I've been back from LA for five days now, and it's been 10 days since I graduated as a Bikram Yoga teacher after nine weeks in 'Bikram's torture chamber,' as he calls it. I'd planned on writing something about my experiences on training before now, but to be honest I'm still trying to process the whole thing so, y'know, just bear with me for a while.
In the meantime, I taught my first class today. It was at Bikram Yoga Surbiton, a new studio owned by my two lovely senior teachers Mandy and Helen, which opened while I was in the States. I'd previously seen BYS when it was a building site before going off on training, so on Sunday I headed over to practice a class there and get used to the studio now there's actually walls and stuff there. Sunday's class was great, but jet lag kicked in about halfway through and I just wanted to curl up on my mat and go to sleep. I went again on Monday to prove to myself that I could still practice OK and to support Briar, who was on training with me, as she taught her first class there. I'm pleased to report I experienced no waves of narcolepsy in this class, although Briar did give me some stick for not kicking my leg out in standing head to knee.
Anyway, I was on the board for the 10am class this morning, and I'll be honest: things didn't exactly go to plan.
I don't live too far away from the Surbiton studio and my intention was to get there nice and early this morning to greet the happy smiling faces of all the students who would be taking my class. Sadly, traffic conspired against me. I left home at 8:40 and an hour later I'd gone just a handful of miles. Panic set in because a) I didn't want to be late (obviously), and b) what sort of an impression does missing your first class make? I won't lie - there were some choice swears being uttered in West London this morning, though perhaps not quite so many as were uttered in LA; seriously, I developed such a potty mouth during training. Can you believe it?
Eventually I managed to rat race around some side roads and head into Surby from the complete opposite direction, ultimately arriving at the studio with five minutes to spare. Helen, bless 'er, had already briefed the five newbies who'd turned up on what to expect so I just needed to pop my shorts on, grab a towel, and take a couple of minutes to compose myself.
Ironically, stressing out about the traffic actually made me stop worrying about teaching the class so I just walked in and got on with it.
So, teaching. Well, nothing really prepares you for getting up in front of a class full of hot sweaty people and encouraging them to contort their bodies into all manner of bizarre shapes - not even the stuff you do on training - but once those initial nerves passed I really got into it. No one died, I pretty much stuck to 90 minutes (I think I was one or two minutes over), and surprisingly a lot more of the dialogue spilled out of my brain then I thought would be the case. I was lucky to have a handful of familiar faces in the crowd too, so if I did find my dialogue faltering I could just look to them and their bodies would guide me towards what I needed to say next. Special shout out to my newbies too, who were awesome and really put, as Bikram would say, 110% effort in.
Afterwards Helen gave me some really helpful feedback as to how I could improve in a couple of areas, but unless she was outright lying to me she seemed pretty pleased with how things went. I was too, to be honest; I sometimes overanalyse things like this but against my own expectations, and with maybe a couple of minor exceptions, I don't think it could've gone much better for a first class.
Round two's over at Bikram Yoga Chiswick tomorrow - and this time I'm going to make sure I'm there with at least half an hour to spare.