We love classes with Nikki – they’re tough and fun at the same time! As someone who works full time outside the hot room, Nikki experiences the same time pressures as many students. Her advice: “I totally understand that life can take over. Try to plan your day; that is the best way to get in the hot room and keep improving.” Read more in this week’s Teacher Profile!
Tell us about your first Bikram Yoga class …
I took my first class in Whistler in September 2001, when there used to be a Bikram Yoga studio up there. My friend kept asking me to go and try this “new hot yoga” with her. It took a lot of convincing … I was a runner and yoga in a hot room did not seem like something I would like. I finally agreed to go; all she told me was to drink lots of water before. I was pretty nervous and placed my mat near the door in case I wanted to make a quick escape. Once class started I was shocked that it was a bit better than what I had built up in my mind. By the end I was thinking, “Hey this isn’t so bad; I kind of like it!”
What motivated you to keep practising?
I felt so good after class that it kept me coming back. I was so inflexible from running all the time; it felt great to stretch. At first it was twice a week; then, over the next few months, I started going to yoga more and more and running less and less. Within six months I was hooked and stopped running completely. When I would travel for work I would bring Bikram’s tape, go into the bathroom, run the shower and use a space heater to get the bathroom hot and practise there. This was way back when there weren’t as many studios as there are now. It was way harder to find a class anywhere in the world … today it is so much easier!
When did you decide to make the transition from student to teacher?
In the fall of 2003 I got married and moved to Toronto. I quit my job in Vancouver at the end of that same year and knew this may be my only opportunity to go to Teacher Training. I’d been practising full time for about two years; this was my opportunity for a new challenge. I went to Winter 2004 Teacher Training in Los Angeles. I was nervous about practising two times a day, learning my dialogue and staying up for late lectures, but once I got there that all faded away. I loved the entire experience – you live and breathe yoga with hundreds of other people for nine weeks in a hot, sweaty room … sounds like heaven to me.
What do you love most about teaching Bikram Yoga?
The best thing is seeing a change, no matter how big or small, in a student. When you can help someone change his or her body even a fraction – that is awesome! There are so many amazing Bikram Yoga stories and that is so inspiring. Teaching gives me energy. I like to teach class how I like to be taught: a nice, strong instruction that pushes me a little bit. I hope that my students come away saying, “That was a tough class and I had so much fun.” I try to keep it energetic and have a few laughs if we can.
What are your top tips for students?
For the new students: keep coming, try not to make excuses and keep an open mind. The more you get in the room the better. Keep it simple.
For the more experienced students: it will be normal to feel “stuck” in your practice or that you are getting pretty darn good at this yoga. Chat with the teachers to help move your practice forward. Go to teachers’ classes that challenge you and try to move outside your comfort zone.
Are you still working on improving any aspects of your practice?
I practice six days a week and am always working on improving. One thing that still challenges me is that I can only hold Toe Stand on one side. Maybe I will get it next year, or the year after. The point is to keep trying. It fascinates me that after 10 years of practising I am still trying.