At first it felt a little like cheating.
Are you going to Bikram?” They’d ask.
“Umm. No. Other Yoga.” I’d respond, nervously picking at the edge my yoga mat.
It started as a joke. There was “Our Yoga” (Bikram) and then there was “Other Yoga.” That was the yoga that was in other places – the yoga that other people did.
We weren’t disparaging it. We just weren’t into it. It just wasn’t our thing.
But then things changed.
When the studio where I practice moved locations, they started offering Other Yoga (AKA hot Vinyassa) as well as Bikram. Wanting to be supportive of the new endeavor, I went.
And it’s fabulous.
We do Downdog and Child’s pose and Warriors with different numbers. There is music and flow and something I totally can’t do called a bind.
What I love most about this Other Yoga is it’s essential Otherness. It’s just different. I have now been doing Bikram for almost 5 years. It is my heart. It is my home. But this Other Yoga has it’s place, too. There is room in my heart for both.
I now practice Other Yoga once a week, and I’ve been thrilled to realize that it strengthens my Bikram practice. My arms and shoulders are getting more defined. My balance is improving. And because Vinyassa integrates different postures in a different order, it keeps me on my toes. My mind can’t wander, because it’s not like I know we are going from Half-tortoise to Camel to Rabbit. Other Yoga sharpens that muscle of attention, so that when I am back in the Bikram room, I am more focused.
Best of all, Other Yoga has brought me back to the roots of this tradition - I had to return to my beginner’s mind. As I walked into the room, I didn’t even know which direction my mat should face. I struggled to keep up through a basic sun salutation. And with each new posture, each time I fell over trying to attempt it – I learned something new.
I invigorated my capacity for patience and compassion.
It’s so easy to get dogmatic about a specific branch of yoga. Once you’ve found the thing that changes your world and opens your mind, sometimes we narrow our focus too sharply. In doing that, we might close our hearts to something that might help us in a new way as we move along our path. Something that could bring a different glimpse of enlightenment.
Bikram remains my home and my happy place.
But Other Yoga is a pretty nice fling on the side.
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