I wish everyone could see what I see when I’m teaching a Bikram Yoga class.
Especially those who might not fully believe in themselves just yet. To see from my vantage for even a second would fill you with enough inspiration to last a lifetime.
And what is it that I see?
I see you.
So if you’re not sure and don’t quite believe in yourself that’s ok.
I see you and I will believe in you until you can.
Posture Tip-Standing Bow Pulling
In the setup, bring your arm up in front of you. You want to start the posture with your chin close to your shoulder.
In some postures we bring the arms over the head sideways. For example in Half Moon, to get the palms together and arms touching with the ears.
Often the dialogue tells us what to do, and the effect of doing so. So,
“Bring your arm up in front of you, chin close to your shoulder.”
There is only one moment in which we can change our life. Only one moment in which we can heal ourselves, or have a positive effect on another.
Life does not exist 5 seconds ago. That’s a wonderful memory that we should cherish.
Life does not exist 5 seconds from now. That’s a beautiful dream that we should aspire to.
The only moment in which life exists is moment that you are in.
And that’s where your power is.
The here and the now.
Correct hand placement is crucial in this posture.
In fact, there are more instructions for the hands in Cobra than almost any other body part in any other posture.
Make sure that throughout the posture:
- Five fingers together so palms are flat on the floor.
- Fingertips in line with the tops of the shoulders.
- Baby fingers in line with the deltoids.
- Distribute the body weight all over the palms equally.
So not too high, not too low, not turned in, not turned out. Square underneath the shoulders.
Then glue it down and don’t change the hands anymore. You’re going to need them.
Hi. My name is Billy. I practiced in front of you this morning. I’m the guy with the oversized water bottle and undersized shorts.
I overheard you talking with the teacher after class. You said that at one point you felt overwhelmed and needed to take a break. And it made you feel embarrassed.
Just so you know, I’m a teacher too. In fact I own the studio. I knew it was your first ever Yoga class so I was keeping a bit of an eye on you.
You did better than you think.
I saw your determination in trying to grab your foot. I saw your progress by getting it the second time. I saw your concentration in figuring it out. I saw your patience in taking a break. I saw your strength in getting back up.
How you felt is perfectly normal. We all have our struggles, that’s why we are there. And we will be there again tomorrow.
I vote you join us. We can try to grab our feet and see what happens.
Studio Tip-After Class
The best compliment that you could ever give your Yoga Teacher…
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I don’t go to Work to do my Job. I do my Job so I can go to Work.
Imagine for a moment I were a bus driver. It would be my Job to keep the bus clean, safe, gassed up, on schedule, and going in the right direction.
By doing my Job, that allows me to do my Work. The part I would do for free. The reason I wanted to be a bus driver in the first place.
To fill my bus with people and help take them where they want to go.
So do the Job of getting in the room. Make the time, stay hydrated, get yourself a mat, and show up.
Then you can do the real Work. The reason you do it in the first place.
Posture Tip-Awkward 1st Part
Sit down until your hips touch the chair.
Everybody has a slightly different chair depending on their anatomy, mostly the length of the femur bone.
Sit too low, and you cannot lift your chest up and bring your upper body back , so that your total spine is backward bending.
To go deeper in the posture you aren’t trying to sit lower. You are trying to lean back and fall down backwards.
Twinkle twinkle little scar
How I wonder where you are
On the knees and seen with the eyes?
Or deeper inside, beneath and besides.
We all have them. Scars tell the tales of our traumas. They are permanent markers from times of suffering or dis-ease.
Some of us have scars on the outside, and some of us have scars on the inside.
Most of us have them on both.
Bikram Yoga is Therapy for where our scars are.
Posture Tip-Head To Knee
Don’t just Tuck your chin to your chest. Touch your chin to your chest.
This is not a stretching pose, it is a compression posture.
The goal is to create maximum pressure to the abdomen and throat. It is a marriage between compression and extension between the pancreas and kidneys, thyroid and pituitary glands.
Even by doing just 5% of the posture you get 100% benefit, as long as you are trying the right way and don’t give up.
