As of July 19, closing date of the 60 Day Challenge, 65 BYSJ members had signed up to practice yoga for 60 consecutive days. Already – here, in the peak of summer – many of you are well into your 20th class! Regardless of the heat, here you are at 7:15 am in class with 50 other students, resolving to stay the course and accomplish your goal. It helps to practice next to other students during the challenge. And, we hope that the star placed on the tracking board next to your name after each class is a comforting dose of motivation to continue.
I am right in there with you. This might be my sixth or seventh challenge (I can’t remember anymore) but each has its own agenda. As it begins, I wonder with excitement what I will learn this time. I think we all hope to become more physically fit, flexible, and healthy as we sweat out waste in its myriad forms: emotional, physical, mental. But there is more to gain. Bikram makes it clear that we are here in this lifetime to self-realize. “Our ultimate destination is mental peace,” Bikram repeatedly states. Through yoga, we learn to calm the fluctuations of the mind and eventually the mind becomes like a “still lake,” and we can see more clearly a reflection of who we are.
The intensity of the 60 Day Challenge and its steady, inward focus cannot but heighten insights about our lives. This space and time aids in our climb to self-realization as a boost in self-discovery. In the past, these challenges have helped me feel greater tolerance and discipline and have cleaned house in body and mind. But, this one is tapping me emotionally. I am “observing” my own vulnerability and if you feel ready, I invite you to investigate this emotion. Vulnerability is not surrender. It allows you to look in a new direction and may feel incredibly uncomfortable. It’s a feeling of exposure and openness. And, I like it! How cool that these 60 Day Challenges come wrapped up like gift packages; untie the ribbon and get a dense course in life’s lessons. How to feel vulnerable – while also feeling stable – is just one of them.
“Being vulnerable means being open to letting something else take the lead and put your trust in something bigger than yourself. Being vulnerable meant allowing myself the chance to become something different even in moments of insecurity.” –Nicole, BYSJ teacher
“It’s about taking the risk to go past a memorized limitation and having the wisdom to back off when needed. Being vulnerable is about letting go of the ego.” –Chris, BYSJ teacher
“Vulnerability means opening myself up emotionally, spiritually, physically and letting myself be seen as I am exposed in a way that may not be comfortable to me. Doing the 60-Day Challenge allows this to happen on a daily basis and the reward is that I am able to learn from this each day.” –Carrie, BYSJ Member
“Vulnerability means exposing my weak areas and the more I open up to these areas in my life, the less I have to hide from them and the more relaxed I feel. Once I embrace them, they become a part of me and the more I can give to myself and others.” –Lalena, BYSJ teacher
“Pain pushes until vision pulls.” I have no idea where this saying came from but I love it. Whether this is your first challenge or your fifth or your seventh, there is a point where we all “cross over.” The suffering stops and we are instead immersed in possibility. It’s like the baton has been passed and we are running into new potential rather than from past experiences and the limitations of worthless old behaviors. I believe that vulnerability is what allows us to make this subtle important transition.
Emotion means “to disturb.” Feelings of sadness, anger, depression, or even excitement, laughter and happiness are temporary states that disturb peace. They have an energetic charge and tend to control our state of being. As I see it now, my emotions are like a beautiful collection of colors and by being present and aware, I get to choose the most appropriate. This is a more detached approach that doesn’t compromise the underlying peace that is always there, (even in times of anger). I feel grateful to realize that I have a chance to review any emotion that comes up without reacting.
Yoga is so powerful. We work with ourselves, not against ourselves, to fulfill our own personal quest. Congratulations to all the new students, all 65 challengers, and all the regular practitioners that come so often in your efforts to reach your potential. Even something as small as “rolling forward like a wheel” more than your used to in Half Moon pose demonstrates vulnerability to notice and embrace. These moments inspire real change, real growth, real awakenings.