Just did a Bikram Yoga class.
I’ve had an estranged relationship with Bikram for quite some time now but it hasn’t always been this way… For about 4 solid years I was practicing most days, sometimes even twice a day. I was doing 30 day challenges even national Bikram competitions! But eventually I realised that this was not healthy for me. I was very slim, very flexible but my body and mind did not feel nourished by this practice.
So I stopped.
But recently I decided I wanted to give it another go without all the ego and on my own terms. I’m not worrying about ‘locking out standing bow’ or having the deepest back bend, I’m just going to try and have a friendly open minded relationship with this practice, ‘japanese ham sandwiches’ and all.
People often ask me my opinions on different types of Yoga. Do I have a favourite? What type of Yoga do I do? Do I not like a certain style? Is one better than another? To me this is like asking what type of art is best. To me, whilst art is so diverse and multifaceted it all is born from the same place, takes us on the same journey and leaves us at the same place. I think this is true of anything that is heartfelt, deep and universal. Sure, there are so many different types of artists and artworks but they all serve a greater purpose and none is ‘better’ than another.
And so my answer about Yoga is always the same… Yoga is moving meditation, Yoga is breath, Yoga is intention, Yoga is improving the health of your mind and body. And most importantly, Yoga is who you are when you leave the mat. As long as you practice with integrity and intent, NO Yoga style is a better vehicle for taking you on this journey than another. Their is no promise from ANY style of Yoga for more transformation, more inspiration, more meditation. The onus is on the practitioner to use the practice for their own journey. As they say“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self to the self”, so your connection to the practice is much more important than the name of the practice itself.
So if you do a Hatha or Vinyasa class and feel you’re better than everyone because you ‘achieved’ a certain pose then you are not truly practicing Yoga. This is like the artist believing they are more creative because they used more brush strokes, it is missing the point entirely. But if you leave with an open mind, open heart, open body and full breath then it doesn’t matter what the name of the class you’re taking is.
So tonight, I put my short shorts on, walked into the Bikram studio and unrolled my mat… But I left my ego at the door. And regardless of the hot room and the strict instructions… I practiced YOGA.