Written by Bill Thwaites
For over ten years, practicing a fully blown 90 minute Bikram style of hot yoga class 4-5 times a week, I kept telling myself to be patient, it’s all in the journey, it’s not about doing the posture perfectly, it about accepting your body in this moment, stop beating yourself up, you’ll get there in the end.
But, as the years went by, my flexibility didn’t improve, my battle with arthritis was on a downhill slope, my joint pain was progressively getting worse, and my stress levels were not that much better either.
To figure out how to heal my rapidly degrading body, I plunged feet first into the yoga world, and, me being me, I became the highly qualified, highly sort after, senior yoga teacher that I am today.
My students include the rich and famous, Lady Gaga, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert d Junior, and so many more. As a senior teacher, I mentor new yoga teachers emerging from the teacher training programs.
Teachers and students would point out how strong my practice was, but for me, every class was like Groundhog Day.
It became blindingly apparent that I was not alone. So many people who practice all styles of yoga do not gain anything like the improvements in flexibility, strength, or general health & vitality they had hoped for. Yet, they continue to practice in the belief that their struggle would one day yield results.
Not only was progress slow for myself and my students but I became increasingly alarmed by the number of yoga teachers injuring themselves in pursuit of mastering their yoga practice.
What was wrong with this picture?
I did the unthinkable…
I took myself out of my safe and supportive yoga bubble world.
I studied the latest science in the field of health & vitality in biomechanics and the neuroscience behind the processes required to master any mind-body activity.
I learned how the body heals itself and the cognitive process required to master any physical activity.
It felt like I was stepping into my grandfather's shoes. He was is a famous bacteriologist and was the original discoverer of bacteriophages back in 1915, which today many scientists are saying will solve the antibiotic-resistant superbug problem we are currently experiencing. But that’s a whole different health topic.
What I learned blew my mind.
Armed with my greater insight into how the body heals itself I re-examined the way we practice & teach yoga. I went back to basics and changed my whole approach. The results were astounding.
In 4-weeks, I had gained more from my yoga practice than I had in the previous six years. I no longer felt like I was simply going through the motions. I started to conquer my battle with arthritis, surprisingly very quickly. My flexibility improved so much I was able to ride my bike again, a passion I’d stopped many years earlier.
The hundreds of people who have subsequently attended my workshops have also experienced the same radical change in their flexibility, strength, and stillness of mind, in just 4-weeks.
Yoga can change your world, enhancing your daily life, making you more flexible, active, agile, supple, livelier, brighter, drastically reduced stress levels giving you the capacity to live an abundant life.
But practicing yoga, can so easily, give you nothing.
Nothing is gained by continually trying to perfect the art of getting INTO a posture, though unfortunately, that's what too many people do.
Yoga is about the application of strength to OPEN OUT the body with an aware and claim mind.
The typical mindset utilized in all the various styles of yoga, including the Bikram style of Hot Yoga, is to get yourself INTO a posture the best you can.
Getting yourself INTO a posture and OPENING OUT to a posture are polar opposite mindsets, requiring completely different muscle groups.
Your mind & body conversation is different.
You Cannot Do Both.
Only when you OPEN your body is the body & mind able to heal & strengthen itself.
There are zero benefits of stretching yourself INTO a posture.
Your studio class is unchanged - just your approach enhanced, and your results explode.
All it takes is 4-weeks to rewire your body & mind communication processes to apply your strength to open your body correctly. You just need to understand the fundamental steps you must journey through and the questions you need to ask your body to solve.
There is too much smoke & mirrors in the world of yoga that make it more complicated than it really is. Yoga is straightforward, even if you have a physical wreck of a body. Yogas power comes from the fact that it's so simple.
The typical way yoga is taught can be best summed up with a Mark Twain quote, “It’s not what we don’t know that gets us in trouble. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t’ so”.