As a Marketing major in college and as a continued marketing junkie, I was taught early on that people buy feelings. You see this fundamental marketing truth in every commercial. The hot new BMW is going to help you get the girl and make you feel happy. The latest Calvin Klein cologne is going to make you feel sexy. The 60 inch HD Sony Entertainment System will bring your family together and you will feel proud and loved. As we get older, we understand that these “things” won’t in and of themselves make us “feel” anything. Media is super at manipulating and capitalizing on a very important point: that we pursue and covet those things which we believe will make us feel good. We do want to find and focus on those events and situations that fuel our passions, believing that they will make us happy. So yes, you keep trying to create “the good stuff” and going toward it. But knowing how you REALLY feel can be challenging.

For about ten years I worked for a great Italian restaurant company, Il Fornaio. It was headed by a wonderful gentleman that I admire immensely, Larry Mindel. You might know him, too. If any of you have been to Guaymas in Tiburon, Poggio in Sausalito, Canaletto in Las Vegas or any Il Fornaio on the west coast, then you have enjoyed his creations at one time or another. I had the privilege of working with him for those ten years, soaking in his “eye” as he designed several restaurants during that span. It was in Coronado, California where I recall learning something very profound from him. The Il Fornaio restaurant there took over seven years to open for numerous reasons. One of them was Larry’s persistence in creating the special design of this particular restaurant. Knowing Larry, I am certain there were years of negotiations with the City of Coronado as Larry could be relentless in pursuing how he felt it should be – beautiful. And, by the time we opened, it was nothing short of that. It still is. It was important to Larry to have EVERY seat in that restaurant look out upon something of beauty. He knew that beauty makes you feel good. It was worth all those years of preparation, battles – and I’m certain – lots of money to create the truth of what will never change- feeling good in the midst of something beautiful.

I am grateful for this lesson. I now have this trained eye, too, and see beauty in the smallest of places. I’ve noticed time and again that beauty – when we are open to it – can give us a good feeling. Our new studio was inspired by this thought as we worked to create visions of beauty everywhere. There is no better place to find beauty than in nature. And so here at BYSJ the skylights pull in more natural lighting, the large glass windows allow for the trees and the sky to sneak through, and the paintings and materials set inside the studio replicate visions of nature. Beauty is not just something we see. Members, as you can agree, it is something we feel. And when we feel beauty in our hearts, we appreciate and we are inspired.

Too often we hear some of the rebel talk Bikram belts out to the media. I am sorry folks (especially new members), that this might be your first impression of this man that is responsible for bringing us this magical yoga sequence. Of course, if you delve deeper, you must KNOW that there is more to this person if he has created all this good for us to have and use so easily. There is, and lots of it. And I’m always happy to share some examples.

“Yoga opens up your “feeling” eye. Yoga teaches us to feel things. It is a method to feel the energy within you,” says Bikram. And feeling is a direct perception of the truth. Where we get tripped up according to Bikram is from our own suffering caused by ignorance. Remember how we thought that buying the car could get the girl and we would feel worthy. “Through yoga, you get out of the field of illusions caused by the ego. Through yoga, you can remove ignorance and see the truth,” states Bikram.

But for Bikram – and what I believe as well – our levels of recognizing “ignorance” are limited. We are not continuing to understand truth, to understand our true selves, and therefore we suffer and as a result we short change ourselves in feeling our best, in being our best.

This leads to many “not so pretty” comments from Bikram when he sees one of his students being less than what they could be. “Go back to the shits where you belong,” he might say in the middle of class. Oh dear. Or, one that is quite common and which he refers to as a disease of our culture, is that we are “jacks of all trades and masters of none.” I’m sure that conjures up images for you as it does for me. Take yoga as an example: we don’t stick around long enough to realize the more meaningful benefits; we get bored; we create bad habits (leave early, do the posture our own way, make excuses as to why this yoga is not for you, etc…) Of course, this comment, when taken out of context, sounds rude and judgment filled. But, there is the finishing comment that has gotten omitted. Bikram goes on to say, “You must practice, practice, and practice until you feel yourself. Go deeper and deeper to know yourself. To self-realize and know the truth takes time.”

I believe that my recognition of beautiful things is not just my experience with Larry but also a direct reflection of my daily practice over the years, as perhaps one of the gifts derived is an open “feeling eye.” If and when you have a chance to be around Bikram, you will notice that he is never at a loss for words. He has countless stories on the impact of yoga and how it is beyond the physical. We are each meant to enjoy this world (I would hear Bikram say), and to know how is through yoga.