Every time we step in the yoga room we have a chance to embrace our true essence by the separation of the self to the Self. We accumulate such mental clutter that our view of the world is distorted by the filters we unintentionally pick up which in turn create the perspectives we use to interact in the world. It’s hard, in fact it’s rare, to live in this world free of the assumptions, beliefs, and memories that we collect from life’s experiences. Our yoga practice gives us the time and the challenge to focus the mind on that present moment – which is THE practice – to loosen the chains that keep us tied to those limitations that sabotage a “free” mind. With this practice, we get a sneak peak at the space that lives in between those uncontrollable thoughts and eventually that gap grows as we become more aware of the hold these distractions have on us. This is all good, of course. But it is much healthier to KNOW what it is your mind is pointing you towards. With enough practice, we might get lucky enough to notice AND break out of a “not so good habit” that has gotten the best of us – I will call it an “act of suffering” – and instead enjoy conscious behavior that responds to our higher Self! Bikram has a famous saying where he asks the teachers as a group, “What is the ultimate destination?” and in turn hundreds of teachers say back, “mental peace.” It’s a journey worth taking, don’t you agree?
The 60 Day Challenge is a more heightened experiment illustrating this very point of view. By choosing to do the Challenge, you’ve committed to challenging those filters that no longer serve your higher Self’s best interest. It’s a decision to get rid of unwanted behavior – again, I will call it an “act of suffering.” And, it’s not easy! You have to break the invested chains that bind you to “smaller” ways of being in order to make room for the space of something much better which is not necessarily at the time you want or what you necessarily think it could be. Trusting is huge in this process as you are given no assurance to what might come on the other side of this door you know you must close!
Congratulations to our Challengers that finished those 60 hard days in a row and came out the other side with something more, beyond any expectation! It is always an inspiring night at our Challenge Party hearing the tales and feeling the emotion as members willingly share their story of transformation simply from the decision to take yoga every day for 60 days. It’s validation to a frequent practice as we really notice the contrast between not coming enough and making the investment to come a lot.
The moral of this story is to not only to choose yoga but to choose to do it every day! Wake up and know you’ve got about 6 classes to select from and try your best to make it in. It’s that easy. You miss that day, then wake up the next day and do the same thing: you’ve got 6 classes to select from and try your best to make it in. The 60 Day Challenge is a capsulated, illuminated portion of the journey you are on anyway, so why not commit to the yoga in a frequent manner and use it as the steering wheel navigating you best on this road we call life! I’m in!
Tony Sanchez, a wonderful Yoga Master and prized student of Bikram’s for a decade or so, wrote some simple compelling words about how we approach our yoga practice which, if followed, makes this “journey” more fantastic with a lot less intimidation. Paraphrasing here: start every standing pose anatomically correct; visualize the pose first; go into the pose slowly, smoothly and carefully; use personal strength and will power to fully extend and stretch to compress the area of the body at work; regulate your breath; keep eyes open and focused on a spot during execution of the pose; once body is fully extended or compressed, freeze like a statue; find comfort and peace during the pose regardless of the challenge experienced; come out of the pose slowly, carefully and never collapse.
Moreover, as a reader of the Tao, I am often reminded in my own frequent practice to know when to exert power, being The Warrior, and at the same time, I am reminded to know when to back off and wait and allow for receptivity and nourishment, being The Healer. A third component in this that is just as important is to know when to withdraw, or The Tao. It’s when we are Still or Silent in the pose. It’s that space that just allows with no need for thought, judgment, or correction. It’s an act of the higher realm of consciousness giving expression of what it means to just “be.” The more we can get here, the more we release the spirit we were born with which was initially free and unconditioned. That connection transcends age, time, and thought, and energizes a vibration that for me makes me feel my very own existence! Every day that I am THERE, I add to my spiritual bank account, enabling a more fulfilling life that no longer succumbs to the whims of the fluctuations of the mind – it’s a big win because I get to have the fun of being of the world but not so in it!
It’s Easter, it’s Passover, it’s Spring, it’s a Lunar Eclipse, so, let the force be with you to portal your way into feeling your own existence. There is no better feeling than to know that you are the very expression of life itself! Use yoga to travel the journey in your way, becoming more than your mind, your body, and your thoughts, and advance to a place that disconnects the trivial and connects you to the eternal!