Week nine and everyone was pretty pumped that this was it - and we were going home! I deliberately did not shop for groceries last weekend as I still had quite a lot of credit on my hotel gift card so I planned to eat in the hotel for the last week. I did use a chunk of credit to treat myself to a much needed massage at the Hilton Spa last weekend. We had one final posture clinic monday afternoon where some of us had the opportunity to string a few postures together and be critiqued. Whilst I did not go, it was still very useful to hear the feedback for the others who stepped up. We had some good lectures this week, Bikram started the long process of dissecting each posture illustrated with volunteers who wanted corrections or feedback. It took several afternoon & evening lecture sessions to cover all 26+2 postures partly because Bikram inevitably would go off on a tangent about something that may or may not have related to the posture in question. The man loves to talk! Also this week Craig Villani joined us for a few days to answer a lot of questions about teaching in general. Craig has been Bikram's right hand man teaching and directing the training program for the last 10 years or so and it was a shame we could not have benefitted earlier from his vast experience. He is an eloquent and inspiring speaker and also led a couple of great classes. Both Emmy Cleaves and Rajashree were back in town to lead another class each and answer questions during our final lecture session friday afternoon.
On our last friday night, which we had free, four of us splurged at the better Italian restaurant at the hotel. I ordered a celebratory glass of red wine too - I mean how was I supposed to enjoy braised short ribs without vino? After nine weeks of abstinence, it sure tasted like nectar of the Gods! Aside from a couple of mornings of craving bacon, it was also my first foray into eating red meat again. Strangely enough, I did not really miss it. On the final saturday there was an optional morning class - I slept in, then rest of the day was ours. I decided to get a pedicure at The Hilton to save time - wow, $95 for a pedicure?? - you'd think they might have gold plated my toes for that price. The graduation ceremony started at 3pm saturday. It was a long affair with lectures, a class demonstration and the certificate awards for each one of us. It was really nice to see everyone glammed up for the night! The graduation dinner wrapped up around 9pm. I had a lot of packing to do as I had a cab picking me up at 5:15am next day, so I headed back to my room...exhausted! As I headed down to the lobby at 5am sunday, I was amazed to see Bikram and his posse sitting in the Fortuna cafe. Well, he does subsist on very little sleep so no surprise really. He was probably up all night. I gave him a big hug - it seemed as if he was hanging out to see us all off. After all, there was going to be a big exodus of yogis leaving The Hilton over the course of the next few hours.
Touching down in Toronto was fantastic! I was so incredibly glad to be home and appreciative of all the small things in life that are taken for granted. I did get up the next morning to take fellow trainee Richard Brown's first class downtown. He had taken the red eye from Vegas just hours before teaching - brave soul, and he did so well! In fact there were 3 of us from training there to support him. My first class was scheduled for the friday of that week. The circle is complete! It was a bit of a blur as I was both nervous and excited. I have yet to teach again, having been in New York for the holidays, but I am excited to get back on the podium all in good time in 2010.
I will post again at some point with my progress and post some practical tips for any would-be trainees thinking of sequestering themselves away for 9 weeks of incredible self discovery. My only advise right now is that if you are thinking of training, take your time, don't rush into it. Practice for another six months, or more. This is a life long endeavor hopefully so the longer you practice before the teacher training, the more 'layers' of experience you can draw upon during the training itself. Until then, namaste. And Lock The Knee!