After almost 5 months since teaching and practicing a Bikram Yoga class, I drop in to see what I’ve missed. My expectations were low. It wasn’t until I received a short, heartfelt email from a student a few weeks ago, that I realised I’d missed teaching. It prompted me to practice to an audio playback of my class, recorded at BY Kawana earlier this year; I felt the energy in the room, even though I was practicing alone on the cold, tile floor of a granny flat. At that point, I wasn’t sure if I missed teaching or the practice.
Why has it been so long? A few personal reasons that wouldn’t hold up on their own but thrown together, make a pretty convincing argument, at least to me. I think for the most part, it’s the lack of direction in Bikram Yoga and my life (yes, I do take responsibility).
Maybe I missed the guidance of senior teachers but for the most part I think there’s a lack of leadership from Bikram himself. I met the man for the first time in Mumbai, India as a student; I didn’t know anything about Bikram and so was excited, awed and a little intimidated. At Bikram teacher training, any respect I had, diminished rather rapidly. I felt a mixture of confusion, frustration and anger that during a 9 week teacher training course, you could learn basically nothing. Bikram himself even told us how stupid we all were for paying 10k to do his training; I remember the nervous laughs; after all, it was a very bad, expensive joke or was it.
Alas, the Bikram world is slowly fragmenting but that’s a topic for another blog post.
During the past year, I’ve regularly practiced yoga at home and abroad to Tony Sanchez’s dvds. I set up my mat, laptop and go for it, wherever, whenever, even my nephew’s room in Ireland with space, barely for a yoga mat; during handstands my feet would get tangled in his aeroplane light dangling from the ceiling. They’ve been around a while now but the Yoga Challenge 1 through 4 dvds are still an excellent resource to expand your practice and knowledge. In the past, I tried the “Advanced Series” at Bikram affiliated studios and even though I wanted to join the elite club, my interest faded. Call me a pussy but I found a heated advanced class beyond me and with my general lack of flexibility, my knees couldn’t take it. With the Yoga Challenge series, I discovered I could build a disciplined practice at home, in my own time; interestingly, my knees are the best they’ve been since I started advanced postures. I still haven’t worked that one out.
Yesterday, after approx’ 140 days AWOL, I practiced a Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class and followed up with teaching this morning. I was surprised it went so well. Even though I’ve maintained a home practice the whole time, I was a little nervous of the heat. I enjoyed the practice, especially Chat’s (co owner of BY Kingston) passion. One thing I miss, is the encouragement a Bikram teacher gives during class. I had fantasies of practicing a 30 day challenge but when the time came to class this afternoon, I was busy having fun, playing around with olympic rings in my mate, Nick’s garage. It’s interesting how a lot of the exercises we were doing are related in some way to yoga.
I realise I don’t need to practice a Bikram Yoga challenge, even though I love challenges but I do have to find balance. I’ve given up on Bikram but not his Beginning Yoga Class just yet; I’ll still practice and teach and enjoy that wonderful energy as I will other forms. However, direction in life does change and now, I’m retuning the compass.