Guest Blog: Beverages of Bikram Yoga Teacher Training

Beverages of Bikram Yoga Teacher Training Thailand

1. Coconuts: 60 Baht. Also a snack. Apparently natures perfect drink full of electrolytes and goodness—naturally I HATE THEM. Possibly palatable if put one of my favorite drinks in them. **BT NOTE: Platoo and Coconut Seafood have coconuts for 40 baht (which is 1.22; 30 baht to USD)

2. Manoa Soda: Transalation: F&%KING DELICIOUS. I could down one in 3.5 seconds. Upon my return back home I planning on throwing out all of my yoga mats and yoga clothes and filling my suitcase full of these. 30 Baht*
**BT NOTE: This stuff is so so so good!

3. Soda Water: I don’t get it. Someone please help me with this. Maybe it’s the cute packaging? 40 Baht.*
BT NOTE: Me either – also it was hilarious as ppl would knock them over in lecture and it sounded like a beer bottle – to which Bikram would say – who knocked over their beer? He also once took a girls soda water and drank it.then decided he liked it and sent his staff to buy all of them (which they did!)

4. Lime Juice: Neat. Also a favorite among pirates to ward off scurvy. Mix it with sugar and salt and it’s the perfect post-Bikram beverage. Free

5. Caffeine: In any form, but the form fastest absorbed by the bloodstream. Most yogis are complete zombies with out a constant stream. Downside: too much can lead to with-drawls and contribute to erratic mood swings often experienced at TT.
Forms:
• Buffet Drip Coffee
• Coke
• Tea
• Birdie (Equivalent of the Starbuck Doubleshot. Half Sugar, Half High Octane Gasoline)

Also to note: Espresso beverages were included in the buffet the first half of TT, but now only for a rather large charge of 150 Baht. Either the hotel got cheap or they wanted to stop contributing to our mood swings. I put my money on the former.

6. Bikram Brand Water: tastes good. Comes in 3 liter bottles. Downside: Flimsy bottles that make an awful lot of noise during posture clinic and yoga class. During class Bikram noted that he never heard a water bottle make such a noise. Also overfilled and sealed with plastic wrap thus impossible to open so naturally water goes everywhere when opened. 20 Baht

Also to note: Bikram sells more water annually (dunno exactly how) than anyone in the world so naturally the Nestle corporation offered him $5,000,000/ day to put his name on their water bottles. He declined the offer.

*Prices based on rip-off convenient store on campus. BT NOTE: it really is a rip off – the prices are outrageous but desperate yogi’s drop mad baht in the store.

About the Author: Fem has been practicing Bikram Yoga for 6 years. She is still uncertain why she is at training or what is going on. Her favorite posture is Sasangasana.

Photos:
Bikram Water
Bikram Water

Guest Blogger
Guest Blogger

Lemon Soda
Lemon Soda

Soda Water
Soda Water

Coconut Water
coconut (1)

Fem & I during signing day with Bikram!
coconut (2)

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Week 8: I see the finish line

Greetings from Vietnam! Better late than never with my week 8 recap and if you know me at all this is sorta like being on time for me – right???!

We’ve finished 87 classes and only have 10 classes to go until we’re certified Bikram Yoga Teachers! Queue the music and get the tequila ready! We finished posture clinic this week which means that myself and my fellow friends have successfully delivered & demonstrated all 26 postures to each other. It took about 5 weeks to deliver the dialogue and it’s sad that we’re finished because that means that soon the yoga bubble will becoming to an end. After we finished posture clinic everyone went to their balcony and started screaming and cheering and going bizark because we’re done! It was a pretty happy sight. The final posture of the series is spine twisting which I happened to learn that very afternoon that I delivered it. I delivered two postures that afternoon separate leg stretching (which I think I humbly think I killed!) and spine twisting. My group was very strong so everyone was volunteering to deliver the last posture which helped me because I hadn’t learned it yet – so I was learning it while folks where delivering it Honestly, it really helps me learning this way cause I get to see the movement and connection with the words. I had fun delivering this posture – there are a lot of rights and lefts involved in spine twisting i.e. face the left side of the room, bend your left knee and bring your right heel to the corner of the left knee – right arm behind you left arm over – you get my point?! So when I was delivering it I got the right and left mixed up a little bit I had said bring your right arm over when really it’s your left arm instead of freaking out I laughed and said bring your other right arm over! I got great feedback from the staff leaders of my posture clinic that I’ll never forget “You’ve got great spirit & you’re already teaching!” meant the world to me that feedback! I was elated!

