Bikram Yoga: Nine Months In – My Journey So Far by HASSAN JOHAADIEN
Greetings fellow students! There is so much that can be said about my practice to date, its difficult to know where to start. Let’s address body, mind, spirit, in turn.
The first couple of weeks is pretty tough! During the 10-day intro period, I remember walking home a broken man on many an evening, but something inside me said ‘keep going, this is good for you’.
Key takeaway – trust your instincts…
Remember to take rest days until your body is acclimatized!
Two or three months in you will notice your body strengthening… legs are stronger, balance and poise improve, posture straightens out, lower back stops niggling. More bendy from neck to feet (which makes you feel at least 5 years younger). Daily tasks prove easier. Skin feels great. Libido ramps up. Its a bit like taking your car in for a service – everything just feels ‘zingy’!
Diet improves. That huge burger and chips no longer look so appealing. You drink more water. Sugar intake drops – again, tastes seem to change as you become more aware of your body. Fascinating. Alcohol intake drops (I wouldn’t recommend a 90min class on a hangover, even to a true masochist!)
Sleep quality improves, but you seem to need less somehow.
Anyone who has completed a few classes will know the ‘Bikram high’ as I call it! Having been no stranger to peak mental experiences in my days, I can safely say the Bikram high is both without parallel and without those nasty side-effects! However, what I didn’t realise is that this is just the beginning of the mental journey…
Going back to the car service analogy, your mind also starts to feel ‘zingy’. Concentration improves. Mindfulness. Well-being. Empathy. Calm (see below).
I now realise that yoga is a meditation, a moving meditation (sorry dear teachers for being a bit slow on the uptake!). Once your body knows what it’s supposed to be doing, and is strong enough to conduct itself through 90 minutes, you can switch focus to the two other key points – your breathing and the teacher’s words. Sink into the present moment, just below the surface of your personal mind… truly wonderful.
So apparently the word Yoga means ‘Union’. This dovetails wonderfully with my personal path of practice – the New Message (shameless plug – newmessage.org – it’s all there and free if you’re interested. Works for me).
In this path, we are taught that our lives are built upon four pillars and that we are only as strong as the weakest pillar.
Pillar of health (body and mind)
As intimated above, it’s not a stretch to say that this is the best physical shape I’ve been in, in my living memory. Depression, addiction and destructive behaviour feel like things of the past.
Pillar of relationships
I’ve met some lovely people here at Sally’s studio, both students and teachers alike. The atmosphere is highly welcoming, the people are friendly to a fault, and the teachers are all inspiring in their different ways. My primary relationships with others are also improved – I’m more compassionate, empathetic, grounded and willing to engage meaningfully with others.
Pillar of work and providership
I have loads more energy, which feeds into my work directly. I want to ‘do things’ to a much greater extent, and also get involved with charitable events and actions.
Pillar or spiritual development
In my teaching, the correct order of things is that the body serves the mind, the mind serves the spirit, the spirit serves god.
So much effort is expended on trying to reverse this natural order – making the mind serve the body with addictions and obsessions, the spirit serve the mind with notions of holiness and divinity, asking God to serve the spirit via celestial favours, like some spiritual welfare system… so much effort, such transient rewards.
Yoga for me has helped restore the natural order of things. We are here in the physical at this time and place to provide service to the world. Body and mind are valuable tools to serve spirit, and ultimately god. True union.
The most special moment so far?
Five minutes into Sally’s evening Bikram class the power went out. The class was packed. The candles came out. We moved in Union.