Lately I’ve developed the most annoying habit. I have no idea when it started or where it came from, but breaking this habit has been a challenge. After years of countless coaching from vocal, acting, and public speaking professionals I have somehow developed an affinity for the word, “Like.” As in:
“I just looked at her and was, LIKE, I don’t know.”
“They’re talking through things to, LIKE, make sure it’s clear.”
“I was just, LIKE, so surprised.”
How has this happened? I started noticing this phenomenon a couple of weeks ago and immediately have tried to remedy it, but as in breaking any habit, it’s not easy. If my acting coach talked to me right now I’m sure she be horrified. Whenever I spent too much time at home in between shows she would be all over me when even a hint of a Chicago accent started to present itself. What would she have to say to me now?
I just need to get it together and break the habit. I will and have become more mindful of my words. Which has led me to thinking about some of the other unfortunate habits I have conquered over the years.
I used to obsessively count my calories. Every bite of food was being tallied in my head all day long to the point where there was very little enjoyment in eating. Now I eat what I crave, what I know my body needs to make it through the day and embrace the joy of good food.
There was also the nail biting when I was younger, the negative self talk when I looked in the mirror in my 20s, and the obsessive need to constantly appear perfect in every way throughout my performance career. I’m sure I could come up with more. We all have bad habits we wish we could overcome. But the biggest way to get rid of them is to actually be aware of them.
Lately, I’ve had multiple discussions with students about habits cultivated in the hot room, whether good or bad. Some habits serve us, such as remaining still in between the postures, keeping silent in the room, and learning to listen and move with the cues in the dialogue.
But other habits can really chip away at a good practice. It would best if we could leave these at the door when we enter the hot room:
I once had a teacher years ago that consistently said throughout the class, “Do you need the water or do you want the water.” At the time I thought he was insane. It is HOT in here and I needed the water. But he’s still in my head today asking that question and most of the time I don’t need to grab that water bottle. I just want to and I have the decision to just let it go. Also, if you always grab your water at the same point in class be aware that this has become a habit, not a need. You are probably distracting yourself from the posture that’s next in line in the Bikram Yoga Series.
Most of the time you are not even aware that you are scratching, itching, or playing with the outfit or hair, but this is all a distraction from your 90 minutes. It keeps you distant from yourself and from concentrating on the instructions offered in the dialogue to get you in and out of the postures. It is a way to deal with the heat and the humidity, but requires extra energy that could be put into your practice.
3. Toweling off
Believe me I used to love my hand towel. It really wasn’t until teacher training that I had to let it go and just let the sweat drip. The more you towel off in the hot room the more your body has to work to create more sweat to cool you off. So, I know it feels great to wipe and swipe, but you’re actually making it harder on yourself in the long run.
4. Yoga Drama
This includes swearing at the teacher when they give you a correction. (It never happened to me personally, but I’ve actually seen this take place.) This also includes facial expressions to indicate how hard you are working or how annoyed you are with the person next to you. Trust me, the teacher knows how hard you are working and we think the bravest thing you can do is enter the hot room and go through the 90 minutes. Let all of that stuff go so you can start to truly focus on the practice. Take care of yourself and try and relax.
5. Taking breaks
There is nothing wrong with taking breaks throughout the series if you need them. But if you are always taking a break to avoid doing say, Triangle Pose or Camel Pose than you are getting in your own way. Some postures are not easy or don’t even feel remotely good at first, but those asanas are probably the ones that your body needs the most. At least give it a try. The teacher will never give up on you. Don’t give up on yourself.
There’s always something to improve when it comes to your yoga practice, but that’s what makes it so interesting and rewarding. As ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is quoted as saying, “When I let go of who I am, I become what I might be.” So if we’re all willing to let go of some of the things we think we need to have in the hot room maybe we’ll all find that highest version of our Self.
I just know we can all LIKE totally do it! 😉
What habits have you ever had to break in and out of the hot room?