Day 11: Who’s Afraid of the Front Row?

Are you afraid of the front row in Bikram? I am. Even if you see me in the front row having a strong class, rest assured I was afraid to set up there and probably still nervous until we got to triangle. Once I make it to triangle I feel like I can accomplish most anything.

The front row of course is strictly voluntary. However, if you go into the front row, there are some rules. I assume these rules are the same across all Bikram studios. I never set up in the front row when I am visiting a studio. If your front row rules are different, I would love to know!

Being in the front row means first and foremost no sitting down during the standing series. You can take a break if you need it, but you must stand on or next to your mat. Did I mention the whole no sitting down thing? Basically, people in the front row are supposed to serve as models of good behavior for the rest of the class. Our postures do not have to be perfect or even very good. We just have to keep trying, and trying and trying. We just have to stay focused on ourself and our practice.

I am only afraid of the front row for one reason: I am afraid something awful will happen to me in class, and I will have to sit down.

I don’t care if people look at me or what they think about me. I am only afraid of the need to sit down. The last time I was in the front row it happened. I was having my period and was hit by horrible, horrible abdominal cramps.I think I made it to tree pose before I sat down. I laid in savassanah a lot during the floor series. I felt horrible. Not just physically horrible, but I felt personally horrible that I had not been a good front row practitioner. I take being in the front row very seriously. If I don’t feel good or not mentally strong I do not even venture up there.

I stayed out of the front row for a solid month. I know it’s been a month because today, I decided to go back up there while I was at the early stages of my period and when I am most likely to get cramps. I did not have cramps before I left the house. I took two advil anyways. I felt strong but scared. I parked my mat up front and got into it.

As soon as class started I realized there was no turning back. I was stuck in the front row. I had to face myself and this fear of mine that won’t die. So I moved through it one posture at a time. Before I knew it, we were to triangle, and then to floor, and then I was out the door. I did it. I did it just fine.

I don’t know where this lack of confidence comes from that makes me think I can’t do class if I’m in the front row. As I write this, I am thinking that the way to over come it is to keep going back to the front row. I just need to face myself again and again and again in the spot where I am uncomfortable.

That’s really what this challenge is all about isn’t it? I know the postures. I am making improvements in them, and I would like to think that’s to be expected. But I am thinking the real challenge is finding the places in my practice that make me uncomfortable and then facing them again and again until they are no longer a challenge.

Now, I’m not going to go up to the front row if I’m physically ill. When I started this challenge I was recovering from a cold, and I will be the first to say I shouldn’t be in the front row while I am recovering. But now? There’s no reason not to know. So I will go back to that stupid front row again and again and again until it becomes just another place to set up in the room. I will work through this fear.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda
    May 14, 2012 @ 14:40:37

    Leigha here is a great article about sitting down in Bikram yoga. Our studio loved it so much we posted it on our site! Relax and enjoy!


  2. loribruner
    May 14, 2012 @ 15:10:38

    My surgery is tomorrow at 8:00AM! It’s scheduled to take about 2 hours. So in the spirit of this mutual challenge, you should totally venture out to the 9:00AM class as usual, set up right next to the fan, drink water until your heart’s content, and lay in savassahana during both triangle sequences (on both sides!). Afterwords, climb in your car and drink TWO cokes…hell, go for a whole 6 pack! ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy a mini-break in the moment, and then go rock out Days #13-#66!!! ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. leighahall
    May 14, 2012 @ 15:44:49

    Thanks Linda! That is a fantastic article. Lori, I have to go to 6:30am yoga tomorrow because I have to take Mark to the dentist at 9:30. I will be thinking of you!


  4. bitchingaboutbikram
    May 14, 2012 @ 20:24:57

    There are rules? I don’t know if my studio has any rules about the front row. Hmm. I see people in the front row who are new to Bikram, but I also see those who are “established” and still need to take a savasana. Maybe my studio is more laid back about the front row.

    Sure, I agree that those in the front row should think about being role models (because whether or not they want to be, people are watching), but I think it also says something if a role model takes one day at a time and leaves their ego at the door. I remember during my very first real class, someone in the front row laid down during the standing series, and I felt much better about how exhausted I was!! I thought, “Hey! I’m still on my feet!”

    This post got me thinking. Thanks!


  5. wannabe(bikram)yogini
    May 18, 2012 @ 22:23:56

    My studio has no rules about the front row. I often practice in the front corner and I always have to take a knee at least once/class.

    Love your blog, by the way!


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