By Niki Hayes
If you have ever met Bikram Choudhury you know that he has two passions in his life; yoga and cars. He constantly compares the human to the car. He says, "I fix the human chassis, I tune up human engines, I recharge human batteries, and I adjust human transmissions". In his yoga classes he uses analogies to help people understand the yoga in terms of cars. As a 27-year-old woman with not a whole lot of experience with cars, some of these analogies are easy to understand and some have taken some time to figure out. So here is a quick overview of some of Bikram's most common car references in the yoga room and what I have gathered they mean.
"Bentleys and Rolls-Royces"
Sure I know that these are two of the nicest cars money can buy, but why does Bikram bring them up all the time? Well, Bikram has bought numerous vintage cars that were "hopeless wrecks" and he has restored them with his own two hands. He now owns a garage full of beautifully restored Bentleys and Rolls-Royces. He says, "the only thing that gives me as much pleasure as seeing a junked car come back to life is seeing a junked human being come back to life through yoga. I show people how to lead Rolls-Royce- and Bentley-quality lives, even those who start out on the scrap heap." We all walk into the yoga with our "junk"; whether it physical, mental, emotional, and slowly we begin to restore ourselves.
"This is the Gas Station"
Bikram says, "you can't go anywhere without the gas". In class he tells us how we are "filling up our tanks" and gaining energy. But how can you gain energy from working your butt off for 90 minutes in a hot room?! He explains by saying, "First, you are in tune, so you operate and process fuel more efficiently (awesome, we become hybrids of ourselves!) You can go farther on less gas. Through the breathing exercises you are generating vast amounts of prana, life energy, so naturally you feel more energized. On a medical level, you are taking in more air, oxygenating all your cells and charging them with energy." By practicing yoga, although very physically demanding, you actually create more energy in your body than you had before, essentially taking yourself to the gas station.
"A Little Jump-Start"
Everyone has their story when they come to yoga; in-shape, not-in-shape, happy, depressed, rich, poor, in love, lonely, you name it. But as these fellow souls unite in yoga class, things start to change, especially for those who are suffering. Bikram says, "other people's happiness and success rubs off on you. It's like when its cold outside and your car doesn't start. That doesn't mean that you take the car and dump it in the junkyard, right? You just need a jump. There's nothing wrong with you or your car; you just need a little help. And the belief the teacher and the other students in yoga class have in you jump-starts your own cold battery. They charge you with their faith, and then, after a while, you recognize your own faith, your own power." By coming to yoga class, even when things aren't going right in life, you give yourself the opportunity to connect with positive, like-minded people who are willing to share their energy and joy with you.
By practicing yoga you begin to restore your body, mind and spirit, and molding yourself into the best version of yourself, into your potential, into your own Rolls Royce. And although life may be busy and you may find it hard to make time for yoga, remember that the yoga is creating more energy in your body, fueling your tank, so that you can accomplish more throughout your day. And through trying times, which everyone will experience at some point, keep coming to yoga, allowing other yogis to help jump start your faith in yourself, ultimately helping you to realize your true (horse) power.