When did you start practicing yoga?
I started practicing yoga in 1997 after I had my daughter Gabrielle. Nineteen years ago in New Hampshire, we did sun salutes with babies on our mats. It was all new to me, but it soon led to my yoga obsession.
What brought you to BYX?
About four years ago, I had knee surgery that was only partially successful, and I couldn't continue to practice the same style of yoga that I was practicing before my surgery. I had noticed the Bikram studio that opened around the corner from my house, and I decided to give it a try. I was a little afraid, as I had been told it was "yelling yoga." At first, I thought I wasn't going to make it through those 90 minutes, but I soon fell in love with the heat and the class.
Why do you keep coming?
Originally, I kept coming back because I felt such amazing healing in my knees and back, and my overall stress was reduced. Going to class made me happy for the rest of the day. Now, I come back for so many more reasons.
What benefits have you seen from your practice?
The benefits I have seen from practicing this yoga are above and beyond what I ever could have previously thought. Bikram yoga got me through the passing of my mom. It calmed my mind and allowed me to clear my head. During those days of grief, I didn't realize it was preparing me for unexpected news the following year. One year after my mother's passing, I discovered I had breast cancer. It took quite some time for this to sink in and to not let on to my children what was happening until my husband and I were prepared to tell them. With the diagnosis heavy on my mind, I wasn't sure if I could hold it together long enough to get through a Bikram class, so I started by just coming in quietly and quickly, getting to my mat, and focusing solely on the class and clearing my head. I often said a small prayer to my mom at the beginning of class and was always aware of lights flickering. I took some enjoyment in thinking for a short moment in each class that she was there with me. This sense of peace stayed with me through the day with my family. The regular practice helped prepare me for the impending surgery and nine weeks of recovery. As the surgery loomed, I promised myself I would focus only on the positive things and let go of those things I could not fix or change. It wasn't always easy, but each time I came to class, I felt stronger and more able to deal with my diagnosis. I remember, post surgery, my body was not right. My rib cage felt off, I had problems in my arms and armpits from lymphnode removal. I couldn't raise my arms even up to my shoulders. I had constant chest pain, muscle spasms, and scar pain. All I could think was if only I could be on my mat, this would all improve. After a few months, my doctors cleared me to come back to yoga. When I did, it was beyond challenging. Every day back, I was nervous and yet I felt no judgment. But nothing moved like I wanted it to, nothing did what I told it to. I pushed and pushed to get it right, until I finally realized that I needed to listen to my body and start all over, from the beginning. Once I did this, I started to have small victories each class that probably only I noticed, and yet it would make my day!
What has surprised you about practicing?
It's now been a year and a half since my last surgery and every class is a new beginning for me as medication still changes my body monthly and challenges my mind daily. But I'm healthy and happy and have an amazing family behind me each day, along with a beautiful yoga family filled with some of the nicest people I have ever met. They are always full of great energy for me to draw on whenever I have a day full of struggles.
What other activities do you enjoy?
I also like to mix in other workouts, like weights, boxing and spinning, with my yoga practice.
What's your favorite posture and why?
I do not have a favorite pose because one day I might like one and the next day, it is more of a challenge.
Do you have any new goals that you did not have before practicing yoga?
My goals now are to be nicer to myself when I can't achieve what I think I should be able to. I also try to be grateful every day for life and everything that comes with it, even the challenges. I am ever so happy to have found Bikram yoga and this wonderful community.