Every class, we enter the hot room as individuals, coming from our separate lives and unique experiences, and we leave the hot room as individuals, heading back out into our own place in the world, but while we are inside, we are a community, connected through our practice.
Each of us has our own story to tell. One woman always sets up in the back corner where it is warmest. She comes straight from work on the night shift. Another finishes up a work call on her cellphone before heading into the studio. Another puts her children on the school bus and dashes to class. I often walk past her on my way to the studio. One gentleman always comes in late, but settles in quietly. Someone is from England. Someone else is from China. And so it goes.
We all make it to the studio independently, yet inside, we become one. We form a whole, a community, something greater than the sum of its parts. We greet each other, smile, shift mats so everyone can see, and practice. And when class is over, we head our separate ways, but we remain connected somehow. I love my Bikram yoga community.
The cast of characters is always in flux. A few have been in class with me from the very start of my practice. Some have changed their bodies and their lives dramatically during that time. Regulars come and go, and there are always new people, which is great. It is a welcoming community and it doesn’t take long for the new folks to blend in with the regulars.
Teachers are also an important part of the community. At my studio, teachers work a certain time slot for several months, before rotating, exposing those of us that practice at a particular time of day to new teachers with different insights. I have been at the studio long enough that these rotations sometimes bring back an old favorite teacher from a prior time period. That is always a lot of fun. The teachers get to know our names, and we theirs, which brings us closer as a group. The teachers also practice with us when they are not teaching.
Sometimes I run into people from the studio out in the “real world.” This is always a shock to the system! Many of the students live in the neighborhood of the studio, so it happens fairly often. We greet each other with a warm smile and a somewhat surprised look, as if we can’t exactly place each other, but are happy to see each other nonetheless. It takes a moment for the brain to connect the dots since it is so out of context, particularly as the person is usually not soaked to the skin in sweat! We usually don’t stop to talk, but there is a shared connectedness in that moment, that keeps a smile on my face for several blocks.
Recently, I have come across Bikram yogis in other parts of my life. Often it is someone I already respected and admired for his or her work ethic, attitude and overall presence. We Bikram yogis seem to attract one another somehow, and once we make the Bikram connection, the relationship is sealed at another level.
I am grateful for my Bikram yoga connections, both in and out of the hot room and through this blog. It is wonderful to be part of something so big, yet so intimate. And so important to my overall well-being, and likely yours as well.
Readers, do you enjoy a feeling of community with other Bikram yogis?