Raw, adjective: 6. ignorant, inexperienced, or untrained: a raw recruit.


I knew I was missing my regular practice and feeling mushy and made of frosting and french fries after the last few weeks' intensive travels, but geez.  This is bad.

So, I rarely practice with Mr. B these days, but every now and then — especially after a few weeks' of plane flights and long car rides and the like — I get a hankering for a good old-fashioned sweat and a nice hamstring stretch and and some deep backbends and a few other ill-conceived postures with made-up Sanskrit names that don't quite match the asana names everyone else in the global yoga world has somehow managed to agree upon for the last 5,000 years.

(Sorry. Couldn't resist a little dig. You'll see why in a minute.)

Sooooooo....I roll into class this afternoon super excited to wring myself out (actually on time, amazing!) and the room heats up and we power through standing series and I'm just so glad to be practicing again that I'm bull-dozing through it and on serious mental auto-pilot watching my breath. Beginning to feel the ease and the relief in my joints again and the flexibility return to my hamstrings and my toes.

We move through the spine strengthening series and Dhanurasana feels stellar. Ahhhhh. Welcome home, body.

Then we get to Hero Pose. Which is a personal favorite of mine. And which, in a Bikram class, I usually bust into right away and stay for one long long long hold instead of taking the usual two shorter sets.

But, dude.

The Bikram teacher — a really sweet twenty-something woman, super sweet — looks over at me and says, "Rachel, slow down and follow my dialogue for Supta Virasana, please." And I yell back at her, "I know the alignment, I've done this 3,000 times!!" 

Out loud.

In front of the whole class.

And in front of one of my old students.

Whom I didn't realize was there.

Until afterwards she comes up to me, warmly as ever, with her same old vibrant, wide smile, and I realize I just yelled at the Bikram teacher in front of her.


Karmic smack, officially delivered.

Say what you want about Bikram yoga's militant style and its annoyingly-preachy dialogue and its questionable physiological cues and the way that it encourages its teachers to put the smack down on anyone who tries to modify anything. That's mostly fair and true criticism, for sure. Say that a yoga-asana practice is not about fluffing the teacher's ego. It's not about fueling power trips. It's not about a teacher's control. It's about the asana itself, it's about your living, breathing body and what you're feeling, it's about listening to what that particular bag of bones is telling you it needs and feels and wants and loves and dreads. Because that body (and the breath that fuels it) is your ultimate teacher.

True, all.

But that's not the point.

I was in Bikram's house, and when you're in somebody's house, ya gotta honor their rules. Right?!?

I was out of place.

Thinking I knew what was up just 'cause I'd logged a few classes over the years.

I should've shut my frosting-filled mouth and slowed down and honored the teacher's rhythm.

She was just doing her job. And she deserved my respect. Period.

(Speaking of ego: I got lost in mine, wouldn't you say?

Wanting a deeper release. Craving my familiar Supta Virasana. Impatient with the slow newbies in the room who weren't as familiar with the alignment as I was. Selfishly barreling right into the pose when I should've been listening with the mind of someone who was hearing the instructions for the very first time.)

Okay, Universe, I get the message, loud and clear:
Beginner's mind, beginner's mind, beginner's mind!!!

Karmic smack, um, officially, officially, delivered.

Deep bows to the One that always sets us right.


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