So here it is... my visit to the Big Tent--Bikram's Teacher Training San Diego. I loved meeting Nameste blogger Josie. I loved being in the tent with 400 people, including one of my dearest friends in the whole wide world. I loved watching Bikram walk up onto the stage, and I loved hearing him speak the lines from the dialogue I'd heard delivered so many times by others.
I got there super early to ensure I wouldn't get slowed down by traffic or an unexpectedly weird parking situation. As I walked over to the tent, I was beyond excited to see Bikram standing by himself in the parking lot. I immediately felt giddy and childlike. Although I'd told myself to have no expectations, I couldn't help but let the excitement flood over me. I began to walk over, thinking, "there he is! He looks exactly like I imagined! What should I say to the guy who came up with the series that took away my migraines, helped me cope with stress, and keep me strong and flexible? OMGOMGOMG." And so on.
Well, as I walked over, I noticed he was on the phone, yelling at some poor sap on the other end. I figured he wasn't in the greatest mood ;-) So I decided I'd let him have his time to himself and called up Ms. Nameste herself instead.
The class itself was a trip. We are in the middle of an unusually humid and warm late September here in San Diego, and the tent encompassed that. I've never taken a class that had visible humidity. Yes, as Josie so beautifully put it, it was an Amazonian yoga jungle in there. Initially, it wasn't too hot, and it took me a while to work up a sweat. But once I did, ay dios mio. It was intense. And as you trainees and teachers know, Bikram stretches out the classes, so they are about two hours long. I don't think I've ever consumed so much water during class.
Nor have I fantasized so much about beer. I haven't had any alcohol in a year and a half, but due to the smell of beer wafting through the tent (thanks, Marti :-) I spent the second half dreaming of a Corona fria con limon.
I also dreamed about my humble studio's amazing carpet. Jeez-oh-man, the carpet in the tent is terrible. In standing separate leg head-to-knee pose, I kept feeling like I was going to fall into Chinese splits--I wanted to get my head to the floor just to prevent that from happening! And forget Triangle. No turning the towel meant no Triangle for me. Except maybe a Triangle shuffle ;-)
The Dancing J commented on one of her blog posts a while back that Bikram says all sorts of cool things you don't remember after. That definitely happened, and I think it's part of the yoga experience. You're in the moment, you appreciate what's happening, and then you let it go. What needs to stick will stick. But I do remember a couple of highlights:
--Everyone lowering themselves into Awkward. Seeing so many bodies moving in unison (and staying like that--no one fell out of the third part!) was moving beyond words.
--Laughing hard to myself when Bikram said that the only chickens in this world should be the ones going right into our stomachs. In fact, he said a lot about fear that stuck out to me at the time.
--Hearing Bikram sing a Bengali (I think) song while we were in between postures. There was something comforting about that.
--Ironically, laughing hysterically when he played some song from his album. Sorry--it was just so bad! He's better live!
--Finally, my hat goes off to the trainees for their incredible strength and dedication. I admire you all for doing what I know I couldn't do. I specifically admire a couple of folks in the tent: Ms. White, who, I thought, got unfairly picked on throughout much of class. It also goes off to a Muslim woman in in full hijab who rocked the class a few rows in front of me. I couldn't imagine wearing anything heavier than my Shakti shorts! Good for her.
What stuck with me most about the entire experience is how this yoga is so much bigger than the individual. Yes, Bikram put the series together. But he didn't invent the poses, and, like anyone, I'm sure he had a lot of help disseminating the series along the way, to say nothing of all the work it must take to set up and run teacher training. And that communal embracement of the good idea is what makes this series so magical. That's what will make the series stick around until our culture is evolved enough not to need it. But by that point, we'll all be levitating, so I won't hold my breath until it happens ;-)
I definitely want to go back. I'd love to take a class with Rajashree... or Emmy... or who knows! And meet more of you lovely bloggers. Ms. Nameste, I can't wait for another Fuddruckers' burger! There's just so much to experience!