Monthly Archives: February 2010
One of the questions we have to answer as part of our application form, as teacher trainees, is this :
Why do you want to become a Bikram Yoga teacher?
There are MANY MANY reasons why people want to become a teacher – inspire, help others, teach a tough class [ya, seriously], monetary reasons [ya, seriously] and for the love they have of the yoga. As my boss said today, sometimes, that’s not enough. You have to make the students [that’s you, or us!] FEEL GOOD, FEEL / EXPERIENCE the benefits, and make them come back!
Enough about the benefits / feeling good. I can write / type / rant till my jaw hurts and my mouth foams, but until *you* try 7 classes in a row [ok, fine, AT LEAST 3], you’ll know what I’m talking about!
Halfway through class I realised : Teaching requires TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF FAITH. When we first started, sure, we may not have been able to touch our toes, our backside foot 45º angle REFUSED to stay flat on the floor and / or you may not have been able to grab your foot for standing bow. If you’re curious, I just described my junk body from 2 years ago. It was thanks to my incredible, supportive and lovely teachers from all over the world [Hong Kong, US, Taiwan, Thailand…] who stuck with all of us, and had FAITH that one day we’d realise WHAT we can really do!
Now I can hear some people shaking their heads going “But you were 21/22 when you started the yoga! Of course your ‘junk body’ would’ve been able to change faster / more rapidly as you’re not frozen stiff like me!”.
Now, let’s take my age out of the equation. Remember, age ain’t NOTHING but a number! But let’s not go out and start dating people way too young, let us keep it clean and simple.
Essentially, it was my teachers’ FAITH and COMMITMENT that we all try our best. Sure, we may not be able to touch our forehead to our toes, or lock the knee out during the first month, or two [took me 6 freaking months to keep my damn knee locked!], but with FAITH, PATIENCE AND DETERMINATION, you can OVERCOME anything! [Yes, WE CAN!] Ya, I prefer US politics over Malaysian politics cause Malaysian politicians have nothing better to do than to cane women / accuse someone of sodomy / say that Twitter and facebook are mechanisms of the west.
As a [newly-minted] teacher, I have FAITH in every SINGLE one of my students. I have faith that ONE DAY, they can touch their forehead to the toes, their top of the head to the feet, kick up into the standing splits. For yourself – until you try, and have faith WITH YOURSELF coupled with the FAITH of your teacher – ANYTHING is possible.
p.s : I’m still alive, thedancingj ! I haven’t fallen off another podium and knocked myself out. That post, is for another day. The one where I fell ONTO the podium. Ha!
Ah, just a short little post to quell some myths that have been in the air!
1. Anyone can be a Bikram Yoga Teacher.
Yes, anyone that has been CERTIFIED! All teachers who teach at affiliated studios have undergone the intensive 9 week Teacher Training and have been trained under Bikram himself [and as of Fall 2009 – have been CPR-certified too!]
2. Anyone can go to Teacher Training
Yes, anyone who has a solid, strong practice of more than 6 months and is in great physical condition who is really passionate about the yoga. [and who has the $$ to spare!]
3. Teaching is easy. All you have to do is get up on the podium, recite the Dialogue for 90 minutes and you get paid.
Uhm, nope. Teachers have to look around first set, identify what students can do more [lean back, suck stomach in, spine straight, look at alignment, body type / shape / problem…] and then correct it in the second set. On top of a podium where it’s HOTTER up there [hot air rises!] and talk for 90 minutes NON STOP. We also have to identify people who are about to pass out / throw up, control the room, identify if a student is going to hurt them/theirselves doing a posture.
4. Teachers are well paid
We are NOT in it for the pay. We are in it for the passion and love we have for the Yoga that has helped us. For those who are in it for the money, it won’t last long and you can most definitely tell.
