On the weekends, please enjoy the Retro Throwback where I share my favorite posts from some time ago. Break the Routine was originally published in February 2012.
Today I put myself in the hotter area of the room on purpose. I don’t know how much hotter it tends to get on this side, but there are no fans overhead and if a lovely instructor should decide to open a door and grace the room with some cool air I would not feel it. I had just set up my mat when I noticed someone setting up behind me. I asked her if she thought she would be able to see herself in the mirror ok and she said she didn’t know. She told me it was her first Bikram class, and she didn’t really know what she was doing.
I told her she was in the hottest part of the room and showed her the sign that even proclaims that. She asked me what I thought she should do. I pointed to the other side of the room and said I thought she should set up near a fan.
I’m telling this story for a couple of reasons. First, I set up in the hotter area because I wanted to challenge myself. I also knew I was well hydrated and well fed. I might experience discomfort, but I knew I was physically prepared to handle whatever temperature and sweat came my way. For the new student, the challenge is just being in the room. Let’s not make it anymore difficult than it needs to be for day one.
My point here is this: We should seek to challenge ourselves but in ways that make sense for us in that moment in time. The next time I go to class it may not make sense for me to set up in the hotter part of the room or I may want to focus on something else. That’s fine.
Challenging ourselves is one thing, but what do we get out of it? I find that I have to pay attention to what I am learning in and after my challenge. When I was in the hot part of the room, I noticed I focused better on my breath and my postures. You know what I did not focus on? The fan. The door. I already knew that those things were not going to benefit me very much. At some point I saw Cindy turn the fans up during class. At that moment I realized I had not been thinking about them. If I’m hot and near a fan I will think about them. Something along the lines of, “Oh please crank up the fan. Please….please…” I am working on developing my telepathic abilities during class a lot. When I’m not around the fan or door? Don’t think about it. Don’t care about it.
This experience really brought home for me how one small change in our environment or in what we do can make some important changes in how we act. All I did was move my mat to a different place in the room and I got a lot of benefits by doing so. Another way to look at it is now one of my challenges is to be near a fan/door and NOT let those things dominant my thoughts. This is why I have become big on moving my mat around the room and not staying stuck in one place. Every time I move to a new place I get a new perspective on my practice and on how I view the world.
Try it. If you practice, move your mat to a totally different spot in the room and see what it does for you. Or think about something you do everyday outside of practice and do it different. Just for one day. For one hour or five minutes. Take a normal routine and break it. See what happens.