Bikram yoga is an amazing practice. You’re in a 105-degree heated room, mat-to-mat, sweating and dripping all over one another, and just trying to be.
It’s a great practice for the mind. Especially when you end up next to someone for 90 minutes that irritates you for some reason. It might be excessive body odor, a particularly loud grunter, or someone who literally flings their sweat on you because they move about so violently.
Last week, a woman next to me simply chose to do her own thing during the entire class. She wasn’t following the dialogue, moving through the 26 postures according to the instructor as you are supposed to do. She kept trying slight variations of asanas. I became very distracted by her flailing arms, her bending over when she was supposed to be standing up, and her moving into a slightly different pose than Padangustasana, and so on.
She was clearly not a beginner yogi—she just didn’t know the rules of Bikram. I was feeling a bit tired and cranky, so all I could think was, This is not the time to practice your own yoga, woman! This is time for the 26-posture Bikram series!
I know, I know. Don’t tell me. My yoga at that moment was to focus on my own practice and let it go. That was my work—to just focus on my own happy self in the mirror and to send lovingkindness and unconditional love to everyone.
But that same woman also forgot to bring a towel. Doesn’t everybody know that when is 105 degrees you sweat more that your yoga mat alone can handle? If you don’t want to have an accident, one must bring a towel. It says so right on the FAQs of every Bikram yoga web site, from California to India.
This woman somehow must have not noticed that the other 35 people in the room all had towels on their mats until partway through the class. So then, right in between asanas, she asked the teacher if she had an extra towel. Of course the teacher didn’t have a towel—she was wearing a tube top and side string shorts and had only a small clock with her.
So the teacher had to leave the room to get her a towel just as we were about to start Dandayamana-Dhanurasana, which is not a good time for anyone to go anywhere as standing bow pulling pose can be quite tricky to balance in even if everyone is standing still.
The woman looked at me and shrugged her shoulders, and said, “I’m really sorry,” and I could tell she was being genuine, so then I started feeling badly. So I said, “That’s okay.”
During Savasana, when we were all resting in corpse pose, the teacher told us to relax, breathe deeply, let our body absorb the practice. I could feel my body sinking into the mat. “Find the calm in the struggle,“ the teacher said.
Okay, okay, I thought. I get it. It’s not about the struggle. Don’t get caught up in noise. It’s just noise!
And as we were in our final Savasana, the instructor added, “Think about Savasana! They don’t even care. There’s no drama.”
I had to think about that for a minute. But then I got what she meant. Ah, corposes, no drama. No worrying about the self or others. No worrying at all.
When we were finished, the teacher sang a beautiful chant—in Sanskrit. I don’t know what it was exactly—all I recognized was Om at the beginning and at the end. But it was stunningly beautiful. Her tones vibrated right through my body—my muscles heard every note, every catch of her breath.
After class, I sat on the bench to put on my boots by the door. Next to me there was a little bowl and a sign that said, “Inspirational sayings—please take one.” So I rustled through the bowl with my fingers to find whatever message I needed that day. I wanted the most brilliant insight for 2016.
I grabbed one, and flipped over the piece of paper. It said, “I like to walk because it makes my bones stronger.”
What? That’s not inspirational. What the heck? That sounds like a message for a senior citizen, someone with osteoporosis. Which I am not.
So I put it back.
I drew again. There must be a good message in here for me somewhere.
The second one I pulled out said, Breathe and all will be revealed; love and all will be healed. This is yoga.
Ahhh, yes. That’s what I love about yoga. And about Bikram. It can heal your knees, it can heal your shoulders, it can heal tennis elbow, it can heal your back.
It can focus your mind. It can help you find peace. It can even heal your spirit, if you give it the chance.