3 Weeks!

Hello! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Hope everyone has had a fantastic holiday season – I have been in Melbourne for three weeks and it has been great so far. I’ve been teaching lots, exploring St. Kilda and South Yarra but mostly I’ve just been sleeping and eatings lots of avocados.

After 9 crazy weeks in Thailand for teacher training and two weeks trekking through Vietnam with 40 kilos of luggage I am tired. Just absolutely tired – luckily, I now have a job that allows for afternoon naps on a regular basis. I generally take a nap between 1 – 4 sorta like a toddler, daily. Sometimes if I’m teaching both classes (9:30a & 4p) I’ll take a mat into the hot room and pass out on the mat on the floor or if the studio has a couch I’ll sleep there. I need my daily nap! It really helps! Teaching is very tiring πŸ™‚

So it’s been three weeks since I landed in Oz and I haven’t actually seen much of the touristy stuff that Melbourne has to offer. What I have seen is the tram! a lot. I’m teaching at a fabulous studio that is about an hour and half outside of the city by tram (by car it’s a measly 30 minutes but i don’t drive stick! so I’m on a tram!) The tram isn’t too bad – it’s convenient. The places where I’ve stayed thus far have been decently close to connecting trams and I feel like I’ve mastered them. The other day I helped someone figure out how to get to Luna Park (take the 96 or 16 or 3 (if it’s a weekend!) to the Luna Park stop!

The other great thing about riding the tram is that I’ve been able to find restaurants or alleys that I would like to try or venture down. Don’t be scared about the alleys (apparently the best treasures in Melbs are found down random alleys, unlike NYC!) and I also have a better understanding of where things are (kinda). I’m still trying to navigate the various neighbourhoods and inner suburbs.

Now that I feel like I’ve caught up on sleep after being self deprived for nine weeks in Thailand and Vietnam I’ve decided to become a tourist. I’m going on a walking tour on New Year’s Day! I think it’ll be fun and everyone I’ve talked to has recommended it as the best way (besides the trams) to get a feel for the city, the CBD and each distinct neighbourhood! Looks like I’ll need to invest in a good pair of walking shoes πŸ™‚

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First Class!

I taught my first class almost a week ago. Tomorrow it will actually be a week ago that I taught my very first class at Bikram Yoga Ascot Vale in Melbourne. I arrived in Melbs early on Monday morning around 7am – breezed through immigration (thank you working holiday visa!) and made it to my friend’s place a little after 9am in St. Kilda. After being in town for 24 hours or so – I taught a mock class. A mock class is a fake class usually with teachers, work study students, maybe some friends and family but I taught my mock to an empty room which I was expecting but I think I did a great job! My new boss sat in the back of the room and took notes while I taught – which was really helpful as I had a list of notes to reference after the class of postures that I needed to work on before my first official class.

After the positive feedback I taught my first class at 6am on Thursday morning. I had been in Melbs for four days and was getting to teach. I was so excited. I had 6 students in my class including the owner of the AV studio and I got up on the podium a complete ball of nerves. It’s very nerve wracking teaching and standing on the podium – as a teacher all I have to do is stand on the podium and talk. It’s 90 minutes of me talking and telling them what to do – it’s sorta like Simon Says. I talk you move – my words your body. No thinking necessary.

I was a bit worried about Pranayama breathing as I was really only saying three things – suck your stomach in, chest up, spine straight – Pranayama breathing is the deep breathing exercise and really kicks off the class. It’s good for your lungs and respiratory system. I find that the better I do my pranayama breathing the better class I have because I’ve opened up my lungs and respiratory system. Saying three things over and over can be a bit repetitive for the students and for me but I did it because it helped me keep the tempo and they are three important things that the students need to focus on during deep breathing. After the breathing I went right into half moon, awkward and eagle – it was so amazing to see the students working hard in the beginning of the class and really listening to what i was saying. I will say this though – I did get my left and rights confused. It’s hard when you’re facing the podium and their right is your left and so on (I’ve since taken to writing R on my left hand and L on my right hand) until I get more comfortable with the right left thing.

It’s also difficult because we only say the right side of the dialogue during training – which means that I have never said the left side before my mock class on Tuesday December 2nd. That’s right – i’ve never said the left side until the 2nd of December so all of a sudden I’m saying left side and folks are actually picking up their left leg which happens to be my right leg – honestly it’s a little confusing.

The room got really hot and I wasn’t controlling the heat (usually in your first couple of classes the owner will take your class and control the heat so you can just focus on the dialogue) and a few students were giving me dirty looks by the time we got to Triangle pose. Sorry! But I figure that’s a good sign if I’m killing them because it means I’m doing my job. Wouldn’t you rather struggle for 90 minutes in a bikram yoga class than struggle for 90 years in have back pain, leg pain, diabetes and a whole host of other issues? EXACTLY. Give me all you can with your dirty looks! I’ve got a license to kill from the boss.

