Me? Acting/Bored with Dialogue? No Way!

My first Bikram Yoga class was like someone had finally turned the lights on.To some this might sound over the top (I am well aware that not everyone gets this feeling) but it was ‘WOW, OMG, what just happened? That was AMAZEing!’ I wanted EVERYONE to try it out; I presumed everyone would have similar experience. Not so. My excellent first teacher, Beautiful Beverley Brown (forever GRATEFUL to Bev for bringing Bikram Yoga to Jersey way back when), taught straight Bikram Dialogue again and again, day in day out and we (students) LOVED IT. I was energised and transformed by it. It had a perfect rhythm. In its repetition I discovered Yoga was my path, Bikram Yoga was my vehicle, the Dialogue turned out to be my steering wheel and my own effort was my fuel; and so the journey began…The BYTTC was of an intensity, duration and certainly of a price that demanded that the students who signed up/undertook were very serious about the new journey they were about to embark on as Yoga teachers. It was a life changing event.

When we were given our certificate at the end we were told “NOW THE LEARNING BEGINS.”  Never was there a truer cliché 🙂

The first six months of teaching I felt sick (and other stuff) before EVERY class; I felt like an imposter; my almost paralyzing self talk was like “I’m not supposed to be here”; “everyone will see I’m a fraud”. My internal dialogue veered between ‘terror’ to “just get on with it”. So I did it anyway.  Fake it ‘til you make it folks! It works ! : ) I finally internalysed the Dialogue and found my voice in Bikram method teaching and started to learn from the students in front of me.

A Yoga teacher can never stop learning.  Just because you have completed a course doesn’t mean that is it. For ever and ever. Hello World Here I Am Superyogiteacher! The End.  You could complete 10 courses but always something extra has to be put in to your development as a real life teacher.  Our certificate certified us as Bikram method instructors. But there is a huge difference between one month, one year, one decade experience in teaching. One thing I have learned is that ‘Yoga teaching’ is not for the faint of heart 🙂 . It is certainly not the soft option that so many appear (via their statements) to think it is; the ‘Yoga teacher escape route’ from all that is wrong in one’s life otherwise’.  It demands a lot financially (massive training costs as well as sacrifice of potential earning capacity that you would have had otherwise) and energetically AND some disciplines expect that you will LOVE your students REGARDLESS (bear insult bear injury highest Sadhana). blimey!  CONTINUOUS self-examination is a must. A personal PRACTICE is an absolute must.

Sometimes I feel like I might be a contender (up against myself and my own personal limiters of course); others times I think Hey! I might just BE a Yoga teacher today; still sometimes I feel like the great pretender. I wonder will I ever get it. ALWAYS I feel like I am the student and the class in front of me is teaching me about my life and how ‘I am’ in it and how I could improve. I KNOW this places me in the right room (remember; if you’re the smartest person in the room you are in the wrong room :). Right? ).Our YM Yoga school is my personal ashram on ALL things Yoga. My personal practice keeps me connected to the students who come to our studio.

I particularly want to address two little points here: 1) Bikram Yoga teachers frequently get accused (yawn) of teaching from script or being scripted. 2) Someone suggesting that surely I {Bikram teachers generally} get bored by saying the same thing class after class.

BIKRAM TEACHERS TEACH FROM ‘THE DIALOGUE’ {Bikram Features (tenets)}. It provides a class structure and keeps students AND the new teacher safe whilst the new teacher is still absorbing what each of Bikram’s succinct directions means for the unique body in front of them and what additional instructions for modifications may be needed {Method to the Madness}. We use it whilst we are developing our own unique/authentic teaching style to help get the lesson across. We use it whilst we become more fluent through repetition. Then we continue to use it because, essentially, IT WORKS. Fundamentally, it is all the new student needs to enable them to try a posture and develop their Yoga skills and the regular students discover deeper meaning in it over time for the longest time because there is SO MUCH DETAIL in it, it is POWERFUL and over time IT WORKS BETTER.

Some teachers will stick with dialogue verbatim forever and are very passionate about that. Others may find they want to vary it up. Others again may step away from it completely.  All can be excellent teachers. I heard once that Bikram said that maybe 10% of his teachers would ‘develop’. I don’t know what that means for the rest. I hope I am in the 10%. I have been in classes of many approaches that were remarkably good AND outstandingly bad to say the least. Indeed I believe I have fallen into both of these categories myself at some point. It boils down to the teacher themselves and how they choose to develop and how they choose to deliver their words.  I remember 6 months into my own teaching experience sitting down and, shock/horror! RE-WRITING‘ the Dialogue’.  The Dialogue IS a beautiful thing. I did not want to change it all! I just wanted to vary it up at that stage. You have to be VERY CAREFUL how you change up the Dialogue; you don’t want to remove any of the essential information that contains the powerful elements of healing and transformation and if you do you could be preventing your student from accessing the deeper healing that they have a right to expect from a Bikram class led by a Bikram trained teacher.  I personally felt restrained from the ‘off’ by superfluous expressions (a few little funnies like ‘Japanese ham sandwich’ ‘flower petals blooming’) and felt a need to create my own palette of other little expressions that I could draw on to replace them that might serve better in the moment. I recently re-read that old ‘re-write’ (from 2002!!!) and found “paint a line along the ceiling with your fingertips find a spot on the wall behind you and reach/try touch it” LOL 🙂 I’d forgotten I wrote that in! I’ve used it again lately because, hey, I like this little direction for ‘extend up strong lines reach back as far as you can’.

