How did you first discover Bikram Yoga?

I was looking for ways to relieve overwhelming stress when I noticed a Bikram Yoga studio on my way home from work. I didn’t know much about yoga and nothing about Bikram Yoga. I decided to give it a try. In one of my first classes, I noticed a woman next to me in her 70’s doing a perfect standing head-to-knee while I was struggling to pick up my foot. I fell in love with the challenge of this yoga and began practicing four days a week in 2010. I have transitioned to an online practice with BYSJ 4-6 days a week from my new home in rural Nevada.

My biggest challenge with moving from the Bay Area was losing the opportunity to practice at the studio. My husband created a special space for me to practice using my Bikram’s DVD and the BYSJ YouTube recordings. When I signed up for the online classes, I felt like I was home again. I got to see all of my favorite instructors through the livestreams and get personal attention during the Zoom classes.

What have you gained from your yoga practice?

I have gained more patience with myself and others, better listening skills, more self-care and love, improved focus, and the ability to calm my mind during times of stress. I’ve healed many old injuries from extreme athletic endeavors, and I get better sleep, an improved immune system, endurance, core strength, and flexibility. This yoga is something that I love that I can do for the rest of my life.

Donna practicing yoga in her home studio

Donna’s husband created a special space for her to practice at home.

What has been your greatest struggle or accomplishment?

My biggest struggle has been my focus on performance. My greatest accomplishment has been completing my first 60 Day Challenge as a gift to myself for my 60th birthday. The challenge helped me to become more present in every pose. I learned to give up my expectations and embrace what my body could do on each day in each moment.

What advice would you give to new students or those struggling with their practice?

My advice to new students is to take advantage of our instructors at BYSJ and allow them to meet you where you are in your practice. I improved the most when I asked for help and corrections. Having patience with yourself and practicing the right way is key. I found out the hard way that trying to do the poses to the full expression before my body was ready sometimes flared up old injuries and hurt my progress. It is crucial to listen to the words and take care of yourself when you need to.

What do you like to do outside of yoga?

I love gardening, cooking gourmet-style health foods, and caring for my husband, mother, and two little dogs. I recently retired and am enjoying the beauty of the Sierras.

Donna and her dog in the mountains

Donna enjoys the rural life in Nevada with her pooch.