Saturday, November 27, 2010

It Had to Happen

I spent the morning before my first class alternately crying and doing farm chores. Crying because I wanted to feel more confident about my dialogue before teaching my first class, but knew I hadn't practised enough [and doing farm chores because those danged beasts will keep eating and crapping.] Of course, no surprise, the more spazzed I became, the fewer lines I could recall. Finally it was time to get the lycra on, get in the car, and drive to the studio. I was greeted very warmly by studio staff, and the wonderful Owl was there to give me a few tips on microphone use, etc. What I liked was that no one was making a big deal of it being my first class, but rather treating it like an everyday occurrence. Yeah, here's your mike, there's the podium, see yez in 90. Oh, and don't fuck with the thermostat.
The ever-kind Peter also came to my first class -- since he was my first Bikram teacher a year ago, I was really touched to see him in the studio. Owl continued her wonderfulness by practising directly in front of the podium so I could look to her for cues if I got stuck. And yes, I did get stuck a handful of times in that first class, but I watched Owl quite carefully and, while I may not have been reciting verbatim dialogue, I had enough of it to get students in and out of postures. Got one posture out of order, but the experienced students piped up (bless 'em), and I nearly forgot Wind-Removing Pose, but again with the pipe-ups from the very patient class. At the end of the class I had only gone four minutes over time. To Owl, Peter, and every one of the students there: my most heartfelt thanks.
My second class was early this morning, 7:00 a.m., about 16 or so hours after my first class. It was a delight, although I have to lock down the text a bit more: my Locust postures were really only "dialoguey." Still: no one died. I had another dozen or so very kind, smiling students, and I relaxed enough to remember more lines. I still don't think of myself as a yoga teacher the way I think of the others at the studio as teachers, BUT: I've got Class #3 tomorrow night, and will start my day by taking my first class from Bettina, She Who Kept Me Mostly Sane during Training.
Full circle: yoga-loving student to teacher trainee to teacher of other students. I wrote down, during one of Himself's lectures, a line he frequently recites: "There is no yoga "do." There is only yoga "try," because you are constantly learning." The yoga counterpart to Yoda. And so I'll keep trying and learning. Thanks again, everyone.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Worth a try

I dropped into the Bikram studio in Santa Cruz. Lovely town, lovely, spacious studio, but no Shawn (Born Happy the Evaluator) to be seen. Waah. So I bought a T-shirt to console myself. Funny that I didn't get a Bikram San Diego T-shirt, but a "Hell Cajon" studio shirt instead. Anyway: Star-breakfasted in Santa Cruz, and am currently Star-lunching in Willows, CA -- the same place I Star-lunched on the way down, back on September 17th.
Bored yet? The reason I am writing at present is that THE MIGHTY BETTINA is halfway through teaching her first class at home in Victoria. Rock that Half Moose, Bettina! I so wish I were there. Soon, I tells ya, soon.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Random thoughts in Santa Cruz

"Buy new cooler:" the Bengali pronunciation of "binocular."
I nearly broke myself trying not to cry when goodbying Bettina, Jana and the mad Greek roomie, Jayna. Of course, I'm seeing Bettina in a few days, but the goodbye was to the whole experience.
Took the 101 north this time to get a little ocean beauty in my databanks. My spirit needed the serenity. First it had to deal with the terror of the monsoon-strength rain and surprise hydroplaning north of San Diego, and the "Uh-oh, missed the turnoff" moment in Los Angeles. But I found the damn road again, and soon the urban sprawl gave way to unbelievable coastal beauty.
Am I saving time, staying in Santa Cruz? Nope: this was an impulse route change. I really wanted to see one of my favourite cities again. Arrived just at sunset, so tomorrow I'll take a quick drive downtown before resuming the northward journey.
Drove approximately 8 hours, shorter than my usual day's drives, but I remembered that I was going on practically no sleep, not the best setup for an interstate drive anywhere, but particular not California. Oh, I do love this state.
The beginning of post-training perspective: realizing that the heartsoreness of the last two weeks was trying to tell me something. That another change is on the way, and it's not going to be easy. There's a goddamned bulletin. Relax, Laur, I'm not moving to Tegucigalpa or Ouagadougou. What it is, is basic Lord Jim: actions have consequences, toots. [Good thing I read that Golden Classic comic book way back when . . . saved myself some time in university.]
Possible plan: drop in at Santa Cruz's Bikram studio to say hello to Shawn, aka "Born Happy" from our posture clinics. Such a nice man.

Pack your suitcases each other

Packing. The Mazdad isn't going to know what hit it.
So that's it, then. Graduated yesterday, and enjoyed a classic Himself moment: as I posed for my picture with Himself, I said, "I'm never going to forget you." Himself: "I know!" Graduation took place on the rainiest day in nine weeks, and yes, I enjoyed seeing everyone in real clothing, posing for pictures with friends, introducing new lifetime friends to family members.
Didn't sleep much at all. Fretting about the drive (terrible weather up north, and who didn't get the snow tires put on in mid-September? Who couldn't think nine weeks ahead? -- right, me). Fretting about not remembering the dialogue for the 26 'n' 2.
Packing and crying, of course, at the end of an unequalled experience. It had to end in order to qualify for an experience, I realize. Ow. Heart hurt. Must return to packing.
See you all. And thanks.

Friday, November 19, 2010

These people, I tell you . . .

Everywhere you look in Yogaterra, people are excited. About today being the last day of class and lectures. About tomorrow being graduation, the day that would never come. About going home. About teaching Class Number One OH MY GOD. Everywhere you look there are cameras and hugs and camaraderie.
This time next Friday I'll be digesting myself as the minutes tick away to 3:45 p.m., my first class. By then the magnificent Bettina will already have taught two. Note to self: now would be a good time to rehearse them thar postures.
Yesterday we had the legendary Emmy Cleaves back to teach us class, and she came by and adjusted my stance in Triangle Posture, pushing my hip down a half-inch, that made a huge difference, especially in muscle contraction. I don't think, ultimately, that I lost any weight during training, because I've been building muscle fibres by the cartload. I'll always be a cement-bodied sweaty head, but by god a *toned* cement body after all these classes.
Last night one of the Fab Five, Chrissy, came by and surprised me with a thank-you gift ["The Daily Intellectual Devotional," a hardcover book that is heroin to know-it-alls] and a card. Thanks for driving her and the other Fabs to the laundromat, grocery store, etc. Chrissy, let me say it here: the thanks are all mine for you and the others being such good friends. I was overcome with surprise and touched by Chrissy's thoughtful generosity, and after we'd chatted for awhile, she took herself off to get ready for evening lecture, and I sat down and had a good, short wail. I've turned into quite the emotional diva as Teacher Training ends, I tell you. I can just see it now, I'll walk into the studio next Friday, climb onto the podium, and announce "My name is Jane, and I am your yoga-waaaaaaaa. . ." And all this time people have assumed my yoga towels were drenched with sweat. Nope: tears.
But since they've screwed up my billing a second time, I won't shed a drop for the hotel accounting staff, I tell you now.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


My one rule about asking questions in Himself's posture clinics is this: is it relevant to teacher trainees? If yes, continue. So I asked whether new students could part their legs at the beginning of Full Locust, and then bring them together. Before he answered, Himself identified me as "the one who is always seeming to fall asleep in my lectures, even though I know she is listening, and look, now I know you have eyes, okay, go ahead." The answer? "No. Make them do it right." I checked my headbob-jaggy lecture notes for Locust, and I had written down that in the double leg-lift, students *could* start with legs apart, as long as they immediately closed them after lifting. Did I ask for an explanation of the discrepancy? Did I, hell. I was happy to escape with being called "Boss" instead of "Sweetheart." Again: I am absolutely unable to figure that man out at all. It's quite a delightful sensation.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Look Back, Pt. 1

My study group, or Group Four, as we affectionately called ourselves, was made up of 21 people from all backgrounds and abilities. Since I wrote earlier about one member of the group who met with Karma in the form of a Boston teacher, it is only fair to tell the rest of the story. After the Boston instructor commanded this woman, D., to learn the dialogue kinesthetically, i.e., while performing the posture, or even while walking, DAMN if she didn't do just that. Her next presentation was a vast improvement, even though she tripped up near the end. A couple more clinics, and she delivered one of the most difficult dialogues (Triangle) nearly word-perfectly. I don't know about the rest of the group, but I was absolutely gobsmacked at the change. From then, D. went on to deliver each posture's dialogue with a minimum of stress, almost matter-of-factly. I think a certain Boston teacher deserves a standing ovation. As does D.
The other marked evolution in our group was U., who was an ESL student, and was so concerned about getting the dialogue right that she had effectively paralysed herself. It was quite hard to watch her struggle, and sometimes break down crying, when she'd mix up some words. She was taken aside by the estimable Lynn W., a senior teacher and staff member, and I never learned what happened during these dialogue coaching sessions, but U. came back transformed. By the end of posture clinics she was laughing, in tune with the students, and even offering corrections to inattentive demonstrators (uh, sorry about that one, U. I was distracted by a chandelier).
I will always be in awe of certain trainees with exceptional dialogue presentations (hello, Fed, Chelsea, Brian, Heather, and Chrissy) -- yet in some way it is almost more awesome to witness these transformations. I wouldn't have believed them possible, that's for sure.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nicely done

Mad props to Schuyler and Anabelle from my study group, who competed in the Southern Cal Yoga championships yesterday. It was enjoyable watching them and other teacher trainees move through 5 compulsory and 2 "freestyle" postures. That's the first championship I've ever been to, and if you ever want to see a crowd of about 500 people turn their heads in irritated unison, forget to turn your cellphone off. The sinner, who apparently didn't hear Dom's repeated requests to turn all phones off, was a grandfatherly type, so escaped being pulled into Balancing Stick position by those around him, but it was a close one.
Sunday evening saw the Fab Five back in La Jolla for a Lululemon open house. Several trainees were there trying out their new teacher discounts. Three of the Five bought various apparel. I didn't because I've always felt the clothing was horribly overpriced. A shirt for $78? No thankee.
So it is the last week here at Teacher Training, and for me, anyway, feelings are mixed. I recall that they were likewise mixed before teacher training started, so at the very least I'm consistent. This week should see us learning important teaching details, like timing our dialogue delivery so our classes stay at the 90-minute mark. I'll also be dealing with a very full heart (and sweaty eyeballs) for the next while.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Morning, and . . .

