Monday, June 11, 2007

No she di'int

We finished posture clinics two days ago. On the one hand, I’m ecstatic…I’m relieved to finally be done with all the memorization and recitation. On the other hand, I’m petrified. That’s it? I can teach a class now? Oh, I don’t think so….clearly there’s been a terrible mistake…let’s go back and start again…from page one.

The way things are formatted here, we learn the postures (one by one) and deliver the dialogue in front of fifty classmates and a team of judges/jurists (the visiting teachers and studio owners).
Meaning we only recite each posture once. One time. One shot. One round of feedback. And were that not terrifying enough…we only do first side, first set. So, it is conceivable that I might possibly be capable of getting students through, say, half moon pose on the right side…but the left side is a mystery to me, an enigma…as is the second, condensed set.
I imagine the kids in my first class walking out of the studio doors approximately 42 minutes before class is supposed to end—and visibly unbalanced—because their moron of a teacher only led them through 26 poses on the right side of their bodies…
It could happen. It is not a stretch.
Students might incur astronomic massage and acupuncture bills after taking just one class with me…
I might be the best thing that ever happened to the chiropractic community…

The mere suggestion that I will be able to string all of this together into an actual 90 minute yoga practice makes me laugh out loud. It seems utterly impossible. I deal with my uncertainty the same way expectant mothers must deal with the looming fear of delivering a baby…it does not sound like something a person could survive…and yet there is countless evidence that they do…so maybe it will be okay. Maybe.
One must remind oneself that, time and again, people have done it. It might be bloody, you might not want photographs of it, and you might not speak for days after it happens…but people have taught first classes.

Friday was a big day.
First, the end of posture clinic.
Second, the talent show.
Or as it was officially titled, “TALENT QUEST 2007”.

Much of teacher training feels like an odd hybrid of substance-abuse-program and after-school-special.
We spend inordinate amounts of time sitting cross legged on worn down carpet, nursing paper cups full of cold coffee, and standing in front of one another speaking and freaking out.
A talent show, naturally, fits right in.
When the sign up sheet was set out for the big production they requested you put your name, talent, and what you would need to facilitate your act.
One girl wrote that she would be playing the harp…and that she needed a harp…
Apparently, the double digit budget wasn’t large enough for a harp, so they played a c.d. of her music as we gathered at the start of the show. It was, in fact, a beautiful c.d. I’m sorry they couldn’t afford the harp.

As previously reported, this training is awash with emotional outpourings and break downs.
(The after school special thing really comes into play when you hear the repeated platitude, “you can’t break THROUGH until you break DOWN…”. )
My friend Leslie and I haven’t really been in the thick of the crying jags. We’ve been frustrated, tired, overly sensitive, etc…but we haven’t been sobbing through this training. Perhaps because we are slightly on the older side…perhaps because we’ve both had enough painful real-life experiences to put this into perspective…perhaps because we are uptight unfeeling cold people….whatever the case may be…we simply haven’t been hording the island’s supply of Kleenex.
And, hey, if you make it to the end of week eight without busting up, you’re home free.

Or are you?

With no small amount of shame, I am here to confess...
I broke.

The stress, I’ve managed.
The exhaustion, I’ve taken in stride.
The merciless work, the daily confusion, the boiling hot classes…I kept a smile.

One guy doesn’t touch his nose, another guy poses for a photo ….and I crack wide open.
True story.

Friday afternoon, at the official end of posture clinic, each of the twelve groups sent a representative to deliver the dialogue for the final posture, spine twist, in front of the 310…rock star style…a top the gigantic podium, headset on, and with a group of students gathered into a mock class in front of them.

Our group sent this guy, Govert, to represent us. Govert leads our group cheer. We love Govert.
He is from Holland and he touches his nose. A lot.
We all have our nervous tics, and that’s his. So, from day one, he is getting criticism after criticism for this nose-touching thing. During the first dialogue we delivered, weeks ago, he probably touched his nose four thousand times. By the end, he was down to seven (maybe eight) nose touches a posture…but, still…a lot of touching of the nose.
And, of course, we all have our issue…our stances, our voices, our inflection, our rate, our memory, our volume, our personalities…they feel insurmountable, these problems/these habits/these quirks…they feel like thin, but critical, walls lodged firmly between us and our ever being a halfway decent yoga teacher.

So on the big day, Govert acends the podium, slips the headset on, gears up, and launches into spine-twisting-pose…and he’s fabulous…wonderful…delightful…he's a teacher.
And his hand never even nears his nose.
Not once.
Not one, single time.

The only words I could manage between sobs were “he…didn’t touch…his nose…he…didn’t…touch his…no-ho-ho-hose.”
I cried in the audience. I cried on the elevator. I cried taking off my pants. I cried putting on my shorts. I cried when someone said hello. I cried again when they said goodbye.

And then I headed down for TALENT QUEST 2007.

