Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dialogue = Love

Have I mentioned yet that I absolutely love the Bikram Dialogue?  I do.  I love it.  One of my favorite things about being back in Boston - aside from seeing friends and family - is hearing clear, clean dialogue in basically every yoga class I take.  Between the main Boston studios, where they are big believers in pure dialogue, and the greater Boston area studios, where Diane is a massive force for correct dialogue, I think that the New England area probably has some of the strongest Bikram yoga taught anywhere.

NOT that I am biased or anything!!

This story is a little tribute to my original home studio in Boston...

I think that a big part of being a Bikram yoga student (and we are all students, even the most senior teachers) is having faith in the correctness and effectiveness of the dialogue.  (There's one of those 5 qualities of the mind again...)  That's what it means to do this yoga the right way.

I am a scientist and an experimentalist, so faith is not something that I usually invoke as rationale.  So like a good scientist, I have put this faith to the test before accepting it.  I think my defining moment was in March of last year, and it came about through cobra pose.  My back was starting to get really strong at that time, so I was coming up higher and higher in cobra, to the point where I was looking down the wall behind me, sometimes past the ballet barre.  Belly-button touching the floor?  Not so much.  I asked one of my teacher friends about that line, "belly button only touching the floor", and she said "oh yeah, mine doesn't touch either," so I figured it was ok.  Did the pose that way for a few weeks, maybe.  Teachers were impressed by it.  Teachers asked me to demonstrate it to the class, they were so impressed.  So I figured I was doing good.

Finally, one day I'm in class with one of the studio owners, he's in the middle of teaching cobra, and he says "come up halfway only, until only your belly button is touching the floor.  Belly button touching the floor.  Belly button touching the floor.  Belly button touching the floor."  Everyone else in the class is definitely thinking "whoever is doing that wrong, can you please fix it so we can come out of the pose?" and I finally realize "oh crap, that's for me!"  I come down like 12 inches.  I'm pissed.  Totally frustrated.  What the heck.  I thought I was so good at this pose. Why do I have to do it this way.  This way doesn't make any sense.  My way was so great.  I talked to my teacher after class.  I say, "but my back muscles are getting so strong this way!" He says, "belly button touching the floor."  I say, "but I think I can get even more compression in my back when I come all the way up."  He says, "belly button touching the floor."  It's like boxing with a glacier.  I go home pissed.  I think ungenerous thoughts towards my teacher.  I make a decision.  I will try doing the posture this way for my next 30 classes and see if it works.  If it doesn't, I'm switching back to "my" way.

For the next week, I do cobra strictly according to the dialogue and hate it.  Every time I'm in it, I'm thinking, "this is stupid, this is totally holding me back, I like the other way so much better."

A week or two after that, I discover about 10 new lower back muscles.  My advanced postures improve by leaps and bounds.

Dialogue was right.  (And so was my teacher.  I adore him.)

So that was my first experiment, the first test.  It wasn't the last one; I've gone through similar trial and error periods with other postures.  And you know what?  In the end, I always arrive at the same solution: the dialogue was right all along.  And that is just one of the reasons why I love it and trust it.  I think my faith is well-earned and well-placed.


bikramyogachick said...

This post is timely! Just last night I was in class really listening to the dialog and appreciating it. I thought to myself "wow, I could not even get my foot in my hand for standing head to knee, now I'm kicking out and working on getting elbows down". It's all because of the dialog. Because I listen to it and take it step by step, it's like having a handbook for your body! When I was little, I was the one nobody picked for teams, I couldn't do a cartwheel, sucked at every sport. I needed dialog for help with that cartwheel! :)

The Missus said...

I can TOTALLY imagine this studio owner telling you that. He is so awesome. they all are in Boston. I just don't know what to expect when I begin practicing in Toronto next week.

Will it be hot enough? Will I like their delivery?

thedancingj said...

Oh my gosh, Missus, and can't you just see me FIGHTING with him about it for the entire week? Stubborn child. Haha. Classic behavior from both of us. I hope you like Toronto!! I know some awesome Bikram yogis from that area, so I think it should be pretty solid up there. Fingers crossed for you!

I couldn't do a cartwheel either... actually, I'm not too sure that I can do one NOW. ;)

Lindy said...

A funny thing happened to me last night and I couldn't help but think of this post, immediately! I swear I heard Jacky say, "Feel the love," rather than, "Fill the lungs" during the first sit-up. Perhaps that's what I needed to hear. Not only did it make me more aware of actually filling my lungs, but I also recited to myself, "feel the love," as I rose for each sit-up. I had a bit of an upset stomach, but this motivated through each push. 'Feeling the love' helped me to work my ass off even though I didn't feel 100%. I love those times!

thedancingj said...

Lindyyyy! Hey girl!!! That is SO cute. I love it. Sometimes the most unexpected thoughts are what get us through class! I ALWAYS feel the love in Jackie's class, even/especially when she is cooking me like a chicken. ;-)

Sara said...

Man - I have had the X-ACT same experience with Cobra!!! Only one thing not the same - I read something Mary Jarvis wrote about the pose and I fought with the change. It's hard 'cause our teachers hardly do any dialog and actually teach the pose the "incorrect" way and encurage the hight... Like some of the other teachers you wrote about.

I'll be thinking of you in Cobra from now on and then we can do awesome ones one day eventually in the future in Jarvis class (like your dream ;o)!