Welcome to the new year and the first day of the 101 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge! (Though as one of my friends pointed out, they're already on day two in Australia...)
I think that everyone doing this challenge is excited for the beginning. There may be some apprehension mixed in there too, along with curiosity, ambition, determination, and any other combination of emotions. A lot of people have never practiced this much before, so it will be a new experience. Let's be fair; even for those of us who HAVE done ridiculous amounts of yoga in the past, this will STILL be a new experience, because every challenge is different, just like no two classes are the same.
What is our destination? Many of us have heard teachers say that you have to "kill yourself!" in class. What we don't understand right away is that the true instruction is to kill your self. Here's what Bikram says in his most recent book (emphasis is mine):
The ultimate destination of human life is Self-Realization... When I say "Self" with a capital S, I mean the real you, the perfect you, the ultimate human potential that you carry inside you, which, I believe, is also the Divine. You have godliness in you, and so do I. That's our birthright. Our mission here on Earth is to fully inhabit or to realize the awesome potential of our true Selves. The "self" we think we are, the one spelled with a lowercase s, is just a creation of our minds, the ego. We have to break down and fight through that ego self to get to the right Self. And the only way to become a Self-Realized human being is to study and practice yoga.
And there you have it. That's what we're really after
So tuck that idea away in the back of your brain somewhere, and keep it safe. Because so many other things will happen over the next few months, it'll be easy to get distracted. We get caught up in the changes in our bodies, we fixate on perfecting one particular posture, we get impressed by the magnitude of our achievement, or we get discouraged because we haven't met some arbitrary goal. These things are fine! They are all so natural, and they are part of... dare I say it? The process. But every now and then, remind yourself that you're not trying to "kill yourself" by being better than the other guy, by being more aggressive, or by suffering the most. You're trying to "kill your self" and find the Divine part of you.
Let's do it...