This Article is About
simplicity
hot yoga
quieting the mind
rocket science
beach towel
rudeness
different world
fellow students
exertion
mutual respect
The Simplicity Of Bikram Etiquette
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One of the first things I noticed upon entering a Bikram studio for my first class was the kindness of those there, both instructors as well as fellow students. It reminded me a lot of my experiences in some of the better dojos where I’ve studied martial arts – leaving ego and stresses of the day at the door. Don’t we all have more than our fill of rudeness in a given day? It seems that mutual respect and kindness in society is hard to come by anymore, but I noticed a different world upon entering a Bikram studio.

Sure, there are jerks everywhere. I remember one woman who was complaining about a flickering light overhead, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. Bikram etiquette is not rocket science. It’s really about learning to quiet your mind and, well, yourself for at least 90 minutes while you focus internally on getting back to what really matters in life – the moment.

There is a great deal of controversy, it seems, regarding Bikram (hot) yoga. Some say it’s too demanding. Some question why there should be national Bikram competitions. Bottom line – its yoga, and it is up to individual students not to be intimidated into pushing themselves beyond their limits. Yoga is about finding a quiet center as a foundation for increased health, and the etiquette of the studio is where that starts.

Quiet. It’s about quieting the mind and quieting the body. Once in the room, quiet conversation is allowed, but only until the class starts. From that point forward, only the instructor should be doing the talking as he or she walks the class through the procession of 26 poses designed to take you to a peak of exertion and then back you down until, at the last, lights are turned out and the students are left to relax in savasana, the relaxation pose. Shoes are left outside the room. Students are allowed to bring in only their mat – a beach towel is recommended to lie over the mat – maybe a smaller hand towel to wipe one’s face, and one or two bottles of water.

Something I noticed immediately after leaving my first class was a profound sense of…well, I don’t know what else to call it other than culture shock. I found peace of mind in the studio as I centered and reconnected my mind with my body and brain. Yes, mind and brain can become distant from each other for those not paying attention in the moment. After leaving, the chaos of modern society nearly suffocated me. Swarms of people intent on their own objectives, ready to mow down anyone who was in their way. Rude drivers, apathetic employees…but for those precious 90 minutes, I found refuge from the chaos of the day and world and enough rejuvenation for me to charge once more into the beach, guns blazing and mind calm.

Etiquette sounds prissy, but the few requirements of a Bikram studio help me better understand why it is an increasingly popular alternative to other mental and physical health approaches. I’m working on simplifying my life, and approaches such as that designed by Bikram Choudhury help to give me direction.


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