Popular, controversial, challenging – Bikram is certainly one of the most known yoga movements. Some of us view it as sport, others as meditation and some do it just to be cool and stay in trend. Maybe it is our collective madness, maybe just a marketing success, but let me tell you how it transformed me.
In case you don’t know what bikram is here is a great article (add an article). In my own words, it’s a yoga practice that follows the same sequence each time during 90 minutes in a hot room. The key particularly is that the sequence and the flow are identical each time and even the instructions given by different teachers are the same (not much variety there after all).
Although it may sound tough, annoying and boring 3 months of Bikram practice was actually not boring at all. Based on this experience I am happy to share with you 5 lessons that helped me become a much better version of myself.
(1) routine & repetitiveness are good for relaxing a busy mind
This was actually the biggest surprise. Before trying out Bikram I would never even think that I am capable of doing same thing over and over again 3 times a week and more importantly, enjoying it a whole lot and not getting bored. Don’t ask me why and how this happened to the “always on for the next one” type of person, but it happened.
Going through the same exercise routine, following only the teachers voice allowed me to let go of all thoughts and be preset in the moment.
(2) my body is much stronger that i tend to think
The postures, when done properly, are quite physical and you perform them in a hot room where simply standing up is a challenge. Practicing the sequence over and over again and getting better at it every week I had visual proof that when it comes to physical fitness, there is so much more for me to achieve. One should never give up or doubt my capabilities.
(3) looking at yourself while exercising is highly beneficial
Most of the Bikram studios have mirrors (I guess that is a requirement) and that is good. I was quite surprised to see that despite my good understanding of a position and my attempt to replicate it properly, my body was just not following the mind.
(4) patience is a quality that can be acquired
Seeing myself completely sucked into this regular Bikram routine I realized that a quiet state of mind and patience are not inherited parts of one’s character, but they can be acquired. I know I keep saying that I only practiced Bikram for 3 months, but it completely revolutionized my way of being. I became more quiet, more patient with myself and others and ultimately, more relaxed. And trust me in my case that we a huge plus.
(5) Comparing yourself to others is overrated
Bikram class is rather slow paced and while holding postures you will most likely observe others. Sometimes to copy someone’s great technique, sometime to compare your level of flexibility to someone else’s, sometimes to realize that you are fatter or slimmer than someone, sometime to seek motivation to go an extra mile…
After couple of classes I came to a conclusion that any kind of comparison is useless!
While comparing yourself to others you switch focus from yourself to someone else and lose the point of the practice which clearly is to overcome your actual limitations that are technically not relevant to someone else’s fitness.
You should leave others to deal with their own stuff while you are dealing with yours. Comparing yourself to others makes your actual state completely unstable because it will always depend on who is standing next to you.
This simple observation taught me one simple life lesson – only I decide what I am now and what I want to be in the future, and this cannot depend on the way others are because others will always be different. Others are not me! (I know it sounds tricky but there is some deep thought in this sentence 🙂
All those are useful life lessons that I will be always be grateful for to Bikram, but not all wonderful experiences are meant to stick. In the next post I will share why I stopped practicing Bikram and have zero regrets about it.