I’m here, doing this Training. So far, I’m enjoying it. Well, you know, mostly enjoying it. It’s got it’s ups and downs (have I said that before??). But there are things that I may never understand about being here. And it’s probably for the best. Maybe in six or ten or twelve months it will add up and make sense. Maybe not. Who knows?

This experience is so unique. I’m almost three weeks in, more or less, and I can’t even really explain it to anyone. I have come to the conclusion that it’s just something to let go. Explaining this journey to anyone who either has never walked it or never will is, well, a little maddening. I don’t mind answering questions, of course. I love to talk. I love to share, obviously, and writing is one of my outlets. But for me, I have started to become more reclusive in the things I’m sharing. I’ve given more vague answers than specific ones and I do it on purpose. I get the same questions over and over. What’s it like? How are the classes? What are you learning? How do you feel? My answers are generally the same. It’s challenging, but amazing. The classes are tough, but good. I am learning more than I can ever share here, and I feel awesome. But what people really want to know is far deeper than than. They want to know if I’m going crazy with homesickness, if the classes are killing me, and if my body is really holding up in this extreme situation. They want to know what I’m being indoctrinated with, and how different I will be when I come back to them in 7 weeks. I know, I know you all so well.

But the truth is, I may never even understand it all. I am trying. But it’s a little like being told a parable that you hold tightly to for years and years. Then, suddenly, one day that story becomes applicable. Light is shone on the truth of it, and you suddenly understand. I think a lot of yoga is like that. We are given nuggets of wisdom, truth, stories, parables, thoughts, ideas. If we are wise, and are paying attention, we store those things away for later use. That’s what this Training is. We are storing up truth, ideas, knowledge, and information that will enable us to go out and teach this yoga to others. I (we) don’t always celebrate this, of course. Why on earth is Boss keeping us up until 2 am watching a movie we don’t get? Why are we sitting here listening to lectures hour after hour? Why? Because we may never understand them. BUT, then again, one day we may. And I think just the glimpse of hope that one day we may is reason enough to listen.

Last night in Jim’s class I became incredibly angry. WHY is he holding this set of Cobra for so long? I am so FUCKING HOT, let me out!!!! I want to lay my head down. Ugh, doesn’t he get that? I can’t stand it when teachers hold us in this posture for so LONG. Oh and why is the heat so oppressive tonight? WHY? I hate this. Well, obviously I don’t hate it. Obviously I love it, or I wouldn’t be here, right? YES! Of course I love it. I came out of that cobra weeping, sobbing, and cursing the hot, soaked mat I was laying on. But five minutes later, as I did floor bow, I understood that long cobra. My warm spine bent easily and effortlessly. I held that posture with gratitude.  Later Jim went on to tell us a story about loyalty, and how it’s one of the hightest Spiritual attributes you can have.  Loyalty, huh?  You mean, like loyalty to this yoga?  Yeah, see?  I get that.

There’s a lot I may never understand here.  But what I know for sure is that it doesn’t matter.  I do the best I can, give what I have to give, and commit to learning it.  I may never understand even a fraction of what I am taught during this Training.  But it’s all stored inside of me, like precious jewels that I may one day need to pull out to save my life.  And for that, I am truly thankful.

Namaste.

For a reason.

September 29, 2008

It’s been an interesting week. Week 2. I am totally feeling the ups and downs. The week starts off with energy and by midweek I feel drained. The weekends are the best. I feel so refreshed on the weekends. I think it’s what makes this process bearable, the knowledge of those 46 hours off. Yeah, I counted the hours.

This week I’ve learned a lot about my practice. I had many incredibly strong classes. It felt SO good to just feel the yoga in my body. I am getting leaner and stronger. But one of the hard things about this Training is that when it’s great it’s REALLY great, but when it gets tough, it can get REALLY tough. I feel like the room is getting hotter, which it very well may be. I had a few classes this week when I truly felt that my body wouldn’t be able to do this Training. I had another emotional breakdown on Friday evening in class. I just sobbed and sobbed. A lot of it was exhaustion, but a lot of it was also an overwhelming release of so much of the anxiety I brought with me to Acapulco. I am learning that it’s easier just to let it go, so I did. The process gives way to the healing, even when it’s tough. Physically it feels harder to actually let this happen. But it’s more emotional than physical, and I know it. I’d prefer to muscle through and fight it off, but my body and spirit has other plans for me. I am healing on such a profound level. I don’t love it all the time, but I know it’s best for me.

