge! I completed 386 classes in 365 days. I struggle with feeling proud of myself sometimes but I legitimately was proud of myself all day! You can read all about it in last week’s post but the accomplishment had me feeling on a high. I never thought I would find something in life that I felt this passionate about and I am grateful all of the time.
After a relaxing weekend, I was ready for Monday’s class. All of the re-certification teachers joined us. There were definitely not 50 of them as we were told but there were quite a bit. It was a little bit of a cluster to get us all on the correct rows, though. Eddie had been putting the recert teachers on the first two lines and then the rest of us in our groups on the following four lines. After almost 75% of the room was setup, someone else on staff tried to get me and another girl to move, saying we were on the wrong lines, and I was not having it.
Laju taught and I did alright. I got a little deeper into my back bend for the first time in over 2 weeks and that was a good feeling. Lidia had told me that I had not been able to do it because I was scared; a common reason people cannot go all the way back in the posture. I did not think I was scared but I considered what she said and when attempting the posture in class, I tried to be fearless and go for it. My back genuinely hurt and there was clearly a physical limitation but I pushed and did make a little progress. I saw stars when I came up, but at least there was movement. I zoned out for most of the class and the floor series went by so quickly.
I felt so bad for Leah because her rib had been bothering her all weekend (she had gone to the doctor 3 times and talked to Manali twice). After the Friday night class last week, she was practicing an advanced posture as she was instructed to do. No one told her how to do the posture, just that she needed to practice it, and no one supervised her. During that, she heard a crack and figured she had maybe dislocated something. It was bothering her Saturday morning but she did class anyway and by Saturday night, it was too much to take so she went to the doctor. On Sunday, it was not feeling any better. She wanted to do the Monday morning class but collapsed and screamed in pain when she got out of bed. If you can barely get out of bed because you are in so much pain, there is a problem. She went to class anyway but got pulled out during the first posture when she stopped trying because of the pain. The staff threatened her and implied she was faking it. I told her to go get an X-Ray to prove that she was not and later in the afternoon, she did (spoiler alert: she broke her rib; a clean break right from the base of the rib).
Breakfast was normal and delicious as always. I sat in the sun and could feel the sweat drip down my back which was a disgusting feeling but whatever. I did not stay there long because I wanted to get out before the crowd of people came.
I decided that this week, I would spend the morning breaks studying by the pool and working on my tan. Alicia and I had noticed we were losing our color so it was a conscious effort to get some sun. So, I went to the pool after breakfast and did just that. It was a gorgeous day and I was on a high from it being my 365 Day Challenge. Alicia and Lidia helped me get an awesome jumping picture to celebrate and I texted with my BFF Kelsey for a little bit. I was in such a great mood and feeling so happy to have done a full year of yoga. Just the first of many to come!
Eddie always plays music before lectures and he caught me dancing by my chair and called me out. I cannot help that I love a good rap song, Eddie! They were so not prepared for the recert teachers though because there were no extra chairs ready and it was all a mess. Not surprising. I made a comment to Vinny and he sarcastically reminded me to just “trust the process.” Yessir!
Bikram arrived and kicked off our posture clinic with him. All the recert teachers were so happy to see him and were very clearly entertained by him; this was probably very nostalgic for them and they were not burned out from 8 weeks of the same jokes. I am sure I will be the same way to some degree when or if I ever come back to visit training. He welcomed them all to Acapulco, “the land of crime, murder, rape, drugs” (his words). That got a good awkward laugh out of us… because it was true. He ripped off his clothes to reveal his latest flashy yoga outfit and everyone cheered. He jokingly told us to “shut the fuck up” because we did not mean it. Busted. He said we were all sick of him. I would not say I am sick of him though; I recognize that this is a once in a lifetime thing and we should embrace it while we can, even if parts of it are frustrating. It was only Monday afternoon and the recert teachers were already annoying us; they would not stop talking during lecture. Several of us had to shush them and ask them to be quiet several times.
Bikram went through Standing Separate Leg Stretching, Triangle, and Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee. During one person’s corrections for Standing Separate Leg Stretching, he had all clapping and chanting “lock and drop” for her to lock her knees and drop her head down. That was different! He was definitely extra funny and making us laugh a lot. Kiley and I were going to go up for corrections on Triangle but there were enough people in line and ours are not too terrible so we decided against it and sat back down. Bikram demoed his left side Triangle for us (he demos Triangle a lot but only the right side) and it was tragic; he said he never practices that side. Why would you only practice one side?!
When we moved on to Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee, I did not get in line for corrections. I considered going up because Axry had told me at breakfast last Sunday that my forehead was not touching my knee BUT I knew I knew how to do the posture and had just been struggling at training. You get better at some postures here and you get worse at others; such is life. I know how to do this posture but had just gotten worse at since being here. Anyway, I did not go up but then Axry ran down and made me get in line! She was right though, I should have gone on up on my own. There are so many moving parts to this posture and it is normal a struggle to get them all but all you can do is try. So, I tried on stage. Bikram said it was not terrible but then started helping me and because I have ears and a brain, I listened to him and implemented his corrections and it got better. It hurt and was difficult, but I tried. At the end, he said I had “a whole lot of culo” and told me to marry a Hawaiian man because they love bug culos. Culo means ass. I had already been feeling sensitive about my weight so that comment was a little annoying (not to mention I was already feeling a little annoyed for being up there at all). Everyone said “aw” and Ilka yelled that I was beautiful as I walked off stage. That was nice. I realized later that his comment hurt my feelings a lot more than it should have. Leah and Alicia told me that they interpreted it as saying I have a nice ass which only showed how a single comment can be taken all sorts of ways. Bikram comments on people’s bodies ALL OF THE TIME. I know it was not personal but it bothers me when he says things like that to other people so of course it bothered me when it was about me. Guess they figured out my weak spot.
Watching the video back, it was not as bad as I remember it being when I heard it the first time. I sent it to Kelsey and she said she could not even understand him. Ha. Yes, it can be difficult but the more you are around him the easier it gets.
- “Achievement is easy. Maintenance is hard.” -Bikram
- “Of course it hurts. That’s what you pay for.” -Bikram
I picked up my laundry after lecture and then Leah told me she did go get an X-Ray and her rib was in fact, broken. Ouch! I do not know how she made it all weekend with a broken rib.
