My two cents worthFri, January 12, 2007 - 5:18 PM
After I wrote it all out, I realized that in this case, it's wiser just to let it go, and hopefully that poster will just go away to vent his frustrations elsewhere. Rather than let it go to waste, I thought I would post it here.
So enjoy. If you feel like giving me your two cents, please feel free to comment.
Wise men say there comes a time to just let it go. I think they also say it's about balance, so here's my two cents.
I'm not a studio owner, or a certified teacher, so some of these issues may have an official response that I'm unaware of. I can't and don't speak for Bikram, or his teachers. I can only speak for myself.
I do know that on the occasion of the first class, a questionaire has to be filled out by the newbie. That questionaire addresses some of these issues. And the person signs a disclaimer, stating that he/she understands the risks, and that they take on those risks knowingly.
Part of the personal growth that seems to occur with regular Bikram practice is a growing sense of awareness of one's own body, where it's at and a sense of personal responsibility for what you do with it. Part of that has to do with learning what your body can tolerate (in terms of the degree of heat, amount of exertion and deepness of stretching) and then pacing oneself accordingly within the confines of the 90-minute class. At times I've found myself pushing myself too far and too much. I learn from that experience and feed that back into my practice. The next time I practice I take that learning into account, along with a judgment about the current state of my body and the environment of the studio, and proceed with my practice accordingly.
This is part and parcel of the meditation, the concentration. All the while, trying to stop the internal dialogue and quiet the mind.
In my opinion, pushing yourself beyond your limits is necessary for the changes to occur. My teachers constantly caution against pushing into pain, but in my own experience learning about the pain is part of the personal growth. The pain is your body telling you where its limits are, and I've learned just how far I can push into that pain in order to effect the changes I want to occur. I don't think there's anything new and profound about this. This is pretty elementary knowledge for both ballerinas and football players.
The classic books on the subject discuss the pain issue. Read "Raja Yoga" for example.
Personally, I think this process is a necessary part of the learning experience. If you accomplish it, then you are successful with your practice.
I'm over fifty years old and not particularly active or athletic. I've attended about 200 Bikram classes in 2006, in three different Bikram studios. (Plus some at home to the CD.) I never attended any yoga classes before. I have NEVER experienced ANY of these extreme adverse symptoms you describe. I'm responsible for nourishing myself properly before the class. I'm responsible for hydrating myself as recommended. I very rarely sit out a posture. And I pace myself accordingly through the class, depending on how I feel my body is on that occasion. Some times I have a weak class and I don't push it. On other occasions, I feel VERY strong and I push it to the maximum. I've done two back to back doubles, which means over 3 1/2 hours in that environment. I still did NOT suffer any of these extreme symptoms you caution about.
I've experienced a tremendous increase in muscle strength and tone. I've lost a lot of fatty weight. I think I'm more graceful and confident in my movement and activity. I think I have a more youthful and glowing appearance. In short, I'm more healthy as a result of my practice -- both mentally and physically.
It works for me and it works for a lot of the other regulars that I see in the studios on a daily basis. That's my two cents worth.
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RE: My Two Cents WorthThank you for your note. I appreciate your thoughtful words and understanding and agree that it is usually wise to let things go. I'd much rather spend my energies writing something positive to a Tribe Friend, a poem for my blog, working on one of my novels, or offering helpful assistance in the spirit of community.
I too hope that the negativity will fade away. I reposted to "Steve" again in response to the obvious agenda of stating opinions as facts. I had read another negative post in the Bikram Yoga Tribe by "Nathan". I also noticed that there were a number of new Bikram students in this Tribe asking questions and felt compelled to speak up for this Tribe being a place where people support each other in our practice, rather than get into any specific opinions, the right/wrong game, or a "fact" contest with this person.
Hopefully the meshuggeneh will soon take his mishegoss, tsuris and tochis away from the Bikram mishpoche.
Thanks for sharing. Whatever works. I am curious about what you are talking about concerning pain. Many a dancer and football player that I've met wishes they had not "pushed" and instead "just let it go." Yoga is not about stretching, unless we are talking about stretching our breath. I think I've "accomplished" letting go and breathing. Are we damaging our body? From your posting -- no, sounds to me like you are listening to your body. I think you are definitely on to something. What is pain anyways? Although difficult work, isn't our pain and suffering something we need to work through?
Be gentle with you,
Odd that you say yoga ISN'T about stretching. Of course yoga is about stretching. Bikram says it clearly: "Yoga exercise means stretching." In our yoga practice we stretch our muscles in a slow and controlled way in order to expand our ability to go deeper into the postures. How do ballerinas accomplish the splits? By stretching their muscles, using the ballet bar. How do I go deeper into Standing Head to Knee? By stretching my ham strings, in various stretching postures.
This stretching can be painful. Unless you stretch, you aren't going to become more flexible. So, you HAVE to be able to stretch into the pain without hurting yourself. That means you have to know when to stop. How do you know when to stop? By experience. By the experience of pushing the pain boundary a little too far. If you strain a muscle, you've gone too far. Luckily, I've only done that a couple of times. After a couple of days the strain goes away, and I gain more of a sense of how far I can push it. In the process though, that muscle has been stretched and I'm a bit more flexible as a result.