And by water, I mean the sweat dripping from the tip of my nose, down to my thigh as I lock one leg, suck in my stomach, arch my back, hold the other leg perpendicular to the
ground. I curve my back and touch my head to my knee. I marvel at the wonder and strength of my body. This is Bikram Yoga.
It is difficult to formulate the words to explain the healing I’ve been able to cultivate through consistently practicing Bikram yoga. But here’s my valiant attempt:
1. Bikram reminds me of my power. Its something about seeing how powerful my body is, seeing my mind persevere through the 107 degrees, the burning muscles, and fatigue. In that mirror,sweating and ready to give up,I realize that I am damn strong. Not just physically, but mentally. I turn, twist, and move my body into shapes and positions I could have never imaged. I am learning, growing, being vulnerable. That all takes power.
2. Be consistent with your self-care. The discipline it takes to get to class, stay in class, and push myself is unparallel. I learned through yoga that in healing/ self-care, I have to be proactive rather than reactive. I don’t only go to yoga when I’m feeling down. I go on days I’m happy. Days I’m tired. I go because I know my body,mind, and spirit will thank me later. I set myself up success. I’m making conscious decisions to be happy and healthy.
3. Be gentle with your body. It has taught me to be gentle with my body and mind. My body is a gift. This wonderful vessel. It knows things that I have not come to know consciously. It holds everything and most times knows everything– it’s really a matter of me tapping in. When my body says lay down in Savasana. I do it. I don’t push through the posture if my body is exhausted and I feel dizzy. I don’t get down on myself if I sleep half of the class, its what my body must have needed. My body is learning, just like I am.
4. I am reminded that only I exist. Sometimes during yoga, I sing in my head, Jill Scott’s “One is the Magic #” ,particularly the chorus “There’s just me, 1 is the magic #.” I am reminded that only I exist. It’s just me and God and everything is a reflection of me or the Divine. There is no competition. I don’t try to get in a position deeper or more perfect than anyone else. There’s just me. I don’t look at other people, or at least I try not to, because my practice is not about their perception of me, but rather my perception of myself. How do I see and feel when I look at my reflection?
5. Listen & Acknowledge your needs. Yoga is a space where I can focus listening and acknowledging my needs. It’s a place for me to be alone. No students calling my name, no emails to check, no partner to cook dinner for, no phone calls to return…just me. I listen to my heartbeat, I listen to my breathing. I listen in on my thoughts, I listen to the needs of my body.
6. Breathe. What is a perfect posture,if you’re holding your breathe… holding on to something, afraid to breathe? Release, surrender to the moment. Bikram reminds me to breathe…daily. Not hold my breathe at the outcome of situations, but surrender to the moment. For me the value is in the journey. The process. I want to breathe my way all the way through.
Although Bikram may not have this same effect for everyone. I encourage you to find a self-care practice that allows you to experience some of these things and more. Take care of you. You’re imporant. You’e the only model we have.