Back: Still locked. I just wish I could lock my left knee like I can lock my lumbar vertebrae. Going to phone for a massage, I think. Silly back.
Roomie: Amazing. Fabulous. Surprised me with a gift last night of a psychedelic head scarf and a joke book titled "What Would Jane Do?" Naturally I got all teary. Thanks again, Jayna, you mad Greek, you. You're the best yoga roomie that ever there was.
Fabulous Five: Tore around Hillcrest and University Heights. Laundried and groceried. Invasion of Old San Diego accomplished with minimal casualties. Attended an art exhibition late at night, because we are spontaneous and addicted to unique jewellery.
On today's slate: yoga competition, featuring a study classmate. More yoga outfits on sale. Talk of an outing to yet another yoga togs supplier. How much spandex can one person have who is not a member of an '80s metal tribute band? We shall see.
Rumour, good or bad? If it's about Dr. Preddy coming back for our graduation next Saturday, then it is a very good rumour. I'll try to indulge in it sparingly. No expectations! But it would be lovely to see him again. [UPDATE: It's true, it's true! The man himself replied to a FB query and said he'd see us all on Saturday. Excellent news.]

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful Jo

Our last Saturday class was taught by Jo, a woman who embodies loving kindness and compassion -- I bet the Buddha has her on speed dial. I was lucky enough, as was my study group, to have Jo as an evaluator in at least four clinics, and each time I was calmed and encouraged by her cheerful, peaceful glow. Yet Jo was no push-over; one student, who had not endeared himself to classmates with his couldn't-care-less attitude towards learning dialogue, tried to get away with telling the demonstrators, "Well, you are teachers, so you know what to do." Jo straightened up and said, gently but firmly, "No. You are the teacher. They are your students. You tell them what to do." Silent hurrahs were the order of the day among the other students.
Jo, to you, for all the help and encouragement you've given us, please accept my gratitude (and thank you for giving me the chance to let it off the leash once again). You are a grand human. I'll never forget you.

Wee Kate

Another fly-by week here in the Teacher Training empire. As a former Classics student, I can appreciate certain timeless imperial aspects of such a setting. Proscription being one of them. After Monday afternoon's debrief with a couple of volunteers, I decided to revive the anablog, i.e., pen on paper (or stylus on wax tablet if you want to go all ancient). There was a much-needed bright spot after the debriefing: I decided to go back to basics. The love of this yoga is why I'm here. I'll just get back to focusing on the yoga for the next coupla' weeks. And dang if that didn't do the trick. Note: my practice still sucks so hard its cheeks are meeting in the middle.
Reminder: Facebook, while enabling me to contact many people I couldn't otherwise, and has been the portal to many worthwhile life moments, also has caused some considerable ruckus in an already disorganized existence. Is your life too peaceful? Try consolidating your friends list for some instant chuckles. Huh boy. Those adept with social media can rightfully say that I'm the agent of all my misfortunes online, but still. Effing FACEBOOK is all.
Posturized yogis: This week we finished the posture clinics for all 26 yoga poses in the Bikram Beginning Series. I had one serious blank in the second last clinic, working on Head to Knee With Stretching. Knee to my head is what I needed to get the words back. Sorry about that, kids. The last clinic, Spine-Twisting Posture, aka "Final Spinal," probably wasn't my most glorious moment, either. There's a line from the dialogue that starts "H-E-E-L, your heel should touch the knee," which I delivered clearly, and then -- aieee -- nothing. I blinked, and said, "F-U-C-K, fuck, I've dropped the dialogue." The audience, bless 'em, went with it, and I regained my composure enough to give the rest of the lines more or less verbatim. Afterwards I assured the evaluators (the lovely Jo, Nikki and Jackie) that, no, I really wouldn't say such a thing in a real class. So that's it for working with a net . . . the next time I say those words in front of others, they'll be real students. Yes, it is causing me to snort awake with panic at least once a night.
You know it's Week Eight when: you have guest yogis teaching the yoga classes, skilled teachers whose generous hearts prompt them to share their accumulated wisdom about teaching, yoga, and life with the group of trainees. Some of whom are lying on their mats, muttering "Will you for the love of God SHUT UP?" Of course, we've also been told that some things we hear won't make sense until we've been teachers for awhile. I can see why . . . current fatigue levels have made the prospect of learning even one more thing feel like pushing an elephant uphill in a shopping cart.
Overall: A much, much happier week, funnier, more accepting, more worldly wise. I've enjoyed Himself's peripatetic (showoff word, sorry) lecture style, really enjoyed Mrs. Himself's talks, and tried not to honk with laughter at the ticked-off Bettina's sighs over a lecture she considered pointless (not one from Himself or the Missus, I hasten to add). I know I'm going to miss the hell out of these people and most of these situations. One more week. It's been a gift.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Well, THAT'S inconvenient.

Major back spasm. Not quite as bad as the one from the summer, when it took me 20+ minutes to get out of bed each morning, but still: dang. I was told before I came here that body breakdown is a natural side-effect of the intensive yoga training, but I also knew that my back and core were stronger than ever. Still, when the problem stems from a congenital spine deformity, no amount of exercise is going to prevent the occasional choke 'n' spaz. Paging Dr. Ibu!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Where'd those words go?

Head to Knee with Stretching Pose: I read, I wrote, I recited, I repeated. And yet, when I got to the podium yesterday afternoon, I performed with about as much grace as my ass would if it were chewing gum. Those poor demonstrators. Those poor evaluators. And, dammit, I couldn't even appreciate how funny a classmate's performance was (he'd been assigned to be a distraction as I taught). Dammit is all.
Now on to the last posture clinics, and the delivery of Ardha-Matsyendrasana, or Final Spinal. As teaching an actual class gets ever closer, my short-term memory gets ever spazzier. Back at it, toots.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Favourite

Q: How many Vietnam vets does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: You don't know, man! You weren't there! You'll never know!
For "Vietnam vet," read "Bikram Teacher Trainee." There really is no way of accurately or succinctly describing this experience. I can't predict anything here, or accuse anyone of being a yoga stereotype. I have also never been so cascaded with humanity, with sheer pleasure in the company of others. My infrequent "argh" moments are overwhelmed by moments of silent bliss. I still know why I'm here. I still know I'm not perfect, and in fact, do not ever wish to be other than I am. Jane flawed. Full of love, but flawed.
I have been informed that I've hurt a couple of people's feelings this past week. Well, it was a dungeon-dank week, full of bizarreness. I'm not close to these people, but I regret hurting their feelings anyway. It wasn't done with malice aforethought. But it's done. From their perspective I must seem like a total asshole, but . . . they're not here, and they can't really know what happens to one's brain in these circumstances. For what it's worth, though, I offer my apologies.
Back to basics for me: concentrate on that there yoga! Lock that frickin' knee. We are not at home to Mr. Despondency. Watch out, here comes Head to Knee with Stretching. So I can't tell my left from my right! Just bend the other leg, dammit.

Monday, November 8, 2010

True story

We lived in Edmonton in the '80s in a weird little white bungalow about two blocks from the university. It was a house that didn't fit the lot, so the original owners had the builders set it sideways. Instead of a front and back door, we had two side doors. No true front window, only a dining room window. (The living room full window showed the neighbour's front yard.) The kitchen joined the dining room, which opened into the living room. From the kitchen, you could see past the dining table to the living room fireplace.
One day Dad came home from work and was in the kitchen fixing himself a drink, bagging at me about something or other. I was sitting in the living room, across from the fireplace, and I was in no mood to listen to Dad's grumpiness. So I made the talky-talky hand sign and screwed up my face, mimicking his grouchy words, wagging my finger. ONLY THEN did I remember that there was a mirrored wall over the fireplace, which could be seen in full from the kitchen -- and which showed everything that appeared in the living room. Heh heh. ya, Daddy-o! [Epilogue: I was not killed, only subjected to a glare that would have blistered paint.]
Moral and parable: Just because I think nobody's watching what I'm doing doesn't mean that I am invisible to others. And just because I can't believe others would bother to pay the slightest attention to what I do, doesn't mean they don't. UPSHOT: "Kind" and "Mindful" are the words of the week -- in fact, of the rest of my life.

The Buddha done got mah number

"Just as the royal frontier fortress has a gatekeeper—wise, experienced, intelligent—to keep out those he doesn’t know and to let in those he does, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a disciple of the noble ones is mindful, highly meticulous, remembering and able to call to mind even things that were done and said long ago. With mindfulness as his gatekeeper, the disciple of the noble ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity."
—Anguttara Nikaya 7.63
As Jane goes on tripping over shrapnel from last week's mayhem. Huh boy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Oh, yes, I really could

Live here, that is. Because it's going to be hard to leave San Diego. I love this city. Friendly people, lots of creativity, and that salt-water thingey ... right, the Pacific. Irresistible, all of 'em. Drove up to Encinitas today so that two of my three companions could freeze to death on the loveliest of beaches, while attempting to nap. As a cement-bodied sweaty head I simply couldn't understand how two lean yoginis like Jayna and Chrissy could find the fresh ocean breeze a tad chilly, but then I was cavorting along the strand with the third pal, Heather, so didn't notice anything but the bright sun, the surfers, and the rolling breakers. Finally we turned around, walked back to the cryogenic duo, chipped the ice off their limbs and got them to walk back to the car. They admitted that the bright sun was lovely, once their larynxes had thawed enough.
Finally, FINALLY, ordered a burrito à la carte instead of a full meal presentation, and still couldn't finish the monster. Quite delicious, though. Yes, I'm going to miss the incredible Mexican food down here, too.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Janus Week

