… BYTT (Week 9)

Wow, what a journey. We finished 96 class in 9 weeks and can officially call ourselves certified Bikram Yoga instructors. I never thought this moment would get here and the feelings are so surreal. This was never my dream or part of my life plan until recently and I am so happy, thankful, and lucky to have been able to achieve it. As you can probably imagine, the last week was a rollercoaster of emotions but we all pushed through and finished strong!

 

Monday 11/13/16 – Day 58
I accidentally woke up early but remembered that something was going on with the planets and Venus and Jupiter aligning before the sunrise. It was 6:30am so I opened the door to take a look but then realized I did not have my contacts in and could not see a single thing… I went back to sleep until my alarm. Hey, I tried.

Deborah, a visiting teacher, led the morning class. She led the make-up class last Saturday and I had heard good things about it and had made a comment that I hoped she taught again. Lucky me. I absolutely LOVED her class. To me, it was the textbook definition of a perfect class. Her dialogue was great, her energy was good, she was calm and compassionate but also firm and encouraging. She was amazing. I was 110% able to get into my zone and after a few postures, my stiff body loosened up and I did very well. I felt so strong and capable, especially during Triangle pose. She kept reminding us to connect her words to our body and I was completely on the same page as her. We were vibing and she did not even know it. I loved every second of class. She reminded us that there is no past and no future, only the present; everything else is an illusion. We have to live where we are now. If we had spent every day of the last 9 weeks looking forward and stressing out about how much longer we had, we would have never made it. Instead, we lived moment to moment and now here we were, almost finished.

I felt so relaxed at the end of class and sank into my final savasana. She did the thing I like where teachers say to relax our feet, relax our ankles, etc. all the way up the body and then her savasana song came on. From the first note, I smiled. It was my favorite song of all time: I Want to Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston. I actually started crying a little bit, for the first time since week 3 probably. Perfect class, perfect song. Everything had aligned and I felt so overwhelmed with happiness. It sounds so silly but I could not help myself!

I headed back to the room after class and Leah told me an interesting story about a conversation she had with someone on staff. The person was nicer to Leah than she had been last week and did a complete 180 degree turn from everything. She told Leah to take it easy and that everything was her own fault (not Leah’s) and it was her own karma, something Leah and I had already decided was the case. She also said that she loved Leah and she was a great person which was even more interesting since she had told another trainee to stay away from Leah because Leah was “bad news.” It was fascinating to hear of such an attitude change! It was the attitude she should have had towards Leah since the beginning of this rib ordeal. Better late than never I suppose. We will probably know which version is her true personality but at least she was being more kind.

My stomach was hurting a little and I did not want breakfast but I went down anyway to get some fruit. I somehow ended up with a plate of food which did not help. That is the problem with buffets. I skipped my omelet and opted for mostly fruit and a little bit of eggs and sausage. I also decided to try the french toast for the first time and it was delicious. I am so glad to have not had discovered that earlier or that probably would have been my go-to breakfast. The most interesting part of breakfast was our talk about the morning class. Some loved it (me) and some hated it. We then started talking about we liked/disliked about it and it was so crazy to see how differently we all felt. We talked about other teachers too and compared notes and there were very few that aligned. It just goes to show that we are all so different but more importantly, when we are teachers, that not everyone will like you and/or your class.

I went to the pool afterward to try and study but lasted about 5 minutes until I got too tired to focus. It was hot as hell outside and I felt like my insides were cooking. I prefer my body to be a good rare but the sun was heating me up to a medium well so I had to get out of there. I had enough time to go back to my room and rinse off before taking our 6-day photo and the afternoon lecture. On the way back, I ran into Deborah and confessed to her and fangirled about how much I enjoyed her class and how the song, even though upbeat and happy, put me in tears. She gave me a hug and told me it was all for me. It was not, we know that, but I appreciated the sentiment. The universe was definitely on my side though.

For our 6-day photo, we did spine twisting whilst sitting on the ledge of the stone bridge. Thank you to my volunteer models and risk takers: Leslie, Michele, Johanna, Irmina, Rose, and Kim (photographer)! People were waiting for us to finish so they could walk by but all of them were happy to wait; Micael said he liked my daily pictures and looked forward to whatever posture/posing was next. I am glad people enjoyed them so much!

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Before the afternoon lecture, Manali talked a lot more about graduation and our flights home. I wish I could explain the feeling more but I know y’all understand how I feel: the feeling of wanting to stay forever but wanting to leave immediately. I sometimes do not feel sad about leaving and just want to get the heck out but at other times, I do get sad and a little emotional about it. 9 weeks used to seem like a lifetime but now it seemed like nothing at all. I am ready to go but I know I will miss it. It can be a little surreal to see the light a the end of the tunnel though. Hell, to even SEE the tunnel is crazy.

The afternoon lecture was supposed to be our final posture clinic with Bikram to go over the last two postures but after about 30 minutes of that, he switched topics and talked about chronic skeletal diseases and their causes/solutions. I will give you a hint on the solution… yoga. Bikram yoga, to be precise. I listened but because we had heard some of this before, I mostly worked on another doodle and only took notes occasionally. I turned my phone on (I usually have it in airplane mode during class to save battery) and that worked out well because my co-workers were messaging me and emailing me about seating arrangement changes in the office that were happening this week. Why they (not my co-workers, it was out of their hands), could not wait 1 more week to do this until I got back, I will never know.

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Bikram let us out early around 3:20pm. He said he had to make some calls. Whatever the reason, I was grateful. I snacked on popcorn and started my week 9 blog. I needed to stay on top of it this week so that I could have something to post on my final day home without the added stress of having to write it before graduation on Saturday.

During the short break, my head started to really hurt so I was not excited for class. Lidia and I were both there early and we broke the rules and took some pictures in the hot room before people started showing up. When Danni got there, she put her mat near mine, Lidia’s, Karl’s, and Diana’s and said she hoped being around strong people would hide her or give her energy. I told her that surely she meant them and not me and she made a comment about how she has never seen me skip a posture or leave the room (truth) so maybe she was on to something. However, Danni is the real champ because she is the only person I know of who did not sit down at all, not once, during the very first class ever 9 weeks ago. That class was torture so anyone who survived and did the whole thing deserves an award!

 

I told Leah I did not think Bikram would come because he sounded so sick during class but he showed up to teach. It was the most boring, non-Bikram-like class of all time. His energy was low and he seemed pissed off most of the class. My head was killing me, my body kept randomly cramping, and stomach started hurting. I wanted to give up but I reminded myself that I have had significantly worse classes before and did not quit then so I could not start now, especially after the conversation I just had with Danni and it being week 9. I thought Bikram would step it up as class went on because he sometimes does that but it never happened and he even later admitted that he did not feel well, that it was a boring class, and that his throat was hurting him. He even had the staff turn the fans back on in between the first and second set of Head to Knee with Stretching and yelled at Manali about why they were turned off in the first place. I did not think it was excessively hot in the room, not more than usual, but I appreciated the fans at the end there.

I decided to skip dinner and stay in the room because I felt so gross. My friend Alex had done the most amazing thing ever and had emailed me all of the Taylor Swift songs from her new album so I did not have to wait another week to listen to them. I will still buy the album when I get home of course but it was such an awesome surprise. Alex – you are the real MVP of the this 9 weeks!! My ability to sit and do nothing is limited so doing nothing lasted about 5 minutes before I got up and started packing up my stuff. I packed an entire suitcase up, reorganized/consolidated my remaining stuff, listened to the TS album, and danced around the room. I took headache medicine but since you should not take it on an empty stomach, I had a protein bar and some saltine crackers despite not being hungry at all. My head still hurt but whatever, worse things have happened. Also, my legs looked so swollen! What the hell.

I grabbed a chocolate bar on my way to the evening lecture in hopes that it would help with my headache. It did! Bikram was not feeling well so our evening lecture consisted of watching a few more episodes of Mahabharat (the TV show we started at the beginning of training). I accidentally fell asleep for probably about 20 minutes but I was so uncomfortable that it did not last long. He surprisingly let us out at midnight. It is funny to watch us all run and scatter when he says goodnight!

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Tuesday 11/14/17 – Day 59
I was up a little later than I would have liked to be the night before because I realized I needed to start getting myself back into the real world and making plans for next week to visit people. I unintentionally woke up early and responded to some of those late night messages until it was time to get up for class.

