Congratulations BYSJ! You’ve turned 16 – sweet 16: Two studios and yet one growing thriving community upholding this powerful tradition that is Bikram Yoga. Over this year, winning regionals, nationals and recently internationals, the power of who we are as a community is more exposed. People ask me all the time and now even more so, what is the secret to your success, or please share your experience, your insights and wisdom from such a long time practice. The answers vary certainly pending the context but one that comes to mind for all of us here tonight is consistency. It sounds easy and not very profound but it’s as challenging if not more so than being still in savasana!

Let me explain. For 16 years, we’ve taught only authentic Bikram yoga driven by the true Bikram taught dialogue; for 16 years we’ve had 5:30 am class; for 16 years we’ve been in the same shopping center; for 16 years you’ve had glorious teachers, work trade staff, guest instructors and clinics; for 16 years we’ve been open EVERY DAY; for 16 years we’ve kept consistent class times; for 16 years you’ve had a parking spot, a towel, a mirror to look into, a shower, an anniversary party; and for 16 years you’ve had friends – more and more friends! You’ve had a place to come to and practice and because of the consistency, it’s evolved into a place for 16 years you call your home!

For myself, I’ve practiced now more than 20 years with nearly an everyday practice. I’ve been here most every day for 16 years and for 16 years, I’ve gotten to know, really know, some of the best people on the planet.

But like in yoga, it’s not how much you do, but how you do. Therein lies the mystery of what consistency really means.

My angel card for 2018 was power. It’s easy to correlate this card with my wins in the yoga competitions this last year– the power that it takes and the power winning can provide. However, it’s more fitting as an illustration of what consistency over the last 16 years has gifted me: the power of self-worth. Because of the unwavering commitments (consistency) BYSJ has given me, it’s enabled me to blossom as a yogi, as a human being – and the same for you.

Consistency in “Right” ways provides the strength to weather all situations: tough and joyous. Because I had a clean mirror in front of me, a place to park, a teacher that I trusted, a list of commands that challenged me from the podium, peers I enjoyed practicing with – because I was given a smile, a hello to my name, because I could pick a class that fit me any day every day 365 days a year no matter what, I could get through tough financial times where every financial advisor out there said in those tough years that we might lose the business. I could get through and stay energized and grateful to the 22 months I had left with my manager and friend Chris dying in front of all of us from brain cancer. I could come to accept the fact that I lost my brother being mentally ill, as no longer was he my sports buddy but instead an angry man with no contact to family.

Because of consistency, we developed a new leadership team (Jessica, Matt, Sarah, Amelia and Masha, Jill, Tonni, Shirley), new strategies, ways to grow, more guest visits, more students, more money, more medals and more friends and more joy…much much more joy – babies, marriages, new successes with members and teachers starting their own businesses.

The fruits of all this produces self-worth, meaning the power of who I am has grown from within and not from the flashing, endless, tiresome route of pleasing others or upholding a standard fitting to the measure of the day. I tell you this because my example is yours too! My story is your story; your story is my story.

The consistent spirit of BYSJ has poked and prodded at you in the most uncomfortable and loving ways, to pull you up through situations that otherwise continue to spiral you into more anxiety, depression, and competition, never getting to experience the evolving spirit you are that is love, acceptance, and purpose.

It’s not just the discomfort of trying to lock your knee, compress your throat, or sustain triangle pose that I am talking about here. It’s much deeper.

It’s the discomfort of dropping the hand towel when you’ve used it forever as it makes the posture feel more secure. It’s the discomfort of deconstructing a pose you’ve been doing one way for years and years in order to really make progress in the way it can deliver, it’s the total discomfort of running out of water by Tree pose in the hottest class ever in the history of Bikram yoga and you can’t do anything about it except breathe and manage. It’s the discomfort of an injury that holds you back for a year from where you were, or the discomfort having a teacher that holds the poses too long or talks too much or has NO IDEA there is a fan switch on the podium to use when the students are dying. It’s the struggle to stay in savasana, to use the blue border and come in on time on your mat, ready to go with your hair up!

But in those moments, challenging the small gesture for the bigger prize in the consistency of a rock solid studio and community you trust grows the richest most important soil you need to prosper as God intended you to be – silence.

It’s not just savasana that provides the silence. It’s the consistent surroundings, the consistent structure, the consistent same everyday practice with the same “every time you come in going to hear the same dialogue” that creates the still lake for you to see and hear the distractions and noise pushing you away from a realized self.

Why is that important? Because only there will you hear and know your deepest passions, your deepest desires, your deepest talents, your deepest longings, your deepest needs. Only there, will you turn judgment into acceptance, fear to courage and cynicism into acts of kindness.

The 16 years of what is a moving, breathing essence in what we call BYSJ is a stillness that is inclusive to all who choose it, providing an entity of silence beyond the classroom that helps you see, hear and act accordingly so you can live your circumstances even while you are in the midst of them.

Even with honest faith, sometimes the mountains in our lives are unmovable but with yoga, consistent in the way of BYSJ, you’ll ignore the right turn of blame, the left turn of victim, the stand still or straight way of denial and instead go right up that mountain resigning, surrendering and willfully endure the adversity not to calcify the heart but to OPEN it!

There is this great saying, “Only if we become calm as the earth (or silent) fluid as water (yielding), and blazing as fire (bold and take a chance), will we be able to Rise to the task of peacemaking.

Peacemaking unto yourself and peacemaking unto and amongst others.

Listening to a podcast, having done a survey on their findings on happiness, I heard one of the better understandings of this word. Happy people do two things that differentiate themselves:

  • They do the next right thing. Yes, they have goals and visions but they aren’t consumed by those goals and simply move through the day doing the next right thing! As yogis, we are trained to stay in the moment because what lies in that moment is a power to do the next right thing and then in that space, we’ll do the next right thing. And so on.
  • These people are willing to be the difference to make the difference. I thought this was interesting as a finding in a survey amongst people who are happy. It says they are willing to risk status quo, they are willing to serve, they are willing to participate towards something greater. BYSJ, that’s us together, collectively – we’ve done that in our standing up to be a Bikram Yoga school in the consistent way we do it here. We are a happy place!

And yet like any 16 year old, it’s an impactful time. For me, it was a first boyfriend, it was a dream trip to Hawaii with my family, it was tough subjects at school, and the year my parents decided to divorce. It’s not uncommon for I bet many of you, when it’s a real look at growing up. It’s the beginning stages of being an adult with responsibility and choice. It’s both a Tough and exciting time.

I say that because we have more to do!

This is the year BYSJ will show up to push other studios to prosper like we do, this is the year that we tighten up and create templates to teach others to have a community like ours, this is the year you will see me out there being more vocal on the importance of a practice. I hope too that you’ll join me and all of us on management and staff and get bolder in your own attempts to wake up your peers, children, neighbors, to come in and try, come in and start, come in and begin a journey to live.

I love you BYSJ more than I can put in words and beyond anything I could ever express. What you’ve given to me and to all of us is immeasurable and eternal: a happy place with happy people consistent in evolving to our best versions of ourselves.