For almost two years, I have been a regular practictioner of Bikram Yoga. That’s the hot, sweaty, hold your balancing and strength poses for what feels like a very long time, yoga. The instructors call it “a 90 minute moving meditation.” Every day of practice teaches me many valuable lessons.
One of the biggest lessons from my practice has been the value of surrender. I am not a come by surrender naturally type of girl. I generally feel the need to meet force with opposing force. One of the yoga instructors emphasizes “effort with ease.” This is not my usual M.O. My mindset has tended to be if you meet resistance, will yourself to push harder; if you feel like quitting, suck it up; if you’re tired, tell yourself that you’re not… you get the picture. This is the mindset that got me through running a marathon, several half marathons and a crazy 10K mudrun. I can almost believe that this mindset served me well in those moments. However, it becomes annoyingly difficult to operate in this mindset in a 110 degree humid room full of hot, sweaty bodies, where you’re sweating like you’ve never sweated before and pushing yourself to your mental and physical edge repeatedly, all at someone else’s prompts. In that room, at some point, it’s all too much- all of the feedback from my mind and body- and it is in those moments that I just surrender, because there is nothing else I can do. That is not to say that I leave the yoga room. Instead, I stop thinking about how hot it is, how hard the poses are, how inflexible my body is, what tasks I have waiting for me after class, how this class compares to the last one that I did, etc. and I give in to the yoga. I do not will my body to do the yoga, rather I accept that it can. The chatter and feedback that are generally ever-present in my mind fade away. In those moments I am fully present in my mind and body, but also fully accepting of the limitations and strengths of both. And oddly enough, there is a certain, dare I say, bliss, in that surrender. Because I just don’t care anymore, and with that lack of care comes an almost exhilarating freedom, and that is perhaps why I keep going back for more.
I really liked this post because I’ve done that style of yoga and complained how utterly impossible I found it. I hate the military style with which the orders are given from pose to pose. People have told me about “giving in to the yoga,” but I gotta say how you wrote it has made the most sense. This yoga is an amazing transformer of bodies. All the power to you girl.
Thank you Susan, I am glad my explanation of my yoga experience has resonated with you. I would encourage you to give the yoga another try as it has so many mental and physical benefits.
My best to you,