Though Gaby’s taught Bikram Yoga in some pretty exotic locations around the world, we feel lucky that she’s decided to return to Vancouver! Find out more about this very bendy Bikram Yoga Teacher right here on the Bikram Yoga Blog!
Can you tell us about your first Bikram Yoga class?
My first class was at Danny and Lisa’s first Bikram Yoga studio on Broadway and Arbutus in 2000. A couple of my friends would not stop talking about the yoga. Their passion rubbed off on me, and I was curious to see what it was all about. I know teachers say you never forget your first class, but oddly enough I don’t remember who my first teacher was! All I can recall is the overwhelming heat (I know, can you believe it? I found it too hot! I NEVER find it too hot!). Some of my earliest teachers (after that first class) were Stephen Webb and Divi Chandna, in Victoria.
What motivated you to keep practising Bikram Yoga and eventually become a teacher?
I was studying recreation and health education at UVic and, on top of being stressed, I wasn’t feeling good about myself. But after every Bikram class I took, I always felt so good. To satisfy my new addiction, I did a cleaning exchange and began practising on a regular basis. Although I contemplated Teacher Training for a couple of years I didn’t have a desire to teach because the idea of standing up in front of a class terrified me. But I wanted to challenge myself and I wanted to take my practice to the next level … so I went for it in the fall of 2006, in L.A. I started teaching at Bikram Yoga Vancouver as soon as I returned.
What does teaching Bikram Yoga to others mean to you?
My favourite thing about teaching Bikram Yoga is seeing the students transform on all levels: mentally, physically and emotionally. The gratification I get from helping students and sharing my passion is beyond words. The most challenging thing is to stay present, never letting what is going on in my life that day get in the way of my teaching. I also find it difficult to not be so sensitive to people’s energies. If a student seems angry or lazy I have to remember that I am not aware of the complete picture and what is going on for that particular person on that particular day.
What’s your teaching style/philosophy?
I stick to the dialogue while using my voice to convey energy and compassion. Just like my practice, teaching is a never-ending process: there is always going to be room for growth. I try not to judge whether the class I taught was good or bad but, instead, what can I learn from it? When I teach, I often hear Danny D.’s voice in at the back of my head saying, “More energy!”
The number 1 thing I want my students to leave class with is feeling better than when they walked in: lighter, clearer and with an overall sense of well-being.
You’ve taught Bikram Yoga in some pretty exotic locations; how does teaching in Vancouver compare?
I’ve taught in Byron Bay, Sydney and Perth (Australia), Auckland and Wellington (New Zealand) and Jakarta and Bali (Indonesia). I got these jobs mostly through word of mouth. Cedric and Andrea Blakey taught in Byron Bay, Auckland and Sydney before me so they put in a good word! Every place I teach in is completely different. When I taught in Bali, I had to speak slower. Many of the Indonesian students did not understand my accent at first. Byron Bay had strict rules but the discipline was incredible. The best part of teaching and practicing in Byron Bay was the fact the studio was located on the beach. Directly after class, we would all jump into the sea. Ahh … how I miss that! Bikram Yoga Vancouver is awesome. There is a good balance of fellow teachers, advanced practitioners and fresh newbies that all contribute something unique! I miss the energy when I am away and I am always happy to come back to Vancouver!