Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Like the waves of an ocean, we rise and fall, rise and fall

Week two has begun and with it new pain, new emotions, new barriers, and new breakthroughs.  I hit a wall yesterday and was able to rise above it stronger in the same day.  Morning class ended with me in tears, an emotional volcano, after a very tough class during which I didn't do many of the postures.  Rajashree read us a poem during final savasana which is mostly what set me off.  Every line is as if it comes from my soul, my heart, and my mind.  I needed that release and although it hurt at the time, it feels great now.  I made it through the day and made up my mind to have a strong class that night.  And I did.  I am strong and I proved it to myself.  Anything is possible here, and anything is possible anywhere.  Just let it in, let it out, and let it go.

The Invitation 
By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.  I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.  I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon... I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day.  And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes.”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Me in the waves at Manhattan Beach.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

"I'm going to be 747-ing all over you"

Week One is over! I have been successful so far I think.  As of right now I am measuring success as not having to leave the hot room to throw up. That is my goal for the rest of Teacher Training. No vomit. We had fun with Bikram trying to say 'puke' in yoga class one day.  He kept saying 'pu-ick' 'pu-ick' and we were shouting back to him 'puke!' 'puke!' until finally he got it.  He then declared it a stupid word and said why should he have to learn it anyway.  Ah good times with Bikram.  I don't really know where to start with this post, there is so much to say.  So apparently I have chosen to start it with stories of vomit.  Lovely.  Okay, next topic!

After that lovely little prologue let's start at the beginning shall we?  Day One we had the pleasure of meeting Bikram's wife Rajashree.  She is one of the loveliest women I have ever met.  She gave us a welcome speech and it was full of wonderful information.  She is so knowledgeable and I am really looking forward to learning from her.  She said "Yoga is not only about the practice, it is about beyond that.  This 26 and 2 is the key to help us understand the 'beyond that.'"  I am so excited for this, I know it is a process and one that I am looking forward to.  I began yoga for the physical aspect but now I am learning that it really is about so much more than that. 

We then met Bikram which was fantastic of course.  If you have never met him he really is impossible to describe.  He is full of hilarity but so full of knowledge.  One of the most important things he said for me is something that I wish everyone in the world would have the chance to learn.  We will learn "how to be a real human being here.  We are not black, white, yellow, pink.  We are not American, Indian, European, Asian.  We are not Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist.  We are human beings."

Our first yoga class was with Bikram Monday night.  Wow.  What an experience.  I actually had a really strong class and was feeling powerful and inspired.  The first thing I noticed is how different it is to practice in there compared with my studio at home.  The air is so different which affects my breathing I think.  It's not better or worse, just different.  A lot of people had a really tough time first class which is totally understandable.  New city, new country, new continent, new time zone, new room, new emotions, new everything.  It is all part of the process.  Bikram's first class with us was definitely not the standard 90 minutes, but rather just over 2 hours long.  If someone needs a correction he holds us in the posture until that person does it properly.  He kept us in Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee for so long because Miss. Pink wouldn't open her legs 36 inches.  Yikes.

We had class with Rajashree Tuesday morning and what a difference between her and Bikram! She is so wonderful and I think I would probably do anything she told me to do.  She just exudes this wonderful energy and power that it is hard not to be inspired.  She is really about the mind/body connection in yoga.  She said she used to ask at the end of each class who was having a birthday that day and then everyone would wish that person a happy birthday.  She doesn't do that much anymore because we all have a new birth-day after class.  We are all born again.  Thank you for that Rajashree. 