We had some great lectures this week. We’ve been studying more Anatomy and had a very talented woman come talk to us about how to use our voices. She was great and brought a lot of energy to the group. Bikram gave more lectures on Yoga this week. We saw one Bollywood movie and also had the lovely Emmy Cleaves with us all week. Oh how I love Emmy. I’m not sure if she’s going to be here next week. She helped me in posture clinic with my left side Triangle. Oy, I won’t soon forget that experience! And my Triangle is certainly better for it. Her classes were so wonderful. She teaches very deliberately and gives really detailed information about postures. I learned so much about alignment and correct positioning. Learning learning..

So.. How’s the body holding up? Well, really well. I still feel overall really great. No dehydration, no cramping, and no real misery outside of overheating in the room. Physically, I’m great. I do tend to get a little weak in class at times and find it hard to get my heart rate down. Once again, the sea salts are saving my life. Thank God for pure minerals and electrolytes. Thanks Arnie!

On a more business-y note, there was some talk this week about my blog going private. I know many of you have commented and emailed me about it, and I had considered it as well. However, I have decided not to do this afterall. The general feeling here (in the Training), and the impression and requests I think we have all gotten from the staff and teachers is that this experience is unique. The way that we, as students blogging, speak about Training affects the way the outside world (and potential future Trainees) view it. It is inappropriate, I believe, to overshare others’ personal experiences, give specifics from the lectures (Copyrighted information), drop names, and gossip. However, I do feel that this blog, and many of the blogs being written by my fellow students are very helpful to those we have said goodbye to at home. These blogs are our lifeline and outlet. They serve to inform our loved ones and friends of the daily goings on here in Acapulco. For that reason, I have chosen to leave mine public. You may find as you read that my blog is fairly general, and at times vague. This serves several purposes both for myself and out of respect for the requests being made of us while we are here. Please understand this, and do remember that this Training is an incredibly unique community. We are all here for different reasons, coming from different places, and will all have a different point of view. I hope that my words shared offer a glimpse of this community, with the utmost respect to the staff, the Senior Teachers, Bikram, and especially my fellow Trainees.

I hope you all have a lovely week.

Namaste.

Leave your shoes at the door..

September 26, 2008

Briefly.
It’s an instruction we give everyone who comes to the studio, right?  Leave your shoes outside the room.  Respect the space.  It’s a common sign of respect all over the world.  Shoes are filthy things that we wear to protect our feet.  Taking them off is a sign of respect

But for me, as Bikram taught last night, this simple request is also a great metaphor for how I should approach this Training, and my practice.  Leave your shoes at the door.  Leave everything you know, everything you believe, everything you thought you had learned at the door.  Take off those filthy shoes, that old knowledge, that stale faith, and just leave it at the door.  Come into the hot room with a clean slate, a fresh mind, and a willing heart.  The hot room is a metaphor for the entire training, and the postures are a metaphor for the process we go through here as we purify, purge, and process all the junk we’ve been carrying around all of our lives.

I woke up this morning, NO – I went to bed last night, completely discouraged, exhausted, ready to get the hell outta here.  Late nights, early mornings, endless lectures, movies, YOGA, heat, sweat, eating, showering, laundry….  It adds up fast.  Add to that the anxiety and homesickness, and well, you get the picture.

But what Bikram was saying, I believe, laaaate last night in lecture was that this whole thing is about me letting go and just doing it.  Shut up Karen.  Remember?  In the last blog?  Remember the conversation I had in Ulysses’ class?  Yeah.  Shut up brain.  Breathe, take off your filthy shoes and get on the mat.

Expectations are my enemy right now.  Because no matter how hard I try to prepare, whatever expectations I have set up for myself end up making me miserable.  The only way I can be free is to open my mind and let go.  So this morning, I woke up, had myself a good cry on my terrace watching the sun rise and just let go.  It doesn’t matter.  But once I let it go, I could move on.  I got up, washed my laundry out, changed, and walked down into the dungeon hot room.  It doesn’t matter.  All we have to do is leave our shoes at the door.
Namaste.

Edit:  After some careful introspection, and some input from my readers, I have decided to no longer refer to the yoga room as the dungeon.  I think you know why 😉

Week one redux.

September 20, 2008

Wow, it’s really over.  Week one is really over.  It’s hard to believe that, but also SUCH a great feeling.

