DAY 13: A 90 Minute Moving Meditation

Author: bikramyogachick /

I wasn't sure what I was going to write about tonight on our group blog. So I updated my own blog first, allowing the words to pour directly out from my heart. After reading my post, I suddenly knew what I wanted to write about over here. For those of you familiar with my blog, you know I love to do Bikram challenges. Twice a year in fact. I've done a few 60's and attempted a 101 last year (made 99 classes in 101 days). You also know Las Vegas has had some transitions with it's studios which has presented logistics challenges for me this time around. I'm remaining calm and positive about the whole thing and pretending it's an adventure. I'm LUCKY that Las Vegas has as many studios as it does (currently 3 Bikram studios, one is not open though). This gives me the opportunity to meet new students, experience new teachers and absorb the different ambiance that each studio has to offer.

This transition has also afforded me the opportunity to experience other types of hot yoga and even be in classes that were Bikram but perhaps not sticking to dialog entirely. I'm sure this happens elsewhere even in Bikram studios, different teachers have different styles, so perhaps you all can relate. What I have realized lately is this: The reason I fell in love with Bikram yoga as opposed to some other form of yoga is the dialog.
The first time I ever took Bikram yoga I remember looking at the instructor, a white female, late 30's and thinking "why is she talking in broken English? Where is she from? I don't hear an accent, what on earth is wrong with this chick's English? Good God! What is this place!!!"
It literally took me a few weeks to understand that the teachers were reciting a dialog. As I practiced more and more I started to understand the power of this dialog. Then I started asking questions about training and was told they are given pages and pages of verbatim dialog to memorize written by Bikram himself. What I first thought was "choppy English" I later realized was just very precise commands. Think about it: "thumbs crossed" is so much quicker to bark out then "Ok great, now everybody cross your thumbs!" It's just a few more words, right? Not when you are sweating your arse off in 105 degree room wondering just how long you will be able to keep your arms over your head to begin with! These precise commands work in so many wonderful ways. They are simple. They are direct. They keep the class together, moving as one (if everybody is listening!). They tell you how to get in and out of a posture safely, without hurting yourself. They tell you about proper form and alignment. They are the same every class, soothing, meditative. You are not "checking out" completely, rather, you are allowing your body to be guided by somebody else's brain for once. When you have a class where you are one with the dialog you know it. It's the best feeling in the world. This is why I fell in love with Bikram yoga and no other.....it's a beautiful 90 minute moving meditation.

10 comments:

lz said...

The dialogue is simply BRILLIANT! Every single command is phrased so concisely in a way that is easy to follow. Bikram yoga is so fabulous and the dialogue really makes it even more special.

Johan said...

I so agree. I had a class recently were there was people all over the place not paying any attention to the dialogue and kept waiting for the teacher to correct them, and nearly started doing it myself. But then I realized if she stepped away to correct them several times in each posture it would ruin the class for everybody else, we'd have no dialogue! And if I started meddle it would just mean they'd start focusing on me instead, losing even more of the dialogue. So frustrating (really I should just have concentrated on my practice) but it also allowed me to rethink the role of the dialogue. Hopefully I'll have some time this weekend to write a post about it.

Big G said...

The dialogue is a big deal and why I keep coming back. I know what I'm going to get every day. Of course I react differently each day, but I know I'll get the exact instructions. But c'mon, there is a bit of broken English in there. "Much more higher"?!

tracik said...

90 minutes to sheer bliss...Stay strong Challengers!

Duffy Pratt said...

I'm a big fan of the dialogue too, and I agree that many things that sound funny are actually economical forms of expression. But there are other parts that are either wrong, or incomprehensible. For a while they either made me laugh, or left me befuddled. Here are two of my favorite examples:

Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee, first set first side: "Turn to the right, 180 degree angle." Of course, if you did this, you would be facing the back wall. Here, the dialogue is just wrong.

Then my absolute favorite, from Camel: "I want 360 degree angle backward bending for gravitation." First off, I don't know anyone who really knows what this means. Whatever it means, it bears little relationship to the words. Just think about bending your back 360 degrees, so that your head is pointing straight up as it was when you started the pose. He might want that, but I'm not even sure whether any contortionist could do it. But lets assume that's what we are going for, then the "for gravitation" part doesn't make sense anymore, because your head and upper back would be working against gravity again (and I'm not even getting into the funny "for gravitation" usage that most people don't understand at all until someone "translates" it into comprehensible English.)

thedancingj said...

That is exactly what's meant by "360 degree backward bending" - a perfect circle. I've seen it done more than once. :) Even if your head doesn't come all the way around to your butt, the posture does get more and more "circular" as your backbend gets deeper and smoother.

You are sooooo obsessed with that "180 degree angle" thing... c'mon. 50 pages of great yoga instruction, one geometry mistake!

thedancingj said...

Johan - most of the common corrections are IN the dialogue, it's just matter of emphasizing those pieces and directing them to the right person. You can correct ALMOST any mistake that way. Teaching by dialogue does NOT!!! mean teaching without giving individual corrections and attention. :)

Big G said...

J, come on, the 180 degree thing is pretty funny, you have to admit:) And I actually get the "for gravitation" line, even though it's odd English. At least I think I get it...

thedancingj said...

I know, I know! I've just been blogging back and forth with Duffy for too long - heard that example sooooo many times now!

"For gravitation" doesn't make any sense when you sit and think about it, but somehow, it makes a certain amount of sense when you are DOING it. ;)

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