With Sue Richards – 

I like a good challenge. I like to stretch beyond my comfort zone and push myself to the edge of what I perceive to be my physical and mental limits. So, when I discovered Bikram yoga, I knew that I had found a discipline that suited my personality and would push me to my limits. I didn’t realise that the
life lessons I would learn from the practice would also translate into my everyday life and how I coach.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my Bikram practice. I love that the practice is the same each time so that I can that I sense myself getting better and more focused with each class. I love that it requires me to focus on my breath for 90 minutes and stay with the unpleasant feelings and just tune into what I can do. I love that the teachers push us to the limit with their direct instructions, but also know that it’s ok to lie down if it’s too much. You really can go much further with a guide. I don’t like that some of the postures are really difficult for me and I look pretty ridiculous attempting them. I also don’t like being upside down with salty, sweat stinging my eyes but staying in the posture. Also, it feels so damn hot sometimes that all I want to do is pack up my mat and get the hell out of there but know that I am not going anywhere.

I’ve been doing Bikram for a year now. 3 times a week, sometimes 4! I know the sequence of the postures and when I attend the silent Bikram (poses without instructions) the energy of the group moving for 90 minutes in silent, sweaty unison is just beautiful.

So, here are the 5 things that Bikram has taught me that now guide how I live and coach.

Each Bikram posture requires mindful preparation before going into the pose. The set-up is just as important and at time takes just as long as the execution. It is all part of the pose. At times we are waiting for or just jumping straight into the “doing” of life without fully preparing or thinking preparation is important. Take the time, do it consciously, it is all connected and really important.

Coaching is about the preparation and examining things from all angles before executing.

Bikram teachers say this often. Where your eyes are your body will follow.

Coaching is also about focusing on where you want to go.

You don’t want to use extra energy in Bikram. When moving into postures it is important to make just simple, efficient movements. No need for extra.

In coaching, we remove what is not necessary and to be efficient with your actions, less thought, more doing. Don’t waste mental and physical energy.

The Bikram teacher will often give the instruction to set the intention before starting the pose. Choose to believe you can do it. Get really focused. Fully commit.

Coaching helps to remove obstacles and decide you are going to do it. Commit to it.

When things get tough in the class, we are instructed to return to the breath. This is a barometer of how we are travelling. If the breath is choppy and short, we need to pull back. If we are holding our breath, we need to breathe. It is the first thing we do when we are born, and we breathe out when we die.

In coaching, watch your energy, watch your breath, are you shallow breathing? Try deep breathing.

In between each pose is a time to relax. Don’t tense up and wait for the next posture, fully let go and relax. Don’t try and predict, just fully let go. Also, there’s a chance to fully acknowledge and let go of the last posture that we have done. We have done our best, congratulate and let go. We cannot change the past but learn for the future.

A coaching session is a chance to let go and pause – you have done enough. It is a chance to reflect and not change the past but learn from it going forward.

Bikram has made me a more connected coach. Supporting my clients to get through the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings and to increase their resilience as they focus on the life that they want to create for themselves.

Well thought out plans and actions, executed mindfully and at the right time become a joy in themselves regardless of the outcome. They did their best.

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