Before the evening class, Michaela asked me if I was okay because of Bikram’s comment which was nice of her. While I was warming up, Ilka slapped my ass and told me I had a nice ass and to never let anyone tell me otherwise. Thanks, ladies! Bikram has no filter and does not give a shit. He advertises himself on being honest and that is fine. Like I said, the comment was not personal. I do have a whole lot of culo but it is a nice culo so… whatever. I have also heard that our bodies are retaining water right now which is why so many of us feel bloated. They say that when we get home and return to our normal lives, we are going to at least shrink back down to normal, if not smaller. I sure hope.
Bikram taught the evening class as usual. I hated being so far away from the mirror (5th row) to accommodate the recert teachers but what can you do? Nothing. Just take class the best you can. It was so incredibly hot and humid and people, mostly the recert teachers, were dropping like flies. It reminded me of the first class all over again. Bikram picked on the recerts a lot more than us which as nice. Welcome back to the Bikram Yoga torture chamber, recerts. I had an okay class, not great but not bad. Nothing special. It was a long class but that was kind of expected because Bikram likes an audience and he had 30 new people to entertain.
Leah was like a celebrity at dinner. Everyone wanted to know how she was, what happened, what was going to happen, etc. One thing I love about this place is that everyone cares about everyone. Even if it is not someone you talk to all the time or are good friends with, if someone is sick, injured, looking sad, or literally anything, people genuinely care.
Before the evening lecture, Ali told me that Bikram was wrong to make his comment about me. I seriously appreciated everyone caring about my feelings toward it. Alicia and I planned my photo ideas for the last 10 days of training (can you believe we are almost finished??). Bikram’s lecture was mostly a repeat of things he had already told us in previous lectures. He asked us of he looked good, as if we could reply with anything besides “Yes.” We spent way too long trying to teach him the word “peephole” (he kept saying “peekhole”). One incredibly unique thing about Bikram is that he has a story/metaphor for EVERYTHING. He knows it too. Some of them make perfect sense and some are kind of a stretch but I can admit that even if the story is initially confusing, it always comes together. It is amazing every time. He let us out at 12:15am.
After lecture, Axry stopped me and told me congratulations on my challenge, that I was a good yogi, and that I would be a great teacher. Then she asked me if I understood her English and if she said it right because she practiced it specifically for me. It was SO sweet and really, truly made my entire day. I had been feeling on a high because of my challenge and I foolishly let Bikram knock me down and hearing Axry’s words really helped pick me back up. Thank you, Axry. You are the sweetest!
- “You don’t like anything on this Earth because you don’t like yourself.” -Bikram
There was a lot of drama between Leah and some of the staff regarding her rib. It was a big reminder of what happened with Andrew during week 1. There was almost no compassion or ownership of their role in her injury. For some reason, they try to create unnecessary fear and intimidation. Her rib is broken, what can she do? Threatening her and insulting her as a person does not accomplish anything. Luckily, she was able to talk to directly to Bikram after the evening lecture and explain what happened and her injury. He can be a character but he is a nice guy at the core and he was very sweet and compassionate with her. He told her she had done enough and to take it easy the rest of training. It made me forgive him a little bit for his comment towards me earlier!
Tuesday 11/7/17 – Day 52
For some reason, I woke up an hour before my alarm. Bummer. Ashley, a visiting teacher/yoga champion/the person they brought in to help the Demo Team with their routine, taught the morning class. The class started out a little rough for me but got better as it went on. I sometimes felt like she was trying to trick us (maybe unintentionally?) because her inflection would change and signal that the posture was over but then she would keep going. It was a little confusing but overall it was a fine class. She seemed like an incredibly nice person and I liked her energy and passion for it. The room was also incredibly hot, again.
I ate breakfast quickly before the crowd formed and then headed to the pool to study. I recorded dialogue on my phone from memory to test myself until my phone got too hot. After that, I read dialogue for a little bit and enjoyed the sun. At least I attempted to study. Alicia joined me and we swam a little bit. She very randomly asked about Laos and I think for the first time ever, I told someone the whole, honest story (even the embarrassing/shameful parts for me) without feeling upset about it. I would call that a win. It was the first time I had thought about him/talked about him in a long time. It was also kind of bizarre that she asked me on this day of all days because I realized later it was his birthday.
The afternoon lecture with Bikram was part posture clinic (Tree pose and Toe Stand), part about why savasana is so important, and part his repetitive ramblings which I think I have grown to accept. Congratulations, y’all have worn me down. He had his best outfit (so far) on and I do not mean that sarcastically. It was not nearly as flashy as the previous ones and looked nice. As Leah and I had recently speculated about, he also admitted to spending $60K on hair plugs. Good eye, Leah.
Surprisingly, there were a lot of questions about Toe Stand and even MORE surprisingly, he answered all of them. It was a really good clinic. I love when we do something enjoyable and obviously relevant. Also, if you want to know what true love looks like, just look at the way our lady love bird of the trainees looks at her gentleman love bird when he is on stage getting corrections. I cannot handle the cuteness.
After clinic, Bikram switched to talk about the importance of savasana. I finally learned the real reason they say “yoga is a gas station” and as silly as it sounds, that was exciting for me. It was one of those phrases I heard all of the time but no one had ever clearly explained to me so it was nice to learn the reasoning directly from the source. It was a long lecture on savasana but a good one. I would say that I learned a lot. I had an “ah ha” moment too. He talked about how dedicated yogis need less food and less sleep. Our bodies get energy from food and sleep but when we do yoga, our body creates energy on its own and therefor we do not need the food and sleep to supplement it. His way of explaining it was better BUT it made so many things come together for me. People ask me all the time how I just go, and go, and go, and go. I also honestly do not eat that much (usually), either. I never tried to attribute my energy/lack of sleep/lack of appetite at home to anything specific but after hearing everything Bikram had to say combined with the fact that I just completed over 380 classes in 1 year, it made sense. So, to anyone wondering… there is your answer: do Bikram yoga!
He told us some random stories to kill time but still let us out early at 3:45pm. I love when he does that.
