How did you first discover Bikram yoga?
The first time I discovered Bikram yoga was in 2012. My friend had found this amazing class and wanted me to try it. I went with her, wearing the same type of outfit I would wear to the gym. I can remember being drenched in sweat, near miserable, not quite there. I knew I loved being challenged like that, but I knew I would need more appropriate clothes. I returned several times, in the right clothes, and experienced a lot of joy. At the time, I was a recent grad student with little money, so I couldn’t afford to practice regularly. I returned in 2014 and have been practicing regularly since then.
What have you gained from your yoga practice?
Recently I was driving the city and someone cut me off. I looked up, smiled and said “that’s yoga.” In the past I would have felt my blood boil over such an act and definitely had a reaction.
Surrender is something that I have learned as a result of my practice. For me, it’s been a journey of knowing when to surrender and when to push. It is a delicate balance, but one that I enjoy because it always changes and shifts according to where I am in life.
A daily yoga practice is critical for someone like myself. I have an active mind and everything I do is fast and passionate. It serves me professionally, but yoga balances me out. Each day magic happens while in pranayama, my mind starts to shut down and my body takes over. Practicing Bikram yoga everyday allows me to slow down and connect to what I consider, ‘source energy’.
What has been your greatest struggle or accomplishment?
The curve in my spine requires me to push my hips so far forward that it feels very awkward. Yet, when I do this and look in the mirror, it is better alignment. Though it feels strange, it is corrective. It is difficult because it requires me to squeeze my abs and glutes and essentially think through each posture. I am connecting these acts to a few postures to achieve better alignment and seeing a change. It is a struggle, but the body is smart and will eventually learn to do this without so much thought process.
I was thinking yesterday that the smallest postures (tree pose, savasana and ardha-kurmasana) are the most difficult postures because they seem so easy. Yet, if you are doing them correctly, there are so many things that need to happen simultaneously to really execute.
I have committed myself to a daily practice and it sounds canned, but my greatest accomplishment is just showing up. This has a greater magnitude of truth on the days where I would rather be doing anything else.
What advice would you give to new students or those struggling with their practice?
I would tell the new students to chose 1-2 postures to focus on, without confining yourself to a period of time of when you expect to get them down. Some postures take years to master- that’s yoga. Tell an instructor that you’re working on them and check in every now and then for feedback.
The other thing is to learn to breathe. When I see people struggling in class, it is usually those who are ‘wasting’ energy with strenuous breathing, during and in between the postures. If you think of your energy like a stack of chips you build while gambling, that might help. When you are gambling, you protect your chips and try to win more. Essentially, your breathing is your most valuable chip. When done correctly, it can push you through padahastasana and triangle. If done poorly, you will surely be sitting out postures wondering how in the world that person in front of you still has not had any water. 🙂
Lastly, learn to avoid bolting out of class right after ‘namaste.’ Settling into your accomplishment with deep breaths is a necessary shift. Otherwise, you end up right back in the rush of life…it is like leaving a movie or ending a book before it is finished. You would never do that, so why cheat yourself now?
What do you like to do outside of yoga?
More yoga… Buti yoga which I hope to teach, alongside Bikram yoga starting later this year. I also love to garden, feed the squirrels and humming birds in my yard. I would like to learn how to knit so if anyone reading this can teach me, I have dreams of starting a knitting club. 🙂