Quick introduction: Bikram yoga is a 90-minute class that takes place in a 100 degree room. Breathing exercises and 26 poses are incorporated into this series. Although the flow and movements are the same from class to class, the way one physically, mentally, and emotionally feels before and during class has a huge effect on how “well” one does.
I have been practicing Bikram yoga for a few years now and it’s often times a toss-up whether I will have the best class of my life or want to cry and pass out. It sounds pretty exciting doesn’t it? Never knowing for sure how you’ll do that day? I’m sure some of you have different opinions.
Well, on this particular day, (::ahem:: yesterday), I had a chicken burrito the size of my left arm for lunch. Was it delicious? Yes. Was it the best idea? Absolutely not. I walked into the yoga studio a few hours after eating it, fully aware of the fact that class would be torture. Initially, I was right. Once we started getting into the poses that required our heads to be upside down, I was certain that I was going to see that burrito in reverse which would have been less than ideal.
Finally! The time had come to lay on our backs for the 2-minute savasana. It is the “dead man’s pose” where we lay still, relax, and let our bodies process the work we had just done. Depending on how you look at it, this pose could be the easiest or the hardest. (Try telling your brain to shut up… it’s tough.) I was feeling pretty sorry for myself at this point, mentally kicking myself for eating that insanely delicious burrito. In the midst of all this self-pity, the instructor said the strangest thing. “Don’t let your mind wander like a drunk monkey in a grocery store!” My unnecessary misery was brought to a screeching halt because I immediately imagined an intoxicated monkey (which was more like a gorilla in size) in the fruit aisle. I couldn’t help but laugh.
What did that mean? On a regular basis, my mind wanders. One minute, I’m making a mental note to call my mom and the next minute, I’m thinking about baby pandas and how much they need to eat to be healthy and strong. How does this happen? I have no idea but that’s real life. I so easily let my thoughts run wild and I wind up missing THIS, this right here, this right now. When I allow myself to be distracted, I can’t give my full attention to what I am doing in that very moment.
The instructor went on to say, “Make your mind your slave! Make it work for YOU and not the other way around.” I was mind blown. This intense statement snapped me back to reality. I made a conscious decision to suck it up and rightfully take the place as “boss” of my mind and body. No one would believe how greatly this thinking changed the rest of my practice that evening.
Once in a while, we need that push, that confidence booster, that reality check. Often times, we fall victim to the two things that are 100% our very own. Let’s not forget that we are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for!
Jessica Ha is a counselor and a freshman advisor at Florida Tech