Sunday, October 18, 2009

The First Two Weeks

Week One:
Greetings from Las Vegas! Being confronted with endless slot machines as soon as deplaning at McCarren International, and again at The Las Vegas Hilton was a bit of a shock - Las Vegas so far has certainly met my expectations in its vastness and vulgarity in just about everything. The hotel has about 3000 rooms, a sprawling ground floor casino, and several 'themed' restaurants which I have yet to brave. The first week came and went in a flash - lots of orientation meetings, a welcome buffet dinner provided by the hotel and of course the delivery of our first posture - Half Moon Pose -  in front of the entire 300 trainees and Bikram himself, a bit nerve wracking to say the least! It's been really interesting to hear where everyone is from and there is quite the global representation - Thailand, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, Germany, UK, Japan, India, New Zealand, Nepal and just about every corner of the US. My lovely room mate, Tricia, is actually from Hawaii and a diver master so that's a pretty cool match.

"Take it easy, Honey". That's what we were told at the beginning of week one and for good reason. There is a tendency for everyone to push themselves too much in the first week before allowing themselves to acclimatize to the conditions and before getting over possible jet-lag and the like. The heat in the yoga room is gradually being cranked to where it should be. Initially the room was not hot enough, but that changed by the end of week one and soon we were cookin'! The humidity is the room has remained low and has been dry enough to cause some people nose bleeds, including Bikram. I just picked up an aloe and saline nasal spray at Whole Foods so I'm hoping that will help. I'm finding the carpet on the yoga room floor a real challenge with postures like Triangle. There is zero traction so this pose can be a tough one to hold correctly without your feet slowly sliding out from under you. Saturday afternoon and sunday we have off, which gives us time to get laundry done, grocery shop, sleep and of course drill down on learning the dialogue. There is a great pool and deck here which provides a nice place to read and relax. Hopefully October will be warm enough to sit outside and get some fresh air.
So week one down and we've covered all the bases re: Blood, Sweat and Tears. Yes, tears. This practice can unearth some deep emotional responses at unexpected moments - it could be as a response to the beautiful reading by Rajashree (Bikram's wife) of "The Invitation" by Oriah Mountain Dreamer or simply the gut wrench of leaving loved ones at home. I've fallen victim to both.
Highlight of the week: Discovering the hotel spa and gym complete with steam rooms and hot tubs! The air is so dry here, both inside and out, that this place will become my sanctuary!

Week Two:
The yoga so far for me, whilst being enjoyable, has been mostly exploratory - getting used to a routine, the room, new instructors, new yoga buddies. The second week my practice started off well but by thursday I had a really tough time just staying in the room! I sat out a couple of postures for the first time in years and just tried to remain calm. It appeared that as a result of Bikram complaining to the hotel staff about the lack of sufficient heat, they decided to crank the underfloor heating maximum. It made the room almost unbearable and the floor series especially became a real challenge. It was like lying on a hot plate and a couple of people even had some minor scorching on their hands and feet. Several people had to be assisted out of the room, thankfully making it in time to vomit in the sick bins provided at either exits. We even had a screamer - which is probably how most of us felt in our heads. Wow. Hot indeed. During the evening lecture, Bikram announced that the underfloor heat was going to be shut down and allowed us to have an early night - this was such great news as the last three nights he'd kept us up past 2:30 am.

I'm hoping I'll be able to keep up to date on this blog. The hotel does not have free wifi but internet access can be obtained for about $14 a day. I should to be able to connect at least once a week this way. The upside of this is that I won't be wasting time frivolously online (read:Facebook!) when I could be studying, but I do miss logging on to check emails, read the news and feel generally connected to the outside world.

Week three begins the posture clinics so I'm trying various techniques to learn the dialogue - recording audio of each posture and playing it back ad nauseum seems to be working...we'll see.