- “You have a brain and eyes, look in the mirror and fix it.” -Bikram
- “You never know anything about yourself until you take a Bikram yoga class.” -Bikram (and oh gosh, so true)
- “I don’t like people dying. People should live 500 years or however long they want.” -Bikram
- “Jesus left and got the fuck out of here before he lost his virginity.” -Bikram (don’t even ask… this isn’t the most insane thing we’ve heard here! you just have to laugh)
- “People die early because they eat too much and sleep too much.” -Bikram
I relaxed during the break before the evening class at with Bikram. Before class, Leslie said I had a perfect body and said that one time, she saw Lidia and me talking and thought to herself that we had the exact same body. Bikram always says that Lidia is perfectly proportioned so I will take that as a compliment. I also talked to Jana for a little bit. I swear, every time we talk I feel like we have more and more in common. She was looking a little defeated and just the way she explained everything she was feeling… same, girl. We got this! On my way back to my mat, Maryla asked me why I was so sweaty because class had not even started yet. I mean, I had been in the hot room for over 30 minutes already but I looked around and I definitely looked like the sweatiest one there. Awesome. It was a hot week in that room! Maybe they were trying to intimidate the recert teachers. There were 4 recert teachers wearing green so clearly the rules did not apply to them but one of the things I have learned to do here is stop being the Justice Police. Hooray for progress.
It was a long class (over 2 hours) but a really good one. My body felt like it was on the verge of a breakthrough: both in the morning and evening classes it had cracked/popped SO much during every single posture. My back, shoulders, and neck were competing for who could crack the loudest and the most. It felt AMAZING though. They were definitely good cracks and I truly felt like I could feel the blood reaching those areas and the nerves working. I had some very weird, indescribable sensations going down my back. I tried to think of a good analogy but I am not Bikram and do not have a comparison story for everything under the sun. All I know is that I could feel something shooting down my back, especially on the right side, all of class and it was not painful so it had to have been good. My Full Locust was probably my best ever and I got called out to pull my elbows down more for Eagle but otherwise, it was a standard class. Sidenote: His reasoning for why the elbow is called an elbow is the greatest thing I have ever heard… because the bow of the arm makes an L. I love it.
Update: I thought of an analogy! Imagine that my back was like a bunch of dried up mud. Over time, the mud started to crack (open up). Now, it feels like I have a small stream of water working its way through the mud, loosening up more of it as it goes through. Maybe one day there will be no more dried mud! Rough analogy but whatever.
The staff had told Leah she could not go in the room with her broken rib and do a 90-min savasana but Leah asked Bikram directly on his way into the room and he said she could. Not 5 minutes into class, the staff pulled her out of the room. I could hear words being exchanged in the hot room but could not make out what was being said. Leah told me what happened after class and it was all so insane. She was very upset about how she was being talked to and treated. After class, Leah’s teacher (who was here for recert) came to our room to talk things out with her. She offered a different perspective on things and I agreed with a lot of what she had to say. I truly did. She gave a lot of the same advice my teachers/mentors would have given me so I really respected and welcomed everything she offered up. On the other hand, I think it is okay to sit and feel an emotion for a minute before letting it go. The way you feel is fine… for now… you will not always feel that way forever. I think Leah had every right to feel as upset as she was and if I were in her shoes, I would feel the same way. She explained humans as having 3 people in them: a kid, a teenager, and an adult. Only you can appease the kid and the teenager inside of you and their ridiculous emotional demands, you cannot expect others to. She explained it better than I could ever do but I liked it. She was also convinced that the staff intentionally finds our weaknesses and picks at them to help make us better people. They cannot pick on Leah physically anymore (since she cannot do yoga with a broken rib), so they have to pick at her mentally. I would like to think they do not sit around in a room and think of 70 individual ways to beat us down… so I am not entirely sure how I felt about that. I will say, however, that I know I am a person who needs validation and they have, at times, not given it to me when it was clearly deserved (e.g. in posture clinics). So, maybe it is true. Who knows what is true anymore and honestly, who cares?! Trust the process, right?
I was not very hungry so I skipped dinner in favor of a protein bar and a couple of Oreos (and the chat with Leah and her teacher). I got people to sign up for my final countdown photo-a-day before the evening lecture. It made me feel a little warm and fuzzy to know people wanted to participate. That sounds cheesy but I can get a little self conscious about what people think of me and I always just assume I am tolerated (at best) so when people willingly participated in something I was organizing, it felt nice. How is that for some open and honest vulnerability? Please do not use it against me, guys.
The evening lecture was with Bikram. He told us he kicked one of the recert teachers out and sent him back home for being lazy. The guy WAS lazy though. He did not do anything in any class he had taken. Doing 2 classes a day is difficult but you cannot just do nothing. Bikram made Christian (a visiting teacher that he had talked about a lot during training) show us his abs which looked like it made him him uncomfortable but I also think he kind of liked it. We all hoot and holler when someone takes their clothes off here. We are a mess of a group! I do not remember what was going on but I remember we laughed a lot during lecture. Bikram told us more random stories with names and cities I could never pronounce, let alone spell, so I just listened instead of taking notes and worked on my doodle in the back of my notebook instead. Earlier, I had told Leah that I really wished I had an orange pen for it and then in lecture, Vinny (who had no idea of my conversation with Leah and who was sitting behind me), randomly handed me an orange pen. WHAT? It was so awesome and made my doodle complete. It just goes to show, if you put something out in the universe, it will happen. Alright, a bit of a stretch but still… I was pretty excited about the orange pen. That was what my evening had come to.
Bikram let us out early at 11:45pm.
Wednesday 11/8/17 – Day 53
I woke up feeling incredibly refreshed and I was not sure why. No complaint! I also had a very vivid dream that I surprised my good friend Steven in NYC. I wish.
Eddie taught the morning class. He is such a character when he teaches but I noticed for the first time this entire training that he is one of the very few who actually uses the proper left side dialogue for the few postures that have it. Most importantly, for the first time in at least TWO weeks, I had a remarkably strong class. I did not want to jinx it but I felt like my body was finally on its way to recovery and returning to normal. My Cobra and Locust were probably my all-time best (even though you cannot see yourself in those postures… I could just sense it) and I was feeling so, so good. Everything was still cracking/popping but Bikram said cracking/popping was a good thing as long as there was no pain and there was definitely no pain. My shoulders were more sore but it was all a good thing. I could feel it all the most during Balancing Stick when I reached forward. It was seriously like someone shocked a nerve at the top of my neck and I could feel it travel down my back. I liked it though and was ready for 2nd set. I felt 110% in my zone and it was SO nice to feel that way after a mediocre couple of weeks.
