Thursday, May 14, 2009
Yoga Mind Revelations - Part 1
Every time I take bikram yoga it is a different and unique challenge for my body and for my mind. For those who do not know, bikram yoga is a practice comprising a series of postures performed each class for the same length of time, in the same order, and all in a room set at 105F and at 40% humidity. The postures in an of themselves are difficult, and have easy/harder variations, but what really pushes bikram into its own category is the heat. When I tell people that they should practice yoga and they say they are too ADD for yoga, I tell them to take bikram. Its so f*cking hot you can't be ADD. You are focused on how miserable it feels to be working your tail off and hotter than hell. If you practice often, its still a challenge, but not such an infernal one. I have been going a few times a week for the past month, so today was hard, but not torture. Last month, my first visit to this studio was also my first time to do bikram in over a year. It was torture.
Why would you torture yourself, one might ask? Often times bikram instructors will say during class, "youre giving yourself a mini heart attack now so that you can avoid the big ones later." Beyond avoiding heart attacks, the reason to go is simple: the benefit. If there were no benefit then it really would be torture. But the benefit is so incredible that you go back again and again to gain that clear mind, energized body, and enjoyment of your inner strength. My whole life I have struggled with a sense of fear that I won't make it. I remembered today as I was struggling in the hot room that during my mission I would count the months that I had completed, wondering how bad it would be to go home with that many months. I just didn't know if I could make it. When I got to 4 months.. then again when I got to 6. How bad am I going to look after only finishing 6 months? When I got past the one year mark I think I realized that I was going to make it. But I still struggle at times with that thought.. I don't know if I can make it.
When I was in High School I ran cross country. I remember that during every single race I would REALLY pace myself just in case it got really hard. I was afraid if I went full throttle I would just not make it to the end. Once my coach called me out on it: he said-- JOHNSEN! You need to RUN. You are not going to fold up like a wet noodle from pushing yourself. You are not going to die so RUN FASTER. He saw that I could run faster than I was running.
For me my life is a constant challenge of deciding that I can make it. Now as an adult I know that I can choose to just stay with it and trust that it won't kill me-- whatever the challenge is. Today I started getting really hot during the latter part of the class. I started to feel afraid that I would run out of energy, that I would overheat, or that I would become too uncomfortable for my threshold. Because I know I won't die, I just keep going. I faced that challenge today and I am proud of that. After that everything seems easy. I feel grateful for smaller challenges because they pale in comparison. Thats a big benefit in my life.