Tell us about your very first Bikram Yoga class …
I took my first class at the old Cambie Studio about seven years ago. My partner wanted me to try it, so I did – and I loved it! Actually, I liked the first half of that class and hated the second, but after class (and until eternity) I loved Bikram Yoga. I went back the very next day, and participated in a seven-day challenge that Lisa and Danny had going on at the time.
What got you “hooked” on Bikram Yoga?
I like it. I just really like it. It makes me feel like I am doing something for myself, for my wellbeing. I sleep better. I don’t go to a spa or use creams to take care of my skin. Yoga is my spa, my maintenance, my medicine, my doctor and my friend.
For two years I had, off and on, unbearable attacks of pain. I had abdominal pain in my left side that started in the front and moved to the back. Ultrasounds, CT scans … test after test and still the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I decided to take a break from yoga. After two years with this pain and not much yoga, I decided to return to the hot room with the idea to only be on the floor, resting. One day I asked Lisa about relaxation in Savasana: why wouldn’t my arms lie on the floor like hers? She said my body wasn’t open and I need to keep going until my arms could relax at my sides. Spending time in this pose and watching myself, I realized that my left side was totally closed while the right side could rest with my hip and shoulder open and my arm and leg on the floor.
One day I decided to try to turn my left foot out and open my left hip for the whole 90 minutes that I was laying on the floor. This provoked a terrible pain attack – worse than ever before. It lasted two hours. The next day I went back to yoga and did the same thing. I could feel that the left side of my body was connected to my abdominal and back pain. After doing Savasana for 90 minutes a day for about 7 days, my hip was able to open more and my pain was gone. And … it hasn’t come back! This makes me feel that whatever problem or injury one may have, Bikram Yoga will help you concentrate on your body and help your body help itself.
What benefits do you gain from practising Bikram Yoga?
Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – all the benefits are related. When my physical self feels better, my mind feels better, then my emotional life is better, and so on. Bikram Yoga creates a nice balance. I love to play basketball, but it doesn’t bring about the same sense of being “complete” and “balanced” as Bikram Yoga does.
What’s your favourite posture at the moment? What pose do you find challenging?
I am a jeweler, and I sit bent over tiny things all day at my workbench. Camel opens my chest in a way that nothing else can! Triangle, on the other hand, is a challenge. Spine-Twisting Pose is almost impossible for me, but I picture my head on Bikram’s body in the final spinal pose. One day I will get there and it will be my head on my body, not on Bikram’s!
[CREDIT: Dina Gonzalez Mascaro]
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve heard from a Bikram Yoga teacher?
Julia once said to me, “breathe.” Simple, but this was the best advice ever. When I first started I didn’t realize I wasn’t breathing. Eventually, we all get it – yoga is really all about the breath!