Ultimately I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Dialogue. I re-read it now and then; remind myself of the little gems in it; refresh what I am saying with bits of it I had forgotten. Forget again. Re-read. Forget. This way the Dialogue ‘tool’ is always fresh to me (who would have thought a poor memory could be such a good thing 🙂 ) ; it can always be relied upon for mining lovely succinct nuggets of anatomical direction. It is always there; I just don’t always use it but I do use it. I may use my own ‘re-peat’ expressions mixed with dialogue but it is never rehearsed (as our lovely Yogi peeps can attest 🙂 ); Just because it has become internalysed and procedural for us doesn’t make Bikram Yoga teachers actors.  MY TEACHING IS ALWAYS A RESPONSE TO WHAT I AM PRESENTED WITH IN EACH CLASS although it may have the appearance of leading the class. Well… Ok…It is a blend… That’s Yoga folks! I also have my own take on what tone I would like students to set for themselves mentally as well as physically which depends on the class in front of me so I never quite know what I am going to say 🙂 but you can rely on the fact that it will be a comforting ‘familiar rythm’ so that you do not get caught up in any major digressions from Dialogue. In fact I don’t know what I am going to say but it will, in the essentials, be Dialogue by the mere fact of it being a response to what is in front of me!!! We do not want you to get distracted from the important work you are doing in your 90 minute meditation! We will not distract you by being inconsistent. The teachers’ familiar verbal will become the student’s mantra which in time leads them to quieten their mind. The class is not about the teacher. Ever; it is all about the student.

I ABSOLUTELY NEVER. EVER. EVER. EVER. get bored saying similar things again and again every day. I’d know if I was bored and declare it wouldn’t I? WHY aren’t I bored? As much as class is all about the student, PRIMARILY, it is YOUR 90 minute class, secondarily, it is my 90 minutes of time too!

All I have in this world is time. And health. HEALTH is Wealth and

~TIME IS WEALTH~ I will not squander my time right now ‘being bored’. WHO’s mammy didn’t chide them as children when they were complaining with “only the boring get bored”? I am in the studio every day of the week/most classes. No two classes are the same; yes the words may be the same but it’s a new day, a new set of students, a new dynamic.

I MATCH MY CHOICE OF WORDS METHOD TO THE PEEPS IN FRONT OF ME. Everyone brings their energy to class and gives and gives and gives in the moment. I will feedback and give, give, give my energy partly via words/Dialogue/precise clear instructions to enable people to get the most out of the class they just turned up for. It is not my place to decide what a student’s spiritual journey is; but it is my job to be reliable and accommodate them in a particular way on their journey when they choose to use the Bikram method tool at our little Yoga school.  At Yoga Matters we are always trying to raise the bar on our learning and teaching whilst keeping our students safe in practice. The better our knowledge the better the quality of instruction to filter into your subconscious mind, the better your experience overall. It is all in the ‘detail’ in the ‘moment’. Each moment is filled with possibility and might just be that unplanned for moment where the student gets it! So our words are never empty; they are a tool and I engage with them to engage with the student who loves their Yoga. A Bikram Yoga teacher is never ‘just’ Dialogue (verbatim or otherwise); they are energy and personality interwoven. So a boring Dialogue or otherwise class isn’t boring because of the Dialogue; it is boring because of the teacher.  A “bored with the Dialogue teacher” should step away from the table because the minute they use the word bored/boring but continue to hang on in there expecting students to attend their classes and listen to them, they are not walking their talk, they are not living their truth; they are doing a disservice to themselves, to other Bikram teachers and, most importantly, to the students.

So. To the uninitiated in the Bikram method: The Bikram Dialogue is ‘our’ tool to help us become better teachers AND students. Dialogue is ‘starting block’ AND ‘home base’ for Bikram Yogis. Each unique class we are ‘out ‘n about’ AND ‘digging deep’ exploring the ‘world’s’ AND our ‘inner’ thesaurus 🙂 EXpanding our horizons AND INternalysing a new way of BEing.


Om Om Om My Life Without Bikram Dialogue is Boring