I hate Bikram Yoga. No, let me rephrase- I dislike Bikram Yoga. I go, now, almost every day. Each day, I know it is going to be the same, but different. The poses never change, but my body is always different. Not unlike, one’s golf game- my yoga game is always changing. One day, I think I have it completely  mastered, and the next day, I’m lucky if I can stand in tree pose without tumbling over.

As I started to go to yoga more, I came up with a strategy that helps me get through each 90 minute, sweltering hot class. I take it posture by posture. No longer, do I go in there with the dread, anticipation, and anxiety of a 110 degree, 90 minute, sweat fest- I just become present in the moment of each posture, in the now, and centered. Whenever my mind starts to race forward to anticipating the next posture, or looking at the clock, or hanging on for dear life as the instructor ever-so-slowly counts down the remaining seconds of the pose, I breathe and return to center.

Obviously, this story has a relevant parable to life. Our life is a constant hamster wheel of anticipatory arriving. Once each goal is fulfilled, a new one is created, and the waiting and anticipation begins. We stifle our happiness as well as our contentment when we hold to the “arrival fallacy” (as Tal Ben Shahar in his book “Happier” coins it). The idea that once we finally obtain our goal, then and only then, will we be happy. The problem with this, is that if we subscribe to this philosophy, our happiness rests on only a few short moments in life, rather than the long journey it takes to arrive at these destinations.

Perhaps another metaphor will help to demonstrate…Picture yourself commuting to work. You’re in a constricting pair of pants and suit jacket. Your toes are crammed into those painful, yet fashionable pointy toe shoes, and you are hurriedly rushing to get to work on time. Tomorrow, your day will repeat. What if you could take off those pointy toe shoes and slip into sandals at least? What if you turned on the radio and targeted that place in our minds, associated with happiness, that is stimulated by music? What if you began to smell the scent of orange trees as you coasted down the highway, or started deep breathing and meditation, focusing on being present there on the road?

Its simple changes like this, that reframe our daily lives. Instead of anticipating the next thing, thinking “then I can finally relax,” look at how you can slip on your sandals during the journey. Nietzsche once said, ““Not every end is the goal. The end of a melody is not its goal, and yet if a melody has not reached its end, it has not reached its goal. A parable.”

Bikram yoga is such a fantastic metaphor for life. There are moments of great intensity and challenge. Yet each time we return to breath, we are able to calm the heart and the mind. It is through this practice that we learn to go from moments of absolute difficulty and hardship to moments of tranquil peace and relaxation, all by just taking a few deep breaths and refocusing on the moment.

Dr. Colleen Long is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and practices in the Los Angeles area under the supervision of Dr. Richard Oelberger (PSY22186) . Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. All public speaking/media event requests handled through FreudTV (info@FreudTV.com).



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