Posture clinics began Tuesday with everyone having to go up on stage one at a time and deliver the half-moon dialogue in front of Bikram and the 400+ teacher trainees and staff.  It is really interesting to see everyone one at at time, learn who they are and where the are from and hear their delivery of the dialogue.  Everyone is just so unique! Pretty much everyone that has gone so far has been great.  We got through 105 people on the first day which is incredible and Bikram is really impressed with us.  He told us later in the week that we are the best group he has ever had at Teacher Training.  So fortunate to be a part of it! I delivered my dialogue Thursday after many failed attempts to get in line to do it earlier.  So many people rush up to volunteer you practically have to throw punches and elbows to get a spot.  Very un-yogi-like.  It was interesting because right before Kimiko and I went (we went up one after the other) Bikram had just sung a song in Japanese to a woman from Japan.  She did a hilarious delivery of the dialogue which apparently inspired Bikram to serenade her in front of us all.  He loves to sing and this was certainly not the first time we heard him.  He is actually pretty good so it's not the worst thing he could subject us to.  It was so exciting and so nerve-racking to get up there with a microphone and have everyone stare at you.  I did my dialogue and Bikram was silent afterwards.  He is never silent so this left me anxious and confused.  I smiled at him expectantly (actually I think it was more like a grimace) and waited.  He then turned around to everyone and said "Well, what should I tell her?"  Everyone was shouting out "It was good" etc.  He said "No.  Not just good.  The best.  Wow.  The dialogue.  Wow."  Or something like that.  I had so much adrenaline running through my veins I can't remember exactly.  Amazing.  I am so happy with that response! Couldn't be happier really! I impressed myself, however I will remain humble because there is much more dialogue to go. 

We had class with Emmy Cleaves Thursday morning.  She is something like 85 years old.  No one really knows exactly.  She is Bikram's longest time teacher and she is in such great shape I can't believe she is that old.  She is very intense and very strict.  She teaches from that back of the room so the podium is empty and it is like there is just this great cosmic voice filling the room telling us what to do.  And telling us that we have a lot of work to do.  She said in Rabbit pose that she usually tells us to think of cracking a walnut between our head and our knees but looking at all of us she thinks that just thinking of squishing a grape would be more appropriate.  Haha, oh Emmy.  Thank you for ridding all of us of our egos.  We do have a lot of work to do and a long way to go.  Despite Emmy's apparent disgust with us, later that day for our evening yoga class Bikram said that he can see that we have improved so much already in just four days.  I think he was impressed with us and you could just feel the energy vibrating in the room.  Amazing what 400+ people moving together can do.

Alright I'll try to keep the rest of this brief and then reward your hard work reading with some photos for your entertainment.  We had a few visiting teachers this week as well.  We had Ulises from Mexico City, Jim from Washington D.C., and Lisa from Las Vegas.  They are all so different.  I liked Jim a lot and I loved Lisa.  She taught a very true to Bikram yoga class.  True to the dialogue and the 90 minutes.  I learned a lot from her in that short time.  She talked a lot about energy and how we share energy with each other during class.  That is why our palms always face up during Savasana.  Our energy flows from one palm to the next; it enters the left palm and exits the right from person to person.  This is parallel to the sun rising in the left and setting in the right.  Really cool stuff.  She also did an 8 minute final Savasana with us where we all recited a few mantras.  I have never done any chanting or mantras in yoga before and I always thought that it totally wasn't my style and just wasn't for me.  She may have changed my mind, or at least opened it.  They all have such meaning behind them and they really are for a purpose.  The first mantra we did was to the Goddess Kali who is the destroyer of ego.  Next we did a mantra to Ganesh who is the remover of obstacles.  I don't remember the other two so these two must have had the most meaning for me that day.  Lisa the teacher also had a beautiful voice so listening to her doing the mantras was wonderful.  I think this is something I would like to research in the future.

