You Have Something That IT Has Not

I love Bikram Yoga.  I love the feeling of being part of a group, moving and breathing and resting and moving again, as a group.  I also find that somewhat disturbing.

See, the other day, in my class, there was one person who just couldn’t find the rhythm in the final breathing.  Everyone else was together, but just as we breathed out, this person breathed in.  And so on.  And since there’s a sound to this breathing, we all knew.

But then I flashed to my favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, and the first time Meg meets IT.

At Indiana University Bloomington: the world’s largest anatomically correct sculpture of a human brain.

For everywhere she looked, everywhere she turned, was the rhythm, and as it continued to control the systole and diastole of her heart, the intake and outlet of her breath, the red miasma began to creep before her eyes again, and she was afraid that she was going to lose consciousness, and if she did that she would be completely in the power of IT.

And I started to wonder, what’s better?  To move with and be part of the group or to fight the rhythm?  It’s obvious to say “it depends”, but on what?  In today’s class, again, there was one person fighting the movement of the class, working at their own pace, not moving with the rest of us.  And of course this person had set up right next to me.

And I flashed back to a later part of my favorite book, when Meg defeats IT and rescues Charles Wallace, and is returned to her family.  And how she does that is, to me, how you know when it’s time be part of the team and time to strike out on your own.

Mrs. Which leaves Meg on Camazotz to confront IT with a final gift:

Yyou hhave ssomethinngg thatt ITT hhass nnott.  Thiss ssomethinngg iss yyour onlly wweapponn.  Bbutt yyou mmusstt ffinndd itt fforr yyourrssellff.

The first time I read this book, I could not imagine what this meant.  I read on, as fast as I could (and that’s pretty fast) to find out.  What kind of weapon could this tween girl with whom I identified so closely have to fight the force of evil that had stolen her brother?

Love.  Simply love.  And the ability to remember love and still love the one who was, at that moment, not himself and standing against her.

And choosing love allows us to know when we should be part of the group, and when it is time to move ahead alone, and fight.

That’s all.


The Balance Between Making It Happen & Allowing It to Happen… in Yoga and in Life

Refer back to my post on “Pick A Choice”:
“Your inner guide, your gut feelings, are there for a reason and will help lead the way. When you start to truly tune into that, you will know the next step without having to analyze, debate, or look for alternative options.”

Views from the Podium

Make it happen people! Make it work! Don’t be so lazy, it’s up to you to make the life you want! Make time for yourself. Make time for others. You can make it!

Good Lord, does anyone else see a problem with this? Maybe you don’t and that’s okay because there are some things in life that you have to have a “make it happen” attitude to accomplish.  You make your career happen by showing up to work.  You make your personal life happen by showing up for others.  You make your spiritual life happen by showing up for yourself.  Once you have shown up though, that’s enough “making.” Once you’ve shown up, you do your best with what you have in any given situation and you allow what is supposed to happen, to happen.

Now, please notice how I used the word “allow” instead of “make.” I did it…

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So Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions – I’ve written about that before – but it is a reflective time of year, and lately I’ve been thinking.  A lot.  Some would say overthinking.  The end result of all this thinking?

A want list.  A very personal, very selfish want list.

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.

1.  Health, or the semblance thereof.  Many of my Bikram Yoga teachers will say, as we are in savasana, to “visualize yourself in perfect health”.  I want that.

2.  Staying with a theme…I have noticed that almost all my Bikram teachers compliment the same things about my practice every time I see them (and I basically see the same teachers every week).   And for whatever reason, those things are the ones that come a bit more easily to me.  In the meantime, I’m over here all like “hey, did you notice I didn’t fall over even ONCE in the balancing series?”  Or “I stayed in Rabbit despite being so far into it that my cleavage inhibited my breathing”!  Crazy, I know.  I want them to notice the things that are so hard for me that I am surprised.

3.  I’ve been thinking a lot about love.  I would like to know that there is someone – maybe more than one – that loves me (whatever love means, anyway) without it being an assumed condition of our relationship.  (For example, I love my family, even when I don’t like them.  Would I love them if they weren’t my family?  Well, some of them, sure.  Would they love me if I weren’t family?  Well, some of them, I think.)  Love, offered with no conditions, is something I want and want to give.  And I think everyone deserves it.  (And before you say it, no, I am not talking about a romance.  Sigh.)

4.  One thing I want I completely control.  2016 will be the year I get the weight back off.  I won’t say “get back to my goal weight” as I’m not sure what that is anymore, but I will be at the right weight for me in the new year.

5.  I also completely control my reactions to the bad behavior of others, and I want to stop letting others’ bad behavior get to me.  Both friends and strangers, in fact.  I may want to talk about it, but it is not going to upset me any more.

6.  I want to remember to be nicer to my cats.  And myself.

And, oh, World Peace.

May your 2016 be the year of getting just what you want.

Not (necessarily) what you deserve. 


What Makes A Great Class?

