On Sundays, please enjoy the Retro Throwback where I share my favorite posts from some time ago.
There are a couple of things that come to mind when I think about what it means to sit with my emotions during class. First, of course, I’m not literally sitting with them. I’m in postures with them, So maybe a better way to think about it is moving with my emotions (since I’m in and out of postures) but the name isn’t as important as what I do with the emotions.
The idea is, naturally, so simple and complex all at once. But Bikram yoga is so simple and complex all at once too so it works out. Here’s how I think of it in class:
Emotions come up in class. Next time you go to class, use it as an opportunity to pay attention to which ones surface and when. You don’t have to do this for the entire class. Pick a posture – maybe your favorite posture – and be mindful of the emotions that surface. I say your favorite posture because hopefully you’ll have a pleasant experience. I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t want to kick this event off by paying attention to what happens in triangle or camel.
Now, often, the instructors at my studio will talk to us about the emotions we feel during/after camel. Maybe that’s part of the dialogue – don’t know. But they will tell us that if we’re sad/happy/whatever to just experience it and know that it is temporary and will pass. It’s the same thing here. Just be mindful of what you feel during a given posture.
But then what? What happens next?
You just acknowledge the emotion. That’s it. At least, that’s all I got for the time being.
I tried this the other day although for the life of me I cannot recall what posture I was in (how’s that for some mindfulness!). I focused on the emotion I was experiencing, and you know what it was? It was peace. I felt peaceful – at least during that posture. It was really nice. Once I recognized it I was able to sink into the emotion a bit deeper which helped my practice at that moment. Sitting with peace was a whole lot better than sitting with anger, I can tell you that!
Now I am starting to grasp what they mean when they say that Bikram yoga – and I would assume any form of yoga – is a 90 minute moving meditation. I can see how an emotion, like peacefulness, could pop up in a posture, I could recognize it, and then continue on with my posture. Then, later, a different emotion could pop up and the process would repeat. It would be the same thing with thoughts, right?
Thoughts could roll through my head during class, just like they would in a sitting meditation, and I don’t have to do anything other than recognize them/let them float on through my brain. I don’t have to engage with them. Huh. Now it’s sinking in. Only took me about four years to grasp what was meant by Bikram yoga being a form of meditation.
How have you experienced/made sense out of your practice as a form of meditation? I am hoping some of you have developed a much deeper or nuanced understanding than what I have here.