A YOGA POSE IS A LIVING THING. Not set in stone. Your pose is ever changing. It expresses differently from personality to personality, body to body, history to history, class to class.
It is never about ideal textbook expression of the pose. IT IS ABOUT YOUR BEST EXPRESSION of the pose in the moment. This is how it will always be. All variables WILL influence the outcome of effort on the day. Textbook pics are useful to a point but you have to recognise when to let them go. Happily the point people start to mature and be more accepting and content with themselves/bodies in their practice is exactly that point when their intentions/focus for their practice changes to something realistic and they revisit what is bringing them to class. You just move from one joy to another joy in this Yoga 🙂
THE POSTURES ARE A MEANS TO AN END. They are not the goal in themselves and therefore people must be guided in every class to get what they need from the class on the day. The lessons one learns in their Bikram class can equally be applied in other forms of Yoga and indeed other activities.
PLEASE REMEMBER (and I have to keep reminding people who practice other forms of Yogasana or have being doing this for a long time) that Bikram is primarily a BEGINNING Yoga class i.e. a primary focus for instructors in any Bikram class is on people new to Yogasana altho’ you will have many in the class who have been doing this for decades because they just LOVE to refine their practice and the guaranteed joyful feelings they get from it and they will get the guidance necessary for their practice too!
TO BE REALISTIC, it is a fact that many people (myself included) when they take up Yoga they do not have knowledge of how the body works and may not have a body mind connection. They may be scared. ‘First time’ fear, fear of what might happen if they get hot, fear of other people seeing them fall out, fear of all that sweat, fear of their own body and what they think might happen if they use it in a way it has never been used before, fear of the unknown, fear of backward bends, fear of the disclaimer, fear because they have had trauma in their lives, fear because they are fearful, fear of what they have heard… I could go on. Should this prohibit them from trying? NO! Fear IS a great limiter. It is our job to help them LET GO of fear.
As a practice develops, all thing having been understood and becoming equal, (see all previous posts 🙂 ) the practitioner through repeated attendance in class:
- LETS GO of fear as they expand their mind and spirit
- FINE TUNES their body mind connection
- OPENS UP their body
- UNDERSTANDS the intention of the moves and reasons for the attitudes they are striking
- REALISES their reasons for coming to class now are not the same reasons they came to their first class
- LEARNS more about their own body functionality
- MOVES to a more functional and efficient approach
- KNOWS the point where they can start work on their STILLNESS
They have moved to having EVEN MORE YOGA IN THEIR YOGA practice:
What that means is time previously spent on ‘recovery’ or activating wrong or ‘more’ muscles or time spent faffing with towels / water bottles or extra moves or flourishes or browbeating, is now spent on mindfulness, meditating, relaxing, proper breathing and the efficient homing in on the body parts that each particular pose is targeting and putting more effort in a right direction to MAXIMISE THEIR BENEFITS.
Remember! THERE ARE BENEFITS TO BE HAD EVEN IN IMPERFECT YOGA (believe me I am walking testimony to that!). So I urge people to LET GO of the fear often instilled by: those who have never actually tried this Yoga OR tried it and found it was wrong for their dosha (but unfortunately didn’t recognise that and so set out to negatively influence all and any considering trying it) OR another body worker professional whose specialised method in building up their empire is to try to subtly undermine others. (Well. I might as well call it how it is because this does happen all the time.)
This Yoga is hard for many, WE KNOW THIS at Yoga Matters. Depending on their starting point, every pose can be equally as hard and every action can be felt on EVERY part of a tight body. They start off uninformed about their own body and its issues, limitations, quirks – making it hard to focus in the area the pose is said to primarily bring benefits to. THIS IS ALL FINE FOLKS; don’t worry. Getting in your body and moving it mindfully every which way you can, naturally modifying in a controlled environment under instruction of an experienced instructor in the field IS the way to go!
In due time, the practitioner will get the alignment principles down and learn to effect the instructions to the best degree in their unique body and find their ideal method of articulating, aligning, adjusting and accommodating in their body structure without creating undue discomfort and certainly not pain! (see my post ‘Bone Matters’). There is nothing new about this! This is what should be happening in every Yoga class all around the world. It is not unique to one form of Yoga.
Hitting that POINT IN THE POSTURE THAT CHALLENGES YOU
In class we encourage you to work on your EDGE. In the process of opening up as you reach your personal edge per class, you will then nudge at the points of resistance until you reach your ABSOLUTE limit. The bits that won’t and cannot be moved/changed. When bone hits bone. That’s it. You cannot force it. If you don’t realise it is your bony structure restricting you may get frustrated. The following little tip might help you recognise where points of compression on your body can happen and subsequently help you determine whether the restriction/limit you are feeling in class is tension or compression:
- COMPRESSION OCCURS when you are moving two body parts towards each other, pressing or pushing them together, it is where you FEEL a restriction in the direction you are moving
- TENSION OCCURS when you FEEL a restriction or tightness in tissues in an area you are trying to lengthen, stretch or open (this can also relate to twisting and contraction). It occurs in the direction you are movingaway from.
When you do realise (and you will) that some restrictions are not because of your lack of effort then you reach A CRUCIAL POINT IN YOUR PERSONAL YOGA PRACTICE:
The YOGA OF ACCEPTANCE.
This, if you like, is ADVANCED YOGA. You move on to your next phase in your practice. You work to maintain your range of motion and respect your boundaries at this point but then you start to ENJOY and understand the pose even more. You accept that you may have a feeling of not ‘getting in’ to the area of your body that you set out to – in this particular pose. But there will be another pose coming along shortly where you will access that area.
IT IS NOT THE END OF YOUR POSE. IT IS THE BEGINNING IN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE. You may have found your body’s limit but YOU are limitless!
Om Om Om ACCEPT FUNCTION of HUMAN is to LIVE your BEST. NO LIMITS APPLY.
serenity courage wisdom