I really didn’t want to go to my Bikram Yoga class today.  I came up with every lame excuse possible, and when I was done, I hauled my fat ass out of bed and went to class.

imgresSee, I’m on sort-of restriction.  Due to injuries, I’m only supposed to practice every other day at most, and even then, I have to be careful.  So all my excuses came to naught, as today was one of my days.  I had to adult, like it or not.  And I did NOT like it.

Until the class started.  All of a sudden, it just felt right.  Perhaps my postures looked like crap, but my muscles felt loose and long, and I balanced better than, well, pretty much ever.  When the teacher said “smile” and I did and she noticed, I smiled even more.

It was a freaking great class.  But even during a great class, my mind does wander on occasion (yes, that was me forgetting floor bow and trying to move ahead to fixed firm), and I could not help but wonder why I was loving this class, today, on the day I didn’t want to go, during a week in which I’ve been sad and angry.

And I think that’s why it was a great class.  Once I was there, there was nothing else to do but practice my yoga.  Just staying in the room at first took so much discipline, that by the time the class started, I could not help but let go and let my practice happen.

I’m not sure this can translate to any other part of my life (and it was not a great day, though I like to think it was better than it would have been), but for ninety minutes today, I kind of had my own version of “let go and let God”.

So, let go and let yoga.  Let walking.  Let Pilates.  Let whatever.

But haul your ass out of bed and make it happen.

It just might be great.

On Selfishness And Yoga

Last week, I celebrated ten years of practicing Bikram Yoga.

After my 10th Anniversary class. Midtown studio, Bikram Yoga NYC

While my practice has admittedly been spotty at times, I could not let the day pass without notice.  Readers of this blog know that Bikram has changed my life in many ways (just search “Bikram Yoga”).

I’m selfish about my yoga and the time it takes.  While I value the friends I’ve made, and the worldwide community I can tap into on my travels, my practice may be the one thing in my life that is all mine.

Think about it – most things you do, if not all, include some element of someone else’s needs.  That may be something you embrace gladly – I hope you do – and I certainly am not suggesting unfettered self-interest is a good idea.  In fact, the selfishness of my practice is one of the ways in which I mentally prepare to look outside myself; to set aside self-interest as much as I can; to keep my head when the world is asking too much.  And it’s where I forgive myself and gather the will to continue when I don’t succeed at those goals (or any others).  My favorite Bikram phrase, after all, is “it’s a practice, not a perfect”.

Playing on the beach – coming out of triangle with a big belly laugh. Punta Serena, Mexico

Hmmm.  I guess I’m not really selfish after all.


What If The Answer Is “Neither”?

Something I have heard in many Bikram Yoga classes, especially when there are new students, is that everyone enters the room differently – specifically that some people are more flexible, and some people are more strong.

But what if the answer is “neither”?  What if you’re like me? I’m just strong enough to know my weakness, and just flexible enough to recognize my rigidity.  And frankly, I think this is the best way to be, plus, this is a case in which yoga really is just like life.

If you are truly strong, part of being so is recognizing that you do have weaknesses – that you do have times when you have to actively pay attention to those weaknesses – and that not everything can be solved by stubborn.

This image has nothing to do with this post...except that Google brings this up for every variation I could think of that combined the words "strong" and "flexible".  So there.

This image has nothing to do with this post…except that Google brings this up for every variation I could think of that combined the words “strong” and “flexible”. So there.


If you are truly flexible, you know that there are some things about which you are completely rigid – that you have certain points beyond which you cannot, or more importantly, will not, go, and that sometimes putting your foot down is the best way to move forward.



I know, nothing revelatory here – but have you really stopped and thought about what strong vs. flexible means for you?


Why I Will Still Practice Bikram Yoga

I’ve written before about Bikram Choudhury and the  charges levied against him, but the situation has changed.  While the criminal charges have been dismissed, more women have come forward and are filing civil suits against him.  Now, we still don’t know what is true – and anyone can file a civil suit – and to be completely politically incorrect, some of the described incidents sound completely avoidable to me – there’s a lot of talk, and some have asked me what I think.  Some have even suggested that I should change my practice to avoid any association with Mr. Choudhury and his name.

So, I’m taking a stand.  I will continue my yoga practice.  I will seek out studios when I travel, and vacations that incorporate this yoga.  524089_649930008373225_1489855080_nAnd I will not hide that practice by calling it other than what it is – “Bikram Yoga”.  After all, it’s the yoga, not the guru, or as a wise friend of mine pointed out, not everything has to be a cult of personality, and not everything has to be destroyed if an idol is toppled.

Bikram Yoga has changed my life in only positive ways – I am healthier, more disciplined, happier, and I have a circle of friends and a community at Bikram Yoga NYC and the other studios I visit when traveling that I would have missed out on without this practice.

Making this decision might be easier for me than some; I’ve always tended to assume that anyone – anyone – can disappoint me.  But when they do, I’ve also been able to acknowledge the positive elements (assuming there were some) from our interaction.  Even the Evil Ex taught me some things.

I don’t have some profound ending statement to make – and there may be those who see this as a defense of the man, not of my Bikram Yoga practice.  But that’s theirs to figure out.  I’ve made my decision, and I’ll be in the hot room.


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