Reestablishing My Yoga Practice
Today, I want to write about my Bikram Yoga practice and how it has related to, aided, and transformed my dancing and many other aspects of my life. On Sunday, I returned to the hot room after a few months away. It was the perfect day to start getting back into my practice as it was also the day I created this blog and was thinking a lot about my future.
I began taking Bikram yoga while I was dancing in New York. When I walked out of my first class, the teacher asked if I was a dancer. After replying that I was a ballet dancer, she began to tell me how I should continue to do yoga and how it would be like physical therapy for me. I was skeptical at first, as many people are. I thought, how could this be beneficial for my ballet? Most all of the postures are in parallel and on a flat foot, not like ballet at all. However, I looked past my skepticism and went back for more. I wasn’t practicing too regularly at the time, but after a few weeks, I did begin to notice some changes in my strength and stamina during ballet.
Then I moved to Chicago and had the luxury of having a Bikram studio just 3 blocks from my apartment. Not only that, but they were so welcoming to the dance community and also understood how this yoga helped to maintain our bodies both mentally and physically. Thus, I began practicing regularly about 3 or 4 times a week. I felt so many changes. I was becoming so much stronger while at the same time, more flexible, and it was transferring into the ballet studio as well. Also, my stamina was building up, muscles were becoming more defined, my skin was clearer than ever, and my sleeping schedule became like clockwork. One might say I got hooked on that “after yoga high”.
When I returned to the hot room on Sunday, I knew it was going to be a tough class for me. I had a lot on my mind that may distract me from fully focusing on the class. However, I was determined to try every posture and not give up. I had to use all my focus that day to limit my fidgeting between postures, remain standing, ignore the sweat making my hands slip out of grips, keep my eyes focused on me in the mirror, and ignore everything else I was thinking about that day. I will confess…I sat down…twice. After our first backbend, I became very overwhelmed, so I sat down. Those of you who know me personally know that this got on my nerves. I hate slackers and I hate giving up. I told myself I am stronger than that. I didn’t have to sit down. The feelings would have passed if I remained standing still on my feet. So then, I stood again and remained standing no matter how badly I wanted to sit or how many times I fell out of some of the balancing postures. It was my first class back and the most important thing was not to give up. When I finished the class, I felt great and was so happy to be back. I knew that day was the return of my dedication to yoga and for the rest of this week, I have been practicing stronger each day.
Bikram is like ballet in that you can never achieve perfection. Each posture has certain steps to follow in order to execute it fully and properly. You are ultimately trying to achieve a full posture, but no matter how hard you work at it and how close you come to achieving it, there will always be more to grow and improve. As a ballet dancer, you deal with the same thing. We want to achieve perfection so badly but it is not always possible. Everybody is made differently. We all have different alignment, different ranges of motion, and different coordination. All of which can be improved, but no one person will ever achieve absolute perfection in all areas. We also have different opinons on what perfection may be and thus, it is subject to opinion. I believe we all need to set goals for ourselves. Look for something we want to achieve and focus on that goal until it is achieved as close to perfection as possible. Then, once we have arrived there, we can continue to grow even more and also aim for another goal. With each added goal, I try to keep focused on the previous ones as well. Although it can be frustrating at times, it is exactly what keeps most people going back. With hard work, one can physically see and feel improvement in every class. It keeps the motivation alive. Both Ballet and Bikram teach discipline, focus, the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and how rewarding hard work can be.
I recommend to everyone that they try Bikram. It will change so much in your lives and will help in ways you didn’t think possible. People heal injuries and deseases, gain more energy, and achieve overall wellness through a regular practice. I am so fortunate to have found this and to be able to have it enhance and supplement my dancing career.