No puns about Jane and "anus," please. What I mean is, this week had two very different faces. It was also the week that was horrible until it wasn't.
Monday night's class was taught by a grim Latvian man who, as I described earlier, talked so fast that I thought I was at a cattle auction back in Alberta. Some people, especially younger women, thought he was great. Others, such as Bettina and I, thought he was arrogant.
Tuesday night's lecture: Dom, whose name must be getting close to "Doom" by now, had to tell us all that there'll be no yearbook for this year's TT. Reason? The expense. Poor Dom, always having to be the cold spoon in the souffle.
Thursday I also found out that one of my favourite volunteers, a man whose face always made me feel peaceful, was fired for having a relationship with one of the trainees. This breaks the "no F*cky-f*cky" rule (the other rules include "No drinky-drinky" and "No smoky-smoky"). The trainee was not asked to leave. At first it was another "Oh no, you're kidding me" moment. Later more details surfaced that brought up the question as to whether the volunteer had wanted to leave, and sought a reason. I don't know the real reason, but I do know that I'm sad he's gone -- and I do not resent the trainee involved, which apparently puts me in the minority. I don't know both sides of the story, but I'm sad it's a story at all, you know?
And then, when the oddly dark week seemed like it couldn't get any darker, Himself went off on a fairly sexist tangent in Friday morning's class that led to several people shouting at him in anger during the class, and one student confronting him afterwards. You could almost see the fury clouds gathering over the resort, people were that upset. As for me, well . . . I'm pretty used to Himself's cultural and gender-specific biases by now, so I repeated the wisdom of the old and hale psychiatrist: Ach, who listens? But I was disturbed to hear that the student who confronted Himself was told to get out of the training camp there and then -- however, she was in class today (Saturday), so I'm hopeful that she'll be able to stay. But what anger and grief and cruelty in the heart of yogaland! I couldn't get over what a bitter week it had become.
And then . . . Friday afternoon, the redemption. Three yogis from Victoria are currently in town: Ida, Niecia and Veronika. I had the chance to give Niecia and Veronika a ride to Whole Foods, and they cheerfully coached me through the dialogue for Camel Posture. Next, in posture clinic, who shows up but Niecia! Yay! And it was a delight from beginning to end. I was asked to leave the room before delivering dialogue, and in my absence the evaluators Jo, Noella and Niecia got everyone, not just the usual three demonstrators, but everyone in the room to follow my instructions. I came striding into the room and -- WHOA! -- and suddenly I couldn't stop grinning. I had so much fun delivering the dialogue to the crowd, some of whom had been coached to misbehave, that at the end I nearly danced a jig. Niecia's and Veronika's coaching really paid off. In fact, I couldn't stop chuckling throughout the rest of the clinic, especially when Peter F. and I were asked to misbehave during a fellow student, Mark's, dialogue. Peter got me giggling so hard I nearly had to leave the room.
In this happy and relieved mood I went to the yoga bubble for evening class, and -- wow! No way! Ida was teaching! Ida's a world silver medallist in yoga, and is one of the most energizing yoginis out there. I realized, as she began, that I really missed her classes -- and the other yogis from home. Suddenly the week of darkness and rage began to beam with laughter and comfort. I remembered why this is such an incredible, soul-satisfying experience. I don't say that the awful parts of the week were worth it, but I do know that even a yoga-filled life is going to have its bad moments.
So Week Seven is nearly gone, which means only two weeks remain. I get a little choked when I think of saying goodbye to my new and very dear friends. So I don't think I will say goodbye to them, just give them a heads up to expect me on their doorsteps before too long. Because if they can put up with a week this this, let alone a friend like me, you know they're amazing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Unsafe at any distance

Okay, yoga pals across the world: if you ever get the chance to take a yoga class from (or with) Fed Zanni, YOU MUST DO SO. But I warn you: your self control will be useless. Fed's from London, and is an actor, and is brilliant. There. He's pretty much a legend here in Teacher Training, not only for his amazing dialogue recall, but also for his limitless generosity in helping other trainees. Both times I've been in posture clinic with him, I've been amazed at his alacrity in helping us do our best.
There is, however, a dangerous side to Fed: his humour. At last night's lecture, Dom announced that a woman student had reported seeing a male student urinate outside the yoga tent during class. In a blink Fed was on his feet, saying, innocently, that he hadn't meant to do it, he couldn't help it, and he was very sorry. All this in his resonant, corner-reaching voice, with the most humble, angelic expression on his face. I was three seats away from him and instantly collapsed, honking.
This morning, Fed practiced yoga next to me, in the front row. Whenever Himself would shout "Are you ready? Yes or no?" Fed would shout "NO!"--again with a completely neutral face. Just before the second set of Camel, Himself repeated his familiar harangue about western women not having "the right grip" to keep their men. "Yeah!" shouted Fed. "Right on!" Meanwhile Jane tries to hold Camel while convulsing with mirth. Camelgasm? Not quite, but it'll do.
Fed, what a pleasure to have met you. I can't wait to see what you'll be up to next.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In which we outsmart ourselves

It never fails: whenever Bettina and I try to anticipate our places in the yoga bubble or in the posture clinic, we get it wrong. This week Himself is supposed to be teaching the morning classes (although he didn't today), so in anticipation of a slightly sleep deprived and therefore crankier guru, Bettina and I have set our mats down in outermost Bikramia -- i.e., as far to the edge as possible, to stay out of his view. But when Himself is not there, this effort seems pointless. In posture clinics, we try to bag places against the wall, only to have the evaluators come in the room and evaluate that our sitting place is exactly where they should be sitting, or where the demonstrators should set up.
There is a lesson in everything, say the enlightened. This lesson? Wherever we are is perfect. Except when it isn't.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bad Day at Bik Rock

Morning: Awake to a bad brain. How bad? Caveman bad. Class with Himself goes to 105 minutes. Jane not tickled, except for having run into Ida Ripley, the yoga champ and teacher from home. Hello, Ida! Now back to regularly scheduled crabby batface.
Afternoon: Another evaluator on the precious side. Not want. Do not deliver dialogue for Bow Pose because cannot get near podium. Where all keeners come from? Fine, I clap hands.
Evening class: Not sure if I practise yoga or buy cattle -- teacher talk loud, rough, too fast. First time ever that pranayama breathing makes angry. After class, Jane friend ask: teacher big scheisskopf, yes? Yes.
Late night lecture come up with Himself, not in tent but in ballroom. Remember bum pillow. Remember food. Try smile. Where smash-club at?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week Six - Whoosh.

Okay, first off: the prospect that seemed so far off in the future, that would only happen to other students, has happened to me: first class as a teacher, coming up. Tell you what, that's one large ice cube of reality down the back of Teacher Training never-never land. Guess I'd better learn some dialogue.
A prevailing topic this weekend has been the spectrum of evaluators in the posture clinics. Some teachers are sublime, some are joyless, some are visibly bored, some are inspired, some are incredibly, almost pointlessly, picky. Which is to say that teachers are, y'know, human. There's a bulletin. But still: I had one clinic with three very different personalities (Joyless, Born Friendly, and Introverted), and although I delivered pretty tight dialogue for Cobra, Joyless lived up to her name (and what's worse, did not laugh at my joke, the bag). Born Friendly laughed and asked if he could steal it. Why, sure. Joyless went on to dismay and annoy several of my groupmates as the clinic wore on, so that by the time 4:00 p.m. chimed, the majority of students bolted from the room.
Later that night we had the first double clinic, and Born Friendly was back with us, this time with Aussie Dynamo. The emphasis was on energetic fun rather than verbatim dialogue, and everyone had a blast. A very welcome change of mood after the earlier session -- in fact, one of my groupmates, a poised and courtly gentleman, said he wished he'd waited to deliver his dialogue until the evening, instead of performing it that afternoon for that "f*cking b*tch."
Humorous update: despite reassuring us that verbatim dialogue was not the point that evening, the teachers assigned as homework "Work on dialogue" for most of us. I think that's teacher-speak for "cover your ass."
Halloween, Hot Style: I wouldn't have thought that skimpy yoga duds and 40 Celsius temperature would allow for much in the way of Halloween costumes. I was once again completely wrong, as my fellow students astounded me with their imaginations and senses of humour. Two brave souls (male and female) dressed up as Himself, complete with speedo briefs and samurai topknot. There was an array of amazing costumes, including the sublime Fed in gold lamé, pirates, ghosts, yoga zombies, angels, witches, Japanese ham sandwiches (funny only for those in the know about Bikram yoga dialogue) -- even a bottle of champagne. As for me, well: I did the dialogue/joke thing, drawing two padlocks in indelible ink upon my kneecaps in tribute to the oft-repeated line, "Lock the knee." Jane so funny! Still, I enjoyed it.
Week Six weirdnesses: I don't know quite what to say about this week's mood, which is mainly a ripening of all the previous weeks' moods. Rumours fly about various happenings, from tempers flaring in posture clinics to who's having it off with whom, and where, and when. I think it's fatal to take any of them even slightly seriously. And when I hear anyone grousing about Himself's idiosyncrasies, I keep schtum. After all, the man came from a fairly humble background compared to the lifestyle standard in the U.S. He created not so much a yoga kingdom as an empire. Is it any surprise that he sometimes acts imperially? I think it would be stranger if he didn't behave autocratically from time to time. And while he does shout at people in his yoga classes, he is also surprisingly tender with us. I can't figure him out -- but I do know that I admire his business acumen and his limitless energy. I always will.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday re-Janed

As soon as I have permission, I'll post a picture of the man who changed my life. Ah. Here we go:

Bel Carpenter, a yogi whose presence in class is positive, mystic, and loving all at once. I left that class in awed humility, because . . . well, because I finally know what's been pushing me to become a Bikram yoga teacher. It's nothing earth-shaking, nothing all that surprising. It's just that to a brain like mine, a good brain but one that's prone to obsessing about the ultimately trivial, getting a simple, clear message is profound. Previously hopping and hooting around like the apes in "2001: A Space Odyssey," my brain has stopped mid-hoot and is staring, gape-mouthed, at the looming monolith: purpose.
Bel Carpenter, everyone I've met, everyone whose intelligence and spirit has left a mark, friends, enemies, all: thank you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Posture Clinic, the Envy Generator.

Yes, I know we're all different down here in Yogaland. We have different strengths and challenges, varied experiences and desires. But hell, it's Week 6, so to phooey with acceptance. I've watched over the last month as fellow students in the posture clinics get really fun homework. Deliver your next dialogue like a Valley Girl. Sing your dialogue. Talk like a gangster. Teach students while performing the Triangle Pose.
Then there's my usual evaluation: keep looking at the bodies, and energy energy ENERGY dialogue. Sometimes I get extras, such as "Use your gifts," by which they mean my public speaking voice. But tonight the wonderful Pete F. got the assignment to deliver the Locust pose like an overstimulated kid talking to Santa Claus. My roomie, Jayna, wrote a hip-hop version of Wind Removing Pose that made her a star. And again I get to focus on the students, energy energy energy work on the energy crescendo, energy energy energy ARGH.
I *knew* this would be a workshop for the ego, and I was right. Evaluations can make people cry, after all, and some fret that they aren't being given the same comments by the judges panel. Answer: Because, as we know, good judges know to evaluate people, not postures.
But I do a not-bad Valley Girl! I could possibly be funny. I could also be self-obsessed, meaning that I just wish I could be as brilliant as certain classmates.
I could also be late for bed. G'night, yogi pals.

