Julia is one of our fantastic teachers who always goes the extra mile to help you see the improvements you are looking for! She was born and raised in Burnaby and has been teaching since attending teacher training 2003! We asked her a few questions about her Bikram beginnings and how she stays inspired. Check out our chat here:
Julia – you’ve been a teacher for just over 8 years now! Thanks for all your wisdom and encouragement. What has been the most rewarding thing about teaching this yoga so far?
I’d say the restorative effects that I’ve seen in others over time. People recovering from drug addiction, people who suffer from chronic pain or obesity, things like anxiety disorders – heavy things that have the power to destroy lives – I’ve seen people bounce back and tell me, time and again, how this yoga has saved their life, literally. I’ve seen it over time in so many different cases over a 10 years practice and 8 years teaching.
What do you think allowed for these recoveries to occur? Is there anything that sets these people apart?
Not necessarily, it’s different for everybody, but if anything it’s their commitment to the mental work and their focus. Also, their consistency and intensity in their practice over time, the precision of their postures, and presence or focus in their practice. Foremost, it’s a person’s presence in the room that will allow for the greatest amount of change.
We have been talking a lot about the benefits of Bikram Yoga with the Bikram Yoga Experiment and increasing the dosage in your practice. What kind of improvements have you seen in yourself over the years?
The most powerful thing for me is how the yoga is the greatest relief for physical tension and emotional stress that I’ve discovered- and I have tried everything. Also, the yoga has seen me through 2 pregnancies, coming back better than ever in a very short time. As well as healing many sports injuries including chronic neck, shoulder and knee problems (all gone). It feels incredible to be pain free, and instead of deteriorating with age I am actually improving. The therapeutic benefits actually blow my mind. I am in the best condition of my life – physically mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. If I did only one thing it would be the yoga, the fountain of youth, and restorative transformation!
Do you have any specific tips you’ve gotten over the years that have been critical to the improvements in your practice?
Tons of things – I’ve learned from so many different teachers. Again though, it’s always been more of the mental work. At the beginning you are just surviving, but then there comes a point, after years of practice, where you can do it – the physical part, holding the postures, have the stamina, have some flexibility – but it’s about the mind, that’s where the work is. It doesn’t matter how it looks, or how you do, it’s your attitude, your focus, and your presence in the room.
How often do you practice now per week? You must be so busy teaching and taking care of your two little ones. How do you find the time to squeeze yoga in?
It’s tough. I get to do about 3 classes per week at the moment. In a perfect world, I’d do yoga everyday. I will in the future and I have in the past. But right now, I’m doing yoga, kick boxing, and a circuit. If I had my choice, I’d be doing the yoga everyday.
What is the key thing you focus on when you walk in the room to practice?
Being completely relaxed, clear, concentration, awareness and breath. 100% awareness and breath.
Do you have any advice for other teachers who are just beginning? Any specific words of wisdom?
Dialogue. The dialogue is a poem, that’s your rhythm or script. Without it, you can’t make that connection. We are just the messengers for the whole thing – thousands of years worth of tradition. Bishnu Gosh was the brother of Paramhansa Yogananda (the man who wrote Autobiography of a Yogi) – Bishnu Gosh taught Bikram. It’s a heavy line of guys. It has nothing to do with the individual. Beginner teacher or long-time teacher, it doesn’t matter, it’s the same. The dialogue is the script and you just need to find your rhythm while maintaining a connection to become a messenger.
And when you are teaching, practice what you preach. Lead by example. Every time you are in that room, you are still teaching. Students know you are a teacher and will be looking and asking, “oh how do I do that, I should watch them.” When I go in that room, I give 120% every single time.
Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us and share your knowledge! Have you read any books or seen any films lately that you think might inspire others? Any specific to improving your yoga practice?
“Awakening the Spine” by Vanda Scaravelli is an amazing book about yoga and about the spine. It’s awesome. As for movies – “Gandhi” – it’s a great one to revisit over and over again.