There is nothing so daunting to me than seeing a sea of serious faces in a yoga class! I say this because I’ve been there and done that! When I was training to be a Bikram Yoga teacher way back when, I was very serious about it! These were the early days of Bikram Yoga – it was not the global phenomenon it is now. I had never even attended a class before I applied to go to training (as it was only in America at that time) – I had only taught myself from the book (without heat). Out of the blue I woke bolt upright one morning and for some reason I KNEW I had to teach it. Totally, totally out of character, I was actually phobic about any type of public speaking. I guess I was accepted in order to spread it to another part of the world.
Even though I had practiced hatha yoga in my bedroom from age 16 (again totally from books), Bikram Yoga was very different to what I was used to! I didn’t realise that we had to practise in heat until I walked into the room (OMG!) and I was full of fear, so much so that in the Beloved Half Moon, my arms would not get straight and I certainly could not get them anywhere near my ears! They were somewhat bent and stuck out somewhere in the region of my face. To cut a long story short, I did most of the postures in a state of fear. The side bend in the Beloved Half Moon felt like torture – holding it for a minute seemed like an hour and I cannot repeat what I was thinking at the time! Being an avid student I hung on to every word – I never ever gave up on any posture – however I judged myself terribly if I dropped out and made sure that I got back in. I’m talking now about Standing Bow Pulling Pose – the one I found the hardest. If I could not hold it for the whole minute I would stay after class and do it until I reached the 1 minute time frame. After 12 weeks of intense training, talk about blood, sweat and tears, I was transformed in every conceivable way.
By the time I came back to Jersey I was eager to teach but I knew it was going to be shock to the system for anyone who came! In my training, we were told at that time we could practice in a garage on a concrete floor – Bikram didn’t care – just get this yoga out there he told us! We didn’t even have to have mirrors! I took that at his word and I set up in a titchy room at Fort Regent. Instead of mirrors we had coloured price stickers on the wall together with laminated, motivational and inspirational sayings. The room was hot, sweaty and very crowded – there were inches to spare between bodies. There was no room for any preciousness, or judgment, the Bikram sweat smells were very present but most of us didn’t care. Some of the heaters were blow heaters, intense for anyone right next to them – they might sneakily get turned around or even off but I didn’t mind. I felt it better that people enjoy the atmosphere.
Money was collected in a bum bag, and left on the floor – anyone could have helped themselves. No one did. It was so busy that some people snuck in at the back and didn’t pay – I knew who they were – I didn’t care! I knew they wouldn’t come again anyway. It was never a business for me – I truly felt I was doing what I was born to do on this planet. After class no one wanted to leave. There was no silence – all you could hear was laughter, noise and chatting, It was like a party in there. I used to have to say “Haven’t you got a home to go to?” It was the best time of my life – hands downs!
In order to relax people, (knowing what was to come!) I would sometimes bounce in front of the class, kick my legs in the air (trying to do a Kenny Everett – “all in the best possible taste” skit) and say “It’s good here, innit?” I knew I had to keep it light!
I then left Jersey and had a journey of a lifetime (or 10!) – some of which I will share in classes and blog posts.
My whole life from the 16 of sixteen has been an exploration, firstly about the body, then the mind, and after I left Jersey, about our consciousness and how it affects our bodies and the planet (they are the same in my view) and there is one thing I know for sure, from everything I have been exposed to so far is that “enlightenment” does not come from being serious, judging yourself, living from someone else’s reality (usually more limited) , or doing a job you do not like for the sake of money. All that does is create pain not only emotionally but I believe it also destroys your body. I know this from personal experience. At times in my life I have contracted so much to try and fit in, trying to fit in is a contraction – and contraction is pain.
I think the best thing for your body and mind is to have more fun and not to take anything too seriously and most importantly BE YOU. Let’s giggle!