Hi Yogis and others,

Yoga and writing to me have been inextricably linked from day one. Bikram’s teaches me so many things, and I get excited about them and feel like I need to share my insights. Blogging is my way to document my mental growth.

Yoga is most certainly a form of exercise (especially Bikram’s) but, what I’m sure is already abundantly clear to you all, is that yoga is also an exercise for the mind. Learning how to overcome pain, and push through drama and difficulty to attain success; to build up your sense of self efficacy, boosting your confidence and driving you to become mentally healthier. Yoga helps you practice being in the moment, not getting caught up in the transitive phenomena we are confronted with daily, and hourly. Yoga is an incredible workout for the brain. But I don’t have to tell you that.

Do you know who I have to tell that to? The teachers at Bikram Yoga Seattle in Fremont. I’m not linking to their page, I’m not trying to slander them. I know I have discussed before the reasons why I dislike that studio (and the reasons why some people might prefer it!), but that is where Kaleesha and I ended up doing our 30-day challenge. Just to recap: there was a groupon sale that got us an incredible deal on unlimited yoga for a month at the Fremont studio. I decided to go for it, even though I knew I hadn’t particularly liked that studio in the past, and that was a huge mistake. I didn’t particularly enjoy the classes there, I didn’t get that same incredible spirit lift there that I do going to the Sweat Box. I didn’t know why that was for a while, but I soon realized that it is because the Fremont studio completely ignores the mental aspect of the practice.

I will admit I did an awful job of documenting my most recent 30-day challenge, but it’s because a massive part of my practice was missing. I didn’t have anything to say, because my landscape of epiphanies was stark. My hopes for that strength of mind, and greater wisdom that comes with a challenge like that were sadly unfulfilled.

Right after I finished my month at Bikram Yoga Seattle, I went directly to the Sweat Box and began taking classes there. I finished my challenge at the sweat box in October, and since then I have been attending classes at the sweat box about 3-4 times a week. I feel so grounded, and so comfortable in my own body right now, and I am definitely in better shape than I was in over the summer. Most importantly, despite the fact that I have been working in a preschool, my back is in wonderful shape (that’ll be a topic for another post!).

I am so happy to report that unlike my 30-day challenge three years ago, I have been able to continue to work my yoga into my life post-challenge.

Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful holiday, filled with friends and family and love.

Namaste!

-C

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Via aliveinthefire.blogspot.com 🙂

Tonight I considered publishing a post called “I’m itchy, I’m smelly, and I have a preschool song stuck in my head,” but I decided that sounded too whiny, so instead I decided to give some kudos to an amazing Bikram Yoga instructor. Gary Smith, at Sweat Box Yoga on Capitol Hill in Seattle WA.

Sweat Box Yoga, is a cozy, unassuming little studio in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill Neighborhood. The two most recent classes I’ve attended there have both been taught by Gary, and they have been two of the best Bikram’s classes I have ever taken. Anywhere. Period.

Gary is the kind of teacher I would want to be if I taught yoga. As Gary guides his students through the postures, he shares knowledge, tips, mantras, and personal anecdotes. His story tonight about his pride at getting fully into the Fixed Firm posture reminded me that even teachers and skilled practitioners have postures they struggle with. He has the rare gift of being able to at once command the class, and bring lightness and humor to the practice. His high expectations of his students are infectious, making for a rigorous, but extremely rewarding experience.

As Eric Grandy quoted in an article in The Stranger last year, Gary Says “My class, it’s not just word for word, ‘do this, do that,’ I make jokes […] I kind of push the limits a little bit, but I make it fun. ‘Cause the class is freaking hard, man – 90 minutes, 105-degree heat? If it’s not fun, It’s gonna suck. Like, today, I taught the class as myself and as a robot; I quoted Tupac and scarface. Plus I just bought a bunch of little speedos, so that helps” (March 2, 2010).

It isn’t enough, though, that he leads the postures so superbly, and adds humor to make the class more interesting. If you go to his class for no other reason, go for his guided relaxation at the end. He draws attention to every part of the body, from the backs of the knees, to the top of the head, urging his students to relax, let go, and breathe.

Thanks for being great at what you do, Gary!

-C