Week 5 round-up: My best friend, my worst enemy

Tl;DR This week was literally just emotions. All the emotions. The end.

Week 5 is over and we’re now more than half way through our training! HOW DID THAT EVEN HAPPEN? No, really. I’m asking you. Because I do not know the answer to that.

This week went by so quickly I almost can’t actually remember what we did each day because the days have all started to blur into one another. Bikram is back, yes, but he actually hasn’t been in the least bit horrible to us, so week 5 was also much easier than I expected it to be (in that respect). The longest class he taught was on Monday night and lasted two hours, and he actually stuck to roughly 90 minutes for most of the rest of the week. Not that he was going easy on us during those classes in the slightest, though. On the contrary, the heat was cranked up even further almost every night, and he upped the amount of corrections he shouted at us from his podium by about ten-fold. He even made one student, whom he has affectionately nicknamed “Mr. Manchester” (because – would you believe it – he’s from Manchester) get up on the podium one night and start off teaching Pranayama breathing because Bikram was pissed with him for doing it so badly in every class.

I have to admit, though, that to some weird, masochistic extent, I kind of like Bikram’s classes. Maybe it’s the fact that his energy when teaching is infectious, and makes the classes seem shorter. Maybe it’s the fact that, even when he’s yelling at you, he’s still trying to be kind of funny. Whatever it is, though, I think I’m far more scared of the idea of his classes than I am once I’m actually in there. The sight of his saffron coloured towels draped over the chair on the podium every evening most certainly inspires fear in me, but that fear quickly dissipates once he starts saying things like, “We have 35 billion brain cells but we only use 3 billion. That’s why most people are so weird.” (It’s little conversation points like these that he enjoys adding into his own version of the Dialogue.)

But Bikram being back doesn’t just mean that he’s returned to the hot room; it also means he’s back to lecturing us. And that, to me, was the real torture last week. Yes, Bikram’s lectures do include some pearls of wisdom. The problem is, though, that his lectures are so random that it’s very difficult to sort through all of his stories about his various famous students in order to understand what he’s really trying to say. Add to this the fact that he’s only been lecturing at night from 10 PM until Midnight, and you have the perfect recipe for making sure no one is entirely able to follow anything he’s trying to articulate. He’s also gone back to telling us more about the story of the Mahabharata, (which we have not yet returned to watching) interspersed with him going through his bag and showing us all the different things he likes to carry around with him. (He did this because a girl in the front row had dry eyes and he offered her his eye drops. This was accompanied by a demonstration of how he can put eye drops in his eyes without blinking. It was a really wonderful use of fifteen minutes.)

Whilst Bikram’s lecture series was treading water a bit this week, though, posture clinics were going full steam ahead. We had them every day last week for three hours, and blew through six postures as a result. A visiting teacher told me she thinks we went ahead with PC’s so intensely because we lost all our time to do them in week 4 due to Rajashree’s earlier-than-normal visit to our TT. I’ve mostly heard that PC’s tend to wrap up at the end of week 7, so if we keep going at our current pace, we’ll likely still be bang on schedule. And I’m happy to report that reciting the dialogue has been going a bit better for me as of late. My feedback was consistently good this week, and I’m pleased with how quickly I’m able to memorise all the postures. My next hurdle, though, will be to stop concentrating so hard on getting all the words perfect, and instead on being a more fast-paced, genuine teacher, as I tend to lose my pacing when I concentrate too hard on being word-perfect. Which, considering I’m a perfectionist, will be difficult for me. But I am here to learn, develop, and grow. And I have to seize every opportunity I am given to make changes in my mindset, and to stop being so hard on myself.

Speaking of which, this week has been a complete emotional MESS for me. Which is something I’ve literally just realised as I’ve been writing this. I heard different reports from different people regarding when the emotional breaking point of training tends to be, but the general consensus is that it comes somewhere between weeks 4 and 6. Now, I’m not saying that I have necessarily reached that point, but this week has definitely been an emotional and very confusing one. I fluctuated between being absolutely in love with this whole experience and with everyone here on one night, to waking up the next morning wanting nothing more than to go home. I had some seriously great classes (including one in which I managed to lock my knees during Padahastasana!), and a couple in which I came very close to crying for what felt like absolutely no reason. Sometimes I look around the hot room thinking there’s no place on Earth I’d rather be than with all these wonderful people, and the next minute I’ll mope about not being back home with my friends there. I also feel like I’m progressively going slightly mad without getting cuddles from Boyfriend and without being able to hear his voice every day. Meanwhile, having to look at myself in a mirror for 3-4 hours a day whilst wearing tight, unflattering clothes is really doing a number on me. There has been the odd occasion on which I’ve felt really good about myself and how I look in class, but most of the time I just stare ahead at all of my body’s imperfections. It is frustrating, discouraging, and mentally exhausting, but for whatever reason I can’t get myself to cut it out.

Bikram has said quite a few times during class and during his lectures that, “The mind is your best friend; the mind is your worst enemy.” And that is so, horribly true. Of course all of us have our little mental battles that we fight in our day-to-day lives, but being at teacher training magnifies those battles and forces you to deal with them. And it sucks. We have a unique opportunity here to spend nine weeks focusing on ourselves, and I’m quickly learning that that is definitely a curse in some senses. There is nowhere to hide from yourself or your insecurities here. So, for now at least, my mind is mostly my enemy. The good news is I have 4 more weeks to try to make it my friend.

P.S. Bikram made us watch another Bollywood film this week. It was 3 hours and 28 minutes long. I have zero recollection of what it was about.

Yoga classes down: 54
Number of Bollywood films watched to date: 2
Current position in posture clinic: Tree Pose
Latest bed time this week: 1:30 AM

And because we’re (over) half way through now, here’s an earworm for you all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDK9QqIzhwk

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