Jan 6, 2012

2nd Stop-- Perth, Australia!



“If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life.”




A couple hours after landing in Perth, I was practicing Bikram yoga under black light, wearing fluroscent yoga gear and glowsticks!  What a fun time this was going to be!


I have been “working” in Perth now just over 2 months.  I don’t require much in what I need right now in life, just a Bikram studio with enough classes to give me, warm weather, and a beach! 
(The "fluro" class was a fundraiser for an organization one of our teachers is with)

First off, the studios here are magnificent!  There are 2 locations, the original studio, which is just outside the city in an old brick church, and the second studio, which was added after popular demand, located in a suburb 20 minutes south.  Both have tons of excited regulars as well as new students (not to mention beautiful facilities)!  In fact, there is rarely a class with no first timers!  It is so exciting for me to be a part of the beginning of someone’s journey into Bikram Yoga.  Of course I love getting to know the students who have been their regulars here since the opening in 2009, and I really feel like I have a good teacher student relationship with them.  Enthusiasm is so fun to share with others.  My teaching abilities have really accelerated upon coming here to match with the community here.  I have had the chance to meet some awesome traveling teachers and teach and practice with them.

Though the population of Perth is 1.8 million, it doesn’t feel like a big city.  There is plenty of space everywhere and it feels more like a bunch of suburbs.  Its funny how locals think their parking situation is bad when there’s parking everywhere and its often free!  Then they are in shock when I tell them that you can forget bringing a car to downtown San Francisco unless you want to pay at least $20 to park!  Perth is sprawled but still has a small town feel because you can recognize someone even when you’re across town.  People who grew up here are all just a couple degrees of separation apart!   There are several beaches to choose from each day and since there are no late morning/mid-afternoon classes here, I go to the beach most days.  Also, I’m lucky enough to have a car provided for me (score!) so I have freedom to explore.  I found a shared house to live in with 5 other 20somethings, 2 Kiwis, 1 French, 2 Aussies.  The house is big and has a great backyard and we get along well.

Perth seems to have a booming economy.  Things here are rather expensive, especially restaurants and I’m assuming stores too but I haven’t been shopping.  Apparently it is much more expensive here even compared to Sydney.  Lots of Australians as well as foreigners (esp. Kiwis, Germans, French) work in the mining industry.  They have a term called FIFO (fly-in-fly-out), which is the people who go to the mines for like 2 weeks and work long days then spend 7 days off in the city.  Lots of people looking to rent their spare bedroom to a FIFO who is rarely there!  The mining workers make really good money.  Also lots of jobs available in the city- if you want to work somewhere, seems like you can.

My holidays went well, 3rd year in a row I’m away from home!  Another American yoga teacher cooked a super delicious Thanksgiving meal and we tried to teach Australians what Thanksgiving is about.  One guy showed up with a bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon, he said he assumed it was tradition, hehe.  Christmas was nice, I went to a lunch party with my roommates and we ate good food and swam (warm Christmas!!).  Then I got to have another Thanksgiving type meal for dinner that night with the yoga friends again.  We had fewer classes at the studios for a couple weeks so that gave the other teachers a chance to be with their families and left the students stuck with me!

Sometimes I can’t understand the accents here and have to ask people to repeat things for me because I can’t understand their accent but then I realize that I’M the one with the accent!

Even though starting over in new places, getting settled, and making friends is a bit hard, it’s definitely worth it and even while enjoying my time here, I’m planning out all the places I’d still like to teach!


Perth Wrap Up



Six months in Perth have come to an end, wow!
I am such a different teacher now than when I arrived.  The first 4 months of my teacher career, prior to Perth, were really just about getting through each class and hoping everything went according to plan.  Now I have really found my feet and learned firsthand how to teach any type of class whether it be 75 people, 12 people, majority first timers, non native English speakers, teenagers, claustrophobics, injured people, discouraged people, poorly hydrated people… anything! 


I certainly didn’t become a yoga teacher because I enjoy public speaking and being in front of all those people and more or less in charge can be daunting.  It took a while to feel that I was actually a part of a dialogue with the students, rather than a monologue.  In other words, I may have started by spouting out some words I memorized but now I mean them when I say them, and through trial and error and lots of additional research, I understand why I am saying everything I was taught to say and can confidently ensure that the students are right there with me.  While they do not literally participate in a spoken dialogue with me, their practice is responding to my words. 

Some of the best advice I have received is to make sure that you mean absolutely everything you say; if someone asked you why did you say that sentence, your answer is not “…umm just to fill the silence.”  Sometimes as a new teacher, we try to repeat things other teachers have said or just say anything to fill a gap.  First you must learn to be comfortable with a silence and even know that silence itself can have an intention.  When you are really connected with the class in the present moment and observing those individuals, you will say what is appropriate.  I have learned to allow my dedication to guide me in what I want them to know.  All I can do is share with them what I know, and allow them to find their way; I cannot demand anything of a student.  Some people say that practicing yoga teaches you to be more tolerant but my tolerance has absolutely multiplied since being a teacher.  Students must arrive at their own decisions through self-discovery.  They will learn when they are ready.  When the situation is being in hot room for 90 minutes with a teacher talking nonstop, sometimes they are not ready until they hear you say something for the 142nd time!

So who knows, maybe I will return to Perth someday!  Saying goodbye to the students was a bit sad.  It is very different than saying farewell to a buddy because I am their teacher.  They were actually thanking me…  I never expected that I could have something to offer to all these people that they would be able to thank me for.
What yoga people do when we hang out in the park

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