Recently, we were discussing the gifts of repetition in a Bikram yoga practice. We were introduced to a fascinating article by Patricia Meyer Spacks on the benefits of rereading and on what compels us to desire our favorite books and movies repeatedly. We know exactly what’s going to happen, we’ve met our favorite characters numerous times, there’s a high level of comfort, and we are still drawn to the experience again and again. As yoginis and teachers, we understand this to be how we feel in a Bikram yoga class and why we’re drawn again and again to the experience of the same 26 postures and two breathing exercises in 105 degrees and 40% humidity.
First, there’s the room, and that feeling of opening the door into class, and instantly feeling your body warm up. That feeling nourishes our bodies and we instantly feel at home and ready for an intense, 90-minute, moving meditation. If your practice is in the morning, your class will help set the tone for the day, open your body, and support you staying in a place of connection and awareness. If your practice is later in the day or evening, then your mat becomes the place to let go of anything that doesn’t serve you, weed through all the crap, and get in tune with your inner compass.
Then there’s the dialogue. Oh, how we love the repetition of the dialogue!
With a regular practice, you will hear the teachers say strange, comforting, familiar lines like “with your smiling, happy face,” or “lock the knee,” or—our personal favorite—“pulling is the object of stretching.” The dialogue serves two main purposes: first, it is the step-by-step guide to posture set up, and second, it allows for the student to listen and hear the instruction through the yoga. At some point, you will hear the yoga (rather than the teacher) speaking to you. You will hear and learn a tremendous amount of information about yourself and how each posture works. Not only will the dialogue give you a profound understanding about the dynamics of the pose, but you will also expand your consciousness. The insights that can occur while listening to the dialogue are infinite: one insight might be becoming aware that the right hip is tighter than the left; you could realize that drinking water before class is a total game changer; or even discover that the squat workout from Inferno Hot Pilates has strengthened your awkward pose.
While listening to the repetition of the dialogue, you are able to check in with yourself, and this priceless information can help you make great decisions after class on how best to support and take care of the most important person in your life: you!
There are so many gifts of repetition in a Bikram yoga class. Many people have asked us if we “get bored, practicing the same thing over and over.” We agree it is different, and even ironic, to think we can learn something new by doing the same thing over and over. But here’s the thing, every day we are constantly evolving, growing, and changing. At every class, we are different people, and this is what leads to a unique encounter with ourselves, and allows us to surrender, accepting who we are, and incorporating fresh understandings. The teachers are teaching the poses the same way in every class; however, you sometimes hear a command said at the perfect moment in the perfect way, and it feels like you’ve heard it for the first time. You’re able to receive the information, embody the correction, and—boom!—your pose has transformed and become something entirely new.
The key to igniting transformation and change is consistency.
Emmy Cleaves, the most senior teacher in Bikram yoga, said, “Be precise, follow through on good form, be consistent, come often, and do the work with intensity.” Emmy’s quote reinforces the most effective way to practice Bikram yoga: if you show up to class, try the right way, to the best of your ability, and put in the effort. Miracles can truly occur within your body and, also, in your life.
This new year, we encourage you to see for yourself how a consistent Bikram yoga practice of just a few times a week can bring great blessings into your life. (It’s also the perfect time of year to curl up on the couch and re-watch one of your favorite movies!) Make the decision to carve out time for yourself, indulge in some yoga, and experience the gifts of repetition in a Bikram yoga class.
We’ll keep the heat on for you!
Rosa & Melissa