Monday, July 6, 2009

133/186 - Good and Bad Yoga?

Sunday 9:30 am with Cisco.

I always like Cisco's classes, and yesterday's was no exception. The heat was good, the energy in the room was good, and Cisco's teaching was upbeat and supportive as usual. And I got some individual attention that was great, and for which I am very grateful.

First, I'm not sure, but it felt like he was talking directly to me in the first backbend, second set. He was encouraging me to squeeze my hands even harder, to really lock my knees, and then not to be afraid to fall over backward. I didn't fall, and the whole process seemed to get a bit deeper into my upper and middle spine.

Then he encouraged the whole class to really try kicking back first in Standing Bow, and only then to start kicking up and coming forward. I did my best pose ever after this, and as I was coming out, he was smiling at me and said: "See, doesn't that make a difference." When I say I had my best set ever, I mean that I had full control of my balance, and that my lifted leg was moving continually upward, well over the top of my head. I was almost looking at my calf.

And then there was Locust. For some reason, everyone has been focusing on my locust recently. Cisco really honed in on my keeping both legs locked in the second set, and he gave just a slight assist just as I was running out of steam. When an assist comes, its pretty much impossible to give up. So instead I wiped myself out. And I think it was worth it.

Cisco says that he's going to be teaching more often. But he also said that he's more committed now to practicing than he is to teaching. As he put it, on the mat "is where it all happens." It's great news that he'll be teaching more, and it would really be a shame if he stopped, because he's a gifted teacher. (I think he's genuinely kind and caring, and has an exuberant personality, so it just flows out in his teaching. I also think that very same impulse makes teaching hard for him. It must be really taxing to take care of thirty or more people at once.)

The day 185 meditation is about our attachment to certainty. Basically, the idea is that as we become more involved in a yoga practice, we more and more want to know. We long for certainty. This often manifests itself in a feeling of superiority -- the idea that the path we have found is THE right path, and that all the other ways are therefore wrong in some way.

Maybe I'm not far enough along in my practice, but I just don't relate personally to this attitude. The teachers at my studio never put down any other forms of yoga. There is a strong conviction about how good Bikram will be for almost anyone, but that I've never seen that conviction come at the expense of other forms of practice. And personally, the only thing that has stopped me from trying other types of yoga is convenience. I was looking forward to going to China this summer so I could try some Ashtanga based yoga again, but alas my plans got cancelled.

I have seen this attitude from time to time from other yogis when I tell them that I do Bikram. It's McYoga to much of the world, and of course, Bikram is only in it for the money and he has the obscene idea that he can "patent" yoga postures, etc., etc., etc. There have been several times when a conversation has stopped dead simply because a near stranger simply didn't approve of Bikram. And that's fine with me. But I simply haven't seen or felt the same thing in the other direction. Maybe that's another cultural oddity of my studio, but I'd like to think that its more general.


Bosco said...

It is the same in our studio: I have never heard any instructor compare Bikram with any other yoga, or with anything, for that matter. They just talk about what this practice is, what this practice does. Come to think of it, I can't think of a time when any instructor has said anything negative about anything.

I have a friend who is a yoga instructor who, last summer, I was very excited to tell about Bikram yoga. Her response was very condescending and demeaning: the manufactured heat is a crutch (yoga should be about kindling your "inner fire"); the liturgy of poses is very limiting; and Bikram himself is a disgrace to the sanctimony of true yoga. So I could see the great spiritual advancements she has made with her yoga, and left it alone.

thedancingj said...

"I could see the great spiritual advancements she has made with her yoga..." LOL, LOL, and LOL!!

I mostly agree with this observation. I think a lot of Bikram yogis come from other yoga traditions and understand the big picture. Seems like most of the "haters" have not tried Bikram and therefore don't know anything about it.

Raghav Singh said...

i like yoga and go to daily yoga class
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