by Sharon Linde, Bikram Yoga St. Louis blogger
Real estate in the room is fierce. High demand spots are claimed by those of us getting there in time to stake a claim. Then there are those lowly spots no one seems to want. I noticed this trend not too long ago and wondered, why the hustle? What’s so great about our favorite spots? And what makes those desert zones so undesirable that I’ve seen people practically sit on each other’s laps to avoid them?
To find the answers, I set out to travel the room, taking notes along the way. Like any other journey, I learned more than I aimed at and both proved and disproved hypotheses’. Some spots were super posh; others I wouldn’t go back to unless forced. Not everywhere I went surprised me, but I did walk away with a new understanding of our room and of myself in the room.
We’re all different, right? Some of us love the intense heat; some of us like to, oh, I don’t know, breathe. As a yogi, I like a good mix of all three – heat, humidity and wind. Too little of one or too much of another matters. In some spots, I was plenty hot, but not humid enough and therefore uncomfortable with the lack of sweat/cooling off. Same for spots with good amounts of heat and humidity but no wind to help a girl out. And some spots, with good amounts of humidity and wind but not enough heat were just a little too cool for me.
I’m sure you already know there are some hot spots in that room. In the hottest, I was dripping sweat by the third Pranayama. It took me two days to recover from that class, and when I see people going over there now I want to sit up and holler out “Good luck with that!”
These temperature differences in the room are just another thing out of my control. My super smart husband commented, as I lamented this fact, that if the room were 100% even, all the time, people would fuss about that too. It isn’t like the room or classes or teachers set out to be different; they just are. And so, I can focus on that, or I can be a yogi and surrender. More about that later.
Turns out, my favorite spot is where I started out in the first place. Being in the middle, front or right side felt way too stimulating. Being the control freak I am, I like seeing everything in front of me. Also, because I never knew what to expect, I had to be aware of my breath in a new way. I couldn’t just flow through class like when I vamped for the same spot time after time. I learned I’m easily side-tracked (places on the right side of the room were more distracting with the windows and street/lobby noise) and am not a fan of being face to face with myself. I did feel like I had to up my game in the front row, but I struggled with the lack of distance between me and, well, me.
The thing is, I don’t think I can just camp out in my old spot anymore. It was good, mentally and physically, for me to get out of my comfort zone. It upped my awareness, made me focus differently, and helped me see myself and my practice with more clarity. Plus, I got to hang out with new yogis and experience different energies. Pure bonus.
Remember, though, Bikram isn’t really supposed to be about the heat. From Carol & Erin, as we edited this piece out:
“We try really hard to get through to students that it’s not about the heat. (Kind of like how the first rule of Fight Club is, you don’t talk about Fight Club…. The first rule of Bikram Yoga is, you don’t talk about the heat!) Ok, it’s obvious that this is one of the first hurdles students have to figure out, but as you continue to practice, whether you are feeling hot or cold really shouldn’t matter.”
I get that. But it’s kind of like the pink elephant thing here, too. I mean it’s hot yoga. There’s heat. I noticed that people right next to me often had different experiences than I did. Maybe they hydrated differently, or had a bad morning, or are simply different physically. Even if the temperature were able to be controlled, we’d all experience something differently. Because we are different.
Some of us do come into the room with an agenda surrounding the heat – we want it steamy, or we want a break. We seek it out or avoid it. Eventually, if we practice enough, we may surrender to it, and care less about the temperature and more about our reaction to it.
Alas, some of us are creatures of habit and dedicated to our spots. Maybe next time you can go on your own journey. Try somewhere different and see what your body and mind do. See what you notice; what surrender, or the process of it, brings you.
We’re interested to know about your experiences, so fill us in on why you claim your stakes in the room, and let us know how the travels go – no passport necessary.