News Chapter 13
The Journal of a Bikram Yoga Teacher Trainee
Just came back from dropping off Pam at LAX. Of course, my suspicion was orrect: I had no time for a full communiqué. I've got some scattered notes from the week, which follow, but it's already after midnight and I've got to get back into a training mentality before tomorrow's morning class so this transmission won't be as complete as I would like it to be.
We ran into three other students at the beach today. They were all studying for the mid-term dialogue clinic that we were warned about in the first week. There hasn't been any mention of it since then so no one knows quite what to expect. Hence, everyone is freaking out and feeling unprepared. Me, I've always been one of those students who "test well" so I'm not too worried. If I don't perform at my best during the next few days I have to admit it will have been worth it. After all, I think I performed rather well this weekend.
I guess I got a thing going on with dogs on this trip. I also sometimes don't see what's right in front of my face (Bikram is always saying that the darkest place is under the lamp). I was in Venice last Sunday looking for a place to get some lunch. I drove past a homey looking little restaurant with a small patio that looked perfect. I quickly did a U-turn, parked and walked in. The first thing I noticed was the dogs. Every occupied table included a dog among its occupants and there was a row of little stalls under a sign that read, Barking Lot. I looked back at the sign which hung over front gate that I had come through: Hydrant Cafe. It was shaped like a fire hydrant (natch) and had another bone-shaped sign hanging under it that said, A Dog and People Cafe. I don't know why but I almost turned around and walked out. I've got nothing against dogs. I've got nothing against people who own dogs.
Until a couple years ago I even had a dog of my own, a 170 pound English Mastiff named Walter. I loved Walter and if my hometown had a doggie cafe I might have taken him to it. But still, I had this momentary reaction of wanting to flee. I'm not prejudiced, I swear. But think about it. What do dogs do around food? They stare, they whimper, they whine, they slurp, they drool and they beg. And what do they do around other dogs? They bark, they growl, they jump, they run and they sniff butt. And what do their owners do during all of the above? They fawn, they dote, they gush, they say "how cute" and they smoke.
Smoke? In a restaurant? In a California restaurant? I thought that was a punishable crime. Why are all these dog owners smoking in a restaurant? Of course, it's an outdoor patio but this is the left coast, for Christ’s sake, where 3 out of 4 billboards offer scathing attacks against the tobacco industry. Maybe there's an exemption on the books for doggie cafes. Would that be because no one cares if dogs get infected by second hand smoke or merely to cover up the smell of dog with tobacco smoke? Speaking of smells and dogs, don't you just know that one of them is going to take big sloppy shit just as I'm biting into my sandwich? Like I said, I've got nothing against dogs. I just don't think I want to eat in the same restaurants they do any more.
Class has been getting very frustrating. There are three standing postures that just kick my ass and knock me down on the ground every time. The worst part is that I used to be able to perform two of these postures to what I thought was a reasonable degree. I'm also discovering that I have hips. I have always known that my hamstrings and the backs of my knees were very tight but until now I didn't even know that I had hips. I'm taking it very easy on them, and on my knees, too.
As Bikram says, "you can fuck with the gods but don't fuck with the knees."
I don't hesitate to sit out a posture or to only go halfway when I feel my hips or knees starting to get stressed which has been frequent. So, imagine my surprise (and delight) when this afternoon (Thursday) I had one of the strongest classes thus far and completed all the postures with a modicum of success. No breaks. I've still got miles to go before I would ever call myself flexible but it was, at least, a milestone.
During our second week of training we were told that the second week would be the worst. Then, during week three, we were told that it would be the worst. During the start of last week, the fourth, I was waiting for the same announcement to be made but when nothing had been said by Thursday I forgot about it. During Saturday's class they outdid themselves. Halfway through the class we were told that weeks 5, 6 and 7 would be the most difficult but weeks 8 and 9 would be the easiest. Gee, thanks for the encouragement.
In all honesty, while the program has been challenging and I do expect it to get harder, it hasn't been as bad as I was expecting and the rewards are already beginning to be realized. If this turns out to be one of the hardest things I've done in my life I'm certain that it will also be one of the most rewarding. Pam and I spent some time visiting with Chaka Foreman who also attends Bikram classes. He had several questions about the training and as I listened to myself respond I realized that I am becoming more than a person who practices a particular style of yoga.
I am becoming a staunch advocate of and a fervent believer in the Bikram method. I am feeling more positive and hopeful about my self and my life than I can remember ever feeling. Just thinking about what life holds for me in the future I am feeling excited and eager.
Copyright 2005 E. Jennings
Posted with the permission of the author. Formerly the technical director of a national touruing theatrical company and a successful web designer, the author now teaches at his own successful Bikram Yoga Studio. If you would like to read additional excerpts of this journal, please email Webmaster@BikramYoga.com