It was 2014 when I first found Bikram yoga. I remember laying in bed at the end of the day, feeling very empty and lost. At that time, I was starting my recovery from anorexia. My battle with an eating disorder came at the age of 15, and throughout my teenage years, I spent many months hospitalized. My body, vitals, and heart were severely damaged by years of depriving myself of food and using fitness as a way to deplete any calories I did put in my body.

When I gained the courage and determination to fight against this disease that had taken so much from me, there were many dark days. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. My thoughts were self-deprecating, and my esteem plummeted. But battling through those dark days allowed me to return to many freedoms I had lost during the midst of the eating disorder.

As I gained more physical and mental strength, I adopted the mantra, “Strong is the new skinny.” I had to unravel the belief system I nurtured for so many years of my young adulthood. I began using exercise to build me up rather than break me down. But I truly never felt connected or illuminated by going to the gym or running. This is where Bikram Yoga came into play and changed my entire life.

kelly mcintyre in head to knee pose
kelly mcintyre in Hands to feet pose
kelly mcintyre in toe stand pose

Before bed one evening, I was scrolling on Groupon for a new fitness venture. Bikram Yoga caught my eye. I had never done yoga, let alone in the heat, but something drew me to purchase the Groupon.

I booked my first class, showed up in a t-shirt and sweatpants (rookie mistake!), and positioned myself in the back row corner. For the first 20 minutes, my shoulders burned, sweat dripped from every orifice possible, and my attention was focused on “Why the hell am I here?”.

I survived the first class, and as I lay in the final Shavasana, I realized that this was the first 90 minutes in years that I had left my thoughts behind. My attention was so focused on survival that I let go of all the negative self-talk in my head, and I arrived in my body.

The peace I felt throughout the rest of the evening motivated me to book my next class for the next day. That pattern repeated for the next 29 days. During my first 30 days of Bikram Yoga, I began to cultivate a new sense of self-confidence I had never felt. The intensity of the postures in that hot room was my escape from my fears, from my self-doubt, from truly everything that had burdened my head and heart for many years.

I quickly became a daily practitioner and slowly but surely found myself positioned in the front row with a confidence and determination that was once so foreign. Through the studio, I met wonderful practitioners and formed lifelong friendships. One of those friendships was with Jennifer Bird, a teacher at the Bikram studio I went to. We stayed in touch for many years, even as our yoga mats took us to different paths in life.

In 2018, I began my journey as a yoga teacher. After practicing for four years and experiencing my entire life and perspective evolve, I wanted to share that. I wanted others to find the peace, love, and community that had saved me. I can’t necessarily describe the feeling of watching others find their peace and power, but I can say that teaching has illuminated and inspired my life and only continues to do so.

kelly mcintyre in a yoga pose while traveling
kelly mcintyre in a yoga pose in the desert
kelly mcintyre in a yoga pose in a doorway

Enter Bikram Yoga San Jose. It was 2021, and I was living in San Francisco. Over the years, I became connected with many teachers, and this studio, BYSJ, continued to be known as Bikram Mecca. My curiosity got the better of me, and one afternoon, I ventured down to see what all the hype was about.

From the beautiful slate floors to the moss wall water feature, my first impression was sheer awe. I have to admit I don’t remember who taught the class, but I remember feeling so focused. The conditions in the room were perfect; the teacher was passionate and engaged, and I was a happy, puddly mess at the final Shavasana.

It wasn’t until 2023 that I moved to San Jose and became a member of BYSJ. The community at BYSJ has become my family. We laugh, we share, we sweat. And all of these things make me feel whole.

Bikram Yoga started as an attempt to feel better, and I’ve received so much more. If it’s hard, it’s working. If it feels foreign, lean into the unknown and see where it takes you. Sometimes, our mind gets in our own way, and if you can cultivate a sense of trusting this process, then the gift you will receive is far greater than you can ever imagine. There are still days where the postures challenge and frustrate me, but that’s when I lean into the fact that we are all in that hot room just trying. Yes, TRYING! That’s the bottom line: try and keep trying, and you will succeed because you never give up on yourself.

This yoga has led me to a life of determination, perseverance, passion, and connection. I am so grateful for what each and every person provides at BYSJ. It has become my second home and my forever family.