For the first time in 8 weeks, they left the fans on during the floor series. The hot room has a few fans on the walls that help circulate the air (they do a little ‘cooling off’ but not a lot). During the floor series though, the staff always turns them off. I cannot believe they left them on! They turned them off at first but Eddie must have given a wink or a nudge and they turned them right back on. Everyone cheered.
After a crazy and hilarious breakfast with Kirsty, Tina, and Henrik talking about farting (yes, farting), I headed to the pool again. I recorded more dialogue and enjoyed the slightly overcast weather and small breeze before the afternoon lecture.
Atlantes, our lecture hall where we spend a lot of our time, smelt horrible again. That room is such a mess but it is our mess. The carpet is probably the original carpet from the 70’s and we find bugs crawling around all of the time but we love it anyway. It is a little rough when it stinks like sewage though.
Dash, a visiting teacher, approached me before lecture to offer some help with my Camel pose. He was a few rows behind me in the morning class and in class I felt like he had wanted to correct me so I was not surprised to see him. He told me I needed to lift my chest up more and try to engage my abs and legs more. That way, it would take the pressure off of my lower back. I tried it and it was a completely different posture for me! Yikes. I appreciated his help and I knew that would be a tough one to work on. I was happy my body was feeling more open and strong so I could try it.
Vinny fixed the loose flooring on the stage (TT MVP) and we got started with the evening lecture. It was apparent Bikram was not coming because Manali asked all of the recert teachers (around 30) to tell us a little bit about themselves. So many of them had great stories, some even gave me goosebumps. The big theme of it all was that we are so lucky to be here at this resort (some of them had their TT in a parking lot tent and with no nice buffet, pool, etc.), how much we are going to miss this when we go home, and how much of an impact this will have on our lives. I completely agree with all of their sentiments, completely, and I am so grateful to have been able to be here and have this experience. I understood what they were saying (and know for a fact that everything they said will come true) but at the same time, at that exact moment, I was ready to leave. So many of us are. We are appreciative and know that we will look back and wish we had our yoga bubble and some of us may even return to it as a visitor, but I am sure all of those teachers remember feeling ready to leave, too. It is a trade off. Them talking about it all did make me a little sad… but also a little excited.
Here is some advice/wisdom I wrote down from the recert teachers:
- Stay true to 90-min, 26 and 2.
- Stay responsible and truthful to yourself and ignore the bullshit.
- You can only be as good a teacher as you are a student.
- In your life, keep your “eyes always open, breathing always normal.”
- If you have to do something, don’t wait.
- Your body is a physical representation of your mind. (I loved this)
- Mentorship is important and read the books.
- If the yoga ever gets boring, it is because you have stopped listening.
- You cannot meet bad energy with bad energy.
After the recert teachers finished sharing for about an hour, Manali took the center of the room and started talking. I really felt like she was stalling for something and that Bikram was not coming. He eventually showed and we started posture clinic, starting with Wind Removing pose. A few people demoed (I love when he says he will correct someone using only one finger and then immediately uses all ten fingers of both hands) and then I had a question. I hate asking questions because he tends to dismiss most of them but I have a teacher at home who always makes a big deal about getting the ankle, knee, and shoulder completely aligned and no where in the dialogue does it say to check for that. So, I wanted to see if that was actually the goal. Bikram told me to show him what I meant so I went on stage and demoed and he said my teacher was giving me a stupid correction, that the foot/ankle should go wherever it goes naturally. Boom. Straight from the source.
I could see Leah from the other side of the room and she looked rough. The doctor had given her Tramadol for her pain which would normally knock a person out but she still had to attend lectures so she looked insanely high the entire time. I felt so bad for her to have to sit there. After class, I went to the little store here and bought a few bags of chips and Oreos for her. She had been sharing her snacks with me every day and I felt like it was the right thing to do to replenish them for her plus it gave her one less thing to have to worry about. We snacked on those until the evening class.
The evening class with Bikram was still extra hot. I was feeling on top of the world still from the morning class and was feeling determined to get this guru of ours to notice me, either in a good way or bad way. I did not care anymore. He says he knows us and watches us every day and part of me believes that but he seems to not know the majority of our names and that bothered me. Learn my name, Bikram! Anyway, I wore my bright orange sports bra and put my mat directly in front of the podium. I had been near/next to the podium a million times but never directly in front, mostly because the mirrors on the podium are distorted like fun-house mirrors and move when Bikram walks. Screw the mirrors, I was going for it.
I had another insanely strong class and he actually acknowledged my Standing Bow. He said “wow” and that I was the Statue of Liberty and doing very good. I know it sounds petty and childish but all I could think was “damn straight.” My class was so good that I told Leah afterward that I felt like a yoga goddess again. It had been so frustrating and draining to not be able to do the postures like I know how to for the last few weeks so to finally have 2 AWESOME classes in a row was the most rewarding feeling. Even if the rest of the week was not as strong again, at least I had 2 in a row.
We had probably a 15-20 minute break in the middle of class so Ashley could demo several advanced postures to us. She was amazing and impressive. My jaw dropped each time she did something new. I could only ever dream of being able to do 10% of what she could. It was a nice break for us, too.
Bikram left class during the first savanasa for some reason and Eddie took over for a little bit. Bikram came back in between the 1st and 2nd set of Cobra and made us do a 3rd set also. C’mon, man. I also tried Dash’s advice on Camel and my entire upper back popped like bubble wrap. Breakthrough.
I had a quick dinner and got sucked into a YouTube spiral of Carpool Karaoke in my room until the evening lecture.
