Morning classes are becoming a problem, and the cycle of a daily Bikram Yoga practice is really beating me to death. I’m always tired, so waking up early is difficult, and if I’ve got a 10am or 12:30pm class it means eating by 6am or 8:30am or in the case of the 12:30 class, starving myself until 2:30pm when I’ve finally left the studio. I’d say that the difference between a morning class on an empty stomach and an evening class after two meals and a four-hour break is about twenty-five percent of my energy. In a place where all your mental and physical energy is required for an effective class (classes are not good or bad, they are merely effective or ineffective depending on your effort), twenty-five percent is a boatload of energy.
What I must do is plan my meals accordingly. The real magic of this yoga is in the way you must plan your life around it, and hence, you will find positive ways to plan your life. First, it forces you into doing the right amount of physical activity in a day (which is really much more time and effort than most of us are used to). Then it requires a dedication to things that cause discomfort but create benefits. Then it forces you into good habits of eating and drinking that are based on necessity and fueling the body and not irrational and emotional decisions. Then it helps you to eliminate reactivity from your life, which impacts everything from how you spend your time and money to how you handle work and stress. Really, most Bikram yogis start with a laundry list of complaints about practicing regularly, and if they don’t end up doing what it really takes to maintain the practice, they never see what it really does for their lives.
For now though, I go into the first water break dizzy, weak, and ready to run out of the room for a falafel sandwich, as was the case this Monday afternoon. Also, guess who taught the class? Our good friend Miss Megan, the Clock Nazi. So in addition to sticking to the allotted time for each posture, now every extra second in the posture meant increasing and magnifying the hunger pangs. I had to remind myself numerous times that I aspire to be a man of discipline, and ancient yogis with who treated discipline like a quest for extreme life through near death were probably laughing at my internal complaints about an empty stomach in a hot room. I practice yoga for many reasons, but one is because I must separate myself in spirit from the Western world of “all I have to do…” and “I need a vacation.” If I have aspirations to be super, then that starts with superiority over people who whine at the slightest discomforts and embrace limits far before they’ve tested them. To me, it’s the way Bikram set out to sell his practice to Americans, not because they would embrace it, but because those looking to distance themselves from those who would never understand would be eager to tackle the practice. There aren’t many ways to use restrictions to shed inhibitions, but this is most definitely one.