Monthly Archives: February 2012

Yoga is the only subject in the world where the subject is not the object. The object is you.

I am approaching my 300th yoga class since I began Bikram yoga (yes I keep track), and I am just now understanding this statement. I’ve heard it spoken by my teachers, senior teachers, and Bikram himself, but it has taken almost 300 classes for me to truly figure out what this means.  When you study math, math is the subject and the object. When you study history, history is the subject and the object. When you study yoga, the object is not the yoga.

The other day I kept falling out of standing bow. I love this posture because it is so beautiful (truly on every one), but it is also really challenging because it takes equal amounts of strength, flexibility and breath – really crazy to wrap my head around that one.  However, I was getting so frustrated because I kept falling out….like probably 25 times during the first set not even kidding.  I just wanted to do the friggin’ posture!!! Then my instructor said to me “squeeze your butt”. I did, I kicked, I stretched, I breathed. I held the posture for the entire second set. Then it hit me: the object is me. OH MY GOSH! The object is me me me me!!! NOT the posture! I am the posture! I was focusing on the object being the posture – standing bow. It was clearly not working like that because I kept falling out – and was sloppy about it too! I was so focused on doing the posture, that I forgot it was ME that is the object.  It is never about the posture, but always about your body.  Gotta say I got a little teary eyed before I heard… “arms over your head sidewise; next posture is balancing stick.”

This reminds me of when senior teacher Mary Jarvis said at our clinic: “I am not trying to do the backbend, I am the backbend.” Gives me chills every time I write that or think about it.

Some people ask me if it is boring to do the same 26 postures every time I practice.  Welp, I am about 300 classes in, and I am not bored yet.  I’m actually bored when I’m NOT doing the 26 postures!  And it is because, the subject is yoga, but the object is me.  I am different every day.  Some days I’m happy, nervous, anxious, sad, hungry, mad, tired, energized, smelly….etc. The list goes on because every day I feel different, have different stuff going on, thinking more heavily about some things than others. So NO – if you follow that the subject is yoga, but the object is you then you will learn that “the same 26 postures” are not truly the same 26 postures.  I play a game with my mom and sister – we always ask each other what our favorite posture is because it is true that it is different every day! Some days I wish standing separate leg head to knee never existed and some days it is the greatest thing since donuts with purple sprinkles.

My practice has grown IMMENSELY since meeting the wonderful Mary Jarvis, a teacher of Bikram Yoga for 28 years.  I wanted to highlight the top 10 things I took away from her seminar.  So glad I had my journal with me….

1)      Sometimes you can see the posture by looking at what is not the posture.

2)      “Do a backbend before bed. It will make you wiser in the posture the next day.”

3)      If the yoga is good to you when you’re healthy, it won’t desert you when you’re broken.

4)      “Don’t try in class, just do it.  Then you won’t suffer”

5)      The finesse in the yoga class is to be relaxed in every posture.  Even though your heart rate will increase, you are relaxed.

6)      Enjoy your level of success before going further.

7)      No regret of the past, no anticipation of the future. No duality.  That’s the present moment.

8)      Don’t always try to fix and correct your postures.  You’re on your way. Be aware of your awareness.

9)      The more you know about yourself in the postures, the less you suffer.

10)   During standing head to knee, you will tell a story about your mind, body, and soul.

I love how these statements reflect both inside the yoga room and out.

Yoga is life changing. Do your yoga, and then – do more yoga.

Christina

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100 bikram yoga classes in 100 days.

hardest thing i’ve ever done.

okay i lied. i’m being dramatic. probably going to ethiopia by myself, getting off the airplane and realizing i was in africa by myself, not knowing a lick of amharic, had no way to communicate with home or the person picking me up, and absolutely terrified that i was working with child prostitutes, was the hardest thing i’ve ever done. but maybe the 100 day challenge was. who cares. BUT – both required lots of breath, lots of patience, and brought a whole new meaning to life. both were priceless.

i enjoy others comments about my yoga practice. ESPECIALLY when i started 100 days. some people say i’m crazy, others say i’m an addict, some say the heat is not healthy! some say this is a cult. a) yes i am crazy about yoga. b) yes! i’m addicted to being healthy, happy, and full of life. c) if this isn’t healthy, i’d probably be dead by now since i practice so much. i’m more alive than i was yesterday. d) maybe it is a cult, maybe it isn’t – so what – i’m healthier than i’ve ever been, make better choices than i ever have, i’m stronger (mentally, physically, and spiritually) than i ever have before. so – namaste 🙂

the logistics

bikram yoga is a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises completed in 90 minutes. a standing series followed by a floor series. led by the most FEARLESS leaders i’ve ever met by dialogue only. no “show and tell”. it is hot as hell in there – 105 degrees AT LEAST, and about 30-40% humidity. unless it’s a rainy day 🙂 I started my challenge on october 12, and i finished on january 21. because i am a full time student and i work full time, i missed 16 classes. therefore, i did 16 doubles. yes that’s right, 2 classes in one day. can you say THIRSTY!? but oh sooo juicy. also – i got sick while i was in the middle of my challenge. did i stop? NO! i took 2 classes with a fever!

