I’ve now been doing Bikram’s Yoga for about a year and a half, pretty much every other day or at least 3 times a week, with a 3-month break that I had after I had an ACL-replacement knee surgery. I wanted to share some insights I gained through the process.
I really like the practice, especially now that I get a grip of it with help of a few wonderful teachers that I was lucky to practice with, which unfortunately are hard to come by. Bikram Yoga helps me stay very fit, energized, my body is now very supple, but the most important of all it opens my heart, which allows the love to flow in.
So here are the lessons I wanted to share with you:
Ignore Your Teacher and Listen to Your Body
This is probably the most important lesson.
It’s important to realize that Bikram’s system has no beginner, intermediary and advanced levels – everybody does the same class together. Bikram’s classes are known to somewhat resemble military training. Go, go, go. Push, push, push. Die, die, die. And it’s true. The only difference is that you’re not in the military, you have a choice here.
What’s Tantra Yoga – An evening with Swami Vivekananda Saraswati, the founder of Agama Yoga.
Swami Vivekananda Saraswati gave a free talk on Tantra Yoga on Oct 22 2008 in Vancouver, Canada. I really enjoyed the 2.5 hours of Swami’s monologue, followed by Q&A. I found it to be very enlightening. His presence was very engaging and very down to earth. At the end he was very humble and refused applause. I’m looking forward to two weeks of workshops with him.
The following are my notes from his presentation, written through my perception filters, but otherwise uncensored.
The World of Duality
First Swami presented the duality of the world, which all religions and philosophies agree upon. One side of the world is a non-manifested reality (what mystics talk about) and the other is manifested (what we see and live) . Depending on the language, religion and teaching this pair is known as: nirvana/samsara, transcendental reality/eminent reality, spirit/nature, emptiness/fullness, Brahman/Maya, Shiva/Shakti. Most of us live in samsara, the lower, manifested world, and everybody earns to reach nirvana, the higher, non-manifested world.
Next comes the part that different religions/philosophies disagree upon. And that is the way to reach nirvana. The majority of teachings side with Vedantic way of reality (also known as classical spirituality, or ascetic view). In Vedantic language the two sides of the coin are Brahman (high) and Maya (low). The main postulates of Vedantic view on these two “worlds” are:
- There is no interaction or connection between the two worlds
- In order to reach nirvana one must leave Maya behind
I discovered Ginger Tea while living in Montreal. I used to go to a local acupuncturist because I was low on energy. Besides doing the acupuncture, my practitioner recommended making Ginger Tea. I quickly fell in love with this drink because it tastes so good and works as a great energizer.
With time I also learned that it works amazingly well as a remedy for a Sore Throat, Congestion and Cough. Ginger also helps a lot with food digestion — which is why it gives body energy — the less energy body uses for digestion, the more of it is left for other uses.
Here’s the recipe for making an amazing Ginger Tea.
There were 9 women, 3 men and lots of chocolate… but wait, it gets even better.
The first half of this 3 hour evening was dedicated to a discussion about Sensuality, what it is and what it is not – as we found out, for different people that concept meant different things. Little Woo introduced various concepts around Sensuality, such as Anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure), S&M (pleasure through pain), Hedonism (living for the sake of pleasure), Epicureanism (a simpler version of Hedonism) and Debauchery (extreme indulgence in sensuality without inhibitions).
While talking about Sensuality, Little Woo was blending in the concepts of manifestation, which is a very complex and at the same time very simple topic, depending on where you’re coming from. But for me the part that resonated the most was about conflicts we have with others. The Little Goddess suggested that most conflicts and/or misunderstandings happen for two reasons that have nothing to do with the others. The first reason being us not trusting ourselves to be good enough. The second reason is us believing that others will misunderstand us. In other words we manifest misunderstanding from one or both sides. This is a very empowering suggestion, and I need to have it sink into my system and start to live it more.
Imagine yourself on your deathbed. No, really, do that. You can’t do that? But did you know that you could die or get killed any moment. Today could be your last day of life. It’s very real.
So you are on your deathbed. Now think about the regrets that you have. What things you really wanted to accomplish in your life and haven’t accomplished or most likely haven’t even started working on yet.
