aka How Bikram Yoga Nails the Mind
Have you ever been about to do a posture in a Bikram class and you think, maybe I’ll miss this one out. I’m tired, hot and the teacher is bugging me? Then, for whatever reason, you go – oh what the hell I’ll just do it – and the posture feels like one of your strongest ever?!!
Because you had no expectations. Expectations use past experience to create judgement of how something will be, so creating potential limitations and reinforcing the self-beliefs, not just in your yoga practice, but in your life.
But I’m not very flexible….
The goal of Bikram Yoga is to improve your life. Bikram yoga is not about changing the shape of your postures (although it will), it’s about changing the shape of your life.
It doesn’t matter one iota how strong, flexible, “spiritual” you are, a regular practice will teach you to break your attachments to external things, to your past beliefs about yourself, to your past beliefs about your limits, which are currently playing a starring role as the story you tell yourself about yourself – your body’s capabilities, your mind’s role, your fears, anxieties and weaknesses.
Think less. Your mind is a bad neighbourhood. You should stay out of it.
Why do Bikram teachers tell you the same thing again and again, and expect you to listen even when – in fact, especially when – you are a regular student?
Because the teacher is trying to get you to break your own expectations of yourself to get you to listen and simply do. Only you can do this, the teacher cannot – but through the dialogue, the command and the heat, over time we break down our perceived limitations, which are caused by our thoughts. By over thinking.
By simply listening to the instructions and putting them into your body, you truly are present, you are TRAINING your MIND to listen.
The continual internal dialogue going on in your head is what we call the “monkey mind”.
In any one day you will have thousands of thoughts. Neuroscientists tell us that our mind has a tendency to pay more attention to the negative thoughts. We believe every negative thought we have and this is what cause stress and anxiety in our lives.
If you think about it, the greatest source of stress in your life stems entirely from your thoughts. It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to what happens to you.
“Our Mind can be our own worst enemy or our own best friend”
While many things in life are beyond our control, one thing that is within our control is our own state of mind. By beginning to witness our thoughts, we realise that we have a choice as to what we think, how we feel about something or someone, how we react to a situation. We become.. mindful.
Knowing this doesn’t make it easy to apply though! Just like Bikram yoga it requires hard work, constant watchfulness and patience.
How to Control the Monkey Mind
The only way to do this is to learn to control the monkey mind, to allow our state to become more receptive, so that it is open to see its own spirit – the God within.
Bikram Yoga is a tool to change your “normal” state that responds habitually to situations, based on what you think you know about yourself, your values, your limits. Your monkey mind is so busy reinforcing all these that your spirit is lost.
And the ultimate goal of yoga is to find your true spirit, to find the God Within you.