Teacher Training – coffee or no coffee?

I’ve averaged two cups of coffee per morning for the last 35-40 years. I even went as far as packing coffee and a coffee maker to come here. On the first Tuesday I couldn’t face it. Or the Wednesday. Or the Thursday. Or the Friday. Then on Saturday I wanted some, but realized it had been four days and decided that perhaps it would be a good opportunity to stop drinking it permanently.

During Week Two I woke up every morning with a blinding headache. It could have been from lack of sleep caused by Bikram’s late-night lectures, but now I’m wondering if it was caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

This morning (Sunday) was the first morning with no headache. Perhaps it was the nine hours’ sleep that helped.

I miss my coffee, and can’t decide whether to go back to it or not. The reports change so frequently. It’s good for you it’s bad for you it’s good for you it’s bad for you.

Teacher Training – the inspirational Emmy Cleaves

Emmy Cleaves (senior teacher at the Bikram L.A. HQ) conducted four classes during Week Two, and lectured twice. She doesn’t talk about herself, but we were told in advance that she is 84 years old and survived two concentration camps in the Second World War.

There’s a picture of her in the photograph album. She stood upright for four hours while delivering her second lecture. She even demonstrated a couple of the poses at the end. She conducts her yoga classes from the back of the room. Her voice is gentle, but she’s firm, and we can’t get away with much. During some of the poses she walks around adjusting the students.

More on Emmy at Tom’s Bikram Teacher Training blog.

Teacher Training – bad kitty

I have now delivered dialogue three times. The second time (backward bending with Pada Hastasana) was in front of all 285 students and teachers. Apart from blanking out on the first line I sailed through it well. Luke (a/k/a Tattoo [to Bikram]) was my evaluator and made some positive comments. He said, however, that I was too sweet and needed to bark out the orders louder. He asked if I had children. I told him no but that I did have two cats. He asked me to pretend I was getting mad at my cats. Very nervously I said “bad kitty” into the microphone. That caused an uproar.

The third time I did my dialogue there were murmurs behind me: Bad kitty. Bad kitty.

Teacher training – a typical day

A typical day here goes like this:

8 – 9:30 a.m. or later: Yoga class
12:15 – 4:15 p.m.: Dialogue clinic or lecture
5 – 6:30 p.m. or later: Yoga class
9 p.m. until whenever: Dialogue clinic or lecture

On Saturdays we have just the 8 a.m. yoga class and are then off until Monday.

Each of the four above are called “evolutions.” We have to sign in for every evolution. The sign-in sheet is removed five minutes before each evolution begins. So if you arrive at the last minute and there’s a line, you’re screwed. And if you miss a sign-in you have to do a make-up yoga class. No excuses. One student missed a whole day due to illness and now has FOUR makeup classes. They expect you to show up even if you’re not feeling well. The makeup classes are currently at 10 a.m.

Only seven weeks to go.

Teacher training – sleep deprivation

Bikram was in town all week. He taught two classes and wasn’t as mean as the first week. We did, however, have to sit through his lectures. I have only one word to describe them: EXCRUCIATING. They start at 9 p.m. and go on until way after midnight; mostly they have been on Indian mythology with smatterings of Hollywood, and sometimes it’s difficult to follow his stories. That isn’t helped by the fact that we’re sitting in the most uncomfortable chairs (backjacks). After about 30 minutes in one of these I am constantly fidgeting and trying to get comfortable, even with my own added car seat cushion. If anyone lies down or falls asleep he gets angry and yells at them.

We crawled upstairs most nights at around 1 a.m. Oh, did I mention the painfully slow hotel lifts (elevators) with minds of their own? Imagine 286 people trying to get up to their rooms at the same time.

I think that all this is part of the training process. Perhaps when we leave here we’ll be able to handle anything.

Teacher Training – end of Week Two

Week 2 was rough. This has been the toughest two weeks of my life. Sometimes I wonder why I’m here. What possessed me to put myself through this?

That being said, it was a little better than the first week, in that I didn’t spend most of the classes lying on the floor. This week, I managed to stay on my feet, although I didn’t attempt both sets of every posture until Thursday morning. In fact, I went four classes in a row without even attempting Triangle. My water discipline has gone out of the window. I freeze a 2-litre bottle every night. Gone are the days of my room-temperature water, sipped only before the final savasanah. Now I slug it between every pose and hug the bottle to my body during the floor poses, trying to cool myself down. Right now it’s just a case of survival.

But it wasn’t as bad as the first week. Did I already say that?

Teacher Training – where we live

I wrote down the names and hometown of every student as they came up to deliver dialogue. Some I couldn’t understand or hear, and I missed about five. Allowing for a 3% margin of error, here are some numbers:

168 USA
38 Canada
14 Australia
9 England
6 Germany
5 Chile
5 France
3 Brazil
3 Belgium
3 Philippines
3 Japan
3 Korea
3 New Zealand
2 Thailand
2 Hong Kong
2 Israel
2 Mexico
2 Norway
2 Peru
2 South Africa
1 Russia
1 Serbia
1 Spain
1 Taiwan
1 Austria
4 Unknown

234 women
52 men

Teacher Training – in touch with home

We were advised by Craig, the Director of Training, not to be in constant contact with our families and friends over the next nine weeks. During the first week there was hardly any time to get online, but I’m glad that John set me up with a Sprint broadband account and added two PantherCams. If I log on I can see Cyril in the garage, both cats’ sleeping spots, and the back yard.

We are also set up with video cams and have been talking to each other today.