Wow. A most interesting development from Bikram HQ. Unfortunately there is no date stamp on this announcement but it’s one of the most important coming from Bikram in the last few years, at least since I became a teacher.
Announcement from Bikram – About Advanced Seminar and Yoga Championships
My Advanced Seminar scheduled for Phuket, Thailand on June 22, 2014 will be the last openly public Advanced Seminar I will be doing. There will also be no more Bishnu Ghosh Yoga Championship after this year’s International Finals in London in May, or relationship with Bikram Yoga and any Yoga Championships for now.
Crazy times huh?! I think it’s a good decision (really, this came from Bikram?!). Sorry, couldn’t help the sarcasm. Why? I practiced the Advanced Series or 84 Asanas for the first time as a junior teacher in Stockholm. In reality my body wasn’t ready for it and for some postures I believe it may never be. As I recall, it was invitation only: you had to be a teacher or student training to compete in the Yoga Asana Championships (Bishnu Ghosh Cup). So as a Bikram Teacher, I had a “free” pass, although as a teacher it was kind of expected of me.
I practiced. I knew I was way out of my league but it was the next level and I wanted to attain it whatever that “it” was. After a while I didn’t come as often and in the end, I dropped off completely; my knees just couldn’t handle it. I accepted the fact I wasn’t ready and concentrated on the Beginning Series.
This is a big call but I’m comfortable in making it: I believe I messed up both knees forcing my legs into “Lotus” during Advanced practice. I take full blame for this. The problem is, as an inexperienced yogi we listen to older, more experienced Bikram teachers to guide us into the practice. But Bikram teachers are not Advanced Series teachers. At Teacher Training we practice the Beginning Series and only watch the Advanced Series at the end of training. In fact we learn so little at teacher training most don’t even understand the Beginning Series properly. So it’s alarming to think some of us have the ego to even lead the Advanced Series.
Whether it’s Advanced Series or Beginning Series, a Yoga teacher should know when to encourage a person to practice an Asana. They should also understand when to guide a student not to, or (God forbid) even eliminate a particular Asana from their practice. Unfortunately for most Bikram Teachers this would deviate from their “training” so much, it would be seen as a failure of the series.
Once at a Bikram Teacher meeting, after a Masterclass by one of Bikram’s accredited “Masterclass/Posture Clinic” teachers, I asked what I thought was a simple question, “Why is Pranayama breathing is so fast in the Advanced practice?” There were a few senior teachers present, one of which regularly leads the Advanced Series and whom I have the utmost respect for. They couldn’t answer the question. I was amazed.
Cancelling the Advanced Seminar takes away validation of Advanced Series practice at Bikram Studios. Cancelling the Yoga Asana Championships takes away the need. If you still have the desire to practice an Advanced Asana practice, maybe you have to look outside the Bikram world. I don’t believe Bikram yogis will just stop practicing Advanced Asana. But maybe it will go back to it’s origin and become “a secret, private, individual, personal practice” it was once meant to be.