Hillary is back after six months of travelling and teaching in Thailand. When she isn’t teaching or practising Bikram Yoga in Vancouver, she’s busy singing, playing her ukulele, dancing, listening to audiobooks, writing poems, going for walks, cooking, thrift-store shopping and hanging out with her family, boyfriend and friends. We’re excited to see her beautiful face back in BYV’s hot yoga studios again!
Tell us about your very first Bikram Yoga class …
My first Bikram Yoga class was in January 2007 at the Vancouver Bikram Yoga studio on Commercial Drive. I went because I was already into Hatha Yoga but I needed more of a challenge. I felt amazing after the class, slept great that night and woke up easily the next morning. I went to my second class a few days later but then took a year off due to too much on my plate at the time.
When and why did you decide to go to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training?
I went to training in spring 2009 in Palm Springs. I’d been back practising Bikram Yoga regularly for eight months and was loving it. I’d also inherited some money from my amazing Aunt Carole after her struggle with cancer. She introduced me to yoga when I was younger and I wanted to go to Bikram Teacher Training in her memory and for health. The experience in Palm Springs was incredible! I’d never felt healthier or happier and I made a tonne of great friends. Bikram Choudhury himself is hilarious and is one of the sweetest men.
What do you love most about Bikram Yoga?
As a teacher, I love to help out and give all that I can to my students. The best part is hearing their stories of how Bikram Yoga has helped their lives improve. In my own practice – well, I’ll be honest: I love it when they put the fans on and it’s party time! But I also love to go in the hot room, turn off my mind and just be led into this meditative state where I can love myself, improve my health and give thanks to every breath that moves each challenge.
I do Bikram Yoga to invest in my health and to get the best quality of life possible. I notice I get along better with everyone when I practise daily, as well. It works! I’ve felt the benefits and seen them in others. I’ve watched this yoga save my mom’s life, and she is a huge inspiration for me. She actually did doubles every day while I was at Bikram teacher training and right now she is doing a 90-Day Hot Yoga Challenge! She is 56-years-old and looks better than most people in their 30s!
What’s your best advice for students?
My advice for beginners is to listen, relax and smile and make sure to come back the next day. For more advanced practitioners, practise with a beginner’s mind with intensity and don’t take yourself too seriously if you fall out of a hot yoga posture. Everyone falls; just try again.
Have you ever had an “aha” moment in the hot room?
My biggest “aha” moment was during Teacher Training; I was struggling on the floor, it was crazy hot and, while lying in Savasana, I prayed for some cold air and then chose to envision myself somewhere in Antarctica. The feeling was surreal as I felt a cool breeze sweep over my body and I suddenly cooled down. I was so dumbfounded that I glanced to see if any doors had opened, but it was miraculous. That was the first time I became conscious of mind over matter.
Ever had an embarrassing moment on the podium?
One evening as I was teaching at the Kitsilano hot yoga studio and about to start Pranyama Breathing, I saw what appeared to be a giant spider on the floor. I jumped up and screamed … and then a student picked up the terrifying-looking black piece of string and waved it for everyone to see. Everyone laughed and I was so embarrassed!
Have you taught Bikram Yoga in any studios outside Vancouver?
I recently taught in Koh Samui, Thailand, for six months and it was the best time. I also taught in Singapore, which is a beautiful city. I love travelling to new places, especially with beaches (I’m secretly a mermaid), make new friends and experience different foods and cultures. Being able to share this yoga with people around the world is truly a blessing. Namaste, ya’ll!