So I’ve been trying to just be really present and honest and open the past week.  I’m not overdoing it with blogging or journaling.  I love sharing with you all, I really do.  And I’ve been doing the best I can to give you the big details.  But, honestly, I kind of like keeping this experience a little bit to myself.  I have so many different emotions moment to moment.  It’s impossible to keep up with all of them.  It’s really true that you are up one minute and down the next here.  It changes so fast and sometimes you have no idea where it comes from.  Like a ship in the night. But I’ll try to sum up the past week for you guys, my faithful readers.

First of all, WOW, this entire facility is incredible.  The hotel staff are amazingly friendly, it’s so clean, so beautiful, and it’s such a comfort when you literally crawl out of the hot cave and see them around smiling at you.  The sweet lady that cleans my room everyday always lines up my shoes and puts my slippers tucked under my bedskirt.  She also lines up the limes on my dresser.  Little things, people.  It doesn’t take much.  The food is great, and I’m NOT sick of it yet.  Pretty good variety doesn’t hurt.  I got a good look at the spa today and later I’m going to get a pedicure.  Yeah, my feet have been through a lot this week and this is one luxury I am affording myself.  Also, how awesome is it that we have laundry service?  It’s pretty cheap too, and SO nice not to have to wash out all those Shakti shorts and bras.  Little things, little things.

For those of you waiting for pictures, they’re coming.  Not today though.  Soon.  I’ve been a little stingy with pictures because it’s so time consuming to upload.  But they’re coming.  Be patient.

Anyway, the place is amazing and the pool is the most amazing heaven when your sore aching body wants to cool off.  Still no beach.  Later.

We have been hustling through Half Moon dialogue all week.  Still a lot of peole left to give theirs.  I’m not sure what they’ll do this week with it, but it will all get done.  Basically everyone here says their first posture dialogue in front of Bikram.  It’s just how it’s done.  With 310 people, you do the math, it’s SO time consuming.  But it’s fine, and listening to it is a great way to be sure you know it well.  So here it’s basically class, eat, lecture, class, eat, lecture.  Rinse and repeat.  I totally already feel the “Groundhog Day” thing.  I’m in a pattern I like and it’s good.  The weekend is a nice respite.

So, how’s the yoga?  Wow.  That’s almost all I can say (almost).  I heard someone tell me coming to Teacher Training is like starting ALL over again with this yoga.  They’re not kidding.  I’ve had 10 classes already!  I can’t even believe that!!  TEN in six days.  Wow.  Every class has been so different and I’d be lying if I told you I could remember them all and how I felt.  I can’t.  But I do feel overall it’s getting easier to go down into the room and face myself.  You have no idea what a mental hospital that room is.  Wow, when you practice in a regular studio, I think you feel it a little bit.  But being here, in the HUUUUGE room (you saw it!) it is so different.  I’ve had every emotion possible.  Today was my strongest class so far.  I stayed up for the whole class, did every set of every posture, worked hard, and only drank water during the water breaks.  Now for those of you not steeped in this yoga, that’s a good thing.  Right now, everything is about my brain.  I’ve had a little physical discomfort this week.  But overall, I have to get my brain to shut up.  My mind is constantly chattering.  Here’s a little conversation I had in a class taught the other day by Ulysses who owns the Mexico CIty studio:

I can’t do this.  Why am I here?  Why is everyone so damn happy??
Shut up Karen.
No, this is too hot.  Too humid, too hard.  I want out.
Shut up Karen.
If I die right here they’ll have to shut the whole show down to drag me out.
Shut up, it’s not that bad.
Why are my arms shaking?  Why do I feel cold?  Why is my skin clammy?
Just breathe.
Who in GOD’S green earth thought I’d be able to survive this?
Breathe, breathe, breathe.
Ok, breathe.  OK.  I’m OK.  I’m OK.  Oh look, Spine Twist, class is almost over.

I then spent about 20 minutes on my mat weeping like a little baby after they turned the lights off.  You have no idea.  These conversations go on daily.  Oy.

