Tuesday, January 10, 2012
It’s the dawning of another new year and almost time for my eighth anniversary as a Bikram yogi. What, you may wonder, is the big attraction that’s pulled me to practice this yoga for these many years? I suppose it’s a multi-faceted magnet, as I am a multi-faceted human being.
I practice yoga enough to keep my body challenged. Yes, it’s possible to be challenged by the SAME practice for eight consecutive years. Millimeters matter and are hard won. Hips take years to open up. Hamstrings seem to prefer being tight rather than loose. And bodies change….and change….and change over the years. Yoga was actually easier for me when I first began, and certain postures were easier to fully express then rather than now. My continuing yoga practice has helped me to accept my aging body, to delight in its abilities, to challenge it in its lazy times. Having to look at myself in the mirror for ninety minutes allows me to find the beauty there as well as the humanity. There’s always something to love…and always something to work on.
I practice yoga enough to settle my ego down. There’s just no place for anyone’s ego in the practice room…not mine and not the teacher’s. It’s amazing the things that will tweak my ego in that room. Whether I’m being laid low by a bout of nausea, feeling a sense of grandeur from holding a posture for the entire minute, or finding myself irritated by a certain teacher’s mood or a fellow student’s loud grunts of exertion….it’s all fodder for the work, and the work, at least for this yogi, is to let go and let go and LET GO of my ego…becoming humble and at one with the nature of things. Once, very recently, I thought I just could not bear another class with a certain teacher who I was finding to be unloving, rigid and callous with her students. Before long, I was hung up on her every word…looking for her lack of trust, her attempts to control us, feeding the nasty monster of my OWN ego. My years of practice helped me to remember that we are ALL doing the best that we can, that I was losing my practice by paying attention to the negatives. I forced myself to keep going, to open my heart and find love and respect for my teacher and for the opportunity to confront this area within myself in need of growth and transformation. Once I was on the other side of the frustration and rage and had transformed it to acceptance and peace, I was so grateful for my practice, which allowed me to work through my own lack of love, rigidity and judgmentalness.
I practice yoga enough to find a sense of surrender to the Divine. For me, there’s simply no better feeling than that clear headedness and peace that is achieved through 90 minutes of heat and sweat and mental focus and physical exertion, all combined. I love taking what I’ve achieved out into the world with me after practice. If you find me to be a positive, loving, peaceful, centered person, it’s because of my yoga. Being humble in my practice, and giving myself over to whatever will BE in that room results in a demeanor that is softer, more loving, better at really listening….really being present…for others. When I practice enough, my relationships with those close to me, my dealings with my customers, my tolerance (and even love) of my fellow human beings increases exponentially.
In March, I will smile at myself in the mirror, bring my hands into prayer position below my chin and bow in acknowledgment of the hard work, the joy, and the blessing of eight years of yoga. And then I will begin again with a sense of openness to and excitement for what IS and what might be possible for me through my practice. Namaste!