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Spring Clean Challenge: Clearing your mind
05.04.2012 ● Olga Allon
I’ve always been someone who thrives on new challenges. It’s what first drew me to Bikram – and what draws a lot of other people, too. I suspect it’s because whether you’re a beginner or have been coming for years, Bikram offers you the space constantly to set yourself fresh challenges. Whether it’s pushing yourself to the next level through the 30-day challenge, or simply working on a particular posture you find difficult.
I’ve never worked out why I need to challenge myself so much. I wish I had - it might make my life easier! (If any of you have found your own answers to that particular question, then please feel free to share them!) I think it’s partly because I had ambition drilled into me from a young age, but it’s also the satisfaction I get from achieving each one. And, in physical challenges, the endorphins give me a natural high too, which is pretty addictive.
I love the feeling of creating something from nothing - whether it’s changing the shape of my body, or designing and building a new yoga studio. It’s incredibly satisfying to move from the idea to seeing it take shape and become reality.
Being someone who needs constant challenges has its downside though. A huge challenge in itself is how to switch off. I know lots of people find the dead body pose (savasna) interesting exactly for this reason. The challenge is to do less and, for some, this is the hardest part of the class.
Similarly, for teachers, the challenge might be to say less in a class. To leave enough space for silence to enter.
I still find meditation really tough – but I know how important it is for me to have time to quieten my mind. Even ten minutes a day can make all the difference and, for me, running and yoga are where it all falls into place. They’re both physical, so I get the high, but they leave space for my mind to become quiet. They encourage me to focus on my breathing, on finding the rhythm.
One of the biggest bonuses of the Ibiza retreat is it allows me to do them both in such a gorgeous setting. When I’m there, I always go for a morning run along the coastal path with Simi, one of the other teachers, and whoever else wants to join us. It’s such a beautiful spot – you could always walk it if you’re new to running. We end with a dip in the sea and then go back to start the morning meditation session. It’s such a perfect start to the day.
Everyone needs a spring clean and Ibiza, especially combined with yoga and running, is the best there is. I promise there’s nothing like them for clearing the mind.