Crowded Bikram Yoga classes can be annoying — it is harder to see yourself in the mirror, your neighbors keep spraying sweat on you and the temperature is usually hotter. Plus, it can be embarrassing to fall out of a posture and land on someone else!
But they are also wonderful. The energy is electric, the teacher is usually more dynamic, and it is exciting to witness our disparate bodies moving together through the postures as one. Incredible and inspiring.
The classes at my studio have been very crowded lately. Usually this does not happen until January when all the New Year’s resolution folks arrive, but since the weather turned colder, classes have been packed. Perhaps some schedule changes at the studio have also contributed.
At first, this congestion created problems. People were shut out of their regular spots in the room. Yoga buddies who always practiced next to one another were separated. The front row yogis still spread themselves out, making it difficult for people in the more crowded second and third rows to see the mirror. There were some cat fights and several teacher-recommended adjustments of mats, but after a week, a new equilibrium was found.
Yogis learned to stagger themselves to avoid hitting their neighbors in the set up for Half Moon Pose and Eagle pose. There was more camaraderie and generosity towards one another since we all now understood the difficulties of practicing with a limited view of the mirror. We learned grace and flexibility as we practiced in less familiar parts of the room. Some of us (guilty!) even started coming to class a bit earlier to nab a spot on the not-so-sunny side of the room which awarded us some extra pre-yoga meditation time.
As we learned to work together before class, the energy in the postures changed too. We gained strength from one another. We worked harder, inspired by watching other yogis challenge themselves. We derived peace from shared stillness. We could see our unity reflected in the mirror during every posture. I started to enjoy these crowded classes, learning to connect my individual practice with that of the broader group.
As with so many things, yoga reflects life more broadly. A sunset is more beautiful when shared with someone else. A theater performance is more thrilling with a robust audience. A meal tastes better with good friends and family at the table. It is the shared enjoyment that enhances the experience. Just like in yoga class.
Readers, do you enjoy crowded Bikram Yoga classes?