Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bikram Diaries, Part 2: Why are you here?

That's the question my Bikram teacher asked us to ponder today as we lay on our mats in savasana.  Class was only halfway over, and seemingly the hardest part was behind us.  (Today, that turned out not to be the case for me.  Man alive, did I get my behind kicked in that class)

The first thought that swam into my sweaty, woozy head was, "I had a coupon."  The rest of the thoughts that followed...they're not the reasons I have for going to a regular old Vinyasa yoga class.  My reasons for doing Bikram, aside from the coupon and the desire to really see for myself what the teachers and studios are like, are honestly pretty shallow and ego driven.  This is summer, after all - I'd say "bikini season," but I'm not sure being in a bikini a total of like 4 times in 3 months qualifies as a full fledged season.  But I, just like anyone else, would always like to see myself a little stronger, more toned...you get the idea.  Practicing yoga in a ridiculously hot room where you're literally dripping with sweat burns a lot of calories.  Also, all that sweat apparently makes my skin look fabulous.

My next reason would be to test my discipline.  I can't decide whether this is an ego-based reason or not.  I think challenging one's discipline is always a good thing, but there's a difference between pushing yourself beyond your perceived limits and pushing your body to where it shouldn't go.  In my regular yoga classes, I'm hyper aware of what I'm doing at any given moment with my body.  I know where I am in the pose, where I'm working toward, what my alignment is.  In Bikram, alignment and poses are all slightly different (or very different, in some cases) from what I'm used to, so I'm really engaging my "beginner's mind" to soak up all the copious alignment cues our teachers are giving us.  The difference is, even with a phenomenal and thorough teacher in my usual classes, I feel very much in charge of my own practice.  I come out when I need to, I push when I can.  In Bikram, even if a teacher isn't an intimidating person, there is such an intensely Type A pressure to Achieve and Succeed in the room that you're pushing yourself to maximum intensity every second of every pose.  Again...not necessarily a bad thing - but it's not motivated by my mindful judgement of what my body needs.  It's motivated by my ego to do the pose perfectly and my unshakable "teacher's pet" / people pleaser mentality.  It just worries me.

However, now that I have found my teachers that I like, I'm trying to stick with their classes as much as I can.  I suppose that's not the best way to go about delving into this new world - I should probably be focusing on finding a variety of teachers.  But man, when you're stuck in that hot room with a teacher you discover rubs you the wrong way...it sure starts to feel a little like hell.  I love my blog and I love exploring new avenues, but even I have my limits.

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