Taken by surprise

With very clear instructions on how to do a 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge, I have arrived at an unexpected destination. How typical!

I finished the 30 consecutive days of yoga. I did 26 days at my new studio, Bikram Yoga Richmond, where they teach the most gentle and pure Bikram Yoga I have ever experienced. I love the authenticity of practice that all the teachers encourage in us students there. The remaining four days I was in Berlin, celebrating my sister-in-law’s birthday, and did my daily 90 minute dose, trying to follow instruction in German, at Bikram Yoga Mitte. It felt a bit like an anatomy lesson: “Knie, Schultern, Ellbogen, Kopf” with an odd “rechts” and “links” thrown in. Yesterday was the last day of my challenge and I marked the occasion with a back-to-back double session. My first ever and it took place at 12 on 12/12/12.

However, I did not cross the finishing line at the destination I was expecting. These past 30 days took me somewhere completely different and unforeseen. I’m not referring to the new polka dotted yoga pants that my husband mistook for a swimsuit either.

Mid-way through the challenge, I was in a rather peculiar roleplay-like interview process for a position at a large global company. One part of the third interview was a 30-minute session with the hiring manager:

Hiring manager: “Don’t you usually take notes?”
Me: “Yes, I do. Why?”
Hiring manager: “I’ve been taking notes throughout our conversation, but you haven’t. I can go back to my notes in 10 years’ time and cite exactly what was discussed. It shows interest in the other person if you take notes.”

I was speechless! I barely resisted the urge to ask whether he was just fresh out of Sales 101. I’m the Ultimate Notes Queen! Ask any of my former colleagues. Let’s be clear that these aren’t some messy hand-written scribbles, but nicely organised OneNote notebook pages with text, pictures, audio and video. So while the hiring manager is searching for his information across his 234 worn paper notebooks in 10 years, my notes are instantly searchable on my phone, computer, tablet and the web. I kept my composure, smiled and told him that during a thirty minute dialogue, it was sufficient for me to concentrate fully on him and the conversation at hand.

Some time after this incident and a few more yoga sessions later, it occured to me that my obsessive note taking has to do with my individual style for learning. Writing things down, especially digitally, is my way of processing information. Starting this blog and reflecting on my experiences in writing has taken my yoga practice to a whole new level. You may not be able to see the difference, but I feel stronger, more still and confident.

So, it took 46.5 hours of Bikram Yoga and 17 blog posts to figure out that writing is one of the fundamental vehicles for change in my life. I’ve always been a good observer. But now I also understand that in order to acquire any new or modify my existing behaviour, I need to jot down my thoughts and ideas, organise them visually and draw my own conclusions. And I enjoy it, too. The founder of Bikram Yoga said: “Practice yoga every day for 30 days and I promise you a new life”. I may still have my old life, but from now on, it will include plenty of writing, because I intend to do a lot more learning.



8 thoughts on “Taken by surprise

  1. I enjoyed reading through your blog during your 30 Day Challenge. On the post about Standing Bow, for me its still a work in progress. Some days held well with pretty good (never great) extension, other days falling out during the longer first set and sometimes even during the shorter second set, which pisses me off but I try to let go of that thought immediately. I found the first step in making progress in that pose was to try LESS hard, to focus on the stillness in the balance and gradually kick out and stretch up, focusing more on the stillness less on the effort. Then my balance got better, my extension got deeper and higher and I started holding the posture all the way through more often than not. I am still mesmerized by pictures of perfect standing bows where the legs are straight up and down like a split. Wow…beautiful.

    I’ve never done Bikram in another country but that’s one of the cool things about it. It’s the same everywhere and even if you don’t understand the language, you know the poses and the sequence, so I imagine you can go along with it and figure it out. Maybe one day I’ll get to experience that as you did in Germany.

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