I am learning that in order to create real change in our lives, we must develop an ability to identify and overcome our annoying and compulsive patterns that keep us from being the people we say we want to be. This process is a benefit of Bikram Yoga
1. First you have to have the courage to LOOK. To identify what those patterns are.
In Bikram Yoga class, this awareness is represented by the mirror and those bright lights. You've got to look. You have to face yourself. The lights are on, and you are standing there, exposed, in skimpy clothes, for all to see. Including yourself. Are you ready to stand there and face the truth.
2. Next, you must choose to STAY.
In class, this translates into staying in the room. Of course it's too hot. Of course you want to flee the room for the safety of the locker room. Of course you feel safer in the back row, by the door, "just in case." Choosing to stay is choosing to stay with yourself, and not flee from yourself.
3. Then TOLERATE.
Panic, extreme self-criticism, and dread are a few of the uncomfortable emotions that may come. For sure. And those thoughts seem so real. You BELIEVE you really do need to be by the door. That you are too fat to be in the front. That you are a person who can only make it through to Standing Bow before you need to go cool off.
But this is why we go to class.
Tolerance of self is major a benefit of Bikram Yoga. We want to identify these thoughts we think, and then ask ourselves if they are actually real?
And when and if we realize they aren't real....that they are our mind tricking us and forcing us to flee and abandon ourselves...it is then that we can start the practice of tolerating these horrible emotions, and learning to stay with them. To stay with ourselves.
It takes enormous practice. It takes enormous courage. It creates horrible discomfort.
But when we can do it, then our worlds open up and we can do anything. We can stay with ourselves. Comfort ourselves. Not abandon ourselves. It's a huge benefit of Bikram Yoga.
This means we can then tackle our issues with, say, compulsive overeating. When panic arises because you will not be able to stand this moment without chocolate cake...you can learn to "stay in the room." Stay with yourself through the panic without reaching for the cake (which is the comfort of the locker room.)
We can step into moments of conflict that we might ordinarily avoid. Tell your boyfriend what you really think, and then tolerate the consequences. It's the same as gearing up to do triangle pose. You may dread it, but in the middle of it, it's actually not so bad. And you know you'll feel better afterwards.
Not everyone is at a point in their lives where they need to or want to face themselves in a mirror in a 105 degree room. Not everyone is ready or needing to do this work at this moment in their lives.
But for those of who are ready to jump into the fire... who are craving an inferno in which we can practice staying within our body while our mind blasts us apart.... for those of us crazy self-awareness-seeking-weirdos....there is a practice called Bikram Yoga.
When summer is here my favorite way to wind down is to sit outside with a great day.. And I absolutely love my Kindle.