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From Bikram Bitch to beyond and beloved

July 8, 2010

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.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Doug permalink
    July 8, 2010 10:16 am

    It has been a pleasure to “do the yoga work” with you all these years. It was obvious to me at my initial yoga studio (where I met you as a teacher) that I wasn’t going to get adjusted or tweaked. Sure all the beautiful women were getting a lot of “hands on” adjustment. But not me. I toiled for 5+ months before you came back from Bikram’s teacher training. What a breathe of fresh air! I always thought I was attempting the posture with all I had, but you somehow pulled more out! I noticed that I made more progress with you in a month, than all the previous months! I asked yogis around me if they felt the same way. The opinions fascinated me. One camp was there to “do” something and were in their heads. The other camp, the ones that were attempting to “move deeper into the yoga and the posture” noticed!

    I do love the new studio as well. The best so far. As so in, as so out!

  2. Katie permalink
    July 8, 2010 10:47 am

    This is beautiful, Darla — just like you! As one of your new students, I am so glad to read this… the metamorphosis of my favorite yoga teacher. Namaste!

  3. Leslie permalink
    July 10, 2010 2:19 pm

    I never knew the yoga-nazi. I was introduced to yoga with the gentle hand of a beautiful woman who made me comfortable in my initial clumsiness, constantly encouraging me to realize what i could do. Lo and behold i did it. The love Darla gives is body and sould healing. it’s an experience i will never forget. i want to get back and i will — i probably need to get out of my head and just do it. Bikram bitch — no way! Loving Darla — ah yes!

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