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.
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.
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.
The greatest benefits of Bikram Yoga happen when we are outside of our comfort zone, holding the posture in stillness, and breathing normal.
Being under control inside, regardless of the outside.
The greatest storm could be raging on the surface of the ocean, but in the depths below it remains calm.
The wind and waves will most certainly stir some things up down there, but only enough to create the subtle shifts of growth.
If we can be comfortable when it’s uncomfortable, we can have a better life.
You’re trying to touch the ceiling.
Here’s a quick test:
- Lift your right arm up over your head.
- Stretch it up as much as you can.
- Now stretch a little more.
What’s up with that?
Stretch up. Touch the ceiling.
We are the Fighters. The Rebels and Reclaimers.
One of the reasons that Bikram Yoga is a beginners Yoga, is that everything we do in a posture is within a human beings normal range of motion.
I won’t ever ask you to put your foot behind your head.
Age, injury, stress, overuse, underuse…all of these things contribute to us losing some of the flexibility in our joints.
When you were 9, it’s likely that you could sit in Fixed Firm Pose and watch Tom & Jerry on a Saturday morning without even thinking about it.
In our practice we are Reclaiming that range of motion.
Rebelling against stress and the wear and tear that living takes on our bodies.
Fighting back to have a happier life.
Posture Tip-Fixed Firm
Make sure heels are touching the hips the whole time.
If there is a gap there, then it’s outside of the knees normal range of motion.
No gap, no risk, and you can safely work to reclaim your range of motion.
Every day our body is a little bit different than the day before. And we have no choice but to live in the body that we are in.
To sail the ship we are aboard.
The ship may be different every day, but the same principles of sailing apply.
- Through the wind and the waves and the weather keep steady your course.
- Master your maps and your compass and refer to them often.
- Stop to restock and refuel well before your reserves run low.
- Make sure your crew is willing to paddle as hard as you.
And don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is always an option. To fail is to have tried something new that might not work, and that’s where the best exploration can occur.
He who invented the ship, also invented the shipwreck.
Pulling is the object of…
It’s pretty amazing. Simply by pulling we can stretch our spine.
The harder you pull, you can stretch more. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. I don’t make this shit up. It’s Newton’s third law.
Your friends will wonder what you’re doing to get such nice tone arms. Push-ups? Paddle boarding? What’s your secret?
And you can tell them no. I go to Yoga. And I pull.
It’s inevitable that at some point we will go backwards.
Often, our worldview will have us define backwards as the wrong direction.
More often, it’s exactly the right direction.
Take an arrow…The goal is to combine a little bit of strength, a little bit of leverage, and a whole lotta concentration and propel the arrow forward with great precision to its intended target.
There is only one way to achieve this. First the arrow must go backward. And when it’s back, being pulled in the opposite direction of its intent, it cannot lament the fact that it isn’t going forward. Instead, it must enhance its focus on its target even more so.
Because at any point, for reasons unknown and uncared for by the arrow, it will be set free to effortlessly fly forward.
Posture Tip – Bow
Every posture in the series prepares us for the next posture.
Be certain to hold the feet correctly, 2″ below the toes. Right where your toes start to grow out of your feet.
By holding the right way, one of the benefits of Bow is to stretch the ankles, preparation for sitting down Japanese style in the next posture, Fixed Firm.
Here by the ocean people can drive on the beach. Take your 4×4, choose 4LO (the lowest gear setting), and plow through the sand, steady and strong.
Bikram Yoga Practice is 4LO. You never need to get out of that first gear.
It’s Slow. Controlled. Powerful. Precise.
And in that gear we create change, better ourselves and can aspire to great things. Never in neutral to coast, but in gear to climb and see the mountaintop.
Coasting can only be sustained going downhill.
Class Tip-Balancing Stick
“You have to make up your mind to use your 100% strength in half a second.”
This is actually how long it takes. Just half a second and you can make up your mind.
It’s a choice.