i did a challenge in spring of 2011. 60 classes in 60 days. it was a love/hate kind of thing. this past fall, i decided to do another challenge because i was getting stressed about school, and thought i needed more yoga (don’t we all?!). so i said okay – i can’t do 60 again because that is just NUTZ, so i’m going to do 30. i’m a huge fan of bikram’s senior teacher, mary jarvis. i read on her website of the benefits of 100 days of yoga. at about day 20, i committed to 100 days. the stars aligned for me, becuase on my 100th day of yoga, mary jarvis came to our studio, bikram yoga raleigh, to do a master class and posture seminar. happy yogi.

my breath

it’s true. if you don’t focus on keeping your breath under control, you will probably have to sit down after half-moon. as someone who used to avidly go to the gym (about 5-6x/week for about 6 years), we were always told that the stronger we are the louder and forceful our breath is! ugh, so untrue. my best classes are those where my breath is the most quiet, controlled, and invigorating. it is SO amazing that you can truly learn how to calm your body, your mind, your spirit by slowing your breath. i wish i knew this the first time i took the MCAT! (medical school admission test). okay duh, everyone knows this. but it is practicing it, doing it, that makes it true for your body. at times when i felt like sitting down because the first set of triangle kicked my butt, i would truly focus on my breath…. sometimes i would have to stop myself from focusing too hard because then i would start thinking about how pressure at the top of my lung is more negative than the pressure of the bottom of my lung and that is why my lungs are inflated, and the blood in the capillaries flow faster at the bottom of the lung……… BUT DON’T THINK, JUST DO! regardless – it is true that prana is life force.  because of this notion, i have gotten off my anxiety medication after i finished my 100 day challenge. the 100 days truly taught me how to breathe. i can’t do standing head to knee without breathing, and i can’t take my next exam, without breathing.

my intention

my intention of starting the challenge was to get back in focus with my intention for LIFE and give myself the gift of health every day by practicing yoga. every day my intention was different. some days my intention was to just get through the damn class! 3 classes out of my 100 days my intention was to not drink water. some days my intention was to focus on the set up.  some days my intention was towards my dad who has MS and has difficulty walking. some days my intention was towards a good friend, who lost her son when he was 2 months old. my intention was towards him because he never got the chance to learn to walk and who struggled to breathe. my intention always started out with how grateful i am to just BE and BREATHE. what two things we sometimes take for granted. some days my intention was to be confident!

i hate yoga, but i love yoga

i hate yoga because it is so hard! and sometimes it hurts! and sometimes i just want to lay there like a beached whale! but i love yoga because it is challenging, because “pain kills the pain” as one of my teachers says, and because i don’t lay there like a beached whale – another teacher always says “if you can you must”.  Yoga makes me do what i don’t want to do, but what is BEST for my body. sometimes we don’t always know best. instead of getting on the elliptical on my “down days” and hard core pumping iron on my “good days”, for 100 days i did the same 26 postures. some days were “down days” some were “good days”. but, i did the same 26 postures no matter what.  another teacher, used to say (during half moon): “this is your body: it is breathing, it is moving, it is sweating, it is beautiful”. we are always beautiful in the hot room, because we are there. we are doing what is best for our bodies. no matter how many times i sat down, no matter how many times i had to drink water, no matter how many times i wanted to leave the room during my 100 days – i didn’t. the yoga carried me through.

my lessons

the 100 days taught me that no matter how you feel, your body always needs the yoga. on days i absolutely didn’t want to go, and would probably pay the studio owner $100 to put a star on my “challenge calendar”, were the days i would cry in camel because it felt so amazing to just be. it taught me that the postures that hurt the worst are not the postures we should sit out of, but the postures our bodies need the most. it taught me that i can do everything i want to do as long as i put my mind to it. it taught me that i can accomplish all i want to in a day if i am determined. it taught me how to love myself inside out, bones to skin, from coccyx to the neck, from coccyx to the toes, with my happy, smiling face.

my 100 year challenge

after my 100 days, i decided to go to teacher training – eventually or in the NEAR future. i always knew i’d do this yoga forever, but i want to do it for 100 more YEARS. one of my teachers said one time, “you have to have happy, healthy feet so you can dance barefoot in the grass on your 120th birthday”… well that’s about 100 years from now for me, and i hope i am doing balancing stick or standing head to knee in the grass when i’m 120 years old. this yoga takes a lifetime. my challenge, and my yoga practice for life, is about the journey. not the destination. the best part of my 100 day challenge wasn’t finishing, but was looking back and reliving the journey of 100 days of struggle, holding camels for both sets, doing rabbit without the towel, having to sit down an entire class, encouragement from teachers, not drinking water during some classes, making break throughs in my postures, growing my spirit. the best part of my 100 year challenge will be my journey this yoga will take me on for the rest of my life.