‘Cause He’s a Woo Man, Naturally

Monday and Tuesday lectures were given by a man named Jon Burras, who while admitting that he had no medical credentials, proceeded to take six hours to share his world views with us. I walked into the lecture tent ready to hear a person who might not have been as intelligent and funny as Dr. Preddy, or as well-read and precise as Dr. Das, but still, someone whose perspective would be interesting, at least.
I noticed that the stage was filled with all sorts of rudimentary props, including a miniature skeleton. Then I read the topics on the board: “Fascia and Yoga,” and “Emotional Anatomy.” A flag went up in the head: Uh-oh, I think we’re in for some old-fashioned woo.
What’s woo? Well, to a medical professional, woo is the collective term for quackery, some of which includes homeopathic tinctures of 2-parts-per-million birchbark to water, reiki energy alignments, ear candling, etc. To a psychiatrist, woo might include seances and telepathy. Usually woo is harmless, and as a therapeutic tool it is most often used to remove excess money from one’s wallet or bank account.
About two minutes into the lecture, my brain began to splutter with disbelief, while rage slowly built over having paid, in effect, good money to hear this man spout a load of triple-distilled bullshit with the attitude of “I’m just giving you new perspective, just trying to open your mind.”
Ooh, my open mind. Once again I reminded myself that having an open mind means being open to hearing about stuff that may drive me crazy. I don’t have to agree with it, but neither should I close my mind to it -- that’s how minds get small. Accordingly, I stayed in my seat and took notes, all the while desperately wishing that Dr. Preddy could suddenly materialize and flatten Mr. Burras in a sentence or two.
Herewith are some examples of Burras’s self-directed learning:
”Embryo organs know where to go because of the fascia.”
”Fascia has the ability to transfer energy through the body, life force energy, energetic energy.”
”Bones float in a sea of fascia.”
”Bones are connective tissue.” [Editor's note: I put this here because Burras, that bozo, didn't explain that bones are a specialized form of connective tissue, in that it's the only kind where the outer layer gets calcified. No, he just left people thinking that bones were like ligaments, the schmo. Thanks to Niecia for pointing out that some clarification was needed here.]
”Gravity has no place in keeping an object on the ground.”
”You see a person who’s ridden horses all their life? Their leg bones are bowed.”
”We wear diapers as babies, but we don’t wear diapers anymore because we’ve changed our belief systems.”
”The arteries flow through the muscles.”
”Capillary walls are partly connective tissue.”
”When fascia dry out, the bones stop getting nutrients.”

Woo, Day Two: Burras enlightened us with his speech on emotional anatomy, a term I liked almost as much as “energetic energy.” Speakers of this sort tend to polarize an audience, and Burras was no different. People were either hanging on every word, or insulted at being made to sit through such a lecture. Here are a few gems from the world of gross emotional anatomy:
”Emotion means ‘energy in motion’.”
”Drugs don’t cure diseases, they only suppress symptoms.”
”Western medicine sees yoga as exercise only.”
”The Western system doesn’t want you to be well, it wants you to be a customer.”
”If I had late-stage cancer, I’d ask myself, ‘Why the hell did I create this’?”
”Fitness is just training for war.”

His comments were interspersed with specially selected facts and anecdotes, the latter of which included one about cognitive cardiac tissue. Yes, really. A friend of a friend had a heart transplant and somehow knew all about the donor. Wooooooooo....creeeeepy. People who have cancer have created it for themselves. People develop their emotions at the moment of conception.
I was pleased to see that some people were either outraged enough or disbelieving enough to challenge several of Burras’s statements. I was not, alas, surprised to see that whenever he was questioned by someone whose brain stem was attached, like one of the doctors in the house, he would quickly and clumsily change the subject or revert to “Well, you’re obviously an exception to the rule” retorts. He’d tell people he’d get back to them, then never did. So what did I learn, if anything?
At my most charitable, which admittedly is not much, I can say that Burras’s lecture was a simple thread in the Bikram tapestry, and that the lecturers so far have represented a spectrum from the rational to the ridiculous, from facts to fairy tales. I’m still amazed, personally, that Himself would want such hoohah to be part of his teacher training programme, but then I’ve said before that I cannot figure Himself out, let alone his motivations. At any rate, it’s given people a lot to talk about.
Quick Yoga Update: Oh! What luck, what riches! Tuesday morning’s class featured the legendary John Salvatore, a man originally from NY who now teaches in Las Vegas (and apparently takes part in various musicals, too). The class was absolutely wonderful, filled with humour and energy. At the end the students burst in a sustained ovation, which sprang to life again when we saw Mr. Salvatore at the start of the afternoon lecture. Then, oh joy! My study group and one other had him as an evaluator for our posture clinic. It’s so refreshing to be around someone who is so unapologetically himself, so kind, and so deadly funny. I felt emboldened enough to ask if I could share my favourite knock-knock joke with the class, to which he willingly agreed, and then hooted with laughter. There were three other evaluators in our clinic that night, and we were all swept along on Salvatore’s waves of enthusiasm. Greatness in yoga! Such greatness.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Delayed Week 5 roundup

I'll keep it as short as I can.
Lots of experienced teachers have told me, "Oh, yeah, Week 5" when they hear about odd behaviour. It's a Teacher Training cliche, and it's also true. In this past week, I:
- told another student to get her f***ing hands off my feet during class (yeah, but! She wasn't just touching my toes during sit-ups, she was PRESSING DOWN ON THEM, for God's sake);
- lost the use of both hip sockets and had to hobble around like a WWI veteran;
- got lost trying to get back to my room three times in one day;
- experienced another Week 5 Classic: My Practice Has Gone to Hell, as in it's terrible, and I'm currently sitting out four of the 26 postures
- that weight I lost in the first two weeks? Yeah, half of it's back. Thank you, Week 5!
- glowered at long-suffering friends who were just trying to help me unsnag my brain during dialogue rehearsal;
- cried in class when the woman beside me sang a Bob Marley song --
Oh, well. Week Six is also supposed to be higher stress than usual, but since so far I've avoided fistfights with those who vex me, or being kicked in the teeth by those who have every right to do so, I'll hope that this week sees me not only surviving, but serene.

If Town & Country Resort were a person,

I would punch it in the face -- hey. Hey, little old yogini, wherefore are you letting fools steal your peace? ("Nobody steal your peace. You give it to them, idiot!" --Himself, October 22/10.) It's more like fools are stealing my VISA and wifi. Short version: no wifi, why? Credit card declined. What? I cleared that card a little over a week ago and have used it twice for small things. Bank: well, then, who's been charging up hundreds of dollars daily to your card? Me: that's one damn good question. Bank: Oh, it's your hotel. Me: Huh? Hotel: We don't have any record of that, oh, wait, it's a software glitch. Me (expecting profuse apology): So how about reversing those hundreds of dollars of unexplained charges? Hotel (offering not so much as an "oops"): Uh, okay, but this will probably happen again until our I/T guys fix the software problem.
All very boring, sorry. And looks like "it's a software glitch" wins the "Dog Ate My Homework" excuse contest.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Recertified in CPR today, and boy are my arms tired. The first time I certified in CPR, back in the dim times, the Resusci-Anne was a full-bodied dummy, complete with a tickertape print-out to show how consistently you were performing chest compressions. The new CPR is much more a la carte -- the dummies have heads and torsos only, no plastic hair, no computerized anything. What else has changed? Well, we no longer check for a pulse, for one. The mouth dams, for another. The Heimlich's still pretty much the same, though. It took two hours and three stations to recertify in CPR-basic. Really, really basic. But still! Are you choking? I know CPR! A bit!
Yoga 100 Things To Do Before Permanent Savasana List: I started keeping a mental tally of the teachers whose classes I would love to take after training. The Fabulous Five, of course, goes without saying. But to them I add Peter F. from New York, Fed from London (I'll just join the long line of Fed-heads for that one), Elwin from Amsterdam, Brian from Los Angeles, Brandy from Kentucky, Katie from New York, Cristina from Mexico City, Elaine from Australia, Susan from San Diego . . . and the list goes on!
Character du Jour: Ms. Bucket. This woman was given the title "Bucket" by Bettina, who was a fan of the TV series, "Keeping up Appearances." In that show, the lead character Hyacinthe was forever correcting people who pronounced her last name "Bucket" instead of "Bouquet." Here, our Bucket has a most regular name, which for privacy's sake we'll say is "Kate," and evaluators and teachers are always pronouncing it exactly as it's spelled. Each time this happens, it's followed by a loud and annoyed "Uh, that's KHAW-TAY" from the student. She really needs to take a page out of my new friend Ayse's book. Ayse (Ai-shah) gets her name mispronounced every time, too, but she realizes she is a Turkish woman in the United States, so just smiles and quietly gives the correct pronunciation. Sorry 'bout that, Bucket.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Super Canuck!

Scenario: two women in Housekeeping are cleaning a guestroom. Suddenly a strange man bursts into the room, runs past them, grabs a laptop computer from the desk, and belts out of the room again. He runs through the parking lot, goes past the yoga tent, and just happens to run by . . . BA DUM BA DUM BA DUM . . . Chuck the Canuck!
Chuck is a tall, quiet man from the British Columbia interior (the garden city of Kelowna, to be exact). Despite his height, he does not call attention to himself, which to those of us sort of wary about the wilder British Columbia elements down here, is a welcome relief. Anyway, let's switch to the robber's point of view. There you are, having copped a laptop, making your getaway across the parking lot, when a six-foot-five-inch, lean and muscled man wearing only a pair of yoga trunks drops his mat and runs after you, barefoot. Now what the hell to do? Run to the silly fashion mall, yes? Tsch tsch tsch . . . you're just making Chuck's job easier.
Anyway, although Dom (who told us this story at last night's lecture) could not recommend Chuck's choices, he didn't hesitate to tell us the outcome: Chuck caught up with the robber, who dropped the laptop, and told Chuck he had a gun. Chuck said, in laconic Kelowna tones, "Yeah? Well, I've got the laptop." End of story, except for Dom reminding us that while there may not be too many guns in Canada, there are *many* guns in the USA, not only that, but Mexico's not too far away, either. Of course, the cheers for Chuck in the lecture tent kind of drowned out his closing remarks. Bottom line: DON'T F*CK WITH CHUCK THE CANUCK.

