Words from a Yogi: Give Us the Bulldog

Rob A. talks about the power of a teacher’s words in the hot room. Read his guest post on the Bikram Yoga Blog

Bikram Yoga pushes us to find new versions of ourselves as we move through adversity. The heat can feel oppressive; we may be dehydrated or under-rested from an adventurous night before. We might be struggling with old injuries, or the boss may have treated us to a late lunch that we’re now forced to carry into class.

Whatever the case, we’re not always at our best in the hot room. But yet we enter and, each time we do, we find a new edge, a new limit. If we’re properly prepared, it could mean reaching the full expression of Standing Head to Knee. If we neglect to drink enough water during the day, the edge may be as simple – and frustrating – as staying in the room for 90 minutes.

The edge is an ever-moving target and the instructor pulls us through, filling our vacant minds with dialogue that’s meant to show us the steps and keep our thoughts from wandering. Under pressure, it’s crucial to force our minds to the edge, to the horizon of our beings. But how is this done? Words are the key.

It’s all about “English bulldog determination”: that image of a stubborn dog that will grab on and get what he wants at all costs. That is the horizon. The opposite is “T for torture” during Balancing Stick Pose – words that make our pain real, present and top of mind. Better to tell us “T for triumph”; fill us with thoughts of success and we will succeed.

For Savasana, words of peace: “relax,” “be still” and “let your body sink into the floor.” In Standing Head to Knee it’s “solid, concrete, one piece, like a lamp post,” – an unbreakable Greek column. We “push and push and push” to our edge in Half Moon Pose; during the back bend we “look back, go back, way back, fall back” until we reach our full potential.

We yogis are not perfect. In fact, we are consummately imperfect. In the hot room, the teacher’s words are often all we have – they make us remake ourselves by forcing our eyes to the horizon. We rely on your words – so breathe success, exude triumph and demand from us the English bulldog. We will give back what we hear.

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