The morning class was with Ashley. I was not excited because I did not care for her last class very much and I was feeling tired. Kirsty and I talked about how our minds and bodies were mentally starting to quit just knowing that it was week 9 but I knew we would have to fight that mindset and finish strong. The class had, in my opinion, extremely low energy and was quite boring. However, the things that I did not like last time about her class either did not happen or I did not notice them (mostly her inflection changing so much that I felt tricked in postures). Despite the low energy, I had a decent class and I liked it more than her first one. I started off stiff but got better as class went on. The balancing series was tough and I kept falling. I apologize to my mat neighbors for being such a distraction! They left the fans on again during the floor series which was awesome. Maybe that will be a regular thing this final week; a little treat for us as we wrap up.

Housekeeping was already in our room when I got back which was really bizarre. They never came that early before. I did not want to be in the way so I sat on the patio and enjoyed the outdoors for a little bit. Leah sent me a message: she had apparently gotten really sick in the room so she sent housekeeping up and went to the doctor’s office who put her on an IV. She had a stomach infection, probably from the pain medication they had put her on. Taryn is a nurse back at home and she had warned Leah that the medicine they were giving her may do that so Leah had stopped taking it but I guess it was too late. I felt so bad for her. She could not catch a break!

I got ready and headed to breakfast. It was a nice day and since I was not going to the pool, I took my time. The egg guy was different and was a mess so we made jokes about how spoiled we have been to have a preference of which egg guy is there. Good Lord. We also had some interesting conversations about the different teaches we have had and how we feel about them, a continuation from Monday’s breakfast conversation. I love that we all feel so differently.

I took care of some things in my room (scheduled stuff, updated my calendar, went through emails, etc.) and blogged until it was time to head down and take the 5-day photo. I took some photos of the property on my way. We did Standing Separate Leg Stretching this time. Thank you to my volunteer models: Ilka, Rocio, Yoasil, Mari, and Tina (photographer). People actually wait to see the photo-of-the-day so no pressure, right?

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The afternoon lecture part posture clinic, part lecture, and part Mahabharat. We went through Head to Knee with Stretching and Bikram stood or sat on just about everyone who went up for corrections. It blows my mind how he just jumps on people and goes for. He is so confident he will not actually hurt anyone! To be fair, he never has. He was actually really upset when he heard Leah broke her rib doing advanced stuff and last week he made a comment about how the advanced series will die with him because people do not do it correctly and get hurt all of the time. Only he can teach and supervise it, apparently (and Emmy Cleaves probably). After that, we watched Mahabharat until 4pm.

Noteworthy quotes:

  • “Anything that works is right.” -Bikram
  • “Every American is either sick or lost.” -Bikram
  • “Yoga helps to do everything better and faster.” -Bikram

Laju taught the evening class instead of Bikram because Bikram wanted to TAKE the evening class with us. All of the staff and visiting teachers got to be front and center in the room with him. He was a mess! Bikram was a horrible, horrible student and NOT because he cannot do the postures (he can do just about all of them even if he looked a little crazy getting into them) but because he could not help himself and walked around correcting people and talking. It was actually pretty funny. Laju kept getting distracted and messing up the dialogue. She warned us we would have students like that one day. I hope not! Bikram demoed a few advanced postures for us, too. He might be a little “beyond repair” (as Manali says) but he sure is a talented guy. Impressive stuff.

It was an easy class but it was a strong one. I struggled a little bit with Standing Bow but it was overall a good class, definitely better than the morning. Geof, Taryn’s brother/a visiting teacher, was in front of me and kept making me laugh with his crazy faces and dance moves. He got to practice next to Taryn though and that had to have been exciting for both of them (staff/teachers usually practice behind all of us). They left the fans on again during the floor series. I obviously cannot be pleased because while I liked them on and I liked being able to breath, they cooled me off too much. Cannot win!

I was not hungry but went down to eat anyway. Huge mistake. The buffet can be so enticing and I always end up eating too much. The fish looked good so I grabbed some of that, the BBQ looked good so I took a little bit of that, and the chicken was basically schnitzel so I of course had to grab some of that (and later had another piece). I had my salad and fruit to balance me out but seesh. Then, because I apparently hate myself, I had 3 pieces of dessert. Had I stayed in my dang room, I would not have eaten until I was actually hungry and even then would have only had a protein bar or something simple. So much for minding my food the last week and trying to de-bloat before graduation/going home.

My mom and I video chatted for about 5 minutes and then I worked on my blog until the evening lecture, trying to stay on top of it.

Bikram complained about the evening class before lecture. He said it was too slow and “oh my God… 2 sets of everything! So long!” That made us laugh. If anyone knows how he feels, it is us! We watched another Hindu/Bollywood movie for the evening lecture: Jab Tak Hai Jaan. It was a love story and I think the majority of us were super into it. I know I was! I was getting annoyed with it when I thought he was going to choose this other girl over his true love. Leah and I had a serious conversation about it when we got back to the room so that should tell you how strongly we felt about it. It was an awesome movie. My only wish was that all of these movies were not SO incredibly long but otherwise, I have liked them all. It would not surprise me if I re-watched some of them at home… do not worry, I will not make any of you watch them with me. The movie ended around 1:20am.

 

Wednesday 11/15/17 – Day 60
Despite our late night, Alicia, Kirsty, Tina, Diana and I woke up early and met on the beach at 6:30am for the 4-day photo. We wanted to have softer lighting than the harsh middle-of-the-day sun and since we do not get to see the sunsets anymore, the sunrise was our only option. We almost decided to not do it because we were so tired from the movie night but we were all committed and I appreciate them for that! We did Triangle pose, replicating a picture that Bikram, his wife, and his kids took a few years ago. Thank you to my volunteer models: Tina, Alicia, Kirsty, and Diana (photographer). I think this was my favorite one so far!

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The photo only took a couple of minutes and sign-in for the morning class was not until 8am so we all headed back to our rooms to try and get a little more sleep. I managed to squeeze in another 20 minutes, better than nothing. When I got the morning class, it felt like we had taken the Triangle picture days ago. Time is crazy here.

Christian taught the morning class. I was feeling so tired, stiff, and sick. I felt defeated and like I was giving up but I was trying to hang in there. I enjoyed his class more than I did the first time, especially because he was not so strict with the water. When he practices with us as a student, he drinks ALL of the time so I was glad to hear him lighten up with us since he could not even follow his own teachings. I guess what I wrote in last week’s post implied that I hated his class but I really do not hate it. Is it my favorite? No. Is it my least favorite? No. He is a clever, high energy, good teacher but because of that, I find it difficult to get into meditation and if I had taken his class every day as a new student, I am not sure I would have ever fallen in love with the yoga. Meditation is half of the practice and without it, you do not get all the benefits. Anyway, I know I am alone on my feelings toward it all but that is okay. I prefer dialogue classes, y’all know that. Call me a purist! I surprisingly had a very good, strong class even though the room was a little cold. Thankfully, Micael turned the fans off for the floor series.

I was not very hungry but went down to eat breakfast anyway. Kelly and I talked about our feelings about this coming to an end and she said something very profound that I liked quite a bit: “I look forward to missing it.” We know we are going to miss it but we cannot miss it while we are here! It was a quick meal because I wanted to take a nap before the afternoon lecture, which I managed to do for about an hour. It was another beautiful day so I felt a little guilty for not spending my time near the pool but I just had to rest. Unfortunately, I woke up feeling worse. I had sneezed a lot in the morning class and after my nap, I felt more congested, sneezed more, and had a headache. Whoo hoo.

I laid on the floor in the lecture room before the afternoon lecture started. I felt like absolute crap. Vinny and Tom joined me and tried to tell me I was not sick and that I was not sneezing and that I was fine. In other words, that I could not LET myself be sick and I had to will it out of me. They jokingly told me I was making it all up and it got a laugh out of me. Vinny and I talked more about our first classes/our home studios/why we went to training. He also tried to describe to me how to do a headstand. I will try it one day when I am feeling better… maybe.

The afternoon lecture consisted of several episodes of the TV show, Mahabharat. Bikram insisted that watching the show/reading the book will solve all of our problems and I do not doubt him but I just cannot with that show anymore. I truly liked it at the beginning but we have jumped around so much that it has lost me. I never know what is going on and when he explains it, it makes it worse. He talked a lot more than usual while we were watching it, telling us to pay attention to certain parts. It was interesting but we watched it for almost 4 hours. Normally, we get out of the afternoon lecture at 4pm and have class at 5pm but he kept us there until 4:45pm and pushed class back to 5:30pm. He was in a foul mood at the end so I was nervous that he would be tough on us in class.

