How did you first discover Bikram yoga?
I started my practice at BYSJ like many others – a New Year’s resolution to take better care of myself. It was January 2008, and I had been neglecting my health. I convinced myself that I had good excuses: I had a toddler and a demanding job. But I had reached a point where I hated how I felt and realized that thinking a lot about getting back into running without actually doing much running wasn’t working for me.
What have you gained from your yoga practice?
My first class was a humbling experience. I was dizzy and nauseated in the first breathing exercise. My half-moon looked more like a slightly slanted flagpole, and I thought my teacher was joking when he said relax your neck, let your head fall back, and look for the wall behind you. The wall behind me? I was struggling to keep my tingling arms up and my eyes looking at the ceiling above me! My body was so very far from executing the dialogue I was hearing, but somehow I got through that first class. I felt pretty good afterward, and so I came back. I kept feeling better, so I kept coming back.
What has been your greatest struggle or accomplishment?
I struggle with being patient. I’m not at all a patient person. I’m always in a hurry to get things checked off my endless to-do lists. So in my early years of practice I was not patient with myself. I tried to force the postures. Kicking out too soon, moving too fast to try to get my forehead to my knee, charging forward before I had control over my kick. I’m a lawyer, and with no one to banter with in the yoga room I did a lot of arguing with my most formidable adversary – myself. After a few years of kicking my own butt without a lot of progress I decided to try to relax a little and do the best I could each day. My postures got better, and more important, I enjoyed the yoga even more.
Through my practice I’ve gained what I had initially sought: strength, flexibility, energy, and stress relief. But it’s amazing how many intangible benefits I gained, like improving the way I respond to things in everyday life; from big crises to little nuisances. My practice has helped me enjoy even more all the things I love to do outside of yoga, like spending time with my family, walking my dog while listening to podcasts, traveling, cooking, and reading classic novels with my neighborhood book club.
It took me nine years, but I finally did the 60-day challenge earlier this year. Thanks to support from my husband and daughter – who is now a tween – what seemed utterly impossible became an accomplished goal. It was hard, which is the point, but through the process I found what I can only describe as an incredible sense of clarity.
What advice would you give to new students or those struggling with their practice?
The best advice I can give to others is to view your practice as a journey and not a destination. Listen – really listen – to the amazing teachers at BYSJ, be patient with yourself, never give up, and try something new each day.