A funny thing happened while I was working in Berlin this past month. I underwent a similar transformative and parallel experience to the one my instructors did in the training course I was leading – just in an entirely different modality: beginning Bikram Yoga.
Let me explain:
The whole instructor training program was very intense, not just in the time and energy we demanded from the participants, but also content – the material and teaching method was entirely new to every single person in the course. The journey from start to finish evolved from excitement, energy and boundless determination at first, to frustration with challenge, which swayed over to disillusionment with the whole deal, shifting into perseverance and respect for the process, which finally and ultimately finished high on success and accomplishment. YEAH!
Meanwhile, as I was leading instructors through the course, their journey was mirrored, in a way, with my foray into a new kind of physical and mental experience: Bikram Yoga. I promise, this was NOT planned. But what it did reveal was how insanely cool it is to always be a student, continue moving and learning in different ways and never ever fear the unknown or what you know you won’t be automatically good at. The end result for me was really awesome (more on that later).
About the Bikram:
The second day I arrived in Berlin, Angel Stone (my friend, flat roommate and BECYCLE’s Lead Instructor) and I agreed we needed yoga in our lives to keep our bodies functioning and healthy with all indoor cycling (and running and strength training) we were about to undertake. Having been there for a week already, she told me about this special deal at local Bikram Yoga studio – one of those insanely inexpensive unlimited first time offers. Having never done Bikram I was skeptical, but game. In fact I was pretty excited and pumped to try a new form of yoga. It was also BRICK cold in Berlin and returning to a hot and humid environment like the one in my beloved hometown of Miami, was very appealing.
The first class was not only taught in German which I do not understand, but it was led by (I hate to do stereotypes here, but I can’t make this shit up) a VERY stern, unfriendly, strict, head wrapped “alte dame” who was barking very aggressive orders and eyeing me disapprovingly the entire time. I had no idea what was going on, nothing felt right, I felt like a clumsy asshole, and I found the method slightly ridiculous (sorry I cannot lie). Truly the only reason I went back was because I had committed to the special deal.
Things turned up in the second class, which was taught in English by a lively fellow. He helped IMMENSELY; it really hit home with me just how essential form cues and instructor motivation are in the group experience. I started to think there could be a benefit to sticking with this.
Subsequent classes, probably the next 4-5, were frustrating, extremely hard and more mentally than physically challenging. But I started to work on perfecting my form, realized just how hard it was to adapt my body to this new way of moving and finally felt like I could look at myself in the mirror. I shifted my perspective from slightly irritated to open minded. I decided I was going to DO THIS.
Next few classes I felt a not-so-dramatic, but slight turning point. I started to feel different in a better way, more flexible, lighter (in spirit), steady and calm. I was coming closer to mastering the poses, felt stronger, and stopped cursing the instructor out (in my head) every time we did locus pose (wow, do I still dread that one).
By the time the two week deal was up, I was HOOKED. Not because I ended up mastering the method (that did NOT happen), but because I committed to it, saw it through, was fueled by my own little success, and rewarded with a sense of accomplishment. My body is shockingly more flexible now than it has been in years…go figure.
I’m happy to report that the instructors in the BECYCLE course also came just as far and seriously impressed me and our team with just how beautifully they absorbed and applied the method. There were moments of doubt, anger and disillusionment, but they ALL pulled through. The final auditions had more than a few jaw-dropping moments. I’m so proud of us all 🙂
Always a student! Never stop learning and growing.