From Bikram Bitch to beyond and beloved
I cut my teeth as a yoga teacher in the Bikram system. It was perfect for me as a shy person who had no clue how to teach yoga, and I think it’s a good beginner teacher training. There are problems with the Bikram yoga Teacher Training for sure, the biggest being the unusual mean-ness and encouragement to feed the teacher’s ego. I bought some of what he was selling — I was a kick ass Yoga Nazi.
I understood the discipline part. I could see the system really was for those who need a place to start with their body and mind, and I was a great Bikram Yoga teacher. I never taught “the dialogue” and saw ways to teach the postures so the student could understand. I also did the unthinkable. I gave students individual instruction: instructions for their bodies, considering their injuries and their abilities. GASP! It was what made me a great Bikram Yoga teacher.
I already hear the rumblings from the Bikram yoga teachers who are reading this… the purists who say the above statements are exactly what made me a BAD Bikram yoga teacher. Nevertheless, my approach to the Bikram system was fun and fresh and desperately needed in Houston at the time.
I currently have students who were my yoga friends before I became a yoga teacher. They experienced the “new” yoga teacher, the “hard and controlling” yoga teacher, the “ego- filled” yoga teacher. I am so blessed to have many of them still practicing with me. A couple of weeks ago I was teaching a private class in a cooler room with one of these long time students and he asked, “What happened Darla? Why are you nicer? Why don’t you teach the same way anymore?” Wow. Great question.
I am already intense. You might even say I am high- strung. As I kept teaching and interacting with students I realized this teaching style did not suit me. My personality, the heat and trying to control everything in the yoga room was too much. It did not soften me as I needed. The repetition, the structure, the rigidness are all yang. I needed some yin. No, not Yin Yoga- but yin energy. As we all know, The Universe is all about giving you what you need. So as life went on a few very intense things happened that ripped me to shreds. I will spare you the very ugly details but I found those events to be very softening, to say the least. Life humbled me life made me softer.
So now I am still teaching and doing yoga in the heated room. I am still intense, but I have many many classes, endless hours of watching people do yoga, and lots of life under my belt. Teaching yoga for me is no longer what I “do” — it is who I am.
When I am in that yoga space with you, we are there to explore. We are there to go a little deeper, breathe a little longer and get out of our heads for a while. I want to be there guiding you, helping you, loving you, and I want to do it gently and with heart open. That is the place of growth, that is the place where the spirit can dance.