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Yoga for Life

written by Jattu Senesie M.D., FACOG
on Tuesday, 3rd November ,2015

 

I enjoy gaining daily insight and knowledge. Years of formal education, fitness training and Bible study have allowed me to stretch my intellectual, physical and spiritual boundaries. 

However, nothing challenges all of them at the same time for me as much Bikram yoga. Maybe it’s because for me Bikram is a metaphor for daily life.

 

Sometimes, I am going to be uncomfortable. 

The Bikram yoga room is heated to 110 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% humidity. Even for a native of a city built on a swamp, that’s really hot and humid.

I sweat profusely at baseline so I am a dripping mess by the end of the very first of the twenty-six postures. Over time and with practice, I’ve learned to accept the discomfort and just keep doing what I came to do.

My spirit understands that discomfort is a part of physical life. When my mind let’s go of the idea that being uncomfortable is wrong, it can focus on helping my body achieve the result it desires.

 

There is a difference between discomfort and pain.

I have been practicing Bikram yoga for about 18 months. Some postures have always felt natural to my body. Others have improved over time.

What I’ve learned is the improvement comes from working through discomfort and not fighting through pain. Pain is my body telling my mind that proceeding in this manner is not a good idea.

When my spirit is in the proper space, it allows me to distinguish between pain and discomfort. When it’s not, my mind can either talk my body into hurting itself unnecessarily or giving up for fear of pain that’s not actually coming.

 

Every new day is its own experience.

Bikram class is a completely different adventure every time I step on the mat. No matter what I feel, I have to honor how I show up on that day.

There have been a number of times I’ve had to remind myself, “You are who you need to be today.” This keeps my mind from wondering about how much more food or water or sleep I should have had in order to be rocking out this standing bow pulling pose. 

My spirit is much better served by figuring out how to appreciate the resources I have with me right there.

Spending time thinking about why I’m not as awesome as I was yesterday is a waste of my body’s energy. It’s also a missed spiritual opportunity to be present in the moment. 

 

I can be aware of other people’s nonsense without being affected by it.

As one might expect, a hot, humid room makes people feel like they need to be constantly drinking water and wiping sweat. This has great potential to be distracting.

I’ve had to learn to accept other people’s fidgeting without having it impact me. Completely ignoring it is not useful for me. Increased awareness is a key aspect of my yoga practice. 

Resting pose is a great barometer of how well my mind, body and spirit are working together. My response to the lady who jitterbugs on the mat during every resting pose tells me a lot about myself.

She is doing what feels right to her in the moment. There is no law saying I have to judge it or react to it.

The only job for my body, mind and spirit is to relax while staying conscious. That’s plenty without taking on her issues.

 

Even though there is someone there to give me guidance, in the end it’s on me.

Good yoga instructors are a boon in Bikram class. It’s nice to have a bit of help keeping my mind, body and spirit all on task for the full 90 minutes.

Teachers can help me with adjustments in my body and my thinking as I progress to that final resting pose. However, in the end my practice is my own. 

It is up to me to control my breathing, tighten my muscles, and release expectations in a way that is of service to my greater good.

 

I am an avowed lifelong learner. Every Bikram yoga class for me is a new lesson in how to do life well.


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