Following class we had more posture clinic where we got to start stringing postures together. Luckily, my posture clinic group (15 & 16) got Juan and Lynn Whitlow as our staff leaders. Lynn is a big deal like a big big deal. She’s a brillant resource in the Bikram community and she graduated in 1998 with 35 people in her training – at that time they did 3 classes a day and all posture clinics were with Bikram himself (instead of his senior teachers). She actually taught her first class at TT because Raj was sick and Bikram turned to her and said you’re teaching tonight! She’s the Queen of Posture Clinic! Lynn and Juan did the posture clinic a little differently – instead of volunteers they called people up at random to deliver postures that they picked. I got called up and Lynn raved about my studio which was awesome because it really is a great studio! If you’re ever in NYC please check out Bikram Yoga Harlem – I promise you that you’ll absolutely love it! When I was called up I had to deliver 5 counts of Pranayama breathing (say what?) Here’s the deal with Pranayama breathing – it’s the first of the two breathing exercises that we do in Bikram. It helps to open up the lungs and respiratory system and starts the class – I hadn’t even looked at it yet because Bikram does all the breathing exercises in his posture clinic so I figured I still had sometime. WRONG!

I had a plan to just count out the breathing (it’s six counts) but Lynn shut that down which I honestly appreciate because it is a tell tale sign that you’re a new teacher when you just count to 6 20 times (twice – inhale and exhale). So, she asked me what are the important things for this exercise 1. Inhale through the nose 2. Exhale through the mouth 3. Use the throat as a passage way 4. Hands interlocked – always touching the chin – I had to say something while delivering this so I stuck to eyes open, stomach in, push your head back, elbows up. I still can’t believe I got through delivering that. After pranyama I went into half moon, backward bending and pada hastana (hands to feet pose) and then the thirrd one I did was triangle. Which was exciting because Triangle is one of my favorite postures and I could really start to see the lines (triangles!) that the students were creating with their bodies.

Since we’ve finished posture clinic that meanas that Bikram started his posture clinic with us the following afternoon. This is a clear sign that we’re near the finish line. Posture Clinic with Bikram isn’t just about the dialogue it is more about what the students will struggle with in class (new students and old students alike), how to give corrections,, key points and benefits of each posture. He also brings up folks to help them individually on their trouble postures. Only a few people can go up for a posture so it sorta became a crazy rat race – especially with backbending! When we first started PC with the boss I sat up in the front so I could catch every word he was saying but as the week went on (and we watched more bollywood movies!) I grew tired and found myself back in the back row in case I happened to “rest my eyes for a few moments” I didn’t want to get caught 🙂

87 classes all sorta become a blur during training but boss taught all the evening classes this week with the exception of one class which happened to be my favorite. The class was fast, the pace was quick and we had a very entertaining teacher in Juan. Honestly, it was probably the strongest class I’ve had at training. The next morning Lynn taught a great class – I can’t really find words to describe her class – the energy was amazing and her expertise in the postures and insight into teaching were so helpful. She’s commanding yet gentle but you want to work hard for her in the class – she gets you to do it and do it correctly. Lynn shared some tips for our new career:
1. Get a Watch – it’s a required part of the uniform .
2. Yoga gear that we only wear for teaching not also practicing
3. Have at least 4 different outs and make sure they’re always clean (that should be common sense but you know what they say!
4. Grooming before and after class
5. Set up your podium before class (have extra electrolytes for any students that might need them, your water and towel – I’m also going to have a little thing that says right and left since that’ll be opposite my right and left just for the first few classes!)
6. Be the alpha in the room – move one person just a quick shift to let the class know you’re in charge
7. Introduce yourself (but never say this is my first class (or 2nd, 3rd, etc)
8. Put new students behind the old students or in the wings

Unfortunately, we only had Lynn for a few days as she needed to return home – I’m glad I got the chance to meet with her and talk to her about teaching and my home studio. She also gave me some great and contacts for when I reach Australia!

