How did you first discover Bikram yoga?
I have always loved the idea of yoga since I was little. It sounded like something mystical and spiritual. When I was a professional swimmer, I started going to Kundalini Yoga, and I liked how it helped me be still. When I moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, 20 years ago, I drove by a Bikram Yoga studio and was curious to see what it was about, so I came to a class. I didn’t like it because it was very different from what I was used to. But different is not always a bad thing. I came back because I paid for a two-week pass, and I am glad I did. By my third class, I was hooked. I understood that the dialogue that bothered me initially was just a way to help me focus, and I started seeing improvements as an athlete, in my life at home, in my mood, and even in the glow of my skin! I am always grateful that I gave it a try.
What have you gained from your yoga practice?
I could mention the many physical benefits I have gained from my practice (flexibility, strength, endurance), but acceptance and patience are the most important things I have gained. Patience because it takes time and consistency to make progress. Acceptance because we are where we are supposed to be and not necessarily where we want to be at any particular moment. I have been a professional athlete for most of my life (besides being a Psychologist/Life Coach). When I was a swimmer, I was all about results. I was the first Mexican ever to win a Swimming World Championship, and I got caught up in that. It stopped being fun.
I started running at 38, and Bikram Yoga is a HUGE part of why I’m successful as a runner. Thanks to Bikram, I learned that if today my body can’t push a workout, it just means that’s where my body is at today, and that is okay. Thanks to Bikram, I was able to keep training and reduce the time I had to take off because of injuries, and thanks to Bikram, I learned how to focus for a longer period. I credit Bikram Yoga for helping me qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where I competed in the marathon at 44 years old!
What has been your greatest struggle or accomplishment?
Learning to let go of my expectations is both the greatest struggle and accomplishment. Realizing I am perfect the way I am and do not need to strive to be anyone else. That doesn’t mean I don’t have goals or areas of improvement (I do have many!), but they are not imperfections, just parts of me that I need to develop to become the best version of myself. Not striving and accepting has been a hard lesson but a beautiful one.
In personal terms, my biggest accomplishment is my family. My husband and our 15-year-old daughter are everything to me and what I am proudest of in my life. If everything else is gone, I am more than fine as long as I have my family.
What advice would you give to new students or those struggling with their practice?
Focus on the foundation. The technique is important. I used to try to go deep into the postures, but my foundation was not great. If your left knee is not locked, you shouldn’t be focusing on whether you can lengthen your other leg. The posture begins in the foundation. It’s not about how deep you go but how well you do it. And do not compare yourself, not to others and not to your past or future self. Be content with where you are and keep showing up. Everything will arrive at the right moment!
What do you like to do outside of yoga?
I love spending as much time as possible with my family, but I also enjoy having a community of people where we can sit and talk about life and learn from each other (I miss that since I just moved to the area about a month ago!). I love running and bike riding, but my biggest passion is traveling. I invest about 4-5 months of the year into traveling. I consider myself a “Professional Tourist,” and becoming one would be my next biggest goal. 🙂 I love writing and blogging and helping others whichever way I can.