Sunday, April 11, 2010

Little Plastic Castle

"You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific?"  "No."  "They say it has no memory.  That's where I want to live the rest of my life.  A warm place with no memory."
- The Shawshank Redemption

Bikram yogis have a lot of character traits in common.  We are determined, we are focused, we are interested in improving our health... these are all great things.  But I've always suspected that we have one other thing in common: short-term memory loss.

I mean, how else do you explain it?  One minute you're exhausted on your mat, wishing the teacher would open the doors and cursing the yogi who invented locust pose.  You think, "Uugggghh, why am I doing this?!"  But then as soon as class ends, you don't say, "Uugggghh, why did I do that?!"  You say, "When can I do that again??"

It's phenomenal.  We feel so good at the end of class that we forget about all the discomfort we endured while the class was actually happening.  I've heard more than one person compare it to childbirth: the experience is kind of horrifying sometimes, but then the end result is so great that you end up thinking, "Gee, that wasn't so bad, I think I'll do it again!"

And we do this every.  Single.  Time.

There have been plenty of times when I've laid in a puddle of my own sweat, totally spent, and thought, "Okay, there is no frickin' way that I'd want to do this stuff twice a day for nine whole weeks."  But then as soon as class is over and I've felt a little bit of cool air, I hear myself thinking, "Yeah, teacher training, sign me up!  When can I start?"

(I start in seven days.)

I've had this great song lyric stuck in my head all day: "They say goldfish have no memory/ I guess their lives are much like mine/ And the little plastic castle/ Is a surprise every time/ And it's hard to say if they're happy/ But they don't seem much to mind..."

I actually like the "little plastic castle" approach to yoga class.  If you are really "in the moment," then every sensation will be a surprise every time, even though you've done it all before.  On one hand, this means that the unpleasant moments will always be a little bit startling.  But on the other hand, it means that you get to rediscover your practice every day.  For one hundred days in a row, every time you do a backbend, you get to think "WOW!  Backbending!!"  It is forever surprising and it never gets old.

Hooray for memory loss!  Without this selective amnesia effect, I suspect that there would be far fewer returning students to Bikram yoga...

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