1. Maintaining relative stillness throughout the practice.
In Bikram yoga ( hot yoga), we are encouraged not to make any unnecessary movements, whilst we are in the posture or moving into and out of a posture. This may seem relatively simple, however, when you are looking at yourself in the mirror, and you realize you have put your top on inside out, or feel a pool of sweat forming in the corner of your left eye, we are told to leave it. Stay focused on your posture.
Why is relative stillness so important for a good practice?
Stillness allows our mind and body the space to open up and release any resistance we may have attached ourselves to or built up throughout the day. When our mind and body are relatively still, and only focusing on the task, the conversation, the person in front of us, we have more energy and awareness for us to utilize. Multitasking does not add quality it just adds more quantity. Every time we start over thinking , planning our response, sorting life inside our head. Stop and notice what holds the greatest pull for you and move towards that. When you find yourself planning your response to a situation rehearsing or rehashing conversations, be still, these are the unnecessary movements that take us way from a good yoga practice and a good life.
2. Mindful Breathing
As soon as we become aware we are breathing we become conscious. Being conscious is the most powerful states we can be in. We are engaging the executive part of the brain and expanding our repertoire of choices. Throughout the Bikram yoga practice we are encouraged to breath in and out of our nose, calming the nervous system and maintaining focused attention. The key is to maintain the breath while we are completing challenging postures. This is such an effective practice for life, many of us hold our breath when we find ourselves in a difficult situation. Many of us breath shallow incomplete breaths. This actually creates a stress response in the physiology and diminishes our ability to remain focused and calm. Our breath is a gift that gives us such a clear and direct connection with life inside of us and outside of us. So practice deep conscious breathing, in and out through the nose.
In Bikram yoga there is regular and liberal use of savasana. Savasana is translated as dead body pose, how is that for being relaxed? Savasana allows the body and mind to stretch and then consolidate. Expand and retract. Balance in some form is an important prerequisite to deep wellbeing. Everything has a movement to it, a cycle of growth, rest and renewal. If we continue to push and push and not withdraw and renew in some form, in some way, we wont be able to find peace in our bodies or mind. Joy is found where there is no resistance in body and mind, and that requires regular and liberal use of relaxed states of awareness. When moving from one activity to another, stop and breath, tell yourself you are done and then move on. Take nanoseconds to stop and relax if that is all you have, relax your shoulders, soften your gaze, relax your belly, quiet your thoughts. Ready and renewed to begin again.
Note: 3 components of a good yoga practice inspired by Bikram Choudry – Bikram yoga. Amazon Books.