I spent the weekend napping on the beach and having dinner not in the mess hall. The food has gotten progressively worse if that’s even possible (it is!) so I had dinner & lunch on the beach over the weekend. Dinner on Saturday I had the most insane fried tiger prawns with garlic and pepper. It was so good – so good I went back on Sunday and it had it for lunch good. The flavors were unreal and just exploded in your mouth. The place I had dinner and lunch was Platoo – it’s just down the beach next to our hotel. On Sunday I was supposed to go to Sirun Islands with some fiends (there was a big group of us – about 40) but unfortunately the trip was canceled because of the weather – it wasn’t 100% safe to be on the water. Shame because I was very much looking forward to leaving the compound for the day but instead I had mango sticky rice for the first time, walked the beach to the shipwreck, took a nap, watched two movies (When in Rome and The Sapphires – which featured one of my fellow trainees! Go Cleave!) and then had another dinner on the beach. Dinner on Sunday was good but not as good as Saturday! I ordered the blackened fish with garlic & pepper (I’m going through a garlic and pepper phase!)

Only 10 classes to go! xx

Photos:
Banana Fritter Dessert at the Beach – Coconut Seafood (Sunday Dinner)
Banana Fritters

Banana Pancake Dessert – Coconut Seafood (Sunday Dinner)
Banana Pancake

Hanging with girls at the Beach
Beach Day

Fish with Garlic and Peppers – Coconut Seafood (Sunday Dinner)
Fish w Garlic and Peppers

Fish with Three Sauces – Coconut Seafood (Sunday Dinner)
Fish with Three Sauces

Mango Sticky Rice (Sunday morning)
Mango Sticky Rice

Chicken on a stick at the market
market

Enjoying the best coconut shake (Coconut Seafood – Sunday dinner)
Me & Coconut

Mussels with cheese – amazing Coconut Seafood Sunday
Mussels with Cheese

The Girls and I after dinner on Saturday
Saturday diinner

Ship Wreck
ship wreck

Group Selfie at the Shipwreck
shipwreck group

Amazing Fried Tiger Prawns! – Saturday Dinner & Sunday Lunch
Tiger Prawns

Tom Yam Soup – Coconut Seafood Sunday Dinner
Tom Yam

Coconut Soup – Saturday Dinner Platoo
Coconut Soup

Fresh Seafood – Saturday Dinner Platoo. Our waitress asked me how many grams I want and I said I don’t know and just brought over fresh shrimp and I picked which one I wanted!
Fresh Seafood

Pad Thai – Saturday dinner! So good
Pad Thai

Week 7 Recap: Projection

The 7th weeks is over! 75 classes behind me and 21 classes to go. At this point I’ve started the reverse countdown in my head. After the end of our class on our week 6 I was sharing this with friends that I was practicing near and one of the teachers told me not to count down. He was during recertification in the 3rd row and I was in the first row. I forgot to mention that during week 6 we had teachers for recertification – they had to do three classes (on 2 Friday and  1 Saturday). Two classes were with Raj (she’s so sweet) and one with Bikram. Let’s just say he put on a show and the class was almost three hours. I brought in my 64 & 40 oz hydroflask plus three 1500 ML of water. Each hydroflask was filled with water – the class was long and hot and long.

I can’t even lie the week is an absolute blur – still taking 11 classes a week. During the morning class we  have mostly traveling teachers and Bikram teaches us during the evening class which is still averaging about two hours a class. He left on Friday to go to Japan for their recertification (Teachers must be recertified every 3 years).And because Bikram left on Friday we had a lovely evening teacher from Chicago that taught our Halloween classes which we were allowed to dress up for and dress up we did. There was a girl in a full on batman costume, a few zombies, Miss Piggy, a thai boxer (my friend!), tons of kittens, and of course a die hard Ohio State Fan (me!!!). The class was a lot of fun but most ppl took off their costumes after the breathing exercise but Batman and Miss Piggy made it all the way to the end of class!

