Thursday, February 11, 2010

Set Your Intentions

Most of the time, I think Bikram Choudhury is a materialistic windbag, but I have to admit there's something about Bikram yoga that I find comforting. It's a 90-minute sweat session in a 100+ degree room that never fails to kick my butt, but I love it!

First off, it's not hard to look forward to working out in a sauna-like room when it's bitter cold out! Much easier to muster up courage to leave the apartment when I'm headed to yoga than to the creaky treadmill at the big, drafty gym.

I also like knowing we'll be doing the same 26 postures in the same order every time. You know exactly how hard the workout is, so you can anticipate this and decide early on exactly how much effort you can put into it to get what you want out of it.

The teachers all learn the same scripted dialogue, so you hear more or less the same thing every class. However, different things will always stand out to you depending on the day. The point of this post is that at the start of the balancing series (the hardest 5-6 postures for me), they often say "set your intentions now," basically meaning that you need to make up your mind in that moment that you're going to put your full effort into the postures.

I tend to wimp out during the standing head-to-knee posture. I have a huge mental block against it for some reason! But yesterday I decided that I needed to suck it up and attempt every single posture, including that one and the triangle pose, which also freaks me out. I did both of them and you know what? I survived! It was a better class because of it! And my heart rate slowed down soon enough that I wasn't too exhausted to immediately go into the next posture. I know its a small victory, but it meant a lot. I realize that I need to "set my intentions" and follow through a lot more often! It would improve my confidence level, that's for sure.

Bikram yoga isn't for everyone, and I'm using it as an adjunct to runnning instead of treating it as the only legitimate exercise program out there like Bikram does (I'm telling you, he's one crazy guy). I'll keep going once or twice a week until the weather outside is hotter than the studio, and I'll be back next fall when the first real cold front blows in! Baking isn't the only way to stay warm through the Midwestern winter. In the meantime, I'll practice "setting my intentions" and following through!

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