At Hot Yoga Louisville, about 90% or more of the classes I've taken have been Bikram classes. You could say that I'm quite good at it, not to toot my own horn. I have the focus and the endurance to take on those 26 postures, but...that's the thing. We do the same 26 postures every time. How many asanas (postures) exist in the world of yoga? Hundreds?
Last night, I headed to a Vinyasa class because I wanted a challenge. Vinyasa classes are flow classes where we are constantly moving with our breath, and we do poses that one usually thinks of when they think of yoga (e.g. downward facing dog). While Bikram tends to be more of a legs/back workout, Vinyasa is definitely more of an upper body workout for me. Moving into a pushup position from being flat on the ground? I don't think so.
Our instructor, Carrie, has a very gentle voice, but she wasn't fooling anyone with what she had planned last night. It only took a few minutes for sweat to start falling down my face, but I pushed on, only stopping my flow once to gulp some water. Before class started, she told us to practice non-violence in thought, speech, or action. It reminded me of a post that I wrote over a year ago. Here is an excerpt:
A couple of weeks ago, the instructor at my Bikram class was talking about violence. Have you ever considered that some of the things you do may be viewed as violence towards yourself? I'm talking about excessive drinking, smoking, other drugs, eating unhealthy foods, etc. Those instances are examples of physical abuse towards yourself. Would you force someone to smoke cigarettes? Would you force someone to do drugs? I would certainly hope not. If you wouldn't force someone to abuse their body, why would you abuse your own?
One thing that I didn't mention was the concept of thought. Have you considered, regardless of whether the thought is towards yourself or someone else, that negative thoughts are violent? Most people consider violence to be a physical act, but I believe it can manifest itself in all forms. The violent mind is probably the most dangerous form of all because perhaps it is the toughest to decipher. The mind is unbelievably powerful and complex. Here's a quote from a post on zenhabits:
"Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend." - Bruce Lee
The way I interpret that quote is that one must strive to be in the present as much as possible in order to achieve mental clarity. Water goes with the flow (literally), and it adapts to its environment. In Vinyasa classes, you create a flow of poses that moves with the flow of your breath. If you lose your breath then you'll disrupt the flow. So be like water my friends!