My first Bikram yoga class was in April, 2003. I was working at the Jamba Juice that was upstairs from the studio and going to college. I had been having some back pain and was dealing with a tumultuous relationship at the time which drew me to try it with one of my coworkers. I was immediately drawn to the mental and physical benefits and loved it. My coworker, on the other hand, never went back!
I went to teacher training in fall, 2004, because I thought it would be a great job to have while I was still in school. It offered flexible hours, and I loved the yoga and wanted to share that with people. I was practicing about six times a week. I am also a very naturally introverted and shy person, so I thought teacher training would be a good challenge for myself, forcing me to majorly step out of my comfort zone. I struggled to hold back tears every time I had to recite my dialogue in front of people.
My practice has evolved quite a bit over the years. I started when I was 20 and was able to gain flexibility fast from practicing almost every day. I was able to get into the postures but lacked the strength and balance to hold some of them. I was constantly fidgeting, wiping, and trying to use hand towels to keep my grip. My practice has definitely evolved into more of a meditation. Having 2 kids now doesn’t leave me the time to practice as often as I’d like, and I’m definitely not as flexible as I used to be, but I am much more focused and stronger. My understanding of the postures is much better, and I definitely focus more on listening to my body rather than just pushing all the time. I have learned to fully be in my body and to sit with all the stuff this yoga can bring up. This yoga has helped me through minor depression in my early 20s, and now helps me be more patient with my kids.
The craziest thing I experienced in class was probably when Bikram stood on my back during stretching pose while I touched my head to my toes. This was a tradition in teacher training. He would stand on a trainees back and do a pose like he was surfing, was Jesus on the cross, or would just flex his muscles. Then, he would give you a number. I was the 482nd person he stood on.
My favorite posture is standing bow pulling pose. It takes lots of focus, strength, and flexibility. I used to fall out of it every single time, but can now hold it (most of the time).
My least favorite posture is locust pose. It has always been challenging for me. I used to find any excuse I could to sit that one out, even scheduling bathroom breaks when I knew the pose was coming up. While I still feel that I’m not very good at that one, I make myself do it. The postures we don’t like are usually the ones we need the most. Whether it’s a physical or mental resistance, it’s important to try no matter the result. It builds mental strength and determination.
I’ve worn both shorts and capris to practice over the years. Lately, I have been forcing myself to wear shorts, even though I really don’t want too! Practicing for over 13 years and having two kids have changed my body and I don’t always like looking at my legs in the mirror. But I know it is important to be able to see your body to be more aware of the muscles you’re using, as well as to learn to be more accepting of what you see and all the imperfections.
I wanted to be like Jane Goodall. I have my bachelors degree in anthropology and I wanted to study primates … until I spent a month in Costa Rica taking a primatologist class and realized living in the field surrounded by bugs was not really my thing. The subject still interests me, though, as I’m always curious about why we do what we do, and I still like reading books and articles about evolutionary anthropology.
I love my yogitoes. I resisted getting one for a long time because I thought it was crazy spending $60+ on a towel, but I am now a convert. They don’t move on your mat, so it reduces the urge to fidget, providing for a more focused, meditative practice. Plus, the designs are really nice to look at!