Thursday, 26 July 2012

What Bikram Yoga has taught me about baking.

When I am not working, baking, blogging, or tweeting, I am practicing Bikram's (pronounced "Beek-Rim") yoga. Now, exactly what is Bikram yoga and how does it differ from other types of yoga? Answer: Bikram is a guy. A hardcore yoga guy who created a series of 26 set postures and 2 breathing exercises.

Bikram yoga is a type of Hatha yoga, also known as hot yoga. Yes, it is always done in a hot, heated, and humid practice room. Why? Heat helps your muscles relax, therefore you can stretch better, and it makes you sweat.....buckets. Sweating is a naturally way for your body to cool itself down and detox any nasty stuff that is inside your body. Bikram's yoga tends to be more difficult, disciplined, and well, harder than other types of yoga out there today. (Now, don't be scared to try it! There are many life dedicated Bikram yogis in the community. Remember you are never too old, too sick, or too injured to START.)

Time for the lessons...

When I am taking class, the teacher always speaks the same dialogue...over and over again. Really? How can taking the same class teach me anything new?

Welcome to lesson number one:

I must try and never give up. Giving up lasts forever, trying does not.

In life, especially in baking, we need to do things over and over again until we have mastered them. Did my first brioche loaf turn out golden and delicious? Nope. How about my chocolate chiffon cake? Nah. Even my first attempt at French buttercream turned into a sweet, soupy mess. See, in life, we learn by attempts, fails, and mistakes. Yoga taught me if I fall out of a posture, I must grab my leg again and try, and try, and try.....

Every day is different. What affects my daily class? The weather, season, class size, teacher, how much water I drank, time of day, what I ate throughout the day, etc. The list goes on and on.

This brings me to lesson number two:

I am unable to change what I cannot. I may not be able to change the environment or situation I am presently in, but I can change my mind about it.

If I forget to order a special ingredient, prep my pans properly, buy enough cupcake wrappers, or preheat the oven correctly, there is not much I can do to 'un-do' my mistake. But, I can adjust my actions accordingly and make sure it comes out a sweet success. Yoga taught me if I can change my mind, I can change my life.

The Bikram series is meant to be an intense and hard workout. This is why athletes and "tough peeps" dig it. If you managed to master all 26 postures, which is a very difficult task to complete, there is an advanced series with even more challenging postures.

Finally, lesson number three:

Too good is no good!

In the beginning of my practice, a teacher said, "Kimm, too good is no good! You are sitting too low!" Is it really possible to sit too low in the first part of awkward posture? Well, I managed to do it. Same in triangle, my hips are too open and I often sit wayyyyyy below what is recommended.

Same with sweet treats. You never want anything too sweet, too salty, too dry, or too moist. At the end of the dessert, you always wants to crave one more bite, instead of feeling too full to move. I thought I had most pastry techniques mastered, until I met someone better, I read a book that taught me something new, or someone asked me a pastry question I was unsure how to answer. Overall, in baking and yoga, there will always be someone better and another technique to be learned.

Yoga and baking have one very important thing in common: Both strive for perfection. The perfect pâté brisee, pana cotta, buttercream rose, or semi-freddo to the perfect locked out knee, standing bow pose, backbend, or waiting for the day to finally see your feet in floor bow.

From my baking career to my yoga practice, the journey has been greater, and sweeter, than imagined and expected. Even in tough and difficult situations, I am able to breathe through the storm to sweet success.
Namaste. Happy Baking.

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