Before the evening lecture, Manali talked about graduation and our flights home. It was so crazy to even start thinking about those things but at the same time, they are quickly approaching and we have to. The end is near! Bikram started his lecture and talked about all the same stuff he normally did. I wrote out dialogue, starting from the last posture and I worked my way backwards. Bikram shared some weird, awkward stories about things I will spare y’all from but Alicia and Vinny were cracking me up with comments like, “this is what this has come to” and “oh great, now I can teach yoga.” More often than not, the most entertaining part of the lectures are the comments we all make to each other under our breaths. They always make me laugh. I also really enjoy playing Bikram’s guessing game: He likes to ask a question or make a statement and then pause for us to finish it but we almost never know the answer/rest of the statement. It is hilarious because we never know what he is thinking and we are almost always wrong. Then, he he gives us crap for being wrong and comes up with the most random answer of all time. I love it and I am not even being sarcastic.
He let us out just after midnight.
Thursday 11/9/17 – Day 54
My body was still popping as I woke up. My back cracked as I rolled over to turn my alarm off. Oy. Christian, a visiting teacher, taught the morning class. I had very mixed feelings about his class. As a person, he was top notch and I enjoyed him. I found him to be very incredibly knowledgeable and I would have loved to learn more from him in a lecture. His class was very energetic and entertaining and full of pop culture references/jokes. I also had another amazing class and felt amazing, despite not being able to see myself once in the front mirror and the random bug I saw crawling on my towel that I had to smash. HOWEVER, he was very strict with us about water and was kind of crazy about it. That was frustrating because I had seen him take class as a student with us and he drank water/left the room/skipped stuff a lot. We are constantly told to practice yoga like teachers now; we have to set an example. He also did not do pure dialogue which can make it difficult to get into meditation. I liked what he said about why we do “right side” first for everything and when he said, “Your body has a rhythm. Your brain has a melody. When they come together perfectly, you hear the symphony of the soul.” My favorite thing was, “If you want to recover, relax completely. That means completely. In totality. Not partially. Completely.” It might sound crazy to non-yogis but everyone is guilty of not relaxing entirely in savasana and I liked that reminder of his.
I skipped breakfast in favor of snacking on cookies in my room. It was my grandma’s birthday so I gave her a call and talked to her and Baba for a little bit. I worked on my blog and then ended up talking to Katy on the phone for the rest of my break. I am so thankful for her friendship and wisdom. She was such a lifesaver during so many rough parts of the last year but her support and guidance during teacher training has meant everything to me. I cannot wait for her and Paul to get back home. And, PS, they got engaged this week too! Whoo hoo! Congratulations!
Before the afternoon lecture, I talked to Christian more about what he was saying about why we do the “right side” first. I understood his reasoning: it has Hatha yoga. ‘Ha’ is our sun side (right side) and ‘tha’ is our moon side (left side). We honor the sun side first. I get it. On board. However, why do we bring our left hand up first for Toe Stand? He did not have a direct answer and instead talked about how some teachers tell us to alternate our grips/directions in an effort to balance our body and how unnecessary comments like that are. Advanced yogis can choose to do that on their own but teachers should not say it. Anyway, he did not really answer my question but I liked talking to him. As I said earlier, I like the guy and he is incredibly knowledgeable about the yoga. I would have liked a lecture from him, I think. I talked about it with Jana and Alicia and Jana reminded me that in Toe Stand, even though we bring our left hand up first, we still do our right leg first so many it is okay. Alicia also pointed out that someone had asked Bikram that question during lecture and his response was “because my Guru said so.” Cannot argue with that.
Dash came up to me and told me to write down some postures. He was near me in the morning class so I could only assume he watched to see if I implemented his changes for Camel and maybe caught a few other mistakes I was making/improvements I could try. I respect him quite a bit so I was thankful for his personalized attention and care towards my practice.
We went through Bow Pose during the afternoon lecture/posture clinic with Bikram. Afterward, he talked about the important of the spine and why Bow Pose is where it is in the sequence of postures. He walked us through all the precautions we have to take and watch for in our students when it comes to not only Bow pose but all of the spine strengthening series. I have said it before but when lectures are obviously relevant, I really enjoy them. These are the types of things I came here to learn about.
- “That’s called Bikram.” -Bikram, when he says anything wise/helpful
- “People are fucking dumb fuck.” -Bikram, when people apply the phrase ‘something is better than nothing’ as a justification for 60-minute classes (we all laughed at this, me listing this as a quote is not to make the guy look bad; I loved it)
- “Life is crystal clear. Everything is simple. You make it complicated. Everything is beautiful. You make it dirty.” -Bikram (TRUTH, probably one of the most important things I have come to accept here)
Bikram let us out a 3pm, a whole hour early! What a gift.
Thursday marked 10 days left of training so my first volunteers for the 10-day photo got together and headed to the beach to take our picture. We did Half Tortoise (sea turtles on the beach) and the water snuck up on us once but we got a good one. Thank you to my volunteer models: Tiina, Kim, Christine, Kati, Ilka, Julie, Kathie, Valentina, Jana, and Alicia (photographer)!
Leah and I hung out in our room and snacked and talked before the evening class. This place can be crazy sometimes and I am thankful for a roommate like her!
It was picture day again in our evening class with Bikram. I was in the back row so I knew I would not be in many shots so I put myself on the outside of the row with the thought that maybe I would get to be in one or two of the pictures. It was so hot and so humid still (had been all week) but I was positioned next to the fan so that helped. Kiley and I tried to practice our 2-day photo (for next week) and that was a disaster. My sister sent me a cool idea we could do with Pada Hastasana and it was TOUGH. A lot more difficult than I thought. We will have to practice it but I know we can get it and it will be worth it.
Dash put his mat behind mine and talked to me about the postures he had me write down earlier in the day. He helped me with Pada Hastasana, Eagle (why do I suck so much at Eagle?), Standing Separate Leg Stretching, and Standing Bow. He gave me some great advice and I tried my hardest to implement his feedback during class. Class was great. So great. 4 great ones in a row! Whoop!
Dinner was special because I sat with Ali and he somehow managed to get me a special bowl of soup. I was telling him about a certain Poblano soup they had a few weeks ago that I really enjoyed and he was talking to the waiters about it and before I knew it, they brought me a bowl! Y’all, I love that soup. It was so good and made my night!