Thumbs up

Saw another Bollywood feature last night starring everyone's favourite polydactylic hero, Hrithik Roshan. More superhero skills and last-moment intervention, more dancing, but no Canadian backlots this time. The movie was preceded by Himself answering questions for a couple of hours, and (of course) one of the questioners wanted to know why it was that whenever she did the Camel pose, she had an orgasm. This (the Camelgasm) is one of the story wisps that float through the lecture tents and posture clinics. Apparently some women's lumbar nerves really, really like being compressed and pass it on down the line. It gives the Bikram quote "with your happy, smiling face" a new meaning, I guess.
Yesterday morning's class was helmed by Ulysses, a Mexican studio owner, who cheerfully delivered the dialogue in equal parts English and Spanish. I would have loved to hear the whole class in Spanish, although to be honest I only caught a word here and there, but! I love love LOVE to hear that Spanish.
Afternoon posture clinic saw a lot of people in my study group realizing, uh-oh, we're going to have to present Tree Pose and Toe Stand today, aren't we? Luckily a few of our stars got up and showed the way, including Jana, Chrissy and Bettina (three of the Fabulous Five). Another brilliant moment came when Brian (from the other study group we worked with) delivered his dialogue in Soprano-like tones and cadence. I had to cover my mouth to keep from honking with laughter.
Me? I treed and toed with F*ck-I'm-Tired carelessness, and goofed around a little too much even for me, so much so that I apologized to the evaluators afterwards. If I'm not careful, I'll be the Fozzie Bear of yoginis. In other words, just about the last thing a busy studio needs.
I think I'm going to have to call Week Five "Crabby Batface Week," since I was not the happy, sunny old yoga student. Short on sleep and patience, that's been me. Still! I did order a typewriter key bracelet with the initials of the Buddhist threefer on it ("Kind? True? Necessary?), so I hope this reminder will make Week 6 and all the rest of the weeks I've got in life that much smoother.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kol Mi Irresponsible

Last night the Bollywood feature was like West Side Story, E.T., and Forrest Gump rolled into one. It was called Something Something Something (dang slow Internet connection . . . wait . . . Kol Mi Gaya! How *could* I forget?) -- anyway. It had our favourite hero in it, Hrithik Roshan, whose eyes are ridiculously beautiful, but what I really loved was that most of the exterior shots were filmed in Banff and Canmore, Alberta. My old stomping grounds! It was a little confusing when the background would change from Canada to Nainital, India (thanks, IMDB) in a single scene, but entertaining. Hello again, Three Sisters mountain! Hello, Silvertip Golf Course, betch've never had Bollywood choreography on your ninth fairway before or since. Oh, and while it's not related to location, I can also say I've never before seen a high-speed getaway that involved a bunch of kids on scooters, feet slapping away at the pavement.
It may be a sign of progress: Himself addresses us now as "You teachers" when he conducts the evening class. Of course, he then goes on to call some of us idiots and dumbfux, but teachers nonetheless. I'm finding it still a bit hard to envision myself delivering all 26 postures in 90 minutes to people who'll actually follow along. Perhaps this is a good sign of modesty, something I could definitely use.
Quick shout out to Juliana and Cira: you make the Internet even more fun, if that's possible. Great to meet you both.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What it Isn't

Okay, just so you all know I know, the ending dialogue for Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee is *not* "Well . . . you -- you all look pretty good, so come on up." Fun, but not precise. I'd blame it on sleep deprivation, but since everybody else was similarly deprived and yet managed to get through the lines without trouble, I think I have to fall back on the standard, Stoopidity.
All I want for Christmas: all I want is to have Dom (salaam!) show up to wherever I am, and calmly intone, "Tonight . . . FREE." Oh, and socks.
Halfway Wednesday? You're serious? I already know this is a one-of-a-kind experience, and I'm definitely going to miss most of these people desperately. I don't even want to think about saying goodbye to them. Are you sure about the halfway thing? Didn't I mention I gooned last night's clinic? Could I be kept in detention for another month or so with all 373 of my new friends?
Then again, I *do* miss my horribule dogs quite badly, as befits a middle-aged single lady on Vancouver Island stereotype. Okay, then, all 373 of you have to come back to the hobby farm with me, that's all. Come and milk a goat or two while rehearsing your dialogue!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sanskrit for "You are Toast"

Ohhh....watching Mahabharat until 3:45 a.m. This followed the lecture from Himself, which followed the final exam in Anatomy. I passed the exam (though I seriously beefed about five answers, I think). Took some fairly garbled notes during the lecture, which is what happens when I sleep-write. For the discussion on Karma Yoga, one of my trailing-off sentences reads "Service is a duty which is thrilling! People cannot see."
On the Cranky but Evolving front: I may never be able to evoke much compassion for fidgeters, especially when they're sitting beside me and continually bumping me with various appendages. And when they have a fairly casual relationship with hygiene, my compassion absolutely plummets. Wash them duds, dude. The old clothes along with the smell of unwashed scalp, along with biffing me every few seconds? Not the most friend-winning of setups.
Never said these words before in my life: "Krishna is a babe." Well, the actor playing him was, anyway.
Oh, delivered Triangle Posture yesterday and had yet again an almost indecent amount of fun. My evaluation was to sell the posture from the get-go (I interpreted the "energy crescendo" literally and started with a measured tone and pace).
Two hours of sleep and a bit. Class in an hour and change. I'd complain, except parents and doctors and cops, etc., put up with this sleep deprivation all the time. By comparison, I'm laughing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Checking in . . .

Week Five is about to commence. What to remember going in? That this experience, like all life-changing experiences, has the capability to bring out the best and worst in my character. Luckily the best is in the lead, but I can't forget that the worst is still galumphing on steadily, looking for an opportunity.
Fact: There are many, many characters at teacher training, enough to fill a library or two of novels. Fact: talking/blogging about the more colourful characters is fun and addictive. Fact: My mean side *loves* this addiction. Decision: keep that mean side on the leash, toots. Never forget that most essential of life rules: "Be kinder than necessary, because everyone is fighting his own inner battle." (Note to touchy readers: In this instance, "his" includes "her," mainly because I'm too goddamned annoyed by having to type "his/her" every single time to keep PC cops happy.)
Such a great weekend: Chores and enriching chats with the Fantastic Five (Bettina, Jayna, Jana, Heather, Chrissy), Farmers Market on Sunday where Oh! My! God! the fruit! the veg! the handmade "joolery"! the raw food! So much for discipline: I already know I'm going to have to buy that bracelet made from vintage typewriter keys. I've seen lots of similar bits before, but this one . . . ohhhhhh. Jane must have. Also: locked that Triangle dialogue! Kicked Anatomy's ischial tuberosities! Ate another "slow learner" taco (that'd be a squid who waited too late to learn what a net looked like).
Hello, Week Five, and welcome back to Himself. THIS LIFE IS GRAND.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Yer Friday Roundup, Again

Musical Friday: Not just the singing of a Beatles anthem in the morning after Nikki's class, but! Nearly 400 people shaking their toned bums to Michael Jackson after Dom's evening class. Even I, Flappy, shook a batwing or two. A quick tug of the forelock to you, Dom (a move I call the 'Dom Salaam'), and thanks.
After the class/dance club, I was walking to the hot tub behind two other students. One said, quite sourly, "Well, if people have enough energy to dance, clearly they're not working hard enough in class." Not so! We've been told from the get-go that the yoga gives you energy. I can't count the number of times I've come out of class with a tornado of energy, home and here. Perhaps the sour yogi just didn't like the Jackson music.
It was the Bettina's birthday last week, and her roomie Jana and I took her out for dinner. A few weeks into this training, our bodies have started to send the message "PROTEIN OH MY GOD WE NEED PROTEIN." So there I was, sitting with two elegant, urbane European ladies, one of whom had ordered ribs, the other a pulled pork sandwich. Eventually our food was delivered. I tucked into my squid burrito (dang tasty), and looked up to see a scene from a wildlife documentary: both refined ladies had Joker-like grins of barbecue sauce, their eyes and hands firmly fixed on their entrees. Meat! Meat good.
Doc go home, Jane go 'waaaaahhhh': Friday night was the last anatomy lecture from Dr. Preddy, whose medical skills are serendipitous, i.e., after sending an audience into convulsions of laughter, he knows what antispaz to administer and how to unkink fatigued muscles. Banner work. I miss him already.
It's not all peace and love: never underestimate the territoriality of yer average yogi where mat placement is concerned. If you come into the yoga tent seconds before class begins, and hope to get a 50-strong line of yogis to make room for you, dream on, son. If you make a fuss about the 50 yogis not hopping to do your bidding, be very glad that Dr. Preddy is an emergency physician and knows how to relocate your major arm and leg joints. HONESTLY.
This past week my study group delivered Standing Head to Knee, Balancing Stick, and Standing Separate Leg Stretching, and if you want to know the human equivalent of electricity, you should see Bettina on the podium. She starts off calmly and methodically, and then *ZAP* she's a crackling Bikram synapse, words streaming effortless, energy resonating throughout the room. The demonstrators, who are used to doing the postures slower than usual to accommodate the student teachers, are instantly adrenalized and on cue. Damn fine to see.
And now to the weekend, where I absolutely intend to learn the dialogue for three more postures, get my laundry and shopping done, and investigate more San Diego wonders. Yeah. Place your bets now.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Life moment

At the end of the class, nearly 400 sweaty yogis, flat on their backs in the steamy tent, sing "All You Need is Love," at the top of their voices, clapping along to the beat. Beautiful. Memorable. One of those rare "Ah!" moments in life. Damn, but I'm lucky.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Yoga Ate My Homework

I would have delivered the Standing Separate Leg dialogue today, really I would have. Except for that thing, you know, that thing where I didn't exactly have it memorized? And didn't do the homework I was assigned? Yeah. That thing.

Possibly a little off-colour

Let me introduce you to another character at Teacher Training in San Diego: Cock Man. Yeah, there's no point trying to airbrush that one, so out with it, Janey. Cock Man is an older fellow who wears not so much a pair of yoga shorts as, well, a pouch. Cock Man came here with his wife, but flirts incessantly with the younger women. He was also the one who, during a Triangle Posture lesson taught by Emmy Cleaves, took his street pants off and performed in his here-are-my-balls tight undies. At no time have I been more tempted to yell "Put it on! PUT IT ON!" instead of the opposite.
Okay, so it's not Cock Man's anatomy that I object to, but rather his smirky attitude towards his endowments. Like there's something naughty about being around a bunch of people in skimpy britches. He is also the definition of lecherous older male, and he'd better be careful about his playful touches -- oh, just tickling your toes there! Just tickling your tummy! -- because I tell yez, pal, some of these women will rip that thing off and beat you to death with the wet end if you get fresh.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The karma bone's connected to the ---

WELL. Karma was delivered today in the form of a senior Bikram instructor from Boston, the same one whose clinic Bettina, Catherine and I attended a month ago on the island. It was a great joy to see her again, and to hear her evaluations during our posture clinic. I had mentioned previously that a woman in my study group had avoided delivering the full Awkward pose that everyone else delivered, which irritated me greatly at the time. However, I decided I didn't want to get the Yoga Cop label, so shut the hell up. Today this woman had to deliver Standing Head to Knee, which was one colossal botch from the first sentence. The Boston instructor cut her short, dismissed the demonstrators, and commanded the woman to perform the posture while speaking the text. "Yeah, buts" and "If I could justs" were waved off brusquely. "DO IT," was the command.
It was disastrous, but the instructor took no pity on the woman. Her assignment was to learn the dialogue kinesthetically -- while walking or while holding the posture.
What set the instructor off from other yogis was that she assured the woman that she would make a fine teacher once she accepted that she was going to have to deliver the dialogue verbatim. I don't know if I could have summoned the same kindness in her place. Still a good ways off from enlightenment, me.
And a bit of a ways off from a perfect test score in Anatomy. The 30 questions were perfectly straightforward and had been fully covered in the Study Guide. But still: I flopped on an easy bone marrow question. I'm fairly sure I passed the 70% mark, though. Will this be enough to endear me to the heart of Dr. Preddy? I asked no show-offy questions tonight, although I was greatly tempted by the epiglottis review. No matter -- I'll admire from afar. Doc, you're aces.

