Question: Is Bikram Yoga too focused on the Physical? Is it a dominantly physical practice?
Answer: Well….some people do say, “Yes.”
I have heard it over and over. Things like: “They are so focused on their bodies.” Or: “those mirrors – they are so vain.” “Competitive”. Or: “You can’t possibly go within when you have all of that heat and sweat and light.”
My response to these answers is that 1) they are coming from the outside looking in, making a judgment without experience.
It was one of those lovely classes where everyone spaced themselves so beautifully in the three rows of our practice room; people hardly took their eyes off of their focus points for the entire warm-up portion of class.
We were finishing up the standing series, on the second side of Toe Stand, when one of the great yoga lessons emerged.
Almost four years ago, while long-distance training, I pulled a hamstring. I continued to run on it and completed a marathon in Charlevoix in June 2013.
I struggled throughout the race due to the pain in my hamstring. Also, despite my training, around mile 14 I had trouble breathing and needed to use an inhaler. At the end of the race, the pain in my hamstring was so bad that I couldn’t bend my knee.
I started practicing Bikram Yoga in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2003 – shortly after returning to the United States after 2 years of living in rural Japan. I was working in the kitchen of the People’s Food Coop at the time and attended on the invitation of one of my coworkers. I do not think that either of us “liked” the first class – she did not ever return for a second class (that was hard!).
I started practicing Bikram Yoga six years ago and have had the pleasure of practicing in many different places. Having started in Honolulu, and then in Houston, Austin, Boston, and Berlin before ending up here at my most favorite of studios. (Aren’t we lucky!!)
I am forever indebted to a close friend of mine, a former dancer like myself, who introduced me to Bikram yoga.
The weekday morning classes here are indescribably special. I love every single class I teach and practice – evenings and weekends included – but the 9:30 am classes have this special energy that dedicated, regular, curious students create. The average age is probably 55, with many of my 70+ students attending regularly at that time.
This past Tuesday’s “warm” 9:30 class – practiced about 10 degrees cooler than the usual 105F – was an all-front-row class with the kind of calm, deep focus that leaves you floating the rest of the day.
A question I love to address occurs commonly with regards to Fixed Firm Posture.
I hear something like: “When am I going to be able to do the posture?”
I smile in response: “What are you talking about? You are already doing it. I have seen you do it several times a week for the past 5 months.”
“But I am terrible at it. When am I going to be good at it?”
The question I must ask in return:
What do you mean by “doing” a posture? Or being good at it? And what is the purpose of the posture?