Ok some rapid fire quotes and tid-bits for you:

  • Kimiko and I have met some lovely girls from Bikram Yoga Richmond! Hi girls! So glad to meet you! Also we have met some other wonderful people from all over.  
  • Boss said that he was recently in Seattle doing a speech and someone asked him what he thought about the legalization of marijuana.  He said his response was "Eat shit and die" because what else do you say to that? Oh that had me lol-ing all over the place.  
  • We watched our first Bollywood movie.  It was called "Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai" or "Say... You Love Me."  If you want some entertainment, laughs, and an attractive man, please You-Tube some of the singing and dancing scenes.  You won't be disappointed. 
  • The nurse Susan, who is on staff for this week is awesome.  She is so hilarious I can't even describe it to you.  She has given us a few talks about nutrition, hydration and electrolytes and she is knowledgeable but also just so funny.  I hope all the nurses are equally as fabulous. 
  • We were graced with the presence of a very famous Indian music composer/singer named Babpi or something... My spelling and understanding of Indian names is suspect.  He is also indescribable.  I wish I had a photo of him because you won't believe me if I tell you what he looks like.  He sang for us and I wasn't sure if it was appropriate to laugh or not so I tried to control myself.  It was difficult. 
  • Bikram has a new music video coming out and we got to see it.  There are no words.  I laughed the whole time.  Gut-busting, tears in your eyes laughter.  I hope it comes up on You-tube becauase one viewing was not enough. 
Well as you can see Week One was a treat.  I think we are all in for a reality check with the start of Week Two tomorrow... Stay tuned...

As promised, some photos from the week:

In line at registration. Yea BKTT Fall 2011!!
Our car for 24 hours.  Loved driving it and loved driving in LA!

Eagle Pose in the lobby

The hot room!

Myself and Kimiko before class!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

We're in Los Angeles, eh!

Arrived in LA late last night! Woot! Had a good flight and navigated my way through LAX in 2.2 seconds flat. Slight dilemma upon arrival at the Radisson LAX which is my home for the next 9 weeks.  Most of the Teacher Trainees are arriving Sunday so we (my roommate and I) had to register for early arrival before we got here.  They had no record of our reservation and the hotel was totally booked.  I waited in the lobby for an hour for my roommate to arrive and then we got back in line at the front desk and explained our situation again.  Despite the hotel being full luck was on our side and the front desk guy worked some magic and managed to get us a room.  Going to another hotel would have SUCKED. Thank you front desk guy!!

Today we rented a car, a brand new black Ford Escape, and navigated our way through the streets of LA.  I drove and Kimiko (my roomie) used my GPS.  Thank you, thank you Grandma for the GPS because it totally saved us today!  We made it to Costco, Whole Foods and Target and back to the hotel no problem! LA driving is fun.  Some Real Housewife of Something or Other almost hit us but due to my stellar driving skills we successfully avoided collision.  Some cops stopped traffic right in front of us and we hoped we were about to see an arrest but alas it was a short lived traffic stop and ended more uneventfully than we had hoped.  We are just finishing up getting our room set up and organized.  It has been a long day but our room is looking great and we have SO much food.  We are both vegetarians and accidentally bought a flat of beans with bacon in them. Oops. I'm sure we can find someone who will eat them.  

Rapid fire things you may be interested to know:

  • I love Whole Foods, I love Target, I love my new car that I am pretending is mine although we have to return it in the morning.  
  • People watching here is hilarious.  
  • The staff at this hotel are absolutely amazing.  We have had the greatest customer service from all of them and I am very grateful.  
  • Kimiko and I are so very Canadian.  
  • Today I tried on not only pants but also a bra over my clothes and decided that that was a good assessment that they were the right size so I purchased them.  (They do fit, FYI).
We are going to head out to explore the hotel a bit and try to find the hot room! Namaste!

One last thing before we part: 

Kimiko and I met up quickly in the airport in Vancouver and decided to take some "Before" pictures to compare our progress through TT.  Here are the results.

Balancing Stick.  Total broken umbrella, not at all a T as in Tom... Keep trying Kimiko... Maybe next time.

Standing Head to Knee.  Well clearly we've got some work to do here.  Knee is NOT locked and the head is no where near the knee... Don't even get me started on the facial expression.