Friday, February 18, 2011

Teacher Training: Spend a Lot of Money to be Yelled at by a Crazy Man in a Speedo in a Hot Sweaty Room with Hundreds of Other People

Yup, so as many of you know (or have guessed) I'm headed off to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in LA this April.  Now that the venerable Steve23 has posted a link to my blog on the Mission Yoga website, it's high time I share a few details!  I'll keep blogging about other studios when I can, but the focus of this blog will shift a bit from new yoga to the same yoga, every day, twice a day, in (as stated above) a sweaty hot room with a crazy man in a speedo yelling at me and a few hundred other equally crazy folks.  But let's be honest, I'm excited, and looking forward to sharing my progress (or lack thereof) with you all.  And what better way to kick it off than sharing my application essay?

In November 2008, I moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco – like so many young people who hit their mid- to late- twenties, I thought I needed a fresh start, a shift in career, new faces and new ideas.  Little did I know that in San Francisco I would discover Bikram Yoga – and it would transform my life!

At the time, I worked long hours, smoked a pack a day, would sometimes eat Twix bars for dinner, and my social life revolved around boozing it up.  I’d never found a physical activity or sport that worked for me (I was always the girl who would fall off the step in step aerobics), so my exercise mostly consisted of climbing the Stairmaster for half an hour once or twice a week and calling it a day.  My body was a sluggish machine gamely chugging along despite the nonsense I put it through.

But the minute I entered Mission Yoga’s warm little studio a few weeks after my big move, I absolutely fell in love with it.  I loved that the students were all sizes, shapes, races, ages, and abilities.  I loved the genuine and welcoming teachers.  I started coming regularly and began my first 30 day challenge only five months later.  I cut way back and then finally quit smoking.  I discovered that, contrary to long-held belief, my abdominal muscles did indeed exist.  I drank lots of coconut juice.  I started cooking healthy meals to better fuel my body.  Within a year, at the ripe old age of 29, I was stronger and more flexible than ever before – in fact, I was in the best shape of my life!

Bikram has been equally transformative mentally as well.  All that time spent staring into my own eyes in the mirror allowed me to become more aware of my preoccupations and self-judgment and learn to let them go, to relax and be patient, and just keep coming back to class regardless of how easy/hard, hot/cold, exhausting/energizing the yoga felt.  This mental stamina, in additional to physical stamina, has bled into every corner of my life.  For example, I never could have overcome my fears of deep water and learn to swim this summer (training for a triathlon, no less!) without the patience I developed in yoga.  It took me a few months to start bringing my leg up in standing head to knee pose…and it’ll take a few years to get my head down to my knee…but I’ll get there.  In the same sense, I may not have been able to swim a single pool length for the first few weeks of swim training, but I stayed patient and determined, and I got there.  This is the fascinating part of Bikram yoga to me – that so much of what I do and learn in class positively colors the rest of my life.

[Ed note: okay, true, I may not have stayed patient and determined the WHOLE time.  It's possible I had a little meltdown and swore violently in the pool locker room with poor pre-teen swim team members a few feet away.  It's possible...but I did learn to swim!]

30 Day Challenges are the fast lanes on the highway to these sorts of positive change: doing yoga every day (sometimes twice a day) makes me so much more aware of how the choices I make outside of the yoga affect my physical health…and on the flip side, if I choose to make unwise choices anyway, the yoga helps flush it out!  Bikram makes me feel like Superman – ready to tackle anything that comes my way.

As a result, I’ve coerced, convinced, and cajoled almost everyone I know into that sweaty room with me, and while I’ve learned that while Bikram isn’t the right fit for everyone, it’s the right fit for ALMOST everyone – and it’s DEFINITELY the right fit for me.  I want to share what I’ve learned in a more direct way than just dragging folks into class, and I want to commit to making this yoga a significant, permanent part of my life…by becoming a Bikram instructor!

After all, a key aspect of Bikram is the teachers.  “What does it matter,” friends ask when I talk about how great or how difficult a particular teacher is, “isn’t it the same every time?”  And I explain how every teacher has their own unique gifts and qualities: whether it’s sharing their sheer joy in teaching, pushing you past your limits, or even singing a gentle song during final savasana.  I’m positive that I would be a strong instructor, and I can’t wait to learn the dialogue, experience yoga taught by Bikram himself and his team of instructors, practice twice a day for nine weeks…and at last join my Mission Yoga teachers and Bikram yogis across the globe in sharing Bikram Yoga with generations to come.  Thank you for considering my application!

Image taken from this website, which provides a nice little background on Bikram's style along with that nice crazy photo.


  1. Danielle,

    Thank you for the wonderful post and welcome to our new website! We're very happy to have you share your stories with us and our students. I especially like what you said about the 30-day challenge.

    As I prepared for teacher training in fall of '06, I was most anxious about doing two classes a day for nine weeks. Looking back I realize that that was the best part of training - being in a giant class with 400 yogis dedicated to our practice. It was like coming home.

    Now that you have started on the path to becoming a teacher you are part of Bikram's extended familia. Anywhere you go, to almost every major city in the world, you will run into friends willing to share their studios, practice and knowledge of their hometowns.

    I'm so excited for you and your classmates from our studio! Teacher training is like the most fun summer camp, the hardest boot camp, and the best field trip all rolled into one. Soak it up!

    -(the venerable) steve23

  2. love your blog, danielle!!! can't wait until you go to training (SOON!] and teach with us. teaching is so introspective, challenging and fun!

  3. you rock baby, keep it up! you're gonna do great!

  4. Hey Danielle! This is Holly--we've talked a few times pre- and post- Bikram class at Bikram Mission. I am looking forward to vicariously experiencing teacher training through your blog. And it'll be awesome to take a class from you when your done!

  5. Danielle,

    Great blog, I'm also going to Teacher Training. Hope I get the chance to meet you there.
    Good luck with the dialogue!