Once I got them on the floor class just flew by – the goal is to be on the floor by ’54 minutes after you’ve started the class. So if class starts at 6am – be on the floor by 6:54 which means you only have 36 minutes for the floor series and class is finished. Β During teacher training (TT) we flew through the floor series sometimes delivering 2 – 3 maybe even 4 postures and I realised that I didn’t retain the postures as well but after my mock class I had my homework and was able to go over each of those postures and I delivered them well in my first class. I finished the class in 91 minutes which is pretty good for my class – the owner of the AV studio told me that she thought I did a fantastic job for my first class and she was really impressed. Woohoo! She had told everyone before that it was my first class and they asked if I would take it easy on them – not a chance! You’re here to work and to work hard!

I did notice a few bad habits that I had (and still have as a student) while teaching class. I saw folks wiping off the sweat which is a bad habit – the sweat just comes back plus the sweat is there to help cool your body down so wiping it off is just a waste of time cause your body is trying to cool itself done and you’re stopping it from doing that. I also saw folks fanning themselves – it doesn’t cool you down. It just makes you hotter because you’re moving hot air around you. Just lie down in your savasana – be comfortable being uncomfortable in the heat. Also, I saw a few folks drinking so much water and I thought – you’re going to be on your stomach in less than 5 minutes for a good while and that is going to be so incredibly uncomfortable. So those are habits that I noticed that I am guilty of – it’s going to be an interesting ride teaching in Oz and all over for that matter.

I love this yoga and I love so much that I’m able to share it with folks. Helping them to breathe, to connect with themselves in the front mirror, to love themselves, to push their bodies beyond their comfort zone. I’m so lucky to be able to teach this yoga and every time I get on the podium I feel blessed and lucky.

Week 9: It’s not the end…it’s a new beginning.

It’s taken me a while to write this post simply because I can’t believe that 9 weeks have flown by so incredibly quickly and also because I was traveling through southeast Asia after an intensive 9 weeks of training.

The 9th week is a complete blur sorta like everything after the 5th week. Once you hit the halfway point of training time really does just fly by…training can be quite repetitive – two classes / day, posture clinic or lecture, beach or pool after morning class, lunch and dinner, sleep (a bit) and repeat. The 9th week was no different we had a total of 10 classes remaining 5 with the boss himself and 5 with visiting senior teachers.

This week is really just to say goodbye to all your friends because graduation is so quick (kinda) that if you blink your eyes you’ve missed the entire moment and everyone has already started to disperse! Folks have flights to catch and they need to leave the yoga bubble quicker than you liked.

During this week we have get to have a bit more free time – the staff is more relaxed they also can see the finish line as well as the students. Bikram signs books or dialogues during this week. Usually midweek on the Wednesday or Thursday depending if he has finished his posture clinic. There was a bit of confusion with signing the books this year a few folks were going to have him sign their mats or dialogues books and not his book “books”. Welp, the boss didn’t like that and an announcement was made that he would only sign his books and then after (if there was time he would sign dialogue books!). I didn’t have any books of the bosses so I thought I would be out of luck – I tried to run to the Bikram store to get a book but they were all sold out and only the CD’s remained. I went back to the lecture hall and one of my dear friends gave me one of her books so that Bikram could sign it and I could have my picture with the boss. I was so surprised and told my friend that I would pay her either in baht or cash but she declined and said that she wanted to give it to me as a gift. I was incredibly touched – there are good people in this world. I’m still amazed by her willingness to gift me this book. It’s the orange book Bikram Yoga THe Guru Behind Hot Yoga Shows the Way to Radiant Health and Personal Fulfillment. Thank you Noor!

Raj taught the morning class and as usual it was incredibly beautiful. Her voice was made for yoga and sleeping. After her class she played a song and most people got emotional but soon folks were up dancing and cheering and hugging each other. One class to go!

The last class with Bikram was a lot of fun. Everyone wears black and brings coke with them to class. The boss loves Coke (and burgers!) Β so at party time (which is the first water break in class after eagle pose) everyone lifts up their coke and cheers the boss. It was an awesome moment – we also cheers each other. At the end of the class music broke out and everyone erupted into loud cheers! It was done – the moment was finished. We had completed 97 classes (some more – due to makeup classes) in just 9 short weeks and we were all Bikram Yoga teachers! We had reached the finish line.

We had lecture that evening with Bikram and we ended with a beautiful meditation.

Saturday was graduation and honestly it was a blur. Raj and Laju (Bikram’s daughter spoke), the staff received a standing ovation, Bikram gave a brief lecture and then our certificates were passed out and we all became official yoga teachers. After graduation a few of us went down to the beach to light lanterns and make wishes and then we had a massive feast on the lawn to celebrate the end.

I left the party early said goodbye to my friends – I needed to pack and get ready for Vietnam but honestly I’m just not good at goodbyes.

I don’t really know how to define this experience – Lynn Whitlow said try not to define it or understand it for sometime so I’m going to heed her advice and not write an all over training recap until I’ve been teaching for 6 months and I’ve returned to training myself as a teacher. But I will say this I’m so glad for the opportunity of this training, I’m thankful for my home studio, for finding this beautiful yoga in NYC, and for finally knowing how to be present in my life.