Sure enough, class was a mess. I did not want to be there but as we all know by now, that was not an option. They said it was tradition for the guys to all be in the middle of the room so our 11 guys took the center and the brunt of it. Troopers. Bikram was clearly upset with us and yelled at us just before the floor series. He called us disrespectful for not paying attention to the TV show and equated it to him coming into our church and smoking a cigarette or scratching his butt. He said we were helpless and never going to go anywhere in life because we refused to learn. And so on, and so on, and so on. Look, I understand that reaction but to be fair, MOST people were NOT behaving in a disrespectful way. Some were, most were not. Admittedly, I did fall asleep for about 20 minutes so I did feel a little guilty.

It is normal when people behave like children to turn around and treat them like children. I get it. However, maybe it would benefit him to look at it from our perspective for a minute. You put 70 people in a room who know nothing about Hinduism and this stuff. Then, you have them watch bits and pieces of episodes and episodes out of order, making it nearly impossible to follow along in an understandable way. Top it off with bad subtitles, a FREEZING room, and uncomfortable chairs and you are almost asking for us to stop paying attention. I personally find the topic very interesting and want to read the books on it when I get home but I cannot follow along this way. I try to pay attention but it can be difficult. Anyway, he got upset by it and actually left the hot room during our first savasana. I did not even see him leave but suddenly Manali was teaching the class. Leah told me afterward that he saw her basically throw the microphone at her and storm out. Yikes. Manali later tried to say he had a meeting to go to but I do not think any of us believed that. I told you it was a mess. The room was cold and the fans stayed on during the floor series. I barely broke a sweat but managed to do alright, despite only being able to breathe through one nostril.

I skipped dinner in favor of a protein bar/crackers and rest in my room. I was not hungry but if I did not eat before the evening lecture, where I suspected Bikram would keep us up late as a kind of punishment for the afternoon, I knew I would be starved later. I grabbed an ice cream on my way to lecture though. I have a problem.

Manali shared her “Bikram story” with us finally. I think it helped me and Leah understand her a little bit more and somewhat forgive the things she said to people/the way she treated people sometimes. I think her natural state is a nice, caring, loving person but sometimes the dark side comes out. We all have that side of us, though. Being in a situation like this, and especially in a situation like hers, probably amplified it. I have always liked Manali but just been frustrated and confused by various behaviors. I think it was all a good lesson for everyone and a reminder not to judge people until you really know them. Her sharing helped me really know her. She also talked about graduation/our flights and told us to “please go back home.” We are trying, Manali!

Bikram finished posture clinic with our final posture, Spine Twisting. I had a question about if people were allowed to grab the towel/extend their leg but was afraid to ask it because you never know what he will say (dumb question, etc.). However, he said it was a good question and he meant to talk about it but had forgotten. Whew. Afterward, he talked about chakras, kundalini, the mind, and the body. All of that stuff was really interesting and thankfully, he only kept us until 12:30am.

5 things you need to help control your mind:

  • Faith
  • Self Control
  • Determination
  • Concentration
  • Patience

Sidenote: Wednesday marked my 400th consecutive class!

 

Thursday 11/16/17 – Day 61
I still felt sick when I woke up but I survived. Anurag led the morning class but before he got started, the staff dressed up in wigs, danced around the hot room, and gave out free stuff (shorts, CDs, books, etc.). It was a weird little striptease but it was hilarious and a fun way to kick off the 2nd to last day. It was a little tough to transition from all the excitement to doing yoga, though! I could not breathe out of my nose, a huge problem when you are supposed to ONLY use your nose to breathe. I felt so awful and all but sneezed on Vinny during the floor series (I tired to cover quickly and he said it did not reach him but I still felt bad). It always grossed me out when I saw people blowing their nose into their towels in the past but I got over that really quickly when I did not have a choice; first time for everything. No way was I leaving the hot room. The standing series went by fast but it felt like the floor series dragged on forever, possibly because I felt like death. I did well and had a good class otherwise. My body physically did not hate me this week (minus the congestion/cold).

I was not hungry and felt awful so I stayed in my room for breakfast. I eventually had a protein bar but mostly because I took medicine and did not want to take it on an empty stomach. I video chatted with Katy and Paul for an hour or so. They were in Morocco this time and wherever they were looked so beautiful! Katy told me how much of a change she has seen in me and how happy she was that I got so much out of it. The 3 of us talked dialogue and how it may be difficult to transition back home after all of this. I am so glad and lucky to have them in my yoga family and to have had their support before, during, and after training. I had been feeling all over the place with my emotions, too. It seems like that always happens when I already have a call scheduled with them; timing is funny like that. As we approached the end, I was feeling reminded of how I felt during my visit in the Spring and then add that with my own feelings of the Fall training ending and it was a lot. I cried and I hate when I do that, even though I know it was fine. I was having a difficult time explaining it all to them but at the end of the day, I know it will all be okay and that the feelings would pass.

We took our 3-day photo before the afternoon lecture. Tanya was scheduled but was feeling sick but with how successful the whole ‘project’ had been, it was easy to find someone to take her place. We did Full Locust on the rocks near the pond the swans live in. I am not sure if we were technically allowed to be climbing up there, but oh well. The shot came out great! Thank you to my volunteer models: Sara, Henrik, and Ilka (photographer, who told me I had a perfect/muscular body; thanks girl!).

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Lidia walked into lecture with a sandwich and asked if I wanted half. I had skipped breakfast so… that worked out incredibly well. I was pretty hungry. Vinny gave me an empty Coke can for the last class, too. During the last class, we are supposed to do a Coke toast during our water break and take a photo. Bikram loves Coke so it is tradition. I do not drink soda (for about 6 years minus the occasional Fresca and Vodka drink or Cherry Limeade from Sonic which has Sprite… both are incredibly rare though) so I did not want to go buy a Coke just to throw it away/waste it. Vinny was kind enough to give me the empty can so I could pretend for the photo. I also gave my departing flight info to Manali. It was getting real! Tom and Vinny reminded me again that I was not sick and asked about my fake illness (they did this every time they saw me since the first day I started feeling bad). I wish it had been all mental and trust me, I tried to “will” it away! Axry and I took a selfie, too. Love her.

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Bikram did not have a lecture planned so we did a Q&A session where we were allowed to ask anything. We asked about the ‘no green’ rule, tattoos, different things about postures/timing/teaching, how to open a studio of our own, how to address incredibly sick/broken students, and a handful of other things. He answered almost every question but he is Bikram and likes to talk so some answers were incredibly long. When the answer gets long, the point sometimes gets a little lost and we go on a tangent but someone always had another question to help bring him back around. It was a good lecture and I think we all learned a lot.

Noteworthy quotes:

  • “No. Who said that? Fuck them.” -Bikram, in response to someone asking if we should alternate our grips in class
  • “You will never have had a better time in your life than this 9 weeks.” -Bikram
  • “You will have a wonderful life, I guarantee it.” -Bikram

We were allowed to take photos before the evening class so we obviously did. My phone overheated though and acted really weird! Scary. For the last class on Friday night, we are supposed to wear all black so I assumed we would have another round of photos at that time, too.

The evening class with Bikram was finished in a record 87 minutes. He was on a roll. The standing series flew by and I managed to snag a compliment for my floor Bow. I had remembered before class that I brought Flonase so I used some of that but I still felt like garbage during the class. The inversion postures were torture; too much pressure built up in my head. I refused to skip a posture though. Not this late in the game. The crazy part of it was that my body was completely fine. I was nailing the postures and everything else, I just could not breathe/wanted to die when my head was upside down.

The hotel had a special dinner for us in Tavola (the Italian restaurant) instead of Chula Vista. Debatable on whether or not it was a genuine gift to us or if it was because the hotel had another conference going on and Chula Vista was busy… but it was nice nonetheless. The food was awesome and everyone looked so nice. I was hoping there would be pizza but when we got there, we did not see any. I got a plate full of other food and just as we sat down, they put pizza out. We swarmed to get some. It was such a nice dinner and we all laughed so much. We looked/felt/acted drunk but without the alcohol. Drunk on happiness, maybe?! I will miss them all.

They passed out our group shirts before the evening lecture and I loved them so much; they were so much better than the Spring shirts. Some people were still dressed up from dinner because we were to have an autograph/book signing thing with Bikram so they wanted to look nice. I did not really care so I had arrived casual and ended up throwing my new shirt on. I still looked cute! Kiley and I practiced our 2-Day photo for Friday and that was an absolute mess but we were laughing and others were laughing with (or AT) us so it was all good. We figured out the trick to the pose, though!

Bikram did his autograph signing which took about 2 hours and during that time, we all just enjoyed each other’s company. I had Bikram sign a book, my paper dialogue, and my journal. It was a low-key, casual night and was a nice break and nice way to spend one of our last nights together. Jana and I had a lovely talk, we always do, and Alicia and I paired up to take pictures and be ridiculous. I often times forget that she is only 18! I wish I could remember all of the crazy things we say/do but just know that we laughed and had a fun evening. H.A.G.S.!