So, the room.  HOLY SHIT it’s big.  Something crazy like 15 or so mat rows.  It holds over 500 sweaty bodies and is apparently the biggest Bikram Torture Chamber on this planet.  Hallelujah, and I get to live in it for the next 8 weeks.  EIGHT!  Can you believe it?  ONLY EIGHT MORE!!  The first night, when Bikram taught the first class, I could have passed out with disorientation.  So many people, so huge, so humid, so hot…  Save me.  But now, a week in, it doesn’t feel as big.  I feel like I’ve gotten my bearings with that hot cave.  The room, the hot cave, the torture chamber, the dungeon.  You pick a name, vote, I’ll stick with it.  I have a feeling when I go home, I’m going to feel like our beautiful orange room is so small.  The energy flows and sometimes it’s like fresh air and sometimes it’s like a tidal wave of hell.  You never know.  I try to just be open to whatever is coming, but you can almost feel it before the teacher even gets up on the box.  I’m only responsible for my energy.  What a relief.  I treasure the feeling though, I treasure the sound of 400 some bodies taking that first breath in Pranayama.  Like one million locusts (according to Boss).  It’s incredible.  Oh and nothing sounds sweeter than the click of the lights going off after the final breathing.  Click, click, click click click….  Hallelujah, I’m still alive and the class is done.  At least for a few hours.

So far I’ve only had to watch ONE Balliwood movie.  I have a feeling more are on the way.  Oh yes, laaate nights with Boss are ahead.  Can’t wait for that.  Oh and in case you’re confused Boss is Bikram.  Bikram is Boss.  You are Boss, I am Boss.  You get it?  Yeah?  OK good.

I’ve made lots of friends and as I said before my roommate is SO great.  I have a buddy, Renee, a fellow Texan, who’s been my main buddy here.  She practices in Austin and she’s one hot chica.  If you’re lucky I’ll post a picture of her for you to see.

I’m going to go nap before my pedicure and then go to the pool.  Weep for me, right?

Thank you all SO much for your comments and emails and all.  You are my breath of fresh air.  I love you all.  Namaste!

The Roller Coaster

September 19, 2008

It’s FRIDAY!!!  I cannot believe that week one is nearly over.  Wow.

So, everthing anyone ever told me about this Training being a total roller coaster was right.  It literally is moment by moment up one minute and down the next.  I’ve seen some pretty deep lows this week and had some pretty high highs.  This is GOOD!  Am I right?  Yes Boss!

Anyway, my classes are feeling a little stronger.  I had quite possibly (what I thought) the worst class of my entire yoga career yesterday.  What’s funny about it is that I thought the class I had Wednesday night was the worst.  Get my point?  But then last night I had a strong class with Bikram.  I felt good, like I was floating.  I’ve cried every single class since I got here but last night.  There’s nothing wrong with that, I am certainly fairing better than many of my fellow students overall.  But it’s hard emotionally.  It’s all good, all part of this process I see opening up and as hard as it is, I am trying to let it go.

So people have been asking me, why do people collapse, vomit, pass out, etc, in the class here.  There are so many reasons for it.  And it’s not even just because it’s Training.  Bikram Yoga is like a refiner’s fire.  It’s the kiln, where you put your body to shape it, to mold it.  When you put your body in the fire, the shit comes out.  Whatever that means for you, it happens.  Tears, nausea, vomiting, fainting, it’s all just the body purging itself of the crap we’ve done to it for however long we’ve been alive.  One of our teachers said (I believe it was Jim Kallet) that the body NEVER forgets.  Everything we’ve done to our body is still in our body.  So you go into the room, the heat and the humidity, and you feel that purge.  Let it go, this is good.  Some of the students here are adjusting to the elevated humidity of the room (around 70%), others are coping with viruses, others are dealing with weak bodies, others are suffering emotionally.  We all deal with it, in different ways.  But what we learn from it is to get back to our mat, stand back up, and work.  Every day, class by class, breath by breath.

I gave my dialogue for Bikram last night, and I nailed it.  Felt awesome to be done with that.  Just, you know, 23 more postures to go!

This place is becoming more and more familiar to me.  I’m getting it why we have to let go and be here.  I have enjoyed having this time already just to not worry, not think, just do.  I’ve opened myself up, and I’m here.  I’m also looking forward to the weekend when I can rest a little more, study, and maybe even go to the beach.

So, how’s my body doing?  Overall, I’m doing great.  No dehydration, no cramping (WOW).  Overall, I’m just dealing with a slightly cranky digestive system (SOTBB), some fatigue, and my emotional junk.  I’m grateful to NOT be vomiting, or leaving the room, or passing out.  I’ve stayed on my mat, in the room, and that’s the goal.  I’m taking care and eating well.  So far so great.  Even when it sucks, I remember how far I’ve come.  I feel SO much new depth in my postures.  Just this far in!  I can’t wait to see how I feel in 8 weeks.  I’m holding things, pushing things, and feeling stronger class by class.  Thankful, thankful, thankful!!!

