How did you first discover Bikram yoga?
For my birthday, my friend Purshina gifted me an intro to a Bikram studio in Reston, Virginia. I went and spent 90 minutes with the teacher, little Reggie, yelling at me for the whole class; it felt that way. Then he would sing or read poetry, so I thought, “Oh well, it’s not all bad, is it, Charles?”
What have you gained from your yoga practice?
This yoga practice has helped keep me alive for years by detoxing my body. My neck, shoulder, and lower back were frozen from years of work, play, and a bad fall I had taken. They would pop loose in class and still do. I took the attitude that I’m here to have fun and get my work in. I’ve done the 60 Day Challenge five times but had to cut back for health reasons.
What has been your greatest struggle or accomplishment?
I was diagnosed with a serious liver disease in 1997 and spent the next 20 years dealing with it, trying to stay alive. I do not doubt that yoga helped me. A tumor was found in my liver in 2016, and I received a liver transplant at Stanford in December 2017. The ladies in my class were terrific; I will always appreciate their support.
I still deal with health issues and hope to get healthy enough for another 60 Day Challenge. I had a happy marriage for 32 years and have a wonderful daughter. My health issues took a toll on the marriage, and I just kept going to yoga. It’s a cure-all for everything. Thankfully, I managed our finances well enough that we could retire comfortably.
What advice would you give new students or those struggling with their practice?
I would advise new students to just do the yoga and have fun. Go to the seminars where the heat is a little less, and the senior teachers will give you more tips and attention – it doesn’t get much better than that.
What do you like to do outside of yoga?
I also work out at the YMCA three times a week and practice Zen meditation on Sundays. I study the stock market and new health therapies. I believe we are on the cusp of helping keep people healthy and active well past 100, and I expect that yoga will help me get to that day.