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 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,