Sunday, December 5, 2010

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

“But how do I start for Emerald City?”
“It's always best to start at the beginning – and all you do is follow the Yellow Brick Road.”

- Dorothy and Glinda the good witch, Wizard of Oz

There are about, oh, I don’t know… hundreds of things I love about Bikram Yoga. I love…

… that I get 90 minutes for me and only me.

… the wonderful community of people that I have formed beautiful, lasting relationships with.

… the way I feel like I can conquer the world after pushing through a tough class.

… that the first time I felt my baby move was during class.

… teaching and inspiring.

… watching students improve their bodies.

… the patience and love for myself that I now have.

But the one thing I would like to talk about today is my love for the fact that ANYBODY can do Bikram yoga. It doesn’t matter how young you are, how old you are, how skinny or fat, or muscular or scrawny, how tall or short, how inflexible or limber, everyone can do this yoga. All you have do is walk in the door.

I love walking into a class room and seeing the variety of students in the room. Some students have broken bodies that are just touching the surface of the healing. Others are there for a good workout, and have not yet found the meditation, the mental clarity, the new-found love for self that follows. I see young college girls that are so bendy, but have no strength, and I see middle-aged former athletes who cannot even kneel comfortably. But these students all have something in common: they walked in the door. And sometimes, that is the biggest challenge.

This yoga is so hard, not just for those with broken bodies. It is hard for everyone. If it’s not hard for you, well then you simply aren’t working hard enough. Even on the days that it seems easy – we still struggle. We struggle for our balance, struggle for our breath, struggle being still, struggle with locking the freaking knee. There is almost always something. Right now, my struggle is learning how to not struggle. It’s learning that this practice is no longer just about me anymore. So when I am getting overwhelmed with the heat and become overly exerted, I am learning that it’s ok for me to stop and sit, or even leave the room if I need to. For this body is no longer my own. I’m sharing it with this precious little life growing inside me that I already madly in love with. And the pretty posture I want to see in the mirror is so miniscule compared to that.

How do we overcome, or even realize these struggles? We have to start at the beginning. Step by step, word by word, breath by breath… If we are not completely present, in the very moment, struggling to just try the right way, while taking care of ourselves, then we have nothing. If we are busy wondering when on earth we will ever be able to get our forehead on the knee, when we can’t even grab the foot, what is the point? If we have sustained an injury, and we are busy worrying about how beautiful Standing Bow Pose looked a week ago, are we really trying to help ourselves NOW? We all have to start every day, every practice, every posture from the beginning. Whatever that beginning is on any given day is always the most perfect place to start.

“There is no such thing as the past.
It exists only in the memory.
There is no such thing as the future.
It exists only in our imagination.
If our watches were truly accurate,
the only thing they would ever say is NOW.”

- Excerpt from a letter from Damien Echols of the West Memphis 3 to Eddie Vedder


  1. I LOVE that you first felt your baby move in class! That is amazing :)

  2. Awww, this is so great. I love EVERYTHING that you are saying here! Also, coincidence, I've been listening non-stop this weekend to a great song called "Yellow Brick Road" by Kris Delmhorst. Can't find a full version online, but Pandora at least has a sample and lyrics -

    The lyrics are so great. "I'm not looking for any answers, no truths to be revealed/ All that I am asking is to show me something real..."

  3. Danielle, I love reading your posts. How exciting that you are feeling movement! Such a wonderful experience. What you said here really spoke to me. My life is so different from what it was before I was introduced to this yoga. Also, my practice is extremely different since I had children. Really, it's almost better now. I have even more reason to stay healthy and happy... It's amazing what you can create for yourself if you have the will. Also, it is difficult to walk through that door sometimes. Our minds play tricks on us if we let them....right? Thanks for sharing your thoughts and inspiration... Best to you and yours. Happy Holidays! ~ Heather P.

  4. Thank you for a beautiful post. This is just what I needed to read right now, as I have been contemplating my struggles with Bikram Yoga. I'm glad I found your blog.

  5. @ AliveInTheFire - Me too! As if we are not already open in yoga... that movement brought me to tears. Very, incredibly, happy tears.

    @dancingj - Thank you! Great lyrics... I need to find the tune that goes with it.

    @ Heather - Nice to hear from you. I am finally feeling the baby and it is beautiful. It is amazing how yoga opens us up to a new world. Happy holidays to you, too!

    @ Sisya - You are very welcome. If we did not struggle sometimes, how would we know what that rockstar class felt like? Sometimes being ok with your struggle is the best yoga we can experience.

  6. I am so thrilled for you that you are enjoying your practice with patience during your pregnancy! You may be surprised by the changes yet to come. I know that for me, at around 7 months, my postures became very deep and stable. It was the PERFECT antidote for the general out-of-sorts feeling out of the hot room. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

  7. you are my hero!