9,090 Minutes of Choice

Two classes in two days. In the next few months, we will have plenty of opportunity to really immerse ourselves in the practice, to revel in its nuances, to explore its details. So let’s start at the very beginning. Each class begins a little something like this…

Feet together. For some of us, this comes effortlessly and naturally. For some of us, this feels a little weird, a restricting placement that we don’t use often in our daily life. For others, it is difficult, perhaps even excruciating, due to previous arch surgery, or a severe bone fracture that never felt quite the same after it healed, or other trauma of various degree.

Look at yourself in the front mirror. The mirrors have an incredible span, reflecting everything for the entire room to see. Perhaps the instruction to look into the mirror irks you because you are reminded of a painful memory of being teased about your clumsiness as a child and feel regretful because you have always been self conscious as a result. Perhaps you look around the room, gauging the visible fitness level of the other practitioners. Maybe you worry that the seemingly experienced practitioner beside you is scrutinizing the parts of your body that you don’t feel great about. Or maybe you feel extremely confident, and revel in the opportunity to show off the tone of your triceps or definition of your calves, which were developed over many years of befriending dumbbells and weight machines.

Any actual breathwork or asana has not started yet; the hands are not yet even interlaced under the chin. Yet every single person in the room is already having a different process.

The process that goes on in their minds.

The teachers provide the verbal directions and regulate the temperature and humidity level. The student next to you may occasionally offer you a smile of encouragement. But you decide how to interpret and use all of that. How you interpret and respond to instructions can show a competitive streak, or an insecure past, or constant determination and perseverance, or a sense of stubbornness, just to name a few examples. Your reaction to what happens in the hot room reflect your traits, your personality, your prior experiences, and so much more.

Despite the fact that all students hear the same dialogue, by the end of the class, every single person will have had a unique experience, because they all have different reactions and interpretations of the instructions. The dialogue is the structure of our experience. Our mental process is what fills the rest of the experience in, coloring it with varying colors and textures.

All of our thoughts and pondering and anticipation and worrying and much more contribute so immensely to how we feel about ourselves after class. How many times have you felt unsatisfied in final savasana because you couldn’t stop negative self-talk during the postures? Or conversely, how many times have you felt absolutely fantastic because you trusted your body and respected it throughout class?

Over the course of these 101 days, we will practice alongside other students, following structured dialogue for 101 x 1.5 = 151.5 hours. That’s 151.5 x 60 = 9090 minutes.

9090 minutes of choice.

We can choose to be open to what happens, and accepting the emotions and sensations that arise. We can choose to be patient with ourselves. We can choose to be respectful of our bodies, and revel in our strength and capabilities and potential rather than being frustrated with temporary physical limitations such as falling out of standing bow. We can choose to trust ourselves, and be present.

It is all about the intention.

And ultimately, our intention manifests our reality.

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5 Responses to 9,090 Minutes of Choice

  1. louisianagrown says:

    I bet you're so excited about beginning your challenge. I really look forward to reading what you have to say through the whole experience; I have never seen someone write so passionately about something that most of us just consider exercise.

  2. lz says:

    Lauren, thank you so much for your kind words – they warmed my heart right up. You are too sweet!

  3. ariella says:

    meeting your own eyes in the mirror is an incredible experience. 1.5 years ago when I got back into Bikram after about a year hiatus there were times when I just about cried… class after class after class. Practicing a lot is freeing – I know at training I was completely accepting of the fact that about once a week my mental and physical abilities would align to have a good class. The rest of it was the up and down that went around having that one class where things align and it's all brilliant.

  4. lz says:

    Ariella – thank you so much for reading and sharing your experience. Indeed, the emotional release from regular practice is incredible and at times quite immense. And it's definitely freeing to practice frequently; we become so much more aware of ourselves. Mental and physical abilities aligning–that's a neat way of describing it! Those classes where everything just falls into place are absolutely spectacular.

  5. Yolk E says:

    Lovely! Working on eliminating the negative self-talk is a constant struggle. It can make the classes themselves hellacious, but, as they say, the rest of the day is more "cheesecake with blueberries on top." But isn't it great when you have a class where you DON'T have that negative self-talk and you do live up to your expectations of yourself? I know that's not the point, but hey, it's wonderful when it happens.

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