Sunday, June 26, 2011

Solving the Puzzle of Bikram

So here's another reason why I'm a huge fan of Bikram yoga. Don't get me wrong, I love all the practices, I like a flow class, a strict Iyengar session, I think they all have their merits and produce great results.

Right now, I'm on the Bikram ball. I love it because its the same 26 postures over and over again. Ironically, I thought this would be something that I would hate about it. I longed for the unexpected creativity of the flow class.

But here is the genius behind the same 26 postures: the fear is removed. That whole entire, gee I wonder how far we are through the class, I wonder how much harder this is going to get, I wonder if I can do it when it gets even harder is removed completely.

Because you know exactly whats coming, you can commit everything you have to every posture every time you do it. It is completely clear how much time there is left, how hard it is going to get, and if you can rally later when its so hard right now.

Another brilliant piece is that you have a benchmark in every class. But because you are dealing with a body that changes daily, you have to accept and let go of the benchmark. Its an awesome opportunity to be present with the results you have in the now, and then let go of them. No judgement, whether its positive or negative. It just doesn't help.

Because the series is the same every time, your human mind is tempted to compare one set to the next, one class to the next.

But that is futile. You can look at the overall arching picture, but if you get lost in "This is my best posture! I'm going to impress my teacher SO MUCH right now!" guess what? You've popped right out of your body and right into your monkey mind, your focus is gone, and you are probably going to fall out of the posture anyway. That's what you get for going there in your head, congratulations.

For me, I can't help but compare, but its becoming a fun game to compare and then let the comparative results go into the ether and be wherever I am in the day.

I really thought that my hamstrings would never change. That I was just built this way. Inflexible. But that's not so. My body is changing so fast, I can't believe it.

And then, I went to my first 7am class. I've worked out a bunch early in the morning, even Yoga. But because of the magic of the Bikram series, how it is built, that I know it by heart now, I went in with expectations.

In that 7am class, suddenly, I felt like I was back at square one. I was out in the hallway after and one of the super flexi yogi girls smiled at me and said, "Don't worry, I couldn't touch my toes either when I first started." My egoic mind wanted to chase after her and say, "no no no! I can lock my legs out in standing head to knee! I'm working on pulling my elbows down! That was a hard place to get to! I've been working hard! Give me some CREDIT I DESERVE IT!"

But of course, the lesson in this moment was humility, there was no reason to need to validate my practice or prove my worth. She's right, I am still a beginner in this series and I will be for years to come. I couldn't touch my toes today, and it doesn't matter at all that I could yesterday.

I came back for 4:30 class and rocked it. Had my best class ever, and felt like I didn't deserve to be moving that well and working that hard and sweating that much because I'd been caught in the trap of my ego earlier. I was shamed, and relearned again, and then tried to look at the afternoon class as just what IS, not what has become and therefore something that points to how it WILL BE.

Yesterday, when I went to class, I was injured and my whole body had gotten tight. Even though I was trying to work hard for the rest of my body, it had tightened up SO MUCH guarding the injury that even the arches of my feet were tight.

I tried to be present with the fact that this was my body protecting itself. I tried to make space for the fear that my body had snapped like an elastic band back into place, and that I would not be able to put my head on my knee ever again. I felt a bit like I'd eaten a whole family size pack of Oreos and knew I'd need to take two weeks to hike them off and get back to where I had been JUST THAT MORNING.

Today, I went into class feeling like I'd surrendered into that lesson. I didn't care how my practice would be, I knew that I needed to be in the room, that I'd work as hard as was intelligent for my shoulder, and that I wouldn't know how hard I could go until each posture came up.

And guess what? I had my deepest class yet. For the first time ever I locked out both my legs and flexed my toes back and pulled my elbows down. I've never been there. And it wasn't a struggle, I picked up my foot, the stretch felt good in my shoulder and my leg locked out all by itself. I was shocked.

I got excited to see where my body was going to take me, but I was along for the ride, a patient observer. I felt so grateful to go internal, work hard, and experience the play of my body, tight yesterday, protecting, loose today, opening and healing.

1 comment:

judyanne said...

the bestest part is, that I found, that it all boils down to showing up, staying present, and repeating often. Bikram yoga does the rest. I would love to go to teacher training someday since making my level three is out of the question. nameste Kate thanks for sharing.