Eleven days ago I completed Teacher Training.  I completed the last classes, my last few lectures, and walked across the stage to accept my certificate from Boss.  Only eleven days ago.  It’s amazing to me how long ago that seems.

When I wrote the last blog, I was sad about seeing Training end.  I remember writing it, the morning of the last Friday.  I was sitting on the floor in the hallway, as I often did.  I had my breakfast beside me, I felt the cool wind of the morning, and was contemplating what to wear to class that day.  I remember that last day.  I remember Rajashree’s morning class, so full of energy.  I remember the afternoon lecture.  I remember Bikram’s final class and the sheer electricity in the hot room that night.  I remember standing with my Posture Clinic group and goofing off.  I remember laughing, crying, and not quite believing it was really over.  I remember when Bikram ended the class and we all screamed and clapped.  We jumped up and down and hugged one another.  I remember people dancing and cheering.  We did it.  And really, it was over.  That night we had the talent show.  It was exhilarating and exhausting to think of what was ahead.  I remember not wanting to go to bed that night, so afraid I’d wake up and it would be over.  But no matter, I did wake up, and it was over.  The next morning felt strange with no yoga class and I started packing up to go home.  I went to the pool one last time to sit with my friends.  I ate lunch in the sun and thought about graduation.  That night, we all walked across the stage and took that little piece of paper from Bikram.  It is that piece of paper, coupled with our nine week journey, that would enable us to be Teachers.  Nobody in that room had ever looked or felt better than we did at that moment.  We shined as brightly as a million stars.  We did it.  Really, we did it.  Graduation gave way to the goodbye dinner.  I sat one last time with my beautiful friends, and we all felt a little solemn under the warm evening.  As time waned, we started hugging, and crying, and realizing we were parting ways.  I remember getting up to leave, and staying another hour just to not have to let go so soon.  But when my final goodbyes were done, I walked back to my room feeling spent.  I was so ready to go and yet didn’t want the night to end.

I flew out on Sunday, late in the morning.  My flight was short, and deposited me back into a cold city.  I got off the plane and wondered instantly where I was.  I saw my precious babies and my husband for the first time in two months.  It was amazing to see their faces, and feel their embrace.  I felt like a stranger a little bit.  But it wasn’t long before I was mommy again and even now, those 9 weeks seem to have slipped by so quickly.

So, now, I sit here only eleven days past graduation.  I have taught four classes at my studio.  My tan is fading, all of my suitcases have long been emptied, and I’ve adjusted to the cool weather.  I am fully re-initiated into my life here in Texas.  It feels strange when I think about it.  Some days I struggle to understand what just happened.  I no longer spend Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the sun by the pool.  I have a stove, and my own washing machine again.  Nobody makes my bed while I am in class every morning, and I no longer sleep alone.  I don’t have to sign in four times a day, wait in line for lunch, ask for things in Spanish, or give my room number every time I want something.  I don’t have to go to yoga if I don’t feel like it, although I do – unless I am scheduled to teach.  I can drive to the store, instead of take a van, and nobody keeps me up until 2 am anymore.  Teacher Training is over, and I really really really miss it.

There are things I do not miss.  Of course, I love the freedom of being done with Training.  I love having my precous husband and kids back, and having a car, and being able to sleep late.  I love my home studio, my friends, and my really comfortable bed.  I love being home, and I love being a teacher.  But I think I will always miss that hot room, the sun, and Mexico.  It will never be the same, we can never go back, and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.  I’m right where I’m meant to be, a little homesick for Training.  I miss Bikram, just like he said.  Amazing.

But no matter, I am here now, and I am a Teacher.  If there is anything that seals the Training experience, it’s teaching.  Teaching is the perfect completion of the circle (thanks Craig), and it’s like the icing on the cake for me.  After all that hard work, putting on that headset mic and walking into that hot room feels like the best reward.  Hello, my name is Karen, I’m going to be your teacher today.  Please come standing in the middle of your mats and towels, toes on the line… The circle is complete.

