Here you are again. Going to your Bikram class, your 4th one this week.
You walk in and set up your mat, 2nd row, two mirror panels in from the left, Hydroflask (with exactly 9 cubes of ice) on the bottom right corner of your mat. You lay your towel down, one pat down on the top corner, two pulls on the bottom edge to smooth it out.
Your teacher walks in and begins class. Pranayama, 3 postures, Party Time. You wipe your right eyebrow. Exactly like yesterday.
Standing series done. You guzzle your ice cold water, chew exactly 2 pieces of ice. Just like the last class.
Scratch, scratch. You adjust your shorts, another right eyebrow. Just like before. Or…is this the same class? Are we in the same day? Is this a time loop? IS THAT A GROUNDHOG???
Ah, yes, we are such creatures of habit. And over time, your Bikram class can start to feel like Groundhog Day 1993.
Even more so for us teachers when we teach. I can tell you where all of my regulars will set up in the room. I know which postures they’ll sit out, which they’ll fall out of, and which ones they always hold perfectly. Yeah, I can even tell you when they’ll adjust their shorts!
Personally, I think breaking habits is pretty simple. Having a regular (and mindful) Bikram Yoga practice, as repetitive as it may seem, has actually taught me how to break and change habit loops.
The first step is always awareness. Next time you step into the hot room, pay attention to where and how you set up your space. See you if you do the exact same thing the time after that. Pay attention to when you wipe your eyebrow and after which posture do you always sit down to take a break.
When you become aware of your habits, you can consciously choose a different course of action.
This is useful not just on your mat. I never did quite understand what Bikram meant when he said “yoga is everything” until I really started to hone in on my own habits. You have a habitual pattern to everything that you do.
Sometimes it makes your life easier, such as not having to Google your way to work everyday. Sometimes it causes major damage, like the smoke break after each meal. But some habits are just unnecessary, like wiping the sweat off yourself in class (cuz it’s comin’ right back!).
So why not, go set up your mat somewhere else in the room. Try 7 cubes of ice, instead of 9. See if it makes your practice, and your life, more connected and mindful.