Classes continue to be hard – I don’t think I did both sets of triangle at all this week and I’ve gotten into the habit of dropping my arms in between the right and left set which is bad. But I’ve acknowledged it and I’m making an effort to keep my arms up. One of the things I love about this yoga is how incredibly humbling it is – you can have a rockstar class and a gut wrencher in the same or even within the same class. But the thing that I love is that no matter what it’s is always just the same 26 postures with two breathing exercises no matter the day or wherever I might be in the world. The only thing that continues to change in my practice is me – I’m changing physically, mentally, emotionally, etc and I will continue to change throughout my practice. I’ve got to keep this in mind for teaching as well because students will go through this too: strong classes, weak classes, in between classes but the important message to share with them is that they’ve got to be kind to themselves during the great classes and the bad classes and always always come back to the mat. It really is the best thing you can do for yourself – taking 90 minutes for this beautiful moving meditation.

Posture Clinic
Posture clinic is continuing to roll. I knew that once we hit the floor series (where the real yoga begins!) that it would go by quickly but I’m surprised to be delivering sometimes three – four postures in a day. Postures in the floor series are a lot shorter than the standing series and have a savasana (dead body pose with stillness) in between each set; this part of the classes really allows you to work your spine, organs, ligaments, joints, etc more deeply as you’ve spent about 50 minutes warming them up in the standing series. This is where I learned to really value the setup of each posture – reading the dialogue for the floor series it’s very detailed and I never realized how important it was to keep my heels touching in cobra or to have my elbows touching in locust. What do they say about the details? I forget right now but you know what I mean. We’ve only got a few more postures to deliver before we’ll start stringing them all together as a group.

Lecture
We had another guest lecture join us this week on the topic of the art of talking and communication. A lot of folks (myself included) were told that we need to work on our projection i.e. talking from the diaphragm vs the throat. We thought this lecture was going to be more about projection but it was still very useful. Dr. Sujit Sanyal shared with us some do’s and don’t’s for public speaking (when to use your hands – which I use alot, don’t let your body language talk for you, etc, etc). Even though it wasn’t the topic I was expecting this was probably one of the best guest lecturers we’ve had – He was very engaging, walked all around the lecture room and really connected with the students. Everyone that I talked to said this hands down their favorite guest lecture – I just wish I could have stayed awake for most of it. I was dogged tired after a late night of bollywood but I did hear the most important parts big thanks to a special english bloke for waking me up a couple of times as I rested my eyes. The other reason he was good is that he let a few secrets slip here and there – for example he let us know that he was lecturing Thursday and Friday afternoon which meant we would only have posture clinic in the evening. Evening posture clinic is about 2 hours vs 4.5 hours in the afternoon. You can get through a lot of postures in 4.5 hours (trust me!) so people were relieved that they didn’t have to prepare that much for posture clinic! He also let it slip that Bikram was in Phuket on Thursday and so he wouldn’t be teaching the evening class!! Three cheers for Dr. Sanyal! The staff tried to cover by saying that Bikram was on the compound but he wasn’t and we had a guest teacher from Oxford that evening. Woot!

Staff Stories
After the Halloween class we had lecture with the staff. We have 6 full time staffers that help out during the nine weeks of training. They are all senior teachers and take on different roles during training: Nurse, Posture Clinic Lead, Head of Teacher Training, Sign In Leader, Assistant Posture Clinic (2). They got on stage and each shared their story of how they’ve come to the yoga (or how their continuing to come to the yoga) and what it means to them in their lives right now. It was insightful to see what the yoga means to the staff. I knew they loved it because they all participate on a volunteer basis (I believe their room & board and food are covered).