Best response so far

"Wow! You guys have Thanksgiving?" uttered in a velvety Southern accent. Yes. Yes, we have Thanksgiving up there in Canada, although no, we did not have the Pilgrims or the Mayflower. Ours is earlier because our harvest tends to be a bit earlier. I'm personally giving thanks that you were blessed with such a mellifluous voice. I wonder if I could record you reciting the dialogue for the next 20 or so postures? I would never stop listening to that.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dammit dammit dammit AGAIN

What is the point of taking all this Emergen-C if I still get waylaid by the Yoga Cold? True, it consists of only a very sore throat and somewhat vexed sinuses, but honestly, I've been eating healthier than ever before in my long life. I should have enough defenses to ward off a nuclear bomb.
Mind you, I do practice strenuous yoga for three hours a day in the equivalent of a 10,000 square-foot Petri dish. I guess it's a virus's happiest place on earth. All right, then. I've whined enough. Bring on Week Four!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Social brains are delicious

In Friday's anatomy lecture, Dr. Preddy took us through the nervous system and said, during the discussion on brains, that the more social the animal, the bigger the brain, usually. Then he entertained us with a story about a wily octopus in a marine research lab who had learned how to unlatch the lid on his tank, crawl out, slither across the floor, climb up one of the aquariums holding fish, and eat his fill. Then he'd climb out of that aquarium, slither back to his tank, get back in and RELATCH the cover. The lab technicians finally installed a web cam or two over the tanks (in addition to the cameras they had at the laboratory entrance), and that's how the octopus was busted.
A fascinating story. I have to add, however, that at The Taste of Thai restaurant tonight, in a sumptuous green curry sauce, what I ate was obviously a slow learner.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Yer Friday roundup

1. Got that dialogue locked? Yes? You're sure? You've said it at least 30 times today without a hitch, is that right? Okay, go ahead.'ve coughed and died in the second paragraph. NICE FRICKIN' WORK, FLAPPY.
2. You are not the boss of karma. So someone in your study group has gotten away without delivering Awkward Pts. 2 and 3. Let it go, or risk being stressed for the next six weeks and change.
3. Bettina, Heather, Jayna, Jana, Chrissy: these are the friends who have made the week survivable. Bless them all.
4. Practice clinic tonight featured four Vancouver Island girlies. I've said it before: resistance is futile!
5. Blast from the past: I played a round of Keener Bingo in this afternoon's anatomy clinic, but only got up to "BING!" Alas, so close. . .
6. Had a quick run to one of the resort cafes this morning, and was surprised to learn that actor Ed Harris was only a few feet away (alas, on the other side of a window from where I was). Dunno what he's doing here, but still: cool.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

O My Province, Be Not So . . .

Turns out British Columbia is getting the reputation for producing yappy oddballs here at Teacher Training. Dom was taking us through his updates before the afternoon lecture. A rather enterprising colony of small, biting ants has chosen the yoga tent as their new digs, so to speak, and Dom was letting us know that exterminators had been called for a consultation. Well, as you might expect, the word "exterminators" caused a stir. Uniquely voiced Candace asked why it was necessary to kill fellow creatures, whereupon Dom (whom I am close to worshipping) advised her to collect her pet ants and get them out of the tent, because if they were still there in the morning, the executioners were on their way. Huge laughs. Subject closed, right?
Not so. A BC student raised her hand and asked just what kind of substances the exterminators would use -- Dom raised his hand to stop her. "We're aware of the health issues. Whatever the guys are going to use to kill the ants, it'll be safe for humans." Now were we done? Not quite.
Another BC student, male this time, had a question. But first a preface. "How would you like it if you went to your friend's house for dinner and they served you your pet dog with an apple in his mouth?" Dom's expression, at first patient, became incredulous. "Sorry, what are you asking?" he said. BC Boy went on: "I'm concerned about people bringing Kleenex into the tent. Kleenex is -- I'm from British Columbia and our forests are being torn down to be made into disposable Kleenex, and --"
Dom had had enough. "No," he said. "Just -- no. We're not going to go there. Here's Doctor Jim." And off he went, and on came the Doc, to loud, relieved applause. Dr. Jim kindly explained to the ant-huggers in the audience that the extermination methods used abrasion and dehydration to give the ants a gentle farewell. Save your breath, Doc. Sigh.
From the oddball who can't remember any dialogue to the constant questions to the Ban Kleenexers, I tell you, British Columbia is not going to be a first-choice destination for many new Bikram yogis. I repeat: we're not all like that. Really.

Fuck you, psoas muscles.

Fuck you both to death. I just learned how to stretch your sorry fibres, so you can forget about making me limp about this resort, howling. Mad props to Dr. Preddy for the how-to.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Always wanted to know

Tonight I decided, hey, you three in the crowd are not the only ones who can pepper Dr. Preddy with your questions. [Pepper Doctor! Har.] Accordingly, I stood up and asked, during the discussion on the muscles of respiration, why we held our breath to get rid of the hiccups. Did the buildup of CO2 and the resultant higher blood acidity have some effect on the spasming diaphragm? Dr. Preddy: No idea. But! Taking a huge lungful of air stretches the diaphragm, which can bring it out of spasm. And actually, completely exhaling is even better for restoring diaphragmmatic normalcy. Or something like that. Anyway: go geek or go home is what I, anatomy nerd, command.

Eagle: owned

Delivered "Eagle AKA Garurasana" posture today and had *way* too much fun in the process. Is there such a thing, you may ask? Well, while some students may acquire the reputation of being perfectionists, other of being slackers, I may just be the one who can't stop grinning, and I suppose some people may find that contrived and boring after the 15th or 16th posture clinic. Perhaps it comes from being in Toastgeeks for the past couple of years: when I corpse in front of an audience these days, I tend to let out a loud cackle and shout "Rewind! Let's try that again!" What's wonderful is how quickly the nerves vanish, even if (as I did yesterday), I sputter and flail about for words. Also, it may be a small subset, but perhaps there's an opening for middle-aged court jesters in the Victoria area studios. Worth a shot, no?

Again with the luck

I love anatomy. I love the study of anatomy so much that yes, I want to marry it. There's something about having to memorize names and functions of myriad bones and bits that makes the Know-it-All brain very happy indeed. If Trivial Pursuit ever comes up with an Anatomy/Physiology version, I'll plotz from glee.
It gets better: our anatomy lectures are presented by Dr. Jim Preddy, a man with way too many letters after his name, and he is a very funny, very practical instructor. "Put your pens down. I'll tell you when you need to know something. No, really: put them down." I've also never had anatomy lessons from a former varsity cheerleader. These lectures have been almost too much fun, and I'd better remember to spend a few minutes with the study guides before the first test on Monday. Such luck! Pity my seatmates for the next week or so, will you? "Will she never stop chirping out the answers?" Nope. She won't.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Three shall be the number of the counting . . .

Several fellow yogis have agreed that there are three things that ensure a longer life: the ability to sleep, to cry, and to shit. I'm happy to announce that I have absolutely no problem crying in the yoga tent, although the resulting stuffy nose makes the breathing a tad difficult. Last night I brimmed over when Rajashree [Mrs. Himself] recited the poem The Invitation during final savasana. Tonight my S/I joints, hip flexors and I/T bands staged a wildcat strike: I tried, really I did, to hold Full Locust pose, but had to give it up.
I won't go into too much detail about the other two life abilities, except to say that I do neither in the yoga tent, I promise.
You know what's worse than the physical pain of the pelvic girdle and its pals? The blow to the ego: I, Jane, cannot tax the old carcass the way I used to. That's really why I cried, truth to tell.
Delivered "Awkward" dialogue to a bench of three strict, serious men. I was tired and blah blah blah, dropped a couple of lines, had a couple of splutters, but still got through all three parts of the posture. Then I had to demonstrate the posture three times in a row: no wonder the hips were howling.
The lead judge, David, was someone I could probably get to like quite a lot, even though I found him quite authoritarian and hard to warm up to. Still, he and the other judges gave excellent tips on what to do if you cough and die during an actual class. "You may not remember the words, but you remember the posture. Don't strand your students. Bring them home safely." My homework this time? Get even tighter on the memorization. Work on the energy crescendo. Yep, I admit it, I was tired today. But I met another batch of super people, the roommate seems to be recuperating, and a latte awaits. Life is still quite lovely.

I am a teacher

The four words above are what I proclaim in my head just before I recite dialogue in front of others at a posture clinic. It's a habit I picked up when I studied the Meisner Technique in Calgary at the Company of Rogues acting school. Of course, back then I didn't say I was a teacher. Just before going on I'd say to myself, confidently, "I *own* this stage." A lot of actors use the same approach, so why not yogi-wannabes?
So, okay, I didn't get a chance to teach in last night's posture clinic, as we were still finishing people's Half Moon dialogues. By the time we switched to Awkward, four extremely enthusiastic students were rarin' to go. The judges had said to do the first part of Awkward, but when the first student begged to be allowed to deliver all of it, they agreed. Then three more students followed suit. Cut to Bettina and me, sharing a "We're in for it, aren't we?" look. But all four Awkwarders were great. The bar has been set, by gar.
Small followup: the oddball from last week, who's from Vancouver, was in our clinic last night, and when she got up to present Half Moon Pts. 2 & 3, it was again clear that she had practically none of it memorized. [It occurred to me that she might have some sort of learning disability, and while it's still surprising that someone signed her recommendation letter, I actually found her less annoying and more to be pitied.]
One judge, who is a recent arrival here and didn't know about Vancouver's shenanigans onstage last week, patiently asked her what she was doing to memorize her dialogue. "Whatever you're doing, I'm afraid it's not working." She recommended that the student work with someone else to get the dialogue down pat, and (eek) called for a volunteer. Newfound compassion, Janey? The hell: if you could've seen the cartoon bubble above the heads of everyone in my vicinity, it would've read "NO WAY." After an uncomfortable pause, another student, an older man, put his hand up. Bless you, sir.
So! Today's clinic is in the afternoon, and I can and will kick Awkward's ass. I am a teacher. I AM A TEACHER.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Uh-oh . . .

