Not finished quite yet! But because I think it is going to take a week or so – at least – to decompress and begin to figure out just what all this meant, I wanted to give an update of the experience of Week Nine, before Graduation. Then, sometime after Thanksgiving, I will send out a ‘final’ email regarding Graduation and any summary thoughts I might have.
On this blog, I will continue to write about the teaching and my experiences with Bikram, so anyone not sick of all this can go to the blog and read about what is going on. I’ll say this again later, but for all those who have been reading all this and been so supportive, I cannot thank you enough. It has meant so much. And anyone who has been reading who doesn’t know me, please email me just to say hello!
It has been another interesting week. First off, since so many asked:
I lost 15 lbs. during the training. The weight loss really tapered off during the last 2 thirds, as I was adding a lot of muscle as I lost fat. I am not where I want to be, but in addition, I lost 5% body fat, which I guess is pretty good for 9 weeks. One thing they have stressed this last week is that our bodies will take a few weeks at least to catch up with the experience and that we will really be able to see and feel changes about a month from now. So hopefully, this will continue. If I could drop about ten more and about 5% more fat, I will be where I need to be. One cool thing was that my ‘desired’ weight went up, according to the people doing the body fat testing. When I took the first test, for someone 6’ tall, at that amount of muscle, my desired weight was 195 (when hell freezes over!) but now, my desired weight is 202. As I gain a little more muscle, that should continue to rise. If the two can meet – my desired weight and my actual weight – around 210, I will be thrilled. Ok, enough on that silliness.
I think most of us were surprised to find how difficult the week was, in some interesting ways. With dialogue, and the stress of dialogue, ending last week, we were all looking forward to a more laid-back week. And it was. We still did the two classes of course. But that is generally pretty old hat by now, even when the classes are tough. When we were not in class, we were having longer breaks, and lectures. So physically it seemed like it should have been an easy week. Not so. It was oddly one of the most difficult weeks both physically and mentally.
I think what was going on for me was that with the stress of dialogue/posture clinic ending, a certain amount of adrenaline that was driving me forward through all the difficulty was suddenly gone. The training in a weird way seemed to end with the dialogue. I felt my body just sag and say, ‘I’m done.’ The problem was, we had a week left! Monday and Tuesday were physically tortuous for me. Just bending over in class was a chore, and that is the very, very least of what we do in class. Out of class, it was literally impossible to stay awake during lectures, no matter how entertaining or important they might have been. Until this week, I was pretty good about not sleeping in class; I can’t say I never nodded off, but I tried my best to remain upright. This week, I just gave in a couple of times and lay down to sleep.
By Wednesday I started to catch up a little, thankfully. Wednesday morning we had one of the best guest teachers of the nine weeks, a fellow named Jason who owns a studio south of LA in Laguna Beach. He taught one of the most grueling and disciplined classes we have ever had. So much so, quite a few people became pretty angry during the class. But he was never loud, he never was calling attention to himself (they way some teachers can do); he was simply very hard and was calling us to do our best. It was an amazing class and one of the best I have ever had physically. It was a good example of someone pushing you to go further that you think you can go and if you meet the challenge, wonderful things can happen.
That night, however, we had an interminable lecture by Bikram. We had a lot of lectures by Bikram this week, and he was often amazing. He took us though the 26 postures himself in a number of lectures, explaining how and why he developed them and put them in this order, and he worked with people on each posture. He flipped me over into a backbend I wish you all could see. Wednesday night, however, was a less focused lecture that went on until almost 2 AM. It was brutal. And when I am tired, look out, I am grumpier than the Grinch on his worst Christmas. God bless Adam for putting up with me as I was ranting on the drive home. We all ended up with about 3-4 hours sleep max Wednesday night.
The thing I was most irritated about was the idea of being so tired on Thursday and Friday, the last two days, when we had our last classes with our four main teachers, Rajashree, Craig, Emmy and Bikram. Go figure, though. We showed up Thursday morning – and I have never seen a more somnambulant group of people – and the class with Rajashree, Bikram’s wife, who is kind of our mother during training and whose class is one of the best you will ever have, was at least for me, terrific. It was again one of those classes where when it started, I thought, ‘How the hell am I going to get through the next 90 minutes?’ and then I had about the best class of my life, at least until that evening. I was so surprised to do so well. Live and learn. I was still grumpy about being let go so late the night before, though - ha.
