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.