It was hotter than normal in there today, wasn’t it?
How do you do the same postures, day after day after day and not get bored?
Is there a problem with the heat? I feel like I barely sweat today.
Nothing has changed in (fill in the blank with the posture of your choice) since the first day. Maybe that posture isn’t for me.
These are a few of the common things I hear pretty much every day since I first walked into a Bikram Yoga studio over a decade ago. Often, it’s muttered in the changing rooms or out in the lobby as students reach for their shoes and dry clothing, hair often still matted to their head in a soppy, sweaty styling looking for the answers to the chattering questions that knocked around their head during class. Sometimes these thoughts are directed at fellow students and sometimes the question is directed at a teacher, but the answers are the same none-the-less.
Bikram Yoga, or Traditional Hatha Yoga/26&2, is comprised of the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises performed in a 105-degree room with a 40% humidity, day after day. This is not news to most of us. It is a challenging practice. It is a disciplined practice. And because of this, it is awesome and for many of its devoted practitioners, life changing.
We like to think that the things in life that challenge us the most are hard and complicated. That these things need to be analyzed to death, taken apart and put back together, but usually the truth is, and this pertains to Bikram Yoga especially, that it is not easy, but it is simple. I always find in my own practice that when I focus on what I am trying to accomplish within a given posture, there are only a handful of actions I must take to have it happen. When you get too caught up in the details, you’ve taken the incredible simplicity away and replaced it with a this-is-so-hard-its-never-going-to-happen-for-me attitude that gets in the way and complicates the practice.
The longer you practice the more you will critique the heat at your studio. When, I first started practicing I remember a fellow student that would constantly talk about the weather of the hot room as if she were the studio’s meteorologist as they prepared to leave after their practice that day.
“It was the perfect temperature today!”
“It was downright chilly in the hot room. My mat is still dry.”
“Someone needs to turn the heat down. I swear I almost died today!”
Day after day, they always had something to say.
The heat does kind of morph from day to day, at times a literal wall you must pull yourself over and other days distractingly not there, or dare I say, easy to deal with. It could be because of the food you consumed earlier, your hormones, your stress level, and so on. It’s not about the heat. The longer you practice the more you know this. Yes, it will be hot. Yes, you will more than likely sweat buckets. You eventually start to surrender to what is happening in the moment. You surrender to the process of this practice. If, for whatever reason, the heat is not working at the studio on a given day, there are other things to work on within the practice, such as breath, concentration, and discipline. All is not lost if there are a few classes without heat. Studio owners know the heat is important and are going to fix it as quickly as they can.
I have always found the commentary that the practice is boring a bit funny. There is nothing boring about this yoga. Last week I had a teacher comment on how repeating the same postures day after day creates a mental toughness over time. How very true. It takes a strong mind to repeat a posture or sequence and work for something more within it. It’s a mind that doesn’t give up or lose focus easily. It’s a mind that understands that if you work for something diligently and with integrity, what you are working for can be yours. How will you know if things are changing, or if your practice is growing, if there is no repetition? As Wayne Dyer has been quoted as saying, “Life is never boring, but people choose to be bored.” Usually, the practice isn’t boring, you are boring.
Finally, every posture is for you. You may not like it. You might feel like that posture doesn’t like you. You arrived at the studio to practice yoga, not to try to practice yoga. Do your practice. Do what you can today. Even if you think what you can do today is such a small thing that it seems worthless to even do it. It’s not. It will change if you truly practice the posture. You are ensuring it won’t change by skipping that posture every time, every class, no matter who is on the podium. There is a beginning to every posture. Start there and slowly move into a deeper space. Take your time. There is no race. It doesn’t matter what other people can do within their practice. What matters is that you show up and do your practice.
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