Friday, March 4, 2011

Lessons Learned in the 30-Day Challenge: Dialogue, Dentists, and Dumb Things to Do

Well hello there!  I'm very excited to have a somewhat expanded readership (but my original six-person readership will always be dear to my heart!).  Recent blog feedback and general positive reinforcement have been very much appreciated.  Please also feel free to tell me if I'm ramblin' on too long...commence the ramblin'!

I thought I'd take a moment to write about my first four days in the 30-Day Challenge, which started March 1st.  I've talked about these before; basically you pledge to do 30 classes in 30 days, and get to write your name up on a big piece of posterboard and put a shiny sticker next to your name for every class you take (like a chore chart when you're ten years old).  At the end of the challenge, there are prizes! and t-shirts!  

But this time around, I knew that signing up would not be wise.  First of all, I have a mere 42 days before training begins (I have a countdown gadget installed on my iGoogle homepage, so every time I come into the studio Steve23 asks "How many days?" and I know exactly.  I don't know if that keeps me focused and on task, or just gives me a mini panic attack every time I open Google).  My priorities over those 42 days are roughly: 

1) Meet all my deadlines and get the BBBSBA grants department nice and tidy for whomever my successor may be (know an awesome grant writer?  email me!)
2) Memorize as much dialogue as possible.
3) Get my shit together so I'm good and ready for training - build a realistic budget and sell all my stuff and have a plan and pay my taxes and all that kind of thing.
4) Do yoga. 

Bottom of the priority list, my friends.  I will be doing PLENTY of yoga for nine weeks, the last thing I need to do is cram a bunch of doubles in right beforehand.  But how could I NOT sign up?  That's like signing up for an Ironman competition and then saying to your running buddy "sorry, friend.  I would go running with you this weekend, but I'll be doing plenty of running in a few weeks, so..." I signed up.  Here's how the first four days went:

DAY ONE:  I didn't go to yoga.  I KNOW!  

In Bikram Yoga, training involves not only learning the postures and how to teach them, but also memorizing very specific, Bikram-created dialogue, with phrases like "touch your exactly forehead to your knee."  Most of the teachers I talk to say that the more of this dialogue I have under my belt (inside my brain?) before I get to training, the less late night cramming and panicking I'll have to do.  But it's hard, man!  So I feel very lucky to have Steve23 and Juicy in my corner, who have been meeting with me and my two fellow future bikram yoga teacher trainees every week for "Posture Clinic," during which they help us practice out loud and give advice on techniques and even let us stand on the podium like REAL teachers!

So Day One of Training (March 1st) I didn't go to yoga because I wanted to spend the 3 hours between work and Posture Clinic getting Awkward Pose and Eagle Pose down.  So I paced around my house clutching my dialogue and muttering to myself, and I still didn't get them down like I wanted (although as Juicy says "what do you have to lose? you had nothing to begin with!")  I should've just gone to yoga...and now, of course, that's at least one double looming in the future.

Lesson Learned Day One: Don't skip yoga the first day of your 30-Day Challenge.

DAY TWO: Wednesday evening, very soon after getting a couple of fillings at the dentist (I'm not going to tell you how many...let's just say I haven't been to the dentist in 3 years and am a big fan of sugar), I found myself in a PACKED, sweaty yoga class with a mouthful of numbness that started to fade surprisingly quick once we got going. I wasn't going to skip Day Two!

I had vague memories of post-filling pain from my childhood, so I was convinced that I would, at some point, have to run sobbing from the yoga room - but turns out dentistry has come a long way (another way dentistry has come a long way: at my dentist they hand you some cool headphones and an iPod pre-loaded with pop songs, 80s power ballads, and "50 Essential Classical Music Pieces".  There's nothing like a little Holst's The Planets or Verdi's Dies Irae  to make someone peering into your mouth digging around with a drill seem like an EPIC OCCURRENCE OF GREAT SIGNIFICANCE). 

Something else I learned Day Two is that I'd rather not read other people's yoga blogs.   On the fellow future Bikram Yoga teacher trainees' (which I'm going to start abbreviating FFBYTT) facebook group, some FFBYTTs were posting links to their favorite teacher training blogs.  I started reading this one, and the random post I chose was about a nutty anatomy teacher who recommends a strange use for yogurt.  I had two thoughts: a) she's funny! she's insightful!  she has a way with words!  Is her blog better than mine!? and b) aw man, I wonder if the yogurt anatomy guy would've taught at my training!  and now I won't be surprised or delighted or perplexed all on my own, and whatever funny stuff I would have written about him will, in my mind, be overshadowed by better-yoga-blogger's thoughts.

Also, generally I love to read movie reviews (bear with me, this is relevant) but when there's a movie coming out that I'm REALLY looking forward to, I avoid all previews, reviews, interviews, etc.  Because I want to go in completely unspoiled.  Teacher training blogs are like that - whenever I start reading them I feel this little frisson of disappointment because I don't want to know what these Bikram Lectures that go till 3 or 4 AM are about, or the frequency of Mental Breakdowns, or the Yogurt Anatomy Guy.  I want to be unspoiled!

Lessons Learned Day Two: Better to skip other people's teacher training blogs.  Also, exercise makes the anesthetic wear off quicker.

DAY THREE: As you know I've been baking cookies and selling them at the studio. This is fun and even turning a profit! (I figure whatever I make via cookies I'll use to buy food during training)  Anyway, usually I bake cookies after yoga, but yesterday I got home from work with an hour to spare before Amir's 8:15pm class and figured, why not bake a fresh batch?

I'll tell you why not.  I have very limited self-control when it comes to cookie dough/cookies fresh out of the oven, and ten minutes before class is not enough time to digest chocolate chips, coconut, bananas, sugar, etc.  I saw that cookie dough hangin' out in my belly in the mirror (during first part of Awkward, I was thinking "I AM sucking my stomach in!  I swear!") and I felt it hangin' out in Bow Pose.  Ugh.

Lesson Learned Day Three: Don't bake cookies right before class if you have no self control around sugar.  I mean, c'mon now.  Common sense.

DAY FOUR: My 30th birthday is coming up right before teacher training begins (I know, right?  How old do you think I should claim to be while I'm at training surrounded by 20-somethings?  I can pass for 25, right?).  Generally it doesn't feel like a big deal, just another year, and overshadowed by everything surrounding it (Big Brothers Big Sisters' biggest fundraising event of the year is that same week, and I leave for LA a week later).  I don't feel THAT old.  

UNTIL TODAY.  Day Four of the 30 Day Challenge.  When my Aunt Cathy back in Pennsylvania emailed me to say that my teenage cousin's English teacher is going to the same teacher training session I am.  My cousin is already a teenager!?  I'm old enough to be her English teacher?!  I am, in fact, most likely OLDER than her TEACHER?!!  Sweet Jesus.

Lesson Learned Day Four: I'm old.


  1. First of all, yes you can pass for 25, and secondly, 30 is not old. 35, however IS, I feel old just thinking about it!

  2. Funny four days...learning lessons...always entertaining, - Love, Mom

  3. You can pass for 23 :) But no YOUNGER than that. Particularly fabulous entry. And you know that I loved your Ironman scenario :)