Lessons from the Mat is a continuing series of the top 10 things that I have learned since beginning Bikram Yoga. Enjoy!
8. The most difficult postures or teachers will teach you the most
As with all things in life, we like some activities better than others. If we really think about it, there is probably a correlation with how easily we can perform the activity to how well we like it. Our yoga practice is no different. I have struggled for years with some postures. I noticed my anxiety level would go up even before I went into the postures that were difficult for me. I would think all kinds of negative thoughts about the posture (or teacher) while I was attempting the posture. It just seemed the negativity was overtaking me. I remember one night after class the teacher saying to me “I am not sure what is going on with you, but you really need to just let it go”. I was thinking what does this teacher know about me, my life or challenges that I am currently going through? Oh, was I mad as I walked out of the studio. I avoided her classes for weeks. I thought I will show her.
Well, as fate would have it the studio’s schedule changed, and I ended up back in her classes. I tried to relax and let go but it just wasn’t happening for me. One night during class she said “as you continue with practice you will realize that the postures that challenge you the most are the ones your need the most. The challenges are like the mirrors and they will provide with a learning lesson if you are open to receive them”. I wished that I could say a light bulb went off for me with her comment but the truth was it did not. Her words would rattle around my head for a long time before I learned the lesson. I guess you could say it was all about being open to receiving the lesson. For me that lesson was all about control. I wanted to control everything in my life. I would resist things or people that I could not control. Just like a mirror, I realized that I needed to acknowledge the facts before I could move forward. As I began the journey of letting go of my need to control everything, I noticed that my postures started to change. The openness that I longed for in my practice just started to happen. A pretty amazing lesson. I now wonder why it took me so long to get it?
Ok, and “now the rest of the story”. I have struggled with so many postures over the years that the list includes almost every posture in the series. Half Moon pose continues to be at the top of the list. I decided that I needed to have some kind of mantra or routine to say or do when the challenges or frustrations get in the way of a good practice. For me, that routine is to “smile” while attempting the posture. I have noticed that it is real hard to be frustrated when you are smiling. It brings a new meaning to one of my favorite sayings….”smiling happy face”. Try it sometime and let me know how it goes for you.
Amy Clement is a certified Bikram Yoga Instructor and owns Bikram Yoga Lake Norman. She has practiced Bikram Yoga for over 12 years and still considers herself to be a beginner. She retired from the corporate world after 26 years to purse her passion of sharing this yoga with everyone.