I used to sleep late on the weekends. Until, like, ten or something. But I was up this Saturday morning by 6:20. I woke up when Jim and the kids were getting ready to head out to Carson City for Josie’s all-day volleyball tournament. The tournaments are most Saturdays, and Ben, not exactly thrilled about it, goes along for the day. It’s one of those things that a youngest child has to deal with that an oldest really doesn’t; you're constantly going along with whatever’s happening and when you have a lot of siblings who are involved in a lot of activities you sorta grow up in the car. This one’s at dance practice. That one soccer. Play practice. Art lessons. That’s how it was for my youngest sister, Lo, and it made her an easy-going, spontaneous lil’ soul. When she was bitsy, she spent more time in her carseat than anywhere else, and since my mom digs tunes and it was the early 90s, she learned the words to Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Only Wanna Be with You” before she learned stuff like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Which was fine by us. It way cuter to hear a 3-year-old singing “I only wanna be wif you-ooooo-ooooo" than the pedestrian ABCs.
I'm not at all miffed though about being up so early on this particular Saturday. Today’s the first time I’ve taught two different yoga classes in one day. I’ve taught two classes, yes, but not two different ones back-to-back. I’m subbing a beginning yoga class at 9:30 at one place and then driving out to Juice Box to teach Yoga Motion at noon. The classes will share certain sequences, but most of them will be different. The beginning class is actually a beginning class and in the Yoga Motion class I get to push them more than you would standard beginners.
That’s the truly beautiful thing about teaching a new vinyasa class at a Bikram studio. The students that come are already accustomed to working hard. When I get the room’s temp down to 90 degrees they say it’s chilly. They have cultivated good body awareness. They know how to engage muscles in a static posture. So while it is certainly a Level 1 class for the amount of over-explaining I do for stuff like the new-to-them and very vital chaturanga, we don’t have to move too slow. On this day though, I'm hoping that I at least pull from my muddled mind the right bits and pieces in my brain for what I've planned to teach. The muddle inside sounds like Wait, which class was it that we are holding goddess? Is that both? Both have prasarita? No. Just the first one? Definitely not working on an arm balance in the beginner class. Can’t forget to instruct on using blocks though in the noon class. Loop the straps in one or two. Two? Are we starting standing at noon? Wait. On our backs? . . .
When you start a new venture there are things that experienced people don’t necessarily spell out. Like how much—just how much—out-of-class time it takes to be a good yoga teacher. It’s not you show up, you say words, you leave. You plan your sequences. You make them logical. You make sure the music isn’t obtrusive. You work on modifications. You try to anticipate confusing parts. You learn more anatomy. You practice adjustments. And all the while you remind yourself that not everyone can make their bodies do what yours can and you try not to take for granted that every one knows the little yoga phrases teachers automatically use. “Roll over your toes,” for example. We all say it. Someone brand new to a vinyasa is like, Huh? Or “direct your tailbone downward” even “tilt your pelvis.” You want me to do what with my pelvis? Students do pick up the jargon quickly—Josie walks around the house saying “open your heart to the sky” and arching her back—but initially you really do need to clarify. It’s work upon work upon work. But like Cameron reminded me last night: I truly do love it. And my students can tell. They tell me so.
Although I've been perpetually engaged in building the classes and refining sequences, I’m not sure I can trust what I’m coming up with these days. I’m tired. Like, sleepy tired. The drug job is kicking my ass more than at any time before in this decade that I’ve been slinging pills. (Burning the candle at both ends is sort of my specialty. Which means that at some point burn out will be too!) To illustrate: my current definition of a successful yoga class is one where I don’t fall asleep in savasana*. Which is none over the last week and a half. You guys. I never do that. I’ve taken thousands of yoga classes, and until last week I could count on one hand how many times I actually passed out in savasana.
And all this busyness has been prohibitive in my getting excited for our trip to Italy next week. I just haven’t had the RAM to be able to give any of my thinking to happy anticipation. Good thing is we’ve got, like, 17 hours on a plane. I’ll use then for getting excited. Surely that will make the getting-there part more bearable. Surely it will.
*Savasana is corpse pose. You lie flat on your back with your eyes closed. It’s the last posture of yoga classes and is also interspersed throughout the Bikram floor series.