Tuesday, May 14, 2013

200+ Observation Beyond Commentary

I completed 240 practices during my 200 day challenge. During the last 100 plus days I was not inclined to blog about my experience. This post brings closure to this challenge blog, at least for now. Looking back on my challenge today, I notice that I experienced outwardly noticeable changes in the first 100 days of practice. In that first half of my challenge I established my practice as a consistent behavior. Most weeks I am still practicing Bikram yoga 5-7 days a week and rarely dropping below 4 practices a week. Though on the weeks that do drop to 4, I am practicing other types of yoga. Yoga has become an integral part of my life. I am committed to Bikram yoga, even though I'm still seeing other yoga on occasion. I can't imagine a very good life for myself without yoga. Looking back on the second 100 days of my challenge I recognize I became more of an observer of my practice than wishing to make commentary on it. There is something profound about observation, taking in what comes and goes. My friend, Terri, mentioned this interesting quote about observation,  "when I become the observer of my own life, I see all there is to be grateful for and realize how much power my attitude has over my life" -Kevin Hall. I notice the more I practice yoga, the more I observe around me. My awareness is heightened or refocused and I am truly grateful for yoga and all my experiences in life. So now I leave this blog, going forward to observe beyond commentary.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

81 - 89 ... 93 - 127: Taking It All In

81-89 ... 93-127 of 200, July 22 - Aug 14, through day 95
I haven't blogged in for many days, weeks. I haven't had anything to express. I have been in this state of taking it all in. Sometimes my practice is about absorbing, noticing and letting go... Thoughts to follow eventually.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

90, 91 & 92: Americanized Yoga, Whatever Gets Every Body to the Mat

90, 91 & 92 of 200, day 77, July 27
YOGA IS THE GREATEST WAY TO OVERALL HEALTH, in my opinion. In the U.S. we have the opportunity to have whatever opinion of most anything and engage in most anything we desire. Yoga in the U.S. is amusing. There are many different opinions of what is right and wrong when it comes to yoga practiced in the U.S., from those believing it is sacred to India and shouldn't be practiced in the States to those that create fusions of yoga blended with the latest hip activities.

Also controversial is American marketing of yoga. I constantly hear about the weight loss benefit of practicing yoga. In the following yoga blog, it is questioned if it is okay to use weight loss as a marketing tool to get people to practice yoga.

I say whatever gets people to the yoga mat is useful. If its the motivation for weight loss that brings people to yoga, then so be it. It is likely they will gain so much for their overall health that the initial motivation is just that, a way there. American culture is obsessed with weight anyway, so marketing to weight loss might as well be utilized. Marketing to the "true" benefits of yoga may not be a very successful marketing campaign to the greater American population. However the focus for those that practice yoga tends to shift to the overall health and well being benefits of practicing.

I have spent my career encouraging people to practice yoga for their health. Anything that gets people to the mat is useful in some way. I disagree with those that believe yoga is sacred to India and Americans are too greedy and arrogant to fully get the practice. Yes, Americans have issues but that is the reason yoga is essential. Yoga is needed to balance out the chaotic extremes of American culture. Go to any long standing yoga studio and you will find a community of balanced and aware Americans. Go to any gym and you will mostly find the erratic craziness continuing, but there are a lot of pretty skinny people. This illustrates a lot about why yoga is necessary to the U.S. As for yoga fusions, they are great for getting people to practice yoga. Many believe such fusions are an insult to classical yoga. Just like anything that gets integrated into American culture, it gets fused. Americans are creative the fusions are inevitable. It is unrealistic to expect for this not to happen. Let it be, it is what it is in the U.S. Myself, I would rather practice the classical forms of yoga. However the occasional practice of such things as "anti-gravity yoga" or "yoga-lites" I like to think of as vacation yoga in comparison to Bikram yoga. Fusion yogas are getting people to the mat and that is useful. Classical forms and fusions, all are valid to health.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

94, 95, 96, 97, 98: Yoga Takes Over

94, 95, 96, 97, 98 of 200, day 79, July 29
I sensed for awhile that yoga would start to take over my life. Other activities are starting to fade away from importance to me. Maybe they will return or maybe not. Now it seems to be all about the yoga. When I tell people I have plans, that means I have a yoga class or classes to attend. I used to live to dance, but that is also getting in the way of yoga. I also find that I just don't care to dance either. It makes me too tired to do yoga. And I need to go to bed early so I can go to yoga in the morning. I live for yoga or should I say I am more alive through yoga. The more yoga I do the more I feel alive, focused, grounded, genuine ... and the list goes on.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

77 & 78: The Truth in the Mirror - Video from NYT

77 & 78 of 200, day 69, July 19
New York Times video of Jeanne Heaton
"Bikram Yoga is the yoga for chronic illness and disease of spiritual, mental and physical."  - Jeanne Heaton
"Once you see the truth about yourself in the mirror, only then is when you can begin to change it." -Raffael Pacitti- Director, Bikram Yoga Manhattan

80: The Bikram Path, for Now, for Life

80 of 200, day 71, July 21
Recently I was asked if I could only do one thing everyday, what would it be. I responded "Bikram yoga," without hesitation. Bikram yoga changes me, revitalizes me, inspires me, energizes me in ways that no other practice or activity does. I am not saying it is all sunshine and roses either. The practice is challenging, the room is hot, my mind rebels wanting to quit, my body gets incredibly sore. Also, the impact on my life has its rough moments. I gain insights into parts of myself I have been unwilling to look at, unwilling to change. And the changes happen, some easy, some hard but all worth the improvement in my well being.

Frequently people tell me they can't believe how much I practice, yoga practitioners and non-practitioners. I get that to others, my challenge, my practice in general may appear overly intense. But it is what I am doing for myself at this point in my life. It is also what I plan to do lifelong. It is what I have to do right now to heal, to survive, to sustain myself. There have been few moments in my life that I have had clarity to know I have to do something or even that I want to do something. Last year, last month, yesterday and today I continue to know I have to keep practicing Bikram yoga. My practice makes me what I am. I have a past of give, give, give to everyone except myself, burning myself to a breaking point. My past was constant support of what others believed. I was living for family, friends and especially lovers. While this emphasizes my ability to live in great flexibility and loyalty, it has also left me with little self-foundation. I have always believed in health and in my past I was doing some things to work on my physical health. But when it comes to overall health it has taken burning myself out to the point of my life falling apart to get that I need to care for myself before I can to give to others. Some days, four sessions of Bikram yoga is what I have to do for myself. On those days I don't dread the yoga. I know I need the practice and I keep doing session after session. A day of stacked sessions tends to bring me the greatest insight and change.

Overall, this challenge is to build my daily discipline. And at this point in the challenge the daily discipline is becoming automatic. The challenge for me is shifting. Now the challenge is to listen and take in what the practice is bringing me and allow it to be and let go of expectations.

76: Soft, Gentle, Loving Bikram Yoga

76 of 200, day 68, July 18
Today I decided to see what it would be like to practice soft, gentle, loving Bikram yoga. Usually, I practice "make it hard" Bikram yoga. I wanted to consider a softer possibility in the torture chamber, in the heat, in the challenging postures. This made for a different practice. I was noticeably less stressed and very relaxed by the end of practice. Intention influences my experiences. The intention to be gentle, soft and loving in practice today made my experience very different in comparison to my usual daily "challenge" of yoga. From this I consider what other areas in my life can I change my intention for experiences to have different results.