I had better be off to prepare for class.  Can’t wait to write again this weekend.  Namaste.

Adjusting

September 17, 2008

Hey everyone.  Thanks for all your kind words.  I’ve been reading them on Facebook and also here on the blog.

I just got up and thought I’d write a little bit just to keep up. Yesterday was our first *real* full day here.  It was a whirlwind.  Rajashree taught our morning class.  The energy was high and I think I did better in that class than in Bikram’s Monday night class.  Then we had lunch, and on to Posture Clinic.  I did not get up to give my Dialogue, although I did try.  The line was already so long they made people sit down.  I will try today, but I feel at peace to sit and listen.  I am prepared, and I will be fine.  Bikram seems to be in a good mood.  He says we are the best Training ever for delivering this first Dialouge.  How sweet, eh?

Anyway, we then had a small break, then onto another class with Bikram.  We are seeing more and more people collapsing in class, vomiting, cramping,all of that.  It’s kind of intense.  I had a better class last night and was really having fun towards the end.  I am feeling pretty strong.  I got dizzy a few times, but I just sat down.  I am taking very good care of myself.

One day at a time here, one moment at a time.  The emotional roller coaster is very real.  But I think the more I just let it happen, the better off I am.

I have another class in 2 hours.  Seems my internet time is going to mainly happen early in the morning and on the weekends.  I am grateful for whatever and realize my time here isn’t about blogging, but about being here.  So keep commenting and sending emails.  Your encouragment and thoughts mean the world to me.

Love to you all.

This will likely be pretty brief. I’m very tired and want to curl up on my bed and study.

So, wow, so much to write and impossible to fit it all in. Yesterday we started with orientation, followed by a welcome dinner. It was all very nice. We met the staff, got signed in, given the down low on rules and shuffled off to bed. This morning was a late morning with more orientation, and then we met Bikram. He talked to us for about an hour. So much about Bikram, far more than I can say here. I am sure as the weeks go on, I will have a lot to say. He’s immediately engaging, outrageous, and hilarious. We then had lunch, another session of more orientation and then a break to prepare for class.

Oy..

They’ve been telling us, “take it easy honey.” The first week is NOT about killing yourself or proving yourself to anyone. The first week is about not passing out and acclimating to the overwhelming humidity, the room, the heat, and the new environment. That said, I can see now why they warn us so much. It’s hard to not push and not want to go for it. But I did take it easy tonight and I’m glad. By about Standing Bow my body had taken over that decision and I was taking small breaks. I had some shaky legs, some nausea, and LOTS of dizziness. Nothing that forced me to leave my mat or anything like that, but not very fun either. The Standing Series was much harder for me than the Floor Series. I got very discouraged and thought many many times to myself, “I can’t do this! Why am I here?? What was I thinking??” By Savasana (midpoint rest) I was crying. I wanted to run, I wanted to scream, I wanted OUT OF THE FUCKING ROOM!!! But I didn’t go, I stayed, and I was glad for it. The room is so big, and so overwhelming. Just staring at the ceiling tiles can make you feel like you are going to fall over. I didn’t, but I felt like I might. Ahhh my FIRST breakdown, YAYYYY it’s OVER! But somewhere around Locust I was fine, happy, laughing at the Boss man, doing both sets. I finished class fine, and was smiling by the end. I even had water left in my bottle.

I’m going to be fine. I am.

I stayed in the room. Right? Goal number one. I stayed in the room.

Anyway, I’ve been a little up and a little down today.  Raj said last night everyone experiences the breakdown, everyone will have this happen.  Some will have it now, some will have it in the middle, some will have it later.  Some will have it the whole time.  I miss my family.  I miss them so much, and have no idea how they’re doing with this horrible situation in Houston.  I can’t get to them, I can’t.  It’s maddening.

But, I am here.  I am here and the only way I can bere here is to just be here.  They’ve been telling us to just be here.  Be here now.  I’m trying.

Tomorrow morning starts with another class with Bikram.  I’m looking forward to having a real day here with two full classes and posture clinic.  I am itching to give my dialogue for Half Moon.  Get it over with!!!

I will write again as I can.  Love to you all.

Here’s a quick look at the room tonight just before class.