“Come on, everybody, just grab your foot!” Amy, the teacher says, for the second time. Yep, it’s those first few seconds of standing head to knee – hesitation to get in the pose because it seems difficult or whatever other reason, so we stall for a moment. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been there.
Then Amy directs the class to kick out, but much of the class was hesitant again.
“Don’t think about it,” Amy instructs. “Just do it. No wheels turning!”
What a fabulous line! I smiled so much that I lost my balance and fell out of the pose. Amy is so awesome.
But beneath the uplifting humor, Amy actually raised a very strong, significant point. It’s so easy to get caught up in our mental chatter – oh, I’ve never been good at this pose and I probably won’t be able to do it, I’m too tired today, the humidity of the room is way off and is really irritating me, etc etc. But that mental chatter only gets in our way. What purpose does it serve? Nothing productive, really. Hesitation, stripped to its core, is just our own method of discouraging ourselves and talking ourselves out of just doing the posture and simply listening to the directions.
So we’re not actually following directions.
The Bikram yoga class is fundamentally so, so simple: as Bikram says, “my mind, your body.” All we have to do is show up, listen to the dialogue, and try the right way. To get maximum benefit, we clearly should do no less than that, but what some may not realize is that we also should do no more. If you become too consumed with how your body feels stiff today or because you don’t like the way your arms look or because the person next to you seems to be having a way easier time – that’s a guaranteed way to feel unsatisfied, irritated, maybe even very upset because one negative thought can easily lead to another – and soon you’ve got a recipe for frustration. But nowhere in the dialogue does it say to judge ourselves, or set expectations, or compare our practice with those of the people around us. Nowhere in the dialogue does it say to criticize ourselves for having a bad day, for sleeping too late the night before, for not finishing a piece or work to our liking, etc, etc.
Expectations and judgment only hold us back. Just accept what comes up, and realize that whatever happens in the yoga room is whatever you need. Just do it. Don’t think about it.
Don’t let those wheels turn, and you’ll pleasantly surprise yourself.