14 June, 2012

We're not in Kansas anymore

Today was Bikram with Sarah at Bikram Yoga Stoughton.


It was with pending doom that I attended a Bikram class. I know it's good for the mind. I know it grows character and puts hair on your chest and cures shingles and malaria. But it is still torture. Through and through.

I took the red-eye to Boston last night. Managed only 3 bad hours of half-sleep on the plane, and never got a nap. I wasn't really arriving in prime form.

Because of my various injuries, and because I knew that Bikram is rather rules-based, I told Sarah about my injuries before class. I didn't want her to think I was disrespecting the practice when I took some modifications.

So when it came time for Tree pose and I did Hatha-Tree instead of Bikram tree, I was a little surprised I got called out for it: "What kind of yoga was that? Because it wasn't Bikram."

And in that moment, I realized just how very fortunate we are at Urban Yoga Spa. At UYS we have instructors who encourage us to take whenever modifications we need. And that we should focus on doing the pose in a manner where we can keep good form and stability. I love it when an instructor says "Maybe this is your pose right here," because it is teaching us to be okay where we are.

I think that the spirit of it is probably there in Bikram as well, but the very scripted instructions are often telling us to go pretty far. I think that trying to interpret the hidden meaning of the phrases "beyond your flexibility" or "lock your knee" are probably things scholars could debate like the translation of an ancient Aramaic scripture: "Do they really mean 'lock it'?" I have had some Bikram instructors footnote that with a clarification. But not all.

It was an interesting experience having class taught in a thick Boston accent. I don't usually associate these things.

Besides the usual challenges of this practice, I had some additional difficulty because we did some of the standing poses (Triangle, Pyramid, separate leg stretching) straddling our mats. I found it really hard to get traction on the carpet and was a little afraid of incurring a groin pull. This was not how we did it in Hawaii Bikram, so I was a little surprised.

On a final note, I lost 7 pounds during class tonight. That's 3 liters of sweat. And that is not something I strive to achieve.

I want to stay away from it. I want to avoid it. But I am going back. But I will also honor my own practice and not go beyond my personal limits.

I am my own inner guru.

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