DAY EIGHT: The "Cumulative"

Author: thedancingj /

Happy Friday, all!  I think Friday is a good day for story-time, don't you?

So here's a little story about my roommate.  My roommate is awesome.  We've lived together for a year and a half and we are really close friends.  In the 15 months that we've known each other, she's come to maybe 12 Bikram classes total.  And she LOVES them!  She's taken classes at our local studio, and she's even come to LA with me and taken class from Bikram and Emmy.  She listens to my yoga ramblings and even finds them interesting, most of the time.

I used to always ask her, "Slappy (her nickname), why don't you come more than once a month?  You could try coming once a week!"  And she would really think about it, and say, "Nah... I don't have that much time, and I like coming once a month!"  She actually is quite active and flexible, so she had the most rocking once-a-month practice I'd ever seen!  Tons of natural ability.  She even has the ability to eat a plate of scrambled eggs right before class, which blows my mind every time.  On Sunday morning, I'd be heading out the door to class, and she'd be at the counter with a plate of scrambled eggs saying, "go ahead and save a spot for me, I'll be there in 10 minutes!"  Impressive!!

Last month, out of the blue and with zero prompting from me, she came up to me and said, "I want to do the 30 Day Bikram Challenge next month!"  I said, "..... ok, GREAT IDEA!"

And guess what?  She's actually doing it!  She's been to class every day since Jan 2nd!  It's been the greatest thing to see.  I mean, she is one of those people who had NEVER done consective days of yoga before.  Her first day was the worst.  Her second day was better.  On the third or fourth day in a row, she came up to me after class with big wide eyes and said, "That was one of the best experiences of my life!!"  I gave her a big grin.  "It IS totally different when you come every day!" she said.  I gave her another big grin.  "Yep!"  "Sigh.  You were right..."  "Yep!"

What she has just discovered is something that Bikram calls the "Cumulative."  Here's the description from the original book, Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class, as told by Bikram himself...

"Tell Terry Two about The Cumulative, Bikram."
"Why don't you tell it, Barbie?"
"I'm not very good at arithmetic."
"Neither is Bikram.  The Cumulative is the craziest contortion of figures I ever heard."
"Then how come it works?"
"Yoga is cumulative, you see, Terry Two.  That's why I'm always mean to Lavinia here.  She getting nowhere, she wasting her money.  She come that first Thursday, it's like she get five points of worth in her body.  If she came the next day she'd get five for that second day, too.  And since the five from the first day wouldn't be wasted - it would be like building block - she would be starting at five instead of at zero.  So at end of second day she would have ten points cumulative - five for day one added to the five for day two.  End of third day, fifteen points cumulative.  

"But if she doesn't come second day she lose three points of her five, and the next day two more.  So the next Thursday she start again at zero.  Except her body is still remembering to be stiff and sore from the Thursday before, so she got to work twice as hard just to get back to where she was when she started...

"I am not trying to get rich by yelling at beginners to come every day.  If they do or don't do is not going to make me rich.  What makes me rich is seeing people lose pounds and years and get muscle tone and vitality and good health and bendable knees like Francis and a back that works like Archie and no rheumatism and easy childbirth and a brain that doesn't rattle."

So that's the "official" explanation for why yoga feels different when you start coming every day, and that's why I've got a new yoga addict on my hands!  She even wants to do some doubles this weekend.  I don't have to ask her to come to class now; I spend half my time talking her down off the ledge!  She gets really excited about asking me posture questions, and then gets cheerfully indignant when my answer (which typically just involves talking her through the straight dialogue) makes the posture harder!  You should've seen the dramatics when she asked me a question about eagle pose, and I showed her that you have to sit down and lean your upper body back before you pick up your leg.  "That's not easy at all!  I'm never asking you a question again!!"  So cute.

Oh yes... and as I've been reminded by certain senior teachers lately, you do NOT need to go every day for the rest of your LIFE!  This is the upshot to the cumulative: Bikram claims that once you've stored up enough points, you can cut down to two or three classes a week or even "lay off for whole month", and just live on interest.  (I think that is kinda what Bikram is doing already...)  I guess it's kind of like saving up for retirement, so you can spend your golden days sipping Pina Coladas at a tropical beach!  What a nice theory.  But personally, I do not feel like I am that advanced yet.  My body doesn't like it when I skip too many days.  I am miles away from retirement and still cheerfully putting my points in the bank!


Johan said...

What a beautiful story. I'm kind of frightened about what will happen when I finally manage to drag someone along who loves it. But it would so be worth it. Both to see them blossom (like a flower petal) and for the selfish karmic good feeling it would bring. I guess it also make sense in a bikram sort of way, if this is part of the reason for all the classes at TT. He's just building up the bank for the teachers so they can afford to take some out of their practice savings account to give to all their students.

Danielle said...

Ha ha ha... great story!! You do realize that what that now means is that yoga is ALL YOU TWO WILL EVER TALK ABOUT EVER AGAIN, right??? LOL

bikramyogachick said...

Having met your roommate I could totally picture these conversations! I love it!
Can't wait to go put more points in my bank tonight. ;)

thedancingj said...

Johan, it's like throwing spaghetti at the wall... eventually ONE of them will stick!

Oh no, Danielle, you're RIGHT! Actually, it's pretty funny. I am starting to take on the role of the person in the house who DOESN'T want to keep talking about yoga all the time. Can you believe?! :-D

lz said...

Yay, it's fantastic that your roommate is rocking out her 30-day challenge! Thank you for sharing the theory of the cumulative. In a sense, once we practice regularly, the power and significance of our practice becomes greater than the sum of the individual classes!

Beckie K. said...

awesome story! to be honest...i never want to stop doing bikram. so i guess i'll be racking up cumulative points for the afterlife!

thedancingj said...

Oh yeah, lz, I totally agree! Something "bigger" definitely happens.

To tell you the truth, Beckie, I'm right there with you! I still looooove practicing everyday! But I guess it's conceivable that 20 or 30 years down the road, I MIGHT be satisfied with cutting back to just 3-5 good classes a week. WE'LL SEE. ;)

ActionJoJo said...

LOL -- congrats to your roommate!!! You got her hooked after all. Now if only my husband would get excited. I'm trying to get him to come 3x a week instead of 2x for the very reasons you described above!

Big G said...

You know how I feel about this! I love coming everyday. I know some people that have amazing practices that don't come everyday anymore. They have some serious interest in the bank, though. I'm still working on my bank account:)

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