Weekend
After the Saturday class I passed out for about three hours, watched movie after movie on StarMovies and vegged in my room with a little room service action. Honestly, I would have liked to go down to the beach, hang with friends and study but I needed a day for a little R&R. That Saturday was glorious as I chomped on the best burger ever (for Thailand!) and caught up on some Aussie soaps in the evening. I was a bit more active on Sunday hung on the beach and finally went to check out the mexica restaurant in Khao Lak. It was so good! Okay, maybe it wasn’t that good but it was a little taste of home that I needed and it hit my mexican craving. I got chicken fajitas and a cheese quesadilla (spelling?). No margarita or sangria – we’re not allowed to drink during training! And to be honest after the spring/ summer I had in the city I needed the 9 weeks to really detox so I fully complied with drinking restrictions. I was grateful for them. There was also no avocado at the mexican restaurant –  shame they can’t be grown in Thailand. We had dinner at this Thai pancake cart and thank you sweet baby jesus we stumbled upon it because it was amazing and yes I ordered and ate two greasy thai pancakes. I’m doing yoga twice a day don’t judge me! xx

Photos:

Halloween Group Shot!
group shot

Kitten and a Thai Boxer!!
kitten and thai boxer

Yum! Me and my thai Pancake(s!)
me and thai pancake

Mexican Food (yes please!!)
mexican

Nachos!
nachos

Lady who made the Thai Pancakes! Bless her because there were five of us and we each ordered two some three! Again, yoga twice a day so no judgement!
thai pancake

Me and the Japanese zombies!!!
zombie

 

 

Quotes!

Here are some funny quotes from the past weeks:

“Keep your issues in your tissues” – BY Staff

“Don’t put your sweaty mat in the swimming pool” – BY Staff
“Inappropriate means inappropriate. Use your brain miss.” – BY Staff – this one needs some context. We have a group FB page and a few folks were writing some crazy stuff on the page that is monitored. This was the second time the staff had requested that we don’t write inappropriate stuff and someone asked “What is inappropriate?”

“Backward bending. Change” – Trainee (this is from posture clinic)

“How many questions on the anatomy test?” – Trainee
“You’ll find out on Monday” – Staff response

“When is our break?” – Trainee

“Please don’t take aspirin before class”  – Staf

“I’ve done so many eagle poses today my reproductive system is on!” – Trainee, this posture helps open up your reproductive system so she has a point!

“Do you understand what debris is?” – Teacher

“I can hold any posture for her.” – Trainee, referring to hold any posture during Raj’s class

“You don’t have to use toothpaste until you graduate” – Staff

“I created yogi nuclear bomb” – Bikram

“I clean you up like a laundry man. I put the bleach on you like the jail man.” – Bikram

“I lost my hair in SF instead of my heart. I used to look like Steve McQueen.” – Bikram

“Nixon was the greatest president.” – Bikram

“Why you not born as a cockroach?” – Bikram

“Where is my half of the coke?” – Bikram

“Can the computer write poetry?” – Lecturer
“Not yet!” – Trainee

“Is Lord Krishna a real person?” – Trainee

“Why are you saying yes?” – Trainee, context: it was super late and Bikram had asked if we wanted to watch a movie one trainee kept saying yes and another looked at her and said “Why are you saying yes?”

“I already explained to you the philosopical meaning of butter.” – Lecturer

“I have a question about Indian Marriage…” “Next…”

I’m going to end the quotes with them gem from the boss:

“What is the ultimate destination of your life? YOUR LIFE” – Bikram

Week 6 Recap: Happy Diwali

65 classes in just six shorts weeks! I can’t believe it! This week we celebrated Diwali a traditional Indian festival of lights!

I was a bit sore this week – everything hurt. Even my fingers but I got an amazing thai massage and I’m feeling a little bit better but walking up steps is still a struggle! The boss says that pain is weakness leaving the body which is true.

