From Chaos, We will RISE

I’ve heard it preached, I’ve heard it on TED Talks, I’ve heard it from Bikram, and I’ve seen it in my own experience: the world always leans towards chaos, that is it’s nature. I’m not trying to sound dismal. In fact, quite the opposite. Let me explain.

Chaos is a Tool

I’m fortunate to have been teaching in one spot for so long, repeating a few of the same phrases, in pretty much the same room, with many of the same people doing the same thing. In the last year, I’ve seen: better eye-to-eye focus in the mirror; improved form in all the poses; way more stillness in all savasanas; kindness and courtesy to your yoga neighbor; getting in the room in a more timely fashion; and increased efforts to learn more about poses throughout your yoga journey. Yet, in more recent months, I’ve noticed more fidgeting than usual in unusual ways: looking at watches; doing a pose differently; going a few seconds ahead; sitting down at party time; leaving no room for final savasana; a lot more noise as people exit. Many who visit Bikram Yoga San Jose will say that our studio is a highlight amongst other studios they have visited. I am so proud whenever I hear that (you should be too, members) but they also state that our standards here are much higher than other places. I take that as a compliment, but it also makes me sad.

If you watched the Opening Ceremony for the Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea, then you saw a few things:

  1. How amazing it is to see North and South Korea come together as one nation. That moment when they came out together behind a single flag was so moving! To think that a sport could kindle a relationship is not unlike what we do at BYSJ: doing a single “sport” individually yet collectively, while at the same time creating multiple, diverse, and harmonious relationships with one another.  Cool!
  2. You also might have seen the spectacular show that had so much “future” in it.  The Koreans are so advanced in technology (for example, they mentioned that Korea has the most tech addictions centers in the world) that you could really picture yourself there in that “futuristic” place and time. They blended the “old” with the “new” in the most beautiful way. And the way I see it, we’d better then evolve as a species, too!
One of the best poses for using gravity to improve the spine – Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose

How we navigate in a fast paced world that tends towards mayhem is challenging, but it’s this exact environment that boosts our place in the galaxy. In class, we use the force of gravity in poses to strengthen one of the most important things we have–our spine. So, too, we need to use the chaotic advancing world to strengthen our standards of excellence as human beings in the pursuit of the perfection of which we were created.

Yoga is not static, meaning it will never keep you in the same place. Yoga will beg you to grow and grow in more meaningful ways, not just for the growth itself. Luckily for me, my yoga pleads for my advancement, and what I do as an owner can only push what you do as members. In other words, we are all growing together. Yet, when unaware, these tugs of growth spiral into misaligned behavior and we fall short in that day’s practice. These days add up and before you know it, our lack of discipline has been justified and our new “center” just swung towards the Valley of Chaos! All of a sudden any progress we desire is overcome by the sledge of heaviness, doubt, and all the other neighbors Mr. Chaos hangs out with – not fun and not necessary. Your yoga, when practiced with consciousness, will constantly recalibrate your center. Even so, you need to be alert to the habits that stymie your greatness. IMO, take off the iWatch or FitBit; slow down; drop the hand towel; listen for exact cues; love your neighbor despite their imbalance, to name just a few.

Remembering the Origin of Bikram Yoga

Billy Wee and MicheleBilly Wee, one of my mentors back before I was teaching, came here and taught for our 15 Year anniversary weekend. He stated proudly that he is 61 and started with Bikram at age 17 right next to wonderful yogi, Tony Sanchez. Billy did not go to Teacher Training. He learned from Bikram long before there was such a thing as a “class” and or such a thing called “the dialogue.” He shared a few important points in his “no dialogue” 8 AM class. First, this yoga is most potent when delivered with words like, “No Choice,” as it’s the only way you’ll make progress. Second, the class is intentionally always the same, because the only thing that should change is YOU.  Finally, at first this yoga was not meant to be looked at as a class, despite having a teacher lead the sequence. It was called, “Bikram’s Yoga College of India,” and meant to be continuing education on oneself.

So, like gravity invigorates the spine, we can use the force of this never-changing 90 minute sequence, so rich in meaning and yet unforgiving in delivery. It is the energy to sharpen and advance our character which, as the world spins on and on, needs to shift and evolve. The irony is that our character is intended to change and rise FIRST. In so doing, the rest of life follows. Our spine is the real solar system and the universal solar system will then magnetically follow you. “You become bullet-proof and the world chases you,” says Bikram.

Be Alert, Be Aware

Yoga has a powerful quality to slowly have you become aware that who you are isn’t a reflection of the world at large, the world at large is a reflection of who you are.  Important stuff, and but the hitch is if we are not alert to this, the reverse can be catastrophic. Like I said in the first sentence, it’s the nature of our world to lean towards chaos and confusion. Contrast makes for beautiful art (which you are at the highest level), but, if not seen, we become like the frog that starts out in cold water but dies not realizing the water has slowly come to a boil. Looking at your Fitbit in class incrementally raises the temperature of your water. You may not notice once, but repeat a thousand times and the change is significant. Crazy, right? But, I see it in you and me everyday, and lately even more often. It ALL matters.

Standards exist for a reason – shoot for them. We are the highest form of technology evolving in our greatness.

Watch for those danger signs that tempt your ego, but USE them to align the overall health of your personality. Watch your body, mind, and spirit rise accordingly and ALL of you will enjoy ALL life has to offer because you know how to use it.

One of my most favorite books, “The Big Questions, Buddhist Response To Life’s Challenging Mysteries,” lives by what he calls “The Zen Commandments“. The very first one? “Take Care. Stay Aware. Watch your step. Pay attention – it pays off.”

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