Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 23 - Bikram Yoga Challenge: Towel or No Towel? No Towel!

Image: Suat Eman /

I'm feeling the tolls of taking class every day; feeling a bit run down lately. I feel a little silly even mentioning it because I've pretty much decided 90 minutes of workout a day is a bare minimum for me but man, taking Bikram Yoga everyday is HARD! I better get use to it though, I will soon be taking TWO classes a day for 9 weeks. No wimping out now, I'm not even half way through my challenge, I need to pull it together! :)

There was a funny phenomenon in class the other day. One guy, "Jim" moved his towel during Separate Leg Stretching. Jim comes to yoga on a regular basis and knows in Bikram Yoga we discourage turning towels when we do poses that are sideways from the mat. The instructor looked at him with a smirk and he just smiled and said, "my feet slip." That wasn't the funny part.

The funny part was when another student, "Ed", moved his towel to the side in the next posture. I was smiling inside because what they say is so true, it is a group energy thing and when one person sits down or "moves their towel", others all the sudden feel like they need to do the same. You see it more often when people get exhausted and sit out a posture. Others then feel it is ok if they sit out a posture and you can see it in class, all the sudden there will be several sitting out a posture. This isn't my own opinion, I've actually done this, been exhausted but no one else is sitting out so darn it, I'm going to keep going but the second someone takes a knee, THANK GOODNESS, all the sudden it is a sign it is ok to take a breather.

In the Corporate world they call this teamwork, where everyone works together for the common goal, everyone does their part to get the team to the finish line. In yoga that is called group energy. As a group working together we can all make it to the end of class. Even though we are all there for our own individual practice and the improvement of our own bodies, we are also there in a group and as a group we have an amazing power to help each other. It really does help to have all the people in the room working together. If you are feeling tired you get energy and motivation from the others in the room and if you are going strong and on a roll, well, you give energy to those that need it. Working together, everyone makes it to the end of class.

So this little towel episode made me laugh because one guy set in motion an energy that altered the class. For me, it made me want to try even harder to stay in the poses, to see if I could do it, in spite of my feet slipping. And they do slip, I can't really help that, my legs aren't strong enough yet to keep my feet planted. But I keep trying every day.

As a little side note, the reason they discourage moving the towel is to help build up the muscle in your legs. By not using the towel, you are forcing your legs and glutes to do all the work, making them stronger. Using a towel uses the friction of your feet against the towel to keep you planted in the position so although you might be able to hold the position longer or better, you aren't getting the same benefit as a person that is struggling with no towel. 

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