DAY 83: Making Shapes.

Author: Unknown /

by: Greg Stockdale

I had a very interesting discussion with a teacher a few weeks ago about the difference between practicing Bikram yoga vs. making shapes with your body. This topic came up as I was lamenting my lack of flexibility, and complaining that there are so many students that are more flexible than me. While many of these students are indeed very good, a few of them are just, well, making shapes. Having a good practice isn't just showing up and moving your body into different positions for 90 minutes. Just imagine doing the postures in the right sequence in the heated room, but add in loud music, people talking, wandering around the room, leaving the room, drinking water whenever they want, etc. Do you think you'd get a lot of that class? Of course not!

Of all the things I pay attention to when I'm practicing, it all begins with my focus. When that's good, then the breathing is good, the discipline is good, and the class just flows. If my focus goes out, you guessed it, I start just making shapes with my body. My focus is the thing I have the most control over. I don't know how my body will react to each posture, or if the room feels too hot or cold that day, or if the person next me is wandering around their mat. I can control if I'm in the room and focused and if I do that, it's a smooth ride for the whole class.

Greg has been practicing Bikram Yoga since August 2009. He has completed over 230 classes in 220 days since starting and has handled numerous physical ailments since he started. In between classes, he lives and works in Las Vegas, where the temperature outside is sometimes hotter than the yoga room. He has his own blog at


The Missus said...

So true! I hate it when people limit a "good Bikram practice" to meaning "I can do all the opstures and am very flexible."

It's about focus. Discipline. And trying you 110% hardest! And that is when (like you, Greg) you begin to heal your body and mind.

bikramyogachick said...

You are right, just "making shapes" is not the same as practicing with precision and intensity....good post!

Anonymous said...

I like this analogy. To really get the benefit of the postures, the series, you are indeed doing more than making shapes.
Bikram has said that the flexible people need strength and that's much harder to develop.

aHappyYogi said...

Yes, a very good and thoughtful post.

thedancingj said...

This is a great and succinct description. Any bendy kid can make a pretty shape, but that's entirely beside the point.

And just a couple days ago I was getting yelled at by Emmy - "That's the trouble with flexible people! You don't use your muscles!!" I love Emmy. ;)

Yolk E said...

I got a lot from this post, Greg. Thanks. I will definitely start following your blog! Oy, the focus. Sometimes when we walk in, we already have it and the class is fine. Sometimes we don't have it but we can get it. And sometimes, we're just bendy shapes! :-)

cirita said...

yes, it's all about being present, in the moment, while giving it your 100%.

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