At midnight, Bikram tried to start a movie but told us it was optional. I heard “if you want to stay…” and immediately started packing up my stuff. I enjoy the Bollywood movies but they are always 3+ hours long and it was midnight! He changed his mind though and told us to all go to bed. Bless his soul! My phone had died and I had been feeling worse as the night went on so I was thrilled.

 

Friday 11/17/17 – Day 62
I must have knocked out because I woke up drooling but also feeling extra sick. I was so happy we did not have to watch the movie the night before. I do wish I knew what the name of it was though so I could watch it at home one day.

It was a little bit of emotional morning; difficult to put into words. Leah and I woke up and immediately started talking about how it was the last day and how strange it was that it was finally here. I could not fathom it. When we walked down the stairs to the hot room, it was our last morning doing that. Everything was the last and it was exciting but it was sad. As others arrived, people started exchanging hugs and it was just a mess. If I had learned anything here, it was to just let yourself feel an emotion so I did not fight it and let it happen. Sigh.

Jim was back and taught the morning class. We were allowed to take photos again so we grabbed another group photo but I do not think we ever were able to grab one with ALL of us. It seemed we were always missing at least 1 person. We tried, though.

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Jim talked to all of us before class but it was difficult to hear him so I have no idea what he said. I like the guy but once again, I prefer him in the lecture room than in the hot room. He was still crazy about the line and lectured someone about Toe Stand again but that was just classic Jim. He was doing dialogue for the first time ever and I could see the clock and he was surprisingly right on schedule. We were on the floor at the right time but class still went over by 15 minutes. I stand by my comment from an earlier post: he cannot teach a 90 minute class. I forgot he did not play savasana songs too but I was glad he did not because I probably would have cried. Instead, he talked but again, I could barely hear him. He was so soft spoken. There was something he said in the middle of class that I know I liked but I could not remember it long enough to write it down after class. I blame my illness. I had a decent class even though I felt so sick. There was way too much pressure built up in my head and the floor series was so tough. Being horizontal made it tough to breathe.

I had breakfast and then started packing up my stuff a little bit more. I did not want to go sit in the sun because I felt so sick. I met up with Kiley before the afternoon lecture to day our 2-day photo, though. We did pada-hastasana by the pool and it was tricky. We thought we had figured out the trick from our inspiration photo but it was not working. We asked Tina to help smash us together and she came over and had us laughing so hard, making it more difficult to balance! Kiley eventually had the brilliant idea that we each do the posture on our own and then grab each other instead of instantly grabbing each other and boom, it worked and we got a great shot! Everyone loved it. Thank you to Kiley, Tina (for her assistance), and Alicia (photographer). We got some crazy looks at the pool from the hotel guests but such is life!

Thank you, everyone who participated in the photo-a-day. I was completely surprised at how popular it got and it was so unexpected to see everyone fall in love with it!

Denise presented Manali and the staff with flowers before the afternoon lecture and Manali cried which of course made us teary eyed. Okay, I cannot speak for everyone but it made me teary eyed. Karla announced that she was 3 months pregnant, too!! I had noticed her doing modified postures in the hot room during the morning class but did not recognize them as the pregnancy postures but it suddenly made perfect sense. We were all so excited for her!

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Jim went through our names for graduation to make sure he would say them all correctly during the ceremony and then he gave a lecture on teaching and what to expect. Unfortunately for us, it was 100% the exact same as one of his lectures earlier in the training. I compared my old notes and it was essentially word for word and all of the same stories. The only new thing Jim mentioned but that everyone had said throughout training was that Bikram teaches to each person differently: some he praises, some he embarrasses, some he ignores. It has nothing to do with how he feels about us individually, all he does is a hold up a mirror and show us what we need. I know I need validation, so maybe I was intentionally being ignored because that was what I needed? Breakthrough? I was bummed Bikram was not there with us; I was already starting to miss the guy. We were out by 4pm and everyone scattered to get ready for the FINAL class. AHH!

We all dressed in black (tradition) and took some photos before class.

The final class was THE BEST. It was so much fun. The energy and adrenaline was palpable. Everyone was hugging and taking pictures and just so excited. We normally took up 4 rows but we all squeeze into just 3 so we could be close. It was special. Lidia, Alicia, and I put our mats together near Tina and Kirsty in the front row and everyone fed off of each other’s energy. I had an amazing class but I think we ALL did. How could we not? I even went all the way back in my back bend like I could do before training. I saw stars and wanted to pass out when I came up, but I did it. It was the last class so I had to no matter what!

During our first water break, we all did a cheers with our Coca Cola cans and took a picture. I toasted with a can full of water but I took a sip of Alicia’s so I could participate despite my no-soda lifestyle and wow… just that sip alone had me burping the rest of class. I do not know how everyone was actually able to drink it and do class!

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I snagged a compliment on my Standing Bow and Toe Stand (after he told me to lean back a little more). I love my Toe Stand so I was happy to finally get a little praise on that. I told you I need validation! We did a bunch of stuff to play with Bikram during class, too. Tiina had planned a few things out and we were organized and ready. Last minute, Kirsty threw in another thing for us to do and we spread it down the rows like a game of telephone just before class. I love a good team effort.

  • For the first part of Awkward pose, for the first set of it, when Bikram said “you’re trying to fall down backwards,” we all actually fell down backwards. It was AWESOME. Kirsty and I looked at each other in the mirror and gave each other the ‘go’ and we went for it. Then everyone started collapsing like dominoes. He laughed and loved it. He told us we had “good choreography!”
  • Before Standing Pull Pulling pose, we slapped hands with our neighbors before starting. Less effective and was a lot slower than we thought but we did it anyway.
  • Bikram loves to sing us songs from his albums and there was one he always sang the most: I’m Feeling Lonely. We all knew the lyrics to one of the parts by the end so when we went into the right side of Triangle, we all started singing. He joined us in the middle and you could tell he totally loved it. I was so glad Anurag got video! He told that we cheated him though because singing means we did not hold the posture as long as we should have. For the left side, he called out Sara again and we all started singing some song he always sings to her. I forget the name of it but it has the name Sara in it!
  • During Wind Removing pose, some people decided to make fart noises. That was not on our official list of things to do but it was still funny.
  • We all linked arms for the first set of Full Locust (why our mats were placed so close together at the beginning) and we came up together. That was way more difficult than I think any of us thought it would be but it was fun.
  • As always, we yelled WOO before Camel pose.

Other memorable moments of our final class were when he and Anurag did a demo of their crazy abdominal tricks before our first savasana and how we had to do 4 sets of Cobra because we were “so good” and “picture worthy.” We shouted we wanted to do a 5th! He had us look in the mirror (normally you look up) and that had us laughing. We also looked in the mirror for Bow but luckily we did not have to do 4 sets of that one. We were all laughing and making jokes the whole time, actually. The best was when Bikram said to “always keep your knees open” (in context to a posture!!!) and I looked at Alicia and said, “definitely not good life advice.” It was a very fun, strong class with amazing energy. Before the final breathing, we stomped and pounded on the ground. After the final breathing, it was 10x crazier. Instead of clapping, we followed tradition and just pounded on the ground as hard and as loud as we could while cheering and screaming. That was it – we were finished. What a surreal feeling it was! Of course we all start crying and then hugging each other. I held it together until Lidia and I hugged… then I lost it. We both did. Then we realized we hate crying and hate hugging and we let go and got ourselves together… temporarily. Everyone hugged everyone and we were all one big, sweaty, sappy mess. I CANNOT BELIEVE WE DID IT. We got in one big circle for a group hug, put Bikram in the middle of it, and all rushed forward to hug him while he jumped up and down in the middle and we all chanted his name. It was amazing. We also took our last group photo! People hugged and lingered in the hot room forever. Some of us, myself included, did not want to leave it. By the end, the floor was covered in water and Coca Cola spills, plastic cups, and towels everywhere. It was weird to leave there for the final time: happy, sad, ready, emotional. That feeling you get when you know you just did something major and you are proud and you do not want to let go quite yet, even though it is time.

Class photos (always look for the giant blue HydroFlask and you will find me):

 

Standing Head to Knee:

 

Us singing in Triangle pose:

 

One of our many sets of Cobra:

 

Linking arms in Full Locust:

 

Post-class photos:

 

Group hug:

 

Singing during our group photo:

 

I got cleaned up and headed to Chula Vista for our last dinner there. They had a BBQ for us again which meant I got to have more of their amazing chorizo! Lidia, Alicia, Maryla, and I ate quickly and then went over to Tavola, the Italian place, for one last round of desserts with them. We loved that chocolate ball!