Thursday night we were taught by Craig, who is in charge of training and has the tough job of corralling 300 people in a variety of ways…300 tired, grumpy, ‘what the hell am I doing here’ people. He is absolutely amazing at his job and can talk on the fly about as well as anyone I have ever heard. In fact, I love to hear him talk about the postures even more than Bikram, which is saying a great deal. He usually teaches us at least once a week and his class is brutal; he is tough on us and he moves very fast. Unlike most teachers, he doesn’t give you any time to rest between postures in the first 50 minutes of class. It is very difficult to catch your breath and keep up. He also tends to hold postures longer than most. But most of us absolutely love his class. It is a tough challenge, but so, so satisfying when you rise to the challenge. Unlike some teachers, Craig, along with other teachers such as Jason or Emmy or Luke, simply expects more of you and so he demands more. Some people get angry at the disciplined approach. I can’t say that in the midst of the experience I don’t have fleeting thoughts of whips and chains go through my mind. (All the teachers have talked to us about having to be immune to the looks of hate you will get during Bikram classes when you teach; the same people leave class and say ‘Thanks!’ and mean it, but during the class you do often want to kill the teacher.) But Craig is one of the best Bikram teachers alive, and as Thursday was the last class we would have with him, everyone really pushed themselves and it turned out to be for many, including myself, one of the best classes ever, physically and mentally. Brutal as always, but immensely satisfying.
I pushed myself so much Thursday night with Craig, in fact, that for me, the two classes with Emmy and Bikram on Friday were really tough to get through, because I was so %#$%^@ sore from Thursday’s classes. I think my body once again late Thursday night said, ‘Done.’ And so I was not able to perform particularly well Friday. But they were great classes still, very emotional, and at the end of Friday evening’s class with Bikram, a big cheer and lots of clapping went up. There was not as much emotion as I expected; I think we are all just too tired and there is of course still graduation tomorrow, Saturday, to finish before we are official. We are all Bikram teachers, though, and I am already scheduled for a few classes to teach, which is a very heady thought. Bikram really continues to take off; there are over 400 studios now, worldwide, which is pretty phenomenal for a yoga studio, and they are about to franchise, which means it is going to expand even further. As tired as I am, I am excited to be a part of this.
Maybe next entry I will have something more meaningful. I’ll work on it. In the meantime, take a look at the link below. On Wednesday, we were given a view of the Advanced Bikram class, which only teachers are invited into. Emmy leads it. There are some amazing pictures of her I thought you would enjoy, having read so much about her. Please don’t spread these around: the postures are not that flattering (grin) but I wanted all of you who have been reading the blog to see the pictures.
Let me end with a few more choice Bikram quotes from this week:
"The darkest place in the world is underneath the lamp."
"The only thing most Americans hear is ‘Take it easy, honey’, ‘Don’t hurt yourself’. Come to my class you hear something completely different."
"In America, you don’t say ‘cheat’, you say ‘compensate’."
"My yoga is the most incredible invention in all of civilization. Ask me why. Because people survived without electricity, without antibiotics, without air travel, etc. But yoga helps people survive. It gives you a better life. I can live without music, I can live without all that. I can live happily in a cave in the Himalayas. But we need heath to survive. That’s why this invention is more important than anything else anyone invented. Why am I talking that? Who got me off track??"
"My mother and father fight every 7 minutes. But they know when to stop. In American, no one knows when to stop. They are extremists, in America, they over do it. Yoga teaches balance, moderation."
"Did I clear myself?"
"Yesterday I explained to you why women get fat ass pretty quickly."
"PMS is American bullshit."
"Nobody on this earth knows the women character better than I do! (grunt) You women are bulletproof."
"Men don’t change. They are like used car: buy as it. No change."
"Don’t tell people what they want to hear. Tell them what they need to hear. Tell the truth."
"Which pain is good pain? How do you tell which pain is good from the pain that is bad? When you die."
"People act so weird, especially when they are upside down."