Moving from one chapter of my life to the next worked out with great timing. After traveling my way home from Thailand, I arrived in the Bay Area one week before Bikram Yoga Teacher Training started. I had just enough time to see my parents new house, all the family, and make sure I was in tip top yoga shape after 4 weeks of no yoga while traveling. Luckily the studio in Berkeley whipped me into shape.
Training is a 9 week course hosted in LA at the Radissen Hotel at LAX. There were 420 trainees staying at the hotel for 9 weeks. We practiced 11 classes a week together in a giant hot yoga room (they transformed the hotel ballroom for us) and sat through 10 lectures and posture clinics, sometimes keeping us up until 1am. But that wasn’t all… we would cross our fingers at that point, wondering if Bikram was going to play a Bollywood movie that night after the lecture! Bollywood movies are fun but wow are they long! Two and a half hours in, there is an intermission, they are like 4 hours long, plus all subtitles! So we were up extremely late some nights only to wake up for morning yoga a few hours later.
We had to do a big grocery shop on the weekends because the week was so busy. Then we had to jam everything into a mini-fridge that we shared with our roommate. Then we had to make our meals quickly on breaks, while using just a shared microwave in the lobby. I got my routine down; I ate pretty much the same menu the whole time!
I was lucky enough to have a great roommate. We got along really well and since we both preferred staying in to study and just generally laying low, we were perfect for each other, always having fun and giving lots of support. Actually, people were always asking if we were sisters, like at least once a day! I became close with her and a just a couple others people. We explored the beaches of LA together on the weekends, rode bikes, went shopping, went to the movies etc! Weekends were a great time too!
Although it was impossible to get to know everyone there, we mostly knew the faces and there was definitely a close sense of camaraderie anyway; we were all in training together, and often the same cycle of emotions as well. Teaching a Bikram Yoga class involves standing in front of struggling people and talking for 90 minutes straight. Most of us did not want to be teachers because we love public speaking so although we're all passionate about the yoga, we needed each others’ support when practicing the dialogue aloud. I could not believe how much support I felt from everyone there. Standing up to speak didn’t feel so scary when everyone around you truly wants you to succeed and must overcome their own battles as well.
A truly rewarding part of training was being a part of the demonstration team at graduation. We had to try out in front of Bikram himself as well as a couple yoga champions. I originally went to watch and before I knew was standing up there trying out. Part of me believed it was a mistake that I made the team, but I got lots of encouragement from my peers and I am really glad I did it. The demonstration went really well, I think it was fun for the people at our graduation ceremony to see. (click here to watch a bad video of it, I'm the 5th body from the right, in red shorts!).
The Bikram Yoga world is relatively not all that big (yet!) so I’m sure most of the people felt good to be surrounded by so many others who really understand this thing that began to dominate their life. Bikram Yoga is not something most people do casually and it can really change your life. Now when I speak to teachers at all the studios that I visit we can talk about our experiences at training. Also, most of my group is all friends on facebook now so we stay connected on each other’s yoga communities around the world. Whenever I set foot into a new studio, I either see someone from my training, or make new friends. The yoga is exactly the same everywhere so joining the family gives you friends all over the world.