Sunday, November 21, 2010

No guru, no method, no teacher?

It's been forever since I've blogged. I've lately had some complicated feelings about my practice, my life, and my health. It's difficult to sort out, to put into words. There's been a little bit of drama at our studio that didn't involve me directly, but it...gave me pause, I guess. I've had some conflicting and complicated feelings and thoughts about yoga, the world of Bikram yoga, and the community at my studio. Kind of messy stuff.

I began practicing Bikram yoga regularly during a very stressful time in my life. My partner was incredibly ill, our finances were (and still are) a mess, and I was struggling with depression. Yoga reduced my anxiety, gave me a little island of peace. It was tough but it always made me feel better. It was one place in my life where I could feel really free and focus on myself.

After my disappointment with the teacher who leads advanced class, going to yoga class started to feel stressful, started to create anxiety for me. I often found myself in this teacher's class. (My studio has always kept the teaching schedule varied and confidential because in the past, some popular teachers had over-crowded classes and some teachers' classes were avoided and empty. There are times of day and days of the week when more students attend, so mixing up the schedule gives both teachers and students the chance to experience variety).

There was never any resolution to our 'conflict,' and I felt very much as if the teacher was scrutinizing my postures all the time, trying to find fault, justify her stance that I wasn't ready for advanced class.

I try to focus on my own stuff, and keep reminding myself that my practice is mine, and I don't need to prove anything to anyone.

Yet, almost immediately after the incident, I felt a sharp increase in the amount of stress I held in my body. I had stiffness, aches and pains I hadn't experienced in a very long time. I came down with a very nasty sinus infection that still hasn't cleared up completely. I have a weird rash on my face (always good for a girl's self-esteem, ha). I got digestive problems, and I vomited during classes several times in the last month or two, even when I didn't drink water during class.

And about half way through October, there were some incidents among other staff members. A couple of decisions were made that hurt some people I care for. It upset me. I've been feeling a lot of disillusionment. I have less faith in several teachers and staff members. I've started to feel like I might be in the wrong place. I have been questioning whether or not to leave this studio, or to leave the Bikram yoga practice. I think I still have deep faith and connection to the yoga, to the series. I believe in the power of this yoga. But I don't know if I want to go to teacher training anymore.

I guess that one of the issues I'm trying to digest right now is that I do not perceive the most influential people in my studio to be supportive. The whole "tough love" thing works a lot better if the criticism, attacks, or challenges come from a teacher or guru or mentor who is also able to demonstrate some measure of care or respect for a student. I want, and think that I need, less tough, more love.

And while my practice and what I do with it are certainly MY responsibility, I wonder if there is anywhere in Bikram world where I might feel encouraged again, feel welcomed. I feel as if going to teacher training now would be like being beaten with a stick. Maybe it's not for me.

So, I am slogging along.

I got to take a class from a senior teacher recently, and she said, to the class as a whole,"You're trying too hard, and you're making it hard. Do this, as an experiment: Come to class and just go through the motions, let go of trying. Then see what happens in your postures."

So, I am going to go through the motions for a while, see what happens.


  1. Oh wow. As always, this is a beautiful post, Sisya. It's written from the heart, and it means a lot that you're sharing it with us. I see a LOT of myself in what you've written--the doubts about Bikram yoga, the anxiety (probably a lot of it unnecessary), the stress in class and "against" the teachers. Let us know how going through the motions works. I'm kinda at that stage myself, although I haven't been brave enough to blog about it.

  2. I have been thinking a lot about this too, actually. I have no motivation to get myself to yoga. Granted, a lot of it has been due to being sick... but I've been calling it just another season. The "Winter" of my practice, if you will. I do believe that there are always seasons in life and seasons in what we do. I've experienced "Spring" where I see monumental amounts of growth, and "Summer" where I just bask in what yoga is doing for me... As well as Autumn, where I feel my power and meditation waning.
    Sisya, I really hope you some sort of solace in this Winter phase for you. Although, you are just going through the motions I hope your meditation does not cease and a mind and heart that continues healthfully.