5. My teacher doesn’t give me corrections. What gives?
Maybe your body is not ready for it yet, or maybe your teacher is not ready. Rule of thumb – new teachers don’t give corrections for 6 months. So it’s not that we’re being lazy, we just need to find our energy before we give it back to you! 😀
6. Teachers must be awesome all the time.
We’re human too. Some days we have problems, be it personal, financial, whatever – but our job doesn’t mean we take the easy way out and wallow in our sorrow. We still get out of the house, get up on the podium, smile, and kill you [with love] 😉
7. What is the Dialogue?
The Dialogue is a written set of specific instructions written by Bikram Choudry and Jim Kallet that specifically tells you WHAT to do, WHEN to do, and HOW to do. Our job as teachers is not just to memorise dialogue and spew it out [lest I sound like a psychotic tape recorder] but to do what I have just covered in point 3. Correct and guide and lead.
And there you have it!
That odd sound is that of my hips popping out of its socket whenever I do something that involves the hips, like walking, scooching my butt back into bed or climbing up the stairs.
Yes folks, my hips are pretty misaligned all thanks to lumbar scoliosis.
But fret not, I am working on aligning it [to my misery] and being careful not to aggravate my sciatic nerve.
Interestingly enough, Jon Burras, the fascia guy, says that the fascia in the hip holds the most emotions / hurt. Little wonder why some days I want to weep and cry in class NOT because of the pain, but because I have..er, no idea why [actually I *think* do know, but it’s personal] . Coupled with the fact that I’m going through a process of detachment makes it even more challenging! And I obviously can’t CRY and SOB my eyes out in class because… I’m practicing with my students.
Ah, enough sad sob stories about my hips and the internal going-ons of my life. So totally not like Me(i).
It is inevitable. After doing 2 classes a day, everyday for 9 weeks [sometimes the classes are longer than 1.5 hours. Once we were treated to a 2-hour class by 2-hour Ted. Yes, that is his official nickname], you sometimes just want to TURN OFF. It can’t be helped. Sometimes, you are tired. Your mind fights you [isn’t it always the case?]. You are mentally, physically, emotionally a wreck. On the outside, so what if my skin’s glowing but inside I feel like a bulldozer just rolled on my heart, my mind is making whimpering noises and my self is making accusations about my character and judgement.
The main thing that happens during TT is the breaking of your ego, or self. The self that tells you that you don’t need to go to class today, that you are ugly / fat / a total loser, the same self that is also the cause of many a self-destructive behaviour.
It was during Thursday of Week 2 [you know, the extremely hot class when it got up to 65Celcius – fuck me sideways!] that I had my first.. breakthrough.
So here goes my mental chatter :
Oh my GOD. It’s hot. My towel’s ALREADY soaked. What the hell?
*Half Moon Pose*
Ehhh, it’s not tooo bad. Just like a very balmy day back home. Just breathe.
*Head to Knee*
Yup, just like being stuck in the car on a hot day. Move along.
*Standing Bow Pose*
You have to be shitting me. This is insanely hot. Like, MOTHERFUCKING SNAKES ON A PLANE HOT.
*Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose*
OW OW OW MY FEET. MY FEET. MY FEET. [I found out later that they have heating panels UNDER the floor… yikes!]
Get. Up. Get the FUCK up. GET UP. DO IT. COME ON. DO IT.
*Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose*
Stand up. Get up. Do it. You’re such a fucking failure. GET UP. Motherfucker, don’t just STAND there and cry. GET. UP. SHUT UP.
You stupid crying sissy. You are much stronger than this. GET. UP. Fucker, GET UP. You didn’t PAY to come here and CRY. GET UP GET UP GET UP. GET THE FUCK UP.
You’re a fucking failure. Just LOOK AT YOU. Look at you. Fucking mess, fucking failure. You got a degree in Spanish and Italian that you didn’t even use in your job? Oh, what was your job? THAT’S RIGHT – a copywriter. Did you even win any awards huh? Oh, runner-up / special mention, that is mighty fucking fine. Not a gold, right? Get up. I said, GET THE FUCK UP. Stop shaking your head like that. GET UP. I don’t fucking CARE if you can’t feel your hands, GET. UP. What do you mean your foot is cramped? Fuck you! YOU ARE WEAK AND AN IMBECILE, YOU CAN’T EVEN FINISH ONE CLASS IN WEEK FUCKING TWO. YOU FUCKING WEAKLING. IS IT ANY WONDER THAT YOU ARE THE BLACK SHEEP OF THE FAMILY? THAT IS BECAUSE YOU ARE WEAK WEAK WEAK WEAK WEAK WEAK WEAK. YOUR FATHER THINKS YOU’RE A FUCKING FAILURE IN LIFE AND HE IS RIGHT. YOU CAN’T EVEN LOSE WEIGHT, YOU CAN’T EVEN KEEP A STEADY JOB, YOU EVEN FAILED WHEN YOU TRIED TO OFF YOURSELF 5 YEARS AGO. YOU ARE A FUCKING FAILURE. YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A…
I said. Shut. Up.