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We had one last lecture that evening. Everyone had been telling us it would be a special one and that we were going to get the biggest gift of all time. Bikram himself had told us before that we were going to review the breathing during the last lecture so we assumed it had something to do with that, but we were not sure. Everyone still had high energy from the last class and people were still getting emotional. By that point, I was more excited than anything. We had done it and that was it. The end. Did I want to leave? No. Did I want to stay and do 11 more classes and 10 more lectures? Also no. So what can you do besides embrace the moment for what it is? Mari had told me that she wanted her daughters to be like me when they get old and that was so sweet. The love we all have for each other was overflowing.

We did, in fact, review the breathing in the final lecture and yes, we did receive a special gift. I will not share what was talked about and what we did because I do not want to ruin it for any readers who may go to training one day. You can know everything up until this lecture and still be 100% surprised by everything and have your own experience but let this one be a real surprise for yourself. I think we can all agree it was a good lecture and we got a lot out of it. It was our last, and it was sad. We were out just after midnight but Leah and I were up late again, talking in disbelief that it was actually all over.

 

Saturday 11/18/17 – Day 63 – GRADUATION DAY
There was an optional class in the morning for most of us but required for the demo team so they could get warmed up for their performance during graduation. I wanted to go but I decided to sleep with no alarm and let fate take its chance. If I woke up naturally in time, I would go. If not, I would miss it. I slept until 9:30am and missed the class.

I video chatted with mom for a few minutes. She told me how proud she was of me and my first thought was a standard “thank you” and my second, silent, thought was more along the lines of “you have no freaking idea.” I mean really, I am proud of myself and I understand that others are proud of me too and I so appreciate that but this experience… no matter how hard I have tried to explain it to y’all, is unexplainable. Everyone SHOULD be proud of us. After accomplishing that, hell yes. What a journey.

I blogged for a little bit before heading to breakfast with Maryla at 11am. I ate quickly because my nieces and dad were all available to chat so I headed back to my room. I talked to Bailey and Jessica first. Bailey was cute and told me she missed me and told me about her dance class. I called dad and Suzette next and once again, Elliott started licking them like crazy when he heard my voice. I could not believe I would finally get to see him again in just one more day.

After talking to everyone, I went to the pool with Maryla and Alicia for the little time we had left before we needed to get ready for graduation. It was going to be our last pool time! Everything was the last this, the last that. Wrecks. We had a fun time at the pool, laughing and being dumb. Of course we talked about dialogue and our first classes and how crazy that it was all over. Standard, last day stuff!

On my way back to my room, I stopped to video call Bailey again and show her the flamingos at the hotel and then headed up to get ready for graduation. EEK! It was quickly approaching. Leah, Alicia, and I got ready together and then headed down to the lecture room. Everyone looked so amazing dressed up! It was so hard to believe we were finally at that moment. After 9 weeks. We took pictures until 3pm when it was time to get the ceremony started.

We listened to the Upsanas and a speech from Bikram’s Guru, Bishnu Ghosh. Manali, Anurag, Laju, Jim, everyone spoke at some point. The demo team performed and did AMAZING! Training cheated them this year though because they got leftover outfits from previous years instead of a matching set like they normally do. But they looked amazing and did so well. My girls Alicia and Lidia were in the front row, Alicia front and center, and they killed it. Actually, a lot of people from Group 3 were on the demo team so I was proud of our group! I was so proud of them! I took video of it all on my phone and then had to charge my phone the rest of the ceremony so it would be ready for pictures afterward.

They gave out awards and we heard an amazing speech from our valedictorian, Matt. His words made me cry. He compared the 26 postures to our 9 weeks here and it was perfection. Sara won an award and Bikram said she could not have it unless she sang for us again (she sings Opera). She did and somehow she managed to pick the most perfect song. The lyrics were spot on and her voice was so beautiful it gave me goosebumps.

Awards:

  • Flower Petal Blooming – Karen
  • Bengal Tiger Strength – Polina
  • English Bulldog Determination – Vinny
  • Dialogue – Kirsty
  • Anatomy – Sara
  • Yogi – Fernando
  • Yogini – Alicia

After awards, we finally graduated!

The photographers they brought in to take photos were horrendous. The cameras were garbage and had a bad delay. I just knew the photos would be bad quality and sure enough, they were. Below is my official, once in a lifetime photo with Bikram and my certificate and it is actually amazing compared to some people’s… but incredibly awful compared to the Spring training’s photos. It was so unfortunate that these were our photos. Better than nothing, yes, but very unfortunate. Bikram’s eyes are closed in some people’s and the lighting and framing is a nightmare. Some people did not even get their photo!! Insane.

PS – My 1-Day photo to complete my photo countdown was, on Instagram, a picture of just me and my certificate (1 day, 1 person) BUT on Facebook, it was a group photo (1 day, 1 yoga family).

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We took a bunch of photos afterward!

After it was all said and done, I headed to my room to charge my phone for a few minutes and grab Leah to go to a small, secret after party in someone’s room for a champagne toast. It felt like college with the drinks, snacks, crowded room, dim lighting, and music. Hilarious. Lidia, Alicia, and I left when it was time for dinner because we were starving. We took the long way to avoid too much cobblestone and Denise told us we looked like we belonged on Sex in the City with our nice outfits, heals, the wind in our hair, and our proud struts. We were feeling fabulous. Dinner was by the pool and the weather was great. It was the same Chula Vista food… just outside by the pool. We had some random guys at our table so we ate and then headed out.

Alicia was leaving early Sunday and had not packed so the 3 of us went to her room to basically watch her pack and do nothing. I blogged for a little bit but did not make much progress. We listened to music, reminisced, and tried not to think about how sad we were. In reality, we laughed a lot and it was so fun. Alicia’s yogini trophy was huge and she had forgotten to pack it in her stuff so I had to halfway repack her bag. First the cake cutting at the dance party, then the helping people find their seats at graduation (the demo team did not know where they were sitting and they all went to the wrong spots which would mess up our order so I fixed it, of course), and then this. Lidia was right in saying that I could not help myself to take over things!

Once she was packed, or mostly packed, we went down to the bar/lounge area of the resort: our first time there in 9 weeks. A handful of people were already down there enjoying a beverage or 2 or 10. I was not going to have anything but Denise had ordered a glass of wine for someone else and then that person left so I did not want it to go to waste… call me a team player.

We hung out there for a little bit then went to the dance party in our lecture room to say goodbye to staff and anyone who was in there. I talked to Manali for a bit and despite everything that happened with Andrew and Leah and everything I had seen her do/heard about her doing, I could not help but like her. Talk about a 180 degree turn. Well, I never hated her so… maybe a 90 degree turn. Things started to get a little more emotional saying goodbye to people there. I did not cry but it was sad. I hate goodbyes and would rather seclude myself and disappear quietly BUT I decided to be an adult and face it all head on. Everyone got a hug. Europeans like to kiss you on the cheek, too, so talk about being out of my comfort zone. Hooray for growth!

We went back to the bar to say goodbye to the people there and that was when the real waterworks turned on. Alicia lost it and I was doing everything in my power to keep myself together. When I hugged Kirsty though, it was game over. I cried. Not sorry about it. You spend 9, life changing, amazing weeks with these people and you get VERY close with some of them, you cannot help but feel torn up when you have to leave. Especially since we live all over the world! It will not be easy to visit each other. Not impossible, but not easy.

I refused to say goodbye to Lidia and Alicia because 1. I did not think I could handle it and 2. I knew I would see them in the morning. I was back in my room by 11pm. I finished packing and got ready for bed and once I was in bed, it hit me. All of it. It was not really ending. It was not over. I refused. I texted Andrew that I was sad and he was so sweet to video chat me and talk it out with me. I am looking forward to the day he graduates next Fall and when he will understand all of the feelings I was poorly describing to him. Only someone who has been through this will ever understand. It is the most insane, overwhelming emotion. You all think I am a great writer (and thank you for your kind words) but I cannot put down how we felt. I just cannot. You know the feeling I am talking about: the feeling of being ready to leave but not wanting to? Something like that. I do not know. Leah got back so she joined our chat and then the two of us stayed up until close to 2am, running on adrenaline, talking about it all until we finally talked ourselves to sleep.

 

Sunday 11/19/17 – Day 64
Alicia was in the first group of people leaving and had to be in the lobby at 7am. I woke up, had my last breakfast at Chula Vista/said goodbye to the wonderful Gilberto the omelet guy, and then headed to the lobby for the first round of final goodbyes. It was so sad to have to see people go!