Lecture

We started the week with a special guest lecture Dr. Brian L. Trachy from Colorado – He spoke on neuromuscular Physiology. He’s part of the department of Health & Exercise Science Human Performance Research & Clinical Lab at one of of the major universities in Colorado. Dr. Tracy Dr. Tracy has done research on Bikram Yoga in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Along with his colleagues they completed a study of people taking 24 classes in eight weeks or 3 classes per week for the next eight weeks. The first study found that BY improved knee extensor control for th least steady of young adults. Here are the key main points:

1. Short Term – BY can improve measures of neuromuscular control and physical fitness

2. BY is likely a promising way to improve neuromuscular function

The study composed of 19 experienced practioners (19-40 years old). During the study the team measured metabolic, cardiovascular, and thermal measurements. Here’s what he found for the following:

The HR is the highest from Awkward (2nd posture) to Dead Body (Savasana – a resting pose) about 160 bpm. The core temp of the body rises up to dead body pose and then stays the same. BY is very hot and the heat affects the HR response – we learned that the HR dramatically increases when working out in the heat and that the blood pressure goes down.

The most interesting thing from the lecture was the fact that we’re not burning as many calories as we thought…if you google calories burned during Bikram Yoga you’ll find numbers such as 1000 calories per class or 800 calories. But in reality in Dr. Tracy’s study he found that the average calories lost in session is the following:

Men: 500
Women: 330

These numbers are quite different than I think most of us expected but I don’t do practice this yoga for the calorie loss. I practice this yoga because it keeps me grounded and has really allowed me to fall (even!) more in love with myself. This is a yoga practice that I love and the fact that I can burn 330 calories is just a bonus…throughout my 90 minute class I’m working every part of my system inside out!

Classes & Posture Clinic

We had more classes with both Bikram and Rajashree and a few other senior teachers that have joined us at training. And posture clinic continued with the rest of the standing series and a bit of the floor series. My group was a bit fast and we had all finished wind removing pose by Friday evening. We were ready to go with the spine strengthening series (Cobra, Locust, Full Locust, Bow) but we were shut down as our group was too far ahead of some of the other groups. We got to string together a few postures and then as a group we went back from the beginning with mostly everyone during one part of a posture!

Diwali

This was the highlight of the week! October 21st was Diwali is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. And we got to celebrate it in beautiful Thailand with a pizza party (yay!) fireworks (yay! yay!) and a dancing party (yay! yay! yay!). We had class that morning with one of the senior teachers from Australia (great class! tons of energy!) There was a little confusion as we thought we only had one class that day and not two – this got people amped up! my neighbor and i were fist pipping. Only one class and a pizza party! woohoo (remember I’m very sore and even my fingers hurt!) but that wasn’t to be the case we had two classes! After class we had to quickly get ready and then head to the lawn to celebrate the festival of lights. The pizza in Thailand is surprisingly good…at times it can be hit or miss but for the most part when craving pizza it hits the spot. We were served Margherita pizza, vegetable pizza, spicy indian curry pizza, mushroom pizza, etc. I had one of each – they were delicious but Margherita was my favorite. So good! We also were served ice cream – chocolate, vanilla, coconut, strawberry, and mint chocolate chip! I went for a cone with coconut and strawberry! Yum!

We were worried about a Thai rain storm crashing our party so we had the fireworks before eating. They were spectacular. I hadn’t seen fireworks in ages (there was an issues with fireworks in NYC this past fourth of July!). I’ll post photos!

Everyone was just chatting and taking photos and it was the first time in six weeks that we really got a chance to just relax and hang out with each other outside of the posture clinic, lectures, the hot room or studying. We just got to be! Following the party, Bikram lead us back to the lecture hall for the DANCE PARTY!!! The Disco was located next to the lecture room and DJ’d by one of the senior staffers! I didn’t dance that long – the music was mostly techno / electronic which isn’t quite my scene but I did have a good time. I left the party around 11pm – which seems unreal. Back in the city I would just be getting ready to go out and now I leave parties at 11pm!

The week finished off with an amazing class lead by Rajashree! She left us after class but she’ll be back before we graduate! I can’t wait to have her generous and compassionate spirit back in Thailand!

I spent the weekend at the Khao Lak Market which was amazing! Tons of vendor shops of clothes, knick knacks, food, etc to explore with both locals and tourist haggling / bartering over items.

Group Black Photo during the Dance Party

: black photo

Dance Club
dance club

Studying Wind Removing Pose
studying wind removing