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Teacher of the month: Peter Finlon

BYPS teacher Peter Finlon shares about his practice and why he keeps coming back for more.

I started practicing on New Years Day in 2009, which makes 6.5 years of practice.  I was (poorly) recovering from a surgery and unable to go to the gym, and a coworker recommended that I try Bikram.  I was frustrated and desperate at that point, bought one month unlimited, and honestly had very low expectations for myself. I was surprised to notice a dramatic change in my mobility, stamina, ability to sleep, and mood. I ended up going nearly every day that month, and started a 30 day challange immediately thereafter.  In fall 2010, I completed teacher training.

The biggest changes occured in the muscular adhesions that resulted from improper wound healing, and the emotional issues connected to the places in which I was physically stuck.  I started out barely able to lift my arms over my head for half moon and completely incapable of keeping them straight!  Illness, injury, and immobility can have an immense psychological impact, and I know that first hand.  My body felt broken and alien.  Doing something athletic to address and and even reverse physical limitations in a fun and supportive environment made me feel strong again.  This experience lead me to become a massage therapist, a teacher, and recently, to finish my degree and pursue a career in public health. 

I keep coming back because my body is in constant flux and the practice helps keep me aware of that.  Especially living in New York, it is easy to be overwhelmed with outside stimuli and that can take focus away from what is going on physically, mentally, emotionally with myself.  Bikram yoga guarantees that for 90 minutes, I have no escape, no “out”, no distractions, no choice but to tune in.

My advice to new yogis ties into the above.  Don’t be afraid to tune in!  It is normal to try to create special personal rituals and distractions to avoid being with yourself and the practice for 90 minutes.  We all try to escape at some point.  Go to that scary place in which you don’t have that extra sweat-wiper towel, the cell phone,  that different version of triangle that makes you feel stronger and more capable, or that mental to-do list in savasana that keeps your mind busy.  If we get rid of these road blocks and directly face whatever is scaring us in the room, we’re building useful neural pathways that will allow us to do the same when faced with fears and challenges outside of the hot room.