The Mundomex guys had our official photo print outs and I was so disappointed in the quality of the photo. Such is life. They did not have any of them labeled and since they do not know all of their names, Ali volunteered me to label all of the envelopes. People were coming over to get their photo and Kathi shook her head, laughed, and told me I could not help myself to take charge. People in line were making comments that I should have run the training! Not going to happen, but thanks guys!

We gave our final hugs. I hated seeing Alicia go! Our little baby (she was 18, the youngest here) off into the world. Wah. Lidia and I were so sad and tried to hold back tears. We might have cried a little bit after she left. Shh. We went to Starbucks so Lidia could get coffee and we decided to eat our feelings and get chocolate truffles. We missed her already.

I headed back to my room to finish packing because my shuttle left 2 hours later. Leah was awake and we continued all of the typical “last day” discussions and talked about how sad and happy and everything we were. I tried to blog and had a panic attack because the text was not appearing in the editor and I thought I lost it all! All my hard work. The look on my face must had been very bad because Leah froze and looked like she was about to have to scoop me off of the floor. It was okay though, it recovered and all was not lost. Whew. As if I was not already emotionally fragile from goodbyes… I do not think I could have tolerated a lost blog post that I spent all week working on.

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When it was my time to go at 9am, I headed to the lobby. Leah helped me carry my stuff down and so kindly made comments like “goodbye room,” “goodbye elevator,” “goodbye beach,” “goodbye Chula Vista,” “goodbye flamingos,” “goodbye chair swings,” “goodbye lobby.” Thank you, Leah! That was not torture at all! Now that it was time to go, I did not want to! Of course. Maryla was in the lobby getting ready for he first class so I said my goodbye to her and then Lidia came down to wait with us. The wait to get on the shuttle was excruciating. I hate goodbyes so long, drawn out ones are so rough. Why did this training have to continue to push me?! The Mundomex guys said it was time and that is when it got even worse. Lidia and I hugged, hard, and started crying. I love everyone I met and became friends with but saying goodbye to Alicia earlier in the morning and now Lidia… brutal. I always cried the most hugging Lidia. My Bikram bestie. I exchanged hugs with everyone who had come to send us off and hugged Leah one last time before loading up.

Sophia, Kiley, Denise and I were all on the same flight so it was nice to be able to travel with my friends and navigate the way. It also helped me keep my emotions a little more in check! The ride to the airport was short but felt like a lifetime. Sophia’s bags and boxes were accidentally left at the hotel so they had to go back for her stuff but Denise, Kiley, and I went ahead and checked in. My bags were overweight on the way in, of course, but one of them was in the proper weight range on the way back so it cost me less. Little victory. Axry, a staff member, went along for the ride and snagged this photo of us at the airport.

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Kiley, Denise, and I talked while we waited for our flight. We talked about all the crazy things that happened at training and everything under the sun. I heard some rather surprising and disappointing things! But, we laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. I was thankful we got just a few more moments together.

It was a short flight to Mexico City, about 40 minutes. I studied dialogue and tried to sleep but we were in Mexico City before I knew it. I do not know why but being in Mexico City still gave me a weird feeling. I had come a long way in the 9 weeks but Mexico City… that place might always be a sore spot for me. Again, I was thankful to be with friends to help distract my mind. We could not find our flights on the departure board but we knew we had a lot of time so we had lunch. We lost Sophia somewhere along the way and Denise went to check out the special lounge she had access to. Kiley and I went to a restaurant/bar and ate our weight in food. I got beef tacos and french fries because why not? I also had a glass of red wine. Sue me. We talked about training, our fears in going home, and everything. All we knew for 9 weeks was yoga, so of course all conversations were about yoga. The best part about it all was that Kiley and I had been friends from the beginning so it was enjoyable and easy to sit and converse, easier than if it had been someone I only kind of knew. After we ate, we found our flights and said goodbye. The last goodbye!

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I found a charging station and got WiFi to semi-work and started checking in with people at home and people still at the hotel. I could not imagine how the people who were leaving in the evening or the next day felt… having to say goodbye literally ALL day to people. Suddenly I was grateful to have left in the morning. My flight was supposed to leave at 3pm but we left a little late. I was so anxious to get going at that point. Once I was alone, it was more of a “let’s get this show on the road” feeling. As Kiley described it at the Acapulco airport, being away from the hotel made the idea of leaving a little “less romantic.” Spot on.

The plane was small and not full at all. I had the row to myself! I was exhausted from being up late Saturday and getting up early so I was hoping the glass of wine would help me sleep a little bit. It did; I slept for nearly the first 2 hours of the flight and woke up just in time for the airplane snacks. I ate, studied the breathing exercise to a good enough state, and then started reading the Red Book (Bikram’s first beginner’s book). It was so interesting! I wished I had read it before training. Michele, a visiting teacher, mentioned that we could always ‘brand’ ourselves and make our own yoga pages and reading that book started giving me ideas for something like that. Maybe one day.

As we started our descent into Houston, the sun set and the trees were unblocking and blocking the lights and it made the city look like it was twinkling. My heart started to swell at the sight of all of it. I had the song “I’m Coming Home” by J.Cole stuck in my head, specifically these lyrics:

I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the world that I’m coming home
Let the rain
Wash away
All the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits
And they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the world I’m coming

On my way TO Acapulco, I had the song “Here Comes the Sun” in my head and now that one. The brain has a funny way of remembering the most fitting things to help set the mood. I started getting teary-eyed… tears of happiness. Pure happiness. I could not believe I had just done teacher training for 9 weeks in Acapulco, Mexico and that I was returning as a certified instructor. The emotion and sense of accomplishment was overwhelming. I missed my friends already but in that moment, it was so nice to finally be home. I was ready to hug my family, see my dog, see my friends, and lay in my bed.

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I turned my phone on when we landed around 5:45pm and saw that my mom was in the airport, she had also returned from her Mexico trip just a few minutes before me and was waiting for me at baggage claim. I got off the plane and as I walked out and through the airport, I was… giddy? I could not stop laughing AND crying. Hysterically. I was texting my best friend and it was just all making me laugh even more, which made me cry even more. I was so happy and so emotional. Others were looking at me like I was crazy, as expected, but I knew they had no idea that I had not been in the USA for 9 weeks! To see and hear English again, to feel comfortable and familiar, everything. I was a wreck but in the best of ways. It was finally real. The idea of “home” was no longer out of reach! Being in Houston also signified the official end of the trip. My teacher training journey will never be over, there will always be things to learn and ways to grow, but my yoga bubble was officially popped and it was all over.

I saw my mom, Robert, and their friends at baggage claim while they waited for their bags. Such a small world that we would be there at the same but it worked out well because they were going to be out of town for Thanksgiving and I was not sure I would see them before they left. So, I was thankful we at least had that brief moment! They waited for me while I got my bags and we headed out together. Dad and Suzette were waiting for me in the car outside so I said goodbye to mom and Robert and headed out. I started getting texts congratulating me on being home and I sent messages to all of my yoga friends telling them I had made it safely AND with both bags (always a worry of mine). Shout out to Kelsey for letting me borrow her amazing suitcases. Dad and Suzette pulled up and I all but sprinted over to their car, through the road. I started chanting “USA, USA, USA”  and gave my dad a big hug. We loaded the car and headed to their house!

I told them about the day and answered questions but I instantly started to feel a little… off. I had talked about yoga for 9 weeks and I was very self conscious talking to them, people not in my yoga bubble. I did not want to talk too much about yoga because I knew they were not as interested in the subject as I am, plus they had read my blog and already knew everything that I had done. They told me about things going on with them and that felt a little more natural to sit and listen instead of talking. First time in my life, probably, that it felt natural to be a little more silent. I obviously had a lot to say and I was excited so I know I did a little rambling, though. I tried hard to keep myself in check.

We got to their house shortly after and it was finally time to be reunited with my sweet puppy, Elliott. Dad and Suzette went inside first to plug my phone in and get the video going and then I came in behind them. I was SO happy to see him! He looked at me, confused at first, then ran over and got in his spot in my lap. His tail was wagging a million miles an hour. He kept looking at my dad and then back at me, as if he did not think it was real! Dad kept saying, “I told you she was coming back!” Maggie, our family dog who lived with my mom post-divorce but who recently moved in with my dad post-hurricane Harvey, was there. She looked so much better than I had seen her in years and dad had warned me to be gentle and move slowly with her (she is at least 14 years old at this point and partially blind/deaf), but I forgot and reached too quickly and startled her. It was good to see her, too.

