How did you first discover Bikram yoga?
I was a marathon runner 15-20 years ago and took a yoga class at my gym. A friend and I decided we needed more yoga to cross-train, and somehow we happened into a Bikram studio. In San Francisco the word Bikram was floating around, but I knew nothing about it. A month into practicing, I was blessed with, and hospitalized with, an ‘immune regeneration syndrome.’ It was precipitated by the lifesaving HIV medications that just came out, and the yoga set it all in motion. This practice is such a gift for immunity and that is a big draw for me. There are so many benefits to a Bikram yoga practice.
It took awhile, but eventually I found my way back to Bikram yoga and practiced for a couple years. After stopping again for no particular reason, I returned well over a decade later, this time to Bikram Yoga San Jose (BYSJ). In all the years I wasn’t practicing, I was remembering that this yoga was there for me when I was ready, and knew it was what I needed above most anything else.
What have you gained from your yoga practice?
I remember early on in BYSJ classes, I’d be struggling so much and hurting, and suddenly be moved to tears, out of personal empathy, respect, and hope. The way you can pick it all apart and put it back together is astounding. I have a tight older body, with my share of injuries and weakness, but yoga shows me I’m so much more than my limitations.
What has been your greatest struggle and/or greatest accomplishment?
The first few months I had excruciating lower back pain. As much as it hurt, it was clear to me that the best thing for it was yoga. These days my back is much stronger and at ease. My focus has switched to old hip weakness and degeneration. It feels that I’ve turned a corner recently, that I’m saving myself from surgery.
There’s so much interrelationship to become aware of. Nothing exists in isolation, and that most definitely includes the mind and spirit. Two years later I’m much less angry and resentful, less a victim of circumstances, more patient, humble and persistent. It’s those qualities that reward me most. To be at peace is priceless, and it takes practice.
What advice would you give to new students or those struggling with practice?
Stay focused on where you are at. Not where you wish you were, were yesterday, or where other students or teachers are. It’s really the only way to success. There is struggle in the practice, but refrain from suffering. It won’t help, there’s no fast track. Go at it with attention, persistence and patience, and keep going at it. Breath is key.
What do you like to do outside of yoga?
I’m a quiet reflective type, I love being in nature, traveling, and doggies. Living in a small motorhome for the past few years has given me the ability and flexibility to explore and experience a great deal, connecting with old and new friends up and down the coast. A visual designer by trade, I recently became the marketing and events specialist at Bikram Yoga San Jose! Now more than ever I get to think about yoga when I’m outside of yoga.