The roomie has a cold. By the sound of it, many people in the yoga tent have turned into flexible snot-bombs. The illustrious roomie is quite ticked that some strange rhinovirus has hitched a ride. "If people would only take care of themselves . . . " honk honk sneeze. It is quite irritating for her, seeing as how she eats extremely well and is in great shape, taking vitamins and supplements, and yet is still ambushed. As a compassionate roommate, I'm going to run for the hills and start wearing a SARS mask.
Posture clinic in five minutes. More later.

All right, Week Three. I'm watching you.

The first class of the day is fewer than 90 minutes away. I'm currently enjoying a wheatgrass smoothie and a weaponized latte, to be followed by electrolytic water. I leave nothing to chance. Except for maybe the dialogue for Awkward Pose, which is stubbornly square-dancing with itself, the words doh-si-dohing around in my noggin.
Another who obviously leaves nothing to chance is the uber-friend, Bettina. She just showed up at the door, ready for class, at 7:08 a.m. She and her roommate were convinced that Daylight Savings Time ended at midnight. So not only over an hour early for class, but over a month early for Fall Back. Folks, that's organized.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


My recall of the three steps of Awkward Pose is, as we ladies say, a steaming five-coil stinker. Time to get over self, get out the notebook, and commence to scribbling.
Bottom Line, Week Two: I never thought I would make so many core friends in such a short time. I see a few people who are always texting and/or talking on their social condoms, as my old friend Pete Enman called 'em, and I wonder how or if they are making any friends. I also wonder if the out-of-towners know how jeezus-expensive texting is if you don't have a package deal set up. We're talking severe cash suck here.
Interestin' . . . According to the cheapo analog scale, we've dropped approx. 4.6 kg, or 10 pounds, in the last two weeks. I have it to lose, but others, well -- let's just say my roomie Jayna can already scratch her backbone from the front. Bring out the bread and gravy, stat!

The Buddhist Tripod

Three simple questions: "Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?" They have come in handy this week, as fatigue begins to grow and patience begins to dissolve. What has also come in extremely handy is having a savvy roommate who is not afraid to say, "You're not going to post *that,* are you?" I take a step back, drop my pride, and try to resume practising the other bits of Buddhist philosophy: loving kindness, compassion, and open understanding. I try to remember the three questions before I say something to someone who's getting up my nose.
Am I good at it? Debatable. Is it worth it? Undeniably yes.
I realize it's probably another middle-aged Vancouver Island stereotype, studying what the Buddha said, and frankly I think it's a philosophy, not a religion. I don't think old Bood thought he was a god. And to me, the spine of this philosophy is "Get Over Yourself." Quite handy when I'm tempted to snarl at yoga students who dare put their mats too close to mine. Or who get their feet in my face during floor postures. Or who, you know, breathe goddamned wrong when I'm in the same room. Assholes.
This has been your Why Am I Up So Early On Sunday? meditative moment.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Double the focus

Forgot to mention that I got Emmied and Bikkied consecutively at the end of the week. Emmy Cleaves, the legend, was teaching morning class, roaming behind the students as she tends to do. When I was going into Standing Head to Knee, I was concentrating on locking my chump left knee when suddenly I felt a bony finger poking my chump left thigh. "Contract that muscle! No! Contract it! You have to tighten the thigh muscle. Why aren't you pulling up that thigh muscle?" She moved on to another student and left me to my frustration. It's not that I can't contract the thigh, it's that I haven't found a balance between my normally hyperextended knee, and a solid concrete lamppost you have no knee IDIOT lock that f*cking knee!
The afternoon's lecture had Himself chatting about the connection between yoga and the body. I think. Truth to tell, I was deadly tired and kept doing major head bobs. Too bad I decided to sit in the front row. Too bad my bobbing head caught Himself's eye. Bettina had been gently nudging me, and she leaned in to whisper, "He's looking at you. He's looking at you, sit up!" Instead of ripping my lungs out through my chest wall, Himself said to my other neighbour, in kindly tones, "You catch her head if she falls. We need her head." I snorted to consciousness and saw him smiling quite warmly in my direction. I flushed red and looked sheepish enough, which was exactly how I felt.
The exhaustion wasn't the only reason I couldn't stay awake...I have the tiniest touch of *turista* at present, which always leaves me physically hollowed.
They saw me coming:Today I did a little shopping at Whole Earth, which I am sure is the corporate short form for "Holy Crap, I think these groceries are the most expensive on Earth." No, okay, Victoria's prices are still a bit higher. And they have nowhere near the same selection. I still have yet to try any of the restaurants at this resort because I can cook (albeit inventively with only a couple of small appliances) in my room.
Physical update: I believe my bum is about to get a petition started to force me to get a pillow to sit on in lectures, as well as declare October 4-10 as Be Kind to Your Behind week. Oh, the aching hip sockets. Oh oh oh.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My horsey is better

In case that sounds like I'm describing part of my anatomy in baby talk, I'll just say that my horse, the spotted gent Diego, gashed one of his legs last week and developed an infection. The unstoppable pal, Nik, got the vet in and has been the equine nursemaid ever since. She wrote this morning to say that Diego's wound is granulating nicely and that he's healing fast.
In other news, my ass thinks we've died and gone to hell. Oh, my aching bumcheeks.

The gauntlet has been dropped

During last night's intro/scold with Dom (whom we adore), he told a short and silly joke: Why do French people make omelettes with only one egg? Because one is un oeuf. Next, a student modified the Zen Master joke to a TT joke: what did the Bikram yogi say to the hot dog vendor? Make me one with everything.
That sparked an idea: coming up with Bikram versions of classic jokes such as the Lightbulb and Knock-knocks. My first attempt: How many Bikram yogis does it take to change a lightbulb? A: IDIOT! Thomas Edison was student of mine! He learn Lightbulb from ME!
Yeah. Like Tree Pose, I'll keep at it.

My question to Emmy

I meant to post this yesterday, but AT&T was acting like a toddler being offered a spoonful of pureed brussels sprouts. Anyhow: Emmy Cleaves has twice talked about my most challenging asana, the Tree Pose. She says the Big Three of Bikram Yoga success are Tree Pose, working with Intensity, and working with precision. Dammit. Yesterday Emmy said that if you can't hold Tree Pose, don't bother taking the Advanced Bikram classes, since many of the asanas are based on the Lotus pose (which, like the Tree, relies on one foot being placed on the upper thigh of the other leg). Dammit again. I stood up and asked her what those of us with rather primitive Tree Poses should do. In matter-of-fact Latvian tones, Emmy said, "Well . . . keep at it, you know."
In the following class with Himself, I made extra effort to bring my bent leg down during Tree. I still resemble a diving board when viewed from the side. But keep at it I shall, and I must say I'm relieved to know I can still teach this yoga without being an advanced yoga practitioner. Yet.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Owl, you should have bet money on it

A yogi from my home studio, the incredible Owl, had warned me about the Q&A sessions in Teacher Training lectures, that among the real questions there would be the inevitable "Talking to Hear the Sound of Their Own Voices" people. I think it's something about seminars that brings it out, personally. Owl added, "Oh, and you're going to get someone asking something silly like 'Why is it that everytime I do Camel Pose, I have an orgasm?' "
This time the question was about Eagle Pose, but the asker was a woman who wanted to know if it got you randy or if it was more about stimulating the reproductive system. My god, but Emmy Cleaves is a patient woman. Anyway, Owl: you were right. At least it wasn't a Q&A at 3 a.m.!

Dammit dammit dammit

I left my new cardigan in the lecture tent tonight. Bettina was obviously distracted.
Oh, yeah: We broke into our study groups tonight to deliver more bits of dialogue. I charged up fairly early and was (alas, predictably) told not to perform for the class, and also to slow down. Bettina was convinced she'd screwed up since she'd had a couple of stutters in her presentation, but she's typically too hard on herself. The judges (three women, one of whom is a former world yoga champ), were very positive about people's work, even when it was clear the trainee didn't have the dialogue locked. Early days, chums. Early days.
BUT: I most certainly do not advise the strategy of one classmate, who announced that she was going to read the dialogue this time, and had her book in her hand. Um, that'd be one big goddamned "no." Also? Don't argue with the judges who've told you that you have to recite the dialogue from memory. And would you mind not wasting our fricking time? Thanks.
Practice ended at midnight. Life is indeed good.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Note to Self

Must make some sort of remuneration, whether in cash banknotes or service, to the unbelievably patient Bettina. She joins the ranks of Friends Who Have Not Killed Me Yet, and in fact has taken on the unenviable role of Jane Keeper. Thanks to Bettina I haven't been late to class, lost my sandals, missed a turn in traffic, or forgotten to pick up towels on the way in to the hot tent. When Bettina says she'll come by at 8:00 to practice dialogue, you can set your watch by her. She's also blogging this teacher training phenomenon, as are many of my new friends. I must set up a side list of great yoga blogs. No doubt Bettina will remind me to get my ass in gear about this.
Rich in friends, getting richer by the day, that's been the biggest payoff of training so far. I know I growled about twits yesterday, but they are the rare exceptions in this community of outstanding human beings. Did I mention that I utterly lucked out in the roommate department? Jayna is from Washington, D.C., is erudite and extremely funny, and comes from a loving Greek family that showers her with care packages. That annoying clanging sound you're hearing? That'd be the horseshoes up my ass.

