I was introduced to Bikram Yoga 22 years ago by my sister-in-law in Encino after my son was born. Living in the South, she knew that heat didn’t bother me. In fact, I loved the heat and humidity. While visiting family, she said, “I’m taking you to a Bikram yoga class,” and gave me a little information about what to expect, but I certainly didn’t anticipate how I would feel during and after the class. The teacher picked on me, and I came out of that class thinking – thank goodness I live in Alabama, where we don’t have Bikram Yoga.

We moved to San Jose two years later, and I kept thinking about yoga and how I need to try it again, so I went to another class with my sister-in-law. The teacher was encouraging, and I felt amazing. I felt like I had just had a fantastic massage; my skin felt great, and I felt like I had completed a detox. I knew I needed to find a studio back in San Jose. I started going to a Willow Glen yoga studio and found that I craved the heat. I liked the stretching but needed more sweat. A Bikram studio opened in Willow Glen, and I was hooked until he closed his doors. That’s when I found BYSJ. A good friend of mine practiced there and suggested I come and give it a try. We were in the original space, and I’ll never forget my first time in that classroom. We packed in like sardines, sweat dripping everywhere, and I knew this was my home. Here I am 18 years later and still loving it.

This yoga has given me so much: strength, flexibility, compassion, patience, community, and focus, but the most important gift is acceptance – of myself and others. I have learned to accept where I am at each point in my life, and that applies to the yoga room. I accept each day and each posture as they happen, and as we all know, every day is different, just like our bodies. By accepting where I am each day, I grow and dive deeper into my postures, relationships, work, etc. I think acceptance leads to all of the other things this yoga has given me.

My greatest struggle and greatest accomplishment are the same, and that is my breath. I have had to refocus my practice after coming back from the pandemic on how to breathe effectively. There are days when I have it and then days when I don’t, and this has been a great example of acceptance – just accepting where I am at. The breath is vital, and this is not only true in the yoga room but in life. The breath calms us on all levels, and my struggle is balancing the breath with depth, knowing when to back off or push ahead.

My advice to new students is to stick with it. Don’t give up on yourself. It’s OK to sit out a posture (or two or three 😊) but keep going and keep trying. It isn’t about the end result, it’s about the journey, and I have to remind myself of this daily. It has been challenging to get back into the hot room after 15 months off, and I am starting from scratch once again; those words have never rung truer. I am hearing things for the very first time – this yoga is a practice and every day is a new day with a new body. If you take the time to listen, you will hear something new, and there is joy in that. After 18 consistent years of practice, I still can’t do the full expression of many postures, but I keep trying and don’t give up.

Outside of yoga, I enjoy walking, traveling, and being with family and friends.