In today’s increasingly busy and stressful world, it’s difficult to find the time for yourself.  For those who have begun a Bikram Yoga practice….Bravo! In the midst of your busy day, you’ve made a commitment to yourself. Now, here you are in a 90 minute hot yoga class, ready to take the time, yet your mind won’t let you relax.

In the Bikram Yoga room, you’ll meet yourself face-to-face in the mirror.  You have 90 minutes to work, with the guidance of a trained teacher, on connecting with your body to perform 26 postures and two breathing exercises which strengthen your overall health, wellness, and vitality.  The Bikram Yoga series, always the same 26 postures, is done in room heated to 105-110 degrees F and 40-50% humidity allowing you to relax, focus more deeply, and let your mind go while you perform each posture to the best of your ability.

So what makes it so difficult?   You know just what to do, so why is it so much more difficult to keep focus some days than others?

In the yoga room, distractions which you create or choose to acknowledge, hold you back in your practice.   “The room is too hot”,  “The room is too cold”, “I ate too much”, “I think I’m dehydrated”, “This teacher is annoying”, “My shorts are sliding off”, “Wow! I need a pedicure”, “Why didn’t I eat something for breakfast?”, “What time is it?”, “I don’t do this posture very well”, “Who is that bendy girl in the front?”, “The sweat is making my face itch”, “I am almost out of water”…and the mind goes on and on and on.

Distractions are a daily challenge in keeping our focus and staying on our path.  The mind is a collection of thoughts and ideas you’ve gathered, and often not supportive of your true desires.  Through your yoga practice, you can learn to turn off the mind and connect with your true self.  Even if only for a moment, you can realize who you are by letting go of your comfortable, habitual distractions which come in the form of your very own thoughts.

In Bikram Yoga, you are given tools to help you focus.  First, you will use the mirror to actually see your body and focus on your movements in the postures.  Next, teachers give you specific commands to lead you into and out of each posture. You don’t have to think.  By moving at the same time as the teacher speaks, you are truly in the moment and connecting your mind with your body.  In addition, the heat creates a challenging environment, which forces you to keep your mind focused to prevent running out of the room.  Bright lights are another tool that help us stay aware of our bodies throughout the class.

Often times, your mind turns these “tools” into distractions.  The student next to you is sweating too much, the teacher is too loud, the new student behind you is moving around too much in the mirror, you feel like everyone is looking at you in this bright room, etc….  How can you keep your focus?

The answer: Practice.  As you keep up a consistent practice, you’ll notice it’s 90% mind over the matter.  You’ll choose to follow the distraction, or you’ll choose to keep your focus.  The concept is simple, but distractions are plentiful.  When you are faced with a difficult moment in class, use it as an opportunity to practice concentrating. Bring your focus back to your breath, again and again.  When you’re ready, continue in the posture by moving with the teacher’s words.

Bikram Yoga classes are designed to minimize distractions with strict guidelines such as specific water breaks, lining mats up on the lines, facing the same way, moving together in the postures, scripted dialogue to guide students through the postures, staying in the room for the entire 90 minutes and of course, teaching students how to breathe.  By completing the same 26 posture series, and repeating each pose, in each class you will go deeper and deeper into your understanding of the postures, yoga, and yourself.

You are the object of your own practice, and the practice is a journey that will take you to places only limited by you.  So start simple… listen and breathe.  And let nothing steal your peace!