Beginners view of Bikram Yoga

Bikram we are all told is a beginners Yoga, so how do we progress to the higher forms of Yoga? 

It comes through practice and self enquiry and utilising the wonderful knowledge base of our teachers. At the start of each Bikram class we are told to focus on ourselves in the mirror, but how do we maintain that razor sharp focus for 90 minutes straight and look calm like some of our master students who appear effortlessly to go from one position to the next, nary raising a sweat nor heart beat. 
It all begins with that initial dialogue “focus your eyes on one spot in the mirror”, but hey what, what spot, ooh that spot of sweat that looks like a dribble running down the mirror, oh yuck, hmm pink isn’t my colour today, I should have washed my hair before I came, i wonder if anyone notices, ohhh focus. 
But what is focus, how can we improve upon it. In the absence of our Scottish sensei Kimmi we resorted to asking our AI chatbot to define what is focus. It came up with 14 different steps to focus, but I struggled to focus long enough to read all 14, let alone replicate them here. Of the 14 results, one that stood out was mindfulness and meditation, this can greatly enhance your ability to focus. Mindfulness, in particuar, teaches you to be present in the moment, which can directly improve concentration. 
The dictionary definition of focus is “the centre of interest or activity”, should i be looking around at the people in the room or continue to stare at that brutal sweat spot in the mirror. There is a key action that we are required to do to focus, and that is called applying WILL POWER. But what is will power and how do we apply will as yogis. Will power as defined by psychologists is a person’s ability to control their own actions in order to pursue long-term goals. Frederich Nietsche (German philosopher) goes further by stating “will power is an irrational force, found in all individuals, that can be channeled toward different ends”. 
All great definitions as a start, but how do we use will power to improve our focus. As yogis’s we have to learn to consciously apply will power not in the form as taught in gyms (where they concentrate the attention on muscles) but we focus our attention on the awakened life energy (prana) which is the direct giver of power, strength and vitality to all tissues in the body. This is core to Eastern belief systems, science hasn’t as yet disproved nor proved this process, it remains a deeply respected concept in various spiritual and holistic traditions.  Fundamental to this is prana (life energy), it is all around us, it enters our body through our medulla oblongata, the fleshy bit at the top of our neck at the back, prana enters our body here and we use our will power to direct it to other parts of our body. Our will power sits in our kutashtha, the point above our eyes in the centre of our forehead. We use our will to tap into unlimited energy and move it to the areas of our body that need it, not like tensing a muscle, but increasing your attention of a particular area. Mind controls the will, and will controls the energy. It is not the will that heals, but the energy, roused by the will, that effects a healing. There is no force more effective than energy applied through will power roused by a firm, positive mind.  Will and energy are the two most effective powers in the bodily system. Learn to use these two effectively, and the 90 minute torture chamber of Bikram becomes a 90 minute meditation where you exude calm and nary a sweat as you move from pose to pose effortlessly.
The wonderful thing about will power, it can be used effectively to change our unwanted habits. Something for another time…
If you are interested in learning more about will power, changing habits or meditation don’t hesitate to talk to one of our wonderful teachers who can share their wisdom on will power. 

love Ilkka xx