The afternoon of annoying females

That's "annoying" as an adjective, not a gerund. No matter. Yesterday saw the end of the Half Moon dialogue presentations. My friend John from Jersey (the island) was first up, and did fairly well. A couple of hours in, a woman came up and starting trying to whip the crowd up. "How we all doing?" "C'mon, people! Whoo!" -- that sort of thing. I muttered to Bettina, "For God's sake, GET ON WITH IT." On Monday afternoon a man and a woman had entertained us with a crowd participation game and an improvised rap song, respectively. I suppose the woman yesterday thought she should follow suit. Only problem was, Monday's impromptu entertainers could deliver their dialogue, whereas this twit didn't know more than the first two lines. I could have recited better than that on the first day I picked up the script.
A few irritatingly long minutes later, the crowd was restless and disbelieving: you've been hearing the same words over and over again for a week, and you can't get to the third sentence without help? Our mood was blackening by the second. I expect many of us were wondering whether Himself would hurl this bozo out of the room accompanied by some choice cusswords.
I have learned that I cannot predict a single thing that man will do. He put up with Bonehead's hemming and hawing for a few more minutes, then called for a script. "Here, read it." She did so; Himself advised her to learn the dialogue. That was about it. Mind you, we all had a good topic of conversation for the afternoon break. Oh, and to add a bit of insult to it all, the twit was not only Canadian, but a West Coaster. Umm . . . we're not all like that, everybody.
I must say that a couple of the women I found annoying yesterday will probably make pretty good teachers, even though it would take me some time to get used to their voices and cutesy mannerisms. But that's just me, Crabby Batface, who just wants you to stand up there and say the damn words like you mean 'em.
Victoria update: Andy presented her dialogue and was just fine, although I could see her rolling her eyes when she fluffed the occasional word. That's not a problem, Andy -- you're going to be the kind of teacher who, as Himself would say, "could teach a dead person in a coffin box to stand up and do Head to Knee."
The last presenter was utterly, utterly precious and impressed with herself, since Himself had given her his sweater as a gift last week. This benefaction apparently had her convinced that she was doing us a favour, standing onstage and asking Himself for advice on nervousness. Hmm . . . I must be more tired than I realize. I don't know whether she was all that annoying, or if I just found her phony and thus didn't like her. Well, can't like everybody, I suppose.
Himself had told us he would give us a lecture on tattoos, which he hates, but instead we had a montage of his TV appearances in America since the mid-1970s. A lovely surprise came when I saw the clip from the Dinah Shore Show from 1976 --the Bay City Rollers were on the same day as Himself. I remember cutting school to stay home and watch that show, and catching righteous hell from my parents as a result. This was well before VCRs were a regular household thing, so if you missed a show, too bad for you. And I was not going to miss a second of the superest cutest band in the whole universe. [Note: this attitude lasted until 1977, when I saw them in concert and realized they could neither sing nor play instruments.] To top this trip down memory lane, which I enjoyed immensely, Himself sent us to bed early (1:10 am).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Overheard at TT

"Last night's class was like doing yoga while being waterboarded." SO TRUE. But hey! We stayed with it, at least.

In which we faint and laugh

Week Two began with a class from the legendary Emmy Cleaves. There's some debate whether she's in her late 70s or late 80s, but no matter which, she is quite an amazing woman. She also delivered a lecture on pain later in the morning, which turned out to be fortuitously timed.
In the evening class, I noticed that the room temperature had risen at least 20 degrees, while the humidity went to eleven. My mantra has been "So far, so good," and I kept this up, hoping all the while that the hydrating I'd been doing during the afternoon would see me through. Not quite: during the second set of Triangle, I bent my knee, started to assume the position, and saw a curtain of black droplets lower in front of my eyes. Next: klump! on the mat. I dropped my head, grabbed my water bottle, swigged nice and long, and was back to full consciousness in a few seconds. I had to sit out a few repetitions throughout the rest of the class, but managed not to leave the room.
Afterwards I found out that at least a hundred students had left the room or been helped to leave during the hottest class so far. Himself, who was at the helm, wasn't very sympathetic, but I'd been warned to expect this. I, however, was feeling like I'd failed somehow. How was I going to survive the next class? The one after that?
In this mood I arrived at the evening lecture, where Himself was the speaker. I struggled to stay awake at first, with my valiant friend Jana telling me whenever a room monitor came by ("Jane! Stefan is looking at you") -- but only truly became alert when Himself asked if anybody knew when the first test-tube baby was born. Instantly my know-it-all, Trivial Pursuit champ brain was awake. "1978!" I hollered. "Where?" He asked. "London!" I said. He didn't even break stride: "No! IDIOT!" I immediately hooted with laughter, almost missing his explanation that the first test-tube baby was written about in the Upanishads or something equally ancient, and it was some god of gods mixing bits of one god with another to create a new one. Ah.
Back home by 2:00-ish a.m. Up at 6:00 a.m. exactly, as my body is convinced we're still on the farm. This time I'm blogging instead of shovelling poo, although I can hear some of my friends say that it's kind of hard to distinguish between the two when you're on the receiving end. Clowns.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another first

I never would have guessed that the word "Intermission" could make me cry.

How to describe . . . ?

How would I describe Himself? I'd say half shaman, half showman. And you never know from sentence to sentence which one is going to take the wheel. Very intriguing and dynamic personality, if not always so restful.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Danger: poetry ahead

Back in the summer, during the weekly poetry challenge I do with my housemate (and distinguished children's author), Nikki, she chose the format: a cinq-cinquain. This is a poem of five verses of five lines each, with varying syllables per line, like so: 2 syllables, 4, 6, 8, 2. Everybody clear so far? 2-4-6-8-2. I didn't know what the hell I could write about, so I went to yoga instead. The result is now being made available on the internet for the first time:
Cinq Cinquain
(by Sweaty Head Jane)

Sweat rolls,
Torrid rivers,
Cascading endlessly.
So hot in here my breath feels cold—

you lithe bastard,
Your yoga has me hooked.
I sweat, well, superlatively—
ha ha.

Meditative? Perhaps.
Yet all I know is this drenched-head glow
is mine.

Teeter, crumple.
Lock that knee? I'M TRYING.
Balance? Not good. Flexible? Yes.
Merge these.

Bikram hot-style.
Steamy rooms of students
seeking strength, poise, love? All of the

The Low Notes of Week One

Few and far between, thankfully. Low Note One: my sore, sore bum that has to sit in uncomfortable chairs for the lecture sessions and movie viewings. Low Note Two: What I found on my mat on Wednes -- no, no one will believe me. Low Note Three: having to call Security at 3:20 a.m. to break up an outdoor party below my room. At first I assumed they were overstimulated yogis, and leapt out of my bed to rip them a new one. As I leaned over the balcony, I saw four of the biggest, hairiest bikers I have seen in this lifetime. Er, perhaps a quick phone call to the front desk instead. Security responded swiftly, whereupon I seethed myself back to sleep.
HIGH NOTE OF WEEK ONE: everything else. I mean that, too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

How'd We Do?

Oh, yeah: on Wednesday I presented my Half Moon dialogue in front of Himself and the students. Having show-offy ham actor tendencies encoded in the DNA meant that I was only a tad nervous reciting the words as three volunteers performed the posture. I even managed to goof around at the end, barking at the students who were anticipating my instructions (I channelled Michael Palin's Sgt-Major from "The Meaning of Life") and making them wait for me to tell them what to do. Himself was pleasant but mostly non-committal, and after gesturing to the crowd and saying "Well, they liked you," he admitted that he was lost for the word he wanted to use to describe me.
That night another student from Victoria, the wonderful Catherine, performed her dialogue. Himself said he had "remembered the word he'd wanted to use for the other lady, you know, the one who spoke earlier today--I will use the same one for you." The word? "Distinguished." So that's two distinguished yoga ladies from the Island. Not so bad at all.
In fact, Victoria's looking pretty capably represented by yoga buffs. Rhiannon got a good evaluation, Keir got slightly criticized but encouraged to keep on, and Bettina was told she'd have no trouble getting students to obey her (true! so true!) . . . the only one left from our gang is Andy, and she said she doesn't care if she's the last one onstage.
We watch about six hours a day of Half Moon dialogue right now, as the first week winds to a close. The presentations have included the extremely poised, the utterly energizing, the sheer damned impressive, the not-so-bads, the need-works, and the what-were-you-thinkings. Lots of very funny people here, by the way.

That Which Has Been Seen Cannot Be Unseen

Standing Bow Pulling Pose. What's that, you ask? It's this:

In tonight's episode, Jane stands behind someone in a crowded yoga studio who has chosen to wear baggy beach shorts. And nothing under those shorts. As Jane discovers as she is trying to hold the same pose while being presented with a somewhat intimate view less than three feet away. Word of the Day: UNDERWEAR.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It begins . . .

Registration and Sign-in Day was yesterday, and there was the requisite waiting and wondering, but I personally didn't find it all that aggravating. I'm pretty impressed that the Bikram volunteers have done as well as they have, since apparently this is the biggest contingent of students so far, 382 of us. All of them in goddamn line ahead of me, too.
Today was the first real day of what is jocularly called "Vacation Week", don't worry kids, it's going to get much harder and by week three, oh my god the screams . . . ANYWAY. We had a morning welcome/rules/FAQ session, where we met and were welcomed by Bikram Choudhury himself, wearing a pair of 25-yr-old shiny pants to keep himself aware of his waistline. Then, in the afternoon, a media event/ ceremony with the Mayor of San Diego (who failed to stay and take class, nice one, Your Worship Chicken), who proclaimed it Bikram Yoga Day and clipped the ribbon to open the studio tent.
THEN: the first class with Bikram at the helm. I succumbed to a little fretting and despondency at the start, but then I tend to do that most sessions I take. I knew at the end that I would have the usual bliss cascade, so stayed on target. Wobbled, but stayed. Now to stuff some food into the head, and practise dialogue with the chums old and new.

Jane’s Bikram Yoga Coping Mechanism

Conversation at dinner Saturday night with Chrissy and Heather from Toronto, Bettina, Rhiannon and I from Victoria – stick together, Canada! Woot! – great fun. At one point the others were talking about their least favourite poses in the beginner series. Some didn’t like Standing Separate Leg Head-to-Knee, others didn’t like the Camel – but I didn’t join in right away, namely because I don’t hate any of the poses . . . well, at least I don’t hate them since I’ve classified them into my own order of difficulty.
I’ve divided the Beginner Series class into the Five F’s: the Firsts, which are the breathing and first three poses before the official water break. The Fuckers, which are the standing balancing poses (Standing Head-to-Knee, Standing Bow Pose, Balancing Stick Pose, etc.), which, as I am flat-footed and klutzy, I find incredibly challenging each time. The Fun Ones, which are the Cobra, the Locust, the Full Locust and the Floor Bow. The Favourites, which are the Fixed Firm, the Half Tortoise, the Camel and the Rabbit. Then the Finals, which are the Head-to-Knee with Stretching pose, the Spine Twist pose, and the cooldown breathing.
Damn, that’s only 25 poses. Oh, forgot the Wind-removing pose, which I guess could be called the Fart pose (not that such occurs during the practice, thankfully), and would be called that if I were 11 years old. So the Six F’s, then? Nah . . . I guess Wind-removing gets to be one of the Fun Ones. In fact, the more I practice, I've noticed that what used to be Fuckers are starting to get fun. I'm still one entire wobble during Head to Knee, but I'm cracking myself up at the same time.