5 Life Lessons Learned from Bikram Yoga

Last month I set a goal for myself to practice Bikram Yoga for thirty consecutive days. Bikram is a branch of yoga, consisting of twenty-six postures and two breathing exercises in a heated room of 104°F (40 °C). During each ninety minute class the exact same twenty-six postures and two breathing exercises are performed.

Being a former athlete, I had incorporated yoga conditioning into my training repertoire before, but this was the first time I would experience Bikram. With 2016 being a year I have stepped wholeheartedly outside my comfort zone, actively participating in new activities and becoming even more comfortable with the uncomfortable; I welcomed my first class with enthusiasm and was very receptive to the self-discoveries that could transpire.

After my fifteenth day of practicing Bikram, life would present a minor setback. I became ill with the flu which lasted for three weeks straight. The inconvenience and discomfort of the flu ended up being a blessing. Being forced to slow down enabled me to put this journey we call life in perspective. It gave me the ability to soak in and appreciate all the infinite beauty that permeates our living everyday but sometimes gets overlooked in the fixation of our daily hustle in following schedules and fulfilling commitments.

While I was not able to complete my initial intention of practicing Bikram Yoga for thirty consecutive days, in fifteen days I was profoundly impacted by this new experience and was reminded of the of the following five life lessons:

Breathe

Bikram allowed me the opportunity to refocus on my breath. To become more aware of not just passive inhale and exhales through the nose but to breathe deeply from within, expanding my essence — not by force but through conscious relaxation. When we truly reflect on the countless breaths of life we take everyday, the beauty of that act alone is a miracle in itself. I have reminded myself each day to breathe in all the love and abundance that permeates my life while exhaling the gratitude of the precious moment.

Fundamentals Create Mastery

Bikram powerfully illustrated the impact precision and repetition has on activating growth. Each of the twenty-six poses have different levels of difficulty. The importance was stressed by each instructor to master whichever phase of the position you are able to sustain before increasing the difficulty of the posture. The sessions taught me to dream big but to execute my vision in small actionable and manageable adjustments each session. Witnessing yogi’s at all different stages in their yoga practice captured the fact that mastery does not transpire overnight. It is a long, transformative journey and process, nor merely a destination.

The Power of Your Thoughts

Bikram provides a setting that can challenge one’s existence each session, enabling the mind to venture to many places in the 104°F (40 °C) studio. I was reminded to remain cognizant of the thoughts I was feeding my mind and soul, by letting go of anything that was not positively serving me in that moment and to shift my attention and consciousness to relentlessly focusing on what was in my control. While the heated space was a fixed non-negotiable variable, each session presented a new beginning of self-awareness to grow, learn and prosper.

Self-Love

Bikram taught me the importance of continuing to accept all of who I am. That the most important relationship I will ever have is the one with myself. To not judge the reflection in the mirror during the ninety minute sessions, but to be kind to that reflection in the process giving myself permission to be whole, present and unique. This experience reinforced that on this journey I am only in competition with one person and one person only, “myself.” Not to compare my life to others but to simply be the greatest version of who I am and strive to be.

Celebrate the NOW

Bikram provided a space to simply disconnect and to holistically reinvigorate myself. Each session presented a unique opportunity to let go of the past, and relax into the future by celebrating the present moment. When I felt myself drifting from the present moment at times during sessions, I recited in my thoughts the following profound message from renowned spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle…

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.

Each day we have a chance to refocus and revitalize our mind, body and spirit. Change does not happen overnight. But it can and will happen if we alleviate distractions and toxicity in our lives, focusing on what is in our control and prioritize investing the time and energy into our craft and on what brings us the most genuine joy and peace of mind. The only thing that will ever be guaranteed is this precious moment. Let’s continue to do our absolute best through it all and soar in our divine truth. Until our next share, Namaste!

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About the Author:

Kimati A. Ramsey is a brand strategist, educational consultant and motivational storyteller who graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. His life mission is to embrace his authentic self, making each precious moment a masterpiece while being of service to humanity. Residing in Los Angeles, California he is an avid sports, music and fashion enthusiast who enjoys reading, meditation, building genuine relationships and practicing a healthy active lifestyle. Stay connected at LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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