Living for Today
My French friend Corinne stayed with me while she took Bikram’s yoga teacher training in the spring of 2001.
For nine weeks, she would take two classes a day and then come home to study the dialogue. It was quite the challenge for her to remember phrases like “No light. Japanese ham sandwich” and “It’s going to hurt like hell. Now, go back. Way back. Fall back.”
She encouraged me to go to practice with her one day when was teaching.
So one Saturday I went. I was nervous as I pulled into the unpaved lot behind the world headquarters on La Cienega Boulevard. I paid my dollar to park, walked past a Rolls with a vanity plate Bikram5, and entered the crowded lobby replete with barely clothed students.
When I paid my $20 entrance fee I was warned that I would need more water than the bottle I had brought with me and was told that I couldn’t bring anything green into the studio.
Corinne helped me into the room and told me that she found a place for my mat on the far right side of the studio where it wasn’t too hot. The room was heated to 105 degrees so I couldn’t understand what she was talking about.
As I settled in I spied students jockeying for position under the heat vents. Already I thought that showing up was a mistake.
Then Bikram walked in and welcomed everyone to “Bikram’s torture chamber.” He promised that it’s better to die in the room than to die later of a heart attack.
Listening to him lead class, I thought I was in some sadistic comedy club. “Ladies, if you can’t get your knee to your shoulder, how do you keep your man?” “Ms. Pink, why are you fat? The body is like a gas tank. You overfill it.”
I could barely breathe in the heat and humidity of the room. I kept telling myself if I could run 26.2 miles then I could do 26 & 2 poses and breathing exercises.
But then he instructed us to back bend in camel position. I know yoga is supposed to be spiritual. My experience found me talking to God. “Please don’t let me die. Just let me get through this position.”
I survived class and I was hooked. I knew to only wear black so he wouldn’t call me out in class. Bikram somehow knew how to edit the Hatha poses down to these 26 and create a sequence that would strengthen the core and back and stabilize balance. At the heyday of his success, he had over 1600 studios in over 40 countries.
His classes helped thousands and thousands people heal from injuries and prevent them.
However, his tasteless behavior became grotesque and his empire collapsed when he was finally sued for abusing his young female students.
So, all the good he had achieved was erased by his insatiable greed and ego.
You don’t get credit for what was but for what is. We are only as good as our last action.
As I’m in the second half of my life, I often think about my legacy. No one has ever given a eulogy that said, “She had great hair” nor “she made a lot of good investments.”
It’s the way we make people feel that makes our lives memorable. It’s the actions we take to make this world better. It’s how we give, not how we take.
This morning I practiced 26&2 yoga in my living room heated to 88 degrees. “Feet together. Hips in one line. Breathe.”
I’m still striving to take care of myself so I can take care of others. There is no greater joy than making someone else happy.
You aren’t promised tomorrow. So what can you do today to create positive ripples and make our world a brighter place?
How do you want to be remembered?