Kelsey, my step sister, was there and Alex, my brother, arrived shortly after. We all caught up for a little bit. I could feel that I was different already in a way that I cannot really explain. Their discussion on the the latest TV shows did not interest me and neither did spending the time to go back and watch everything I recorded on my DVR while I was gone. The idea of sitting and watching TV for hours on hours did not seem fun. I started to get a little overwhelmed so I said my goodbyes, loaded up my car (which Alex had driven over in), and took us back. Alex lives in my apartment complex in another building so it was good to get his help loading my stuff up without a lot of extra hassle. Elliott was SO excited to be back in the apartment. He ran around everywhere and then I took him outside and he had to sniff and pee on everything. I texted my neighbor, Luke, that we were back and he brought Barkley, his dog, down. She was pretty excited to see Elliott but I think Elliott was more excited to see Luke! I was happy to see both of them and we chatted outside before I got too cold (I was not dressed for the cooler weather!) and headed back home.

I unpacked everything, started laundry, and had a lot of trouble sleeping. I tossed and turned quite a bit all through the night. I struggled to get comfortable. Who knew it would be more difficult to adjust back home than it was to adjust to leaving?! Either way, I was happy to be back, with Elliott snuggled up beside me. That was it. Welcome to your new life, Jillian.

 

Training Summary
This was the best experience of my entire life. I wanted to go to training for 100 reasons but one of the big ones was because I wanted to be challenged. Mission accomplished. Training was a huge challenge, if not the biggest one of my life so far. The yoga part of it (2 classes a day) never scared me going into it but the mental part of it was intimidating and I was so nervous to go. Despite a few upsets, minor frustrations with people, a little drama, and 2 rough weeks that looking back on, were not that rough, I did fine. I loved the environment; I thrive in a camp-like setting. I made enough alone time for myself to keep me grounded and I think that helped a lot too. I feel changed and different, but in a good way. A better way. I hope others see it, too. I feel like I know myself more and understand the world more. I feel proud of myself, a feeling I have struggled with in the past. If I could do this, I can do anything now.

I am so thankful to everyone who helped make this trip possible for me (my job, my family, my friends) and to everyone who helped support me along the way. I know, first hand, that this can be more difficult on the people at home. I also know that people went out of their way to help me while I was away with watching Elliott, checking on my apartment, etc. I appreciate it all. I am thankful for the friends I met here and the experiences I had. We are all so lucky to have met each other and even though we are all going off in our separate directions and even though most of us will not talk regularly, we all know in our hearts that we have a loving, supportive, yoga family forever. I know that if I am ever in one of the 21 countries represented here, I can call up someone from training, even if they were not my #BikramBestie, and meet up with them/take a class together/teach at their studio and that is a warm feeling. I know that when I teach my first class and post it on the group page, everyone will show me love and support and that I will do the same for them. Not to mention, all of our visiting teachers who we connected with to support us as we move on with our lives. I love it. My heart has grown 10x being here and it is overwhelming! I hope to never lose this feeling.

To my Bikram girls, you know who you are, you made this wonderful for me. It would not have been the same without you and I love you all forever!

I need to make one special shout out: Before coming, one of my biggest worries was my roommate. Who was it going to be? Were we going to get along? Someone even told me to pay the extra $4k and not have a roommate. I am so glad I did not do that because Leah, my roommate, was one of my favorite parts of training and there was no way I could have done this without her. We got along from the start and even though we did not always hang out in classes/lectures, we spent a lot of time in the evenings after the day ended or during breaks between activities in our room talking and laughing. About everything. We trusted each other and got to vent about frustrations, talk each other off of ledges, motivate each other (especially with the dialogue), study together, and everything. We spent so many days/nights just laughing hysterically, sometimes a little delusional, at each other and the dumb crap stuff our yoga brains would come up with. We constantly, jokingly laughed about how “bougie” we had gotten about having clean bath robes to wear to class and little things like that. There are a lot of great memories. We also had so many serious conversations about life and yoga (like the one night we stayed up until 1am having a SERIOUS talk about Triangle pose). We have a lot of similar views and while we never fully opened up and shared our full life stories with each other, we definitely understood each other and supported each other and that made everything so much easier. I could not have been more lucky getting assigned a room with her!

There are so many more things I am going to miss, too: finding the perfect spot in the hot room and the daily conversation you have with yourself about if you should go in the center or not (the center was cooler, but directly in front of Bikram), the sarcastic comments we made to each other under our breaths during lecture (highest regards to Alicia and Vinny for that… every day was funnier than the previous), how Bikram pronounced the word “sauna” and how Alicia and I laughed every time, and the list goes on.

They constantly describe teacher training as a life-changing experience. I believe a person can have more than one life-changing experience but I do agree, this 100% was one of them and a big one nonetheless. Everything about this experience from leaving my job/dog/family/friends for 9 weeks to actually saying goodbye instead of my preferred method of sneaking out quietly pushed me out of my comfort zone. I spent 9 weeks out of my comfort zone, in a yoga bubble, and I feel so changed and bulletproof for it. I know it might have looked like a vacation to an outsider and yes, we were at a beautiful resort and had great weather and outstanding amenities, but it was not always a vacation. We had long, 18 hour days that pushed us beyond every limitation we could imagine. Some cracked, some just bent a little bit, but we all went through our own journey… together. It was so much more mentally difficult than I thought it would be, so much more enjoyable than I thought it would be, so much more everything than I thought it would be. I could have never dreamed up something so rewarding and worthwhile. It was absolutely worth every sacrifice and hardship. I am so proud of myself, of all of us.

 

Training Quotes
Most are Bikram’s, others are indicated with their name.

  • Food in Chula Vista. -Manali
  • Check check.
  • My hearty request… -Manali
  • How you guys are doing? -Manali
  • You can balance you can balance you can balance… -Manali
  • Bounce, and bounce, and bounce, and bounce…
  • What is the best food? No food.
  • Men are 3 things: dog, pig, goat.
  • Are you thinking what I am thinking?
  • No pain, no gain. No money, no honey.
  • 99% right is 100% wrong.
  • Chicken shit.
  • My way or the highway.
  • Good things come in the small packages.
  • Quality over quantity.
  • I hate lazy people.
  • Too good is no good.
  • Wind blows, fire burns. water cools, Bikram works.
  • Yes or no?
  • Ask me why!
  • I suck your ass like a leech.
  • I jump on your coffin box.
  • Don’t look so sad.
  • Do it from the heart.
  • Fuck Zara.
  • God gave you brain. Learn how to use it.
  • If women lose the hand (or grip), no future with a man.
  • Humans are slaves of the bad habits.
  • Mind gone with the wind.
  • Blind cannot lead the blind.
  • Can I teach you how to swim?
  • That’s called Bikram.
  • Steel to the fire, it gets soft.
  • I didn’t need to explain, I proved it already.
  • They’re all my students.
  • A Apple, B Bat, C Cat.
  • Mental masturbation.
  • Did I prove it?
  • Can’t start a Mercedes with a Toyota key.
  • Ass out. Ass front.
  • How many times did you go back and forth, “yes I will go to training, no I will not, yes I will, I will borrow the money, steal the money, I am going.”
  • Get in, get in! -Manali
  • Sit up on your mats! -Manali
  • You got it!
  • Ahhh thank you!
  • It’s a good news!

 

My Name Is…
Bikram had a habit of always telling us what his name was (or asking us what his name was). Hint: the answer was NEVER Bikram. Here is a list of names I started keeping during week 7 and no, I will not explain any because I find it more entertaining this way. If you were there, you know! Also, if you remember any that I missed, send them my way!

  • Mr. Garbage Collector
  • Janitor
  • Mr. India
  • Mr. Perfectionist
  • Mr. Knee
  • Monty Hall
  • Mr. Rabbit
  • Mr. Hollywood

 

Savasana Songs
Songs that teachers played during final savasana that I remembered long enough to write down after class or that people had sent in the group chat.

  • Songs from Bikram’s CDs
  • Bikram actually singing to us
  • Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson
  • Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker
  • Livin’ in the Moment – Jazon Mraz
  • One – Mary J Blige and U2
  • Still Standing – Elton John
  • Hot in Here – Nelly
  • I Feel It Coming – the Weeknd
  • Shanti Ashtangi – Madonna
  • Take me to Church – Hozier
  • “Love” poem by Rajashree from the CD Kavita

Jolina, a visiting teacher who stayed with us the entire 9 weeks like a champ, put together an amazing YouTube playlist for us with a lot more! So amazing of her to do!

