Bikram Yoga San Jose just celebrated six years in business. How can I say thank you? The friendships we’ve forged here go far beyond the yoga itself, and we’ve bonded like a family. The BYSJ yoga community has become a personal source of strength and inspiration for me. Year after year, more students come to class making their way into the room and into each other’s lives. If you stick with the yoga, it becomes a lifestyle choice and fashions connections between all of us practicing next to each other day after day. The encouraging nature of this community weaves its way into your hearts as gestures of kindness, support, and respect keep us all going when the yoga gets tough.

And tough it gets! The yoga is unrelenting. It is tormenting but constantly giving. The yoga frustrates and heals; confronts and comforts. It can seem to tear you down but, the prize at the end is more than “simply” a healthy body and a clear mind. It’s an ability to be comfortable in your own skin. Our big once-a-year party allows us to take an important pause and look from a broader perspective at our lives now versus our lives without yoga. If you are like me, yoga has helped to make you a better person in every area of your life. That is worth celebrating.

Bikram will proudly tell you that his sequence of 26 poses and two breathing exercises addresses our inability to know who we are. It’s a journey I’ve chosen and how delighted I am that you’ve chosen to come along with me for six amazing years. Each year, we attract more people, accumulate more experiences and deepen our connections. While we joke, tolerate and make the best of the growth of the school, I am grateful to each of you handling what can be the biggest distraction of them all – the size of the yoga room. We are actively working on expansion plans, in the meantime, starting on February 9, we are adding three more classes/week. (See below).

If you’ve taken class from me lately, you have heard me state that there is a feeling of hope in the air. I think a lot of it has to do with the election of Barack Obama. Whether you voted for him, I don’t think you can deny the sense of genuine optimism around the country as we all welcome the nation’s first black president. I for one am thrilled to be alive during this historic time. I listened to his speech three times. I was really taken by the yogic language he used: that we need to choose hope not fear, success depends upon loyalty and honesty, that we must seize gladly and give to the task at hand, returns to the truths, earn our way and there are no shortcuts. And the phrase I love most of all, was his comment that together we can be “a quiet force of progress.”

I prefer to practice yoga in the morning. For me, it is a great way to wake up my mental manners and abilities. I gain access to my kindness, confidence, clarity, compassion and patience. I know we each come to yoga for our own reasons but we all leave with tools that help us in our daily activities and ultimately help us to live our “full measure of happiness.” These, too, are words that I heard President Obama use in his speech.

Bikram claims that if you do this yoga religiously, money will chase you, love will chase you, happiness will chase you. Our “right action” in doing the yoga each day IS a quiet force of progress. We are not just a community but a culture. This yoga welcomes all levels and has the ability to unite any and all. We’ve proved it for six years. Maybe you ate some of the delicious food at our party tasting everything from homemade Spanish Paella to the Chinese traditional Red Bean Cake. A great example of how diversity brings us together.

The Presidential Inauguration was labeled “our inauguration”, inferring that the changes we want must be made together as a country. In this Chinese New Year – the year of the ox – it is a time to work hard and stay diligent in pursuit of goals and expectations. 60 Day Challengers, practitioners both new and experienced, staff and teachers: the energy is here for us to continue to work hard. What you are doing in yoga class matters. It is playing a bigger role than you can see. Notice how the world needs your courage. May it be another motivator in your possession.