Three down, one to go and I cannot believe it!!! Today marked the official end of week three with our usual Saturday off and just like every other week it was much needed and came at the perfect time. This whole week has been really weird for me. I already mentioned a little about my post Saturday depression in my previous post which is how the week started off but happened to end on quite a positive note. Things are happening and universal shifts are being made, or at least that's what we think! It may be all this pranayama, meditation, asana and philosophy catching up to us but I'm starting to feel a noticeable change in my energy within and that of those around me. It's so hard to describe what I've been through this week to those of you who are not part of my teachers training but I think all of us here can agree that "s*** is getting reallll".
The last three days of week three were spent by finishing up anatomy with Karen and practicing teaching in our little groups of three. It was my turn to lead the practice on Thursday and me being super hard on myself with everything I do would say that it went ok. I need to remember that we are all very new to this and it will take a lot of time and practice to completely feel comfortable teaching. Even though we did this in a very relaxed and low pressure situation with small groups of our fellow teachers in training, I still felt the pressure to kill it right off the bat. I've been to hundreds of yoga classes and have done all sorts of flows and sequences but when put on the spot I was thinking far to hard about what to do next and wasn't allowing the asanas to just come to me. I felt the pressure to do good and wanted to be proud with what I did but came up a little short of my expectations. Through constructive criticism from my group members and Kosta and George, I have learned what I need to work on and what my strong points are. I have my voice down but need to work on being louder (this was a comment almost every single one of us received which might have to do with the fact that there were about 7 yoga classes going on at the same time), being more hands on during adjustments and the odd inhale/exhale confusion. Being on the other side of the room comes with a lot to think about. What sequences and asanas you want to incorporate into your class and how to make it all flow, counting breaths and holds, talking the class through what to do while demonstrating and basically doing the whole class in front of them, focusing on your own breath and queuing inhales and exhales as well as talking in a calming and soothing voice while still trying to sounds like yourself and project your voice so everyone can hear you. It's a lot to think about and do at the same time so it will only come with practice. Just like yoga, teaching is an ongoing learning experience and will only get better with time and practice. I'm a little bit nervous about leaving Vikasa and going from doing two led classes a day to backpacking around Southeast Asia and trying to keep up with a regular self practice which I have never really had to do before. I have always had the luxury of going to a studio/gym or following a yoga DVD in my living room. I am although looking forward to checking out a bunch of different studios along my journey but I do know I won't be able to afford taking classes everyday. I think this will be a good way for me to develop my own style and learn how to do creative sequencing and just let the yoga flow through my body and not think to much about what I'm going to do next. We have one more chance to practice teaching while we are here this last week which I am really looking forward to. Also I'm sure I can find some travel buddies along the way who will let me practice my teaching skills and guide them in a little yoga sesh on the beach every now and then.
Now that we are on to our last week I am starting to get really excited about my backpacking part of this adventure. I've been trying to figure out where I want to go next and the best routes to get there. I think I will try and purchase a ferry/bus ticket to Khao Sok National Park to begin this leg of my trip. It's about an 8 hour commute so I would either leave in the 14th (day after graduation) or stick around for one extra day and leave on the 15th. I have a feeling this last week will go by extremely fast so I need to get organized as soon as possible.
Last night a bunch of us went to Fisherman's Market again and actually spent some time looking at all the vendors and shopping around before heading back to Coco Tams (the first bar we went to with the paper lanterns) for a drink. Trying to stick to my detox plan I decided to order a fresh coconut water while others chose to drink mojitos as I watched with pure envy. After a long hard week of training, all you want to do is unwind a little and have a drink but I was sticking to my plan and being strong. I also had my bike and a passenger on the back so I figured it was safer anyways to not even have a drink because I knew that one could turn into me wanting a few more. We then got dragged to solo bar (another night club we went to the first week) to do some dancing. I knew it was going to be hard to resist temptation if I went there but decided to go with the flow and go anyways. One of the girls who was also committed to detoxing and not drinking during our training also felt the temptation and talked me into getting one drink. We were good, we only had one and danced and had a good time and although I felt guilty breaking my detox, that drink was much needed and we both thought we deserved it for making it that far! It was also George's last night so he tagged along with us! As soon as we got to solo he started ripping it up on the dance floor. If you knew George you would understand why this was such an epic scene to see. Watching him in class do the craziest things with his body with such control is just so amazing and I always wondered what kind of dance moves he would bust out since he has mentioned going to clubs and just dancing like a maniac with some of his fellow yogi friends. Think Thom Yorke dancing on stage and that is exactly what George was doing. I mentioned the resemblance of his dancing but unfortunately not many people knew much about Radiohead or Thom Yorke so they had no clue what I was talking about. Later that night one of the girls I mentioned this to told me she said something to George about his dance moves and he said he spent about a month watching the Lotus Flower video and studying Thom Yorkes dance moves and that's where he learned to dance like that. Priceless and epic all at the same time. (Bryan, if you are reading this and we are in Bangkok while you're with me, we are going to one of his yoga classes. You need to meet this guy). After about an hour at solo those of us riding motorbikes decided to head home. When we got back to Vikasa we had remembered that a couple of our fellow students went to the bar across the street instead of coming with us so we decided to see if they were still there. Now that we were home and I didn't have to drive I was up for having another drink so we were happy to see that the one guy was still there and another one of our fellow students has joined him and they were sitting around talking to this really cool couple they had just met. This is the reggae bar I mentioned that is across the street in my first post. When we got there I was so taken away with how cool the bar was and the fact that I had been living across the street for 3 weeks and not yet been. We sat in an area that was basically a bamboo treehouse with cushions on the ground in which you sat around a table with a tree in the middle of it. It was elevated as well hence the whole treehouse vibe. I was having a great time drinking my Thai beer and getting to know this couple the boys were with until things started to take a turn and we decided to leave. I won't go into details as to what happened but there was a problem with the service causing us to leave right away. We walked back across the street and decided to go for a night swim in the ocean. Three of us decided to swim, one went to bed and the other came down to the water with us and hangout with us while we swam. We jumped off the rocks into the water and all of a sudden the one girl started noticing these bright lights in the water. At first I thought it was just the moon reflecting on the water and glowing when we would move our arms and legs and cause movement in the water but she insisted it was bioluminescence. I wasn't really sure what this was and she tried to explain to us about this tour she went on in Cuba in where they talked about this and she insisted we were witnessing it. It felt like our bodies were getting stung by something in the water and we all started getting a little freaked out and decided to come out. Google bioluminescence if you don't know what it is. But basically it's an underwater version of fireflies which we probably felt stinging us and saw glowing in the water. It's stuff like this that freaks me out about swimming in the ocean and just the feeling of unknown and what is under me and around me but so far I've managed to stay safe and I don't think this had a negative effect apart from the slight stinging sensations. Overall it was a really weird night and weird things like that kept happening. It was like a night from a movie or something and probably a night I will remember for a long long time. It's nights like this that I look forward to while I continue travelling. It's amazing the people you meet and the friendships you make when put in such positions. It made me realize how grateful I am to have the opportunity to be here and have these experiences and memories that will hopefully last a lifetime.
