How did you first discover Bikram yoga?

I was blessed to have been introduced to Bikram Yoga by a sister-in-law who was a teacher. I wasn’t sure I’d like the heated room, but I was bored with my Hatha practice so I was game to try something new. I think, like most people, my first class was challenging and I didn’t return for a few months. I wish someone had told me to come 2-3 times the first week to get used to the heat, but I inevitably tried again and this time I loved it.  I’ve been practicing now for 11+ years and couldn’t imagine not having it in my life.

What have you gained from your yoga practice?

Wow! Where do I start?  As I get older, I realize what a blessing this yoga is.  Many of my friends are out of shape and in pain and, with every complaint, I am more grateful for the strength and flexibility this yoga gives me. This yoga gives me confidence and focus, has taught me to let unimportant things go and be present in the moment. I was in Hi-tech for 40 years and under a huge amount of pressure.  This yoga provided me time to take care of myself and to de-stress.

Last year my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and she came to live with me for her final weeks on this earth.  I knew that our journey was going to be hard and knew that the strength and peace the yoga practice gave me was going to be even more important during this difficult time, so I made time, thanks to my amazing brothers, to come to yoga, to center myself and prepare for the inevitable.

What has been your greatest struggle or accomplishment?

I had a problem with my knee and had surgery on my meniscus.  I was lucky because the Physician’s Assistant that helped me before and after surgery took Bikram Yoga. I was worried it would take me a long time to get back in the room to practice but she surprisingly said I could get back in the room the day after surgery – that the heat would be healing and to listen to my body, it would tell me what I could and couldn’t do.  I followed her guidance and was back in the room in a few days and my knee feels great, thanks to the healing power of the yoga. 

Tonni in Awkward chair pose
Tonni in the studio
Tonni in Bow Pulling pose

What advice would you give to new students or those struggling with their practice?

The beauty of the consistent dialog is that you will notice the incremental improvements you make as you practice.  When I started, there were poses I thought I’d never be able to do because I’m not strong, but as the weeks, months and years go by, I realize that I continue to improve and become stronger.  Don’t think that because you are not strong or are not flexible that you can’t do this yoga.  I’ve learned that everyone comes into the room with something.  So be patient with yourself and you will see the improvements, getting stronger or more flexible with each class.  This yoga is a gift you give yourself every time you step into the studio.

What do you like to do outside of yoga?

I love spending time with my family, especially my lovely granddaughter, Gianna. My hobbies are reading, gardening, knitting, and taking my dogs for walks and of course I love spending time with my fellow yogi’s at the studio.