What an amazing weekend: visiting Bikram’s Teacher Training in Los Angeles where hundreds come from all over the globe to become certified Bikram teachers; and attending the International Yoga Asana Championships – now 10 years. It was clearly a four day departure from any normal routine being transcended to all things yoga! They call it the “yoga bubble” which is exactly how it feels. Reality in this bubble revolves around the yoga: from the news you take in, the food you eat, the one or two practices per day you choose to have, to the clothes you wear. You could be around the corner from the ocean or in the land of the desert. It doesn’t matter, because in the yoga bubble you are only concerned about things that relate to yoga. You enter and become gladly transformed and jaded with everyone else because it feels good! Yoga folks in general are super nice and fun and amazing. And not just in ways that enable legs to fly over heads but in ways that inspire hope!
Our own Ali Godoy, age 13, BYSJ Member and former ice-skating champion, won the International Yoga Asana Championships this weekend for the women’s youth division. She was coached by Cynthia Wehr, 2007 Yoga Champion, owner of Bikram Yoga Mountain View or as we know Cynthia, sister and big time family member to all of us at BYSJ. We are so proud of Ali and Cynthia revealing ways to manifest hope. Ali, is gifted with flexible abilities that God gave her BUT she had competition as there were others in the race to the top that had “spine” gifts too. Yet, because of her practice and determination, she stood taller than all of them with her poise and grace under fire. Her ability to perform under pressure is admirable. She owned the stage and was super happy to show you!
Additionally, just next door in another big LA hotel was the home to 500+ attendees embarking on their journey to become a Bikram Certified Instructor. Now, into week eight, these folks looked polished and happy and ready to honor their task of taking yoga out into the world. Practicing in a ballroom converted into a yoga room that can fit 600 or more people is fascinating. The podium must be 10 feet high. The sound that I recall the most was the beauty in hearing all of us exhale doing our pranayamas -awesome.
The diversity in that ballroom is comparable to a United Nations Convention: every different shape, color, race, age and ability in this massive ballroom stretching our best that day. From all countries, all types of livelihoods, from various religions, life challenges and personal stories to manifest hope. BYSJ has three students attending this spring training and each is so different with backgrounds that would have never gotten them together under the same roof otherwise. But here they are reveling in their accomplishments to date, bonded now forever with this particular group of 500+ committed to the bylaws set by Bikram of making yoga a practice to 6.8 billion people. It was an honor for me to see them in this element and an honor for me to hear the dialog coming straight from Bikram once again.
It’s been over 11 years since I graduated from my yoga nine week boot-camp and Bikram stills sounds and gives the same delivery with his excitable verses and correct execution. I noticed the energy in the ballroom as one of love and seriousness. He doesn’t take his passion lightly and expects his soon-to-be teachers to be on it much the same way he is. He can instill high voltage energy in areas of a life that are listless and boring. His ability to change the hope you possess into something useful is bar none. He owns no doubts and infuses that IN you so the energy you keep becomes clean, clear and ready for use. As a teacher, your flow of communication carries pureness with the right intensity enabling you to pass on a similar charge of vitality needed to wake up your soon-to-be students.
It was awesome to be around because who doesn’t need a nice ass whipping once in a while to remind us of our true amazing selves and our birthright to pursue our passions with tenacity and conviction. There is a great saying that “doors can be opened for us, but we’ve got to walk through them!” Yes, we do. How many of us “hope” for things but don’t have the awareness or the courage to initiate the steps that will take us to our destiny. I watched Ali, a young 13 year old, for over a year in and out of the yoga room take steps without any hesitation to get where she is today: her relentless amount of practice doing both beginning and advanced classes; practicing her routine over and over again; her ability to ask for guidance; and her enthusiasm and willingness to learn all over again if something wasn’t right. She has straight up conviction to walk through the doors that are presented to her! And man, many more doors are awaiting her!
Around this same time, I was listening to one of my favorite radio stations. They do a lot with charities and were just coming back from trip to a third world country giving so many kids shoes. Yep. That was it: just a single pair of brand new shoes for each child. They traveled from school to school and through the awesome technology we have today, they shared some stories with us LIVE on the radio. Several DJ’s went to literally give and put the shoes on these young kids and described how the kids were in amazement and joy as they ran around with their new shoes. Jumping and running in circles, skipping as if they were given hope! I was so emotionally impacted in hearing how such a simple gesture can be THE one thing to remove the infinite number of obstacles that hold us back from walking through a door towards our dreams. I can only imagine what these kids now started to imagine! The possibilities that opened up by putting on a pair of shoes!
I know that there are skeptics out there about the use of the word hope. It can be argued that “hope” leaves room for doubt and that one should focus on the manifestation of the thing itself relentlessly as if it existed already. True. But, hope is the action it takes to manifest that of which we call forth! Like Ali, hope can be the numerous times she practiced her routine. Hope can be the action of a prayer. And, hope can be in the form of taking class with Bikram. Each of these actions push aside those things that separate you from the “you” that you hope to be.
Scientists tell us that cell memory well outlives the cell itself! Amazing. Memory is a Latin word meaning “to be mindful of.” As we age, our cell memory can be so embedded and perhaps damaging as we can be limited in seeing the opportunistic doors in front of us. Bikram’s nine week teacher training is intense and my belief is that one of the reasons it is so hard-core is because without the intensity to change, we’d never act on the hope we still possess. Bikram is not in the business to help you evolve. He is in the business that expects you to know and use your potential. Self-realizing to him isn’t sitting in the Himalayas pondering enlightenment, it’s the getting up every day facing the daily grind (and all the struggles that show up such as negativity, doubts, and criticisms) with the truth of who you are; how you do your karmic work (why you are here); and the pursuit of raja mentality (self -control, willpower, concentration, faith, patience) as you learn to conquer fear.
So, congratulations New Bikram Yoga Certified Teachers. I know how hard it is! But, if you aren’t equipped yourself to walk through the doors awaiting you, how in the world can you help someone else walk through theirs? You have your “shoes” on now. Go run and skip and jump and expect the most from yourself and set the stage like Bikram does, like Ali does, and create that same atmosphere of “Hope” for your students.
Students, too, as you read this, know that you don’t have to attend a nine week course with Bikram or win a yoga championship to manifest the hope within you. By attending class, you are taking the action needed to take care of yourself. That’s huge: health management in your own hands. But, take it farther and manifest the hope that resides within. Take from the different teachers offering you different insights and use the repetition of coming day after day to pull out what you expect from you for YOU. How far are you willing to go? It is hard. But, wait until you have that breakthrough whether in the room (accomplishing standing head to knee for the first time) or in the boardroom with an awesome articulate, to the point, presentation. You’ll feel as if a miracle just happened! Like those kids, your “shoes” are on. Hope is undistracted and flooding you with limitless possibilities with what you want for yourself, your life. It’s a force from within that Bikram knows well. “Having means nothing unless you know how to use it,” is a famous quote Bikram says a lot! You are not in the Himalayas, you are in Silicon Valley, Boulder, or maybe New York City. There are tons of doors to walk through. Don’t sit back. Tap into the force within that Expects and Knows that you are meant to do great things. And, use it!