I spent today having a much more relaxed Saturday then the past two I have had. The three of us who went swimming last night decided we would get up for 9am practice with George before he left to go back to Bangkok. It was our day off so this was an optional class. I really wanted to go because it was a special class as Ram was going to be playing the sitar throughout the whole class which we all thought would be so cool to go to. For those of you who don't know a sitar is a very special instrument to yoga. It is almost like guitar but with 24 frets, one for every vertebrae in our bodies and 7 strings which each represent a different chakra (energy point). The body of the instrument is also made out of pumpkin. I've already added a picture of Ram playing it earlier this week so you can check it out to get the full effect of what this instrument actually is. You can probably also YouTube it to hear what it sounds like, but what I'm getting at is this was an amazing class and so relaxing with the sounds of the live sitar in the background. Probably one of if not the best yoga classes I have ever attended. I've also been working on pressing up into headstands since I got here. I've always been able to go up with the help of someone grabbing one of my legs to help me up but never on my own. All I needed to work on was using my core to lift my legs because I knew I could balance once I got up and today was the day that it finally happened. Even though it was hard to wake up at 830 after going to be sometime after 4am it was well worth it. After class I ate breakfast and hung around with the same two students from class discussing our night and our future plans after Vikasa as all three of us are staying in Thailand to travel. I think we will all still be going our separate ways but I wouldn't be surprised if we cross paths along the way. I then went to pick up my laundry and has a meeting with Ta at 2pm to discuss more about what needed to be done for her cookbook. I'm almost positive I mentioned this is the previous post but for those who may not know, I am helping this Thai lady put together and English cookbook of her Raw Thai recipes. After some slight communication issues we finally made it to her house where I was able to sit down with her and get some pictures of some of the dishes that will be featured in the book as well as translated her Thai recipes into English. She has a bunch of recipes and there is still a lot of work to be done. I'm hoping I will be able to do all this and I'm not committing myself to too much since I know I will also be busy finishing training and then moving around and traveling. I want to do a good job with this for her as she has a lot of passion towards raw cooking and teaching the younger generations all about how people used to eat and educating the world about the benefits of eating raw. When I got back from her place I hung out in the bean bag lounge with a few other students and me and two others decided we wanted to go out for dinner and change things up since we basically eat the same things everyday. We went to an Italian place in Fisherman's village. I love this part of the island. It's so cute and has so many cool bars and shops and just my kind of place. I'm hoping to come back here with Bryan and staying in a hostel in this part of the island. This Italian restaurant was to die for, the decor was adorable and they had a little terrace over looking the ocean. We didn't think to make a reservation so we couldn't have a table out on the terrace but we were inside at the table nearest the terrace which was still open so we could look out to the ocean. The three of us got pizza and shared a started of calamari and spinach dip. It was a very high end restaurant but the food was all very reasonably priced. It was probably one of the best pizzas I have ever had! The sauce was amazing and it was thin crust and the dough was so tasty and my toppings consisted of black olives, onions, mushrooms and chilies. It was quite spicy but sooooo good!!!! Could be because I was so used to eating all the same things everyday and it was just a shock to my taste buds but I was really impressed with the quality of the food. We had a really nice dinner talking about our friends and lives back home and how we are all here at the same time together. I am so grateful to have made such amazing friends here! We are all so different and all here for different but yet still very similar reasons and its cool how we are all learning so much from each other. It was a nice relaxing Saturday and I'm ready to start all over again tomorrow. I'm hoping I will be I'm a better place then I was last Saturday and that this last week will be amazing since we don't have much time left at all.
I wanna wish you all a very happy thanksgiving and want to say how thankful I am for all the love and support I have gotten from those of you back home. I'm thankful for this opportunity to be here in Thailand and to be able to continue this journey through Southeast Asia. I am thankful for my health and the health of those around me. All in all I am thankful that life is full of ups and downs and that I am continuing to learn and grow as an individual. Thank you all for reading and enjoy all that turkey and mashed potatoes for me!!