But the journey goes on, and I have much to learn.  I have so much more of myself to find.  I have so far to go in my practice and I’m excited to see how it will continue to change.  Even as I am growing, my life on the mat will continue to grow and evolve.  One of the best things about this yoga is that there is no end.  There’s no destination point.  It just goes on and on, if we let it.  I am excited to see what is ahead.  I know there are many ups and downs waiting for me, but the yoga is constant.  Even when every class is different, the yoga is the same.  26 and 2.

We say this little phrase a lot in the Bikram world, Eventually or in the future. It’s kind of a little funny part of Bikram’s “language.” I have adopted it so much, and it means a lot to me.  Eventually, or in the future, I used to think about being a Bikram Yoga Teacher.  Now I am.  Everything in its time.

Namaste.

To tell you the truth…

October 11, 2008

WOW, week four is over.  I am almost halfway!  WOW.

I know I haven’t been writing much, or saying much, or *ahem* posting any pictures.  Bear with me, it’s all good.  I’ve always been really honest here on this blog.  So, I am going to talk a little bit about how I’ve been feeling this week with true candor, well..  because I can.

Before I came here, I got SO much advice, information, insight, whatever.. about how this Training was going to be.  I read so many blogs, heard so many stories about it.  I was SO sure I knew how it was going to be.  Well, as per usual it isn’t at all what I expected, or what I was told, really.  OK, OK, maybe a little bit like what I expected.  But overall, not really.

The truth is..  are you ready????  I am happy here.  I know!  That’s good huh?  I feel so incredibly in my element.  I have been a little afraid to say it.  I’ve been worrying that if I say that, it will change.  But, I don’t want to live in fear that this will or won’t change.  I want to share it, so you guys know how I feel.  I’m all good.  I’m sore, exhausted, cranky, hot (duh), and homesick..  yes, I am.  But 85% of the time (or more) I am happy here.  I love it here.  I love the classes, I love posture clinic, I love my friends.  And at the risk of sounding truly annoying, I really really really love the yoga.  I better, right?  Ha.

The good thing about being happy is that no matter how horrible it gets, and it can get pretty bad at times, home base is good.  I feel safe here, I feel healthy, I feel STRONG.  My body is a machine.  Even though they tell us we’re not supposed to necessarily focus on our practices improving during Training, mine is.  I’ve been well and strong since Day One (save that nasty ear thing and a small cold), and have never left my mat.  I have really done well with my dialogue and I feel good about going home to teach.

Oh, and I have an awesome roommate.  I do.  She rocks.

So, in my heightened state of bliss, I fall deeper and deeper in love with the yoga.  I am getting it.  I understand more every time I go into the room.  Of course, I have my days when I want to tear my hair out, or rip off my clothes and run screaming, or just scream.  I have those days, trust me.  I have days when I sob and cry and miss my kids so badly it aches.  I have long nights with movies in Hindi that I neither understand nor care to understand.  I have days when those precious 3 or 4 hours of sleep just aren’t enough.  Yeah, I have those.  But, I signed up for this, on purpose.  And no matter what, there’s always a weekend coming.  And, the best part?  At the end of this nine weeks, I will have a whole new life.  I will be a teacher (or a teacher in the making, at least), and I will have my certificate.  I’ll have crossed over that invisible chasm and have survived the Torture Chamber.  I will be a completely different person.

For all of that, I am thankful and very happy.  And, that is the truth.

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.

Last week I finished the Challenge.  I took Advanced Thursday night, then proceeded to avoid the hot room for nearly three solid days.  I went back Sunday evening and took a class that reminded me in a not-so-gentle way just WHY I don’t take three days off.  I thought I was giving my body a break.  I thought I would love the time off.  I was wrong.

I’ve been struggling.  Struggling to keep my breath and heartrate under control.  I’ve been struggling with balance, slipping, and just flat getting annoyed with myself.  Today I sat down during the first set of Triangle.  Now, for me, this is a pretty big deal.  I haven’t done this is a very long time.  Who knows what was going on, but I had had it.  I was irritiated, annoyed, too hot, sweating incredibly hard, and angry at myself for sitting out.  Oy the brain can mess you over.    But as I sat down on my towel, I just closed my eyes and tuned out for a brief moment.

