I love Bikram Yoga. Some of you are probably familiar with Bikram Yoga, sometimes referred to as “Hot Yoga” or “I-can’t-believe-you-would-subject-yourself-to-that Yoga.” Bikram Yoga, created by Indian yoga master Bikram Choudhury, is a 90-minute Hatha Yoga series conducted in a room heated to 105 degrees. It is a powerful combination of exercise, meditation, and spiritual renewal. It has, quite honestly, changed my life.
This yoga practice continues to teach me not only about body and breath, but about my relationship with the Creator. How does sweating buckets in Cobra Pose lead one to contemplate God? Good question. Here’s an example.
As I mentioned, a Bikram Yoga studio is heated to 105 degrees. To maintain this temperature, the instructor must make small adjustments throughout the class, turning up or down the heater, turning on or off the ceiling fans, and even occasionally opening the doors or windows of the studio to let in fresh air. In the midst of an especially difficult class, where the heat in the room feels as if it is suffocating me alive, there are few greater pleasures I have experienced than the moment when my yoga instructor opens one of the studio windows to let in some fresh, cool air. Usually, I am lying on my back in Savasana (Dead-Body Pose), and as I stare at the white ceiling and fluorescent lights above I begin to feel an exquisite wave of fresh air slowly pass over me. It is pure, total relief.
My sense is that God designs our lives in a similar fashion. Most of the time, we work and struggle. We go from pose to pose, sweating, trying to grow, running into limitations and imperfections, and expending a great amount of blood, sweat and tears going from day to day. Then, and we all have known these moments, God provides us with a moment of sweet relief. Maybe it’s a Shabbat dinner at home with family. Maybe it’s a nature walk, a drink with friends, or one of those hard-to-predict moments that can happen anytime and anywhere, when, at least for a minute or two, everything feels like it will be alright. At these moments, God is opening the window. In the midst of our earthly struggle to learn and grow, the open window rejuvenates us, reminding us that there is meaning in the struggle, that the Holy One is here with us, instructing us, and helping us to keep stretching forward.