 

Movies

  • Awaken: The Autobiography of Yogananda
  • Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai
  • Jodhaa Akbar
  • Jab Tak Hai Jaan
  • Mahabharat (TV show)

 

Random Statistics

  • Number of classes or lectures I missed: 0
  • Number of times I signed in late: 0
  • Number of make-up classes: 0
  • Number of times I left the hot room: 0
  • Number of times I skipped a posture: 0 (with the exception of the very first class during week 1 where everyone, except Danni, had to sit down at least once or face death because it was so brutal)
  • Number of yoga classes: 96 (unless you did a make-up)
  • Minutes of yoga: roughly 9,000
  • Number of earthquakes: 3

 

My Subjective Advice to Future Trainees

  • Go in with zero expectations, no matter what you have read here/other blogs, no matter what you have been told, and no matter what THEY tell you. We had no additional doctor lectures/speech therapists/sanksrit classes as they promised. Expect nothing (including sympathy).
  • Take everything “with a grain of salt.” Not all of their feedback is valid or necessary and not everything the staff/Bikram tells you is true.
  • Focus and take of yourself. Build relationships but stay out of the drama. Know that if you get sick, you are almost entirely on your own.
  • Take it one day, one moment, at a time and you will get through it.
  • Enjoy yourself. Take it easy but take it seriously. Do not stress too much (especially with dialogue), you will be okay.
  • There is no process to back up their “trust the process” motto but just… trust it, whatever it may be. Do not fight the disorganization and chaos or try to fix it. Ignore it or laugh at it and move on. You cannot control things.
  • Come knowing some of the dialogue. The more you know, the better time you will have the more sleep you will get. Definitely know Half Moon, at a minimum, but do yourself a favor and learn Spine Twisting too. Obviously learn all of it if you can, maybe not perfectly but at least to some degree.
  • You will be tired. Get over it. Do not complain about it. You can sleep on the weekends.
  • The real world exists out here. The bubble is great and you should absolutely embrace being in it while you can but it is not real. Be prepared for a big adjustment when you go home.
  • Listen to what visiting teachers say. Yes, it is repetitive and can get old (it did for me), but know that they have been through it and trust that they just want to be helpful. Listen and you might hear something new.
  • Bring a puzzle book or something to doodle on/with during long nights. Otherwise, do what so many people here did and copy them off of the internet into your notebook.
  • Pack lightly. You do not need as many clothes as you think you do AND you can buy things at the Walmart or local store once you are there (shampoo, etc.)! I brought WAY too many t-shirts (too hot for sleeves… plus, pit stains), sweaters for the lecture room (you can only wear one at a time anyway), jeans (HA!), socks/real shoes (yeah, right), and underwear (you are in yoga clothes 90% of the time, you do not need underwear). You (women… I cannot speak for the guys) need clothes for the hot room, some tank tops, some yoga pants (for lectures, posture clinics), bathing suits, and sandals. Bring a few nice outfits for special dinners and obviously a formal outfit for graduation. You can do laundry and it is not that expensive so take advantage of that. I did not need to bring 2 suitcases.
  • Never doubt or regret your decision to go to training. You may have given up a lot to go but trust that you did the right thing. 

 

Thank you for reading! Until the next adventure…

Jillian

 


 

Post-Training Life
Monday was a struggle. I was incredibly over-stimulated returning to work. I barely slept the night before so not only was I exhausted, but the act of driving, hearing the radio in my car, the street lights, the CHRISTMAS lights, the cooler weather, everything… was a lot to take in at once. When I got to the office, I was so happy to see my co-workers and they appeared to be happy to see me. I moved my desk to my new office; new life, new office. It was a tough day trying to get back into the swing of things but everyone was patient with my silly questions and I managed. It was a lot to take in. I had lunch at Chipotle with my best friend Kelsey and it was so nice to see her, too! She said I seemed different and I took that as a compliment. Like I have said, I feel different. When I left, she was only a little pregnant but WOW! She definitely has a little nugget in there. I could not believe it! She makes a beautiful pregnant woman! We had a great talk about everything and I felt like I could talk openly about things that I cannot necessarily write about here so that was nice. I love that feeling of familiarity and I just loved seeing here again. I definitely missed her.

After work, I grabbed Elliott and hauled over to my sister’s house to see my sister, my brother in law, and my nieces. Talk about a happy reunion and being over stimulated! They were so energetic and wanted to show and tell me everything. Bailey made me a beautiful drawing (when did she learn to draw and write????) and we played all night. Jessica and Justin welcomed me with a yummy meal, too! Thank you guys, I missed y’all!

2017-11-22 12.19.04

 

I had another tough night sleeping but the next day at work was easier. Baby steps. Tuesday was the day of my first class so I had that lingering over me all day. I started reciting dialogue in my head the second I woke up. I focused on work while I was at work but when I left, I was back to dialogue. Saying it, reading it, everything. I was so nervous.

Jessica and the girls visited me at work and we went to Grimalidi’s for lunch with my co-worker Emily. Bailey fell in love with Emily!

I got the studio an hour before class to socialize with people and say hello. It was nice to be back but a little intimidating. I was so excited when Tanja arrived! Tanja is one of my mentors and she used to teach at the studio so I was not the only one excited to see her again, other students were too. It meant so much to me that she came! Everyone told me how tan I looked and was happy to see me (and vice versa, of course). It was so cool to see my name on the sign-in sheet as the instructor so I sent a picture to the training group chat. If anyone was going to understand my nerves, it would be them.

I had 14 people in my class (pretty average for my studio) including my brother, sister, friend from volleyball, 3 of my teachers, and some of my studio friends. My brother and Todd (volleyball) had never taken a class before and my sister had only taken it one but they all did so great. They stayed in the room and everything! I am sure they all want to kill me now but I am proud of them for doing it and thankful for their support.

I was nervous starting the breathing exercise and honestly have no idea what I said or how many they actually did… but I felt like it was not great. I made it up as I went. Oh well, it happened. By Half Moon, I felt comfortable and in my zone and before I knew it, class was over. Was my dialogue perfect? No. I fumbled a little but nothing noticeable. I was told I held Triangle too long but I definitely could sense that… a few extra seconds in Triangle never killed anyone (sarcasm, it was probably torture; sorry guys). Tanja, one of my instructors, gave me a few subtle queues when she could tell I was losing it and that was so helpful. I unintentionally gave a few corrections (I told people to put their feet together and I corrected Todd’s hands in Cobra) which I know was a big no-no (we are told NO corrections the first 6 months), but it just happened! Sometimes it was okay, sometimes it caused me to fumble. I will need to make a conscious effort to not do that for my next several classes. Head to Knee with Stretching was definitely my weakest of all of them but I also looked at my brother who looked like he was dying and I completely forgot what was going on in the room. Do not look at the new people!!!! I also forgot the clock was there but I looked at it in Savasana and I was right on track and we finished at 90 minutes and 30 seconds! Right on time! The whole thing flew by and was such an adrenaline rush. Thank you to my sister for sneaking in her phone at the end and grabbing a photo of me doing Spine Twisting (the only time I sat, of course), and of the end of class!

Afterward, everyone congratulated me and it was so exciting. I high-fived everyone in lobby waiting for the next class even though I did not know half of them. I was pumped. The adrenaline rush was insane. My heart was overflowing with love for my siblings for going out of their comfort zone to support me, with love for Todd who gave it his all and even gave the rest of our volleyball friends a ton of crap for not going with him, with love for my teachers for supporting me in my first class and unknowingly letting me stare at them for guidance the whole 90 minutes. It was all so amazing. 9 weeks of everything all led up to that moment and it was such a relief to have finally done it. I had so many messages on my phone with people telling me good luck and congratulations and I felt very loved.

When I got home, I video chatted with Lidia (YAY) and told her all about it. I miss her so much and it was so good to see her and talk to someone from our bubble. I video chatted with Katy on Wednesday morning for a little bit to tell her all about it, too. We had a nice chat! Not only is Katy able to understand every emotion I had during training, she understands the feeling of returning home and the feeling of teaching your first class. I find it difficult to explain things to people who have not been through it so it makes it very easy for me to talk to someone who just “gets” it. Also, Katy and I have the same “weight loss” story so she understands all of those feelings and emotions, too (PS I weighed myself Monday and I did not gain weight at training; I have, however, lost 4lbs already since being home). I have said it a million times but I am so thankful for her friendship and guidance!

The rest of the week will be spent visiting more family and more friends! It is a short week at work because of Thanksgiving so I will have plenty of time to see everyone. I have not gone to TAKE a yoga class yet so I plan to do that soon, too. I miss it already but am nervous! Lidia took her first class back and said it was so different to not have us around her and have the group energy. She also said that she noticed the teacher did significantly less dialogue than she had thought. Uh oh… are we all going to notice bad dialogue now??? Eek. Either way, I am looking forward to getting back into it and seeing how I do with my body a little more relaxed and healed!

Wish me luck!

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