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.
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.
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.