This afternoon while I was practicing Bikram yoga, I flashed on the first line of Marianne Moore's poem "Poetry" which begins, (as many of you already know) with the stunning revelation: "I too dislike it."
There I was doing my standing head to knee and my bow pulling pose, and I couldn't help but smile. Because it seemed that Moore's poem applied absolutely to Bikram yoga - which nobody who seriously engages in it can claim to like. And yet, as Moore does in Poetry, we 'find in it a place for the genuine'.
I have a crush on Bikram yoga. That is, I'm scared of it, and it makes my heart beat faster and when I pass the studio where I routinely practice, I turn my head and look at the sign - and at any given hour, even if I'm not in the studio, I mentally calculate what stage they will be in their practice. At 10:30 am for instance, I might think to myself - just about now they will be finishing their eagle pose and having a sip of water - and then they'll be on to the balancing series.
When I wake up each morning, yes - it sounds pathetic, for those who DONT have this crush - I check my email, and then I check the "Best Hot Yoga in Virginia Bikram Falls Church" page to see who is teaching at 4 o clock. Why? Because that's the hour I usually practice. Not that it makes any difference in absolute terms, because the dialog is always the same. The practice is identical no matter who the teacher. But it's just to orient myself. To anticipate the practice to come. Oh, it's Jamie today. Or oh, it's Carol.
Pathetic? Anyone who has a crush is a little bit pathetic. They've discovered something that lights their private fire, and the light is exhilarating and doesn't depend on what others think or feel. In fact, to hell with what everyone else thinks, because this is all about your inner life.
Amazing when I think how I started out, a little more than a year ago. I hated this yoga. I endured it only because my daughter Rozzie was convinced it would help my frozen shoulder. I agonized - and I thought those who did 30 day challenges must be absolutely out of their minds. Now I am one of them. As another yogi in our studio says, I've drunk the Kool Aid. And PS, my frozen shoulder is healed.
On Thursday after my practice I spoke with another student in the studio who I have often seen before. She told me she often thinks to herself What am I doing here. Why did I come. It isn't enjoyable. It isn't fun. It is, however, a community. But even though I've got more used to the 105% degree temperature, I still can't predict one day to the next how my practice will go. Sometimes it feels smooth as silk. Others it's an almighty struggle. Nothing changes but me. And I don't know what I'm bringing into the hot room until I am actually there. I try not to bring expectations. I try to stay present, in each posture as it comes up - without any thought or dread of what's to come. But it changes every time.
I think it's safe to say that most practitioners have a love/hate relationship with this yoga. They know it heals and that's why they return. But healing is not always easy, even though within it, like Marianne Moore, we find a place for the genuine. And as Marianne Moore found in Poetry, we find that it is useful. We know that it is raw. And if your soul and body demand what is raw and what is also genuine, you too may be interested in Bikram yoga!