Talking to one of the ladies who also does Bikram Yoga at our studio quite regularly, the discussion of never sitting out a posture came up.
At the beginning you always allow yourself to sit out some postures without any feelings of guilt but after you’ve been coming regularly (at least 3 times a week) for more than a year, you’d have to be pretty much about to collapse before you’ll sit out a posture.
Maybe it’s because you set yourself a new standard but even so, ego, pride, wanting to meet the teacher’s expectations or just that knowledge of what your best posture looks like and always wanting to get there or improve and do your best means, you will push regardless of what pain, cramps, dizziness, indigestion or nausea you might feel during class.
So when do you sit out? NEVER! Even in complete dizziness, I would still remain standing and attempt a posture. And so, this was, until I witnessed someone who I thought was quite a strong practitioner faint during a class. It was just before Standing Separate Leg Head To Knee Pose. One second she was standing, the next, she was on the floor, her eyes remained open even though she’d blacked out.
Yes, it freaked me out but it also was a huge lesson that it can happen to any of us if we don’t listen to our bodies. Yes we need to push and to strive to do better but we also need to look after our own well being and stop when we need to, even if it means sitting out a posture after years of not sitting out anything!
So how hard do you push? When do you back off? Are you backing off or are you giving up?
When you get dizzy or hurt or feel faint, do you give yourself permission to stop or do you keep going?
Do you know the difference between strain and pain?
Do you test your limits? Do you push beyond them or do you give up just before you get to them? Do you test your edge?
How do you deal with falling? Are you afraid to fall? How quickly do you recover if you do fall? Do you get straight back in or do you just hang back and wait for the next posture?
Do you take yourself seriously? Are you too serious? Are you able to laugh at yourself? Is your practice one big joke?
What does your self talk sound like? Are you encouraging yourself or are you defeated before you even start?
Do you do or do you watch? Are you looking effortless while making effort? Or, are you just hanging back? Are you doing the posture to the best of your ability or are you just sitting/standing watching everyone else?
Do you listen? Are you open to being taught or do you just do what you know to do / think you should do / what you’re used to?
When the teacher adjusts you or makes a comment about something you’re doing, do you take it as an insult or a lesson in improvement?
Do you focus? Where is your focus? Is it internal or external? Do you look into your own eyes or are you allowing the heat, the sweat, the fidgety people distract you?
It is very interesting to witness your different characters come out in the room during a yoga session. The practice itself, how one approaches it, is definitely character building!