I practice Bikram yoga to increase the strength, balance, and flexibility of both my body and my mind. These same qualities can serve us in living well in all aspects of our lives. When we display strength, balance, and flexibility in our lives we are effective in creating what we want, experience satisfaction and contentment, and can weather whatever storm life throws our way. Three keys we’re taught in Bikram yoga to get the most benefit from our practice can be used as metaphors to help us in our daily lives.
The first key is your breath. In Bikram yoga we breathe in and out deeply through our noses so that our bodies remain calm, and to fully oxygenate our blood bringing energy to our practice. In life, when something knocks you off kilter, the first thing to do is to slow down and focus on your breath. This is useful whether it is something as minor as being stuck in traffic, or as significant as dealing with an illness or death. The simple act of taking a few deep breaths can calm your nervous system and focus your energy on the here and now instead of the endless thoughts racing through your head. From that centered place you can more effectively deal with whatever feelings you are having, figure out what needs to be done next, or just support yourself in living from one moment to the next until you can regain your bearings.
The second key is to fully engage in your pose – to whatever level you body can do today – and hold it. No bouncing up and down. No coming out early. Just consistent, strong action. This is another useful way of being in life. Rather than continually going back and forth between different strategies and plans when trying to move forward in your life, pick an action and be consistent until you have enough information to assess whether it is working or not. If you’re constantly second-guessing, you will not be able to stick with something long enough for it to be effective anyway. While it’s great to be flexible and open to trying different things in your life, once you’ve decided on something be consistent enough to reap the potential benefit of your action.
The third key in Bikram yoga is savasana, or corpse pose. This is basically a rest period between the floor postures when your body regenerates and prepares for the next posture. Without this short period of rest, your body will not be able to get the most out of the next pose. In life, if we don’t take breaks to refuel after climbing the mountain, or appreciate the accomplishments we’ve made, we will have hampered our capability for climbing the next mountain. Not only is our energy diminished, but we will also miss out on the joy and satisfaction of recognizing the milestones or challenges we’ve met. Take time to rest, rejuvenate, and celebrate between important cycles in your life, and you’ll experience more success and satisfaction.
The three keys –focusing on your breath, getting into your pose and holding, and shavasana – are all metaphors for the steps that will help you remain strong, balanced, and flexible through your lifetime. Practice Yoga for Life, and live well. Namaste.