How long have you been practicing?
I am honored to be BYF’s Yogi of the Month. Thank you for asking me! I have been practicing Bikram Yoga for 10 years. I heard about Bikram Yoga from my friend, Martha. The only classes at the time were held at a studio in Dennis. On a cold, dark February morning I drove there from Falmouth. I thought - this is crazy! The teacher was welcoming. The class was hard. I was terrible. And I felt great. I have had a regular practice since that morning.
What brought you through the front door? Suffering brought me to Bikram Yoga. I had been experiencing debilitating stiffness in all joints. I tried swimming and other styles of yoga. The heat, the simple (not to be confused with easy) 26 poses, and the unchanging sequence of the postures all worked best for me. Then I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Through anti-inflammatory diet and Bikram Yoga, I manage my RA without medication. Flexibility and balance still elude me but I have no pain. I believe this yoga has saved my life. Bikram Yoga claims to be "an open-eyed moving meditation". The familiar 26 postures and the rote dialogue allow me to attain a meditative state. It's a two for one: meditation and exercise. As long as I remember to breathe - all is well.
Favorite posture? My favorite posture is Standing Separate Leg Stretching. I love being upside down. This is a posture I could stay in all day. Every posture holds a major challenge for me. My yoga practice allows me to take on these challenges, working with my weaknesses, not against them.
Bikram yoga has taught me… everything! My daughter used to call it my second full time job. Now I work part-time, so I guess it's my only full time job. I'm in the yoga studio as much as possible. My regular practice is four times per week. Sometimes I'm in the studio five or six times a week. Never too much yoga!
Outside of the studio, you can find me… Outside of the studio, I work as a licensed mental health counselor in Mashpee. I spend my free time with friends and family. I have two married children and five grandsons. I have lots of sisters and many nieces and nephews. There is always something going on. I love the city and travel to Boston or New York City as often as possible. Each year in June, I go with friends to do Bikram Yoga in Times Square with 11,000 other yogis as a celebration of the summer solstice. Last year I went to India and hope to take another journey next year.
After class must have? After class, I am always hungry. I go home for some food or out to eat. Lastly, I am grateful for Bikram Yoga Falmouth. I will end as I began: class is always hard. I can still be pretty terrible. You are all welcoming and encouraging. And I always feel great. BYF is such an important part of my life. I am a grateful yogi.
What brought you through the front door? Several years ago, I went to Bikram once a week for a few months and, although I didn't find the reasons then to continue, I was left with a very favorable impression regarding the quality of the workout. In mid-2015, something happened in my life that made me really look at myself and I wasn't really happy with all that I saw. What followed could be described as similar to an addict's rock bottom and the rebuilding of your life from the inside out. Three months into the journey, I lay in bed one night and a powerful intuitive feeling came to me that I needed to go to Bikram the next day. It was a Wednesday, and the first workout was brutal. I sat out some of the poses but managed to stay in the room. I thought I should try to finish the week and set that for a goal. When Friday came, I thought I should set a goal of doing all five weekdays (9:15 class) the next week. So that goal and that schedule has been kept up for almost a year and a half and the reasons I show up today are not the same as in the beginning. At first, it was a challenge "change your body and then change your life" was intriguing and it helped me with anxiety. Today, the reasons for continuing this practice are complex and I may not find the right words. It is related to the quest for a more meaningful existence and how a practice fits into that. For me, it is learning by a process that starts with thoughts and concepts but, then, has to transcend into direct experience. Meditation and Bikram are practices that foster that transcendence. For the first time in my life, I have been able to consciously experience what some people call a higher vibrational energy, or Chi, or the Holy Spirit. To do something that brings health to your body and aids your emotional and spiritual growth is really cool and special. I recently thought about the first time I heard a Bikram teacher say, "Get comfortable with being uncomfortable" and how it so perfectly matched with my struggle with very difficult emotions at that time. And now, on a really good day in the hot room, I can feel something approaching bliss even while experiencing what my old self would describe as uncomfortable sensations. It is rare for me still, but I see that it is possible.
I would like to mention that the community, teachers and classmates, at the studio is a big draw for me. It is a very down to earth and fun (and funny!) group.
Outside of yoga... I am a parent to two really cool kids, Lily (11 years) and Elijah (7 years). My kids attend the Waldorf school in Cotuit and, as a family, we are active in the support of the school. I live on a farm that I have worked for the last 15 years and run a small CSA.
After class... My must have is kombucha (home-brewed!).
How long have you been practicing? I’ve been practicing Bikram Yoga for 6 years. My first class was on Martin Luther King Day in January of 2011. During those 6 years, I’ve my fortunate to practice with my daughter, my son, my sister and many friends. My daughter, Kristen, was my catalyst for trying out hot yoga. Kristen had been practicing Bikram Yoga for some time. She talked about the Yoga many times but I wasn’t inclined to try it as the heat and humidity did not appeal to me. Kristen never deliberately tried to convince me to give the Yoga a go. For some strange reason, during a January cold stretch, I just decided that I’d try a class. I vividly remember that class. WOW! As I sat outside the hot room after class, trying to figure out what had just happened to me and my body, I remember thinking that I’d never done anything that difficult since giving birth to my two children.
After struggling through two more classes, I decided that Bikram Yoga was not for me. I loved the yoga but not the heat and humidity. So, I tried a Vinyassa class at a different studio. The room was 80 degrees and the other practitioners warned me that I would get very hot. When I barely broke a sweat and actually missed being all liquidy and fluid, my mind started nagging me to try Bikram again. I did and have been practicing ever since. In June of 2012, I completed a 30 day challenge at Bikram Yoga Falmouth and felt so proud of myself for being able to do that at age 62 and while working full time. I also took posture clinics with Kelly Mara, Diane Ducharme and Rajashree Choudury. Those clinics really helped me to understand the purpose for the postures and how to execute them correctly. I highly recommend taking clinics even if you have to travel to get to one. They really help your practice.
At the moment, Triangle is my favorite posture with Camel a close second. I also particularly like doing Standing Bow Pulling Pose. These postures remind me of poses from my days of doing gymnastics in high school. I feel very graceful during class. In many ways, this yoga is a beautiful dance.
Bikram Yoga has taught me that I really can do things that I never dreamed I’d be able to do. During my first months of practicing, I never thought I would be able to do Camel Posture. Now it’s one of my favorites. It’s also taught me that age doesn’t matter if you really want to do something. Right now, I’m trying to apply these realizations to my desire to learn to roller skate. It should be fun! Lastly, I learned how healing this yoga can be. When I started practicing, I was seeing a neurologist for injections to my neck. I had frozen shoulder and spinal stenosis. After only a month of Bikram Yoga my doctor could not believe the improvement in my mobility and said that he was there if I ever needed him again. I haven’t needed him again and never had another injection.
Outside of class, I am enjoying my first year of retirement from my position at Falmouth High School. I still love to read history books and enjoy reading for hours on Menauhant Beach in the summer. I miss teaching and interacting with teenagers, but love having more time for my hobbies. On many days I can be found at the barn where I board my Paint horse, Montana. Grooming him and taking rides through the woods is very relaxing and rewarding. I love being out in nature as I bond with my horse. I’ve joined a women’s singing group, the Songbirds, and also sing in my church choir. Bikram Yoga has drastically improved my singing ability by expanding the power of my lungs – a benefit that was unexpected!
After class I crave, of course, a shower but also an ice cold glass of water with lemon or orange Ultima.