Each of BYCF’s instructors has successfully completed at least nine weeks of rigorous training…and has been certified by Bikram Choudhury himself. Each teacher leads students through our proprietary series of 26 asanas and two breathing exercises. Each day, the series is the same. The postures are the same. The classes are the same. Conditions in the hot room are the same. We are a pure Bikram studio. We are also a community of individuals, and each instructor brings his or her own individual perspective into the room.
Leo Eisenstein is one such teacher.
‘Maybe you came into the room to lose weight. Or to lower your blood pressure. And you get SO MUCH MORE…It’s like ordering an Enchilada Platter. You really want the Enchilada, and you get the rice and the beans, too.’ Or, as Patanjali says, ‘Do your practice. And all good things are coming.’
Bikram classes focus on the basics. We tell you, in simple physical terms, what to do and how to do it. Sometimes, we describe how a specific action or posture benefits your body. Bikram’s beginning dialog focuses almost exclusively on the physiological elements of yoga. Bikram’s crazy, like a fox. By keeping things simple and concrete, Choudhury has made the practice of yoga appealing and accessible to all of us, and we are all benefiting…in many many ways, not all of them physical. If you try, the right way, and do just 1% of the posture, you get 100% of the benefit. These benefits are life changing…and esoteric. What follows is a glimpse of a few…
Purity/cleanliness: When you develop a regular yoga practice, your bad habits tend to fall away. Clean, balanced living becomes more appealing…because it benefits your practice and alleviates suffering in the hot room. Says senior teacher Carolyn Jensen, ‘Excessive consumption of sugar, caffeine, alcohol and meat will all make you feel hotter.’
Perseverance: Practicing together, we strive to work as hard as is (safely) possible. Honest, intense effort is admired. Teachers and students encourage each other to complete each posture, each side, each set. Behaviors such as skipping postures, sitting down during the standing series and ‘sandbagging’ are rarely seen. Leaving the room during practice is very, very uncommon. If you take Chris Fluck’s class, you might hear him tell you to ‘play to the whistle.’
Truthfulness: We practice under bright lights, in front of mirrors, in close-fitting clothes. This isn’t always easy. We learn to see everything about ourselves more clearly, both bad and good. ‘Use the mirrors. Don’t run away from yourself,’ says Chris Fluck. Bikram is notorious for his sometimes brutal honesty. If he thinks you’re lazy, he tells you so, in no uncertain terms. This criticism is occasionally followed by an emphatic, ‘I HATE lazy people!’ Early on, it is common to struggle…and to focus on one’s flaws. Later, the curtain is pulled back and we begin to notice our strengths.
Command of our senses and our minds
Comfort despite discomfort: Let’s face it, the hot room can be uncomfortable. You have sweat dripping in your eyes. Occasionally, your neighbor breathes like Darth Vader. Sometimes your mat smells. Or your shorts don’t fit quite the way you would like. The room is too hot. Or too cold. The teacher is talking too much. Or not at all. Bikram yoga teaches you to disregard distractions. To notice them, and to make a conscious choice to let go of them.
Sustained concentration: There is no multitasking in Bikram yoga. There is only the posture, which is held in stillness. The postures, though simple, aren’t easy. Doing them well, holding them, and keeping the breath smooth requires focus. If you move your eyes, if you move your mind, if you forget to breathe, the posture’s over. When you leave class, you are happy, relaxed, calm and ready to GET STUFF DONE. Sustained concentration outside the room brings tranquil productivity at home and at work.
Gradually, the mind quiets, and we get to the really good part.
‘Yogas citta vrtta nirudah’
‘Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.’ -Patanjali
This state of ‘samadhi’ or union is sometimes described as ’empty not empty’. The mind is quiet. The systems and organs of the body are working harmoniously. Each of us is fully present in the moment. Each person centered, with mind, body and spirit all aligned. Each is ready. For our life’s work, whatever that may be.