I have a confession to make – I’m a social yogini. It is to my great surprise that I have discovered that I love having people around me when I practice.
Funny that because I would have thought my yoga was very much an individual discipline. Yet the other people in the class – some familiar faces, some new – create a really powerful group mentality. Before I tried Bikram Yoga, just the idea of exercising in a hot room filled with half-naked sweaty strangers was seriously off-putting to me. Now in class, I don’t usually even react to what people wear, or more often, don’t wear.
As we start the class with Pranayama breathing and progress from the standing to floor series, I can definitely feel the energy all around me. My neighbour’s gentle and calm practice fills me with peace. It’s positively infectious! On the other hand, if I have somebody huffing and puffing frustratedly by my side, I have to work a bit harder to keep my concentration and presence. What I like the most, though, are spontaneous bursts of laughter, some giggles and encouraging smiles. That’s what I miss from my Vinyasa Flow classes at Studio Yin in Helsinki. It’s just yoga after all and it is fun!
This past week, for my 10th Bikram session in the 30 Day Challenge, I got a friend to join me. I admit – I’m horrible, always dragging friends along to my hobbies. It was her first yoga class ever. She took a spot on the third row, where fresh recruits can be under a closer supervision of the instructor. She did so well, she was composed and collected, sailing through the 90 minute session like a true yogini. Her newfound yoga confidence and enthusiasm made me so happy and proud. It completely rejuvenated my own, on that particular day, a bit fatigued practice.
I have heard that the word “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word “yug”, which means to join together. I believe it goes beyond uniting the body, mind and spirit – yoga unites me with the other people in the crowded, sweaty classroom. I feel it especially in the rhytmic Kapalbhati breathing that we finish the Bikram sequence with. At Bikram Yoga Richmond, the class is always beautifully in sync and I get filled with such positive energy that easily carries me through any day.
Actually, there is one exception to this social yogini business. Put anybody next to my mat wearing a lot of perfume and see what happens.