I blogged in my room for a bit, scored a date to my company Christmas party, and then made my way to our evening posture clinic. The recert teachers had a special lecture with Bikram so us trainees got to visit our posture clinic rooms one more time. Groups 1 and 2 were together in one room and groups 3 and 4 were together in another. Dash caught me before clinic started and talked to me about my postures again. He said I did really well and I was grateful for his personalized feedback and attention.
When we finished dialogue in our posture clinics a few weeks ago, we still had a few extra posture clinic sessions. In those, we randomly got called on to do additional dialogue. I got called on 3 times in 2 days in my group and some people did not get called once. That was fine. When I walked into the special posture clinic this night and I realized we were going to do dialogue, I knew I would get called on again. Deborah (a visiting teacher) and Karla led it and Deborah asked us who had their first class scheduled. I raised my hand before realizing that would make me a target. Tiina got called on first to do Half Moon and Awkward. Deborah picked me next to do Eagle and Standing Head to Knee (1st set of each, right and left side). I knew those very well so I was not nervous about it. I also got to show off my left-side dialogue for Standing Head to Knee. Ha. When I finished, I looked at her and she told me to keep going and do Standing Bow. Oy! I did that one too, right and left side. Her feedback to me was to slow down a little bit. I knew I was rushing, I did not want to be up there! Anyway, after I went, others were called on and we made it partially through the floor series before they let us go at 11pm. We did all of our previous posture clinics with just our group so it was cool to hear people from group 4 do dialogue. Everyone taught so differently and was amazing in their own way.
Tina and Kirsty (roommates in different groups) met up in the hall afterward and found out they both had to deliver the same postures. What are the odds? These two are legitimately soul sisters meant to have found each other!
Even though we got out at 11pm, I stayed up and blogged until 1am. There was no way I was going to be able to sleep at 11pm.
Friday 11/10/17 – Day 55
After 4 A+ classes, I woke up feeling sore and exhausted. I was not in pain but I knew the rest of the week was going to be a struggle. Anurag taught the morning class and it was a standard class. His voice was so relaxing and soothing that it was easy for me to zone out and get into meditation. I remember we got to Cobra pose (a little over the halfway mark) and I thought, “how did we get here?” I literally had spaced out for a handful of postures. I did well and felt strong but knew I was kind of being lazy, especially during the balancing series. Usually if I fall out I will get back in and keep trying but I was not even bothering. If I fell out, that was it for me. It was Kiley’s birthday so we sang to her before class and again during Triangle pose, right side. It was also Tony’s birthday (one of our Mundomex guys) so we sang to him for Triangle pose, left side.
I had a quick breakfast then needed to finish up some additional parts of my best friend Kelsey’s baby shower invitation that her sister needed before the weekend. I also read and organized work emails, chatted with my co-worker Emily, and blogged. It was a gorgeous day so I felt a little guilty for staying inside during the break but I knew the weekend was near and I would spend most of it out and about. Hooray for behavior justifications.
We continued our posture clinic with Bikram during the afternoon, focusing on Fixed Firm, Half Tortoise, Camel, and Rabbit poses. Bikram showed us the ‘best’ ab workouts and all his abdomen tricks, too. Bikram heard it was Kiley’s birthday so we sang to her for a 3rd time. What a memorable birthday experience.
I went up for corrections on Rabbit pose because not only do I hate that pose, I think I am terrible at it. You cannot see yourself in the mirror during that one and I never do posture pictures of it because I am convinced I am horrible. He told me I needed to walk my knees up more (tough to do for me without a warm up) but was otherwise good, just needed to work on getting my hips up a little bit more. Alicia said I was almost all the way up which was VERY surprising to hear considering I only ever feel like I am an inch away from my heels. Now I know!
- “You can laugh.” -Bikram, as he was demoing his Fixed Firm pose to us (and we did laugh)
After posture clinic, I rounded up the troops for our 9-day photo. We did Awkward Pose, any of the 3 parts. Thank you to my volunteer models and especially to the ones who volunteered last minute when the people who signed up forgot: Andres, Lidia, Karina, Kathi, Nadine, Elsa, Pavel, Kim, and Johnnie (photographer)! (Pay no attention to the fact that this is a panoramic picture that got stitched together right on my face/arms.)
The evening class with Bikram was also a standard class. A lot of the girls I hang out with the most lumped together in the middle so I was hopeful we would be able to feed off each other’s energy, especially since I could not see myself in the mirror again. More often than not, you can at least get a little sliver of yourself but with the recerts in town, those odds had gone way down. I had a mostly decent class. I was not in full beast-mode but I did well and tried hard to practice Dash’s feedback. Starting at second set of Triangle, something lit a fire under Bikram’s butt because he started moving FAST. We were flying through postures. I goofed during Locust second set and instead of lifting just my right leg (the posture goes right leg lift up, then left leg lift up, then both legs lift up), I lifted both legs and did not realize it until he told us to lower down and do left leg. He either saw it and let me slide or he did not see it and I got lucky and avoided being berated. Ashley gave us a demo of all 4 versions of Camel pose too and that was impressive. The girl must not have a single bone in her body to be able to bend the way she does. It is amazing.
I had a quick dinner again and then worked on the baby shower invitation and my blog some more before the evening activity. We somehow managed to get a second dance party instead of an evening lecture so I did not have a lot of time to do much of anything before having to get ready for the party and head over.
The evening dance party was beyond. For the first party, they had food, put some tables out, and that was that. For this party… Bikram went all out. He had said earlier in the week or the week before that he wanted a dance floor, lights, and a DJ but even I was not entirely sure if he was joking or not. Nope, no jokes. We walked in to a completely transformed lecture room complete with all of those things: a dance floor, lights, a DJ, props (big glasses, light-up headbands, etc.), balloons, and a screen to play the music videos on. They had drinks and snacks for us, too. As nice as it was, I did not feel like being there at all. Luckily, Lidia pulled me onto the lit-up dance floor and I ended up having a great time. The music was more recent and not all Indian like last time so it was fun.
They brought in 2 cakes, one for Kiley and one for Tony, and we sang happy birthday to them again. Seriously, what a once in a lifetime birthday! I mean, all birthdays are but I think this one has to go down in history. No one took charge of cutting/distributing the cake after we sang so of course I did. For the 3rd time this week (once for the 10-day photo, once for the 9-day photo, and once for this), I was told I needed to be a party planner/event coordinator. Yes, I know! In my next life I will. Lidia saw me cutting the cake and shook her head and saying, “you just cannot help yourself can you?” Nope! At least everyone got cake so you are welcome.
