Well readers, here we are. Another week gone, another round-up to write. I apologise for only posting once this week, but with the stress of learning Dialogue and the sheer exhaustion I’ve been feeling, I haven’t exactly had much time for writing.
Bikram may be gone, but the intensity of training has certainly not let up. All Bikram being away means is that we haven’t had any more crazy late nights due to watching the Mahabharata or Bollywood films. This week saw us begin our anatomy lectures and posture clinics, both of which have been a complete mind-fuck for most people. Add to this that most of us are pushing our physical limits at this point in yoga class, and you have a group of 126 very fed up people. Now, to be clear, it’s not like we’re all just moping around looking pissed off. The vast majority of us are doing a pretty good job of keeping up our smiling, happy faces and supporting one another. But the bags underneath our eyes are nonetheless getting that little bit darker every day. I guess this just means that TT is in full swing.
For me, personally, the toughest part of this week is a toss-up between anatomy lectures and posture clinic. I was excited for both of these parts of the course to start, but now I wish I could go back to the warmth and safety of week one, when Bikram basically just killed time by telling us random stories. Shit’s gotten real now, and it all felt like a bit too much for me to take this week. Anatomy is difficult for me because I am generally just crap at science, and although none of the information we’re learning is particularly advanced, it’s still difficult for me to absorb such a mountain of information about how bone marrow works and what part of the digestive tract is where and the difference between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. I refused to take a science GCSE for good reason.
Posture clinic, meanwhile, has been a whole other kind of stressful experience. Before arriving here, I assumed it would be the easiest thing I’d do here. After all, I’m an actress. I learn lines all the time and I haven’t had stage fright since I was in primary school. And yet something happens to me here when I get up to deliver Dialogue in posture clinic. I totally freeze up. I can recite the Dialogue in front of my friends with no mistakes day in and day out, but the second I get up in front of the staff, I just turn into a puddle of horse shit. I honestly don’t know what my mental block about it is, or what my brain thinks I have to freak out about, but it is absolutely infuriating. I know I will be a good teacher, and all I want is to show the staff that, but when the time comes to prove myself, I just let myself down. But they’ve at least been letting us go to bed every night at 11:30 so I guess it could be worse!
And as for the yoga classes? Well, on the plus side, this week has seen us take class with a number of guest teachers, including TT staff, which has been interesting if nothing else. As we get deeper and deeper into learning the Dialogue and attempting to come up with our own teaching styles, hearing 11 different teachers deliver class throughout the week was helpful to me – even when we were taught be teachers who I wasn’t exactly fond of. Because Bikram’s Dialogue is essentially a 90 minute-long script that all of his teachers must memorise, it’s easy to assume that most teachers sound painfully alike and that class can get very boring very quickly. But that isn’t the case at all. Yes, we did have a couple of teachers this week who didn’t exactly keep me on my toes (except in 2nd part of Awkward pose ifyaknowudImean – okay if you’re not already a yogi, you won’t get that one). But we also had Deepak, – whose elaborate choreography on the podium kept us all in good spirits even through a tough midweek class – Manali, – who picked on random students to deliver (shout) parts of the dialogue whilst simultaneously doing the postures themselves – Anne, – whose gentle but insistent teaching was the perfect thing to kick us all into gear on Monday morning – and many other teachers who changed the class up in their own unique ways. When I was at drama school, I learnt that a script has two parts to it; the words themselves, which only take up about 30% of a page, and the white space around them, which it is up to you to fill with your own inflections and movements. The exact same rule applies here, and watching so many teachers this week did a good job of reinforcing that for me.
I must admit, though, that yoga classes this week were a drag most of the time. Every time I entered the hot room this week, a little voice in my head piped up. “Do we really have to do this again?” it would ask me. And despite my best efforts to shut that voice up, I couldn’t help but feel by the end of the week like I was only going into yoga class in order to get out again. My muscles are exhausted, and my right hip has officially told me to go fuck myself. I can’t do Triangle pose on my right side at the moment, nor can I do Toe Stand on my right leg. I’m trying to compensate by doing as many hamstring stretches in between classes as possible, which has meant that I have been able to kick out (only for about two seconds at a time, but still) in Standing Head-to-Knee in the evening classes. No dice in the morning ones, though. I’m wayyyy too stiff in the morning classes. I’ve heard people saying that they’re falling out of love with yoga here, which I’ve heard is normal and is completely fair enough. 11 classes per week is not a healthy amount to practice, and we’re all getting pretty sick of it.
But what I’m finding helpful is, once again, the power of positive thinking. During my worst moments in the torture chamber, I imagine getting up to teach my first class at my home studio. How good it will feel. How accomplished I will feel. And how proud I will be. I also had a text conversation with Boyfriend a few nights ago in which he reminded me of all the reasons I love this yoga and all the reasons why I’m here. So I wrote them on the inside cover of my notebook to look at when I (inevitably) get even more frustrated in the coming weeks.
During the first set of half moon pose, a few of my teachers at my home studio like to instruct us to stretch until we reach our first point of resistance, and then try to go past it. Going past that first point is never easy, but it is always worth it. The posture deepens, along with the benefits, and you gain strength, flexibility, and stamina as a result. But it can also be painful. This week was definitely that first point of resistance for a lot of us here, but we’ll all push past it and be better for it. After all, we haven’t got a choice. x
Classes completed to date: 32
Average bedtime this week: 11:30 PM (yay!!)
Current position in posture clinic: Standing Head-to-Knee