What is effort in the context of Bikram yoga? What does it mean and why do you need it?
Effort, simply put, is going out of your way to do a thing. Some students interpret ‘effort’ as meaning they have to fight to get into every posture, kill themselves in every class, and when that gets too easy start doing doubles. As a teacher is is great to see this fire and attitude but sometimes students can get in their own way. If they’re feeling less than 100% they might skip class because they don’t want to be less than their best. Or if they struggle through the postures one day they beat themselves up for doing “badly”.
It is important to remember that effort is not a fixed point. Some people can easily do 60 seconds of standing head to knee. Their arena for effort might be controlling the breath, or meditating. Other folks will struggle to lock their knee at all — their arena for effort is creating a strong foundation for the posture. The point is that effort is individual; it is unique; it changes from day to day. On a sunny afternoon, ‘effort’ may be having the discipline to come to class. Other days, it may mean using what you learn in the Bikram studio to keep your cool when someone treats you rudely.
Effort is something you have to define for yourself every day. Look at the patterns of your life and yoga practice. You will see places where you’re coasting – in Bikram poses, at work, in a friendship – open your heart to this awareness and commit to making an effort. Nobody can define your effort as well as you. Trust yourself, work hard, and see what changes!