THE PROCESS of shifting attention from the large and/or final movement, the outward shape of the asana to the micro moves, deeper muscles, mindfulness and the quality of the breath is the very essence of a Raja Yoga practice. We already have Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama practices flagged at the fore for our newer people to engage with in our Yoga school. Those ‘beginning’ Yoga are the Bikram focus after all! But opportunities ‘abound’ in Bikram method for travelling further on the Yoga path. This might be why we have so many longer term practictioners of our technique; because they long ago realized how this Bikram journey can return them to equilibrium, a beautiful starting point to build on. And this building work is ongoing. By building on the strength of those lower limbs of the eightfold path, the longer you attend you become aware that the practice also encompasses pratyahara (turning inward) from here you move to dharana (to use one point as an object of focused concentration whether it be breath, sensations, micro moves, awareness or a mantra or positive affirmation) to dhyana (meditative absorption) ultimately to Samadhi (Bliss). Bliss is available from day 1
YES there are demands placed on your breath and body as you make your shapes and you have heightened awareness of those demands and initially believe that this is what the practice is all about. Many will use/do anything to achieve posture but if you always rely on momentum to take you in to your pose you will never build the strength and integrity to stop using momentum! If you don’t give attention to the shaky shuddery muscles you will strengthen only the already strong aspects of your practice and skip over the weak ones/the ones that need attention; you will never be ready for new challenges if you work in this way. When you exploit flexibility and gravity and momentum continuously you risk missing the message from your body that it cannot handle where you are taking it yet. If you ignore the safer alignment cues the instructor is giving every class and repeatedly skip over the good set up in between the posturing again and again you risk injury from just repeating poor technique… but yeah, you went to Yoga on the day to ‘do’ Yoga. Tick box. The ego may dictate it is all about the final shape. THIS IS NOT TRUE.
EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT ARE the ‘set up’ and ‘correct/right muscle engagement’, the ‘pause’ ‘in between’, the ‘slow move’, the ‘Pursuit of Stillness’! and getting this right improves the quality of your postures when you finally arrive at them but the process for ‘letting go of the outcome’ can take a while. Patience now Yogis. We are here for you and this process. THIS IS WHAT WE DO. It is a bit of a process getting people into the here and now but we won’t stop trying. This is why you must come to public class. To gain the benefit of the instructor constantly reminding you and keeping you on track, if you like, in your Raja Yoga practice.
BUT LETS GET BACK TO BASICS FIRST. Take for example the seemingly simple act of arm lifting? The slow lifting and lowering of your arms (‘Starburst Arms’ we call them at YM) concentrating on the set up, the micro movements of your shoulders/arms/hands sensations as they commence and flow up and flow down and pause between, helps bring your mind into the present. EACH AND EVERY MOVEMENT SHOULD BE DEFINED AND NUANCED… By Embracing the movement here COMPLETELY you are inevitably drawn to the Stillness within the movement… and that is just the arm lifts!
GET READY NOW. Always bring new intention to class with you. You will develop physical AND MENTAL strength as you repeat repeat repeat your ‘being’ IN ‘THE SPACE IN BETWEEN’. Pay deep attention to your mind body and breath and you will not only enjoy your final expression of Asana but also the space between and the quality of your practice as a whole! No-one else has to see all this in order for you to personally ‘gain’, but if you like you do have a witness in your Bikram Yoga instructor.
Om Om Om In Pursuit of Slowness!