Bikram Yoga: Really Is Mind Over Matter.

While I rarely teach right now, one thing I (and really all Bikram teachers are programmed to) say to students in class is, "It's mind over matter."

Students roll their eyes at us. Or their inner dialogue tells them to punch us (I actually had a student after class tell me once that they wanted to do this to me). I get it. You're in a room that is feeling way hotter than it is... Sweat is pouring into your eyes and stinging them... The heart is racing, and you're confused - as you didn't realize coming to a Bikram class would be a "cardio experience."

I think these same things ALL OF THE TIME when I take class. Especially when I am working long hours and not able to get enough rest and relaxation. The 90 minutes I stay in the hot room, trying my hardest (which is sometimes a complete crap effort), is the only way I get any relaxation for my body.

But lately... things have been different in my practice. My body has changed. And not because I have been diligent or disciplined with my practice.

My practice got better. Earth-shatteringly (for me) better.

I didn't practice at all between the end of November until about a week after I got back from Antarctica. So about seven weeks.

Pathetic. Sad. No excuse. Especially for a teacher or for someone who has been practicing for almost 10 years!

When I went back to class for the first time last Wednesday, I thought, "This is going to be painful. And disgraceful." 

Boy was I wrong!

My body was very open! I found myself easily falling into back bends. Hands to Feet pose - HOLY CRAP! I was able to sandwich my body closer than I had in years! And wrap my elbows way more around my calves!

Then Awkward pose came... And despite having nursed "Runner's Knee" for a good part of the past year, I was able to do the second part of Awkward!

But the real break-through came next with Eagle Pose...

The only time in my practice in the past 9.5 years that I have been able to wrap my leg and tuck my foot behind my calf muscle was four years ago during my Bikram 101 challenge. After I finished the challenge, I took a month off from practicing. And I lost the ability to wrap and tuck. Even when I went to Teacher Training later that Fall, I was never able to wrap and tuck.

(In fact, I tell people all of the time that going to Teacher Training actually ruined my practice. Another story, another time though.)

Well, for some reason going back to class after taking seven weeks off to go and travel... My body decided, "Sure! You can wrap and tuck your foot on the left side. Go for it! See! It's easy!"

What. The...?

That's what I thought as I feeling and seeing my body do it.

I continued to have breakthroughs with my body during the rest of class. Standing Head to Knee - I kicked out on both sides and held it longer than I have in over three years. Standing Bow? If I keep the momentum up, I'll be straightening the right leg side in a few months. Floor Bow and Rabbit Pose proved to be amazing as well for me.

I determined that the vacation travel I've been doing - despite being stressful at times - is responsible. It's taken me out of my comfort zone. And it's forced me to CHILL THE EFF OUT. So even though I hadn't practiced in quite a while, my mind was like, "Okay. The body can open to these poses. Go ahead."

Really hoping I can stay peaceful in the mind, and continue to let things open up for my practice.