I’ve been holding very tightly to my control over my emotions, my practice, and all the chaos in my life at the moment.  In the grand scheme of my yoga career, missing a set of Triangle is nothing at all.  Save for this blog entry, I probably wouldn’t even remember it in a week.  I think this yoga attracts people like me.  Type A, control freak, driven, focused.  It is my best friend, and my worst enemy in the room.

I must let go.

I’m afraid of letting go.  I’m afraid of being three weeks from Training and becoming vulnerable to how totally blindly I feel I am flying to Mexico.  I’m afraid of saying goodbye.  I’m afraid of feeling the things I need to feel now.  I’m afraid of all the things I will go through in Training.

I struggle with doubt.  Can my body do it?  Can my heart handle it?  Can my mind shut up and let me learn?  Of course, the strong me says, Of course it can.  But the me sitting out of Triangle doesn’t quite believe it.

I must let go.

The more I try to prepare, the more I figure out that I can’t.  The more I try to understand the process, the more illusive it becomes.  So here I am in the middle of the struggle.  But in the end, I must let go.

I love Saturday morning class. I always have. The early Saturday classes are often not as crowded, which helps too. This morning Arnie taught. It was a fantastic class. Perfect heat, good focus, good energy. I stood beside Daren, one of my favorite people to practice beside. I felt really really strong. Probably the strongest I have felt all week.

Today’s class was the kind that reminds me why I want to go to training, why I want to teach, and why I love this yoga. I found so much space in my body today. In Ardha-Chandrasana, I found the deepest backbend I have had in weeks. I just relaxed, letting go of the tension I have been holding for so long. It felt healing, and I felt a release that left me dizzy (this is GOOD!) during Pada-Hastasana. And since we’re on the subject of Pada-Hastasana, HELLO does this posture really kick my butt. It looks so deceptively easy. But it ramps up my heart rate right off.

The rest of the class was great. Again, grabbing my foot in Dandayamana-Janushirasana and using proper form in Dhaunrasana. I also feel much more confident with my balancing postures. Space, much more space. The Spine Strengthening Series is getting easier for me and I am finding Salabasana to me much less of a problem as my shoulders get stronger.

I left the studio today feeling SO good. I drank less than a quarter of my water, which is HUGE for me. And I am inspired to see how this new approach is going to affect my Challenge. Tomorrow I will do a lot of yoga with regular class and Advanced class earning me 3 more on my way.

I am going to try to take pictures in Advanced tomorrow to post here for you all to see..

Happy Saturday!

Deep Breath.

May 31, 2008

Tomorrow is June 1st. Tomorrow I start my second Bikram 60 Day Challenge.

Deep breath in.

I have done this before. I remember going to class November 1 of last year (2007) and telling myself if I could get through a solid week of classes, I’d sign up for the Challenge. This time it’s different. This time I am committing from the start.

The Bikram Challenge is simple. Take 60 classes in 60 days. Bikram promises, “give yourself to me for 60 days and I will give you a new body, a new mind, and a new life..” Bikram keeps his promises. My last challenge, which was technically my second Bikram Challenge, changed me forever. There’s nothing that compares to the discipline required to submit yourself to 90 minutes a day of Bikram’s Torture Chamber. Unless, of course, you’re going to Teacher Training. But that’s for another blog.

Tomorrow I will get up, drink my sea salt, and get on my mat. It will be just like any other Sunday morning for me at BYTW. But I will know that for the next 60 days, my world revolves around that hot little orange room. I will eat sleep and breathe Bikram Yoga. And I love it.

Many of my friends laugh when I tell them I am doing this. They’re the ones that were around last fall when I was doing 9 classes a week. They’ve seen me do this, and they have no doubt I can do it again. I have no doubt. For me, this challenge is about finding something besides the discipline. It’s about finding something new. Depth, breath, understanding. I want to come out of this challenge totally changed. And I will.

I feel honored to be able to do this. I feel incredibly blessed to have a loving, supportive husband who refuses to let me give up (or sleep in). So thank you all for joining me in this. I look forward to sharing ever sweaty moment with you..

Namaste.