An Open Letter of Apology to Bikram Yoga

By | Writing

An Open Letter of Apology to Bikram Yoga

Dear Bikram Yoga,

For years I have written you off. As a power yoga teacher I have put you on the receiving end of lame jokes where I basically say that I have no interest in being “the best at yoga”. I have assumed that some of you are trying to “win yoga” (because of the competitions) and have used it to justify allowing my own asana practice to become lazy.

I’ve quietly and “not-so-quietly” mused that there are others who are competitive about their yoga but not me. Insert halo here.

For about a month I have been practicing Bikram yoga. Let me be upfront. It’s not the only style I’ve practiced. I do not make it everyday (yet). I still wince at the tiny amount of clothing that I am wearing to class. I loathe looking at myself in the mirror while we practice. When the teacher says “Eyes on you” I usually have to peel my gaze away from someone in the room who has captured my attention with their envy-inducing backbend.

In the interest of being completely forthright, just as late as last week I was still defining Bikram yoga as “rigorous calisthenics”. I believe what I said to my friend was along the lines of “I mean it’s so tough and it’s so hot. I feel like a lunatic for putting myself in a room that hot on purpose but it’s like really deep stretching. It’s not my style of yoga but it’s fun for a change.”

I’m sorry.

I have noticed that every time I show up for class, there are often the same students and teachers practicing.

Dear Bikram Yogis, your discipline to your practice is inspiring.

You have at no point made me feel “less than” or unwelcome or competitive. In fact, you have never judged my poses and every piece of instruction you have given me has been useful and has helped me understand the poses and the practice. I also appreciate when you point out a student in class who has gone into a deeper version of a pose and comment that someday, one day we can get there as well, but only if that’s what we want.

(I hear this as “No pressure, LA! Really! But if you’re interested – keep coming back and we’ll show you how to get there!”)

You have at no point bad-mouthed any other style of yoga, which is (I’m ashamed to admit) more than I can say for myself.  You seem completely embracing of all styles of yoga.

You’re just in a committed relationship with yours. I get it.

Bikram Yogis – please accept my apologies. You are teaching me something invaluable. I never thought that I would comfortably (let alone – enjoyably) practice yoga in a public room full of mirrors in shorty-shorts and a sports bra. Yet, that’s exactly what I did this morning while a super-fit blonde badass said “I’d rather see you love who you see in the mirror staring back at you then nail standing bow.”

That’s my kind of freaking yoga.

See you tomorrow,

Gone Analog

By | Writing

I have a compulsion to check my iPhone. I find a reason to hit the button at the bottom of the phone in between my shower and getting dressed, during meals, after I turn the car off before I go into a store, right before I go to my yoga mat… constantly.

I check and respond to texts and email and Facebook comments and Instagram likes and tweets all damn daylong. Like it’s my job. Like it’s my passion. (It’s not.) If I’m away from my phone for too long (like during a movie) the first thing I do is find it, check it, and then relax again.

I’ve taken a month off from teaching yoga but I still feel stressed and like I “must” do things and what I’ve realized is that the thing that I feel like I have to do, I must do, I cannot relax until I do it: is check my phone and respond to people within 24 hours. I like to share. (Most of the people who know me best would call me someone who overshares.) What I have found is that for me – technology does not make me feel more connected. At least it has stopped allowing me to feel more connected for the time being.

I even made my best friend promise to like my Instagram posts because I feel like it’s part of my branding and just maybe this stuff will add up to yoga teaching and writing opportunities. (Big surprise – it hasn’t!) No more. (Mark, please feel free to ignore anything that I post on social media if you don’t truly like it!)

So for the next week, I’m going analog. I will check my email for thirty minutes on my laptop once a day in the morning after a cup of coffee. I will call my mother in the morning. I will use my phone only as an actual phone. I’ll put it in the glovebox while I’m driving (if I need it for Triple A) and I’ll keep it in the corner on a shelf when I’m at home (ringer on when I’m awake and ringer off when I’m asleep). I will not log in to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or even use my phone for Fandango or directions.

I’m going to carry a camera. I’m going to swim. I’m going to read tangible books. I’m going to shop in brick and mortar stores. (I’m also going to have to carry a map!) I’m going to cook without posting photos. I’m going to practice yoga (or not) without worrying about what the hell I’m wearing and wondering if someone does photograph it – will I look cute?

Call me if you know my number and I’ll answer if I’m not busy living.


Gone Analog,

Lee Anne (LA) Finfinger