I left the party shortly after the cake but heard it went until 1:30am. Insane. When Leah got back to the room, we talked about all the crazy that happened at the party and then freaked out over the fact that she might have taken too much of the pain pills the doctor gave her. I say that jokingly because we could not stop laughing about it. She was fine!
Saturday 11/11/17 – Day 56
I did not sleep well Friday night. It took me forever to actually fall asleep and then I woke up about 100 times (okay, not 100 times but enough times for it to be annoying). Every time I woke up, I was afraid I had missed my alarm and slept through the morning class. Clearly I was subconsciously worried about missing it.
Manali led the morning class. It was a standard class and I did fine. I was so tired though that my only goal was to just stay awake and do the postures. It was taking everything in me not to fall asleep during the floor series and just that is an exercise in itself. I actually felt really relaxed in final savasana, too. For the last few weeks, it had been tough to relax because my body would ache or I would not be able to get comfortable but I think being so exhausted helped. I loved whatever she played for the final savasana, too. It was not a song, it was like poetry being read, but it was awesome. I need to ask Jana, she knows all of the savasana songs.
We took our 8-day photo after class. We did back bends in a few different arrangements. Looking back, we should have done one where we were in a straight line so everyone could be visible but I think they came out great. It also somehow worked out that 8 days left was the end of week 8! Thank you to my volunteer models: Mandi, Henrik, Taryn, Karl, Kathi, Denise, Danni, and Kiley (photographer)! Also, look how amazing Taryn and Karl are with their heart back bend! Mine used to be good but never that good. I am just grateful to get back as far as I did for these photos after struggling so much with this posture for the last couple of weeks.
I went to my room to get organized for the day and then headed to my final Walmart trip here. I did not need anything but I did not want Leah to have to go while she was in a fog from pain medicine but also because the ride there can be bumpy and I did not want it to hurt her rib even more. I grabbed her some groceries, enjoyed some triple chocolate ice cream, then looked for some cheap gold earrings I could wear for graduation. My dress is red and I only brought silver which will not look bad, but I decided I wanted gold. I found a pair I really liked at a random counter in the mall but she only took cash and I had none so I took it as a sign for me not to spend money and headed back to the hotel.
Maryla and I were supposed to go to McDonald’s so I had skipped breakfast. We ended up not going and when I got back, Chula Vista was closed and I was starving. I grabbed a sandwich from the cafe and then rested in my room for a little bit.
I went to the top pool to study with people in group 3 but it ended up just being me and Kathi. Despite being in my group, the two of us had never really talked before so it was nice to get to know her more and I really enjoyed our conversation. I had heard her do dialogue during all of our posture clinics and I always thought she had a great voice and great energy, she just needed to work on not making her statements sound like questions and getting the dialogue more exact. I had been wanting to help her but I had to help myself first and now that posture clinics were finished and it was just us two, I offered her my advice. At the end of about an hour and a half, she was nailing the dialogue perfectly and confidently. She was totally killing it! It was a beautiful afternoon, sunny with a nice breeze so that it never got hot, and it was nice to soak up the sun for 2 hours by the pool with her. Kathi is from Kansas City but mentioned she might be moving to San Antonio when this is all over so maybe I will get to take one of her classes one day!
I headed to the beach next and took a short nap before Maryla joined me. She wanted to deliver the dialogue for the floor series and practicing stringing the postures all together so I listened and pretended to do the poses whilst laying in the beach lounge chair. She did great but was being so hard on herself so I had to pep-talk her and remind her that no one will have 100% perfect dialogue their first class. No one. Not even me, the supposed Dialogue Queen. Bikram once told us a story about how if a person is 50lbs over weight, it is easy to lose the first 45lbs and really difficult to lose the 5lbs. As someone who has lost 50lbs, so true. Anyway, I compared her dialogue to that story. She has 90% memorized, the last 10% is going to be difficult. That is alright and she will do great with the 90%! I also reminded her of little things she has to say between postures like “turn your head to the right” and things like that.
I took a quick shower and then Lidia and I headed to the salon to get manicures and pedicures. It was so relaxing! Between the massage chair and the lady massaging my feet and hands, it was a struggle to stay awake. Lidia and I had a good talk too, as always. She is complex but so am I and I love her for it. All of the crazy Bikram stuff from the weeks prior did not calm down this week and she handled it the best she could. We talked a lot about what will happen when we all go home and the things and people we are going to miss. It was a little depressing but at the end of the day, we know we cannot stay here in our comfortable little yoga bubble forever. The real world is out there. She asked me that knowing what I know now about this experience, and assuming it would be 100% the same as it was, would I have made the same decision to come? I told her that I absolutely would have. This experience has been so much better and rewarding and worthwhile than I could ever have imagined and while I would not do it a SECOND time, if I had to go back in time and make the decision again, it would be the same one.
We tried to go to Tavola (the Italian restaurant at the resort) and get a chocolate ball for the last time of training but they were closed. It was a bummer but we decided to try the taco place that the resort had been setting up on the weekends for the last few weeks. It was across from Chula Vista in the courtyard (and below my window from my hotel room so I had heard the music a million times). The menu was in Spanish and we had no idea what we were doing but we saw Veronica and Denise there and Lidia had the brilliant idea to go see what they ordered and for us to just get the same thing. It worked perfectly because whatever we ordered was absolutely fantastic. We think one of the dishes was chicken but the other was definitely shrimp and covered in peppers and cheese. Yum. We also ordered churros and they were just as delicious. It was a beautiful night with a nice breeze and I enjoyed the music so much more from my dinner table than from my room!
