Life Lessons from the Mat is a continuing series of the top 10 things that I have learned since beginning Bikram Yoga. Enjoy!
6. Your Worst Class is the One You Never Attend
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have always struggled with trying new activities if I didn’t think that I could be really good at them. Over the years, I developed the thinking that what I was lacking in skill and ability then I could make up for in focus and discipline. I applied this thinking as I started practicing Bikram Yoga. I live very close to the studio and would schedule my life around taking class knowing that one day my postures would be perfect. I got caught up in this thinking and would get frustrated when my balance was off during class or if I didn’t think my posture was a good as the day before. I became so focused on trying to attain the perfect posture that I lost sight of the purpose of practicing. We had a new teacher at our studio who was very experienced and one day she said during the final savasana “remember, the worst class you will ever have is the one that you don’t show up for”. I remember laying on my mat and needing some time to absorb this statement. This was the same teacher who challenged us to let go of our water bottles (lesson #4) so I knew that her statement contained a lesson that I most likely needed. I wish that I could say the light bulb went off immediately for me but it didn’t.
I think that I practiced for a number of more years until I came to a point where I was ready for the lesson. I had moved 35+ miles away from the studio, gotten married and inherited a ready made family with three teenagers. I was struggling with balancing my personal and professional life. My practice had fallen off and it was a challenge to even get to the studio. I didn’t have what I thought was a luxury of time to devote to my practice so I had just let it go. It was my family that encouraged me to get back into a regular practice. I guess they knew more than me how much I needed this practice. My practice took on a different perspective from this point as I realized that each time I attended class my body and mind received the healing benefits of the yoga. It was then I that understood the lesson. The practice was not about obtaining a perfect posture it was about utilizing the practice to heal my body and calm my mind.
Ok, and “now the rest of the story”. I still struggle from time to time with the thinking about perfect postures. Yes, even teachers struggle with this thinking. In fact, I think it can be more prevalent as we want to set good examples for our students. I continually have to remind myself that the best example that I can be for my students is to be real and let them realize that we are human too. We have days where the practice is easier than other days or where our balance comes more naturally. I try to recognize these difference and appreciate the lesson “the worst class you will ever have is the one you don’t show up for”.
Amy Clement is a certified Bikram Yoga Instructor and owns Bikram Yoga Lake Norman. She has practiced Bikram Yoga for over 16 years and still considers herself to be a beginner.