I have to rewind eight weeks here and write about this one kid. From the get go, he sort of broke my heart. I don’t know anything about him—but I used to see him, early on, walking around by himself. He was perpetually alone, vaguely adrift. He seemed painfully shy and slightly ill suited to this environment. Some people just bear the residue of sadness and history on them. You know? Its hard to explain.
There’s something about the way he walks…slowly and with his lower jaw in the position of defeat…that just breaks me up. It breaks Leslie up too. We’ve been worrying about, and rooting for, this kid from day one…and we’re not certain why…he just has this affect on us.
Maybe because teacher training is rich with huge personalities and bravado, so his modesty and quietness are stark in opposition.
His seeming discomfort stands out against the backdrop of gregariousness and immediate intimacy that everyone else slipped into so naturally, so effortlessly.

As I’m walking into the talent show Friday night, the first thing I see is this kid handing a camera to someone to take a photograph of him with one of his classmates. She’s this cute little blonde girl. They had both dressed up for TALENT QUEST 2007. He was wearing a colorful shirt. She wore sparkly eye shadow.
He had his arm around her shoulder…she had her arm around his waist…and they were leaning into one another, face to face, cheek to cheek, for this little snapshot...this preserved moment of aquaintance...maybe even friendship.
And when it was over he grabbed someone else to get a photograph with them, too.

Were I not pathologically dehydrated, I might have never stopped crying. I’m not kidding.
I don’t even know why exactly. I’m not aquainted with this person in even the most fragmented way. But I swear that I love him. Actual love.
Seeing him mingle with everyone else…comfortable, light, and at ease…slayed me. It slayed me.

As is always the case, my emotional reactions are never in line with the rest of humanity…so it never fails to shame me when these moments hit.
I can’t be the person who wails with the group. God forbid I be normal in any capacity.
The collective outpourings are always at the end of a torturous class…after a difficult posture clinic…post inspirational lecture.
On those days, I might be touched or somewhat moved…but, mostly, I’m just tiptoeing my way around the group hugs and spontaneous therapy sessions. I figure everyone will have to stay in the studio a bit longer until the crying subsides…which means I might actually get one of the first elevators!!! I’m simply not, in general, a sentimental fool. I am many many other kinds of fool, but not sentimental.

Ergo…I find myself, at the tail end of this obstacle course, standing in a room full of happy, giddy, decked out yogis…with an uncontrollable need to lie down in the fetal position and drain my body of all of its remaining fluids. Govert didn’t touch his nose! The lonely kid is going home with film to develop!!! Why isn’t anyone else crying, for God’s sake????

Suffice it to say, it is wildly humiliating--this character trait of mine.
It gets looks, sideway glances. People tend to slowly back away. Things are never quite the same after an ill placed cry.
It is embarrassing, sometimes, being me.

Naturally, I cried half way through the talent show too.
I was on a roll.
The Texas guy is a good guitarist! Waaaa, waaa, waaa
The sweet German girl sings!!! Sob, sob, sob
A poem! That rhymes!!! Sniffle, sniffle, sniffe.
Everyone else is laughing and applauding.
I'm shaking and quivering, like someone who's pet is about to be put down.
I feared the grief would know no end...

Then the entertainment took a decidedly provocative turn and my sorrow quickly morphed into shock.

As is often the case when you gather many young people with flat, exposed abdomens into a room…things got seductive.
The skits and musical acts veered into a noticeably sexy direction…and at a few different points, members of the audience rose and joined the performers on stage in interesting dance numbers. There was a lot of gyrating, a lot of girl on girl moves…and as testament to how very lame I am, I just sat there looking over at Bikram, across the ailse, and thinking, “Oh. Oh my. Oh goodness. Okay guys, I know he’s the self proclaimed Beverly Hills yogi and all…but he’s still in his sixties…he’s still Indian…this is still a quasi educational setting…maybe we should tone it down a notch...”

And as I heard the queer reverberations of my own thoughts pounding through my head, I was once again faced with the reality of how embarrassing it is being me.
If Bikram is the ganster yogi,
I am the grandma yogi.

The night ended with a proposal…yes, a proposal…a visiting teacher had Bikram propose to a girl in our class for him. They’ve been dating a while and he decided to pop the question here, in Hawaii, during her training. She said yes, all is lovely in the world. I was mildly concerned I would descend into the waterworks again…and then the guy took her hand and promised he would “Keep a nice tight grip…(he) wouldn’t lose the grip!!!”
And that, my friends, qualifies as exactly the sort of sentimental goo that makes everyone else weep.
Which meant I was guaranteed a dry eyed escape from the night, not a tear in sight.
People are such saps……


Unlearning Convention said...

Christine! Saw your blog from someone else's. Adding you to my list :)

-Therese (Leslie's groupmate)

Anonymous said...

Your a beautiful writer my friend and kind thanks for sharing a tear...

Shanti from Vegas