Take a notepad and spend 10-15 minutes writing those things down. Be honest with yourself. You can burn the list as soon as you are done.
Most likely you’d be surprised that the list will be quite long and through the rest of the day you are most likely going to think about other things to add to the list. It’ll just happen, without you wanting it. This is because you’ve now opened that box, that was so tightly closed and guarded. The box’s name is “Tomorrow“, or “Later” or “When I … I will do this” — all describing the eternal future…
Not once I’ve heard that we tend to self-sabotage our own success, because we don’t want to leave the comfort of a struggle. I think I finally understand what it means to self-sabotage my own success.
All my life I’ve been struggling. First childhood, then school and professional sports, then university and finally work. Rolling from one goal to the next, through ongoing hard work and struggle, I’ve been really good at it. When I had hard challenges in my life I worked the hardest, I was the most efficient at what I did and life seemed to be full… of struggle.
Now I’m at the point of my life where I’ve arrived – I have succeeded. I don’t have any more exams, I don’t have a boss to worry about, etc. — I have total freedom to do whatever I want. And it’s so damn hard. It was so much easier when I had the comfort of having the life set challenge after challenge for me.
Back in 2002 I traveled extensively in Tibet and China. I did a few extreme and amazing hikes in the Tibet area. On one of them, to the Everest foot, I was lucky to return from it alive. Here is the account of that vicious “hike”.
Sunday, Oct 13 2002
I’ve planned to walk to the Everest Base Camp (2h each way from the Rongpu Monastery), wander around for a while and come back. I took 2 litters of water, 2 small mooncakes and camera. I was told the day before that those who want to walk past the Base Camp have to pay a huge amount of money something like US$500 or even more.
As I was taking shortcuts to avoid the road switchbacks, I have happened to come to the Base Camp’s location at the ridge above it. I saw it from the top of the mountain and was very disappointed. The E.B.C. was far, far away from the Everest itself. At this point something happened to me and I decided to get to the real mountain base, at least as close as possible.
A professional swimmer in my youth, I continued swimming as my main workout, but recently I happened to suffer more and more from scapula issues, which swimming aggravated (since I swim for about 1 hour, about 3K). And my partner suggested that I try Bikram’s yoga for a month.
I was quite skeptical, but decided to try it anyway. To make the long story short after 1 month of doing the yoga for 3 times a week I was sold, and I’ve been doing it on a regular basis for more than 5 months now.
First of all it is a good substitute for swimming as my body is kept in a good shape, and even better, since swimming didn’t exercise all of the muscles and joints, whereas Bikram’s does.
However the main reason why I became a convert is because of the incredible kick I get out of the practice. I love challenge and Bikram’s supplies tons of it on a daily basis and the best part it doesn’t go away, since you can’t get good at it and get comfortable. I mean you can get comfy if you choose not to challenge yourself, but it provides all the things one needs to easily push oneself to the edge in a relatively safe environment. (I’ll talk about safety later).
Back in June 2007 I participated in the life transformation workshop from the CURA Institute for Integrated Learning.
Indeed it was quite a transformational experience for me.
A quick description of the workshop setup: 3 days, a dozen participants, one facilitator and two assistants. A safe TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone) is masterfully created to allow participants to open up and have the courage to step forward and transform themselves. The main purpose of the workshop is to go through a transformational process – there is very little talking. The workshop has no agenda – each participant decides when to step in and request a process. Sometimes a single participants goes through their process while others are observing and helping when needed. At other times several people may go into different processes at once, in which case the assistants support those people. That’s the gist of it.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been going through various transformational experiences and I decided to start this blog to have the process better documented, and perhaps it might inspire other people to experience their lives better.
The topics are going to be fear, anxiety, love, aliveness, procrastination, thrills, energy work, advaita, unity, being present and a lot more. And the main goal is to figure out how to feel alive and present for as many moments of my life as possible.
I don’t have any schedule planned for this blog, so sometimes there will be several essays coming out at once, at other times it’ll be quiet for a while.
I’m excited about this project, and looking forward to the thinking and writing process.
I feel alive and present as I write this!