Bikram? Really?

Yes. I’ve shocked myself. I never thought I’d be practicing 26 asana & 2 breathing exercises in a 105 degree room, but here I am. Priorly, I thought the increased heat was a cheat, the repetition of “26 postures and 2 breathing exercises” (it’s like a mantram for them!) facile and the “dialogue” of the “teachers” a total copout. I’d been to one class a couple of years ago and was completely turned off by the humorless lack of attention of that teacher.

Well, I’ve been looking for a fun challenge that doesn’t require unearthing my whole life, and this was an adventure I wanted to have. A new Bikram studio opened up near the studio where I teach and it was drawing my attention. I’d been going to more & more classes at YogaNow where I’ve been a student for 7 years and took teacher training myself. I wanted something new but familiar. I need to loose some weight that’s been very stubborn. I want to do it with yoga because I don’t want to take yoga time for things like the gym. Albuquerque Downtown Bikram Studio (in EDO) has a first month special that’s hard to turn down… so I dove in. I took two classes in 24 hours, bought the book, and all I know is that I feel good. I have concerns about alignment issues, I’m still pretty underwhelmed with the dialogue, but the teachers at this new studio are attentive and kind and steady. And the heat is very comforting.

I do wonder what this means for me… how it will affect my teaching, is this just another obsession, will I loose this weight that is so stubborn. Will I have enough water? But I know what feels good and this is it. I’m enjoying really immersing myself in classes – I plan to do one Bikram and one regular Hatha at YogaNow every day I’m not on duty starting tomorrow, after my regular monthly break.

The book was a wonderful adjunct, because it explains things in more detail than the dialogue (or script) the teachers use. The sequencing in really very good. I’m still not sure about the knee locking thing, but have been really impressed with how much attention they get me to pay to squeezing the muscles of the leg, which seems to be the major point. The instruction that it should feel like you don’t even have a knee almost sounds like my teacher’s admonition that the knee is really just the karma between your thigh and your lower leg.

I’m also very impressed with how deeply and specifically Bikram goes into the squeezing and flooding actions of yoga asana in his writing. This is something I heard about in my own teacher training and of course in Iyengar’s Light on Yoga, but I’ve never seen or experienced a practice completely built around it.

I could personally do without the constant chatter of the teacher’s dialogue. I was reading about giving instruction  on the Yoga Journal website and one of the teachers said the silences are as important as the instructions, and this seems crucially true to me. I wish the Bikram teachers would use more.

The frequent sivasana, too, at first annoyed me. It felt like preschool children scrambling to get on their nappy mats fast enough. But I now feel it as more of a rhythm, and the frequent horizontal flooding of all body structures between intense effort makes sense to me.

Bikram Yoga may not become my primary practice, but it is teaching me a lot. And if it helps me shed these pounds it will be a successful adventure. I also seem to be better able to turn down vices – the 3 am cigarette on duty seems pointless, the extra glass of wine a bit much.

So, here’s to growth, appropriate change and stretching our preconceived notions. Action with compassion, the unplanned plan and conscious intensity. Peace, love and rock and roll.

  1. yogaguide said:

    ps: just finished another class – my favorite teacher so far – Fern. I feel like there’s more space inside every muscle and all around. So far so good!

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