Tell Your Truth

We’ve had a guest instructor in our studio for the last couple of days. Our studio owner (Cindy), and one of our teachers (Katie), went to the USA Yoga Asana Finals for Katie to compete (yeah for Katie!). If you don’t know about the yoga finals go here: There’s a video on the main page that will give you an overview.

So while Cindy and Katie were gone, we had Barbara. I got to take class with her on Saturday and Sunday morning. Both were great classes.

I love experiencing different instructors be it through my home studio in Raleigh or when I travel. Even though they mostly say the same thing, sometimes I hear something I never heard before, and sometimes they provide you with new ways for thinking about old things. Barbara did that for me.

In Sunday’s class, I came out of the second set of camel and took some water. In case you have not been paying attention, I hate camel. I mean, I really hate that posture. I know that probably means I need to do it more, but that does not make me love it more. If you are unfamilair with the posture, I have found a lovely picture for you:

Mine looks more like this:

Actually, I only look like that for about a second. Then I’m out, sitting on my knees, going, “I hate this %&!* posture.” Just being honest. So on Sunday, I came out of camel (second set!), and drank a sip of water (totally allowed!).

Barbara raised a point about drinking after camel. Apparently, she always used to do it. Then, one day, an instructor asked her why she always did it. If she wasn’t thirsty, and didn’t truly need the water, then her instructor suggested she might be taking it for another reason. The instructor explained that sometimes, in camel, things come up. When we take water, we are doing it to keep things down. Barbara didn’t mean that this was why anyone would always drink after camel, but she did think it was worth our consideration. I agree.

I want to say a few things about the experience Barbara shared with us. First, it shows how we can fall into a routine (like drinking after a posture) and not even question/examine why we do it. It’s great if we can catch our habits on our own and examine them, but that doesn’t always happen. Barbara’s story reminded me how important it is to be open to thinking about our habits and routines when they are called into question by others. Sometimes others can see things we can’t or that we don’t want to. 🙂

For my non-Bikram readers, when I say that sometimes things come up in camel I don’t mean literally coming up and out of you. I mean that emotions come up in the posture or we don’t like how it makes us feel. The point I think Barbara’s instructor was making was that we might drink afterwards in order to try to shove those things back down rather than face them.

I have to say, recently I have started taking a drink after camel, and Barbara’s point is at least 50% right. First, let’s talk about what else it is. Recently, the weather outside has started to change (warmer, more humid) and that means I sweat more. The last three classes have been so humid (note to any instructor reading this: I am not complaining. I am loving the humidity. Do not change a thing!) that I can grab my hair, wring it out, and sweat will run down my back. I can do this over and over again with the same result every time. I’m a little drippy.

Part of the reason I am drinking is not because I need it, but because I know it will taste so good. There is no way I am drinking before camel. It will make me queasy. So I bargained with myself and now I drink after camel. I was right. The water tastes so good when it’s extra sticky in the room. Yummy, yummy, water.

BUT, I also have to admit that there is some truth to what Barbara shared. I know that in Sunday’s class I did not like how I felt in camel. I know when I drank the water all the ickyness went away. But drinking the water isn’t really dealing with the icky feelings and allowing my body and mind to process them. All the water does is shift my focus from, “I feel icky,” to, “My water is yummy and awesome.”

I am going to class again on Monday. No water after camel. Let’s see what happens. Unfortunately, I will not die. I will have to deal with whatever camel sends my way.

I appreciate Barbara sharing her truth with us. I think this is how we all learn in Bikram yoga and in life. When we share our truths openly and honestly then we have the potential to help others and encourage them to share their truths as well. Of course, we also have to listen to the truths of others even when we don’t want to. Even when it might make us uncomfortable. Even when it means I’m going to really try to listen and deal with myself in stupid camel. Oh yeah – that reminds me – it’s also not just about sharing our truths and listening to the truths of others. It’s also about what we do with what we have and what we receive.

How do you share your truths? What do you do with the truths others give you from their lives?

If you practice Bikram yoga, do you normally drink at party time? If so, why? What would happen if you skipped party time at your next class, stood still, and breathed?


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lori B :)
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 14:01:37

    Hey! I thought I’d post here instead of leaving you a note on Facebook, since you were awesome enough to share YOUR truths with us here. Deep backbends, such as camel, totally get me too. I’ve only had one real panic attack in my life – right before I taught my first lesson in my classroom for TE 401 (THERE’S a truth for you! LOL!)! However, up until a few weeks ago, I would literally fall right out of deep backbends because they scared the hell out of me, or made me feel incredibly awful. I’ll try everything offered up in a yoga class, even if it’s ridiculous and I know I won’t get it, but I won’t touch a crazy backbend with a 10-foot pole.

    Now, this was very interesting to me, because I know it’s not because I can’t physically do a backbend; I was a gymnast up until high school and I can still do a backhand-spring to this day. So what’s the deal here? Why am I freaking out in deep backbends during a yoga class?! Well, being me, I started talking to some yoga teacher-friends and researching this online. What I’ve learned is that deep back-bending brings up some of our deepest emotions; when we back-bend, we’re literally opening up our hearts and making ourselves incredibly vulnerable. Deep back-bends also require an enormous amount of trust, and force us to confront some deep-seeded fears. This all makes major sense in my life.

    A few Saturdays ago, I went to one of my absolute favorite classes ever: It’s a deep-stretch class where you hold postures for 5-10 minutes at a time. At this particular class, guess what we got to hold for about 5 minutes?! A deep, deep backbend. We were doing fish pose with a block under our backs and our heads literally hanging down and touching the floor. I seriously thought I was going to have my second ever panic attack. I’m totally not joking here. The only thing that saved me was the girl next to me. She had some awesome yoga breathing going on, so at first I concentrated on listening to HER breathing, and then once I felt steady enough in my own body, I concentrated on MY breathing. Somehow, I did not panic.

    I’m sharing this story for two reasons: One, you’re not alone. Back-bends are scary as hell and bring up lots of nasty feelings; if I had water in class, I’d probably dump the whole thing on my head after one!!! 🙂 Second, it goes with another post you wrote earlier; I’m STILL in awe to this day that I didn’t freak out during that class. I was totally on the edge of panic, but I made it through it. I’ve returned to that again and again and again; I made myself totally vulnerable for what seemed like an eternity, I trusted that I wasn’t going to actually die, and I literally hung through some nasty feelings without losing it. Hey, if I can survive that experience on my yoga mat, I can probably survive that in life…


  2. leighahall
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 16:52:29

    Thanks Lori! I loved reading your response. I do at least try the backbends (usually). I don’t have panic attacks in them (that sounds so horrible), but I do feel panicked sometimes. There’s no logical reason why I should be scared. Nothing bad is actually going to happen. I am thinking about giving in to the backbends and not fighting them so much. 🙂


  3. Trackback: Camel Pose « Yoga Is Yummy

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