I was back in my room by 9pm. I probably should have gone out to enjoy my last Saturday here but I was exhausted and ready for bed. I tried to blog and listen to music but my brain was not functioning. When Leah got back, we talked for a little bit before we both crashed early. It is crazy how the mind works: if it had been 9pm on any other day of the week, I would not have been that tired because I would not have been ALLOWED to be that tired. But Saturday night with nothing to do? Zzzzzzzzz. After Bikram gave us a lecture on how yogis do not need sleep or food, Kelly asked him why she was always so tired and hungry! His response was that we are CHOOSING to be tired and hungry because we THINK we are supposed to be. I thought his screws were loose in his brain but maybe he was on to something…
Sunday 11/12/17 – Day 57
I was randomly awake between the hours of 4am and 5am but fell back asleep and slept until about 9am. That counted as sleeping in! I also could not get my work email to sync and got paranoid that my account was shut down and that was their way of telling me I was fired… but it turned out my password had just expired. Oy.
My 7-day photo volunteers and I had planned to meet at 10am for our photo. It was easy to coordinate people on days where we do things together but on Sunday, we all have our own schedule so I was double grateful that people took time, especially in the morning, to participate. I had planned for Bow but we group voted to do Standing Bow instead and I love how it turned out. Thank you to my volunteer models: Johnnie, Kelly, Jana, Maryla, Diana, Vincent, and Lidia (photographer)!
I grabbed some fruit at the crowded Chula Vista and then headed to my room to try and make progress on the blog. At noon, I went back down to Chula Vista because Ali and Denise had so generously been collecting and organizing tips for the waiters from all of us and they wanted to present the envelopes and card to them. We did a little presentation and thanked them all. They have been so great to us and have treated us unbelievably well. They deserved so much more than we could have given them! Especially Gilberto, the most amazing omelet guy of all time.
Lidia and I had our last Sunday lunch at the Beach Club. We finally tried the shrimp tacos (YUM) and enjoyed our last burger and fries. Again, we started feeling sad that it was all coming to an end but it will all be good. There are things I miss about home that I am excited to go back to but there are things that scare me, too. Not to mention, I know I will miss this place and our bubble so much and will always look back with fond memories, even with all the craziness. We both agreed that we did everything we could to make the experience memorable and had no regrets.
With my incredibly full stomach, I headed to the top pool to study with Maryla. She had been wanting to recite the dialogue (first set only) of every posture, all the way through and I volunteered to be her student. She got a couple more volunteers, Diana, Nadine, and Rocio, and she officially taught her first mock class. It was about an hour and a half which was a little long but we stopped a few times so it was probably right on time. We decided to do Triangle pose in the pool on the steps which was hilarious and then we stayed there until around Bow pose when there started to be a foul smell coming from somewhere. We all agreed that she did great and will have an awesome first class!
I was going to study but then Maryla said she wanted to be someone’s student so I volunteered to be the teacher and teach my official first mock class from start to finish (first set only). Maryla, Diana, Kathi, and Pavel were my students and it went pretty well. I felt more comfortable with the dialogue than I thought and even though I struggled a little bit with the last 4 postures, I did well enough to get through a class. If I can brush up on those, and the breathing exercise, then I will be set! I finished the class in about 50-55 minutes which was not too bad for just first sets; maybe a little long? It was a weird feeling to actually be teaching, too. By Awkward pose (the 2nd posture), I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, they look miserable. This has to suck for them. What if they are bored?” and things of that nature. Somehow, by the middle of the class, all of those thoughts went away and it was almost as if I was in my own meditation and just doing it without thinking. The words were just flowing and they were doing everything I said! I even had them laughing with little comments between postures (that they all told me I HAVE to say during my first class so I will not spoil the jokes here). Laughing with them helped me relax, too. Dale, a visiting teacher who graduated last Spring, was listening to my class in the pool and he told me after that he loved it and loved all my hand motions. He said I did great and will be great! It was a LOT of talking and my mouth kept getting dry but it was exhilarating and made me more excited to get back and start teaching.
I laid in the sun for a bit after and apparently fell asleep for a little bit. Maryla ordered nachos and said she had yelled my name a few times for me to come have some but I swear I never heard her. Teaching was so exhausting that I fell asleep! Seesh. It was cool to look around and see so many of us trainees studying and doing mock classes. I had seen other groups during lunch practicing and more groups near us doing it while we were. Everyone was out in full force! It was the perfect day to do so though because it was another sunny but breezy day so it was never too hot or humid. The weather here is incredible and I will definitely miss it.
As the sun went down, I realized it was going to be my last sunset here. Our evening classes get out after the sun goes down and we will be in our graduation ceremony next Saturday so this was it for me. I headed to the beach to enjoy it after telling the little massage lady I did not want a massage; not now, not later, not tomorrow. My phone died but it helped make me more present in the moment. As Karla told us over and over again during the last 8 weeks, just be where you are. So I did. I napped and woke up in time to see the sun set with Karl and Michele. Lidia came over after her massage and we snapped a few pictures in its last moments before I headed back to my room.
Tree pose on a tree… clever. I almost fell when Lidia started saying “you can balance, you can balance, you can balance…” the way Manali says it. Hilarious.
I blogged literally the rest of the night. Facebook, Instagram, and the internet were distracting but Lidia and several others had asked me a thousand times today when the blog was coming up! It takes time to write, guys. I have to check my journal, my lecture notes, my phone, etc.: it is like writing a research paper. I have come to figure that it takes about 1 hour to write out each day when I am completely focused. Sometimes I regret starting this because it takes so long but I know I will look back and be grateful I did it!
I was not hungry so I skipped dinner but ended up snacking on Oreos and saltine crackers. I was hoping to be able to start packing up my stuff to head home and go to bed early but writing this of course took longer than I wanted! Leah and I chatted in the room for a little bit before calling it a night around 11pm.
I have a short summary for this week because nothing new and groundbreaking happened! This biggest change was that I started to feel the emotion of leaving. I want to go home AND I want to stay here. Everything is all over the place! I will save all of those emotions and try my best to write them all out next week, for my final BYTT blog post.
When I get home, please note that my amazing tan came entirely from week 8 (and probably week 9). I spent some time in the sun every week but this week wins with the most hours clocked. It was so gorgeous all week and I had to take advantage of what little time we have left here.
Also, Taylor Swift released her latest album on Friday and she only released it to iTunes, Target, and Walmart. I do not have iTunes, access to a Target, and did not see it at the Walmart here so I still have not been able to hear it. Prioritized list of things to do when I get home: snuggle the hell out of my dog, visit my family, buy Taylor Swift’s album.
Until next time,