Tell us about your very first Bikram Yoga class …
For years I’d been curious about Bikram Yoga but always felt too claustrophobic and afraid of not being able to complete the class. I was also nervous about how it would smell in the hot room (I can barely ride the bus in the summer!). But it wasn’t that bad!
My first class was with Mari at the Kits Studio. When I almost left before the end of class (I was getting annoyed with the heat), she noticed right away and encouraged me to stay. I’d been used to walking out of things for a lack of feeling like I belonged, and I appreciate that, at BYV, the teachers call you by name and, if you’re not giving your best or seem distracted, they’ll call you on it.
After class Mari told me the sooner I returned for my second class, the better. With my tendency to avoid commitment, I pushed myself to create a good habit and came back the next day. Now I practise Bikram Yoga four to five times a week. I love feeling that “instant reward” of elation and accomplishment after class – my whole day just seems to melt away. I feel like a new person, more confident and definitely happier and more at peace with myself. I feel stronger and more relaxed the more I get into this practice.
In the beginning, what was your biggest challenge in the hot room?
It’s always been difficult for me to be in confined spaces, especially when there are other people inches away and there seems to be no escape. A big challenge was to overcome thinking about the person practising next to me and just looking in the mirror and facing my fears. Also, the meditation aspect is still hard for me, in terms of being still. But, slowly, I’ve learned to let go of old assumptions and allow new sensations and emotions to go through me without feeling like running away. That’s why my best piece of advice for beginners would be to not get discouraged by the heat (your body WILL get used to it) and to just try and breathe and remain calm – this has helped me tremendously in overcoming my own fears and hurdles.
What benefits have you received from Bikram Yoga?
About three years ago I overcame an eating disorder. Certain events in my life, including my mother’s death, breaking up with my boyfriend and losing my job all around the same time, drove me into a bit of a depression. Without noticing, I began over-exercising and, before I knew it, I was eating very little and weighed about 90 pounds. After noticing my appearance and the way people reacted to me I became angry and started overeating instead. Healing was a long process that took a lot of work but, in the end, I realized that I was just running away from feeling any kind of pain. One of the best things about Bikram Yoga is that you’re forced to face the pain and let it go through you. It’s so uplifting to know that things CAN change. Pain doesn’t last forever, but the only way out of it is to go directly through it. Now, people notice my positive outlook and also that I’ve lost weight; I feel more fit and focused.
Has any BYV teacher made a significant impact on your practice?
I love taking classes with Cedric, who makes very direct and honest comments about your practice. He once told me that my eyes looked “defeated” during the postures; since then I’ve made it a point to have a more confident outlook in class. Also Julia, Mari, Gabe and Laurie have each in their own way taught me it’s never too late to start over.