When I was 20 I hiked the Appalachian Trail. At 2190 miles, it’s the longest hiking only footpath in the world. For 6 months I carried my possessions in a pack on my back and walked in the woods, from Georgia to Maine.
When I started the journey I carried a lot. I had a 52 pound backpack and 100 tons of grief from the loss of my sister Kristen.
I realized quickly that carrying such weight around would make every step even more difficult than it already was.
I had to really think deeply about what I needed to be holding onto.
So, I cut the handle off of my toothbrush in hopes of saving an ounce. I ripped the pages from my journal to save me from the weight of the binder. I let go of the disappointment in myself that I couldn’t save her.
Turns out letting go of things, even if they seem small and irrelevant, can add up and have a great impact on how we are able to move forward.
Ultimately I got the pack down to 45 pounds. But the weight off my shoulders from learning to let go was far greater.
Now my path is different. A 2000 sq ft hot yoga room.
Still though, it’s plenty of room to work on letting go.
Music was my first true love. It was my college study and first career.
Primarily, I play the electric bass. My Dad played the tuba in a dixieland jazz band so I was always surrounded by music, and I started playing instruments at an early age.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a hotshot player. A gunslinger. I played a lot of notes, and I played em fast. Fast meant you were pretty good I thought.
My Dad taught me otherwise.
He said, “Even more important than the notes you play, are the notes that you don’t play. It’s the space between that creates music. No space, and it’s just noise.”
The same principle applies in Bikram Yoga.
It’s the space (stillness) between that is Yoga. No space, and it’s just exercise.
Studio Tip-Music Classes
Some studios offer classes where you practice along with music. These can be really fun for everyone and great yogatainment.
As much as I love music, we don’t offor those classes at my studio. You see…
Music, perhaps more than any other outside influence, can deeply impact our feelings and emotional state.
I believe that Yoga offers us space. And in that space we can free our minds to do the real work. Getting in touch with our selves. Developing a mind-body connection, and practicing self-realization.
That, is Yoga.
The dialogue used in a Bikram Yoga class covers just about every single body part.
Arms, legs, toes, tongue, hair, spine…almost everything.
(I say “almost” because of the unmentioned unmentionables. However, one could argue “nothing loose, nothing hanging” covers it.) But I digress. #ohnoyoudidnt
For 90 minutes, we are developing body awareness. Concentrating on all of the parts. Understanding how they work. Feeling how they feel. Seeing what they can do.
The seemingly simple act of just Thinking about things can create shifts.
Just be certain you are Thinking the right thoughts.
So Think of your hands.
Think of your feet.
Think of your face.
Just Think of it.
Posture Tip – Triangle
In the setup, just before you move your both arms, is this instruction…
“Hips forward, arms back, body back…open your chest”
Do your posture first side, then, when you come up and stop in the middle, keep your arms there.
Arms back, open your chest.
It’s quite simple really.
Illness starts with “I”.
Wellness starts with “We“.
We do it together.
Studio Rule #4: If you’re lonely, come to Yoga.
I have Crohn’s Disease. I’ve had it my whole life. They say there’s no cure.
It’s a torturous thing, and those affected suffer in silence. Nobody likes to talk about digestive problems.
For the first 34 years of my life I couldn’t eat most fruits or vegetables. No nuts, grains, coffee, red meat, wheat, dairy. I was in and out of the hospital and had to constantly juggle medications and their various side effects.
It’s not like that anymore.
You see, 5 years ago I became symptom free. Diet independent. I can eat whatever I’d like. No meds. No docs. I can have spinach and peanut butter and apples for the first time in my life.
With Bikram Yoga, I changed my own physiology from the inside out. I have reclaimed my body. I have my life back.
It wasn’t easy. Or fast. But doable.
So now I practice 5 or 6 times a week so I can maintain my digestive health and enjoy all the wonderful foods life has to offer. So I can sit and have a coffee with my dog by my feet. So I have the choice.
I remember long ago giggling to myself when the teacher would inform us during Wind Removing Pose that we were massaging the ascending and descending colon.
I don’t giggle anymore.
If you know of someone with Crohn’s please don’t hesitate to share my story and contact info. There is no need to suffer, and no need for silence.