​How did you first discover Bikram Yoga?

I dabbled with other types of yoga in college, but when I moved to San Francisco over ten years ago, I wandered into a Bikram studio. I was extremely dizzy in my first class and about to pass out. I tried to get up and leave the room, but the instructor yelled at me through the microphone to sit back down and tough it out! I was instantly hooked. I knew this was my type of yoga, and I’ve only practiced Bikram Yoga since.

What have you gained from your yoga practice?

Mostly health – physical and mental. I was lucky to find Bikram Yoga in my early 20s, and I’m sure I will practice it my entire life. As Bikram says, “would you rather suffer 90 minutes or 90 years?” I know if I keep practicing, I can be a fit 90-year-old!

What has been your greatest struggle or accomplishment?

One challenge for me was developing a consistent practice. There were years when I would go maybe once a month or once a week. It was still helpful to keep the muscle memory, but it wasn’t until I started practicing consistently that the real benefits started to come.

Eric Klinefelter does BMX
Eric with friends at the skatepark
Eric Klinefelter mid-air on his bike

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

Here are the things that have worked for me:

Do every pose, every time. If I ‘listened to my body,’ it would tell me to lay down and get the heck out of this hot room. I don’t sit out a pose unless I’m on the verge of passing out. Once you tell yourself it’s OK to sit down, it’s a slippery slope – next thing you know, you’re lying down for 90 minutes! I make a deal with myself; when I go into practice, I will finish all the poses. When you feel like you need to sit one out, do the next pose, but not as deep as you would typically go – this is what I do.

Practice on an empty stomach. This helps me a lot. Also, I can’t explain it, but my practice improved immensely when I stopped eating meat this year.

Practice every day. When I did my first 30-day challenge, my practice improved more in a month than it had in the past five years of going 2-4 times a week.

Keep a yoga journal. Every once in a while, the instructor will give some tip that resonates with my practice; they nail a mistake I have repeatedly made. I always write these down to make sure I remember them and integrate them into my practice.

Eric Klinefelter in workshop

What do you like to do outside of yoga?

I ride BMX bikes at the skatepark with friends and kick around a skateboard every once in a while. I love hanging out by the pool and keep telling myself that someday I will learn to surf. I’ve tried many times and am not very good, but I love the beach.