My Breakup with Bikram: How Vinyasa Flow Yoga Stole My Heart

As someone who had been practicing the same Bikram yoga for over a decade, I had entered a deep level of comfort. I had become quite knowledgeable, and I was able to offer friends and family that same level of expertise. Everything changed when my former yoga studio announced that it would be moving to a new building, and that its Bikram classes would not be offered. I was crushed. In a moment of weakness, I decided to go to a Bikram class for a friend who had been encouraging me to try it.

In early 2011, I was a newlywed, and my new husband was an avid and devoted practitioner of Bikram yoga. I was just as dedicated, and was extremely envious of his skills and abilities. At the time, I was getting ready to give birth, and my husband was teaching me the basic Bikram flow. I was also studying to be a yoga teacher, and I was eager to learn how an advanced Bikram flow would help me and my students learn and grow.

About two years ago, I went to Bikram yoga class at an East Village studio. I don’t know what I was expecting – maybe to meet a guy who looked like Brad Pitt, or to step into a world of mind-blowing spiritual enlightenment – but I was pretty busy with my own life and didn’t realize how much I needed Bikram until I was back on the street after a 20-minute class.

I was a monogamous yoga practitioner when I first started.

I was a monogamous yoga practitioner when I first started.

I was a monogamous yoga practitioner when I first started.

However, I had two children, a full-time job, and a busy life in New York, so traveling to California for Bikram instruction was not an option (nor was paying almost $20,000).

Ashtanga Vinyasa was where I started my teacher training. I was first perplexed, because going beyond one’s comfort zone is never easy.

Vinyasa became my absolute favorite! For the first time in almost a year, I returned to a Bikram class. It has a special place in my heart, and I liked it, but not with the same zeal as I previously did. Here are four reasons why Vinyasa Flow yoga has altered the way I think about yoga and how I practice it.

Chaturanga Arms is the first in the series of Chaturanga Arms.

“Do you work out with weights?”

“Nope. “These are my Chaturanga arms,” says the narrator.

Many yogis are likely to have experienced this discussion. Vinyasa yoga is a kind of strength exercise that helps to develop lean muscle all throughout the body. Yogis who frequently flow (hello, Madonna!) have a lot of definition in their arms.

In its complete form, Chaturanga Dandasana, or Four-Limbed Staff Pose, is a push-up. We are aware of form and breath as we flow through our Vinyasa, and we are also performing push-ups throughout our practice. This arm strength is excellent practice for more difficult arm balances.

2. Transcendence and Music

The combination of yoga and music has resulted in some of my most sublime yoga experiences. Sound vibrations impact emotions; as emotions enter the heart, our vibration rate changes, assisting us in opening our whole self.

Flowing to the holy sounds of Bob Marley has also provided as a strong current for a transformational flow, while experiencing music during yoga class has extended my understanding of ethereal sounds from Deva Primal and Snatam Kaur to the chanting of Krishna Das.

Super popular songs, on the other hand, should be avoided since yoga aims to detach the senses, and music should not interfere with that.

Music has the potential to be a really holy component of yoga practice. Vinyasa Flow has taught me about the advantages of chants and words outside of the body, as well as how they enter the body more profoundly throughout our practice.

3. Grace on the Move

“Breath-synchronized movement” is what Vinyasa implies. It’s a sequence of postures that move with the force of our breaths in and out.

Vinyasa motions are fluid, and as we flow with our breath as our guidance, the practice takes on a dance-like quality, which is why it’s also known as Vinyasa Flow or simply Flow Yoga.

Vinyasa is beneficial to both the body and the mind. Sweat removes pollutants and re-energizes our body on a physical level. Mentally, synchronized breathing calms the mind’s chatter and aids in the removal of any energy blockages in our body.

4. Inquisitiveness vs. Predictability

I felt accomplished when doing Bikram yoga. I was always curious as to what would happen next, including what the teacher would say. It was to be expected. I understand now that I was depending on regularity as I descended to new depths.

Now, I approach my work with a sense of wonder. Each teacher has their own approach; some read from the sutras, while others include chanting and even go through the yamas and niyamas in more depth. As I lay down on my mat, I like not knowing which sequence will greet my body, mind, and soul.

The Vinyasa Flow method of yoga has enabled me to be more vulnerable and expand my self-awareness. In our practice and in our lives, changing our thoughts, opening our hearts, and creating room for change may frequently lead to increased self-awareness.

“Those who are unable of changing their thoughts are incapable of changing anything.” George Bernard Shaw (George Bernard Shaw)

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