Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Focus again, in another flavor

I am still slooowwwly making my way through How Yoga Works, and I can't even describe how great it is!  It's got everything in it.  There's a lot that I can't really paraphrase, cause it needs to be taken in the context of the book's development, but here is one little bit that I wanted to share.

It's about focus.  The girl in the book is teaching her student, and has him standing in a warrior pose, gazing out over his hand.  Then she tells him:

"Now focus your gaze on your finger," and another breath passed.
"Then on the tips of your fingers," and I let two breaths pass.
"And now on your fingernails," one more breath.  "And then the fingernail of yor middle finger only," two more breaths.  "And now on the end of that fingernail; on the curve of fingernail at the end. " And he did, for three breaths.
"Good," I said, "now relax."
He stood up straight and looked at me steadily.  "That's the longest you've ever held that pose," I said.  "Twice as long as before, in fact." 
He raised his eyebrows.  "Sure didn't feel like that..."

I love this!  It's "the left eye of the bird" all over again, practically word for word, but slightly different.  I thought about this passage in class yesterday morning during standing bow and it was a great success.  I was so much more stable than usual.

It's really great to see how often Bikram's philosophy is in perfect lock-step with the other yoga writings.  It shouldn't come as any surprise, considering Bikram's background, but it's sometimes easy to forget his teachings are part of a much larger context.  I think the one place where the Bikram yoga community falls down sometimes is in our easy dismissal of other styles.  There are so many Bikram teachers who never tried any other styles of yoga before becoming certified.  There are so many of us, myself included, who practice Bikram's class almost exclusively.  And I don't think that's a bad thing at all, but I think we have to be conscious that there's a risk of becoming insular and close-minded and forgetting that there is a lot of other good yoga out there.  There is plenty of crap yoga, too!  ("Mickey Mouse!!")  But there is other good yoga that we can always learn from.

And for me, every time I study another book or take a different good class, it just reaffirms my belief in Bikram and his system, because so many other teachings align perfectly with his.  I think he gets it all right, and his class is second to none.  But he's not the only one.


The Missus said...

I love Bikram's yoga... And it is the only one I want to teach and practice regularly. But I think there are other yoga styles that are good for meditation and relaxation.

I haven't ever really heard any Bikram people dismiss other yoga styles... For me, it's always people who practice other disciplines that bag Bikram.

It makes me want to punch them!

thedancingj said...

Oh trust me, I've heard it go both ways. You'd be surprised. Sadly. :-P

But yea, I hate when people are hatin' on the Bikram... that's a WHOLE other topic. They just never know what they are TALKING about! The number of news articles written by people who have taken ONE class... *sigh* Get your facts, please!

Duffy Pratt said...

I get bugged when I get the idea that a teacher thinks that going through teacher training means s/he has a complete education. Bikram's teacher training barely makes teachers competent to lead a class, with no individualized input. It's an amazing accomplishment, but it barely even scrapes the tip of the iceberg.

Ellen in Hawaii said...

Well said. I believe that Bikram is one of the living legends of yoga. PERIOD. He has an almost cult-like following because his series is life-changing if you commit to it. That being said, there are many other great teachers and much benefit to different styles of yoga. It is by nature a highly personal endeavor and it is therefore up to each individual to find what works best for them.

thedancingj said...

Ok, YES to you ALL, and I think I will have to write a more detailed post on this topic in the near future, because I am realizing that I have MANY more detailed thoughts on this subject and I haven't explained myself fully yet, or even come close. This blogging is SUCH a learning experience! I keep mentioning these little things that are SO obvious to me in my head, and then realizing that they are NOT obvious at ALL. :)

hannahjustbreathe said...

Yep, you've opened another can, J! I have MANY FEELINGS on Bikram vs. other styles of yoga. I've written a bit on it before, but I agree---it's a topic that's worth some serious delving into. Look forward to reading more of your thoughts on the subject.

(I think that's like my most formal comment ever.)

thedancingj said...

Haha - yeah, such proper writing, what's up with THAT?! Whatevs, I'll ttyl, c u soon. ;)