Total silence engulfed me. Just like that, my self – the one that told me that throughout my whole life I would never amount to anything great – died that day. The same self that let my Self be picked on, covered up and buried.
Oh it didn’t end there. By Cobra pose, the chatter was still there – though not as loud. That same self was urging me to STAY IN THE ROOM, or risk looking like a total fuck-up [Come on, you’re MALAYSIAN. Are you going to embarrass the whole country by giving up NOW?].
After Cobra, when my hands were numb, my face was locked in a perpetual frozen stare with my jaws clamped shut [Botox!], that’s when my body said “Enough. Get me out of here, before I start foaming and send us back home in a cardboard box labelled “Remains” ! ”
So I limped outside, helped by Fiona, to where the cold acrid desert air greeted me and cups of Gatorade, Powerade and Pedialyte with EXTRA SALT poured forth from the nurse.
All around me – there it was. People crying, shivering, hands clamped in lobster claws. Amidst chaos, that was where WE found IT – the silence, the death of our self and the rebirth of our Self – underneath layers of tears, fears and inner ghouls.
Wanted to do another mental chatter post [this time from TT – my very first mental breakdown – woo hoo! *dry sarcasm] but just HAD to blog this because it’s been very… strange.
So lately I’ve been out of the blogging scene as I’m busy with teaching, practicing, teaching, reading dialogue, teaching, sleeping, sleeping, sleeping, sleeping, sleeping, eating, trying not to get dehydrated – oh, did I mention teaching? 😀
In addition to that, throw in personal drama, more personal drama and the fact that I have to sit down, evaluate, rethink realistically, emotionally, spiritually all about the dramas! [which is WHY I need my yoga so badly – 90 minutes in my LIFE where I can quiet the chatter and just be…]
Sign 1 :
While driving on the way to the studio, I was thinking of a very good friend of mine. My best male friend of 11 years [or more? Totally forgot!] whom I absolutely adore / love to death as a friend who was also going through some.. erh.. emotional crises of his own.
Doo doo doo, driving down, making my merry way down to the studio, when an ad came on for trips to where he’s at! STOP PRESS, HOLD CAR – nearly died of shock at the red light.
Hmm, does this mean that I ought to visit? Oh universe, stop toying with me and just drop a brick that says YES or NO on my head and be done with it.
Sign 2 :
While pondering the fate of my beloved country [with all the recent religious spates … obviously orchestrated by some higher power as a means to something. People of Malaysia! WE DO NOT NEED ANOTHER MAY 13! DO WE NEED TO SENSELESSLY KILL EACH OTHER TO REBUILD A NATION?]
That being sad, as I was driving along Federal Highway back home after an EXHAUSTING / dehydrating class with Jakob and pondering about the sad state of affairs in Malaysia [first the extremists bomb churches – then they bomb a Sikh temple – now some twit has left a wild boar’s head in a mosque]
Suddenly a van pulled into my lane, or rather, I pulled behind the van. [again, this is why you do not fuck with hydration, you can’t tell jack from squat]. As I looked closer, the van’s credentials listed it as being from Persatuan Brahma Kumari Raja Yoga [ Brahma Kumari Raja Yoga Organisation].
Interesting, I thought to myself. Raja Yoga, as some of you may know, is one of the many limbs of Yoga that exists, alongside Hatha [physical] Yoga.
Hurriedly, I arrived home and started to Google [wee!] what this organisation is all about.
In a nutshell – it’s all about spirituality and brotherhood, no schisms, no doctrine – just love.
Maybe that’s what the world today needs – more love. And more yoga.