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.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

We are here we are here

One day early, we are here. Hmm. I don't think I want to pay the 100+ bucks to stay at the Town & Country Resort/Convention Center for an extra night. I don't know if I want to spend another night at a cheapo motel like I did last night in Oceanside. You know what? This is boring. Update: I found San Diego, I found the resort, now all I have to do is wait another 23 hours before registration starts. Easy.
I've been forcing myself to drive around to find the suggested grocery stores, malls, etc. I've had a few hours of southern California freeway traffic by now, so it's getting easier each time I roar onto an entrance ramp.
Fellow Saanich student Bettina is checked in at the resort, but was not in her room when I showed up. Other student Rhiannon is here, too, apparently on University Avenue, too (I'm at Starbucks, she was at Whole Foods) -- anyhow. I expect I'll see them both very soon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Practising, practising

I have stuck bits of paper to my dashboard with Bikram dialogue printed in block letters. If you were to drive alongside me on the I-5 and take a glance, you'd see me talking away animatedly about head up, chin up, spine straight, etc. The only trouble is that while concentrating on the road and glancing at the script, I can't appreciate the beautiful N. Californian scenery. I think I'm in Willows, at the local Starborgs. There's something about this part of CA, flat farm landscape, driving to the big city of Sacramento, that is reminiscent of driving between Edmonton and Calgary. Vast countryside with distant city buildings.
Life in Vaudeville notes: got stuck in an elevator at the rundown Ramada in Redding last night, with a pizza. No harm done, and I didn't even snack. Note #2: I was delighted with the video Bettina took of me practising the Bow Pose with the expert Bikram instructor at the Sept. 12 clinic. The same instructor who asked that the video be removed from Facebook forthwith. Heh. I hope no lasting harm is done, since the instructor [whose name I am now too cautious to post to my silly blog] is going to be in San Diego, teaching us both. The video's down, we promise. Sorry about that.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yer Basic Humblin' Farewell

I took my last class yesterday (Weds.) at 3:45, with the luminous Namastasia at the helm. After the pranayama breathing, she gave a warm smile and announced to the class that I was about to head off to teacher training. Then she cocked an eyebrow at me and asked if I'd like to lead the class in the Half Moon/Hands to Feet pose. Uhhhh...oh sure, what the hell, I know it, right? Wrong, wrong, little yogini-in-training. Quite a few more pauses and stutters before Anastasia leaped to the rescue. This was *exactly* the wakeup call I needed, too. That's the proof of a great teacher.
So, anyway: I'm in Portland, having wasted a little time at Target, and a bit of cash, and now to hit that old I-5 and see how far I get today. Rainy and foggy is the forecast. Determined and still slightly sheepish is my mindframe.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

And away we go!

Tonight I'm taking the Victoria-Port Angeles ferry. I don't quite know where I'll sleep (I'd say "crash," except that seems like bad luck when you're on a road trip), but probably somewhere in Washington, off the I-5. To do before the ferry: just about everything I was supposed to accomplish over the last couple of weeks. Well, I've always been a last-minute packer and forgetter. I just hope I won't forget anything too crucial today. Like my yoga outfits.

Monday, September 13, 2010

And a partridge in a pear tree pose

Three boxes of Emergen-C, one vat of Vega Sports Recovery mix, one tin of brown rice protein dust, three boxes of energy bars, a collapsible cooler, a hockey water bottle and a 1-gallon insulated jug. These are the things I'll carry to San Diego.

Just so we're clear

The fact that I'm driving to this yoga school does not in any way mean I plan to be the groceries courier for others over the next nine or so weeks. If others want to come shopping with me, fine. But run errands for others on my own time? No.


Just left my bank card in Canadian Tire, dammit dammit dammit. Could I be distracted? Disorganized? Dippy? All of the above. But I did get my maps and route planner for the drive to San Diego, so that's something. And I did get an insulated drinks jug for the yoga tent in San Diego, as well as a hockey water bottle ('though I promise not to swish and spit in public).
My nerves? Jingle-jangle-jinglin'. Now to write a speech about midlife career changes, and my decision to be a Bikram yogini. Naturally this is a humorous speech.
What we have not done to get ready to leave versus what we have done forms the ratio of 1,000:1. Today I plan to hit BCAA, the bank, Starbucks and the grocery store. At some point I have to write a speech about yoga, since I signed up to deliver it at tomorrow night's Toastmasters meeting. What was I thinking? I was thinking it would take my mind off the growing nervousness about surviving training at my advanced age.
Yesterday I had a taste of what training may be like, as I attended a seminar given by an expert Bikram trainer, Diane Ducharme. She took us through the beginner class and then came back to give a 5-hour posture clinic. There were many people in attendance, and I was surprised to note that there were men and women older than I in the studio. Some of them had flexibility that astonished us all, and I realized my own worst fear when I was called to the front to demonstrate my lotus posture, during which I could only lift both legs about two inches off the ground. Later a woman in her late 50s came up to do the same pose, and at the two-leg-lift stage, she went almost vertical. My friend Bettina was amused by my amazement at everyone being able to do that pose, as well as my other two nemeses, Tree and Toe Stand. I mean EVERYONE else could do them. Dang.
And it is at such times that I realize this training seminar will also be a valuable ego exercise -- meaning being aware of how my ego holds me back, demanding perfection or nothing, constantly comparing myself to others . . . god, how boring it all is. If the next nine weeks help me to recognize ego flares for what they are, i.e., silly wastes of energy, I will be delighted.