400 sessions of the 26+2 yoga series known as Bikram Yoga. Each class is 90 minutes in a hot room, a yoga style that builds mental and physical willpower. For ten years now, I’ve observed and experienced how this yoga changes people.
The Tapas (fire) of Yoga
First, it will get harder
Then it will get easier
Then it will get different
Then it will get way different . . . but so will you.
I started yoga in Hawaii when I happened to walk into a Bikram Yoga Studio to fix my bad back. After starting, I kept track of each session because I knew it could become important. I completed 325 classes during the four years I practiced in Hawaii. Most of my Arizona practices – by contrast – have been 75 minutes with music and limited dialogue.
It’s been known for Centuries that applying heat in ritual transformations tends to create and accelerate change. Mircea Eliade, former chair of the Department of History of Religions at the University of Chicago, wrote in YOGA: Immortality and Freedom, that the Rg-Veda identified heat and ardor with ascetic effort as a tapas. It serves to “heighten the Physico-chemical processes (of making gold) and is the ‘vehicle’ for psychic and spiritual operations.”
North American Medicine Men shared this practice too in the sweat. Eliade wrote of this, and other transformational rituals in his 1951 book, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy.
Yoga people find out that the practice of yoga in a hot room is hard. Writer Alyssa Dunn put it like this, “My yoga practice isn’t always stable.… read more...